Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Today's Links

1--Nat gas collapses—‘This is panic selling’, cnbc

2--The New York Times calls for torture prosecutions, wsws

If the Times is now calling for criminal prosecution of leading figures in that administration, it is because (1) its editors know that the crimes documented in the Senate report are only a fraction of the criminal and anti-constitutional activities of the Bush administration; (2) they fear that the flagrant violations of law have gravely undermined the legitimacy of American foreign policy and weakened Washington’s world position; and (3) they are deeply concerned that the reckless trampling on constitutional and democratic norms poses potentially fatal consequences for the stability and political legitimacy of the social order on which their wealth and privileges depend....

The public defiance of constitutional principles has even more dangerous consequences domestically, as it undermines the political foundations on which bourgeois rule in the United States has developed over 200 years. The US Constitution is the basis for a vast body of law and the state apparatus that guarantees the property and wealth of the ruling elite.
Those sections of the ruling class represented by the Times are concerned that the wholesale break with constitutional legality, carried out by the Bush administration and continued and deepened by the Obama administration, now threatens the political stability of the United States....

Moreover, one can reasonably assume that the Times has decided to name names not only because of the past involvement of these officials in torture. The focus on Cheney strongly indicates a high degree of concern within sections of the ruling elite that the former vice president remains a central figure in a powerful cabal—involving elements in the military and the intelligence agencies—that continues to operate a “secret government” working relentlessly for the imposition of some sort of authoritarian dictatorship within the United States.

3--Here Is The Reason For The "Surge" In Q3 GDP, zero hedge

In short, two-thirds of the "boost" to final Q3 personal consumption came from, drumroll, the same Obamacare

4--Turkish PM Erdoğan to Putin: Take us to Shanghai , Hurriyet

PM Erdoğan pleads with President Putin to allow Turkey into the ‘Shanghai Five,’ in an about-turn from Turkey’s recent re-engagement with the EU ...

Erdoğan replied: “You are right. Fifty years of experience is not easy. Allow us into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and save us from this trouble.”

The prime minister said he had conveyed Turkey’s membership request to Putin before. “We care about this.” ....

Turkey became the first NATO member state to become a “dialogue partner” with the regional body – which is colloquially known as the Shanghai Five – in April. Turkey said the cooperation would strengthen Turkey’s ties with the organization, primarily in the domains of economy and transportation.

The SCO’s members include Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

The issue of SCO membership had come to the political agenda of Turkey earlier this year after Erdoğan said Turkey might opt to join the SCO. Erdoğan raised the issue in January at a time when hopes regarding the EU process were diminishing due to the adamant opposition of a number of members states toward Turkey’s membership.

“I said to Russian President Vladimir Putin, ‘You tease us, saying, ‘What [is Turkey] doing in the EU?’ Now I tease you: Include us in the Shanghai Five, and we will forget about the EU,’” Erdoğan said at the time. The prime minister’s remarks fueled debates on whether Turkey was moving away from its policy target of EU membership. President Abdullah Gül also reiterated that the SCO and the EU were not alternatives to each other at the time.

Turkey is not the EU’s doorman,” Erdoğan said in a speech delivered on Dec. 20, sarcastically noting that the bloc had rushed to level its criticism during the Christmas holiday period while it had “kept Turkey waiting at the door for 50 years.”

He accused the international press of “latching on” to the EU campaign against Turkey one day after the New York Times accused Erdoğan in a tough editorial of being an “authoritarian leader living in a parallel universe.”

5--China offers to help Russia...and wean the world off the dollar, yahoo

China and Russia are both trying to decrease dependence on the U.S. dollar in international trading. In October, the countries agreed on a $24 billion currency swap to strengthen the ruble and make trading easier between the two partners.

China and Russia both need each other. Earlier this year China signed a 30-year $400 billion deal to buy Russian gas and shore up their energy supplies. Western economic sanctions placed on Russia after its meddling in the Ukraine have also forced the country to import more from China. China’s exports to Russia are up over 10% from last year.

6--US “troubled” over slew of deals during Putin-Modi summit

December 17, 2014 Dadan Upadhyay, specially for RIR
The outcome of the recent summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi gave an all-embracing boost to the strategic partnership between Russia and India. A total of 20 agreements, including in the key fields of defence, nuclear energy and oil and gas were signed during the summit. All these deals are long-term in nature

7--Russian Pivot, Michael Hudson

Obama: "Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and Istanbul to send a message. My answer is simple: Evet ('Yes' in Turkish). Turkey is a critical ally. Turkey is an important part of Europe. And Turkey and the United States must stand together – and work together – to overcome the challenges of our time," Obama told in his 45-minutes-long speech. 

With his move President Poroshenko “has made a de facto application to join NATO and turned Ukraine into a potential enemy of Russia,” Medvedev said

The witness, who chose to remain anonymous, told Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP) daily that a pilot of a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet was behind the MH17 flight downing on July 17. He claimed that the pilot used air-to-air missiles to shoot down the Malaysian Boeing, which he concludes was probably mistaken for a military plane.
“About an hour before the catastrophe, three fighter jets took off [from Dnepropetrovsk]. One of the planes was an Su-25, which was equipped with these kind of [air-to-air] missiles,” the witness told KP in an interview, adding that he was on the airport grounds at the time...

Once the surviving pilot got out of the plane, he looked “very frightened.”
The Ukrainian pilot’s first words as he got out of the jet were: “Wrong plane,” the alleged witness claimed. Later in the evening that same pilot also reportedly stated: “The plane happened to be in the wrong place at a wrong time.”
While the daily could not immediately verify the interviewee’s claims, its readers soon discovered the allegedly involved pilot – Vladislav Voloshin – is real, and has been awarded for his role in Kiev’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine

Back in July, the Russian military said that it detected a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet gaining height towards the MH17 Boeing on the day of the catastrophe.

“A Ukraine Air Force military jet was detected gaining height, its distance from the Malaysian Boeing was 3 to 5km,” said the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the HQ of Russia’s military forces, Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov.

11---The Liberal Idiocy on Russia/Ukraine, SC

“The annexation of Crimea was not a move toward global conquest,” the 91-year-old Kissinger said. “It was not Hitler moving into Czechoslovakia” – as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had suggested.
Kissinger noted that Putin had no intention of instigating a crisis in Ukraine: “Putin spent tens of billions of dollars on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The theme of the Olympics was that Russia is a progressive state tied to the West through its culture and, therefore, it presumably wants to be part of it. So it doesn’t make any sense that a week after the close of the Olympics, Putin would take Crimea and start a war over Ukraine.”

Instead Kissinger argued that the West – with its strategy of pulling Ukraine into the orbit of the European Union – was responsible for the crisis by failing to understand Russian sensitivity over Ukraine and making the grave mistake of quickly pushing the confrontation beyond dialogue.

12--The low turnout phenom alternet


China and the United States: Who Is Number One? Dean Baker

A NYT article on China's growth seems to have gotten data from the International Monetary Fund backward. It told readers:
"On the purchasing power basis, the I.M.F. forecasts the American economy at $17.6 trillion this year, while China’s is estimated at $17.4 trillion."
That's not what my I.M.F. data say. On my screen, it is China with $17.6 trillion and the U.S. with $17.4 trillion. Of course if we add in Hong Kong (which also appears to be under China's control), China would be over $18.0 trillion in 2014. FWIW, if we look to 2019, the last year in the I.M.F. projections, China's GDP is put at $26.9 trillion compared to $22.1 trillion for the United States. At that point, if these numbers prove accurate, the comparison will not even be close.


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