Thursday, April 30, 2015

Today's Links

1--Warning of Catastrophe Over Barring Russia From Banking System

"One is a possible collapse of many western banks. But the second, more strategic, and I think more dangerous in the long-term, is that Russia will be much more effective in adopting a different system of payments, maybe in cooperation with China."
2--US Moves to Scupper Russia-Greece Energy Deal

The US is moving quickly to counter moves by Greece to benefit from a huge new gas pipeline proposed by Russian energy giant Gazprom, which is seeking to drive a new pipeline through Turkey.
Europe is Gazprom's biggest export market and it has been keen for years to drive new supplies deep into Europe. Its previous pipeline project, South Stream — due to run through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and through Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia further to Austria — was abandoned following the Ukraine crisis and EU sanctions against Russia

This week, the Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, ended a five-day trip to Washington, during which he met Secretary of State John Kerry, who promised to send the State Department's energy envoy Amos Hochstein to Athens, "within days", to counteroffer the Russian deal, according to the Associated Press.
Thus, Washington is once again making moves to scupper any chances of Greece benefiting from the latest gas pipeline deal. Insiders say it will also be exercising diplomatic moves on Turkey in an effort to throw its muscle against Gazprom's intentions.

3--Bernanke gets payoff while economy flags,  Cha-ching! WSWS

The continuation of near-zero interest rates will not bring about any meaningful increase in investment and hiring. Rather, it will sustain the massive run-up of stock prices, which have tripled since 2009, further enriching the financial oligarchy at the expense of the working class.
The financial elite has made no effort to hide its appreciation for the Fed’s easy money policies. Earlier this month, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who funneled trillions of dollars in government funds to Wall Street in the post-2008 bank bailout, announced that he had been hired by Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel LLC. On Wednesday, bond trading firm Pimco announced that it had simultaneously hired Bernanke as an adviser.
Bernanke’s multi-million-dollar salary at these posts amount to a payoff for services rendered.

The fall-off in economic activity was led by a collapse in business fixed investment, which fell by 3.4 percent. Exports plunged by 7.2 percent, compared with an increase of 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter. On the whole, government spending shrank, led by a fall of 1.5 percent in state and local spending.
The collapse in investment takes place amid a speculative frenzy whipped up by the trillions of dollars injected into the financial system by the Federal Reserve and other central banks. Mergers and acquisitions are occurring at a near-record pace, while US corporations, sitting on a cash hoard of $1.4 trillion, have engaged in share buy-backs and dividend increases to further enrich their wealthy shareholders...

The negative figures follow the announcement by the Labor Department earlier this month that the US economy added only 126,000 jobs in March, the smallest job growth since 2013. The March figure was half the number predicted by economists.
Since the beginning of the economic "recovery" in 2009, the US economy has grown at an average annual rate of only 2.2 percent, compared to an average growth rate of 3.2 percent during the 1990s.

4--The ruling class has nothing to offer to address the social catastrophe created by the capitalist system. The corollary to the redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich—massively accelerated since the 2008 economic crisis—is the build-up of the instruments of repression in response to the inevitable eruption of class struggle...

The eruption of mass anger in Baltimore and the subsequent police-military deployment have exposed the fundamental class divide in America—between millions of workers on the one hand, and a corporate and financial aristocracy that controls both big business parties, on the other.
In Baltimore, the Democratic political establishment has starved essential services of funding while handing over large tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy in the name of “improving business climate.” Development has focused on sports, tourist attractions and commercial projects in the downtown and the Inner Harbor areas.

In addition to police violence, angry youth on the streets of Baltimore spoke out against deteriorating schools, impoverished neighborhoods, poverty level jobs and the vast social chasm that has produced “two Baltimores”—one for the rich and powerful, the other for the poor. They complained of the indifference of the political establishment in the city, which has long been dominated by a corrupt layer of African American Democratic Party politicians.
As the immense class tensions that characterize American society are beginning to rise to the surface, the ruling class is responding with violence and repression

5--US Asks Iran to Help With Yemen Peace Talks
       Hopes Iran Can Help Get Houthis to the Table

6--Atlanta Fed’s “GDP Now” Model Totally Nailed Ugly Q1, “Blue-Chip” Economists Ludicrously Optimistic , wolf street

7--Neocons bang the war drums: Here’s how they’ll try to sink the Iran agreement
8--Obama would veto any bill that would undermine Iran nuclear talks -White House
9--69 Killed across Iraq as Sadr Threatens Return to Fight

10--Lifting of sanctions to start within days of deal: Iran's Zarif
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The signing of a nuclear agreement with Iran will prompt the United Nations, European Union and United States to begin lifting sanctions on the Islamic Republic within days afterwards, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday.
His comments appeared roughly consistent, and offered additional details on, previous statements from Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has said all sanctions must be lifted immediately if an agreement is reached.

