Friday, October 20, 2017

Pepe Escobar — Why Trump Has Gone Nuclear on Iran

Divide and Rule precedents point to Kissinger’s advice. He’s fully aware a frontal Washington attack against Russia or China – the strategic partnership at the heart of Eurasia integration – is a non-starter. The next best option is to raise trouble in their borderlands – North Korea is especially well positioned for it – and go after the weakest Eurasia link; Iran....
And then, there’s the devastating clincher. The absolute majority of the Global South now has definitive proof; Washington simply cannot be trusted to keep its promises related to any major geopolitical deal. The possibility of a nuclear agreement – or any agreement – between Washington and Pyongyang is now less than zero.
Why Trump Has Gone Nuclear on Iran
Pepe Escobar

See also
The Battle of Kirkuk lasted less than 24 hours. In a lightning – and mostly bloodless – offensive, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) retook control of the North Oil Co. and North Gas Co. headquarters, the K1 military base, the Bai Hassan oil field, and two domes of the Kirkuk oil field on Monday.
Baghdad did what it had previously said it would do: reestablish federal authority over the key strategic assets of Kirkuk province, which had been controlled by the Kurdish Peshmerga since the 2014 Islamic State offensive.
But why did it take only 24 hours?... 
Interesting backgrounder.

Mike Whitney — John Brennan’s Police State USA

John Brennan in the spotlight again.
This is a deliberate mischaracterization of what Brennan was actually doing. He was spying on the members of the rival party to gain a political advantage. This is how police state operates.
Whatever the facts, and there are very few reliable facts based on evidence on the table so far, it's clear that Russiagate is political.
According to a recent CBS Poll, a majority of Americans (57%) now believe that “Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.” In contrast, only 34 percent of Americans don’t believe there was any Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
What the numbers don’t explain, however, is how one’s own political ideology shapes the results. For example, 71 percent of Democrats believe that Russia interfered, while a mere 18 percent of Republicans agree. In other words, one’s own prejudices (about Trump and Russia) have a much greater impact on one’s opinion than either facts or evidence. Propaganda campaigns try to exploit public bias to effectively manipulate perceptions. The CBS polling data shows that they have succeeded in that regard.
Whitney sees trouble ahead.
The loosening of rules governing the dissemination of domestic propaganda (In 2013, Obama gutted the Smith Mundt Act “unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts.” (Foreign Policy Magazine)
In 2016, Obama paved the way for more domestic propaganda by passing the Orwellian-named “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act” as part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. Ostensibly, the bill lays the groundwork for responding to “fake news” overseas, but in reality, it marks “a further curtailment of press freedom” and an ambitious attempt to suppress accurate, independent information.)
The loosening of rules governing the dissemination of domestic propaganda coupled with the extraordinary advances in surveillance technology, create the perfect conditions for the full implementation of an American police state.
But what is more concerning, is that the primary levers of state power are no longer controlled by elected officials but by factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people. That can only lead to trouble.
John Brennan’s Police State USA
Mike Whitney

RT — NGO publishes names of 2,300+ RT guests, labels them ‘useful idiots who undermine Western democracy

Neo-McCarthyism flourishes.
An NGO called the European Values Think-Tank has published a report on RT featuring an extensive list of US and European public figures who have been accused of “undermining western democracy” just by appearing in RT shows.

The report, claiming to be an “overview of RT’s editorial strategy and evidence of impact,” comes with an Excel list of 2,327 people who have appeared on RT over the last four years. The names are carefully arranged in seven categories, including US politicians, UK politicians, European politicians and so on, and are arranged in alphabetical order. The list mentions the shows the guests appeared on, the total number of their appearances, and gives hyperlinks to all the relevant episodes.

The report states that appearing on the network is counterproductive and makes the guest a “useful idiot” to a “hostile foreign power.”Expressing one’s opinion on RT is considered by the NGO as equivalent to “complicity with the Russian propaganda machine.”
Although the list looks like a really thorough effort at cataloguing all of the RT guests, it’s got a number of strikingly weird blunders. For example, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is there, but only the link attached leads to a satirical show featuring someone impersonating him. Meanwhile, US Senator John McCain’s daughter is mistaken for the senator himself and “Politicking with Larry King” is unexpectedly referred to as “Politicking with Larry David.
The report generally claims that RT is “an instrument of hostile foreign influence,” which has the sole purpose of “undermining public confidence in the viability of liberal democracy.”
It repeatedly discourages any public figures from potentially appearing on any of RT’s shows in the future, as those on the list are accused of boosting RT’s “credibility as a legitimate news network.”
De facto censorship instead of de jure.

NGO publishes names of 2,300+ RT guests, labels them ‘useful idiots who undermine Western democracy

Leonid Bershidsky — A Russian Take on ‘The Americans’ Scares Moscow Liberals: The political conversation in Putin’s Russia increasingly revolves around cinematic versions of reality.

Another funny one. Russian cinema copies Hollywood in demonizing the adversary. Hollywood has been ding this for decades with ample assistance from the Pentagon and CIA.

Bloomberg View
A Russian Take on ‘The Americans’ Scares Moscow Liberals: The political conversation in Putin’s Russia increasingly revolves around cinematic versions of reality.
Leonid Bershidsky
US military intelligence agencies have influenced over 1,800 movies and TV shows

Documents expose how Hollywood promotes war on behalf of the Pentagon, CIA and NSA
Tom Secker and Matthew Alford

Paul Craig Roberts - The Atlantic Council: The Marketing Arm of the Military/Security Complex

PCR explains some of the shadowy practices of the Atlantic Council stirring up the Cold War to drive up arm sales in Europe for its Military-Industrial banking backers and then he ends with this:

Money corrupts everything, and it is capitalism that turns everything into a commodity that is bought and sold. In capitalist regimes everything is for sale: honor, integrity, justice, truth.
Everything is reduced to the filthy lucre. 

Paul Craig Roberts - The Atlantic Council: The Marketing Arm of the Military/Security Complex

What is the Atlantic Council? - Tony Cartalucci Atlantic Council: Is Libya a "Global Con?"

Some shocking stuff here. This report gives an insight into to shadowy world of NATO, the CIA the Atlantic Council, the big banks, and how the West supports international terrorism. 

The Atlantic Council claims to be a "preeminent, non partisan institution devoted to promoting transatlantic cooperation and international security." It is partnered with NATO and sponsored financially by some of Wall Street and London's largest, most powerful corporate-financier interests. These include many of the big oil interests poised to reap a whirlwind of profits over NATO-backed regime change in Libya, namely BP, Chevron, Exxon, and Shell. It also includes defense contractors already enriched by the protracted bloodshed in Northern Africa including Raytheon, BAE, SAAB Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman. Additionally, the world's largest banks and equity firms sponsor Atlantic Council, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Barclays Capital, the Blackstone Group, Citigroup, and Credit Suisse Bank. There is also a tremendous amount of foundation support, each with a nefarious back-story worthy of their own thorough examination, including the Carnegie Corporation of New York , the Ford Foundation, and billionaire bankster George Soros' Open Society Institute.

