Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Today's Links

In 1994, George Kennan called the expansion of NATO into the old Soviet bloc “a strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions.” ...Yet we not only brought into NATO all the Warsaw Pact nations, George W. Bush brought in the Baltic republics.


"The ceasefire is an enormous step forward and with that comes the possibility of a political solution...There is quite a strong appetite across Europe for saying we want a political solution here, we don't want a ramping up of the economic pressure," British opposition MP and peace campaigner Jeremy Corbyn told RT.


1---Let’s cut to the chase: There were 1,446,000 fewer people working full time in August 2014 than in August 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics household survey (CPS)., Lee Adler


Since August 2009, near the bottom of the recession, the US economy has added 6.25 million full-time jobs, a 5.5% increase. That amounts to $588,000 in Fed QE per added full time job. But that’s ok. It’s been great for bankers, securities brokers, and hedge funds. While the number of full time jobs increased 5.5%, stock prices soared 175%. It’s all good!


Or not. I have argued for a long time that the Fed’s policies have rewarded financial engineering at the expense of job creation. The Fed has made it profitable for corporations to borrow free money to buy back the stock options that they issue to their executives rather than investing in expanding their businesses and creating jobs. The Fed’s policies have enabled corporate executives and their financial enablers to conduct a massive skimming of the US economy and wealth transfer at the expense of everybody else. By promoting this behavior, not only has Fed policy been ineffective in stimulating real growth, it has been a moral outrage, decimating the middle class and robbing the elderly of their life savings as they’re forced to consume principal....


In terms of a recovery in the number of jobs that might support a family, the Fed hasn’t supported recovery, it has suppressed it.


2---Britain faces storm as giant global investors awaken to break-up dangers, Telegraph


3---The Wrath of Abenomics Crushes Japanese Consumers, Eviscerates Economy , wolf street


The wrath of Abenomics – inflation without compensation...


Goods inflation in July jumped 4.3% year over year, with vendors passing on a big part of the tax hike to consumers. Service inflation was up only 1.7%, indicating that service providers, also covered by the consumption tax, have eaten the tax hike and absorbed it in their margins rather than passing it on to their customers, at least for the time being. Which will cut into their profits, and into their ability to grow and invest and spend and pay their employees more – and thus into their ability to push the economy forward.
And inflation in August? The Statistics Bureau uses inflation in the Tokyo area for an early indicator of what inflation might look like a month later for the country as a whole. And in August, year-over-year goods prices in the Tokyo area jumped 5.1%.
..


Alas, compensation has done the opposite. It has declined further. The Statistics Bureau reported that the average of monthly household income in July dropped 2.4% before inflation from the previous year – and plummeted 6.2% in real terms. Inflation without compensation..




4--Wages and benefits as a percentage of corporate income are near their lowest level since 1950, Mark Gongloff


5---U.S. consumer credit soars in July with biggest gain since '01, Reuters


Subprime auto and student loans (Yawn)


6---Time to break up the EU, Ilargi


The EU has become a straight-jacket that restricts the freedom of far too many people, and they’re going to break free. It’s only a matter of time. Of course it more likely that the UK will opt to leave the EU than for Scotland to be put out on the curb, but that’s fine by me: what’s important right now is that somebody starts rattling the cage, and starts calling out for freedom. It’s inevitable that it will take place, and the sooner that happens the better, because we don’t want violent unrest to erupt.


In yet another twist of irony, I am most likely to see my wish of an EU break-up fulfilled by someone I have grave doubts about: Marine Le Pen of the Front National in France. She called yesterday on President Hollande – and his 13% approval rating – to dissolve parliament, and she leads in all the polls. Le Pen would take France out of the EU in only a few simple steps, and that would be the end, since without France there is no EU.


7---Underwater: Japan's Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 7.1 , Bloomberg


Japan’s economy contracted the most in more than five years, highlighting the challenge for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in steering the nation through the aftermath of a sales-tax increase.
Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 7.1 percent in the three months through June, the most since the first quarter of 2009, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. The median forecast of 25 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 7 percent drop....


Honda Motor Co. Japan’s No. 3 automaker, plans to cut capital outlays 10 percent this fiscal year, while NTT Docomo Inc., the nation’s largest mobile-phone carrier by subscribers, forecasts spending will drop about 2 percent....


Private consumption dropped an annualized 19 percent from the previous quarter, compared with the initial estimate for a 18.7 percent drop, today’s report showed...


8---Russia, China agree to settle more trade in yuan and rouble, Reuters


9---EU adopts new sanctions against Russia to come into force in 'next few days', RT


10---Judge With Anti- Drinking and Driving Message Arrested For Hit & Run on a Bus While Drinking and, free thought


Judge Dean L. Wilson of Perry County, Ohio got in a car accident while drunk last week, and was charged with a DUI. Wilson is well known in his community for being harsh on drunk drivers, and even goes so far as to conduct court cases in schools so students can see drunk drivers get prosecuted.
Each year, Wilson moves his court room to New Lexington High School specifically for drunk driving cases, to set an example for the children.


