Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Today's links

" Earlier this year the FBI designated alternative media commentary as domestic terrorism. ...“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document states. It also goes on to say the FBI believes conspiracy theory-driven extremists are likely to increase during the 2020 presidential election cycle.

The FBI’s not talking about flat-earthers and UFOologists. It is targeting alternative media. The historical record—ignored by the propaganda media—of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation to destroy political movements in the 1960s and 70s should be revisited. It is paradigmatic of the state and its subversion of opposition. For the FBI, terror is truth unshackled" Kurt Nimmo



1--"The Super Wealthy Have No Country" Dylan Ratigan youtube 


2--Bolivian coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho is a far-right multi-millionaire who arose from fascist movements in the Santa Cruz region, where the US has encouraged separatism. He has courted support from Colombia, Brazil, and the Venezuelan opposition.

By Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton


The events that precipitated the resignation of Morales were indisputably violent. Right-wing opposition gangs attacked numerous elected politicians from the ruling leftist MAS party. They then ransacked the home of President Morales, while burning down the houses of several other top officials. The family members of some politicians were kidnapped and held hostage until they resigned. A female socialist mayor was publicly tortured by a mob.

 The Organization of American States, a pro-US organization founded by Washington during the Cold War as an alliance of right-wing anti-communist countries in Latin America, helped rubber stamp the Bolivian coup. It called for new elections, claiming there were numerous irregularities in the October 20 vote, without citing any evidence. Then the OAS remained silent as Morales was overthrown by his military and his party’s officials were attacked and violently forced to resign.

The day after, the Donald Trump White House enthusiastically praised the coup, trumpeting it as a “significant moment for democracy,” and a “strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua.”...

Left unmentioned were Camacho’s deep and well-established connections to Christian extremist paramilitaries notorious for racist violence and local business cartels, as well as the right-wing governments across the region.
It was in the fascist paramilitaries and separatist atmosphere of Santa Cruz where Camacho’s politics were formed, and where the ideological contours of the coup had been defined. 

3--Bolivian Coup Comes Less Than a Week After Morales Stopped Multinational Firm's Lithium Deal

"Bolivia's lithium belongs to the Bolivian people. Not to multinational corporate cabals

4--When the US Supports It, It's Not a Coup

The media message from the Bolivia case is clear: A coup is not a coup if we like the outcome.

5--A Time for the Kurds? CFR infographic 


6--Why Don't Syria, Iran, Iraq And Turkey Want A Kurdistan?


7--Schiff's Circus andy Macarthy


Procedurally, the president and Republicans are being denied all of this. In effect, Schiff is doing exactly what we do not permit in criminal cases because it offends the Constitution: He is prejudicing the president by publicly laying out the prosecutor’s case but denying the president and the Republican majority their due process rights to contest the case by confronting it effectively and presenting their own defense....


The president’s defense is not that his behavior was perfect; it’s that his behavior was not impeachable. Republicans cannot make that defense as effectively if they are hamstrung in conceding that aspects of the president’s call – as well as other evidence of administration communications with Ukrainian officials – were less than perfect.


8--Trump extends 1979 national emergency regarding Iran for one more year


The Iran emergency act is the oldest running US emergency measure that has been renewed every year.
It was issued on November 14, 1979 by then president Jimmy Carter ten days after the American diplomatic mission’s takeover by a group of university students....
Under Trump, the US has adopted a “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Iranian nation.


9--The inevitable finale of the Nord Stream 2 saga 


10--A Slap in the Face of Leave Voters

The Brexit Party offered Brexit voters a choice. Now that choice has been taken away.


11--The Twilight of Liberty: the State Destroys Alternative Media


The national security state and its political class plan to kill Assange, keep Chelsea Manning in prison and find a way to return Snowden to the US for a show trial and life behind bars (or execution). 

It must, however, first salt the earth where truth is harvested. Thousands of blogs, similar to this one, and websites contradicting and disassembling approved narratives, will be targeted for extinction. 
The Mueller investigation did not result in dethroning Donald Trump. The Clinton-DNC attack on a duly elected president, however, resulted in millions of easily duped Americans believing Russia somehow meddled in the 2016 election and will do it again in 2020. 

According to corporate entities in “partnership” with the state (the true nature of fascism), Russia is not alone in its supposed hatred of democracy and the self-proclaimed exceptional nation-state. 
“There is an undeclared war that Russia and China are waging against the United States and the West,” Jim Sciutto,  CNN’s chief national security correspondent and co-anchor of CNN Newsroom, told the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism Speaker Series in October. “China and Russia, over the last 10 years, have done a remarkably good job at this.”

The Alliance for Securing Democracy’s Hamilton 68 effort to destroy alternative media also has roots in the 2016 election loss of Hillary Clinton. Hamilton 68 is a project supported by the US State Department, the German Marshall Fund, and NATO. Neocon William Kristol and DNC operative John Podesta sit on its advisory board. The organization leans heavily on the Russian collusion fairy tale, thus lending to the conclusion alternative media is a Trojan horse that will help the “New Hitler” Putin destroy democracy...

Earlier this year the FBI designated alternative media commentary as domestic terrorism. 
“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document states. It also goes on to say the FBI believes conspiracy theory-driven extremists are likely to increase during the 2020 presidential election cycle.
The FBI’s not talking about flat-earthers and UFOologists. It is targeting alternative media. The historical record—ignored by the propaganda media—of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation to destroy political movements in the 1960s and 70s should be revisited. It is paradigmatic of the state and its subversion of opposition. For the FBI, terror is truth unshackled


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Today's Links

1--Kashkari Thinks Wall Street Banks Should Stop Whining for the Fed to Bail Them Out and Plan for their Own Liquidity

Since September 17, the New York Fed has expanded its repo loan bailout program numerous times. It’s currently offering as much as $120 billion per day in overnight loans to Wall Street trading firms at a preposterously low interest rate of 1.55 percent as of last Friday. In addition, it is offering $35 billion twice a week (for a total of $70 billion a week) in two-week term loans to Wall Street securities firms. The interest rate on those loans last week was an equally preposterous 1.59 percent. And the Fed has also announced that to further lower interest rates it will be buying up $60 billion per month in Treasury bills — a program it says will last at least into the second quarter of next year.

The repo loans are being made to securities firms, some of which have less than stellar credit ratings. There is no where else on earth these firms could go and borrow at that rate. On September 17, for example, the free market pegged the appropriate loan rate at 10 percent for some of these firms.

And that seems to be a point that Kashkari is either missing or is disinclined to talk about. The discount window is only open to commercial banks, not securities firms that engage daily in high risk trading. And yet that’s exactly where the New York Fed’s money spigot is going today – to its 24 primary dealers, 23 of which are trading houses on Wall Street.

The reason that the Federal Reserve Act restricts the Fed’s discount window to commercial banks is because the whole purpose of the Fed is to act in the best interests of the U.S. economy and be a lender-of-last-resort only to commercial banks, which can then provide loans to businesses and consumers to fuel economic growth. There is nothing in the history of the Federal Reserve Act to suggest that the Fed was to be a source of bailout funds to Wall Street trading firms


2--Bernie Leads His Party to Open Borders

USA Today reports: “Through August of the current fiscal year, the Border Patrol apprehended 457,871 migrants arriving as ‘family units’ … a 406% increase compared to the 90,554 family unit apprehensions during the same period the previous year. Migrant families from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador made up almost 92% of the total.”

With cartel battles escalating into a war that Mexico City has no stomach for fighting, and a record number of migrants from Central America crossing Mexico to flood into the USA, what is the Democratic Party’s policy for halting the rising tide?
Democrats are moving toward an “open door” policy on the U.S. border, an open borders embrace of any and all who wish to come.

America, apparently, does not belong to those who live here and love the country. America belongs to anyone who chooses to come. America belongs to the world.

Consider Bernie Sanders’ immigration proposal, outlined the week of the massacre of Mormon women and children.
On Day One, President Sanders would declare a moratorium on deportations and offer a “swift pathway to citizenship” for all illegal migrants who have been here for five years.

“With calls for a total moratorium on deportations, abolishing ICE and providing a path to citizenship for undocumented migration, the plan serves as a road map for what a fair and just immigration can be.”

