Monday, September 18, 2017

Today's links

Quote: "The only reason we voted for Trump was because he was not Hillary. Now it turns out he is." Chunga, zero hedge comments line

1--How I Believe Facebook Was Censoring My Political Speech  --  

The internet police - now also in the USA

Google now automatically disables or limits searches for material that it deems to be undesirable. If Google does not approve of something it will not appear in search results....

Israel’s government has also more-or-less admitted being engaged in perception management on a large scale. The Israeli Foreign Ministry even sent a letter out to a number of pro-Israel organizations emphasizing the “importance of the internet as the new battleground for Israel’s image.” Haaretz reported in 2013 how Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office collaborated with the National Union of Israeli Students to establish “covert units” at the seven national universities to be structured in a “semi-military” fashion and organized in situation rooms. Students are paid as much as $2,000 monthly to use aliases to work the online targets...

The Times’ assertions regarding the social media invasion by Moscow are reminiscent of Obama Administration claims about Russian hacking in that they are largely evidence free. One anti-Clinton site called DCLeaks is connected by the Times to the Russian military-intelligence service the GRU without any proof whatsoever to confirm that linkage. And there is, of course, nothing to suggest that the alleged Russian meddling in any way convinced the American public of anything, or changed any votes. Even if it existed on the scale that the Times is maintaining, it was demonstrably unsuccessful. It did not determine the outcome of the election.

2--Go, Ringo

3--US B-1B supersonic bombers conduct joint drill with S. Korea ‘as warning to Pyongyang’ – media

Trump continues to provoke N Korea

4--Gallup--Majority in US support attack on N Korea

5--Assad aide says Syria will fight any force, including U.S.-backed militias

6-- US-Backed Kurds Won’t Let Syrian Forces Cross Euphrates River

7-- North Korea tests missile in response to sanctions

8--Sellout-- Trump’s biggest fans, from Breitbart to r/The_Donald, are furious about his immigration deal

9--Trump caves on the wall — and Democrats think he will again
The game of chicken between the White House and Democrats over government funding ended before it began

Far-right news outlet Breitbart News ran with the headline, “Amnesty Don.”
“President Trump signaled a full-fledged cave on the issue of giving amnesty to nearly 800,000 illegal aliens currently protected by an Obama-created executive immigration program,” Breitbart reporter John Binder wrote.
Fox News host and Trump ally Sean Hannity, who blamed Republican leaders, said that “it’s over” for the president if he abandons his hardline immigration stance.

Anti-immigration conservatives flipped out over news that President Donald Trump made a deal with Democratic leaders on immigration.

Following dinner at the White House on Wednesday night, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)  announced that Trump had agreed to legislation that would save the country’s 800,000 Dreamers from deportation. The U.S.-Mexico border wall― a central Trump campaign promise― was not part of this deal, they said

11-- GOP Congressman Sought Trump Deal on WikiLeaks, Russia

California’s Dana Rohrabacher asks for pardon of Julian Assange in return for evidence Russia wasn’t source of hacked emails

A  U.S. congressman contacted the White House this week ......for what he described as evidence that Russia wasn’t the source of hacked emails published by the antisecrecy website during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Today's links

1-- GOP Congressman Sought Trump Deal on WikiLeaks, Russia

The possible “deal”—a term used by Mr. Rohrabacher during the Wednesday phone call—would involve a pardon of Mr. Assange or “something like that,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. In exchange, Mr. Assange would probably present a computer drive or other data-storage device that Mr. Rohrabacher said would exonerate Russia in the long-running controversy about who was the source of hacked and stolen material aimed at embarrassing the Democratic Party during the 2016 election.

“He would get nothing, obviously, if what he gave us was not proof,” Mr. Rohrabacher said...
A Trump administration official confirmed Friday that Mr. Rohrabacher spoke to Mr. Kelly about the plan involving Mr. Assange. Mr. Kelly told the congressman that the proposal “was best directed to the intelligence community,” the official said. Mr. Kelly didn’t make the president aware of Mr. Rohrabacher’s message, and Mr. Trump doesn’t know the details of the proposed deal, the official said.

In the call with Mr. Kelly, Mr. Rohrabacher pushed for a meeting between Mr. Assange and a representative of Mr. Trump, preferably someone with direct communication with the president.
“I would be happy to go with somebody you trust whether it is somebody at the FBI; somebody on your staff,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. The California congressman said he would be pleased to talk to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, but that the agency “has its limitations” and wanted “to cover their butt by having gone along with this big lie.” The CIA was one of the intelligence agencies that helped determine in January that emails from prominent Democrats were stolen by Russian intelligence and given to WikiLeaks.

Mr. Pompeo has said that WikiLeaks is akin to a foreign hostile intelligence service and is an adversary of the U.S. “WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service,” Mr. Pompeo said in an April speech where he criticized the organization for stealing secrets from democratic governments all while receiving the backing of authoritarian states....

After the visit to London, Mr. Rohrabacher said in a statement that Mr. Assange “emphatically stated that the Russians were not involved in the hacking or disclosure of those emails.”

Mr. Rohrabacher has also publicly stated his desire to arrange some sort of meeting between Mr. Assange and Mr. Trump or his representatives in media interviews after the visit. He told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that he had talked to “senior people at the White House” about presenting Mr. Assange’s evidence...

The U.S. intelligence community later concluded that the Democratic emails were stolen and released at the direction of the Russian government, as part of a multipronged influence campaign aimed at boosting Mr. Trump at the expense of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. In a January report, the intelligence agencies said they had “high confidence” that Russian hackers stole emails from U.S. victims and released them publicly using WikiLeaks, another website called DCLeaks and a hacker persona known as Guccifer 2.0, among other channels...

Other Russia tactics, directed from the highest levels of the Russian government, included efforts to hack state election systems and disseminate through social media and other outlets negative stories about Mrs. Clinton and positive ones about the Mr. Trump, the report said. Russia denies any interference, while Mr. Trump has called the investigations into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia a “witch hunt.”

2--Rohrabacher: Someone Leaked 'Very Important' Call With John Kelly concerning WikiLeaks

"I have honored the confidentially of a very important business-related call," he said, speculating that someone inside the White House or within U.S. intelligence agencies leaked the call.

"I don't know who it is, all I know is I'm up against an array of very powerful forces, including the intelligence services and major newspapers that are basically allied with the liberal Left who have every reason to undermine communication on this issue," he told the Washington Examiner.