"If we have an agreement on June 30, within a few days after that we will have a resolution in the Security Council under Article 41 of chapter 7 (of the U.N. Charter) which will be mandatory for all member states," Zarif told an audience at New York University.
He said that resolution would endorse the deal, terminate previous U.N. sanctions resolutions and "set in place the termination of EU sanctions and cessation of application of U.S. sanctions."
A new resolution would also reimpose some U.N. restrictions, diplomats have said, including an arms embargo and some curbs on trafficking of sensitive nuclear- and missile-related items.

In an earlier interview with the Public Broadcasting Service, Zarif indicated flexibility, saying sanctions would be lifted "as soon as Iran implements its agreed part." U.S. and European officials have said sanctions would be lifted in phases based on confirmation of Iranian compliance from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
U.S. officials have said such confirmation could take months. Zarif said the entire process should last "only a few weeks" for sanctions to be lifted....

Iran's top diplomat said the negotiators would begin drafting a final nuclear agreement, which is aimed at lifting sanctions in exchange for curbs on sensitive atomic work.
Such a deal would end a 12-year nuclear standoff between Iran and the West

11--Iran reportedly still actively buying nuclear materials
US Senate rejects bid to link terrorism to the lifting of US sanctions on Iran

Britain has informed a United Nations sanctions panel that Iran is still actively purchasing nuclear materials via a network linked to two blacklisted firms, according to a confidential report by the panel seen by Reuters.
Under a preliminary agreement on April 2, Iran committed to reduce the number of centrifuges it operates and other long-term nuclear limitations. However the West is concerned Tehran will ultimately not adhere to the terms of a final nuclear deal, due by June 30, forcing it to restrict sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.
Tehran denies allegations from Western powers and their allies that it is amassing the capability to produce nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program.
"The UK government informed the Panel on 20 April 2015 that it 'is aware of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network which has been associated with Iran's Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA) and Kalay Electric Company (KEC)'," the Panel of Experts said in its annual report. The panel monitors Iran's compliance with the UN sanctions regime.

12---Ignore the 'whiff of panic' as US economy stalls  AEP
The economy contracted in the first quarter once inventories are stripped out. 'It is hard to put lipstick on that pig,' said UniCredit.

13--Biography of Ho Chi Minh - North Vietnamese Revolutionary Leader | Vietnam War Documentary

14--Russia Outplays the West, alexander mercouris

15--Kiev Is Waging a War Nobody Wants to Pay For
The west is happy to see Ukraine wage war on its pro-Russian east, but not happy about the prospect of paying for it  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Today's Links

Today's quote:  "We can't see how what we are doing is the same that al Qaida is doing under a different colored flag, calling on the name of a different god to sanction and approve our murder and our mayhem."  Rev Jeremiah Wright

Quote: " the cause of the unrest in Baltimore is not hard to locate. It is the product of intense anger over poverty, unemployment, social decay and the unending reign of police violence and murder in Baltimore and cities throughout the United States."  WSWS

Quote: The aim of Obama’s trade policy, he wrote, was to position the US at “the centre of a web of agreements that will provide unfettered access to two-thirds of the global economy.”   Michael Froman in an article published in the leading American journal Foreign Affairs last November

 1--The Pentagon's 'Long War' Pits NATO Against China, Russia and Iran, Pepe Escobar
2--Record Financial Engineering Will Goose Stocks: Goldman , wolf richter

GE, in order to paper over a net loss of $13.6 billion and declining revenues in the first quarter, said on April 10 that it would buy back $50 billion of its own shares. That’s on top of the $10.8 billion in actual buybacks last year. The announcement was beat only by Apple’s $90 billion announcement last year, to which it added another $50 billion on Monday.

It’s going to be a great year, not for revenues and earnings, but for share buybacks. Hence for share prices and executive bonuses, despite crummy revenues and earnings. Goldman Sachs says so.
In a note to clients, Goldman predicted that companies would goose share buybacks by 18% over 2014 and dividends by 7%. That would be a $1-trillion banner year.
The year has started out on the right foot. Repurchase plans, including GE’s mega-dose, have already reached $337 billion through April 24, Reuters reported, based on data from Birinyi Associates. That’s a 34% jump over the same period last year.