3--John Brennan's CIA Trump Task Force (Today's "must read")

Could it become Obamagate?
There is considerable evidence that the American system of government may have been victimized by an illegal covert operation organized and executed by the U.S. intelligence and national security community. Former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former FBI Director Jim Comey appear to have played critical leadership roles in carrying out this conspiracy and they may not have operated on their own. Almost certainly what they may have done would have been explicitly authorized by the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his national security team....
No substantive evidence for the claim of serious Russian meddling has ever been produced in spite of years of investigation, but the real objective was to plant the story that would plausibly convince a majority of Americans that the election of Donald Trump was somehow illegitimate.
The national security team acted to protect their candidate Hillary Clinton, who represented America’s Deep State. In spite of considerable naysaying, the Deep State is real, not just a wild conspiracy theory. Many Americans nevertheless do not believe that the Deep State exists, that it is a politically driven media creation much like Russiagate itself was, but if one changes the wording a bit and describes the Deep State as the Establishment, with its political power focused in Washington and its financial center in New York City, the argument that there exists a cohesive group of power brokers who really run the country becomes much more plausible....

It is now known that President Barack Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan created a Trump Task Force in early 2016. Rather than working against genuine foreign threats, this Task Force played a critical role in creating and feeding the meme that Donald Trump was a tool of the Russians and a puppet of President Vladimir Putin, a claim that still surfaces regularly to this day. Working with James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, Brennan fabricated the narrative that “Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.”...

Task Force Trump was kept secret within the Agency itself because the CIA is not supposed to spy on Americans. Its staff was pulled together by invitation-only. Specific case officers (i.e., men and women who recruit and handle spies overseas), analysts and administrative personnel were recruited, presumably based on their political reliability. Not everyone invited accepted the offer. But many did because it came with promises of promotion and other rewards.
And this was not a CIA-only operation. Personnel from the FBI also were assigned to the Task Force with the approval of then Director James Comey. Former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele’s FBI handler, Michael Gaeta, may have been one of those detailed to the Trump Task Force. Steele, of course, prepared the notorious dossier that was surfaced shortly before Donald Trump took office. It included considerable material intended to tie Trump to Russia, information that was in many cases fabricated or unsourced....

In light of what has been learned about the alleged CIA whistleblower there should be a serious investigation to determine if he was a part of this Task Force or, at minimum, reporting to them secretly after he was seconded to the National Security Council. All the CIA and FBI officers involved in the Task Force had sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, but nevertheless were involved in a conspiracy to first denigrate and then possibly bring down a legally elected president. That effort continues with repeated assertions regarding Moscow’s malevolent intentions for the 2020 national elections. Some might reasonably regard the whole Brennan affair, to include its spear carriers among the current and retired national security state leadership, as a case of institutionalized treason, and it inevitably leads to the question “What did Obama know?”

4--Brennan's Task Force--What happens when a hyper-politicized Intelligence Community  decides to remove an elected president?

The average American has no idea how alarming is the news that former CIA Director John Brennan reportedly created and staffed a CIA Task Force in early 2016 that was named, Trump Task Force, and given the mission of spying on and carrying out covert actions against the campaign of candidate Donald Trump.

This was not a simple gathering of a small number of disgruntled Democrats working at the CIA who got together like a book club to grouse and complain about the brash real estate guy from New York. It was a specially designed covert action to try to destroy Donald Trump.

A "Task Force" is a special bureaucratic creation that provides a vehicle for bring case officers and analysts together, along with admin support, for a limited term project.  But it also can be expanded to include personnel from other agencies, such as the FBI, DIA and NSA. Task Forces have been used since the inception of the CIA in 1947. Here's a recently declassified memo outlining the considerations in the creation of a task force in 1958.  The author, L.K. White, talks about the need for a coordinating Headquarters element and an Operational unit "in the field", i.e. deployed around the world.

A Task Force operates independent of the CIA "Mission Centers" (that's the jargon for the current CIA organization chart).

So what did John Brennan do? I am told by an knowledgeable source that Brennan created a Trump Task Force in early 2016. It was an invitation only Task Force. Specific case officers (i.e., men and women who recruit and handle spies overseas), analysts and admin personnel were recruited. Not everyone invited accepted the offer. But many did

5--US wants to create illegal quasi-state in eastern Syria: Russia


The United States is looking to illegally separate territories on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and create a separate, illegal, quasi-state there, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, speaking at the Paris Peace Forum on Tuesday.

“On the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, they are doing everything possible to create the structure for a quasi-state, and are asking the Gulf States for major investments in order to create a local administration on the basis of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurds – the YPG People’s Protection Units and others, with the clear intention of breaking this piece of territory off from Syria, and controlling the oil fields located there,” Lavrov said.

When it comes to Syria’s reconstruction, we, together with the Syrian government, support inviting everyone [to participate], in creating conditions for the modernisation of infrastructure and the return of refugees, so that the country can return to a normal life. The United States categorically denies the need for this, and prohibit its allies – NATO, the European Union, countries of the region, from investing in any projects in the territories controlled by the Syrian government,” the foreign minister sai

6--The coup against Morales

Morales created economic growth not seen elsewhere in South America, increased the quality of life, reduced illiteracy to 2.4% in 2018 from 13% in 2006, reduced unemployment from 9.2% in 2006 to 4.1%, reduced poverty from 60.6% in 2006 to 34.6%, and extreme poverty to 15.2% from 38.2% in 2006. However, many of these achievements were made by ensuring that industries remained nationalized and by becoming completely independent of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. By becoming independent from the neoliberal order, the country was always at risk of experiencing a Hybrid War via color revolution, especially as Morales had not ideologized the military, essentially meaning he was always at risk of being militarily overthrown.

Despite the Conservative Wave experiencing electoral successes in the latter part of the 2010’s with neoliberalism returning to Brazil, Argentina, Peru and other Latin American states, the short period of time of Conservative Wave rule has meant the return of severe austerity, increasing unemployment and rising poverty to these countries, allowing for a second swing of the Pink Tide

7--Bolivia’s Evo Morales forced out by coup

By Andrea Lobo
12 November 2019
Bolivian president Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party was forced to resign Sunday evening by the Bolivian military in a coup backed by the United States.  Last night, Morales tweeted that he is “leaving for Mexico” after that country agreed to grant him asylum.

After three weeks of protests following the disputed October 20 presidential elections, the imperialist powers and their Bolivian client elite have overthrown the government of Morales. In the context of a deepening crisis of global capitalism and a resurgence of the class struggle internationally, including recent mass strikes among miners and doctors in Bolivia, the ruling class lost confidence that Morales and the MAS apparatus can continue to suppress social opposition.

Despite empty calls to “preserve democracy,” the US government is backing a takeover of the most racist and authoritarian Bolivian politicians and state officials to install a regime that will ruthlessly crackdown on opposition as global finance demands a full-blown exploitation of Bolivia’s vast and strategic oil and mining resources, including 70 percent of global lithium reserves.

8--Amazon-led corporate purge of Seattle City Council fails



Monday, November 11, 2019

Today's links

 "The thrust of the secretary of state’s thuggish address was the vilification of Russia and China....“Today, Russia—led by a former KGB officer stationed in Dresden—invades its neighbors and slays political opponents,” he said. “It suppresses the independence of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Russian authorities, even as we speak, use police raids and torture against Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians who are working in opposition to Russian aggression. In Chechnya, anyone considered ‘undesirable’ by the authorities simply disappears...." Mike Pompeo, US Sec of State 



1--Putin rips the Pope

President Putin has slammed Pope Francis for “pushing a political ideology instead of running a church”, and warned that the leader of the Catholic Church “is not a man of God.”
by Baxter Dmitry

“Pope Francis is using his platform to push a dangerous far-left political ideology on vulnerable people around the world, people who trust him because of his position,” Putin said.
He dreams of a world government and a global communist system of repression.

“As we have seen before in communist states, this system is not compatible with Christianity.”
“If you look at what he (the Pope) says it’s clear that he is not a man of God. At least not the Christian God. Not the God of the Bible,” Putin said at the Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Kronstadt

The pope has become increasingly brazen this year in pushing the globalist agenda and far-left talking points upon the masses. Earlier this year he called for a global central bank and financial authority, and more recently he said “Americans need to be ruled by a world government as soon as possible for their own good.”
Pope Francis’s idea that Americans would be better off under a world government doesn’t stop there. The radical leftist pontiff also went on record stating that Europe should become one country under one government.