As the depravity and duplicity of both NATO forces, overtly linked to Wall Street and London corporate-financier interests as illustrated via the Atlantic Council, and their terrorist proxies become more apparent throughout Libya, and now creeping over the Algerian border to breath new life into another notorious Al Qaeda-linked organization, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), NATO and the vast media empire supporting its agenda are seeking any and all diversions from their crumbling narrative. Lately accusations have been leveled against China for allegedly attempting to arm Qaddafi's forces after NATO operations began in March, 2011. While the West claims this is a "violation" of their self-contrived UN mandate prohibiting the arming of belligerents in the Libyan conflict, NATO members, most notably France and Qatar, have been openly supplying weapons to Libyan rebels in direct violation of this very mandate themselves.

The Land Destroyer Report

Tony Cartalucci Atlantic Council: Is Libya a "Global Con?"

The Saker — Re-Visiting Russian Counter-Propaganda Method

In May of 2016 I wrote an article for the Unz Review entitled “Counter-Propaganda, Russian Style” in which I tried to show the immense difference between the old, Soviet, approach to propaganda and counter-propaganda and the approach taken by the Russian authorities today. The main difference was this: if the Soviet went out of their way to prevent western propaganda from reaching the Soviet people, the Russians are nowadays doing the exact opposite: they are going out of their way to make sure that western propaganda is immediately translated and beamed into every single Russian household. What I propose to do today is to share with you a few recent examples of what Russian households are regularly exposed to....
Good analysis.

The Unz Review
Re-Visiting Russian Counter-Propaganda Method
The Saker

RussiaFeed — Vladimir Putin SLAMS the US for its past, present and likely future

Previously, Putin has generally sounded conciliatory. Now the gloves are coming off?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered one of his most wide reaching criticisms of the United States to-date, during his Q and A session at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi.
Putin described a worsening Moscow-Washington relationship that dates back to the 1990s when an ‘untrustworthy’ west took advantage of Russia’s weak leadership in the age of Yeltsin, Gaidar and Chubais....
“Our biggest mistake was that we trusted you too much. You interpreted our trust as weakness and you exploited that… 
What we got in return is well-known: a complete disregard for our national interests, support for separatism in the Caucasus, a circumvention of the United Nations Security Council, the bombing of Yugoslavia, the invasion of Iraq, and so on. The US must have seen the state of our nuclear weapons and economy and decided to do away with international law”. 
He continued,
“They started to openly interfere in the sovereign affairs of countries and to export democracy in the same way as in their time the Soviet leadership tried to export the Socialist revolution to the whole world”....
The Russian President then turned to the subject of weapons reductions, stating that because the US refuses to engage in proper treaties on the matter, Russia has had to act unilaterally to disarm. Russia recently destroyed its last chemical weapons stocks while the US refused to do the same. President Putin described the phenomenon in the following way,
“We destroyed everything, and then our American partners said – ‘Not yet, we don’t have money.’ So, they have a dollar printing press, yet they don’t have money. But we, on the other hand, do?”...
Vladimir Putin SLAMS the US for its past, present and likely future

RT — Top Russian senator expects US will exert ‘unprecedented pressure’ to influence Russian presidential polls

The other side of the story.
The Chair of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee expects that the US will seek to influence the country’s presidential election next year, saying Washington will only settle for victory by a pro-Western candidate.
“The United States recognizes elections as fair and democratic only when they are won by pro-western candidates,” Senator Konstantin Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page on Friday.
“In the case of any other outcome, election procedures and results are anathema to them,” he added.
“Judging by the increasing demagogy about alleged Russian interference [in US polls], they have already started their ‘artillery raid’ ahead of the Russian presidential elections. It is likely that the scale of pressure there will be unprecedented.”
Kosachev posted the comments in response to a statement by US Chief Envoy Nikki Haley on Thursday, in which she accused the Russian Government of meddling in US politics and politics across the world.
"When a country can come and interfere in another country's elections, that is warfare," Haley said.
"The Russian Government has made a project of turning Americans against each other," she stated, according to Reuters.
Kosachev continued his response by saying that he felt bewildered that such statements were being made by an official representative of a nation that has the strongest economy and most powerful military in the world.
He noted that, according to its own data, the US interfered in the election processes of foreign nations 81 times between 1946 and 2000.
“This number does not include their special operations and military coups that took place in countries that elected candidates who the United States was not content with, such as Iran, Congo, Chile and Guatemala,” wrote the Senator.
“More than that, as demonstrated by the Arab Spring and pro-Western revolutions in post-Soviet states, interfering with the political processes of other nations is the main tool by which the US maintains its international influence.
This has followed military experiments that were clearly unsuccessful, such as the Iraq campaign, with Colin Powell’s infamous vial used as an excuse.”
Last June, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the US of repeated and aggressive meddling in Russian politics through US diplomatic staff and NGOs.
“[It happened] in 2000 and in 2012, this always happened. But especially aggressively in 2012,” Putin said in an interview with US filmmaker Oliver Stone.
Putin used the example of US diplomatic workers, who had actually campaigned for the Russian opposition.
“They gathered opposition forces and financed them, and went to opposition rallies,” he noted, adding that he had raised this issue with members of the past administration, including former US President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry.
Top senator expects US will exert ‘unprecedented pressure’ to influence Russian presidential polls

Cass R. Sunstein — Russia Is Using Marxist Strategies, and So Is Trump

Samantha Powers' husband goes off his rocker too, assuming he believes what he says rather than just putting out straight up propaganda. Have a good laugh. Red-baiting is bad and POTUS is one of the objects of it, along with Volodya of course.

Russia Is Using Marxist Strategies, and So Is Trump
Cass R. Sunstein | Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School

Gordon M. Hahn — Explaining the Failed Expectations of Russian Regime Change, Part 1: Rusological Apocalypticism Versus Social Science

This article is the first in a trilogy examining how the West’s biases and wishful thinking have led to unrealistic and unmet expectations of imminent regime collapse in Russia.
I follow this stuff and am gobsmacked at how Western liberal "experts" generalize their own worldview in analysis. It's not only Russia, but everything, and it is not only political and military analysts, but included most experts on just a bout everything.

This is a consequence of assuming that liberalism is the natural state of humanity so that spreading "freedom" will result in liberal utopia, like they enjoy in their bubble. Which is just bonkers. The result? Living in la-la land. "The Iraqis will greet us with flowers."

Hahn's own analysis is not completely above this either, since he takes a sociological approach involving generality. However, all countries are different for historical, geographical, cultural and institutional reasons. Failing to analyze specific case based on understanding these factors will lead to overgeneralization and also be subject to cognitive-affective bias owing to the frame imposed.

Even Russians don't pretend to understand "the Russian soul." Or better, Russians especially don't rationalize their temperament, which is heavily non-rational in the sense of "mystical." Analyzing Russia and Russian based on Western concepts of "rationality" is bound to fail. China and Chinese, Indians and India, etc. even more so since Russia is at least partly in the Western tradition owing to its connection with Byzantium through Russian Orthodoxy and Tsar Peter's Westernization. But the Russia Federation is Eurasian rather than European.

