Monday, July 28, 2014

Today's links

Russia's Foreign Ministry commented on this statement as follows: "Judging by the relentless slander campaign against Russia organized by the American administration, they are being more and more guided by blatant lies when pursuing their foreign policy," the ministry said.
"In line with its current practice, Washington cites no proof or any references to facts that could be considered and commented," it said, adding that the White House only mentions certain intelligence data but refuses to present it, and "information in social networks," ITAR-TASS reports.


Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 near the city of Donetsk in Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Kiev placed the blame on the independence supporters in eastern Ukraine for shooting the plane down, but the latter insisted they did not have the means to shoot down an aircraft flying at 32,000 feet


1---White House says Russia ‘culpable’ of MH17 downing, cites ‘social media reports’, RT


Washington has claimed that Moscow is ‘culpable’ in the Malaysian plane crash in Ukraine, as it was Russian authorities that gave the rebels heavy weapons and training. However, the claim was only backed up by reports in social media.
“We’ve seen that there were heavy weapons moved from Russia to Ukraine, that they have moved into the hands of separatist leaders,”said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “And according to social media reports, those weapons include the SA-11 [Buk missile] system.”


Once again citing “some social media reports,” Earnest added that Russia trained the self-defense forces operating in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
“We do know that it was an SA-11 [Buk missile] system that was in the hands of separatists that brought down the Malaysian airliner last week. We know that Russia had been involved in training separatists to use that system.”


2---Intl. teams find ‘no violations’ by Russia along Ukrainian border, RT


3---According to British foreign secretary Philip Hammond, the large volume of evidence indicated the missile had been launched from the embattled Ukrainian territory, itar tass


4-- "The whole world has witnessed the tragedy of the peoples of Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and lately, of Ukraine. Under the guise of export of democracy, civilians, women, the elderly, children are being killed in these countries, cities and religious shrines are being destroyed. The U.S. and the EU are directly responsible for everything that happens there. The actions of their leaders are state terrorism directed against countries and peoples. And  it is the blood of Muslims that is shed in most cases." The head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov


5---16 Considerations Which Debunk Washington’s Propaganda About Flight 17 , John Stockman


6--Donetsk Commander Denies Telling Media Militia Had Buk Missiles During MH17 Crash, Pravda


Khodakovsky also said he had a video recording of the Reuters interview that could prove he did not tell the agency that the independence supporters possessed missile systems. He said he had told Reuters that he was not an expert and could not comment on the crash, while all the videos with militia forces talking about having Buk systems were dated the day before the crash.


7---Trim Tabs: Stock buybacks looking weak, FOX


8--America's Lost Decade: Typical Household Wealth Has Plunged 36% Since 2003, zero hedge


As Russell Sage Foundation concludes, through at least 2013, there are very few signs of significant recovery from the loss of wealth experienced by American families during the Great Recession. Declines in net worth from 2007 to 2009 were large, and the declines continued through 2013. These wealth losses, however, were not distributed equally. While large absolute amounts of wealth were destroyed at the top of the wealth distribution, households at the bottom of the wealth distribution lost the largest share of their total wealth. As a result, wealth inequality increased significantly from 2003 through 2013; by some metrics inequality roughly doubled.


 The American economy has experienced rising income and wealth inequality for several decades, and there is little evidence that these trends are likely to reverse in the near-term.



It is possible that the very slow recovery from the Great Recession will continue to generate increased wealth inequality in the coming years as those hardest hit may still be drawing down the assets they have left to cover current consumption


9--Gas Pipeline Diplomacy”: How Ukraine Opened the Door to A New U.S.- Russia Energy War, global research


The pipeline is core to the larger battle being fought over Europe between Moscow and Washington. It may even have been a motivation behind Russia’s annexation of Crimea. And if there’s a crack in the unified front between the U.S. and Europe over Russia’s role in Ukraine, South Stream is it.
Why does South Stream matter? It’s a $21.6 billion project to connect Russia’s gas reserves—the world’s largest—to Europe’s markets.  Europe relies on Russia for about 30 percent of its natural gas.
Any delays in finishing the pipeline—scheduled for completion in 2018—can only help Russia’s competitors in the international energy business.  And one player gearing up to challenge Russia in the European energy market is the United States


10--This map shows Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, VOX
Europe_gas
Europe is still heavily reliant on Russian


11--Is the Ukraine "Crisis" a US Crony Oil Play?; Further Discussion of S.2277 (“to prevent further Russian aggression, etc.”), Michael Rozeff


the bill itself which has a number of explicit crony capitalist sections on gas and oil development in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. The bill directs the U.S. Agency for International Development to guarantee loans for every phase of the development of oil and gas in these regions:
“…direct assistance to expand efforts in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova to help exploit existing natural gas reserves, to conduct additional exploration for oil and gas, and to develop alternative sources of energy, including oil and gas, and to encourage energy efficiency, for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, including the development of associated transportation, storage, and refinement facilities.”