"Look, there are very powerful forces at work," he added. "We've got the NSA, the FBI and the CIA, all of whom confirmed a major lie that was being used for political purposes and a lie that was repeated and repeated in order to undercut our new president."

3-- Former CIA Agent Blows Whistle On Secret Shadow Government

4--US-Backed Forces and Syrian Troops Get Dangerously Close in Deir ez-Zor

5-- The White House Declares War on James Comey

I think there is no secret [that] Comey, by his own self-admission, leaked privileged government information. Weeks before President Trump fired him, Comey testified that an FBI agent engaged in the same practice; they face serious repercussions. I think he set his own stage for himself on that front. His actions were improper and likely could have been illegal. Comey leaked memos to The New York Times, your own outlet. He politicized an investigation by signaling he would exonerate Hillary Clinton before he ever interviewed her or other key witnesses.

As reporters immediately realized, that sounded like the president’s chief spokeswoman calling for the Justice Department to prosecute Comey, which would be both an escalation of rhetoric and a highly unusual suggestion that a political opponent face prosecution.

6-- Why Lifting Deir ez-Zor's Blockade is 'the Beginning of the End of Syria's War'

The successful Deir ez-Zor operation was the biggest breakthrough against Daesh since the terrorist group first launched an offensive in the province.
The terrorists had been blockading Deir ez-Zor since 2014, with food and other supplies only being airlifted into the city. Daesh  also took control over a large swath of the province of Deir ez-Zor and cut off roads to government-held districts...

"Israel and Egypt are building a line of communication with the Kremlin, seeing [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as a more reliable leader who fulfills his obligations."
"Tel Aviv and Cairo were echoed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is also ready to bolster a strategic line with Moscow on energy, Eurasian security and the future calibration of the Middle East," Gvozdev concluded.

The public was kept in the dark until 2011 that the financial system and U.S. economy only survived the 2008 crash because the Federal Reserve was secretly pumping $16 trillion in almost zero interest loans to Wall Street and its foreign brethren from 2007 through at least the middle of 2010. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), whose details were publicly disclosed, represented a tiny portion of the actual, massive bailout.

Glass-Steagall legislation was enacted in 1933 and kept the U.S. financial system safe for 66 years until its repeal in 1999. It was put in place in 1933 as the stock market was on its way to losing 90 percent of its value following the 1929 crash and after the U.S. Senate had spent three years intensely investigating the Wall Street corruption that had caused the crash. It was wisely decided by Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that the new legislation would ban banks holding insured deposits backstopped by the taxpayer from being housed under the same roof with Wall Street’s casino-like investment banks and brokerage firms, which had a jaded history of blowing themselves up. Nine short years after the repeal of Glass-Steagall, century old iconic names on Wall Street lay in ruins and their demise and interconnectedness led to the worst economic crisis in the United States since the Great Depression.

8-- Dodd-Franks phony reforms triggered more fleecing of America people

On May 21, 2012, the Times published a piece by business writer, Andrew Ross Sorkin, titled: “Reinstating an Old Rule Is Not a Cure for Crisis.” In the article, Sorkin writes:

“The first domino to nearly topple over in the financial crisis was Bear Stearns, an investment bank that had nothing to do with commercial banking.  Glass-Steagall would have been irrelevant. Then came Lehman Brothers; it too was an investment bank with no commercial banking business and therefore wouldn’t have been covered by Glass-Steagall either. After them, Merrill Lynch was next — and yep, it too was an investment bank that had nothing to do with Glass-Steagall.

“Next in line was the American International Group, an insurance company that was also unrelated to Glass-Steagall.”

Sorkin was not just wrong but outrageously dead wrong on every single bank. As we wrote in 2012:

“There are four companies mentioned in those five sentences and in every case, the information is spectacularly false.  Lehman Brothers owned two FDIC insured banks, Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB and Lehman Brothers Commercial Bank. Together, they held $17.2 billion in assets as of June 30, 2008, 75 days before Lehman went belly up…Merrill Lynch also owned three FDIC insured banks… Bear Stearns owned Bear Stearns Bank Ireland, which is now part of JPMorgan and called JPMorgan Bank (Dublin) PLC…AIG owned, in 2008 at the time of the crisis, the FDIC insured AIG Federal Savings Bank.  On June 30, 2008, it held $1 billion in assets.  AIG also owned 71 U.S.-based insurance entities and 176 other financial services companies throughout the world, including AIG Financial Products which blew up the whole company selling credit default derivatives. What this has to do with Glass-Steagall is that the same deregulation legislation, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that gutted Glass-Steagall in 1999, also gutted the 1956 Bank Holding Company Act and allowed insurance companies and securities firms to be housed under the same umbrella in financial holding companies...

Today, the latest Times editorial is attempting to blame the Trump administration for putting the nation’s financial system at risk through rollbacks in the Dodd-Frank reform legislation signed into law under Obama in 2010.  The editorial writers state: “The Republican-controlled Congress is too jammed up to move ahead with legislation to weaken Dodd-Frank. But that won’t be necessary, since the administration is doing a good job of dismantling the regulations on its own.”

What the New York Times knows it should be saying is that the Dodd-Frank legislation is an illusion of financial reform while it allows the New York Times’ hometown boys to become billionaires while running the largest wealth transfer system in U.S. history – fleecing the pockets of the 99 percent across America.

9--Corporate Debt Threatens U.S. Economic Prospects

According to recent studies, U.S. corporations’ debt levels could pose some serious headwinds for the United States’ economy in the next major downturn. In April, the International Monetary Fund announced the following red flags:

The U.S. corporate sector has added $7.8 trillion in debt and other liabilities since 2010;

Among S&P 500 firms, median net debt “is close to a historic high of more than 1 ½ times earnings”;

Looking at a “broader set of nearly 4,000 firms accounting for about half of the economy-wide corporate sector balance sheet, suggests a similar rise in leverage across almost all sectors to levels exceeding those prevailing just before the global financial crisis”;

Debt is especially high “in the energy, real estate, and utilities sectors, ranging between four and six times earnings”;

In July 2016, S&P Global released a report which found that “global corporate credit quality has been weakening over recent years.” It said that in a sampling of about 14,400 nonfinancial corporations around the globe, “two out of five” are highly leveraged. The report noted further:

“Our base case anticipates an orderly slowdown of credit growth relative to real growth and inflation, as the latter two factors gradually rise in coming years. However, it is not hard to envisage more negative outcomes where a credit crunch (‘Crexit’ scenario) occurs, should inflation return, rates rise, and bond prices fall. Alternatively, a worst-case scenario comprising several negative economic and political shocks (such as a potential fallout from Brexit) could unnerve lenders, causing them to pull back from extending credit to higher-risk borrowers

“The average interest coverage ratio — a measure of the ability for current earnings to cover interest expenses — has fallen sharply over the past two years. Earnings have dropped to less than six times interest expense, close to the weakest multiple since the onset of the global financial crisis.”