3--Iran to play 'major' role in Syria talks, says EU chief #Diplomacy The UN has invited Iran, President Assad's main regional ally, to take part in discussions over a way forward in Syria next Monday -

UN assists in US-led regime change operation on Syria

4--A Syria-led transition?
"On the other side, call for Iran to play a major, major but positive, role on Syria in particular, to encourage the regime to ... (support) a Syrian-led transition," she said, referring to a 2012 U.N. plan for a political transition in Syria that has yet to be translated into reality.

5---Iran Says Negotiators To Start Drafting Final Nuclear Deal On April 30

Zarif said remaining differences in the "wording" of an accord can be overcome to reach a permanent nuclear agreement that lifts economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for verifiable guarantees that Tehran is not trying to secretly develop nuclear weapons.

6---we are, in fact, closer than ever to the good comprehensive deal that we have been seeking. And if we can get there, the entire world will be safer.”
In Washington, lead U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman told a conference of reform Jews that diplomatic collapse would leave Iran perilously close to nuclear weapons capacity. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said a final agreement would in some ways be tougher than what the U.S. has outlined thus far....

House Speaker John Boehner privately acknowledged to a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition over the weekend that his party doesn’t command enough votes to override a presidential veto of any resolution disapproving of an Iran deal, BloombergView reported. Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, didn’t dispute the report....

Particularly problematic for President Barack Obama and his team are how quickly sanctions would be eased for Tehran in exchange for nuclear concessions, and how to snap economic restrictions back into place quickly if Iran is caught cheating...

The legislation would block Obama from waiving congressional sanctions for at least 30 days while lawmakers weigh in. And it would stipulate that if senators disapprove the deal, Obama would lose authority to waive certain economic penalties — an event that would certainly prompt a presidential veto.
Among proposed additions to the bill are demands that Iran release any U.S. citizens it is holding and refrain from any cooperation with nuclear-armed North Korea. Another insists that any agreement be treated as an international treaty, requiring two-thirds ratification by the Senate.
Another set of amendments would block any sanctions relief for Iran until it meets goals the U.S. set years ago as negotiating stances and has long since abandoned.

7--The social eruption in Baltimore, Maryland, wsws
The eruption of mass anger in Baltimore, Maryland over the police murder of Freddie Gray, and the subsequent military-police takeover of the city, have once again revealed the reality of social life in America. The United States is a seething cauldron of social discontent, over which a frightened and isolated ruling class rules ever more nakedly through the methods of violence and repression....

The entire political and media establishment has seized on the rioting and unrest following the funeral of Gray to declare their support for the paramilitary occupation of the city. The gamut of opinion represented on the television news ranges from full support for the crackdown to criticism of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for not having called in the National Guard earlier.

On Tuesday, President Obama, who has fully backed the crackdown in Baltimore, weighed in with his own remarks, delivered at a press conference announcing a new military agreement with Japan. Obama took the occasion to denounce youth in Baltimore as “criminals and thugs” and said that there is “no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday.” He added that the violence “robs jobs and opportunity from people in that area.”...

 the cause of the unrest in Baltimore is not hard to locate. It is the product of intense anger over poverty, unemployment, social decay and the unending reign of police violence and murder in Baltimore and cities throughout the United States....

For decades, the ruling class in America has carried out a policy of deindustrialization, shutting down entire sectors of the economy. Obama himself has presided over the largest transfer of wealth into the pockets of the rich in US history, even as he has overseen the destruction of wages and the decimation of social services. Since Obama came to office, Baltimore has lost 80 percent of its manufacturing jobs, and thousands of children are homeless and tens of thousands live in poverty.

The events in Baltimore reveal starkly the fraud of identity politics, based on the claim that race, not class, is the fundamental social category in America. Obama’s denunciation of young people in Baltimore mirrors that of the entire African-American political apparatus in the city, which has responded to the protests with a combination of hatred, rage and fear...

In its response to the eruption of police violence over the murder of Freddie Gray, the black political establishment, headed by the first African-American president, has shown itself exactly for what it is: corrupt, self-interested and utterly hostile to the interests and aspirations of the poor and workers, black and white.....

8---Thousands of national guard troops occupy Baltimore, jerry white, wsws

At a press conference Monday night, Rawlings-Blake could not restrain her hatred and fear of the thousands of dispossessed youth. “Too many people have spent generations building up the city for it to be destroyed by thugs who are trying to tear down what so many fought for. They are tearing down businesses, destroying property.”

Rawlings-Blake is a representative of affluent layers of African Americans who have largely run the corporate and political establishment in Baltimore for decades and have prospered while the vast majority of workers and youth have suffered decades of deindustrialization, budget cuts and ever greater state repression.

