Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Today's Links

"The resort to police state methods in Ferguson is the outcome of the protracted decay of American democracy. This process entered a new stage with the theft of the 2000 presidential election. It was accelerated after 9/11 and the declaration of the so-called “war on terror.” From the start, that phony war was used to justify an eruption of imperialist war abroad and an unrelenting assault on democratic rights within the US"  Barry Grey, Martial Law in Ferguson, WSWS

1---No Weapons Seen Crossing Russian-Ukrainian Border - OSCE, Ria Novosti

2---Combat kittens & hipster jihadists: ISIS target kids to spread their cause, RT
ISIS gets PR help

3---Russians fear war with neighbors, colonization by foreigners, RT

4---Argentina Stuns Bondholders With Scorched-Earth "Cramdown" Plan, zero hedge

Victory for the little guy. Cramdown!

5---"Worst. Recovery. Ever." Except For Bankers, zero hedge
Things are troubling...

6---Fannie Mae Sledgehammers Housing Forecasts , wolf street

The current forecast is about flat with the 429,000 units actually sold last year. But this is only August. There are four more months to go, and at the current rate of slashing forecasts to bring them in line with reality, it doesn’t look good for the year.

Fannie Mae then took its sledgehammer to its forecast of existing home sales. Only 4.91 million units will change hands this year, it said, down from 4.97 million in July, down from 5.18 million in January, and down from 5.26 million in August last year. The current forecast is already 3.5% below actual sales last year.

7---This Chart Is a True Picture of What’s Dragging on the American Economy , wolf street

As if to drive home the point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics coincidentally released a study to confirm what has become the biggest economic problem in the US: those at the lower-income levels, those who’ve gotten ripped off by inflation and wages, have become terrible consumers in an economy dependent on consumer spending.
The report found that the average income of households in the top 20% grew by $8,358 per year from 2008 through 2012. But the lowest 20% saw their  already minimal incomes get whittled down by $275 per year. The earnings of the second and third quintiles increased only $143 and $69 per year. So for the bottom 60% combined, there really wasn’t any improvement.

And their spending patterns? The lowest quintile cut their spending by $150 per year in total. They cut where they could: in seven categories, totaling $490 per year, mostly on apparel, entertainment, housing, and personal care. And they increased spending where they had to: in seven other categories totaling $340, topped by “cash contributions” such as alimony, “miscellaneous,” and healthcare.

This principle of cutting back where they can and spending more where they have to, in order to make their shrinking ends meet, has been dissected by Gallup, which found that consumers are “straining against rising prices on daily essentials” and are cutting back on things they want to buy [read... Gallup Slams Lid On Hopes For US Economy].

8---IMF urges Japan to take quick action on structural reforms. JT

The report, titled “Structural Reforms Can Help Japan’s Post-Consumption Tax Blues,” was compiled by Stephan Danninger, a division chief in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department....
Taxes for the poor. Giveaways to the rich

9---Iran Says Ready To Supply Natural Gas To Europe , Radio Free Europe

On May 14, Iranian Deputy Oil Minister for International and Trade Affairs Ali Majedi suggested Europe could import Iranian gas by pipeline through Turkey and that the level of exports could range from 4 million cubic meters per day to 50.

He also proposed a second pipeline route through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and a third pipeline route through Armenia, Georgia, and under the Black Sea.

There has been no response yet from Western powers to the offer. Nor has there been one from Russia, which has every reason to be equally surprised.

The Iranians "have been speaking a lot about how they are willing to supply natural gas to Europe amid concern that Russia could retaliate against EU sanctions (on Moscow over Ukraine) by restricting supplies," Tazimi observes. "So, the fact that Iran has been very vocal is definitely going to rattle Moscow's cage."....

Experts say that Iran faces major obstacles to becoming a large gas exporter, including the need to ramp up gas production and build new transportation infrastructure.

Both require massive foreign investment, something impossible under current Western sanctions.

Economist Mehrdad Emadi of the U.K.-based Betamatrix International Consultancy says Iran's oil and gas sector is in urgent need of modernization after being deprived of free access to Western technology for the better part of 20 years.

The Iranian "government's own estimate of the needs in the energy sector is something close to 300 billion dollars over eight years for investment and renewal of capital equipment," he says.

Even if sanctions were lifted tomorrow, huge problems would remain....

And Iran already has other customers waiting for natural gas that it cannot yet serve. They include Iraq, Oman, and Pakistan, which all hope to import gas through pipelines once Iran increases production.

10--MH17 Verdict: Real Evidence Points to US-Kiev Cover-up of Failed False Flag, Saker

11---Engineering Failed States: The Strategy of Global Corporate Imperialism  news junkie

12---Energy ballet: Iran, Russia and 'Pipelineistan', pepe escobar

Nabucco, a “Pipelineistan” saga I have followed in detail, was all about a pipeline to Europe via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria filled with sometimes Azerbaijani, sometimes Iraqi gas, before it spectacularly floundered for lack of investment.
Does that mean Iran is picking an energy war with Russia? Not really. Nabucco is a major, expensive “if”, and extremely long-term. South Stream, although momentarily stalled, is ready to go

What happened in the shadows is that Washington let it be known to Tehran that if the $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline was dropped, the sanctions would be somewhat relaxed, and Iran could have the go-ahead to revive Nabucco, a US-supported European obsession and formerly fierce rival of South Stream.

Yet talk is cheap. As it stands, there is a larger probability of Iran-Iraq-Syria finding financing within the next two to three years than Nabucco.