In December of last year, the Financial Times obtained a study from a Wall Street trade group, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which found that if you added short-term company borrowings such as those found in money market funds to outstanding corporate debt, the total comes to a whopping $11.3 trillion. The article notes the following:

“Much of the debt sold by companies in recent years has been used to buy back their own shares, pay out higher dividends or finance big mergers and acquisitions. While these buybacks funded by cheap borrowing have boosted earnings, a missing ingredient has been spending on investment to build their businesses.”

Economist Michael Hudson has a great deal to say about corporations buying back their own shares in his book, Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy. Hudson writes in one chapter:

“Instead of warning against turning the stock market into a predatory financial system that is de-industrializing the economy, [business schools] have jumped on the bandwagon of debt leveraging and stock buybacks. Financial wealth is the aim, not industrial wealth creation or overall prosperity. The result is that while raiders and activist shareholders have debt-leveraged companies from the outside, their internal management has followed the post-modern business school philosophy viewing ‘wealth creation’ narrowly in terms of a company’s share price. The result is financial engineering that links the remuneration of managers to how much they can increase the stock price, and by rewarding them with stock options. This gives managers an incentive to buy up company shares and even to borrow to finance such buybacks instead of to invest in expanding production and markets.”

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Today's links

1--US-Backed Kurds Won’t Let Syrian Forces Cross Euphrates River

Assad Govt Vows to Fight All Rival Forces to Reunite Country

2--US .-backed Syrian fighters say will not let government forces cross Euphrates

Military council commander Ahmed Abu Khawla warned government forces and their militia allies against firing across the river as his fighters close in -- something he said had happened in recent days.

“Now we have 3 km between us and the eastern riverbank, once our forces reach the area, any shot fired into that area we will consider an attack on the military council,” he said.

“We have notified the regime and Russia that we are coming to the Euphrates riverbank, and they can see our forces advancing,” he said. “We do not allow the regime or its militias to cross to the eastern riverbank.”

But Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Syrian army had already crossed. ...

“Whether it’s the Syrian Democratic Forces, or Daesh (Islamic State) or any illegitimate foreign force in the country ... we will fight and work against them so our land is freed completely from any aggressor,” she said in an interview with Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV.

3--Assad aide says Syria will fight any force, including U.S.-backed militias

4--US stock buybacks are plunging

U.S. stocks have been able to hit fresh highs this year despite a dearth of demand from a key source of buying.
Share repurchases by American companies this year are down 20 percent from this time a year ago, according to Societe Generale global head of quantitative strategy Andrew Lapthorne

Ultra-low borrowing costs had encouraged large firms to issue debt to buy back their own stock, thereby providing a tailwind to earnings-per-share growth.
"Perhaps over-leveraged U.S. companies have finally reached a limit on being able to borrow simply to support their own shares," writes Lapthorne.
Repurchase programs account for the lion’s share of net inflows into U.S. equities during this bull market. Heading into 2017, equity strategists anticipated that the buyback bonanza would continue in earnest, fueled in part by an expected tax reform plan that would provide companies with repatriated cash to invest.

5--How the terrorist superpower uses sanctions 

The US)  impose sanctions to block and prevent the necessary materials for repairs being brought into the country. Or prevent food or medicine from being brought into the country, or whatever evil the criminal brains in these command centers will devise to damage and harass people who do not obey. Sooner or later, the desired effect will appear, which can only be described as planned mass murder. This has happened in recent years in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and most recently in Yemen. Gaza can be counted as one of the places where this “policy” has also been practiced for years, interrupted only by further bombing of residential buildings and infrastructure. The fact that the Western media hardly ever report about these gigantic crimes against humanity makes these “free media” accomplices in the style of Nazi media.

The terrorist superpower, the United States of America, apparently is not mainly interested in conquering these countries – it is enough for them to have them rendered helpless and defenseless, at least not being able to stand in the way of the aggressive ambitions of those striving for world domination. It easily can be found out on any world map where they are heading to.

Many millions of people killed, crippled and displaced will have to continue to be worth the “prize” that the aspirations of the terrorist superpower and their criminal “community” will require, at least in case things are developing according to their intentions.

6--Bill Blum--Killing Hope--Korea

Once upon a time, the United States fought a great civil war in which the North attempted to reunite the divided country through military force. Did Korea or China or any other foreign power send in an army to slaughter Americans, charging Lincoln with aggression?

Why did the United States choose to wage full-scale war in Korea? Only a year earlier, in 1949, in the Arab-Israeli fighting in Palestine and in the India-Pakistani war over Kashmir, the United Nations, with American support, had intervened to mediate an armistice, not to send in an army to take sides and expand the fighting. And both these conflicts were less in the nature of a civil war than was the case in Korea. If the US/UN response had been the same in these earlier cases, Palestine and Kashmir might have wound up as the scorched-earth desert that was Korea's fate. What saved them, what kept the US armed forces out, was no more than the absence of a communist side to the conflict.

7--JPMorgan Tells Clients the Surge in Stocks Is Prolonging the Bull Market in Bonds

8--US to sanction china??

9--Proof that US supports ISIS?? 

Hajizadeh also said that over the recent years, the IRGC has infiltrated into the US military’s command centers and has evidence of their support for Daesh terrorists.
“We have documents showing the behavior of the Americans in Iraq and Syria. We know what the Americans did there; what they neglected and how they supported Daesh,” Hajizadeh said.
If the IRGC is allowed to release those documents, it would bring about more "scandals" for the US, the commander pointed out

10-- Ditch the Dollar?  

11--Global Engagement Center State Dept propaganda outlet

12-- New Legislation Establishes Orwellian Propaganda Agency 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Today's links

1--Venezuela fights the oligarchs revolt

What’s the general mood of the people, if you could perceive it, in the area you were living?

The first word that comes to mind is a mood of determination. Despite threats coming directly from the White House that the US would take ‘strong action and swift economic actions’ against Venezuela if the Constituent Assembly elections move forward, people in El Valle and elsewhere turned out in record numbers. Today, with such bullying growing ever more aggressive, communities and movements continue to assert their right to direct democratic participation in their political system, as they work, by sector and by region, to revise their constitution. What impresses me most is the balance of pragmatism and revolutionary vision I’m witnessing, as people make concrete proposals and take concrete actions to address the many pressing challenges at present at the same time that they work to further deepen and radicalize the Bolivarian Revolution....