Gordon M. Hahn
Explaining the Failed Expectations of Russian Regime Change, Part 1: Rusological Apocalypticism Versus Social Science
Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., | Analyst at Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation (Chicago), member of the Executive Advisory Board at the American Institute of Geostrategy (AIGEO) (Los Angeles), and Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California

Jonathan Turley — Study: Pollution Kills More People Than War, Smoking, Hunger, and Other Causes of Death

We have previously discussed how environmental dangers remain something of an abstraction for most people who fail to recognize that changes in air or water pollution standards results in high and quantifiable rises in death rates. Even changes in areas like shipping fuels can translate to thousands of deaths. However, since these deaths are not immediate and borne privately, the true costs of pollution are often dismissed. I have been highly critical of the environmental record of the Trump Administration for this reason in rolling back on protections in a variety of areas as well as appointing regulators with anti-environmental record.
Now a new major study has found that environmental pollution kills more people every year that all of the wars. It exceeds the death tolls for smoking, hunger or natural disasters combined. It kills more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Yet, unlike these causes of death, pollution remains a policy concern that is often pushed to the side for more immediate goals like job creation. This is not to say that environmental protection would trump all other concerns but rather the real costs of such pollution are rarely discussed in real terms of premature deaths by politicians.
The study in the respected Lancet medical journal found that one out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015 was caused by toxic exposure. That amounts to 9 million people who died prematurely due to pollution. The study also found that the cost of the resulting illnesses and deaths amounted to some $4.6 trillion in annual losses.
Worse yet, the 9 million deaths from pollution appears a highly conservative estimate since it relied on only limited data on specific measurable cases of deaths and illnesses. The actual number is likely much higher. Moreover, only half of the 5000 news chemicals introduced since 1950 have actually been fully tested for their toxicity....
Jonathan Turley
Study: Pollution Kills More People Than War, Smoking, Hunger, and Other Causes of DeathJonathan Turley | Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Publius Tacitus — America, Desperately Seeking An Enemy

Sone who has been around the block tells like it is.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
America, Desperately Seeking An Enemy
Publius Tacitus

RussiaFeed — Vladimir Putin mentor’s daughter, ‘Russia’s Paris Hilton’ to run for president

Russian jet setter, TV personality, glossy magazine editor and all-around It-girl-turned opposition figure Ksenia Sobchak, 35, has officially announced her decision to run for the presidency in the 2018 election.

Running as an independent, Sobchak generally has a love-hate relationship with the Russian audience. Having been on the country’s pop culture scene for many years, she has hosted one of the most popular reality TV shows, is a frequent guest at international VIP celebrity parties, has modeled for Playboy and is now editor-in-chief of L’Officiel Russia.
In a recent interview with Glamour Russia, Sobchak called being president “a top level art project,” adding that she thinks her career in showbiz would help in her political bid.
Sobchak also hosts an interview show on the Dozhd (Rain) TV channel, and in 2012 joined the opposition movement, having taken part in the Bolotnaya Square protests in central Moscow.
Ksenia’s late father, Anatoly Sobchak, was a famous Russian politician, the first democratically elected mayor of St. Petersburg in the 1990s. Vladimir Putin joined Sobchak’s team in 1990, and worked closely with the politician, who is widely considered to be his mentor....

Bryan McDonald —20,000 Nazis March in Kiev. The Western Media Somehow Fails to Notice.

"So, we had a major Nazi gathering in a European capital and the only English language sources that show up in a Google News search are from RT, Sputnik, The Nation and a half-hearted seven-sentence ‘report’ by US state broadcaster RFE/RL, which meekly describes them as mere 'nationalists.'  That means there is nothing from CNN, the Guardian, the New York Times, Washington Post or the BBC, among the usual suspects who make every little protest in Russia headline news....
The silence is deafening.

Bryan McDonald

Reuters — U.S. envoy Haley: Russia interference in elections is 'warfare'

Ratcheting up.
“When a country can come interfere in another country’s elections that is warfare. It really is, because you’re making sure that the democracy shifts from what the people want,” she said. “This is their new weapon of choice and we have to get in front of it.”
Either Haley is a moron, or the level of hypocrisy is incredible, or maybe some combination.

Where has the US not interfered with elections, tried to influence them, or overturn their outcome or alt least tried to do, sometimes though a coup?

U.S. envoy Haley: Russia interference in elections is 'warfare'

Taking a page from HRC's playbook. Actually, it is SOP for the defeated in banana republics to cry fraud. HRC is the first to do it in a developed country like the US, and after she accused DJT of planning to do this when she beat him, calling it unpatriotic.

Leaders of Venezuela's bruised opposition to travel abroad to denounce 'voting fraud'
Alexandra Ulmer, Corina Pons

Michael Hudson: Socialism, Land and Banking: 2017 Compared to 1917

Socialism a century ago seemed to be the wave of the future. There were various schools of socialism, but the common ideal was to guarantee support for basic needs, and for state ownership to free society from landlords, predatory banking and monopolies. In the West these hopes are now much further away than they seemed in 1917. Land and natural resources, basic infrastructure monopolies, health care and pensions have been increasingly privatized and financialized.
Instead of Germany and other advanced industrial nations leading the way as expected, Russia’s October 1917 Revolution made the greatest leap. But the failures of Stalinism became an argument against Marxism – guilt-by-association with Soviet bureaucracy. European parties calling themselves socialist or “labour” since the 1980s have supported neoliberal policies that are the opposite of socialist policy. Russia itself has chosen neoliberalism.
Few socialist parties or theorists have dealt with the rise of the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector that now accounts for most increase in wealth. Instead of evolving into socialism, Western capitalism is being overcome by predatory finance and rent extraction imposing debt deflation and austerity on industry as well as on labor.
Failure of Western economies to recover from the 2008 crisis is leading to a revival of Marxist advocacy. The alternative to socialist reform is stagnation and a relapse into neofeudal financial and monopoly privileges....
Neoliberalism is not working. Socialist resurgence, or something else?

Useful background and history lesson.

Michael Hudson at some of his best.

Naked Capitalism
Socialism, Land and Banking: 2017 Compared to 1917
Michael Hudson | President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City
Crossposted at Vineyard of the Saker and SouthFront

CIA Urges Trump to Delay Release of 3,000 Never-Before-Seen Documents on Assassination of John F. Kenned

More than 3,000 never-before-seen documents from the FBI, CIA, and Justice Department on the assassination of John F. Kennedy are scheduled be released, with many experts fearing that such a large release of secret JFK assassination documents will spur “a new generation of conspiracy theories.”
According to Roger Stone, the CIA is urging President Donald Trump to delay disclosing some of the files for another 25 years.
Roger Stone said in a post on his website…
“They must reflect badly on the CIA even though virtually everyone involved is long dead.”

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega at 80% Approval Rating: Poll

The ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front is ahead in polls for the upcoming municipal elections.
President Daniel Ortega has an almost 80 percent approval rating among Nicaraguans and his party is ahead in polls for the Nov. 5 elections that will elect mayors across the country, according to a recent survey.
Some 77.5 percent say that President Ortega has led Nicaragua correctly, while 77.8 percent said the Sandinista National Liberation Front government gives them hope, according to a recent poll by Consultora M&R published Wednesday.
The poll also showed that 78.6 percent of the people believe the current government works for the benefit of the population.
The report added that 71.5 percent consider the government “democratic” and “that it complies with the laws” and 79.1 percent said that it brings “unity and reconciliation” to the Central American nation.
According to the poll, the ruling Sandinistas have a 57.5 percent approval, while the opposition parties received 6.3 percent. Another 36.2 percent declared themselves independent.
The poll also asked citizens to outline life priorities. Health received the number one spot, with 91 percent, followed by work with 76.8 percent, housing at 70.1 percent, and economic welfare with 60 percent.
The poll was conducted from Sept. 28 through Oct. 11 in 15 departments and two autonomous regions of Nicaragua, with a margin of error of 2.5 percent and 95 percent reliability.

