Monday, August 11, 2014

Today's links

"Any further unilateral intervention by Russia into Ukrainian territory, including one under the guise of providing humanitarian aid, would be completely unacceptable and deeply alarming, and it would be viewed as an invasion of Ukraine.”   US Ambassador Samantha Power

1---Why Half Of America Thinks We're Still In A Recession, Mark Gongloff

2---Junk-Bond Turmoil just Preliminary, “The Real Panic Will Come With…” , wolf street

3---The Syrian conflict and gas pipeline routes, Phil Ebersole's blog

Yellow lines show proposed pipeline route.
Yellow lines show proposed pipeline routes.  Dark lines are existing pipelines.

4---BRICS establish $100bn bank and currency pool to cut out Western dominance, RT

5---De-Dollarization Accelerates - China/Russia Complete Currency Swap Agreement, zero hedge

The Russian and Chinese central banks have agreed a draft currency swap agreement, which will allow them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the US dollar in bilateral payments.

 “The draft document between the Central Bank of Russia and the People’s Bank of China on national currency swaps has been agreed by the parties,” and is at the stage of formal approval procedures, ITAR-TASS quotes the Russian regulator’s office on Thursday.
The agreement will stimulate further development of direct trade in yuan and rubles on the domestic foreign exchange markets of Russia and China,” the Russian regulator said.

Currently, over 75 percent of payments in Russia-China trade settlements are made in US dollars, according to Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper

6--US analysts conclude MH17 downed by aircraft , new straits times

7---Ukraine Quickly Backs Off Threat Of Halting Russian Gas Transit After Europe Screams, zero hedge

Bloomberg reports citing an EU official.
"Different parts" of the Ukrainian government are “actively considering” a cut-off of Russian natural gas in transit through Ukraine as part of possible sanctions against Russia, a European Union official says. The EU would oppose such a step by the Ukrainian government, which is drawing up legislation to allow sanctions against Russia because of its encroachment in eastern Ukraine, the EU official tells reporters in Brussels on the condition of anonymity

"The secure supply of energy through Ukraine must be maintained,’’ the official says.

Translation: sorry Ukraine, but when Europe has to choose between you and Russian gas, the gas wins every time.

8---The Wall Street Hype Machine Suddenly Breaks Down , wolf street

It’s also another sign that something has changed in the markets. Hype is being undermined by the timid reappearance of reality. The Fed, which has single-handedly driven this thing to these absurd levels, is shutting down QE and is threatening to do the same to ZIRP. And so the mood is changing because everybody knows that everybody knows that, with the Fed pulling back, all bets would be off.

9--Economic groundhog day, NC

Yet, contrary to expectations, growth in household consumption has remained lackluster, and businesses have not ramped up investment. In the first two quarters of this year, America’s GDP barely exceeded the level it attained at the end of last year, and much of the increase was driven by goods that have been produced but not yet sold. The prevailing explanation – a brutally cold winter – is wearing so thin that everyone should be able to see through it.

American consumers remain scarred by the crisis. But there is another problem: in their homes and workplaces, the sense of excitement about the future is missing, despite all the gee-whiz gadgetry that now surrounds them. And while the US Federal Reserve’s policy of quantitative easing has propped up businesses, it is no substitute for the enthusiasm and anticipation needed to propel investment.
Even the reduced global forecast of 3.4% GDP growth for this year is likely to prove excessively optimistic. Before the crisis, world trade grew at 6-8% annually – well faster than GDP. But, so far this year, trade growth remains stuck at about 3%.

Failure to recognize the fundamental slowdown that is occurring is reinforcing the expectation that old models can revive growth – an approach that will only create new fragilities. Atif Mian and Amir Sufi warn that US consumers’ purchases of cars and other durables have been bolstered by the same unsustainable “subprime” lending practices that were used to finance home purchases before the crisis.

10---Looting Ukraine

11---NYTimes discovers Nazis in Ukraine, Robert Parry

On Sunday, a Times article by Andrew E. Kramer mentioned the emerging neo-Nazi paramilitary role in the final three paragraphs:
“The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat.
“Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.

“In pressing their advance, the fighters took their orders from a local army commander, rather than from Kiev. In the video of the attack, no restraint was evident. Gesturing toward a suspected pro-Russian position, one soldier screamed, ‘The bastards are right there!’ Then he opened fire.”
In other words, the neo-Nazi militias that surged to the front of anti-Yanukovych protests last February have now been organized as shock troops dispatched to kill ethnic Russians in the east – and they are operating so openly that they hoist a Swastika-like neo-Nazi flag over one conquered village with a population of about 10,000.

Burying this information at the end of a long article is also typical of how the Times and other U.S. mainstream news outlets have dealt with the neo-Nazi problem in the past. When the reality gets mentioned, it usually requires a reader knowing much about Ukraine’s history and reading between the lines of a U.S. news account...

Burning Insects
The brutality of these neo-Nazis surfaced again on May 2 when right-wing toughs in Odessa attacked an encampment of ethnic Russian protesters driving them into a trade union building which was then set on fire with Molotov cocktails. As the building was engulfed in flames, some people who tried to flee were chased and beaten, while those trapped inside heard the Ukrainian nationalists liken them to black-and-red-striped potato beetles called Colorados, because those colors are used in pro-Russian ribbons.
“Burn, Colorado, burn” went the chant.
As the fire worsened, those dying inside were serenaded with the taunting singing of the Ukrainian national anthem. The building also was spray-painted with Swastika-like symbols and graffiti reading “Galician SS,” a reference to the Ukrainian nationalist army that fought alongside the German Nazi SS in World War II, killing Russians on the eastern front.