The main thing I’d like to emphasize about daily life in Caracas is that indeed people are carrying on. Markets are bustling, children are playing in the streets, cultural activities are happening, etc. There is a major disconnect between this reality and what’s presented in the news, which looks as if Caracas is a war zone. Those images, e.g. of masked protestors in direct confrontation with police forces were from demonstrations largely confined to the wealthier areas of the city. For communities such as El Valle, daily life is more or less the same as usual. ...

The other thing I’d like to emphasize, which I hope to speak to more as we go on, is that all of the grassroots organizing and mobilizing that the Bolivarian Revolution has been known for over the years is very much alive and kicking right now. This was never of interest to the mainstream media, but even the alternative media has been rather remiss in its coverage, and far too often it is as if the people, communities, and movements that are doing a tremendous amount of inspiring work on the ground are invisible....

access to health care is better today than it ever was in communities like El Valle. For the most part, people had to travel outside the community to receive health care in the past, and that was if they could afford it. Today, there are blue-roofed health clinics characteristic of the government’s Barrio Adentro program dotting many street corners in El Valle, as well as larger facilities, such as a maternity hospital and a rehabilitation center within walking distance from where I am living.

Through the Bolivarian Revolution, health care is now free and accessible. Two of the friends with whom I live recently got new pairs of glasses and one of them has been receiving special physical therapy sessions. These are high-quality services accessible to all community members and free of charge. On the other hand, a neighbor’s son has been unable to access his anti-seizure medication and another neighbor with a chronic health issue has also been having trouble accessing her regular medications. And such situations are magnified many times over across the country. Shortages of medicines and certain medical supplies are a major issue. And what’s worse, as with the food shortages, there is evidence indicating that the shortages of medicines are also manufactured....

The main economic activity in El Valle is retail, through both the formal and informal economies. There is a large shopping center there, as well many independent shops and a large array of street vendors. Shopping centers and street markets remain bustling, but people’s money goes a lot less far these days due to high rates of inflation, which is surely taking a toll on retailers. So I can say that things have far from ground to a halt, but many retailers are surely having a hard time of it.

2--Was Kaepernick blackballed?....The money made at the top is on the backs of the Black players.”

The owners contribute to Republicans over Democrats at a ratio of 40 to 1.”
  1. with all this evidence related to quarterback ability, we’re talking black balling and lockout, familiar tactics by owners for those who understand the history of race and labor relations. The teams of the NFL are not unlike plantations and their owners are absolute rulers. They want to keep this system intact. They shake down cities for tax breaks and free public land. They contribute to Republicans over Democrats at a ratio of 40 to 1. They promoted a Jim Crow system for decades, keeping black athletes out of football’s marquee position, the quarterback....

Austin Davis, signed by the Seahawks, hasn’t played a game since 2015; David Olson, now working for the Ravens, was a big “star” in the Indoor Football League (wow!); Mike Glennon, hired by the Bears, has thrown 11 passes in two years; Josh McCown, now with his eighth team, the Jets, is 2-20 over the past three years; Landry Jones of the Steelers has made two starts in each of the last two seasons, and the 49ers’ own Matt Barkly threw 14 interceptions in seven games last year and has a passer rating of 63.7.

3--Sitting down takes guts-- Michael Bennett “I love football like any other American. But I don’t love segregation, I don’t love riots, I don’t love oppression.”

First of all I want to make sure people understand I love the military — my father was in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American. But I don’t love segregation, I don’t love riots, I don’t love oppression. I don’t love gender slander. I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve and I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message and keep finding out how unselfish we can be in society, how we can continuously love one another and understand that people are different. And just because people are different doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t like them. Just because they don’t eat what you eat, just because they don’t pray to the same God you pray to doesn’t mean you should hate them. Whether it is Muslim, whether it is Buddhist, whether it is Christianity, I just want people to understand that no matter what, we need to stay together. It’s more about being a human being at this point.”

4-- Payback?  Russia hacking critic, Craig Murray, sued for libel 

Murray knows who took DNC emails that went to WikiLeaks. (It wasn't Russia) Now he's being sued.

5--Trump sells out his base --Right "Explodes In Anger" Over Trump's New Immigration Push

6--Behold a Pale Horse, and its Rider is Death (Washington?)

7-- An Impending Clash?  Troops Get Dangerously Close in Deir ez-Zor

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Today's Links

“I know what the North Koreans want,” he said. “What they want is a firm treaty guaranteeing North Korea that the US will not attack them or hurt them in any way, unless they attack one of their neighbors. But the United States has refused to do that.” Jimmy Carter

Lavrov: "We see that many Western politicians find it difficult to accept the obvious – the post-bipolar era is over. The hopes of replacing it with hegemony were not realised. Today we are witnessing the development of a new, more just and democratic polycentric arrangement.... A multi-polar system reflects the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world.... [Western states are] standing in the way of forming a multipolar world order, but no one can stop this objective and relentless process.... All we want is to build our own lives ourselves, without foreign prompting and unwelcome advice.... General trends gravitate towards a multipolar world, but... we still have not reached peak resistance to this trend.... Our Western partners need to realise... that joining this trend, rather than going against it, is a much easier and more efficient way to secure their national interests."

 "The basic principles of international law... – [namely,] sovereign equality of states and commitments not to interfere in their internal affairs and to resolve all disputes by peaceful means.... It is well-known who violated these basic principles, who bombed Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, who allowed the emergence of... ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.... The Syrians themselves should determine the future of their country. We are using the same principles in our dealings with all the parties to the crises in Libya, Iraq, and Yemen.... There’s no doubt that the [approaching] Syrian settlement will certainly be a positive factor not only for the Middle East, but international relations in their entirety.... This will be a signal that one can no longer dictate decisions unilaterally, without taking into account the opinion of the country in question."