Jason Smith — In the right frame, economies radically simplify

More thoughts on economic methodology. First a framework is needed and then theories can be constructed and tested in that framework. The simplest frame and most economical theory that explains the data sufficiently to be useful is preferred.

A framework involving complexity is not necessarily better than one that doesn't as long as it gets the job done.

Smith observes that theories constructed within the conventional framework that conventional economists presume is not getting the job of explanation and prediction done very well.

He cautions that this doesn't necessarily mean that a more complex framework is better at explanation (formal theoretical model) and prediction (empirical testing of the model against adequate data).
The dynamic equilibrium frame [of Smith's information transfer economics] not only radically simplifies the description of the data, but radically reduces the information content of the data.... 
This is all to say the dynamic equilibrium model bounds the relevant complexity of macroeconomic models. I've discussed this before here, but that was in the context of a particular effect. The dynamic equilibrium frame bounds the relevant complexity of all possible macroeconomic models. If a model is more complex than the dynamic equilibrium model, then it has to perform better empirically (with a smaller error, or encompass more variables with roughly the same error). More complex models should also reduce to the dynamic equilibrium model in some limit if only because the dynamic equilibrium model describes the data.
This would suggest that the methodological debate in economics is not over, as conventional economists claim.

Information Transfer Economics
In the right frame, economies radically simplify
Jason Smith

Positive Money - Out Of The Darkness (Enhanced Audio)

Martin Wolf says there will be a big financial crash in five years time especially as the US is weakening its financial regulations. He says how the 2008 crash was the worst in history where the economy was only saved by a massive bail out from governments, but the next crash will be even worse.

Ed balls is a classic neoliberal who says that the less government gets involved in the economy the better (except, of course, when bailing out his buddies in the One Percent with their banks).

Thought Fran Boait of Positive Money would be a bit overwhelmed by the two heavyweights, Martin Wolf and Ed Balls,  but she just comes straight out with it and says neoliberalism doesn't work while the rich are still getting richer while everyone else is getting poorer.

Paul Craig Roberts - Markets Fall When Dollar Falls

Quite an interesting interview.  The role of central banks is to support the big banks not the economy, says PCR, while the big banks are just gambling rather than investing in businesses. He says how it makes no sense for companies to incur debts in order to buy back their own shares which weakens them. He wonders whether if the central banks can keep the financial system afloat indefinably by printing money.

Asia Unhedged — PBOC ‘Minsky moment’ comments blown out of proportion

CNBC cobbled together a video using reporting from Reuters, set to a somewhat ominous driving baseline, which began with the words “China’s economy may be in trouble.” The content of the video went on to imply that Zhou Xiaochuan said just that, in stark contrast to the confidence other Chinese leaders are espousing.
In fact, Zhou’s words align with the central leadership’s consistent calls for efforts to reign in financial risks and continue to push for deleveraging. And the rising household debt? It still pales in comparison to what is seen in other countries, Zhou merely said that China should watch this to avoid running into a problem that China still has no need to worry about.

Edward Harrison — Crony capitalism and redistribution

What Ed Harrison call "crony capitalism" is a feature of neoliberalism as government capture that favors special interests. "Crony capitalism" is an egregious example of the underlying assumption that capital formation should be favored over other factors in the interest of growth, based on the further assumption of trickle down. This results in upward distribution and growing inequality of income and wealth, which eventually leads to social dysfunctionality.

Credit Writedowns
Crony capitalism and redistribution
Edward Harrison


Be sure to follow the link in the P.S. in the post below.

The one data you should follow to know if the US expansion is in good shape

David F. Ruccio — Laughter is the best medicine

So what are the problems according to Blanchard and Summers? In their view, “the events of the last ten years have put into question the presumption that economies are self stabilizing, have raised again the issue of whether temporary shocks can have permanent effects, and have shown the importance of non linearities.”
Only mainstream macroeconomists could possibly have thought that capitalism is self stabilizing. The rest of us—who have read Marx and Keynes as well as the work of Robert Clower, Hyman Minsky, and Axel Leijonhufvud—actually knew something about the roots of capitalist instability: the various ways a monetary commodity-producing economy might (but not necessarily) generate imbalances and instabilities based on the normal workings of the system.
Yes, of course, temporary shocks can have permanent effects. How could they not, when tens of millions of people are thrown out of work and, especially in the wake of the most recent crash, inequality has soared to new heights?
And then there are those “non linearities,” the idea that financial crises are characterized by feedback effects such that shocks, even small ones, “are strongly amplified rather than damped as they propagate.” Bank runs are the quintessential example—whether customers demanding their deposits in the first Great Depression or the run on financial institutions (including insurance companies that issued credit default swaps) that occurred in the midst of the second Great Depression. But that’s not all: when corporations, facing a declining profit rate, choose to sell but not purchase, they make individually rational decisions that can have large-scale social ramifications—for workers, indebted households, and other corporations (on both Main Street and Wall Street).
So mainstream macroeconomists appear to be waking up from their slumber and seeing capitalism as it is—and as it has functioned for 150 years or so.
Moreover, the reason that conventional economists are concerned is not economics but politics. Capitalism is not working and the result is social dysfunction that is creating a political backlash against not only politicians but also economists. I suspect that if this were not happening, everything would be just fine. Even so, they are not actually questioning basic assumptions, the adverse consequences of which heterodox economists and political theorists have pointed out from many different angles.

Occasional Links & Commentary
Laughter is the best medicine
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

See also
The real sea change is the third one -- the reconsideration of what recessions really are. Most modern econ theories posit that recessions arrive randomly, instead of as the result of pressures that build up over time. And they assume that recessions are short-lived affairs that go away of their own accord. If these assumptions are wrong, then most of the theories written down in macroeconomics journals over the past several decades -- and most of those being written as we speak -- are of questionable usefulness....
Bloomberg View
Fixing Macroeconomics Will Be Really Hard
Noah Smith, columnist

Áine Cain — Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos' mentor used a simple test to figure out who is a true leader

According to the late Bill Campbell, who established a reputation as the "coach" of Silicon Valley, only one thing determines whether or not you're a leader: the opinions of those you're supposed to be leading.…

[Former Apple CEO John] Sculley shared one of the best pieces of advice Campbell ever gave him: "Your title makes you a manager. Your people will decide if you're a leader, and it's up to you to live up to that."...
"Basically, how you make that happen is if you believe that leadership is not about putting greatness into people, leadership is about recognizing that there's a greatness in everyone and your job is to create an environment where that greatness can emerge," [Current Intuit CEO Brad] Smith told Business Insider....
How do political leaders stack up? Polls are one indication, but generally polls don't measure intensity.