Late last Sunday night, Wilson was driving home and crashed his Mercedez-Benz into a bus, and continued to drive away from the scene. He engaged in a high speed chase with police, which eventually ended with a police helicopter following him and tracking his vehicle down.


11--"the US and the EU are no longer in the position to make these types of grandiose, unconditional threats" RT




RT: Russia has helped broker the truce that is currently in place in the eastern Ukraine. Why did the EU still go ahead with approving the additional sanctions?
John Griffin: That is a great question, and in the connection with the US and its involvement in Ukraine I really think that this is utterly ridiculous. The hypocrisy inherent in this move is palpable. The US and its European allies invade countries for any and every reason, and Russia has a legitimate energy interest in preserving peace and stability in Ukraine. Its pipeline is the sole pipeline to supply oil and natural gas to most of Western Europe, so this is highly counterproductive to the interest of both the EU, the US and Russia itself. And I think many of us across the pond would like to see us move in the other direction.


RT: EU officials also said that the actions will take affect or will be revised only after a few days after assessment of how this ceasefire in eastern Ukraine holds up. How can this then affect the peace efforts on the ground?
JG: Well, beyond the issue of peace is the fact that we have instability in financial markets and the Russian Federation has said that it will be forming a currency zone with China and it would be diversifying away from the dollar, and this could ripple throughout the US market, the European markets and cause substantial financial turmoil and this is something we need to be thinking about in the EU and the US before we advocate and pursue new sanctions.
As far as peace on the ground, I think that Russia wants peace


12---Western media conceals involvement of Nazi extremists in Ukrainian gov, itar tass


 evidence is mounting that the Kiev regime has waged its so-called “anti-terrorist operation” against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine by using out-of-control paramilitaries, some guided by Nazi ideology. This behavior, fitting with the far-right political extremism previously known to EU leaders, also violates norms agreed to by the Ukrainian government in its commitment to the OSCE.


Ukraine has intentionally dispatched far-right militias, some waving neo-Nazi banners, to attack towns and cities in eastern Ukraine. Though this reality has drawn spotty recognition even in the Western media, there has been little criticism of the Kiev regime for these tactics.
Instead the typical response - especially from US officialdom and media - has been to dismiss claims about the close association between the Ukrainian government and neo-Nazi extremists as “Russian propaganda.


13---The collapse of household income in the US, wsws  (That should be good for demand)
  
The US Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, released last Thursday, documents a devastating decline in economic conditions for a large majority of the population during the so-called economic recovery.
The report reveals that between 2007 and 2013, the income of a typical US household fell 12 percent. The median American household now earns $6,400 less per year than it did in 2007.


Much of the decline occurred during the “recovery” presided over by the Obama administration. In the three years between 2010 and 2013, the annual income of a typical household fell by an additional 5 percent.
The report also shows that wealth has become even more concentrated in the topmost economic layers. The wealth share of the top 3 percent climbed from 44.8 percent in 1989 to 54.4 percent in 2013. The share of wealth held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33.2 percent in 1989 to 24.7 percent in 2013


14---CIA employed “medieval” torture that brought prisoners “to the point of death”, wsws


15---The New Enemy Creation Process , counterpunch


Groups like ISIS, as Patrick Cockburn and Tom Engelhardt, have made clear, don’t just appear out of thin air. They’re built, constructed out of wrong-headed Western (especially US) foreign policies stretching from the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (along with irresistible assistance to warlords and sectarians) to the failure to enthusiastically support Arab Spring democrats. Add the waging of indefinite counterterrorist and counterinsurgency wars and we have the New Enemy Creation Process.


Al-Qaeda was insufficient, US elites needed to war against the Talibans in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Saddam Hussein was not enough, George Bush’s “bring ‘em on” engendered new and revitalized old Sunni and Shia militias. The PLO was an inadequate boogieman, American policy demonized Hamas too. Columbian drug runners were inadequate, Washington added the FARC. When Muammar Ghaddafi had to go, NATO got tribal gunmen (and “Benghazi”) in the bargain. When Bashar al-Assad’s time was up, the jihadis poured forth.


Propagating an endless steam of new enemies transforms war into a permanent enterprise that generates trillions in debt, billions in profits, and millions of security clearances. New bureaucracies are built. Old ones are strengthened and expanded.  Militarization transforms formerly civilian police forces and once quiet international borders...