Sergei Lavrov at the Moscow School of International Relations  Sep 2017

1--Bombshell Report Catches Pentagon Falsifying Paperwork For Weapons Transfers To Syrian Rebels

Pentagon working with organized crime groups to get weapons to jihadists

2--US squeezes North Korea--More sanctions

Reuters reported in late June that state-run China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) had suspended sales of gasoline and fuel to North Korea over concerns it would not get paid, and Chinese customs data showed that gasoline exports to the North had dropped 97 percent from a year earlier.
Petrol and diesel prices in North Korea surged after the cut and have almost doubled since late last year. In early September, petrol cost an average of $1.73/kg, compared with 97 cents last December, according to data from the defector-run Daily NK.
“The cost of living has gone up, the price of petrol has risen and there are fewer cars on the streets,” a foreign resident of the North Korean capital told Reuters. The only thing that had become cheaper was coal, he said, after China banned North Korean coal imports earlier this year

3--No greenbacks for you-- US threatens to ‘cut China off’ from dollar if it does not uphold sanctions against N. Korea

The Treasury Secretary echoed the words of the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, by calling the fresh round of sanctions against Pyongyang “historic.” Mnuchin added “if China doesn’t follow these sanctions, we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the US and international dollar system.”...

The UNSC unanimously approved a new resolution on sanctions against Pyongyang on September 11. Following a series of behind-the-scenes negotiations Sunday, diplomats agreed not to ban oil exports into North Korea. Instead, the ninth set of restrictive sanctions against Pyongyang authorized an annual cap of 2 million barrels of refined petroleum products to North Korea.
It also banned the North’s textile exports – the second-biggest export for the country, which totals $752 million – according to data from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. Chinese and Russian negotiators managed to persuade the US delegation not to impose a travel ban or asset freeze on North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.

4-- US Comes to Russia With 'Absurd' Request for More Sanctions Against North Korea

The Americans want to deprive the North Koreans of heat, to expel all their guest workers who are needed by Russia in the Far East, and also to stop the export of textiles from the DPRK. What does that have to do with the nuclear missile program?" Toloraya asked.

The original version of the text called for a trade embargo on oil and textiles and a financial and travel ban for leader Kim Jong-un. China and Russia oppose sanctions that could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in the country, which was already put under more sanctions in August. With that in view, the US has watered down the text in order to win the approval of the Security Council, although it still proposes a ban on North Korean textiles.

5--In “60 Minutes” interview, Bannon elaborates plans for American fascist movement

6--From hurricanes to tax cuts: The ruling class gets down to business

there is one thing that the political establishment can agree on, it is that the cost of the hurricanes—and of the broader economic and social crisis in the United States of which it is a part—will not be paid for by those responsible: the corporate and financial elite. The decades-long redistribution of wealth must continue, and the massive stock bubble must be inflated with new cash....

AccuWeather predicts that the combined cost of the two storms could rise to $290 billion, or 1.5 percent of the total value of goods produced and services provided in the United States in an entire year. The hurricanes will have a significant impact on the US economy, wiping out all anticipated economic growth between August and the end of the year.

Amidst this destruction, however, the US stock markets are on the rise—increasing significantly on both Monday and Tuesday. The reason is evident: the ruling elite is licking its collective chops at the prospect of a major cut in corporate and individual taxes for the wealthy.

Over the weekend, even as Irma was making landfall in Florida, Trump seized the moment to press for “dramatic tax cuts and tax reform.” With “what’s happened with the hurricane,” he said, “I’m gonna ask for a speed-up.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs banker and hedge fund manager (net worth $300 million), said on Tuesday that the White House is “super focused” on tax cuts, and that the administration is considering backdating these cuts to January 1 to provide a “big boon for the economy”—that is, for Wall Street

7--Russia’s Fake Americans -- NYT sets stage for attacks on Russia and the First amendment

Facebook announced Wednesday the removal of 470 fake accounts and pages “likely” engineered in Russia. It requires account identities and can challenge the bona fides of fakers. Twitter does not, nor does it prohibit automated accounts, which can create fake “trends” to attract readers. Between them, the sites have more than two billion accounts....

The social media scheming is further evidence of what amounted to unprecedented foreign invasion of American democracy. If President Trump and Congress are not outraged by this, American voters should ask why

8--Fake News

On December 23, 2016, President Obama signed the Portman-Murphy Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, which will supposedly allow the United States to more effectively combat foreign (namely Russian and Chinese) propaganda and disinformation. It will encourage more government counter-propaganda efforts, and provide funding to non-government entities to help in this enterprise. It is clearly a follow-on to the claims of Russian hacking and propaganda, and shares the spirit of the listing of two hundred tools of Moscow featured in the Washington Post

The CIA’s brazen intervention in the electoral process in 2016 and 2017 broke new ground in the agency’s politicization. Former CIA head Michael Morell announced in an August 2016 op-ed in the Times: “I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton,” and former CIA boss Michael Hayden published an op-ed in the Washington Post just days before the election, entitled “Former CIA Chief: Trump is Russia’s Useful Fool.” Morell had yet another op-ed in the Times on January 6, now openly assailing the new president. These attacks were unrelievedly insulting to Trump and laudatory to Clinton, even portraying Trump as a traitor; they also made clear that Clinton’s more pugnacious stance toward Syria and Russia was preferable by far to Trump’s leanings toward negotiation and cooperation with Russia....

While quoting the CIA’s admission that it had no hard evidence, relying instead on “circumstantial evidence” and “capabilities,” the Times was happy to describe these capabilities at great length and to imply that they proved something.28 Editorials and news articles have worked uniformly on the false supposition that Russian hacking was proved, and that the Russians had given these data to WikiLeaks, also unproven and strenuously denied by Assange and Murray.....

10--Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge, Skip Folden

11-- In Syria, New Conflict Looms as ISIS Loses Ground  

The Syrian regime’s successful offensive in Deir Ezzour this week pushed it ahead in the race against America’s Kurdish-led allies over who will inherit Islamic State’s remaining Syrian real estate.

With the extremist group losing ground fast, President Bashar al-Assad has emerged in his strongest position since the Syrian uprising began in 2011. Yet large parts of the country remain outside his reach, including an American-protected zone run by the Kurds in northeastern Syria and a smaller Turkish occupation zone nearby.

The question now is where precisely the line between regime and Kurdish areas will be drawn after Islamic State’s defeat and whether it will solidify into a semi-permanent partition of the country or spark a new bout of violence that could force the U.S. to make difficult choices.