Business Insider
Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos' mentor used a simple test to figure out who is a true leader
Áine Cain

Reuters — China's central bank Anticipates a "Minsky moment."

Hyman Minsky goes to China.
China will fend off risks from excessive optimism that could lead to a "Minsky Moment", central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan said on Thursday, adding that corporate debt levels are relatively high and household debt is rising too quickly.
A Minsky Moment is a sudden collapse of asset prices after a long period of growth, sparked by debt or currency pressures. The theory is named after economist Hyman Minsky....

"If there are too many pro-cyclical factors in the economy, cyclical fluctuations are magnified and there is excessive optimism during the period, accumulating contradictions that could lead to the so-called Minsky Moment," Zhou was speaking on the sidelines of China's 19th Communist Party congress.
"We should focus on preventing a dramatic adjustment," he said. China will control risks from sudden adjustments to asset bubbles and will seriously deal with disguised debt of local government financing vehicles, Zhou said....
China's central bank just warned of a sudden collapse in asset prices

Sarah K. Burris — Former CIA director says it’s ‘implausible’ that Russians didn’t meddle in our election without American help

John Brennan doubles down and insinuates that some connected with Trump colluded with "the Russians" in the "fake news" campaign that purportedly cost HRC the election, since "the Russians" would have need direction about targeting vulnerable states.

Reaching for straws.

Raw Story
Former CIA director says it’s ‘implausible’ that Russians didn’t meddle in our election without American help
Sarah K. Burris

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Defending and extending the periphery

Defending the periphery of the empire while also attempting to extend it.

U.S. Says Syrian Government Will Never Have Foothold In Raqqa, Acccuses Damascus & Allies Of Hindering Efforts To Liberate City

Netanyahu says Israel won't tolerate Iran presence in Syria

Robert Parry — Blaming Russia for the Internet ‘Sewer’

Even former Clinton political strategist Mark Penn has acknowledged the absurdity of thinking that such piddling amounts could have any impact on a $2.4 billion presidential campaign, plus all the billions of dollars worth of free-media attention to the conventions, debates, etc. Based on what’s known about the Facebook ads, Penn calculated that “the actual electioneering [in battleground states] amounts to about $6,500.”
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday, Penn added, “I have 40 years of experience in politics, and this Russian ad buy mostly after the election anyway, simply does not add up to a carefully targeted campaign to move voters. It takes tens of millions of dollars to deliver meaningful messages to the contested portion of the electorate.”
When you loose even Mark Penn.…

Consortium News
Blaming Russia for the Internet ‘Sewer’
Robert Parry

David P. Goldman — In China's state-dominated economy, a large part of Chinese leverage is state infrastructure spending masquerading as corporate debt

Finally figuring it out.
The net debt of the non-financial components of the Shenzhen 300 Index is heavily concentrated in a dozen or so companies, all of which contribute to basic energy or transport infrastructure. A full 10% of the net debt of non-industrial SHSZ300 companies is owed by Petrochina alone.
This suggests that a great deal of Chinese corporate indebtedness should be viewed as “public works” investment by the Chinese sovereign. There certainly are aspects of the increase in indebtedness that recall Japan’s dependence on public works spending as a channel for economic stimulus. But the point to take away is that we are NOT looking at a speculative bubble in corporate debt but a heavily-concentrated investment in state-sponsored infrastructure.…
But the company-by-company breakdown of the location of the debt suggests that in China’s state-dominated economy, this distinction blurs the underlying economics: A very large part of Chinese debt is state infrastructure spending masquerading as corporate debt.
That is not the stuff out of which financial crises are made.
While the West waits for China to crater from growing debt, the steamroller rolls on. Somebody better tell these people to get out of the way or they will be crushed.

Asia Times
In China's state-dominated economy, a large part of Chinese leverage is state infrastructure spending masquerading as corporate debt
David P. Goldman

Adam Garrie — Xi Jinping’s 3.5 hour speech before the 19th CPC National Congress is actually a succinct introduction to China’s road-map for the future

Overall, the prognosis for Xi Jinping and his successors being able to deliver on the monumental promises made in today’s speech, seem surprisingly doable. China has shown the world that it can make the difficult happen with speeds that shock many sceptics and with an exactitude that confounds students or previous rising economic giants.
In this sense, it is not at all beyond the scope of reality that a 3.5 hour speech, may shape the next 100 years of Chinese and world history.
Marx and Lenin get the last laugh?

The Duran

Jayati Ghosh — The De-Digitisation of India

Back to business as usual. Nothing accomplished other than a lot of hassle.

The De-Digitisation of India
Jayati Ghosh | Professor of Economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, in New Delhi

Xinhua — Highlights of Xi's report to 19th CPC National Congress

Socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era.
The CPC has given shape to the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, a long-term guide to action that the Party must adhere to and develop.
The Thought builds on and further enriches Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development. It represents the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context....


Xi calls for making China into a country of innovators

Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for making China's interest rates and exchange rates more market-based.

Xi calls for boosting fundamental role of consumption in China's economic growth

Xi pledges 'sweeping victory' in anti-corruption

China's socialist democracy the most effective: Xi

Xi calls for 'putting quality first' in economic development

Xi says achieving national rejuvenation will be 'no walk in the park'

Global Times — New Chinese sex-ed textbook for female students in Shanghai stirs controversy

"Take a look at the history of the human race, women are documented to suffer from discrimination and suppression both in Oriental civilizations and in Western countries. Women have much more difficulty than men in defending their rights in life and marriage."
This is the very first sentence from Radiant Girls, a new sex-ed textbook published by Shanghai Educational Publishing House especially for girls in the fourth or fifth grade of elementary school....
Teaching basic feminism right out of the gate.

New Chinese sex-ed textbook for female students in Shanghai stirs controversy
Global Times


Summary of the Reuters' report.

Russia Insider
Moscow Is Safest Megacity for Women - Reuters
Anatoly Karlin

Trump Impeachment Articles Could Soon Gain Republican Support, House Democrat Claims

Perhaps it's time for Trump to go, but who's going to replace, Mike Spence? Is there anyone who is a safe pair of hands out there, well, the world depends on it? A war with Iran would be an terrible tragedy and the loss of life enormous. Regardless of their leaders the Iranians are world renowned for their friendliness, which has something to do with Iran being a trading route in the past where traders brought goods and custom. 

Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen said Sunday that it's not just members of his own party that are considering articles of impeachment against President Trump. 
"Privately they will tell you, by their words and by their expressions, that they would like to see an end to the Trump administration and don't approve of what he's doing", Cohen said. 
Cohen, who announced his plan following Trump's controversial comments in the wake of the deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, said he is looking to get between seven and 10 co-sponsors before taking impeachment articles to the House. 
"We have a president who is known to be unstable", he told U.S. cable channel MSNBC.

The Cobess News 

 Trump Impeachment Articles Could Soon Gain Republican Support, House Democrat Claims

JP Koning — An example of tax-driven money during the greenback era

Some interesting history.