After meeting Tuesday with the millionaire preacher and fellow Democratic Party operative Al Sharpton, the mayor said that police would hand over the results of their internal investigation to the state’s attorney general Friday. She insisted, however, that no decision on charges would be made Friday, and that “we have to respect the process of the investigation.”
Meanwhile authorities continue to conceal the identity of the cops who broke Freddie Gray’s neck and severed 80 percent of spine for the crime of making eye contact and allegedly running from police.
Rioting, the mayor cynically claimed Tuesday, “diverts resources from a community that can least afford to lose them.” In fact, like every other big city Democratic mayor, Rawlings-Blake is overseeing savage cuts to city services. Some 25,000 residents are threatened with water shutoffs as part of plans to privatize the public water system. Meanwhile resources are poured into improving the “business climate” and to gentrifying the downtown area.

Eighty-four percent of the district’s 85,000 school children qualify for free or reduced price lunches because they come from low-income families. The CEO of the Baltimore Schools, Gregory Thornton, is currently eliminating hundreds of teaching and staff positions and making other cuts totaling $63 million to lower the district’s $108 million budget deficit.
Freddie Gray’s neighborhood of Sandtown was recently described by the Baltimore Sun as “a neighborhood where generations of crushing poverty and the war on drugs combine to rob countless young people like [Freddie Gray] of meaningful opportunities.”...

One youth approached by CNN said, “There are too many homeless people, too many abandoned houses. Now we are getting the attention we need. There should not be a liquor store on every corner. People are getting fed up. It is about to be the last straw. People are getting tired. When will justice come?

9--US Japan alliance and Trigger for war, wsws

Establishing a potential trigger for war, the agreement specifically confirmed an earlier US commitment to side with Japan, if necessary by military means, in its conflict with China over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) islets in the East China Sea. The dispute over the uninhabited rocky outcrops, which has been on-going for several decades, escalated in 2012 when the Japanese government nationalised them in a clear provocation against China.
Secretary of State John Kerry made clear the US regards them as under Japanese control. Calling the new defence ties an “historic transition,” Kerry said: “Washington’s commitment to Japan’s security remains ironclad and covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including the Senkaku Islands.”
In line with the rising drum beat denouncing its increased “assertiveness” in the region, Kerry issued a threat directed against Chinese activities throughout the region.
“We reject any suggestion that freedom of navigation, overflight and other unlawful uses of the sea and airspace are privileges granted by big states to small ones, subject at the whim and fancy of the big state,” he said.

The tighter US-Japanese military arrangements directed again China under the Obama administration’s “pivot” are being accompanied by economic measures, at the forefront of which is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Obama is seeking to secure Congressional fast-track authority for the signing of the agreement with Japan and 10 other countries in the region.
The TPP, which will cover countries producing around 40 percent of the world’s economic output, is an integral component of the US drive to re-establish its global economic dominance which has been undermined over the past three decades.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Obama set out its strategic significance.
“If we don’t write the rules, China will write the rules in that region. We will be shut out—American businesses and American agriculture,” he said.

The TPP is being promoted as a free trade agreement. It is nothing of the sort. Together with a similar agreement under negotiation with Europe, it is aimed at asserting US global economic primacy.
This was made clear by Obama’s trade representative Michael Froman in an article published in the leading American journal Foreign Affairs last November, the very title of which, “The Strategic Logic of Trade,” made clear that for the US its economic and military policies are two sides of the same coin.
The aim of Obama’s trade policy, he wrote, was to position the US at “the centre of a web of agreements that will provide unfettered access to two-thirds of the global economy.”

10--Biggest Inventory Build In History Prevents Total Collapse Of The US Economy

11--Consumers just saying no to spending gas savings, cnbc

The headline of the McClatchy News Service report on the fall of Jisr al-Shughur left nothing to the imagination: “U.S.-backed rebels team with Islamists to capture strategic Syrian city.”
“The latest rebel victory came surprisingly quickly, apparently aided by US-supplied TOW anti-tank missiles,” McClatchy reported, adding, “accounts of the fighting made clear that US-supplied rebel groups had coordinated to some degree with Nusra, which US officials declared a terrorist organization more than two years ago.”

