Monday, May 12, 2014

Today's Links

1--Andrew Ross Sorkin, Timothy Geithner, and the Three Card Monte Model of Propaganda, NC

The focus on TARP (and to a lesser degree, Lehman) allows Sorkin to omit mention of actions that were clearly Geithner’s doing, including: his fighting Sheila Bair tooth and nail on resolving the clearly insolvent Citigroup; his decision to pay AIG credit default swaps counterparties 100 cents on the dollar; his defense of the failure to haircut AIG employees’ pay; Treasury’s acceptance of intransigence by AIG’s CEO, Robert Benmosche; his refusal to use $75 billion in TARP that Paulson’s Treasury had courteously left aside for homeowner relief; the clearly too permissive “stress tests,”; Geithner’s Treasury allowing banks to repay TARP funds early rather than rebuild their balance sheets (get this: because they were eager to escape very limited restrictions on executive pay); Treasury letting banks repay TARP warrants at an unduly cheap price until Elizabeth Warren’s Congressional Oversight Panel caught them out; his cynical policy of “foaming the runway,” as in using what were billed as homeowner relief programs merely to attenuate foreclosures and thus spread out bank losses, which had the secondary effect of wringing more money out of already stressed borrowers before they were turfed out of their homes. And this is far from a complete list of Geithner’s actions that favored banks over the public at large

2--. It’s brutal out there. Testosterone Pit

And extensive. FBN Securities looked at individual stocks to determine how far the average stock in each of the major indices had plunged off their 52-week highs – and “plunge” is beginning to be the right word:

Note that the average stock in the Russell 2000 and in the NASDAQ has dropped into bear-market purgatory...There are about 5,000 stocks in the NASDAQ composite, and the average stock is down 24.3% from its 52-week high. This isn’t a handful of stocks, but thousands that are down in a big way. Only the index’s mastodons with megaton capitalizations cover up the bloodletting beneath them...

“After 30+ years in this biz, I’ve never watched an equity market rollover in slow mo,” a deeply worried portfolio manager with one of the world’s major banks told me. “That is, I’ve always been caught up in the excitement, as in 2000 and 2007. But today, there’s little excitement. Just calm confidence, as reflected in the VIX

The Obama administration Friday granted the Kiev authorities $1 billion in loan guarantees, effectively paying for the bloody military operation in eastern Ukraine. On Wednesday May 7, Ukraine received its first emergency rescue money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), part of a two-year package providing $17 billion of the $27 billion in loans and guarantees pledged by the major powers.
None of this legitimises the efforts to steer and confine popular opposition to the Kiev regime and its paymasters in a Russian nationalist direction. The referendum initiative is being spearheaded by bourgeois forces, who want either a power-sharing arrangement with Kiev or for Russia to step in so as to guarantee their own continued right to exploit the Russian-speaking working class of the region

On Friday, between 20 and 30 people were reportedly killed in a massacre using tanks, armoured personnel carriers and heavily armed troops against unarmed civilians in Mariupol. In a calculated provocation meant to justify and encourage further Western intervention in Ukraine, the attack was made on those celebrating Victory Day, marking the 69th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Soviet Red Army....

The statement belligerently reiterated US threats against Moscow, declaring: “As President Obama and [German] Chancellor [Angela] Merkel stated on May 2, the Russian leadership must know that if it continues to destabilize eastern Ukraine and disrupt this month’s presidential election, we will move quickly to impose greater costs on Russia.”

The US stance was echoed by French President Francois Hollande and Merkel. After a meeting in Stralsund, Germany on Saturday, both warned, “We are ready to take further sanctions against Russia.”

NATO issued a statement that it had seen no evidence of a Russian troop withdrawal and tweeted images purporting to show additional troops on the border.

The popular “yes” vote is due above all to the bloody events since the installation by a putsch of a government in Kiev made up of pro-Western oligarchs and fascists on February 22. Under the tutelage of the United States and its allies, and with their financial backing, the new government pledged itself to savage austerity, while whipping up anti-Russian sentiment in the country’s ethnically mixed population. It continued to mobilise and strengthen the far-right forces grouped around Svoboda and the Right Sector in a way that inevitably provoked a political backlash.