An example of tax-driven money during the greenback era
JP Koning

Gallup — Trump Presidency Draws Strong Support, Stronger Opposition


Trump Presidency Draws Strong Support, Stronger Opposition
Jim Norman

Mehdi Hasan — In the Age of Trump, Tom Cotton May Be America’s Most Dangerous Senator

You might call Cotton, who is now being touted as the next director of the CIA, the “Trump whisperer.” In fact, according to the Weekly Standard, in a recent meeting with his top national security and foreign policy advisers, “having failed to receive the decertification option from his own team, Trump called Senator Tom Cotton and put him on speakerphone. The president asked Cotton to make the case for decertifying the Iran deal. Cotton took five minutes and walked Trump and his team through the case, emphasizing one point in particular: re-certifying the deal would be declaring that it was in the national security interest of the United States, something Cotton understood that Trump didn’t believe.”
The Weekly Standard report added that Trump “left the phone call” convinced that the decision to decertify was “the right one.”
Got that? The reality TV star who now occupies the Oval Office defied the advice of his own inner circle, including Defense Secretary James Mattis; ignored the pleas of America’s closest allies; and dismissed the evidence offered by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the deal. Instead, he decided to go with the advice of a 40-year-old freshman senator from Arkansas, who has zero expertise in Middle East diplomacy and none in the field of nuclear proliferation.
Probably not just Tom Cotton. I suspect that Trump had already made up his mind and Cotton was just a cover. But the fact Trump chose Cotton for this is indicative.

The question now is when Mattis, McMaster, Kelly and Tillerson are going to resign before their credibility and reputations are shredded.

The Intercept

TASS — Bank of Russia to start buying gold on Moscow Exchange

"Starting from November 1, 2017, the Bank of Russia will post gold procurement bids during trading sessions of the Moscow Exchange along with gold purchases on the over-the-counter market for purposes of developing the organized market of precious metals and increasing the number of counterparties," the Central Bank said.
Bank of Russia to start buying gold on Moscow Exchange

Joshua Landis — Trump’s Iran Policy Is More about Rollback than Nukes

The renewed US offensive against Iran is not so much about its nuclear capability or even its missile program; it is about Iran rollback and hobbling its economy.
Ever since President Obama signed the Iran agreement, howls of disapproval were heard from both Israel and a number of Gulf States, which were not dismayed so much at the sunset clause on Iran’s nuclear refinement as they were at Iran’s escape from economic sanctions. The real danger, in their eyes, is Iran’s economic break out and potential success. The more money Iran has, the more it can consolidate the success of its Shiite allies in the region: Hezbollah, the Syrian government and the Iraqi government.
President Trump’s latest announcement follows increased U.S. sanctions on both Hezbollah and Syria, as well as increased aid to Syria’s Kurds in their effort to expand territorially. It is the latest in a policy of rollback that has been developing for some time.
It is a policy that both Saudi Arabia and Israel have been pushing on Trump. It is one that also suits his personality as well as the inclinations of his military advisers because it means supporting friends and hurting enemies. It represents the opposite of Obama’s effort at balancing Sunnis and Shiites along with Saudi Arabia and Iran, not to mention his effort to distance the U.S., ever so slightly, from Israel..
Although, the much ballyhooed “land bridge” from Iran to Lebanon through Iraq and Syria cannot be severed by the US army, a high price for building it can be exacted against Iran and its Shiite allies. They can be weakened economically, which is the point of scuttling the Iran deal. The West is also likely to boycott any reconstruction effort in Syria. The new anti-Iran policy will have a profound and far reaching impact on the region. It will ratchet up Sunni-Shiite hostility as well as beggar more countries....
Again, what could go wrong? Professor Landis explains.

Trump’s Iran Policy Is More about Rollback than Nukes
Joshua M. Landis | Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma

Dirk Ehnts — MMT, Tajikistan and foreign bond investors

One criticism of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) that I hear very often is that it applies only to the US or the countries with hard currencies that can issue bonds on international bond markets....
econoblog 101
MMT, Tajikistan and foreign bond investors
Dirk Ehnts | Lecturer at Bard College Berlin

Bill Mitchell — British productivity slump – all down to George Osborne’s austerity obsession

Apparently, whenever some poor economic news is published about the United Kingdom, journalists have to weave in their on-going gripe about the outpouring of democracy in June last year that saw the Brexit vote to leave successful. Its hysterical really. The most recent example is from the otherwise sensible Aditya Chakrabortty from the UK Guardian (October 17, 2017) – Who’s to blame for Brexit’s fantasy politics? The experts, of course. The story has nothing much to do with the June 2016 Referendum but more about massive forecasting failures of the Office of Budget Responsibility. But somehow the story opines about the lies told about Brexit and a fiscal “bloodbath” – the latter being the description for the fact that the fiscal deficit is likely to increase a little as a result of a slower than expected economic growth outcome.
The UK Guardian continually writes about these two obsessions – the first that Brexit will be a disaster and the second that the fiscal position of the British government is in jeopardy and will undermine the capacity of the government to defend the economy if a major downturn comes along (as a result of the ‘Brexit disaster’). The narratives are interlinked – Brexit is bad, it will cause deficits to rise which are bad, and the government will be powerless as a result of the rising deficits to stop the bad consequences of Brexit – which is a big bad. All propositions are largely nonsense.
Brexit will be bad if the British government continues to implement neoliberal policy. Rising deficits do not alter the spending capacity of government. And as a currency-issuing government, Britain can always arrest a recession, if there is political will. The fact is that the OBR forecast errors are just part of the neoliberal lie. And the productivity growth slump the OBR has now ‘discovered’ predates the Brexit referendum by years and is all down to the misplaced austerity imposed by George Osborne in June 2010. But it is disappointing to read this sort of stuff being repeated by so-called progressive commentator. There is clearly more work to be done via education.
Paragraphing added.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
British productivity slump – all down to George Osborne’s austerity obsession
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Zero Hedge — US Army Is Preparing For Decades Of Hybrid Wars

A peek into the military mind.
Tyler Durden

Heather Digby Parton — Trump's Rumored Candidate to Run the CIA Could Plunge America into a Hot War

Backgrounder on Tom Cotton.
According to Molly Ball of The Atlantic, Cotton's Harvard thesis reveals his philosophy:
Cotton insists that the Founders were wise not to put too much faith in democracy, because people are inherently selfish, narrow-minded, and impulsive. He defends the idea that the country must be led by a class of intellectually superior officeholders whose ambition sets them above other men. Though Cotton acknowledges that this might seem elitist, he derides the Federalists’ modern critics as mushy-headed and naive.
“Ambition characterizes and distinguishes national officeholders from other kinds of human beings,” Cotton wrote. “Inflammatory passion and selfish interest characterizes most men, whereas ambition characterizes men who pursue and hold national office. Such men rise from the people through a process of self-selection since politics is a dirty business that discourages all but the most ambitious.”
On the surface, such a belief would seem to be an odd mix with the allegedly populist Donald Trump and his "alt-right" white nationalist allies, but it really isn't. Trump himself is a big believer in eugenics and Steve Bannon is looking for a few good men to lead his army into the big final battle. Tom Cotton may be just the grownup they've been looking for.
Democracy is for "liberals."

Where do they find these people?