Race and oppressive violence has always been at the center of the racist colonial project that is the U.S. It is only when the oppressed resist — when we decide, like Malcolm X said, that we must fight for our human rights — that we are counseled to be like Dr. King, including by war mongers like Barack Obama. However, resistance to oppression is a right that the oppressed claim for themselves. It does not matter if it is sanctioned by the oppressor state, because that state has no legitimacy

5: Unemployment is 8.4 percent city wide.  Most estimates place the unemployment in the African American community at double that of the white community.  The national rate of unemployment for whites is 4.7 percent, for blacks it is 10.1.
6: African American babies in Baltimore are nine times more likely to die before age one than white infants in the city.
7: There is a twenty year difference in life expectancy between those who live in the most affluent neighborhood in Baltimore versus those who live six miles away in the most impoverished.
8: 148,000 people, or 23.8 percent of the people in Baltimore, live below the official poverty level.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Today's Links

1--Syria’s Nightmarish Narrative, Robert Parry

With military and political help from Saudi Arabia and Israel, the nightmare scenario of an Al-Qaeda and/or Islamic State victory in Syria may be coming true, as the army of the more secular Syrian government retreats and as President Obama seems frozen by indecision, reports Robert Parry.

2--What record-high margin debt means for stocks, cnbc

3--The 23 Count Indictment of the TPP, NC

4--Consumer Confidence Tumbles, Misses By Most In 5 Years, ZH

5--Japan retail sales plunge 9.7 percent in March, cnbc

"Bad news I good news"
Japan's retail sales for March plunged 9.7 percent on-year, well below expectations, after last year's sales were front-loaded as shoppers splurged ahead of a sales-tax increase.
Retail sales were expected to fall 7.3 percent, according to a Reuters poll of 17 analysts. The decline follows February's 1.8 percent drop.
"If you look at the larger data points of the past three to six months, they've been pretty bad all around," Joe Zidle, a portfolio strategist at Richard Bernstein Advisors, told CNBC. "If you think about the consumer's importance ... it's 60 percent of the Japanese economy, I think this ratchets up the pressure on the Bank of Japan (BOJ) in order to introduce more stimulus."

6--Crisis, what crisis? -The al-Qaeda takeover of Syria, RT

7--U.S. Corporations Spent $1 Trillion in Stock Buybacks, economic populist

8---Iran's military 'seizes US cargo ship' Independent

9---Dollar Falls to 2-Month Low as Slow GDP Paves Way for Fed Delay, Bloomberg

10--NYSE Margin Debt Hits An All-Time High, doug short

11-- "The united States is an outlaw country. It's always been an outlaw country." Russell Means

Monday, April 27, 2015

Extra Links

1--The people who defeated fascism in the '40s, will defeat it again, Saker

Anti-Fascism, the sacred war

Let noble wrath
Boil over like a wave!
This is the peoples’ war,
a sacred war!

 Arise, vast country,
Arise for a fight to the death
Against the dark fascist forces,
Against the rapists and the plunderers,
The torturers of people 

2--Bella ciao

3--US vets come to Vietnam to confront past, and find a home, AP

4--Russian National Anthem English & Russian Lyrics, sochi

5---Hannes Wader Internationale  

Today's links

1--Three myths about the Iran sanctions

Myth No. 3: The United States can continue to control the world financial system.
The effectiveness of these provisions, however, relies in part on the structure of the international financial system; imposing tougher sanctions for a better bargain rests on the premise that this structure will remain intact. The truth, however, is that major shifts in international banking severely undermine the prospect of maintaining a robust sanctions regime. For example, some of the hardest-hitting rounds of sanctions came in 2012, when the Belgium-based company of  SWIFT—the world’s largest financial messaging system—cut off Iran as part of EU sanctions. This move froze Iranian’s access to international markets, devastating its trade and commerce.

...China, for example, is on schedule to launch an alternative to SWIFT, possibly by the end of 2015. Known as the China International Payment System, it is designed to process cross-border renminbi transactions, in a welcome alternative to the patchwork system of processing Chinese currency payments—making the renminbi a more global currency. The system will provide a legitimate alternative to SWIFT.
Russia recently launched its own alternative to SWIFT for domestic payments, as part of a larger move to get away from Western dominance of the international financial system—specifically citing fears of exclusion from SWIFT stemming from Western sanctions over the escalating crisis in Ukraine.

2--White House officials say Israel spied on Iran talks to sink nuclear deal
3--Putin accuses US of directly supporting Chechen militants
4--Europe, neighbors eager to import Iran gas: NIGC

South Pars, divided into 29 development phases, contains 40 trillion cubic meters (tcm) of natural gas.  It covers an area of 9,700 square kilometers, 3,700 square kilometers of which are in Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. The remaining 6,000 square kilometers are situated in Qatar’s territorial waters.
The gas field is estimated to contain about eight percent of the world’s reserves, and approximately 18 billion barrels of condensate

On April 16, European Union’s Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said Europe keeps the possibility of importing gas from Iran open as it seeks to diversify sources of energy
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of EU energy ministers in the Latvian capital city of Riga, Canete said Iran was a new possibility for imports of gas by Europe if Tehran's nuclear negotiations led to a final agreement.