2--Just don't call it QE

the chart below shows the total Federal Reserve balance sheet (blue shaded area), bank excess reserves (red line), and the delta between the Fed's balance sheet and excess reserves...also known as direct monetization.  As the Fed restarted "not QE" but did not go through the fa├žade of attempting to stock the new money away as "excess reserves", this new money is flowing straight into assets, like monetary heroine.

Then Fed head Bernanke was so adamant that this "direct monetization" was something the Fed would never do (clip HERE).  Ben said all the fresh digital cash would sit in the Federal Reserve as excess reserves and once the crisis was over, the Fed would reverse and the monetization would be avoided.  How the times change.

3--Massive US military convoy consisting of 172 vehicles heads to Raqqa and Aleppo

4--FDR’s War on Wall Street

The new president laid down the gauntlet in his inaugural speech on March 4th saying: “The money-changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit”.

FDR declared a war on Wall Street on several levels, beginning with his support of the Pecorra Commission which sent thousands of bankers to prison, and exposed the criminal activities of the top tier of Wall Street’s power structure who manipulated the depression, buying political offices and pushing fascism. Ferdinand Pecorra who ran the commission called out the deep state when he said “this small group of highly placed financiers, controlling the very springs of economic activity, holds more real power than any similar group in the United States.”

Pecorra’s highly publicized success empowered FDR to impose sweeping regulation in the form of 1) Glass-Steagall bank separation, 2) bankruptcy re-organization and 3) the creation of the Security Exchange Commission to oversee Wall Street. Most importantly, FDR disempowered the London-controlled Federal Reserve by installing his own man as Chair (Industrialist Mariner Eccles) who forced it to obey national commands for the first time since 1913, while creating an “alternative” lending mechanism outside of Fed control called the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) which became the number one lender to infrastructure in America throughout the 1930s.

FDR stated his political-economic philosophy in 1934: “the old fallacious notion of the bankers on the one side and the government on the other side, as being more or less equal and independent units, has passed away. Government by the necessity of things must be the leader, must be the judge, of the conflicting interests of all groups in the community, including bankers.”

The Real New Deal
Once liberated from the shackles of the central banks, FDR and his allies were able to start a genuine recovery by restoring confidence in banking. Within 31 days of his bank holiday, 75% of banks were operational and the FDIC was created to insure deposits.

Wall Street did everything it could to choke the economy at every turn. In 1931, NY banks loans to the real economy amounted to $38.1 billion which dropped to only $20.3 billion by 1935. Where NY banks had 29% of their funds in US bonds and securities in 1929, this had risen to 58% which cut off the government from being able to issue productive credit to the real economy.

When, in 1937, FDR’s Treasury Secretary persuaded him to cancel public works to see if the economy “could stand on its own two feet”, Wall Street pulled credit out of the economy collapsing the Industrial production index from 110 to 85 erasing seven years’ worth of gain, while steel fell from 80% capacity back to depression levels of 19%. Two million jobs were lost and the Dow Jones lost 39% of its value. This was no different from kicking the crutches out from a patient in rehabilitation and it was not lost on anyone that those doing the kicking were openly supporting Fascism in Europe.

FDR said “some speak of a New World Order, but it is not new and it is not order”.

Rather than see the IMF, World Bank or UN used as instruments for the internationalization of the New Deal principles to promote long term, low interest loans for the industrial development of former colonies, FDR’s allies were ousted from power over his dead body, and they were recaptured by the same forces who attempted to steer the world towards a Central Banking Dictatorship in 1933.

5--US calls for early vote as fresh unrest hits Iraqi capital

The United States has called on Iraqi officials to hold early polls as more people fall victim to ongoing anti-government protests that Baghdad says are being hijacked by foreign-backed elements.
In an statement issued Sunday, the White House asked the Iraqi government "to halt the violence against protesters and fulfill President [Barham] Salih's promise to pass electoral reform and hold early elections."

"The United States is seriously concerned by continued attacks against protesters, civic activists, and the media, as well as restrictions on internet access, in Iraq," it said.
The US has been openly backing protesters in Iraq since they flooded the streets for the first time in early October to vent their anger over corruption and poor living conditions in one of the world's wealthiest countries in terms of energy resources.

However, the relatively peaceful movement soon turned violent as armed elements opened fire on police and protesters alike and attempted to infiltrate the heavily-protected Green Zone in the capital Baghdad, which is home to the government as well as foreign diplomatic missions.

6--Richest 1% in US surpassing wealth of middle class: Report


The US economic expansion has enriched the top 1 percent of American households to the point that they now control more than half of the equity in the US stock market, according to a new government study.

The one-percenters will soon surpass the middle and upper-middle classes, Bloomberg News said in an analysis. Household wealth in the upper-most bracket grew by $650 billion in the second quarter of 2019, while Americans in the 50th to 90th percentiles saw a $210 billion gain.
The top 1 percent of US taxpayers had incomes starting at $515,371 in 2017, according to the latest data by the Internal Revenue Service.
The bottom 50 percent of American households hold just 6 percent of assets in the US.

7--Nikki Haley: John Kelly And Rex Tillerson Tried To Recruit Me To "Undermine" President Trump

O'Donnell asked: "Do you think ultimately the president will be impeached and removed from office?"

Haley replied: "No. On what? You're gonna impeach a president for asking for a favor that didn't happen and giving money and it wasn't withheld? I don't know what you would impeach him on. And look, Norah, impeachment is, like, the death penalty for a public official. When you look at the transcript, there's nothing in that transcript that warrants the death penalty for the president."

"To be clear, it was not a complete transcript. There are still things that are missing from it. And in it, he does say, 'I would like you to do us a favor, though.'"

"The Ukrainians never did the investigation. And the president released the funds. I mean, when you look at those, there's just nothing impeachable there. And more than that, I think the biggest thing that bothers me is the American people should decide this. Why do we have a bunch of people in Congress making that decision?"


8--Alan Dershowitz: Congress is trying to 'create crimes out of nothing


9--More FB spying? Computer pioneer John McAfee rips Facebook's Libra project


10--Assad interview


People would die, especially en masse for a cause, and this cause is defending their country, defending their existence, their future.
The same is even truer for nations like Iran and Russia, which sent their troops to help the Syrians in the battle against terrorism. Believing that any government would bet its interests on the political survival of a single foreign leader “is against logic,” Assad said. The leader is often accused of using brutality and terror tactics against the civilian population to turn against the militant groups opposing Damascus and pledge allegiance to the Syrian government. He argued that such an approach would be not only immoral but also impractical.

“The war in Syria was about capturing the hearts of the people, and you cannot capture the hearts of the people by bombarding them,” he said. “How could the Syrian people support their state and their president and their army, if they are killing them?”

11--Recruiting Spies in the Peace Corps


12--Farage's unwitting--Betrayal


13--Eleven thousand scientists warn of climate emergency

By Daniel de Vries
11 November 2019
“Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and ‘tell it like it is.’ We declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” a remarkable paper published last week in the scientific journal BioScience began.

“The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected,” the report warned. “It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”
“Especially worrisome, are potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature’s reinforcing feedbacks that could lead to a catastrophic ‘hothouse Earth,’ well beyond the control of humans. These climate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.”

14--Impeachment crisis: Democrats, Trump maneuver ahead of televised hearings

The line-up of witnesses for the first week of televised hearings is remarkable since it consists entirely of State Department officials who still work for the Trump administration testifying publicly against their own boss. Acting ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor will be the lead witness, followed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, and then former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

As the New York Times noted Sunday, in a front-page profile headlined “From Dissent to Rallying Cry in State Dept., Diplomats Lead Way in Trump Inquiry:”

“Rarely has the State Department, often seen as a staid pillar of the establishment, been the center of a revolt against a president and his top appointees … In fact, when open impeachment hearings begin next week, the first to testify will be diplomats, appearing despite directives from the White House for administration officials to defy Congress on such requests.”

The report continues, “Like the military or the CIA, the State Department is its own separate culture and one that views the world in terms very different than Mr. Trump’s.” Linking these three components of the national-security apparatus—the Pentagon brass, the intelligence operatives and the diplomats—only underscores the real constituency to which the Democratic Party is appealing through its impeachment inquiry.