American military planning calls for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, currently finishing the battle to take Raqqa from Islamic State, to push further south down the Euphrates River and to seize the extremist group’s remaining cities of Mayadeen and then al-Bukamal on the Iraqi border. That contested swath of Syria also holds most of its oil and gas reserves.
This week’s blitz by the Syrian army and its Shiite militia allies to relieve a besieged garrison in Deir Ezzour could within days cut off the way for such SDF advances. Large parts of the city remain under Islamic State control.
“It was a race but once the regime takes Deir Ezzour, it’s game over for the U.S.-led coalition. They will have to stop,” said Monzer Akbik, a leader of the mostly Arab Tayyar al-Ghad party that is loosely allied with the SDF. “After Deir Ezzour, the regime will be able to go to al-Bukamal, and once al-Bukamal is taken, the Iranians will have achieved an uninterrupted land route from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Hezbollah in Beirut.”

The regime and SDF aren’t enemies, so far. They both share a hostility to Turkey and Turkey’s Syrian proxies, who occupy an area northeast of Aleppo. Despite isolated skirmishes over the past year, regime-held enclaves operate inside Kurdish territory in the northeastern cities of Hasakah and Qamishli, while the large Kurdish enclave of Afrin in western Syria enjoys Russian protection from Turkey and is connected to the rest of the world through regime territory.
“The SDF and the regime generally did not fight each other until now. We will see soon whether this will still hold true,” said Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The idea in U.S. policy circles is that we will now have a soft partition of Syria along the Euphrates, as it was along the Elbe [in Germany] at the end of the Second World War, except that the Americans are now coming from the east and the Russians from the west. But the regime and the Iranians are not interested in a soft partition. What they are after is a military victory.”
Indeed, Mr. Assad has repeatedly rejected the idea of maintaining Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria.  Safwan Akkash, one of the leaders of the moderate and predominantly Sunni Arab Syrian opposition, predicted that the regime will eventually attack America’s Kurdish allies.

The regime will not tolerate a Kurdish autonomous region,” he said. “Everything will be temporary in the sharing of influence between the Russians and the Americans. The current conflict will be followed by another conflict.”
That may not happen immediately, in part because the U.S. and Russia are loath to see a full-out war between the regime and the SDF. The regime also has more immediate priorities, such as rebel-dominated Idlib province in the northwest, which is increasingly controlled by jihadists allied with al Qaeda.
But such a conflict appears imminent and should it erupt, it would confront Washington with an unpalatable choice of either abandoning its Kurdish allies or taking direct military action against the Assad regime, said Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria under the Obama administration who is now a fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington.

Sooner or later, the government in Damascus will try to reimpose its authority. Will they move in six months, a year, 18 months?” Mr. Ford said. “That will be a big decision for the Trump administration: Should they use American armed forces to protect the Syrian Kurdish autonomous region? If they do, it would be against international law, and I don’t think there is any country in the region that would support it.”
One hope of avoiding such a scenario—which would, among other things, strain even further the already fraught U.S. relationship with Russia—lies in the United Nations-sponsored peace process in Geneva.
There, however, the Kurdish movement—now in control of the second-largest territory after the regime—isn’t even represented because of Turkish objections. And the beleaguered Sunni Arab opposition, which was making major advances until Russia’s intervention two years ago reversed the course of the war, holds increasingly weak cards.
This means that, for Mr. Assad, there are few reasons to be flexible in the peace process now, said Kamal Alam, a visiting fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London who frequently travels to Damascus.

“The government has the upper hand, and they are far stronger than they have ever been” since the war began, Mr. Alam said. “They will still go to the talks, but they no longer have the pressure to give up too much.”

12--Why Did Robert Mueller Obstruct Congress’s 9/11 Probe?

13--UN Security Council imposes severe sanctions on North Korea

14-- Kurdistan?

On September 7, the former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Major General Yair Golan said in a meeting organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that he believes that establishing of a Greater Kurdistan (a state that will include the Kurdish-populated territories of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey) in the Middle East is basically a good idea that could contribute to a stability in the region.

15-- 9-11 conspiracy theory?

Extra Links---

China and Russia are expected to oppose a complete oil export ban, which would precipitate an economic and political crisis in Pyongyang. Beijing and Moscow fear that the US and its allies would exploit any breakdown in North Korea to instal a pro-US regime in their backyard
Seymour hersh
confirms my basic thesis

Friday, September 8, 2017

Today's Links

The US has a massive spy state that even intercepts the private cell phone conversations of the Chancellor of Germany, but his massive spy organization is unable to produce one scrap of evidence that the Russians conspired with Trump to steal the presidential election from Hillary. "  Paul Craig Roberts

Gareth Porter: "...the history of the US government’s claim that Russian intelligence hacked into election databases reveals it to be a clear case of politically motivated analysis by the DHS and the Intelligence Community. Not only was the claim based on nothing more than inherently inconclusive technical indicators but no credible motive for Russian intelligence wanting personal information on registered voters was ever suggested."
Foisting Blame for Cyber-Hacking on Russia

“North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success...South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” Trump

The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!  Trump

Andrew K.P. Leung: I think the time for coercion is over. North Korea has successfully crossed the watershed and has demonstrated its ability to deliver a very powerful nuclear weapon. If it’s not a full-scale hydrogen bomb, at least it’s as powerful as the nuclear bomb dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. North Korea has already demonstrated its ability to deliver its missiles flying over Japan to near where Guam is. I think... the time for a lot of rhetoric and sanctions is really over. What the North Koreans want is, of course, not a war, because a war would mean the demise of their regime. They want a cast-iron assurance of the regime’s stability. It’s time to move on from talks to a Korean Peninsula stability pact involving all the countries in the region. The pact should make sure that there is de-escalation by all sides. It would aim at North Korea at least freezing further [missile] tests and the Americans toning down, not only the rhetoric, but also military exercises… The stability past should also ensure that all the countries [involved] move on from a paradigm of coercion to a paradigm of incentives… combined with even opportunities for economic cooperation. That’s the only way to stabilize the situation.

“The situation on the Korean Peninsula, where tensions have grown recently, is balancing on the brink of a large-scale conflict. Russia believes that the policy of putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear missile program is misguided and futile....
The region’s problems should only be settled through a direct dialogue of all the parties concerned without any preconditions. Provocations, pressure and militarist and insulting rhetoric are a dead-end road." V Putin

Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.

Based on the research by economists Lawrence F. Katz of Harvard and Alan B. Krueger of Princeton, as reported in, 95% of jobs created during the Obama era were temporary, contractual jobs or part-time employment.

The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant.  Harold Pinter

1--Putin builds trust on the Korean Peninsula

In the given situation, Russian diplomacy becomes optimal. While bringing about peace, it also holds the potential to create wealth and shared prosperity, which provides the bedrock for regional stability and helps the development of the Russian Far East...