5--Araqchi: Iran sanctions must be terminated immediately, press tv

Araqchi: No. We believe that the solutions we came to in Lausanne and before that was crystal clear that all economic and financial sanctions should be terminated in the implementation day of JCPOA.
That understanding has already concluded. Now we have to draft how exactly that would happen. We do not believe in a phased process on economic and financial sanctions. All of them should be removed or terminated immediately when the JCPOA is started to be implemented.

6--Putting Iran’s Nuclear Program in Context, CFR
7--Framework for P5+1 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's Nuclear Program, cfr
8--Western Oil Executives Circle Iran, WSJ

9--Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks With U.S.---Ally’s snooping upset White House because information was used to lobby Congress to try to sink a deal, WSJ

Soon after the U.S. and other major powers entered negotiations last year to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, senior White House officials learned Israel was spying on the closed-door talks.
The spying operation was part of a broader campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal, current and former U.S. officials said. In addition to eavesdropping, Israel acquired information from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe, the officials said.

10--Why is the media misleading the public about the critical details of the negotiations? Araqchi even copied parts from the "fact sheets" from the negotiations (and released them on Twitter) which back up his claims. There's no doubt that he's telling the truth. Check out this quote from Araqchi in the Guardian
“The Americans put what they wanted in the fact sheet … I even protested this issue with [US secretary of state John] Kerry himself,” he said in a television interview cited by the Fars news agency." (Guardian)

Here's more on sanctions issue from investigative journalist Gareth Porter:
"The fact that no official text was released has meant that press coverage of the content of the agreement has relied primarily on the much more detailed summary of the agreement by the U.S. State Department and on remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry. The U.S. interpretation of the agreement, however, is ambiguous on some aspects of the sanctions removal issue, raising serious questions about what was precisely agreed on."
Doubts Remain on Iran Sanction Relief, Gareth Porter, Consortium News
The only reason the details remain ambiguous is because the State Department wants them to be ambiguous. The Guardian summed it up like this: 
All UN security council resolutions related to Iran’s nuclear programme will be lifted immediately if a final deal is agreed, Tehran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Saturday, stressing the benefits to Iran of this week’s negotiations."
Is that ambiguous?

12--"Who Spies for Israel in Washington’s Nuclear Negotiations?"
 james petras
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) (3/25/15) headlined: ‘Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks with the US”. The article goes on to detail the way in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the confidential information to sabotage the talks, including ‘playing them back to US legislators to undermine US diplomacy’.
The WSJ report of this incident tries to play down the serious implications of Israel’s espionage by claiming that Israeli spying of US diplomatic negotiations is ‘normal even among allies’; that ‘both sides do it’; that the US ‘tolerates’ Israeli spying; that the ‘Israelis have not directly spied on the US’ but use sympathetic US agents . . . and several other excuses for Israel’s behavior
After having revealed Tel Aviv’s espionage - the WSJ dismisses the sabotage. Worse still, it makes no attempt to investigate who, among the highly-placed US government officials with direct access to the negotiations, has been spying for Israel. This essay attempts to address this question by identifying the most likely suspects...
The negotiations between the major powers (P5+1), composed of the five UN Security Council members plus Germany, led by the US, with Iran have proceeded for over two years. Israel is not part of the negotiating process-formally but indirectly its presence is substantial. For Washington the stakes are very high: securing a nuclear agreement with Iran in which Teheran submits to constant and pervasive ‘inspections’, and dismantles a substantial part of its nuclear program, certainly weakens Iran’s regional prestige and increases US influence in the region. ...
Israel’s Interest in Sabotaging the 5 + 1 Nuclear Negotiations
Israel knows that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program (as does Washington). The US government uses this as a pretext to secure political concessions from Iran, to degrade its regional influence, and to secure their support in policing the Middle East. In contrast, Israel seeks to destroy Iran’s capacity to support the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle.
Netanyahu and his Zionist supporters, in and out of the US government, seek to induce the US to increase economic sanctions in order to strangle the Iranian economy, to foment internal unrest and to set US-Iranian relations on a path toward a military confrontation....

Israeli Espionage Network in Washington: The Prime Suspects...

Only Wendy Sherman fits all the criteria. Sherman, as head of the US negotiating group, has access to all the details of daily discussions, proposals and concessions by the US and Iranian negotiators. Moreover, Sherman is in a position to translate Netanyahu’s demands on Iran into key agenda items and proposals. Sherman is a lifelong zealous Zionist and according to one sympathetic writer, is ‘widely considered one of Israel’s most supportive high level friends’. Sherman’s reputation on the negotiating team has been that of a ‘hard negotiator’. Sherman was one of the key authors of the ‘Joint Plan of Action, which was designed to extract the maximum concessions from Iran while making the fewest changes in US policy.