The Democratic leadership has explicitly forbidden any consideration of Trump’s actions against immigrants and other sections of the working class, or his defiance of the Constitution to build the border wall and lay the foundations for an executive dictatorship in America. The sole basis of the impeachment is what Trump has done to offend the national-security apparatus and leading Democrats like former Vice President Joe Biden.

This is underscored by the three questions released Thursday by House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff as the basis for the televised hearings. They concern 1) whether Trump requested that the Ukrainian government initiate investigations into his political rivals in the US; 2) whether Trump used his powers as president to induce Ukraine to launch the investigations, either by holding up military aid or offering an Oval Office meeting to the president of Ukraine; and 3) whether Trump and his top aides tried to obstruct, suppress or cover up information related to the first two issues.

15--In Berlin Wall speech, Pompeo advances crusade against Russia and China

11 November 2019
Speaking in Berlin last Friday on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” and George Bush’s “Axis of Evil” diatribes, targeting Russia and China as “unfree nations” in permanent conflict with a supposedly “free” world led by Washington.
Amid reminiscing about his deployment in West Germany as a US Army lieutenant in the run-up to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Pompeo laid out a contrived ideological justification for the launching of a new Cold War in which the threat of a nuclear conflagration is far higher than it was three decades ago.

The thrust of the secretary of state’s thuggish address was the vilification of Russia and China.

“Today, Russia—led by a former KGB officer stationed in Dresden—invades its neighbors and slays political opponents,” he said. “It suppresses the independence of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Russian authorities, even as we speak, use police raids and torture against Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians who are working in opposition to Russian aggression. In Chechnya, anyone considered ‘undesirable’ by the authorities simply disappears...

How was this “competition” for freedom to be conducted? First, “by ensuring that Germany doesn’t become dependent on Russian energy. We don’t want Europe’s energy supplies to be dependent on Vladimir Putin.”
This was a continuation of a relentless campaign by Washington against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, bringing Russian natural gas to Germany through the Baltic Sea. The Trump administration has repeatedly warned that the energy deal will make Germany a “captive of Russia.” Instead, it wants Germany to accept liquefied natural gas, delivered by US companies, at a higher price than Russian gas.

Secondly, this struggle for “freedom” is to be prosecuted, according to Pompeo, by confronting “the risks that are presented to the world by the Chinese Communist Party, its acquisition of sensitive technology firms and Chinese companies’ intent to build out the world’s next networks.”
In other words, Washington wants a guarantee from Berlin and the rest of its erstwhile NATO allies that they will not allow the Chinese telecom giant Huawei to participate in the development of Europe’s 5G telecommunications networks.

Huawei has become a focal point in the escalation of the US-China trade war as key sections of the US military and intelligence apparatus view the technological development made by the company and other Chinese high-tech firms as an existential threat to the economic and military dominance of the US.

To put it bluntly, Washington’s new struggle for “freedom” consists of a demand that Europe subjugate itself to the strategic and profit interests of US imperialism and line up behind US war preparations against both Russia and China.

16--The car loan scam 

17--The Fed’s Repo Bailout and JPMorgan’s 38 Trading Floors




Sunday, November 10, 2019

Today's Links

 "Was the Steele Dossier an example of a deranged, mad conspiracy theory being circulated aggressively by the most mainstream precincts of the US security state, the Democratic Party & their media partners? Read on its history and decide" glenn Greenwald

"Ex-CIA Director John Brennan (tacitly) endorsed Hillary Clinton's smear of Tulsi Gabbard being a Russian asset. That Brennan was one of Russiagate's key principles gives you a window into the mindset and interests driving it." aaron mate


 1--Will Michael Flynn be exonerated?

As Michael Flynn's sentencing date nears, the retired lieutenant general's legal team have come up with new discoveries suggesting that the former national security adviser was trapped by the FBI amid the Russiagate inquiry. According to Flynn's defence, there's already enough evidence to overturn Flynn's plea deal.
Michael Flynn's defence team signalled Monday that it has enough evidence to file a motion "at the appropriate time" to dismiss the prosecution for "egregious government misconduct and in the interest of justice" amid growing controversy over the FBI and DOJ's handling of the retired lieutenant general's false statement case.

FBI Agents Manipulated Flynn 302

On 24 October, Powell, raised a red flag over the apparent manipulation of the general's FD-302 - a form used by FBI personnel to report or summarise the interviews that they conduct. According to the attorney, FBI agents made "substantial changes" to the Flynn 302.

She argues that, first, they added an unequivocal statement "Flynn stated he did not" – in response to the question whether he had asked Russian Ambassador Kislyak to vote in a certain manner in the UN. However, the agents' handwritten notes indicate that the general had not even recalled speaking to Kislyak on the issue.

Second, the agents added a phrase: "or if Kislyak described any Russian response to a request by Flynn" to which Flynn answered "no". However, neither the question nor the answer appeared in the FBI raw notes.

Furthermore, the general's legal team says that messages between then Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok – who conducted an interview with the general – and FBI lawyer Lisa Page on 10 February 2017 show that both were involved in editing the Flynn 302.

2--Up To 600 US Military Personnel Remain in Syria - Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

Kurdish forces had to withdraw from the Syria-Turkey border, later arranging a deal with Damascus, which subsequently bolstered its forces in the northern part of the country.

The crisis eased after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to establish joint patrols on the border, while Moscow also vowed to ensure that the Kurdish-led forces would retreat from the Turkish border.

3--Iran discovers oil field containing 53bn barrels of crude: President Rouhani

President Hassan Rouhani says Iran has discovered a new oil field containing 53 billion barrels of crude in southwestern Khuzestan Province. 
Rouhani told a large crowd of people in the central city of Yazd on Sunday that the discovery was made despite US hostilities which have mainly targeted Iran’s oil sector.

"It is a large oil field that extends from Bostan to the vicinity of Omidiyeh spanning an area of 2,400 square kilometers with a depth of 80 meters," he said. 
"Today we are announcing to the US that we are a rich country and despite your enmity and tyrannical sanctions, the Iranian oil industry's workers and engineers have succeeded to discover this vast oil field," Rouhani added.

4--(trying to make Iran look guilty of nukes violations?) IAEA inspector case possible US move to stir Iran tensions: Analyst


The recent incident involving an inspector of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who reportedly tried to smuggle suspicious material into Iran’s nuclear facilities, is most likely an attempt by the United States to stir more tensions in relation to the Islamic Republic’s peaceful nuclear program, says an American political analyst.


5--Fed Goes Nuts with Repos & T-Bills but Sheds Mortgage Backed Securities


 6--Syria: Another Pipeline War, RFK jr

 .....our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000 when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500km pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.Note the purple line which traces the proposed Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline and note that all of the countries highlighted in red are part of a new coalition hastily put together after Turkey finally (in exchange for NATO's acquiescence on Erdogan's politically-motivated war with the PKK) agreed to allow the US to fly combat missions against ISIS targets from Incirlik. Now note which country along the purple line is not highlighted in red. That's because Bashar al-Assad didn't support the pipeline and now we're seeing what happens when you're a Mid-East strongman and you decide not to support something the US and Saudi Arabia want to get done....

The proposed pipeline would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey which would pocket rich transit fees. The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would have given the Sunni Kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America's closest ally in the Arab world

the Russians, who sell 70 percent of their gas exports to Europe, viewed the Qatar/Turkey pipeline as an existential threat. In Putin's view, the Qatar pipeline is a NATO plot to change the status quo, deprive Russia of its only foothold in the Middle East, strangle the Russian economy and end Russian leverage in the European energy market. In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally."

Assad further enraged the Gulf's Sunni monarchs by endorsing a Russian approved “Islamic pipeline" running from Iran's side of the gas field through Syria and to the ports of Lebanon. The Islamic pipeline would make Shia Iran instead of Sunni Qatar, the principal supplier to the European energy market and dramatically increase Tehran's influence in the Mid-East and the world.

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria.  

According to Hersh, “He certainly wasn't beheading people every Wednesday like the Saudis do in Mecca." Another veteran journalist, Bob Parry, echoes that assessment. “No one in the region has clean hands but in the realms of torture, mass killings, civil liberties and supporting terrorism, Assad is much better than the Saudis." 