7---The EU's ties to Russia rule out any serious sanctions, sober look
Many were outraged recently when the trade data showed Russian exports actually rising in the face of the so-called "sanctions".
Bloomberg: - The world’s largest energy producer shipped 2 percent more gas to Europe in the first three months of 2014 than it did in the same period last year, government data show.
But the reality on the ground is that the EU has no appetite for any real sanctions against Russia. Here are some reasons:

1. It's well known that in the post-Soviet era, the EU had developed an unprecedented dependence on Russian energy.

Source: Wikipedia

Given the vulnerability of the Eurozone's economy, there is zero appetite for an energy disruption at this point.
Bloomberg: - Russia’s energy shipments are unlikely to be curbed because the country and its Western buyers are too dependent on each other for there to be an interruption ... Europe imports about 30 percent of its gas from Russia, half of which crosses Ukraine.
2. The EU's exports to Russia are worth some $246bn per year. There is no chance the Europeans will want to risk disrupting this gravy train. In contrast, the US exports only about $11bn worth of goods per year to Russia.

3. An even more important factor is the European banking system's exposure to Russia. If Russian companies are told to stop servicing debt to Western banks (in retaliation for example), it will send the European banking system into a tailspin. And as discussed before (see post), the Russian authorities have enormous control over the nation's corporations

8---US housing sector stalling , sober look
The US housing recovery continues to face headwinds. Here are the key factors contributing to weakness in the sector.

1. We've had a sharp decline in housing affordability due to higher prices and higher mortgage rates. The decline in mortgage rates recently should help somewhat, but buyers remain cautious.

9--Ukraine's fascists get US aid, RT

While the Western media has used loaded terms to describe the victims, calling them ‘Pro-Russian’, ‘Communists’ and ‘Separatists’, those who died were not involved in an armed battle or physical confrontation at the time they were killed. They were inside a Trade Union House, acting entirely peacefully. This blatant murder, allowed to happen by the passive authorities, cannot be described as anything but a cowardly act of terrorism.

The perpetrators of this ugly attack were the ‘ultra-nationalists’, ‘fascists’ and ‘Right Sector’ forces who have been part of the ‘EuroMaidan’ movement from the very beginning. Their efforts have been obviously aided by billions of dollars from the United States and other Western capitalist powers, and their campaign of violence and terror, which installed the new, unelected government in Kiev, has been cheered by Western media.

10--Referendum results in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions show landslide support for self-rule, RT

11--Report: 400 US Mercenaries in Ukraine to Fight Protesters,  antiwar

12---'Killer robots' to be debated at UN, BBC

13---Is home ownership still the American Dream? , oc housing

the National Endowment for Financial Education released a poll this week that showed only 13% of Americans considered home ownership as their “top long term financial goal,” down from 17% in 2011.
“The American dream has long been associated with the gratification and security of a comfortable home within the picturesque borders of a white-picket fence,” said Ted Beck, president and CEO of the NEFE, which is based in Denver. “However, today the perceived importance of home ownership appears to be waning.”
Instead, according to the poll, a whopping 50% said that their sole long term financial goal was to save enough for retirement, up from 43% three years earlier

Eventually, the memory of the recent crisis will fade. The economy will one day improve, and the millenials will move out of their parents’ basements. When that happens, expect to see homeownership rates move back higher.
The American Dream is not dead. The idea of owning a home will rise from the ashes, and the American Dream will once again include owning the roof over your head and the floor beneath your feet. Personally, I would like to see a return to the traditional view of the American Dream: truly owning a home free of any debt. That’s where peace-of-mind reunites with the American Dream.

14---US backs al Qaeda and Nazis, WA blog

Most of the Syrian “rebels” are Al Qaeda. The U.S. government has designated these guys as terrorists. Things are getting worse, not better: Al Qaeda is gaining more and more power among the rebels. The U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel have been backing these guys for years. Indeed, we’ve long known that most of the weapons we’re shipping to Syria are ending up in the hands of Al Qaeda. And they apparently have chemical weapons.
Summary:  We’re arming the same guys who are threatening to blow us up.

The U.S. is backing neo-Nazis in Ukraine (and see this).

These savages have already committed mass murder in broad daylight … on camera while being filmed.

The leader of the “protests” in February 2014 which ousted the president of Ukraine (Andriy Parubiy) is a neo Nazi and follower of a prominent WWII Ukrainian Nazi.

He’s now the head of national security in Ukraine.  In that role, he has organized neo-Nazi brigades to murder Russian-speaking Ukrainians en masse.