The message from the two-day Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) conference, which concluded in Vladivostok on Thursday, is that Russia’s “pivot to Asia” in recent years, in the downstream of Western sanctions against it, has become a core vector of its foreign policies...

Putin on North Korea:  “Everyone remembers well what happened to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Hussein abandoned the production of weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless… Saddam Hussein himself and his family were killed… Even children died back then. His grandson, I believe, was shot to death. The country was destroyed… North Koreans are also aware of it and remember it. Do you think that following the adoption of some sanctions, North Korea will abandon its course on creating weapons of mass destruction? “Certainly, the North Koreans will not forget it. Sanctions of any kind are useless and ineffective in this case. As I said to one of my colleagues yesterday, they will eat grass, but they will not abandon this program unless they feel safe.”..

Significantly, Moon said at his press conference with Putin on Wednesday:
“Mr. President and I have also agreed to build up the basis for the implementation of trilateral projects with participation of the two Koreas and Russia, which will connect the Korean Peninsula and the Russian Far East… We have decided to give priority to the projects that can be implemented in the near future, primarily in the Far East. The development of the Far East will promote the prosperity of our two countries and will also help change North Korea and create the basis for the implementation of the trilateral agreements. We will be working hard on this.”..

Putin stated at the press conference with Moon that “Russia is still willing to implement trilateral projects with the participation of North Korea.” He flagged the above three projects specifically and added, “The implementation of these initiatives will be not only economically beneficial, but will also help build up trust and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”..

2--Putin goes for the jugular, the dollar

And then, Putin delivers the clincher; “Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.”

“To overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies” is the politest way of stating what the BRICS have been discussing for years now; how to bypass the US dollar, as well as the petrodollar.

Beijing is ready to step up the game. Soon China will launch a crude oil futures contract priced in yuan and convertible into gold.

This means that Russia – as well as Iran, the other key node of Eurasia integration – may bypass US sanctions by trading energy in their own currencies, or in yuan. Inbuilt in the move is a true Chinese win-win; the yuan will be fully convertible into gold on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges.

The new triad of oil, yuan and gold is actually a win-win-win. No problem at all if energy providers prefer to be paid in physical gold instead of yuan. The key message is the US dollar being bypassed

3--Why America’s 1994 deal with North Korea failed – and what Trump can learn from it  

4-- Carter and North Korea: the 1994 Treaty Halting North Korea’s Development of Nuclear Weapons

Very little, almost nothing has been mentioned in the press or on TV about Jimmy Carter and his negotiation resulting in an agreement by the North Koreans, in 1994, to halt its nuclear weapons program and to put its facilities under international inspection – an agreement that held for eight years until the treaty regime decayed due to lack of political resolve, mostly on part of US administrations.

5--When you're seen as a N*****, you’ll be treated that way’ – NFL star Bennett on Las Vegas arrest

6--Prominent Syrian general speaks from the frontlines in Deir Ezzor: video 

The Druze Beast

7-- Macron’s labor decrees in France: A new stage in the international social counter-revolution  

8--All Aboard: High-speed Eurasian railway    

9-- Say goodbye to the buck-- BRICS countries considering own cryptocurrency as settlement mechanism

10-- Kim forging ahead

While Washington and Seoul argue over the threat of military force, Mr. Kim seems determined to forge ahead. He has conducted more than 80 missile tests since taking over the country. And four of the six nuclear tests have been on his watch.
This was the biggest, by far. The United States Geological Survey estimated that the tremor set off by the blast, detected at 12:36 p.m. at the Punggye-ri underground test site in northwestern North Korea, had a magnitude of 6.3

The South Korean Defense Ministry’s estimate was much lower, at 5.7, but even that would mean a blast “five to six times” as powerful as the North’s last nuclear test, a year ago, said Lee Mi-sun, a senior analyst at the South Korean Meteorological Administration....

A 20-kiloton atomic bomb would demolish several blocks in a major city. A hydrogen bomb that was physically similar in size could yield 1,000 kilotons and devastate a whole city.

11-- China Readies Yuan-Priced Crude Oil Benchmark Backed By Gold

12-- After the financial crisis: How the ultra-wealthy have prospered

13-- Analysis: Pyongyang's view of the North Korea-U.S. crisis

Prior to President Trump's inauguration, North Korea made it clear it was prepared to give the new U.S. administration time to review the policy and come up with something better than President Obama's.  The only wrinkle was that if the U.S. went full-steam ahead with its annual joint exercises with South Korea (especially if that were accompanied by more talk of "decapitation" and more flights of strategic bombers over the Korean peninsula), the North would react strongly.
In short, the U.S. did, and the North reacted.

Behind-the-scenes contacts went up and down, but couldn't get traction.  In April, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un paraded new missiles as a warning, to no effect.  The regime launched the new systems, one after another.  Still, Washington's approach didn't change.

14--Pinter, magnum opus

What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days - conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead? Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what's called the 'international community'. This criminal outrage is being committed by a country, which declares itself to be 'the leader of the free world'. Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally - a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man's land from which indeed they may never return. At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anaesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture. What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the United States has said: to criticise our conduct in Guantanamo Bay constitutes an unfriendly act. You're either with us or against us. So Blair shuts up....

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading - as a last resort - all other justifications having failed to justify themselves - as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.

How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London.
Death in this context is irrelevant. Both Bush and Blair place death well away on the back burner. At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the Iraq insurgency began. These people are of no moment. Their deaths don't exist. They are blank. They are not even recorded as being dead. 'We don't do body counts,' said the American general Tommy Franks.

Early in the invasion there was a photograph published on the front page of British newspapers of Tony Blair kissing the cheek of a little Iraqi boy. 'A grateful child,' said the caption. A few days later there was a story and photograph, on an inside page, of another four-year-old boy with no arms. His family had been blown up by a missile. He was the only survivor. 'When do I get my arms back?' he asked. The story was dropped. Well, Tony Blair wasn't holding him in his arms, nor the body of any other mutilated child, nor the body of any bloody corpse. Blood is dirty. It dirties your shirt and tie when you're making a sincere speech on television.

The 2,000 American dead are an embarrassment. They are transported to their graves in the dark. Funerals are unobtrusive, out of harm's way. The mutilated rot in their beds, some for the rest of their lives. So the dead and the mutilated both rot, in different kinds of graves

Here is an extract from a poem by Pablo Neruda, 'I'm Explaining a Few Things':.
Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
the blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
in the streets!*

15-- Buyback mania

16--POS  WSJ wants to starve the North Koreans because they don't like the government. Nice 

The North is especially vulnerable to pressure this year because a severe drought from April to June reduced the early grain harvest by 30%. If the main harvest is also affected, Pyongyang may need to import more food while sanctions restrict its ability to earn foreign currency. Even in a normal year, the North needs to import about 500,000 tons of grain.