By the spring of 2011, there were small, peaceful demonstrations in Damascus against repression by Assad's regime. These were mainly the effluvia of the Arab Spring which spread virally across the Arab League states the previous summer. However, Huffington Post UK reported that in Syria the protests were, at least in part, orchestrated by the CIA. WikiLeaks cables indicate that the CIA was already on the ground in Syria. 

Saudi intelligence documents, published by WikiLeaks, show that by 2012, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were arming, training and funding radical Jihadist Sunni fighters from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere to overthrow the Assad's Shia allied regime. Qatar, which had the most to gain, invested $3 billion in building the insurgency and invited the Pentagon to train insurgents at U.S. bases in Qatar. U.S. personnel also provided logistical support and intelligence to the rebels on the ground. The Times of London reported on Sept. 14, 2012, that the CIA also armed Jihadists with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons from Libyan armories that the agency smuggled by ratlines to Syria via Turkey. According to an April 2014 article by Seymour Hersh, the CIA weapons ratlines were financed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  

A damning 2008 Pentagon funded Rand report proposed a precise blueprint for what was about to happen. That report observes that control of the Persian Gulf oil and gas deposits will remain, for the U.S., “a strategic priority" that “will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war."

WikiLeaks cables from as early as 2006 show the U.S. State Department, at the urging of the Israeli government, proposing to partner with Turkey, Qatar and Egypt to foment Sunni civil war in Syria to weaken Iran. The stated purpose, according to the secret cable, was to incite Assad into a brutal crackdown of Syria's Sunni population

Despite the prevailing media portrait of a moderate Arab uprising against the tyrant Assad, U.S. Intelligence planners knew from the outset that their pipeline proxies were radical jihadists who would probably carve themselves a brand new Islamic caliphate from the Sunni regions of Syria and Iraq. Two years before ISIS throat cutters stepped on the world stage, a seven-page Aug. 12, 2012 study by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), obtained by the right wing group Judicial Watch, warned that thanks to the ongoing support by U.S./Sunni Coalition for radical Sunni Jihadists, “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (now ISIS), are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria."

The Pentagon authors of the seven-page report appear to endorse the predicted advent of the ISIS caliphate: 

“If the situation continues unravelling, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor) and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime." The Pentagon report warns that this new principality could move across the Iraqi border to Mosul and Ramadi and “declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria."
Of course, this is precisely what has happened. Not coincidentally, the regions of Syria occupied by ISIS exactly encompass the proposed route of the Qatari pipeline.

Beginning in 2011, our allies funded the invasion by AQI fighters into Syria. In June 2014 having entered Syria, AQI changed its name to ISIS. According to the New Yorker, “ISIS is run by a council of former Iraqi Generals ... many are members of Saddam Hussein's secular Ba'ath Party, who converted to radical Islam in American prisons." The $500 million in U.S. military aid that Obama did send to Syria almost certainly ended up benefiting these militant Jihadists. On Sept. 16, 2015, incredulous senators from the Armed Services Committee listened to U.S. General Lloyd Austin, Commander of the U.S. Central Command, explain that the Pentagon had spent $500 million to train and arm “moderate" insurgents in Syria and had only “four or five reliable moderate fighters" to show instead of the promised 5,000. The remainder apparently deserted or defected to ISIS.

the U.S. has no legitimate role in this conflict. While the facts prove that we played a role in creating the crisis, history shows that we have little power to resolve it.

7--JFK supports self determination, 1957

8--Amazon's electioneering in Seattle is more evidence that capitalism and democracy are incompatible (Today's 'must read')

This year’s election for Seattle city council was a referendum — not on any issue or party, but on the ability of Amazon, the 13th largest corporation on Earth, to manipulate public opinion and subvert democracy in order to maintain political control over its hometown.

Among all seven city council seats that were up for election, there was a pro-Amazon candidate and a candidate that favored populist will over the needs of massive corporations.  Amazon spent money to support seven different candidates, one for each open seat. As you might expect, all of the candidates Amazon backed were neoliberals — an excellent, general political term to refer to these politicians' collective belief in social liberalism (as long as it doesn't interfere with the profit margins of corporations) and economic policy of deferring to the ruling elite and their consultant-class lackeys on such policy matters. 

Neoliberalism is an anti-democratic political position; it presupposes that the liberal capitalist democratic order maintains some stable state when the ruling class pulls the levers that govern society, and keeps the pesky masses barred from interfering in their accumulation of capital. "[Neoliberalism] means the dismantling of publicly owned industry and deregulation of capital, especially finance capital; the elimination of public provisions and the idea of public goods; and the most basic submission of everything to markets and to unregulated markets," scholar Wendy Brown told Salon in 2016.

The votes are still being tallied, but relatively speaking, it seems Amazon's electioneering was partly successful: three pro-Amazon candidates seem all but certain to win election to city council, three seemed destined to lose, and one race is still very much up in the air, the competition between District 3 incumbent Councilmember Kshama Sawant and her competitor Egan Orion....

One of the most important yet under-appreciated academic studies of the past half-decade, a paper by Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, and Jie Chen titled "How Money Drives US Congressional Elections," found a linear correlation between a candidate's war chest and their probability of victory for all Senate and House elections from 1980 through 2012.  

 "The conclusion has to be that spending by major political parties is indeed strongly related to the proportion of votes they win and has been for as long as we have data," the authors write.

This is all to say that propaganda works incredibly well — and the kinds of propaganda that rich people and industry have the capacity to fund can sway people routinely to vote against their best interests. To use a loaded term, "brainwashing" is real, but it doesn't look like we think it does, creating vortices over our eyes as we gaze at a candidate. It's just a function of money...

Democracy and capitalism are incompatible inasmuch as the rich are given free license to employ public relations teams and marketers — propagandists, largely — to manipulate and dictate public opinion, and sway many to vote against their best interest. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Today's links

Lula is free. He walked out of Sergio Moro's prison today, where he spent almost 2 years as a result of corrupted process conducted by a corrupt judge (now Bolsonaro's Minister of Justice and Public Security) and corrupt prosecutors." glenn greenwald


"...The Democrats’ campaign has nothing at all to do with opposing Facebook’s monopoly power or the wealth of its billionaire CEO. Rather, it is part of a protracted, years-long campaign by the US intelligence agencies to suppress left-wing, anti-war, and progressive viewpoints." wsws 


"...when the Democrats demand that Facebook adjudicate truth and lies, they are directly attacking political speech. Inevitably, the powers given to giant corporations and the state will be utilized to reinforce the conceptions and positions of the social interests that determine their actions. To arm the state—or, in this case, one of its proxies—with the power to determine truth and falsehood is to provide it with the power to totally obliterate the freedom of speech." wsws


 1--Turkey accuses US of theft over occupation of Syria’s oil fields


2--Syrian Democratic Forces’ Short-Term Thinking Problem


... the SDF will have to find a kind of political understanding with Damascus because the main and most likely alternative is the resumption of the Turkish offensive.

The Kurdish armed groups known as the SDF have recent experience of betraying the Syrian nation. In the most precarious situation, they abandoned Syria and made a pact with the US, the foreign power that seeks to undermine the country’s territorial integrity and, at that stage of the conflict,  was supporting the actions of al-Qaeda in Syria. There were – as there ought to be – consequences and the SDF suffered them. Washington abandoned its proxies, when it was deemed of higher value to the US to enable Turkey to carry out its offensive, than it was to protect them.
The US is not leaving Syria and the SDF is once again demonstrating that it may be prepared to sell its loyalty for American coin if a proposal were to come their way. However, if such a proposal is made and the SDF sabotages the reconciliation with Damascus, what guarantee is there that the US won’t abandon them once again

3--How Russia and China Are Building Eurasia Into a Geopolitical Powerhouse

Halford Mackinder[1] said we don’t think of Asia and Europe as a single continent because sailors couldn’t voyage around it. Today the Northeast Passage, The Polar Silk Road, along Russia’s northern coast, links the Pacific and Atlantic coasts while a network of pipelines and air, rail, road and fiber routes are knitting Mackinder’s World Island into ‘Eurasia,’ despite Kissinger’s warning, “Domination by a single power of either of Eurasia’s two principal spheres–Europe or Asia–remains a good definition of strategic danger for America. For such a grouping would have the capacity to outstrip America economically and, in the end, militarily.”...