In parallel, as much as the US and EU sanctions on Russia are strengthening Iran in the nuclear talks, especially towards the Europeans, this does not mean Tehran will overplay the Russia card. As much as Iranian negotiators are relishing the new plot twist, the overall Iranian policy is in fact closer bilateral ties with Moscow to crack those sanctions on Iran for good. 

13---Boeing-777 was downed by Ukrainian MiG-29, Romanian expert says, Pravda

14---No One Wants You to Know How Bad Fukushima Might Still Be, vice

15---The Coup Announcement In Afghanistan, MoA

From comments: 
For Kerry and Obama's part, we're in Afghanistan from Cheney, Bush, Enron and Pipelinestan. The 'Surge' was Cheney's last hurrah, (that Obama only pushed the 'Go' button on after many months of troop and equipment supply positioning.) It went downhill pretty much after that, a series of US quasi politician-generals, some more grift tours by Clinton and McCain to get their 1% cut of the action, and then the SOFA demand, and the troop pullout deadline.
The SOFA demand, by the way, if you've read it, is just horrific. It basically says the US MERC MAFIOSA can come or leave the country without inspection or tariffs, with kilos of heroin, pallets of shrinkwrapped $100s, or heads in a bag, no matter. They are above the law, can kill anyone they want, kidnap and rendition anyone they want, and still have full diplomatic immunity to come and go, like The Chosen. Literally it's a SOFA of the Vampire.

The real reason why America will always be in Afghanistan is not 'the Taliban', it's not to 'support nascent democracy' or 'secure strategic natural resources'. It's SOFA, because, of all the wars of occupation, Afghanistan stands out from them all by the EGREGIOUS looting and fraud, unlike no other theatre of combat on earth. For several years I tried to wiggle my way in as a 3rd-tier contractor, and even got a few nice 'tastes', of the just MASSIVE HUGE GULPING looting and fraud by defense contractors and NGOs, that has to be pouring into Mil.Gov's coffers in WADC-NOVA, and from there into private offshore tax havens. $100Bs!

Look around the world today, now where can an elite SOFA gain access to $100Bs without any oversight, no taxes, no regulations, SOFA is a FREE FOR ALL LOOT-FEST OF AMERICA'S TAXES!
It would be like turning off 1,000 Las Vegas' lights and going home with your diamond dice.
Fahged abahd et. Ain't gonna happen. You watch. This is just intermission on the Third Act.
Someone in Ukraine said it best. You could SMELL the pungency of Vampire, like the scent of fresh blood. It's all around the world now, Great Shaytan, searching for it's next Feast.
Posted by: ChipNikh | Aug 20, 2014 6:28:34 AM | 26
"... unclear how the project can progress given the Taliban insurgency, which controls large swaths of southern Afghanistan and parts of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. A separatist rebellion in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, through which the pipeline must also pass, further complicates the picture Andrew Neff, a Moscow-based senior energy analyst at IHS, a global consultancy, said instability in Afghanistan means the pipeline—estimated four years ago to cost $7.6 billion to construct—is unlikely to attract financing from Western banks.
"The main hurdle is the security concerns in Afghanistan," Mr. Neff said. The focus on the pipeline's geopolitical significance is "threatening to overtake the economic rationale of connecting suppliers with consumers," he said…"

16---'Severe' drought covers nearly 99.8% of California, report says, physics

17--Are we facing yet another foreclosure crisis?, HW

18--Next for Ukraine: Default  NC

The economy is being destroyed, yet Kiev is itself destroying any chance of bringing in Western investment to prop it up. Western firms are invited to invest in Ukraine, while at the same time Ukraine makes a mockery of transparency and ensures that the investment climate is suddenly even less attractive than it was two weeks ago. Lip service is paid to developing more resources to build energy independence, but a new tax doubles costs for private producers who will stop producing and pick up stakes.

19--Housing recovery hopes crushed as July home sales plummet , oc housing

20---Why have the media and Obama administration gone silent on MH17?, wsws

21--De facto martial law in Ferguson, Missouri, wsws

As video reports posted on the World Socialist Web Site show, residents of Ferguson are making the connection between the military-police occupation of their city and the use of similar methods by the United States government in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are pointing to the hypocrisy of Washington’s claim to be defending democratic and human rights in the Middle East and Central Asia, while at home it responds to any sign of social opposition by employing the same anti-democratic and violent means it cites as the reason for overthrowing foreign governments.

This is the very point the WSWS made just days before the police murder of Brown. In an August 4 Perspective column entitled “The slaughter in Gaza: A warning to the international working class,” the WSWS wrote: “The Israeli onslaught in Gaza is a forewarning of the measures that will be used in every country against working class resistance to war, militarism and the agenda of austerity. The methods developed in the course of a decade of the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to terrorise hostile populations will also be used against workers fighting to defend their jobs, living standards and basic democratic rights.”

The resort to police state methods in Ferguson is the outcome of the protracted decay of American democracy. This process entered a new stage with the theft of the 2000 presidential election. It was accelerated after 9/11 and the declaration of the so-called “war on terror.” From the start, that phony war was used to justify an eruption of imperialist war abroad and an unrelenting assault on democratic rights within the US.

The past 13 years have seen a massive buildup of the repressive powers of the state at the expense of democratic rights, resulting today in the existence of a police state in waiting. The USA Patriot Act, which sanctioned the unbridled expansion of government spying on the people of America and the world, was followed by the establishment of the Homeland Security Department, which has coordinated and funded, along with the Pentagon, the transformation of local police into paramilitary counterinsurgency forces. The Northern Command, the first ever military command covering the territory of the United States, was set up.

These innovations were accompanied by countless studies and plans developed by military and intelligence agencies and think tanks for urban warfare and mass repression to quash social protest in the US.

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