The death by fire of dozens of people in Odessa recalled a World War II incident in 1944 when elements of a Galician SS police regiment took part in the massacre of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka, which had been a refuge for Jews and was protected by Russian and Polish partisans. Attacked by a mixed force of Ukrainian police and German soldiers on Feb. 28, 1944, hundreds of townspeople were massacred, including many locked in barns that were set ablaze.

13---On the Brink of Survival: No electricity, water, communications in besieged Lugansk, E. Ukraine, RT

14---'US might support Iraqi president in a coup against Maliki', RT

15---Mea culpa, media? RT

Russia has been suffering from similar vilification and falsity in much of the Western mainstream press since the US and EU ignited a needless civil war in Ukraine. I’ve already covered in a previous dispatch how the UK media managed to charge, try and sentence President Putin within hours of the appalling MH17 disaster - “Putin’s missile” as the internationally little-known court of ‘The Sun’ in London adjudicated. Never mind that there was no evidence. In fact, nearly a month on and there’s still not a shred of proof connecting the rebels to the tragedy - much less the Kremlin. But don’t hold your breath waiting for a UK paper to lead with “Obama’s missile” splash when reporting on atrocities in Gaza - despite the fact that we know the USA arms Israel.

The language used in Ukraine is telling. Let’s just think about the term ‘pro-Russian separatists’, which is almost uniformly used to describe the rebels in eastern Ukraine. Given that they already held a referendum declaring themselves independent from Ukraine, and Moscow didn’t dive in to annex the territory, what exactly makes them ‘pro-Russian?’ Would ‘anti-Kiev rebels’ or ‘East Ukraine separatists’ not be more apt? Does the same Western media call the forces fighting the Syrian government ‘Pro-Saudi rebels’ or did they call the Croatian separatists in 1990s Yugoslavia ‘pro-German separatists?’ (Germany was the primary backer of Croat independence). No, they don’t and they didn’t. So why ‘pro-Russian separatists?’ ...

It’s not just in the UK; the leading German business newspaper, Handelsblatt, also broke ranks at the weekend with the chief editor, Gabor Steingart, launching a stunning attack on NATO/EU policy in Ukraine under the headline “Der Irrweg des Westens/The aberration of the West”.
Regarding Russia being used as a bogeyman by the NATO press, he cautions: “Even the idea that economic pressure and political isolation would bring Russia to its knees was not really thought all the way through. Even if we could succeed: what good would Russia be on its knees?
“How can you want to live together in the European house with a humiliated people whose elected leadership is treated like a pariah and whose citizens you might have to support in the coming winter?”
Emphasizing that the current escalation harms German interests, Steingart continues, “There are no recorded cases in which countries under sanction apologized for their behavior and were obedient ever after. On the contrary: collective movements start in support of the sanctioned, as is the case today in Russia.
“The country was hardly ever more unified behind their president than now. This could almost lead you to think that the rabble-rousers of the West are on the payroll of the Russian secret service,” he adds.
I don’t think that the ‘rabble-rousers’ are Russian agents. Nor do I believe they are American or British proxies. They are merely media operators looking for a ‘bad guy’ and, in the absence of Bin Laden and Saddam, Russia seems to fit the bill right now.

16--The "idiot" state; Ukraine committing economic suicide by thinking to stop gas transit’, RT

17---Putin: Russia teams up with Red Cross to send humanitarian convoy to Ukraine, itar tass

Russia in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will send a humanitarian convoy to Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin said in a telephone conversation with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Monday.

Putin shared his assessment of the crisis in Ukraine and its causes, placing the emphasis on “the catastrophic consequences of the military operation the Kiev authorities are conducting in south-eastern regions and on the need for urgent humanitarian aid to the region”, the presidential press service said.

President Vladimir Putin and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in a telephone conversation on Monday discussed some pressing issues of cooperation between Russia and the European Union.
The call took place “in the context of the Association Agreement signed by Ukraine and Russia’s ban on the import of agricultural products from EU countries in response to the Western sanctions”, the press service said.

18--"Raze it to the ground" RIA Novoski

– The Kiev government’s military operation in eastern Ukraine seems to be aimed at “razing the southeast to the ground” and forcing the Russian-speaking population to flee, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.
“So far, it seems that the purpose of the so-called anti-terrorist operation is to raze the southeast [of Ukraine] to the ground and make all Russians leave it. Apparently, with a purpose to later populate it with those who have a different view of our history, culture, friendship and centuries-long ties between our peoples,” Lavrov told reporters during his visit to Sochi.

19---Assault on Donetsk risks war with Russia, wsws

In response to the ongoing US-backed military campaign, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for a ceasefire in east Ukraine and the rapid deployment of humanitarian aid supplies to stem the crisis. He told reporters, “We believe the issue is pressing and must not be delayed. The question is under the Russian president’s control. I am certain that we will be able to agree on this aid as soon as possible.”
Lavrov also stated that a ceasefire was required by an agreement, which has not been honored by the Ukrainian government, signed by Ukrainian and Russian diplomats in April that called for both Kiev and the pro-Russian separatists to refrain from violence.

According to UN estimates, 730,000 Ukrainians have fled to Russia since the Ukrainian regime began military operations and a further 117,000 people have been displaced internally.

The UN also estimates that more than 1,129 people have been killed and 3,500 wounded in the east since the Ukrainian government began its operations in April. Many of the civilian casualties have come as a result of indiscriminate artillery shelling of residential areas by Kiev-backed forces.
At a meeting of the United Nations (UN) Security Council on Friday, US Ambassador Samantha Power warned against any humanitarian intervention by Russia in eastern Ukraine. She laid blame for the crisis in the country entirely at Russia’s feet, stating that “the humanitarian situation needs addressing, but not by those who have caused it.

20---The war cabal in Washington, wsws

21---Economist who predicted busted housing bubble says another recession is coming, san jose mercury

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