The European Union, occupying Eurasia’s Western peninsula, is tired of the status quo. President Macron said recently, “We are undoubtedly experiencing the end of Western hegemony over the world…Things change, and they have been deeply shaken by the mistakes of Westerners in certain crises, by the choices that have been made by Americans for several years..And then there is the emergence of new powers whose impact we have probably underestimated for a long time. China is at the forefront, but also the Russian strategy, which has, it must be said, been pursued more successfully in recent years…They think about our planet with a true logic, a true philosophy, an imagination that we’ve lost a little bit.” Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England added, “The world’s reliance on the US dollar won’t hold and needs to be replaced by a new international

monetary and financial system… It is worth considering how an SHC [synthetic hegemonic currency] in the IMF could support better global outcomes.” Germany is completing Nord Stream II and installing Huawei systems despite US threats, and Poland, Greece, Italy, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland have joined the Belt and Road Initiative. One more downturn in the US economy (where manufacturing is already in recession) and the rest of the EU will follow. Turkey’s[4] President Erdogan, on NATO’s Eastern flank, said he bought Russia’s S-400 so his country could safely withdraw from NATO and he is already a dialog partner in the world’s largest security association, the SCO....

The Belt and Road Initiative. Scheduled to launch on June 1, 2021, the BRI integrates four billion people in one-hundred thirty countries across Eurasia, Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific. BRI focuses on policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people ties. It is building power plants in Pakistan, train lines in Hungary and ports from Africa to Greece, replacing Western institutions, refashioning the global economic order, forging new ties, creating new markets, deepening economic connections and strengthening diplomatic bonds. Iran is a key BRI node and Tehran sees it as the way to full integration into the Eurasian economic ecosystem.

4--Brazil’s former president Lula released from prison 


5--Why Is Christopher Steele Still a Thing?

The ex-spy and infamous “dossier” author posits yet another elaborate theory of foreign infiltration

6--S Korea's perennial occupation

For more than a century, a massive parcel of land in the heart of Seoul has been occupied by foreign troops.
Separated from the rest of the world, behind high walls and barbed wire, the sprawling Yongsan military base has long been an eyesore for Seoul citizens and foreign visitors....
After the end of World War Two in 1945, American troops took over the base, and have stayed ever since.

North Korea
often targets Yongsan for propaganda campaigns accusing the South of being, in effect, a colony of American imperialists...
The massive relocation marks the virtual end of the US military’s 70-year presence in the South Korean capital.

“I have mixed feelings. We were unable to enter this forbidden place for more than 100 years even though it is part of our land,” said Lee Seong-nam, a 59-year-old businessman who was among the tour group.

“I feel sad standing on this place. This was at the centre of the whirlwind of history, and witnessed numerous wars and the suffering of Koreans at the hands of foreign invaders. At the same time I am happy as this place is being turned into a public park at last.”

7--The Democrats’ campaign for internet censorship: Who is to determine what are “lies”?


The campaign in the press has been joined by effectively the entire gamut of the Democratic Party. Last week, Hillary Clinton demanded that Facebook take down “false, deceptive or deliberately misleading content” or “pay a price.” Her statements echoed those of presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who condemned Facebook for allowing “politicians to run ads with known lies—explicitly turning the platform into a disinformation-for-profit machine.”

Last month, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, demanded that Facebook “take down lies.” She was joined by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who condemned Facebook for allowing “politicians” to make “untruthful statements.”

While couched in demagogic language accusing Facebook of “profiting” off of “disinformation,” the Democrats’ campaign for internet censorship is devoid of any progressive content. It is a pretext for censorship....

when the Democrats demand that Facebook adjudicate truth and lies, they are directly attacking political speech. Inevitably, the powers given to giant corporations and the state will be utilized to reinforce the conceptions and positions of the social interests that determine their actions.
To arm the state—or, in this case, one of its proxies—with the power to determine truth and falsehood is to provide it with the power to totally obliterate the freedom of speech.

 8--Why Impeachment Will Stay Partisan


The arc of events has been determined by Trump’s opponents, who refuse to recognize his legitimacy.

Quid pro quo” has become this year’s “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” But it doesn’t follow. The Constitution and voters both give the president broad leeway to make foreign policy. For this reason, it is hard to delegitimize Mr. Trump because he doesn’t care as much about a given Ukrainian government’s struggles as some of his officials do, or that he puts a higher priority on eliciting Kyiv’s cooperation in investigations of a previous U.S. administration, or that he pursues these goals with his own agents outside normal (i.e., Trump-unfriendly) channels. Consider the lazy and oxymoronic conflation that you see everywhere accusing him of using foreign policy to advance his “personal political interests.” What president doesn’t? 

Mr. Trump’s Ukraine actions are not illegal, and I doubt the sacredness of Ukraine policy matters to many Americans. But any reason is good enough if you believe an incompetent president should be removed for the sake of the country. Is Mr. Trump incompetent?

Democracy, let us remind ourselves, is not a system for finding the ablest leaders but a system for legitimizing outcomes, good, bad or indifferent. Which brings us to the real crux: Mr. Trump’s opponents rejected his legitimacy from the start, pushed fabricated allegations, spoke of impeaching him before he even took office.

Voters had a right to expect better from their elites—i.e., a more productive response. Mr. Trump was in no sense a Republican, a partisan, a conservative or a policy student. His gadfly presidency, under other circumstances, might be wrapping up now, with declarations of victory and possibly having done some good. But the arc of events has been determined by his opponents. They were not satisfied with opposing him. They sought to destroy him. Mr. Trump, it’s easy to see, believes he must stick around and continue to wrap himself in the immunities and powers of the presidency simply to defend himself and the legitimacy of his 2016 victory.

9--PCR on Trump and Democracy

It is a known fact that the CIA director John Brennan orchestrated the Russiagate hoax, an act of sedition, and it is a known fact that FBI director Comey committed a felony by misleading the FISA Court, and it is a known fact that FBI official Peter Strzok and his FBI mistress were involved in a plot to prevent Trump’s election, and so on and on. Yet despite the publicly known information of their crimes, no indictments have come forth from the Justice Department.  ...

The test before us has nothing whatsoever to do with Trump’s guilt of any of the hoax charges. The test we face is whether the American people can retain any control over their government or whether control passes firmly and irrevocably into the hands of the Deep State.As I wrote the other day, if Trump goes, Democracy goes.

The CIA’s control of the Western media is now complete. The story of Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s large-scale program beginning in the 1950s to manipulate news media for propaganda purposes, aided and abetted by CIA funding of student and cultural organizations and magazines as front organizations, is well known. Udo Ulfkotte’s book, Bought Journalism, is now available in English from with the title Presstitutes: Embedded in the Pay of the CIA. Ulfkotte, an alpha German journalist for the major German newspaper describes how the CIA has completely destroyed media independence throughout Europe...

All of Donald Trump’s problems as president are due to his intention to “normalize relations with Russia.” Such a normalization would dispense with the ENEMY that justifies the $1,000 billion dollar annual military/security budget and the political power that accompanies it. President Eisenhower told Americans in 1961 that the military/security complex was a threat to their control of government. Because of Cold War hysteria, Americans did not listen. Therefore, today they have lost control of their government.

Notes--Trully weird biography

Otto Skorzeny: The Most Dangerous Man in Europe

Friday, November 8, 2019

Today's links

1--Red Alert!  The fastest increase in assets for any two-month period since the post-Lehman freak show in late 2008 and early 2009.