Justin Huebner — US Air Force AIRLIFTS! ISIS Fighters From Raqqa to Fight Russians - Russian TV Report

Despite completely leveling Raqqa Dresden-style, the US deliberately let 1000 ISIS fighters escape, and, get this: AIR-LIFTED! them to Deir ez-Zor, to aide in the battle against Russia and Syria there.
Russian TV keeps hammering away at the US, accusing them of all manner of double-dealing and treachery - deliberately helping ISIS hang in there in Syria, despite the fact that their situation is hopeless militarily.
US aide to ISIS has become a very loud refrain on Russian TV, covered in detail on a daily basis....
Russia Insider
US Air Force AIRLIFTS! ISIS Fighters From Raqqa to Fight Russians - Russian TV Report
Justin Huebner

Edward Harrison — Germany’s coalition talks are sowing the seeds of the euro’s breakup

For years now within Germany’s policy circles, there have been many who have pushed for an ‘expulsion’ or ‘voluntary exit’ mechanism for the Eurozone. I am now hearing this position advocated by FDP head Christian Lindner, a potential finance minister in the new German governing coalition. I believe this affects Italy the most and sets up an existential crisis down the line for the EU....
The upshot here is two-fold. First, in a crisis situation, a politically independent hardline German finance minister will not toe the line. Angela Merkel must deal with a more robust power center and cede ground. Second, if and when we do have a crisis, the lack of a common deposit insurance scheme is going to create capital flight that will quicken the pace of crisis. And because of Europe’s new bail-in rules that will force bank creditors to suffer losses before any bailout occurs, political implications could be severe....

Sputnik — Old Habits Die Hard: US Digs Up Cold-War Tool Seeking to 'Bankrupt Russia'

US-Russian relations continue hanging in the balance with NATO's expansion in Eastern and Central Europe and the Pentagon's controversial actions in Syria. While the US continues portraying Moscow as an adversary, the standoff is unlikely to translate into a nuclear conflict, American academic Vladimir Golstein told Sputnik.

The US and the NATO are no longer hiding their goals, they are beefing up their military presence on Russia's borders, Vladimir Golstein, Associate Professor of Slavic Studies at Brown University, told Sputnik, adding that the West is trying to manipulate Moscow into engaging in yet another arms race with the Atlantic bloc....
Professor Goldstein argues that the US is provoking another arms race to force them to drain funding from domestic projects, believing that the Reagan arms buildup forced the collapse of the USSR.

Goldstein doesn't mention it but this is also happening in the case of China.

This has the advantage of direction government spending in the US toward the military-industrial complex and away from domestic welfare. What's not to like?

Spiegel — Playing with Fire: Trump Risks New Conflagration in Middle East

U.S. President Donald Trump made it clear last week that he is close to withdrawing from the Iran accord unless Iran agrees to make changes. His chances for success are slim - and his blustering risks a dangerous escalation.…
European diplomats are also concerned about the effects of a collapsed Iran accord might have on the conflict with North Korea. The Iran deal, after all, is the only blueprint available for how talks with the regime in Pyongyang might be initiated. "The worst thing you can do is try to dismantle it," the EU high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, told PBS in an interview last Wednesday. "The message that America would send to the rest of the world is that America cannot be trusted, because a deal that American voted for just two years ago in the UN Security Council, ... a deal that American helped to shape enormously, would be rejected by the same country."
Germany signaling.
Susanne Koelbl, Juliane von Mittelstaedt, Peter Müller, Christoph Scheuermann and Christoph Schult | Der Spiegel

Philip Giraldi — Israel's Helpers in Media, Government, and Academia - Al-Jazeera Documentary

Exiled by the media like Seymour Hersh and Noam Chomsky, Philip Giraldi doubles down in the alt-media
Last year, al-Jazeera Media Network used an undercover reporter to infiltrate some U.K. pro-Israel groups that were working closely with the Israeli Embassy to counter criticisms coming from British citizens regarding the treatment of the Palestinians. In particular, the Embassy and its friends were seeking to counter the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which has become increasingly effective in Europe. The four-part documentary released late in 2016 that al-Jazeera produced is well worth watching as it consists mostly of secretly filmed meetings and discussions.
The documentary reveals that local Jewish groups, particularly at universities and within the political parties, do indeed work closely with the Israeli Embassy to promote policies supported by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It also confirms that tagging someone as an anti-Semite has become the principal offensive weapon used to stifle any discussion, particularly in a country like Britain which embraces concepts like the criminalization of “hate speech.”.…
Very revealing article. Read the whole thing and relate it to "Russian influence."

Russia Insider
Israel's Helpers in Media, Government, and Academia - Al-Jazeera Documentary
Philip Giraldi | former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and presently Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest

See also
At first glance, the decision last week by the Trump administration, followed immediately by Israel, to quit the United Nation’s cultural agency seems strange. Why penalise a body that promotes clean water, literacy, heritage preservation and women’s rights?
Washington’s claim that the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) is biased against Israel obscures the real crimes the agency has committed in US eyes.
The first is that in 2011 Unesco became the first UN agency to accept Palestine as a member. That set the Palestinians on the path to upgrading their status at the General Assembly a year later.…
The agency’s second crime relates to its role selecting world heritage sites. That power has proved more than an irritant to Israel and the US.
The occupied territories, supposedly the locus of a future Palestinian state, are packed with such sites. Hellenistic, Roman, Jewish, Christian and Muslim relics promise not only the economic rewards of tourism but also the chance to control the historic narrative....
The third crime is the priority Unesco gives to the Palestinian names of heritage sites under belligerent occupation. 
Jonathan Cook

Paul R. Pillar — Americans Wrote the Russians’ Material

Ha ha. Gives "echo chamber" new meaning.

The notion that "Russian" amplification of what Americans were already saying played a significant part in US politics or the elections is simply absurd, especially considering the relative amounts spent.

HRC is making a fool of herself, the Democratic Party is self-destructing, and the Establishment is toying with imposing censorship over this, all to control the narrative.

US politics operates not on issues but on narratives. Whoever controls the narrative, controls the country.

The National Interest
Americans Wrote the Russians’ Material
Paul R. Pillar | senior fellow at Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies, nonresident senior fellow in the Brookings Institution's Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, and retired CIA officer.

Ryan Browne — Kazakhstan plans to launch its own cryptocurrency

  • Kazakhstan's government-supported Astana International Finance Center (AIFC) said Tuesday it had signed a deal of cooperation with Maltese firm Exante
  • Exante said it would work with the AIFC to develop the ex-Soviet nation's untapped cryptocurrency market
  • Kazakhstan's entry into the digital currency ecosystem would be underpinned by Exante's new blockchain platform, 'Stasis'
When it rains it pours.
In August, Estonia proposed its own state-backed digital asset, which would be called "estcoin". The small Eastern European nation said it was considering the launch of estcoin through an initial coin offering (ICO) — a crowdfunding method that has garnered much scrutiny in recent weeks.
And last month, Japan signaled the potential launch of its own digital currency, called J-Coin....

On Iran, Trump Follows Iraq War Neocons — Aaron Maté interviews Lt. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson

Wilkerson sees war approaching.