In a speech on October 23, 2014, designed to reassure Israel-Firsters in Washington, Sherman boasted: ‘In return for limited sanctions relief, Iran has halted the expansion of its overall enrichment capacity, put a cap on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride, stopped the production of uranium enriched to 20%, agreed not to make further advances at the Arak heavy water reactor, opened the door to unprecedented daily access for international inspectors to the facilities at Natanz and Fordow’. Sherman has secured US colonial oversight over the entire Iranian uranium program – which the CIA and the entire US intelligence consortium have repeatedly declared is not a ‘weapons program’!...

If the ideological affinities and hatred of Iran point to Wendy Sherman as the Israel’s ‘mole’ in the State Department, her strategic position as head of the negotiating committee immediately provides her with the secret details that Israel needs to sabotage Obama’s approach to Iran and to organize opposition in the US. The WSJ’s article underscores Sherman’s role as an agent of Tel Aviv: ‘Mr. Netanyahu and his top advisers received confidential update on the Geneva talks from Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and other US officials who knew at the time that Israeli intelligence was working to fill the gap.’ Washington eventually curtailed the ‘briefings.’ But there is no evidence that Sherman ceased her activities on Netanyahu’s behalf. It’s likely she continues to provide timely intelligence to her Israeli counterparts....

Israel pursues a complex division of labor: Netanyahu sets the rejectionist hardline. US Zionists transmit that policy into Congressional opposition. Top officials in the State Department provide intelligence for the hard ‘outsider’ campaign and work within the negotiating framework to subvert the proceedings. As the chief negotiator, Sherman plays multiple roles on behalf of Israel, only one of which involves the immediate transfer of highly sensitive intelligence. Sherman has ensured that most of Netanyahu’s demands are incorporated into the US negotiating agenda in a win-win format. If Iran rejects them, the US will effectively break-off negotiations, blame Iran and impose even harsher sanctions; if Iran accepts the demands, its peaceful nuclear program will be destroyed and it will be even more vulnerable to an Israeli and/or US military attack with all its military installations infiltrated and monitored by the US controlled International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA)....

The failure of the Obama regime to go after its own State Department officials acting as agents for Israel; its refusal to confront long-term aggressive espionage designed to undermine its relations in the Middle East; its tolerance of Israel’s direct interference via its ‘fraternal organizations’ of the US legislative process; and its refusal to identify, arrest, prosecute and sentence high-level spies within the Cabinet have severely compromised the sovereignty of the United States.

13--Remembering 'Nam, nick turse

For most Vietnamese -- in the South as well as the North -- the end was not a time of fear and flight, but joy and relief. Finally, the much-reviled, American-backed government in Saigon had been overthrown and the country reunited. After three decades of turmoil and war, peace had come at last. The South was not united in accepting the Communist victory as an unambiguous “liberation,” but there did remain broad and bitter revulsion over the wreckage the Americans had brought to their land.

Indeed, throughout the South and particularly in the countryside, most people viewed the Americans not as saviors but as destroyers. And with good reason. The U.S. military dropped four million tons of bombs on South Vietnam, the very land it claimed to be saving, making it by far the most bombed country in history. Much of that bombing was indiscriminate. Though policymakers blathered on about the necessity of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese, the ruthlessness of their war-making drove many southerners into the arms of the Viet Cong, the local revolutionaries. It wasn’t Communist hordes from the North that such Vietnamese feared, but the Americans and their South Vietnamese military allies....

Our vivid collective memories are of Vietnamese refugees fleeing their homeland at war’s end. Gone is any broad awareness of how the U.S. burned down, plowed under, or bombed into oblivion thousands of Vietnamese villages, and herded survivors into refugee camps. The destroyed villages were then declared “free fire zones” where Americans claimed the right to kill anything that moved.

In 1967, Jim Soular was a flight chief on a gigantic Chinook helicopter. One of his main missions was the forced relocation of Vietnamese peasants. Here’s the sort of memory that you won’t find in Miss Saigon, Last Days in Vietnam, or much of anything else that purports to let us know about the war that ended in 1975. This is not the sort of thing you’re likely to see much of this week in any 40th anniversary media musings.
“On one mission where we were depopulating a village we packed about sixty people into my Chinook. They’d never been near this kind of machine and were really scared but they had people forcing them in with M-16s. Even at that time I felt within myself that the forced dislocation of these people was a real tragedy. I never flew refugees back in. It was always out. Quite often they would find their own way back into those free-fire zones. We didn’t understand that their ancestors were buried there, that it was very important to their culture and religion to be with their ancestors. They had no say in what was happening. I could see the terror in their faces. They were defecating and urinating and completely freaked out. It was horrible. Everything I’d been raised to believe in was contrary to what I saw in Vietnam. We might have learned so much from them instead of learning nothing and doing so much damage.”