What’s changed is that the American way of war—once subject to the constraints of time and space—has been liberated from its earthly shackles. American war has, like much of the US economy, gone digital, global, untethered by democratic control. US foreign and defense policy has become a New Enemy Creation Process: always hungry, ever alert. The Islamic State is almost too good to be true for the War on Terror-Industrial-Complex.


16---Top Russia Expert: Ukraine Joining Nato Would Provoke Nuclear war, zero hedge




This is a horrific, tragic, completely unnecessary war in eastern Ukraine. In my own judgment, we have contributed mightily to this tragedy. I would say that historians one day will look back and say that America has blood on its hands. Three thousand people have died, most of them civilians who couldn’t move quickly. That’s women with small children, older women. A million refugees
...
Russia has about, I think, 10,000 tactical nuclear weapons, sometimes called battlefield nuclear weapons. You use these for short distances. They can be fired; you don’t need an airplane or a missile to fly them. They can be fired from artillery. But they’re nuclear. They’re radioactive. They’ve never been used. Russia has about 10,000. We have about 500. Russia’s military doctrine clearly says that if Russia is threatened by overwhelming conventional forces, we will use tactical nuclear weapons. So when Obama boasts, as he has on two occasions, that our conventional weapons are vastly superior to Russia, he’s feeding into this argument by the Russian hawks that we have to get our tactical nuclear weapons ready.


17---The Reasons Bankers Weren't Busted, Ritholtz


18---Stated income loans make comeback as mortgage lenders seek clients, Reuters


19---Mortgage equity withdrawal should be regulated like retirement account loans , oc housing


In Texas the total loan-to-value ratio on any cash-out or HELOC can’t exceed 80% by state law; it’s actually written into the State constitution. People can borrow more to purchase a property, but then they must wait until they have more than 20% equity before they can even consider mortgage equity withdrawal. This effectively puts a lockbox on home equity.


20--Why the US needs a major war in Europe, Saker (video) 


21---Alexey Mozgovoi: I Will Continue to the End! ...from Gleb Bazov's Slaviangrad website


Novorossiya shall be! Oligarchs out! Power to the real, common people! This is our [first] chance in many decades to build an equitable, human and humane society. ....


If we are fighting for the interests of the people, is it not up to the people themselves to decide the outcome of this struggle? See it through completely…


right now, we are witnessing another attempt, by means of negotiations, to stop the resistance and to prevent the destruction of the oligarchic power in Ukraine.....


....What guarantees can be discussed with people that have eliminated the word TRUTH from their vocabulary?


Only Kiev’s capitulation can resolve the current situation. Only a separation of business interests from government can offer the chance to build a state with a human face. And only the prosecution of those who hold power, of the world “elite” can enable the people to regain their dignity. Otherwise it was all for naught—all the slogans and all the victims.

Do we want to remain as marionettes in the hands of the armchair intellectuals? I am not satisfied with such a prospect! We did not take up arms just to stop halfway.

There always was and always will be fear. Right now, many are afraid of the coming winter. But this is animal fear. I am much more afraid of staying as a serf—of remaining an animal in the hands of the glossy feudal lords.

I will continue to the end! Until we reach the intended target! Until the full and unconditional victory of the free and proud Russian Slavic World!!!




That is another curious omission of the report - the blackbox must have recorded the sound of the explosion.
Like described here
"It would have recorded the sound of the explosion, which under forensic analysis, would reveal what type of explosion it was," aviation security expert and commercial pilot, Desmond Ross said. The sound of the explosion would allow forensic analysts to determine if the missile fired at MH17 was indeed the SA-11 BUK. The BUK has been identified as the weapon that shot down MH17 by preliminary US intelligence reports. http://www.smh.com.au/world/mh17-what-the-black-boxes-will-reveal-20140723-zvvo3.html


Meanwhile, the rebel leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, insisted the separatists did not have the capability to shoot down the plane.'
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29119024
but does it really? claim is its missile 'shrapnel'.....BBC naturally makes no mention of jets nearby....and the dutuch didnt visit the site to question locals.....so, conclusive report? no way Jose


Russian statement from end of August
Antonov said Russia had established that a Ukrainian Su-25 military aircraft was in the vicinity of the Malaysian airliner. "Where is the transcript of the recordings of conversations between the pilot of this plane and his command? How did a military aircraft come to be alongside a civilian one?
"If people are saying today that a rocket was fired from the ground towards that military plane, then I'd like to look that military pilot in the eye who used a civilian plane as cover, if of course that's what happened," Antonov said.
His comments appeared to allow for the possibility that rebels might have downed the airliner in a failed attempt to hit a Ukrainian military plane, although he said these were only "working versions" of what may have happened.
Antonov said his ministry was pressing for answers about the tragedy from the United States, Ukraine and European countries.

The blackbox data indeed were not published. Just some minutes of conversations with air traffic controls

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