On Iran, Trump Follows Iraq War Neocons
Aaron Maté interviews Lt. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson

See also
In the U.S., Russia-hating liberals are joining the neocons in seeking more war in Ukraine, as the prospects for a rational and peaceful resolution to the crisis continue to fade, explains James W. Carden.
Consortium News
Fueling More Bloodshed in Ukraine
James Carden

US forces conducted airstrikes against two ISIS training camps in Yemen on Monday, killing dozens of ISIS fighters and "disrupting the organization's attempts to train new fighters," according to a statement released by the Pentagon.
A US defense official told CNN this is the first US strike specifically targeting ISIS in Yemen. Two camps, containing an estimated 50 fighters, were targeted.
First US airstrike targeting ISIS in Yemen kills dozens
Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen, CNN

Taliban militants struck government targets in many provinces of Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 69 people, including a senior police commander, and wounding scores of others.
Taliban attacks kill at least 69 across Afghanistan
Mirwais Harooni

Taliban forces overran two district centers in Kandahar and Farah provinces over the past two days, according to reports from Afghanistan. The jihadist group continues to gain ground in Afghanistan despite a change in US strategy that has reduced restrictions on commanders to launch airstrikes against the group.
FDD's Long War Journal
Taliban overruns 2 districts in southern Afghanistan
Bill Roggio

“The bottom line is we don’t know,” said Ted Postol, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor emeritus of science, technology and international security. “I believe it’s unlikely they can deliver an atomic bomb to the United States at this time, but we can’t rule it out.”
Los Angeles Times
Can North Korea’s missiles deliver an atomic weapon to the U.S. mainland? Maybe.
Raoul Rañoa and Angelica Quintero | Contact Reporters

Asia Unhedged — Introducing the CryptoRuble

The anonymity of a cryptocurrency also provides Russia with a tremendous opportunity to circumvent sanctions. As Handelsblatt reports, the CIA has already expressed suspicion that Russia’s interest in the matter may be related to this. The Director General of the Russian e-money system, Qiwi Sergej Solonin, sees at least the possibility that the CryptoRuble could provide a replacement to the international banking transaction system Swift. The disconnection of Russia from the Swift system has been discussed as a sanctions option in the past.
Asia Times
Introducing the CryptoRuble

Bill Mitchell — Three recent interviews – transcripts and video

Today, I have translated two interviews I did while I was in Europe recently. The original interviews were in Spanish. The first interview was with Andrés Villena Oliver for CTXT and was published in the Spanish newspaper Público. It was conducted at Ecooo in Madrid on September 28, 2017. The the second interview was with journalist Marta Luengo Garcés from the progressive newspaper El Salto Diaro. It was conducted at the Principe Pio Hotel in Madrid on September 29, 2017. You can get a feel for the concerns of the progressive journalists in Spain by the type of questions they asked me. I have also included the video of an interview I did yesterday (October 16, 2017) with Steve Grumbine of the Real Progressives. That should keep readers more than busy until tomorrow.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Three recent interviews – transcripts and video
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Monday, October 16, 2017

Jason Goodman: Sunday With Charles - Yes, Mr. President?

I've been fascinated by Jason Goodman's YouTube videos for few days now since I came across him last week. He's a conservative who supports Trump and he has these broadcasts with interesting people on the right who are really sick of the neoliberal order, the Deep State, the CIA, the MSM, and all the creatures in the swamp, left and right. In this video Jason Goodman talks to Charles Ortel and Stuart Dean of about the Clinton Foundation. It's a real insight into the inner workings of Washington and the Deep State. These videos can be a bit slow and I'm sure a lot of people won't make it to the end, but to me it's like a fly on the wall look at the One Percent. These guys know the inner workings of it all.

Brad Voracek — Reimagining “right-to-work”

“Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.” This is Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared by the UN in 1948. It sounds like a pretty good right to me. That’s why when I learned about “right-to-work” states in America I was dumbfounded. I thought we were fulfilling this right in my own country and I hadn’t even heard about it! Why were people still unemployed if we had a right to work?

It only took a few minutes of research to find out that the “right-to-work” laws some states have are nothing like the fundamental human right. What these laws actually do is defend a worker’s right not to be required to join a labor union to work at a company....
Hey, the essence of capitalism is free-riding, also known as rentierism.

The Minskys
Reimagining “right-to-work”
Brad Voracek

Tom Luongo — Russia’s Crypto-Ruble Just Changed the Game

Well-reasoned analysis from an cryptocurrency advocate's point of view:  A win for cryptocurrency and a win for Putin that will be a win for Russia.

Gold Goats n Guns
Russia’s Crypto-Ruble Just Changed the Game
Tom Luongo


Paul Robinson — Impossible victory

Update on Ukraine.

Impossible victory
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Zero Hedge — "There Were No Calls, That’s Absolutely Crazy": How The Stock Market Died

Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles? Another game of musical chairs?

Zero Hedge
"There Were No Calls, That’s Absolutely Crazy": How The Stock Market Died
Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge — Treasury Yield Curve Crashes To Post-Crisis Flats

Not a good indicator of the business cycle, but it is a pretty fair indicator that inflation expectations are not rising.

Zero Hedge
Recession Red Flag Rears Its Ugly Head - Treasury Yield Curve Crashes To Post-Crisis Flats
Tyler Durden

Sputnik — Vladimir Putin Endorses Russia's New Cryptocurrency

Rumors confirmed.
After months of speculation and conflicting messages, ministers have announced the Russian Federation is to issue its own official cryptocurrency - the CryptoRuble. The landmark development makes Russia the very first government in the world to official pursue virtual tender.
China likely not to be far behind.

Interesting article. Short and worth a read in full.

Sputnik International
Vladimir Putin Endorses Russia's New Cryptocurrency

Pat Lang — Kurdistan - yet another long term British and US policy triumph

Backgrounder on the British creation of Iraq.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
Kurdistan - yet another long term British and US policy triumph
Col. W. Patrick Lang, US Army (ret.)
At the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lang was the Defense Intelligence Officer (DIO) for the Middle East, South Asia and counter-terrorism, and later, the first Director of the Defense Humint Service. At the DIA, he was a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service. He participated in the drafting of National Intelligence Estimates. From 1992 to 1994, all the U.S. military attachés worldwide reported to him. During that period, he also briefed President George H. W. Bush at the White House, as he had during Operation Desert Storm.
He was also the head of intelligence analysis for the Middle East for seven or eight years at that institution. He was the head of all the Middle East and South Asia analysis in DIA for counter-terrorism for seven years. For his service in the DIA, Lang received the Presidential Rank Award of Distinguished Executive. — Wikipedia

Mark Hosenball — Firm behind Trump dossier declines to respond to House panel's subpoena

The U.S. political research firm that commissioned a dossier on Donald Trump while he was running for president said on Monday it would not comply with subpoenas issued by the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.
Firm behind Trump dossier declines to respond to House panel's subpoena
Mark Hosenball

The three co-founders of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm responsible for overseeing the creation of the infamous “Trump dossier”, will refuse to comply with a subpoena ordered by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, according to a letter from their attorneys originally obtained by Business Insider.
But experts say the argument their lawyers are using to ask that they be excused relies on shaky legal grounds, and is unlikely to hold.Zero Hedge
Firm Behind "Trump Dossier" Refuses To Comply With Congressional Subpoena
Tyler Durden

Business Insider
The founders of the firm behind the Trump-Russia dossier say they'll refuse to testify before the House Intelligence Committee
Natasha Bertrand

Good luck, guys. You are now in the crosshairs.