Total assets on the Fed’s balance sheet, released today, jumped by $94 billion over the past month through November 6, to $4.04 trillion, after having jumped $184 billion in September. Over those two months combined, as the Fed got suckered by the repo market, it piled $278 billion onto it balance sheet, the fastest increase since the post-Lehman month in late 2008 and early 2009, when all heck had broken loose – this is how crazy the Fed has gotten trying to bail out the crybabies on Wall Street:

the New York Fed has engaged in two types of repo operations: Overnight repurchase agreements that unwind the next business day; and multi-day repo operations, such as 14-day repos, that unwind at maturity, such as after 14 days.
Total repos on the Fed’s balance sheet at the end of the day on November 6 amounted to $215 billion, unchanged from the prior week, and up $34 billion from a month earlier (Oct 2 balance sheet):
  • $62.5 billion in overnight repos that the Fed took on Wednesday morning. These repos unwound Thursday morning. All prior overnight repos had already unwound before the date of the balance sheet.
  • $152 billion in four multi-day repos – Oct 24, Oct 29, Nov 1, and Nov 5 – that had not yet unwound as the evening of Wednesday, Nov 6

2--How big tech is dragging us towards the next financial crash

Consider the financial engineering done by such firms. Like most of the largest and most profitable multinational companies, Apple has loads of cash – around $210bn at last count – as well as plenty of debt (close to $110bn). That is because – like nearly every other large, rich company – it has parked most of its spare cash in offshore bond portfolios over the past 10 years. This is part of a Kafkaesque financial shell game that has played out since the 2008 financial crisis. Back then, interest rates were lowered and central bankers flooded the economy with easy money to try to engineer a recovery. But the main beneficiaries were large companies, which issued lots of cheap debt, and used it to buy back their own shares and pay out dividends, which bolstered corporate share prices and investors, but not the real economy. The Trump corporate tax cuts added fuel to this fire. Apple, for example, was responsible for about a quarter of the $407bn in buy-backs announced in the six months or so after Trump’s tax law was passed in December 2017 – the biggest corporate tax cut in US history.

Because of this, the wealth divide has been increased, which many economists believe is not only the biggest factor in slower-than-historic trend growth, but is also driving the political populism that threatens the market system itself....

Some of that debt is now looking shaky, which underscores that the next big crisis probably won’t emanate from banks, but from the corporate sector. Rapid growth in debt levels is historically the best predictor of a crisis. And for the past several years, the corporate bond market has been on a tear, with companies in advanced economies issuing a record amount of debt; the market grew 70% over the past decade, to reach $10.17tn in 2018. Even mediocre companies have benefited from easy money.

But as the interest rate environment changes, perhaps more quickly than was anticipated, many could be vulnerable. The Bank for International Settlements – the international body that monitors the global financial system – has warned that the long period of low rates has cooked up a larger than usual number of “zombie” companies, which will not have enough profits to make their debt payments if interest rates rise. When rates eventually do rise, warns the BIS, losses and ripple effects may be more severe than usual

3--Testimony bombshell: Obama administration tried to partner with Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian gas firm but was blocked over corruption concerns

Kent’s stoppage of the USAID project adds to a growing body of evidence that Burisma and its corruption issues were causing heartburn inside the State Department during the end of Joe Biden’s tenure as Vice President.

Another State official has reportedly testified he tried to warn Biden’s office that the Burisma matter posed a conflict of interest but was turned away by the vice president’s aides.
And internal State memos I obtained this week under FOIA show Hunter Biden and Archer had multiple contacts with Secretary of State John Kerry and Deputy Secretary Tony Blinken in 2015-16, and that Burisma’s own American legal team was lobbying State to help eliminate the corruption allegations against it in Ukraine.

Hunter Biden’s name was specifically invoked as a reason why State officials should assist, the memos show. A month after Burisma’s contact with State, Joe Biden leveraged the threat of withholding U.S. foreign aid to force Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who at the time was overseeing the Burisma probe.

4--Growing inequality risks social revolution, hedge fund chief warns

Fifty years ago, a significant portion of profits was directed into new investments, bringing about an increase of economic growth and jobs as well as rising real wages. But this was not because, as Dalio and Jones maintain, there was a different “business culture” at the time. Rather, such investments were undertaken in the search for increased profit—the same driving force of the capitalist economy today.

However in the past, because reinvestment of profits brought economic growth and rising living standards, the underlying social reality could be obscured. The notion was advanced that capital and the working class were not irreconcilably opposed social forces but were locked together in some kind of mutually beneficial partnership. In the words of President Kennedy, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

But by the mid-1970s, the post-war boom, which had brought a steady profit rate and rising real wages, had well and truly come to an end as profit rates turned down.

This brought two responses: a ferocious and unending offensive against the working class from the beginning of the 1980s—the level of real wages in the US by some estimates has not risen since 1973—and a turn to the accumulation of profits, not through investments in the real economy where profit rates had fallen, but by means of parasitic financial speculation.

Starting under the Reagan administration, the stock market became a key arena for these operations. This required changes in the legal system, one of the most significant of which was the 1982 decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission—the agency responsible for the regulation of the stock market—to allow companies to buy back their own shares, thereby reducing the number of shares and causing their price to rise. Previously, such measures would have brought charges of stock manipulation.

The 19th century French economist Frederic Bastiat once wrote: “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

Today, share buybacks play a key role in the rise of the market. The economist William Lazonick, who has made a long-term study of this process, has noted that between 2008 and 2017 the largest pharmaceutical companies spent $300 billion on buybacks and another $290 billion in the payment of dividends, equivalent to a little more than 100 percent of their combined profits, while investment in research and development falls behind.
This form of parasitism has extended to all the key sectors of the US economy. According to Lazonick, between 2002 and 2019 Cisco Systems, a major company involved in the development of computer networking, has spent $129 billion on stock buybacks more than it has spent on research and development....

In 2018 S&P 500 companies spent a record $800 billion buying their own stock and the figure could well top $1 trillion this year.
None of this money is being used for economically productive activities. Its expenditure is entirely directed to boosting share values and increasing the flow of wealth into the coffers of the financial oligarchy without adding a dollar to real investment or creating a single job.

5--US seizure of oil fields escalates tensions in Syria

By Bill Van Auken
8 November 2019
The US has deployed hundreds of troops backed by armored vehicles into oil fields located in Syria’s northeastern Deir Ezzor province, where they are reportedly building two new bases. Turkish media have reported that large quantities of construction equipment and materials have been sent into the region, along with the troops, tanks, armored personnel carriers and ammunition.

Pentagon officials defended the renewed deployment at a press briefing Thursday. However, they resolutely refused to answer questions about US President Donald Trump’s statements that the troops were there to “take the oil”, and Defense Secretary Esper’s acknowledgement last week that the US mission includes “denying access, preventing Russian or Syrian forces” from laying claim to the oil, including through the use of “overwhelming force”.

Just as his earlier statement in December 2018 that he was withdrawing US troops from Syria led to the resignation of his defense secretary, Gen. James Mattis, so last month’s announcement touched off a political firestorm in Washington, with denunciations of Trump's “betrayal of the Kurds” coming from both Democrats and Republicans, as well as large sections of the military brass and the US intelligence apparatus.
In response, Trump shifted his position to a thuggish statement that US troops would remain in Syria to “take the oil” and that he was considering contracting ExxonMobil to exploit it.

The US military is remaining in Syria, with an estimated 800 US troops as well as additional military contractors occupying its oil fields, in pursuit of the same strategic objectives that underlay the CIA-orchestrated war for regime change initiated under the Obama administration eight years ago.

Washington still seeks the overthrow of the Assad government and its replacement with a more pliant puppet regime in Damascus. At the same time, it is determined to roll back the influence of the Assad government’s principal backers -- and US imperialism’s principal regional rivals -- Iran and Russia. And it wants to prevent China from expanding its role in the Middle East.

The war in Syria, as Trump acknowledges, is about oil, as have been the catastrophic US imperialist interventions in Iraq and Libya and its threats of military aggression against Iran. These wars, which have claimed over a million lives and decimated entire societies, have been aimed at asserting US control over the energy resources of the Middle East, upon which Washington’s rivals, in particular China, depend. Their underlying purpose has been to employ military violence as a means of reversing the decline of the US dominance over the world capitalist markets...

As for Admiral Byrne’s reliance on US-Russian “deconfliction” agreements, Moscow has signaled that it is not prepared to cooperate with the US seizure of Syria’s oil fields.
“On this question, on the question of Syrian oil, we will not cooperate with our American colleagues,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said Thursday. “We are convinced that it is the Syrian people who should be managing their natural resources, including oil.


6--Europe’s gas alliance with Russia is a match made in heaven


Washington is acutely conscious that Nord Stream 2 can provide the underpinning for a stable, predictable relationship between Europe and Russia, which would go against the grain of the Trump administration’s projection of Russia as a revisionist power that the US is determined to counter.   ...