While the regime survived a severe famine in the 1990s, today the political consequences of a failed harvest would be severe. More North Korean awareness of the outside world has fostered cynicism about the government, and about half the population is engaged in some form of private enterprise. Traders openly flout the laws because they bribe corrupt officials. The army was once the most desirable career path; now soldiers are underpaid and underfed. North Koreans will not simply accept starvation as they did two decades ago.

Withholding food aid to bring down a government would normally be unethical, but North Korea is an exceptional case. Past aid proved to be a mistake as it perpetuated one of the most evil regimes in history. The U.N. says some 40% of the population is undernourished, even as the Kims continue to spend huge sums on weapons. Ending the North Korean state as quickly as possible is the most humane course.

17--Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Today's Links

1-- Russia-gate’s Totalitarian Style; When groupthink becomes state dogma 

What is playing out here – both at The New York Times and across the American media landscape – is a totalitarian-style approach toward any challenge to the groupthink on Russia-gate.
Even though the Obama administration’s intelligence chiefs presented no public evidence to support their “assessments,” anyone who questions their certainty can expect to be smeared and ridiculed. We must all treat unverified opinions as flat fact....

no U.S. government forensics have been done on the Russian “hacking” allegations, period. Regarding the “hack” of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, the FBI did not secure the computers for examination but instead relied on the checkered reputation of a private outfit called Crowdstrike, which based much of its conclusion on the fact that Russian lettering and a reference to a famous Russian spy were inserted into the metadata. ...

After The Nation published an article by Patrick Lawrence about the VIPS memo (a story that we re-posted at, editor Katrina vanden Heuvel came under intense pressure inside the liberal magazine to somehow repudiate its findings and restore the Russia-gate groupthink.
Outside pressure also came from a number of mainstream sources, including Washington Post blogger Eric Wemple, who interviewed Nation columnist Katha Pollitt about the inside anger over Lawrence’s story and its citation by Trump defenders, a development which upset Pollitt: “These are our friends now? The Washington Times, Breitbart, Seth Rich truthers and Donald Trump Jr.? Give me a break. It’s very upsetting to me. It’s embarrassing.”

2--Illegal meaningless clownery 

3-- North Korea is a nuclear state; Deal with it

Andrew K.P. Leung: I think the time for coercion is over. North Korea has successfully crossed the watershed and has demonstrated its ability to deliver a very powerful nuclear weapon. If it’s not a full-scale hydrogen bomb, at least it’s as powerful as the nuclear bomb dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. North Korea has already demonstrated its ability to deliver its missiles flying over Japan to near where Guam is. I think... the time for a lot of rhetoric and sanctions is really over. What the North Koreans want is, of course, not a war, because a war would mean the demise of their regime. They want a cast-iron assurance of the regime’s stability. It’s time to move on from talks to a Korean Peninsula stability pact involving all the countries in the region. The pact should make sure that there is de-escalation by all sides. It would aim at North Korea at least freezing further [missile] tests and the Americans toning down, not only the rhetoric, but also military exercises… The stability past should also ensure that all the countries [involved] move on from a paradigm of coercion to a paradigm of incentives… combined with even opportunities for economic cooperation. That’s the only way to stabilize the situation.

4--North Korea said it had tested an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile on Sunday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump admonished South Korea, a key ally, for what he termed a policy of “appeasement” after North Korea claimed to have tested an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile on Sunday.
On Twitter, Trump said: “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they (North Korea) only understand one thing!” 

5--A Leak or a Hack? A Forum on the VIPS Memo-- A letter from dissenting members of VIPS, a reply from VIPS, and the results of our independent review

6--North Korea Tests A New Nuke - Continues To Press For Negotiations

One must now assess that North Korea has the capability to make, launch and deliver staged thermonuclear weapons up to megaton size at ICBM ranges. Most of China, Japan and at least the U.S. west coast are in reach of such a weapon. With this warhead size the somewhat dubious accuracy of North Korean missiles has much less relevance.

Before the U.S. and South Korea started this years invasion maneuver Ulchi on August 22, North Korea had warned that it would test-launch four Hawsong-12 mid range ballistic missiles towards the large U.S. base on Guam if, and only if, the U.S. would continue to use "strategic equipment" around its borders. This referred to B-1B nuclear bombers and aircraft carriers.
The U.S. understood and scaled back the planned maneuver. No "strategic equipment" was used...

On August 28, when the maneuver had ended, North Korea launched a test of a single Hawsong-12 medium range missile into the Pacific. The missile crossed over Japan at a height of 550 kilometer. (It thereby did NOT violate Japanese air-space.) Earlier tests had been flown in unrealistic steep trajectories to avoid such an overflight. This test was likely designed to prove to the U.S. the capability to reach Guam.

On August 31 the U.S. flew another "show of force" with B-1B bombers and F-35 stealth fighter planes over South Korea. The planes trained precision bombing with live bombs at a South Korean training area. These plane types are "strategic equipment" and the training makes only sense in a "preemptive strike on North Korea" scenario.

One can understand today's nuclear test as a response to these continuing U.S. provocations. The U.S. will of course claim that only North Korea is "provoking" here and it itself is only "responding". But such a hen-egg discussion and juvenile tit-for-tat is not only useless but dangerous. History tells us that the U.S. completely devastated North Korea and killed some 20% of its population, not vice versa. So far only North Korea had to fear nuclear destruction. That has now changed into a more balanced situation. A preventive or preemptive war on North Korea is no longer an option.

7--Assad prevails--US routed in Syria

"“Bashar Assad’s government has won the war militarily,” said Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Damascus who witnessed the uprising’s earliest days. “And I can’t see any prospect of the Syrian opposition being able to compel him to make dramatic concessions in a peace negotiation.” ...

There was a "moment" just before the Russian intervention began when it seemed likely that the jihadis of both AQ and IS as well as their "secular" allies would manage to drive the multi-confessional Syrian government into a negotiated surrender.  That grim possibility ended with an incredible effective intervention by Russia, Iran and Hizbullah.

Will Assad take advantage of the opportunity for building a better Syria both physically and in governance?  One can hope. 

8--The tightening noose--BREAKING: Elite Syrian forces just 18 km away from Deir Ezzor city