As former Associated Press and Newsweek reporter Robert Parry writes:

As resistance to Kiev’s right-wing regime expanded in the ethnic Russian east and south, the coup regime found itself unable to count on regular Ukrainian troops to fire on civilians. Thus, its national security chief Andriy Parubiy, himself a neo-Nazi, turned to the intensely motivated neo-Nazi shock troops who had been battle-tested during the coup.

These extremists were reorganized as special units of the National Guard and dispatched to the east and south to do the dirty work that the regular Ukrainian military was unwilling to do. Many of these extreme Ukrainian nationalists lionize World War II Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera and – like Bandera – dream of a racially pure Ukraine, free of Jews, ethnic Russians and other “inferior” beings. The slur of calling the Odessa protesters Colorado beetles — as they were being burned alive — was a reference to the black-and-red colors used by the ethnic Russian resistance in the east.

Though the mainstream U.S. press either describes Parubiy simply as the interim government’s chief of national security (with no further context) or possibly as a “nationalist,” his fuller background includes his founding of the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991, blending radical Ukrainian nationalism with neo-Nazi symbols. Last year, he became commandant of the Maidan’s “self-defense forces.”...

As Parry explains:

In Ukraine, a grisly new strategy – bringing in neo-Nazi paramilitary forces to set fire to occupied buildings in the country’s rebellious southeast – appears to be emerging as a favored tactic as the coup-installed regime in Kiev seeks to put down resistance from ethnic Russians and other opponents.

15---Poverty hits the 'burbs, NYT

By 2011, there were three million more people living in poverty in suburbs than in inner cities, according to a study released last year by the Brookings Institution. As a result, suburbs are grappling with problems that once seemed alien, issues compounded by a shortage of institutions helping the poor and distances that make it difficult for people to get to jobs and social services even if they can find them.....

“This is where poor people live now, and this is where they are going to live,” said Alan Berube, an author of the Brookings Institution study. “When poverty moved out of the inner cities it didn’t just go next door, it went 30 miles away. But at the time those families might not have been poor — they were just chasing the middle-class dream. Then, boom, that evaporated.”


"Putin's policy course was supported by 89 percent of German viewers"
"German TV channel N-TV on Victory Day, may 9, asked the audience, have understanding to the political course of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. Citizens proposed to call two different phones and answer the question. As it turned out, the Russian leader "understand" 89 percent responded citizens of Germany.
The employees of the channel of this reaction did not expect. TV presenter Rommie Arndt said that the results were "somewhat unexpected"and correspondent Dirk Emmerich said in his microblog that puzzled.
At the end of March on the website of the British newspaper The Independent appeared survey. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favourite world leader. A choice were presented to us President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, President of France, Francois Hollande, Vladimir Putin and other politicians.
The absolute majority of users gave preference to the Russian leader at the beginning of April voted 92 percent. On the second place with three percent went Merkel, Obama voted two percent, the percentage gained Cameron and Hollande.
1 may-Deputy head of administration of the President Vyacheslav Volodin said that for the last five months of Putin's rating among Russians has increased more than three times and amounted to 77.5 percent. While in the Crimea, this indicator is equal to 82.4 per cent, in Sevastopol course of the head of state supported by 92 percent of the residents.
Yes, Philip Agee's: CIA Diary will make it 'crystal clear' to anyone who doesn't already understand how the US has been operating in Ukraine primarily at the individual 'human' level, and everywhere else around the world for that matter. He was a mid-level Case Officer/Agent Handler who blew countless Agents, assets, agents of influence, NOCs, etc. Also note that what the CIA, etc do overseas, the FBI does inside the States.

A key point to note is that contrary to the media apologists and disinfo ops, the CIA and ALL agencies DO NOT create Policy, they enact it, and all Intelligence policy and directives originate from the President through the National Security Council. There are no geopolitical 'rogue' agencies, that's bullshit. However, somewhat analogous to the Third Reich, the State Department, Pentagon and all Three Letter Agencies do fight amongst themselves and with each other ... most obvious to the public during Vietnam ...

The other aspects to consider alongside Agee's expose are the activities and resources of the NSA regarding every possible form of electronic, analogue and other communications of every possible type across the planet, no hyperbole there. And the completely suborned and subverted intelligence services and agencies of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, the 'five-eyes'. As a last resort to subvert any legal difficulties, they simply request that a 'partner' do the operation on their own soil, Britain's GCHQ in the US for example and vice versa the NSA in Britain

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