There is nothing like installing your own puppets in a foreign government, then underwriting loans to the local oligarchs and American favorites to develop the oil and gas business, while trying to freeze out Russian companies, and then sitting back and raking in the payoffs and profits. Domestically, similar methods are a proven way of doing business within America.



July 25 (RIA Novosti) – A system mix up during a Ukrainian air defense units’ rocket launch exercise could be the cause of the Malaysia Airlines crash in southeast Ukraine, a source from one of the Ukrainian defense departments told RIA Novosti.“On July 17 the commanding officer of 156th Anti-Aircraft Regiment was instructed to conduct a training exercise of ground troops stationed near Donetsk, which involved deploying the troops, and carrying out a routine tracking and destroying of targets with the Buk-M1 missile,” the source said.
The source added that the actual launch of the rockets was not intended.
Two Sukhoi Su-25 combat aircraft on a reconnaissance mission participated in the exercise. It is likely at some point, the routes of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 and a Su-25 jet overlapped. Despite flying at different levels, they became a single dot on the radar of the missile system. Of the two, the system automatically chose a larger target


16--Collapse of Ukraine Government: Prime Minister Yatsenyuk Resigns amidst Pressures Exerted by the IMF


17---Interpol puts Ukrainian ultranationalist Yarosh on wanted list, RT


18--- US mass media and its prominent politicians are cynically using a public tragedy to push the West towards dangerous confrontation with Russia., RIA


After a week of attacking Russia with groundless accusations, the US security service officials had to admit that they had not got proof of "direct Russian government involvement in shooting down" the Malaysia Airlines plane. Furthermore, the unnamed US officials suggested that the MH17 airplane could have been shot down in error, adding that they could not state definitively if it was Ukrainian insurgents who launched the missile.


Embarrassingly, while Russia's Defense Ministry presented its radar and satellite data on July 21, describing the final moments of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 before the crash, US State Department's spokeswoman Marie Harf was referring to YouTube videos and social media posts to prove the Ukrainian rebels' involvement in the tragedy. Alas, all the "evidences," Marie Harf pointed, collapse upon careful scrutiny.
However, the media’s anti-Russian smear campaign has borne its first fruit: the EU is discussing the next round of sanctions; tensions between Russia and the West have increased; leading US Democratic senators called on President Barack Obama to add the Ukrainian rebel group to a US foreign terrorist organizations blacklist.


Remarkably, the American Russophobic lobby achieved these impressive results before an independent international investigation into the plane crash even started. It should be noted that methods used by Western mass media are strikingly similar to those used by savage cannibal tribes: through endless repetition of some words, savages are persuade themselves of the necessity to devour their fellow tribesman.
In mid-July, James W. Carden, former advisor to the US State Department’s US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (2011-2012), pointed to the growing interventionist hysteria that swept neocons and their "counterparts" abroad. He calls them "the Wilsonians." The global Wilsonians are beating the war drum, comparing 2014 with 1938 when the most "demonic" authoritarian regimes were on rise, Carden notes in his article "Will Global Wilsonians Take Us to War?"


19--Ukraine TV cuts live interview after HRW rep refuses to admit ‘Russian aggression’, RT


20--The financial bubble economy, wsws


21---3 reasons Yellen's FOMC remains dovish, sober look
What makes Janet Yellen and a number of other FOMC members so dovish with respect to monetary policy and in particular the trajectory of rate normalization? A Credit Suisse report sites 3 key factors, which Yellen calls  “unusual  headwinds":

1. Tighter fiscal policy.

The combination of lower government spending and tax increases has created a drag on economic growth (see chart). This drag is now diminishing, but given the tepid recovery Yellen still views it as a headwind.



2. Relatively tight credit in the mortgage market.
Janet Yellen: - " ... it is difficult for any homeowner who doesn't have pristine credit these days to get a mortgage. I think that is one of the factors that is causing the housing recovery to be slow. It’s not the only one, but I would agree with that assessment."
A recent study by Goldman compared current lending conditions in the mortgage market with the 2000 - 2002 period (supposedly "pre-bubble" period). The results indeed seem to point to tighter lending standards at this time (see chart).

3. Low household wage growth expectations.

While US wages have been growing at around 2% per year, expectations for growth remain depressed.
Yellen (see House testimony video below): - " ... households have unusually depressed expectations about their own future income gains. And I think weighs on their feelings about their own household finances and is holding back consumer spending."


Source: Credit Suisse
22-- US companies are carrying far more net debt than in 2007  zero hedge





Another curiosity is this notion that US companies have substantially reduced their debt pile and are therefore cash rich. The latter is indeed true. Cash and equivalents are at historically high levels, but rarely do those who mention the mountains of corporate cash also discuss the massive increase in debt seen over the last couple of years.









In fact, debt levels have been growing to such an extent that net debt (i.e. excluding the massive cash pile) is 15% higher than it was prior to the financial crisis.





And

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