Europe’s addiction to Russian gas remains a fact of life and with the continent’s own gas production on the decline, Europe needs to import much bigger volumes of gas and lots of it is going to come from Russia. 

The amazing part has been the dogged resistance by Germany to the US pressure tactic to abandon Nord Stream 2. The US even threatened to sanction German companies; US Congress passed resolutions calling for an end to construction of the pipeline. Germany’s manufacturing economy is dependent on imports for 98% of its oil and 92% of its gas supply, and cheap gas is the lifeblood of its export-based economy. ... 
More importantly, according to a study conducted by the University of Cologne EWI, “When Nord Stream 2 is available, Russia can supply more gas to the EU decreasing the need to import more expensive LNG. Hence, the import price for the remaining LNG volumes decreases, thereby reducing the overall EU-28 price level.” 
Herein lies the rub. Europe has become a natural gas battleground for the US and Russia. Of course, apart from being a prized market, Europe is also a political battleground between the US and Russia. 
Russia traditionally dominated the European market while European Union appears to be keen to wean itself off Russian gas, given the geopolitical implications of over-reliance on Moscow for its energy security.

7--I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration

I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.
The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright..

He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.
This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.
Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president.(Trumps enemies wanted to invoked the 25th amendment because he didn't follow their belief that Russia is an enemy)

The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility. (lack of 'civility" is a reason to sabotage the presidents political agenda?)

8--The Billionaires Are Getting Nervous

Bill Gates and others warn that higher taxes would lead to lower growth. They have their facts backward.

When Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975, the top marginal tax rate on personal income was 70 percent, tax rates on capital gains and corporate income were significantly higher than at present, and the estate tax was a much more formidable levy. None of that dissuaded Mr. Gates from pouring himself into his business, nor discouraged his investors from pouring in their money.

Yet he is now the latest affluent American to warn that Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plan for much higher taxes on the rich would be bad not just for the wealthy but for the rest of America, too. 

Mr. Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, suggested on Wednesday that a big tax increase would result in less economic growth. “I do think if you tax too much you do risk the capital formation, innovation, U.S. as the desirable place to do innovative companies — I do think you risk that,” he said....

Let’s get a few things straight.
The wealthiest Americans are paying a much smaller share of income in taxes than they did a half-century ago. In 1961, Americans with the highest incomes paid an average of 51.5 percent of that income in federal, state and local taxes. Half a century later, in 2011, Americans with the highest incomes paid just 33.2 percent of their income in taxes, according to a study by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman published last year. Data for the last few years is not yet available but would likely show a relatively similar tax burden...

a necessary part of the solution is to collect more from those Americans who have the most....

A study of American patent holders found that innovators tend to come from wealthy families, to grow up in communities of innovators, and to receive high-quality educations in math and science. Mr. Gates, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American history, fits the profile: He grew up in an affluent family and received the best education money could buy.
The implication of that study, and related research, is that public investment, funded by taxation, could give more kids the kinds of advantages enjoyed by the young Mr. Gates.

9--U.S. Envoy in Syria Says Not Enough Was Done to Avert Turkish Attack

Mr. Roebuck is the second senior American official in the past week who has questioned whether the United States pressed hard enough with measures like joint American-Turkish ground and air patrols along the border, to avert a Turkish offensive into northern Syria. In an interview with Defense One, the Pentagon’s top Middle East policy official, Michael P. Mulroy, said, “We would have prevented the need for an incursion.”

The White House and senior administration officials have said that Turkey’s offensive was inevitable and that Mr. Trump’s decision to pull about two dozen Special Forces off the border prevented them from being caught in the cross-fire between Turkish forces and the Kurds

Critics have said that Mr. Trump, in an Oct. 6 phone call with Mr. Erdogan, paved the way for the Turkish invasion by not pushing back hard enough on the Turkish leader’s threat of military action.

10--Wall Street’s Liquidity Crisis: It’s Not Getting Better

This morning, Wall Street’s money spigot arm of the Federal Reserve, the New York Fed, paid out $35 billion in 14-day term loans to Wall Street’s trading houses. The problem was, this morning the banks wanted $41.15 billion or $6.15 billion more than the Fed was offering. That’s a very clear sign that liquidity remains tight on Wall Street and we have yet to enter the pivotal year-end period when banks try to dress up their books by dumping or parking their most toxic positions. Between the term loan and the overnight loan, the New York Fed paid out $115 billion this morning to unnamed securities firms on Wall Street. (The Fed won’t say who is doing all of this borrowing and Congress can’t summon the willpower to hold a hearing.) 

According to the most recent schedule provided by the Federal Reserve, it is providing up to $120 billion per day in overnight, revolving loans to Wall Street’s securities firms (primary dealers) at an interest rate of approximately 1.55 percent as of this morning. In addition, it is also offering term loans of approximately 14 days twice a week in the amount of $35 billion, or an additional $70 billion flowing to unnamed trading firms on Wall Street each week. (The $70 billion has been scaled back from $90 billion that was offered for the last week of October.) The term loans are also being offered at a ridiculously low 1.59 percent interest rate as of this morning’s offering.

The Wall Street securities firms getting these loans are owned by some of the biggest banks in America. Those mega banks are charging as much as 17 percent or higher to consumers on their credit cards. If you are an American citizen you can’t borrow from the Fed at 1.59 percent and pay off your credit card rate of 17 percent. So why are the free market principles only being applied to struggling consumers but not to the federally-insured banks that are backstopped by these same taxpayers? The simple answer is that there has been a complete corruption of the political process and the nexus between Washington and Wall Street. The one percent now rule every aspect of money and wealth accumulation in America.

11--This Federal Agency Is Investigating Why the Fed Is Bailing Out Wall Street Again


Riquier: “Can we talk about the recent flareup in the repo market? What happened? I have a colleague who says when something like that happens, the market is trying to tell us something.

McWilliams: “Yes. (Laughs.) The irony of this is, I have met with large bank CEOs that are in the market and are sitting on, frankly, a trillion plus dollars of cash. I’m wondering why exactly, why didn’t they go into the marketplace, recognizing there was a shortfall and they could have made money. So we are meeting now with their treasurers and chief risk officers to understand exactly the reasons why. If it’s regulations, we need to make sure we understand. If they are holding on to money —cash — and U.S. Treasurys because our rules require them to, and that’s causing liquidity not to be in the marketplace, we should fix that. Because you want a liquid marketplace and it’s supposed to work seamlessly, right? We’re not sure actually that’s the largest component of what happened but once we’re done talking to all the large banks we’ll have a better sense.”...

As luck would have it, agency mortgage-backed securities are one of the instruments that the New York Fed is accepting as collateral in exchange for cash at the absurd interest rate of 1.55 percent – which is 8.45 percentage points less than the free market wanted to price those overnight repo loans on September 17, prior to the Fed’s interventions.

Equally problematic at the largest bank in the U.S., JPMorgan Chase explained in a recent SEC filing that it’s using some of its federally-insured deposits to prop up its share price with stock buybacks – furthering undermining any true price discovery in U.S. markets. The wording in its filing is as follows:
“In 2019, cash provided resulted from higher deposits and securities loaned or sold under repurchase agreements, partially offset by net payments on long-term borrowing…cash was used for repurchases of common stock and cash dividends on common and preferred stock.”

Since 2013 JPMorgan Chase has spent $77 billion buying back its own stock. That includes the obscene $17.01 billion it has spent in just the first nine months of this year buying back its stock.
The role of federally-insured banks in the U.S., backstopped by the taxpayer, is to make sound loans to sound businesses and consumers in order to grow the U.S. economy, create good jobs and a higher standard of living for U.S. citizens, and to keep the U.S. competitive and innovative on the world stage.

The Federal Reserve’s history since 2008 has been one of abject failure at reining in abuses at these mega banks and then attempting to cover its tracks with a freely flowing spigot of money that amasses to trillions of dollars while Congress looks the other way. To date, there has not been one Congressional hearing scheduled to look into this matter.

12--Middle East: a Complex Re-alignment


13--Left is the New Right, or Why Marx Matters, Rob Urie

14--Will 'Sexist' White Males Derail Warren?, pat buchanan

15--Inconvenient Truths

Alarming things we have learned under Trump, but not always about him, stephen cohen