14--Virtually all of the shooting violations were on Kiev's side. What went on is when Kiev broke the ceasefire by firing on the Republics, they would reply, and then Kiev would file a report with the monitors that they had been attacked," Dean underscored.

15--"Europe is slowly attempting to regain the confidence of Russia and engage the country in a promising political game of both obligations and benefits. Germany could be considered the architect of this European strategy. Its business lobby has pushed its political elites to reconsider the obsolete approach of Russia's economic isolation despite the US pressure," George N. Tzogopoulos emphasized
The expert pointed out that in January 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel raised the issue of a joint trade area with Russia, reviving an idea of the free trade zone "from Lisbon to Vladivostok" – a concept first voiced by Vladimir Putin in 2010. 
16--Putin says US helped North Caucasus separatists against Russia in the 2000s , guardian
  • Russian president cites intercepted calls as he makes assertion in documentary
  • Bush said he would ‘kick the ass’ of intelligence officers involved, Putin says

  • The bottom line of earnings season adds up to this: companies are running into big trouble with their top lines.
    While companies generally tend to beat both earnings and revenue expectations, this year more have missed their first-quarter top-line estimates than beaten.
    Out of the first 201 S&P 500 Index companies to report first-quarter earnings, only 47 percent have beaten revenue estimates, according to FactSet. If this number holds, it will be the first time that more companies have missed than beaten earnings expectations since the first quarter of 2013.
    Now, analysts on the whole expect to see S&P 500 revenue fall 3.5 percent year-over-year, whereas they had expected just a 2.6 percent drop when the first quarter ended.

    18--warren mosler: interview...No growth economy

    19--EU turns to Iran alternative for Russia


    Friday, April 24, 2015

    Today's Links

    1--"Obsessive" Buybacks Could Be Big Mistake, "Serious" People Tell Unserious People, zh

    Buybacks by S&P 500 companies rose to $219 billion in the first quarter, the highest since the fourth quarter of 2007, according to TrimTabs. Meanwhile, S&P 500 corporate dividends rose to a new record of $376 billion in 2014, according to FactSet…

    And there are many, many more. Here are some visuals that illustrate the situation:

    "I'd like to believe that defaults are still a long way off," she said. "But my concern would be—if you think about how a company should position itself for further growth, you want to think of them as taking the cash they do have and using it to invest in something that generates growth”...

    "If you think about the stock market today, it feels fairly overvalued," Padgett said.

    "So you see a lot of companies buying back their shares at relatively high valuation, instead of taking that money and putting it into something more growth oriented."...

    To be sure, this theater of financial engineering - because stocks are not going up on any resemblance of fundamental reasons but simply due to expanding balance sheet leverage - will continue only until it can no longer continue

    2--Amazon: The more I lose, the richer I get, wolf street
    3--Stephen Roach Nails It Again: Fed Is In Total Denial, Replicating Same “Deadly Trap” As Last Time

    4--Russia's Lavrov says EU charges against Gazprom "unacceptable"

    5--Why Is Yemen Our War?, Pat Buchanan
    6--Greek finance minister tells magazine: Grexit no bluff if more austerity imposed

    7--The EU-Gazprom war, pepe escobar

    Nabucco – a previous, never-ending ‘Pipelineistan’ opera – is all but dead. The new salvation would be a competitor to Turkish Stream with gas starting to flow also in 2019 not from Russia but from the Shah Deniz II fields in Azerbaijan, and later on, in the most optimistic hypothesis of sanctions being lifted as soon as possible, also Iran.
    Gas from Azerbaijan, though, would be enough only for Bulgaria and Greece. That’s far from what is needed. The EU badly needs Iran.

    Here’s something to watch carefully; a key platform to test Washington’s true desire to go for a final nuclear deal. Washington knows that Brussels is absolutely desperate for Iranian energy – but for that to happen all sanctions must be lifted immediately, as well as hasty negotiations leading to a tsunami of investment in the Iranian energy industry. For all this to be accomplished it will take not months, but years.

    8---The trouble always starts in Washington: Washington started all modern military conflicts - Russia’s General Staff, RT

    Now the US has deployed hundreds of military instructors to Ukraine to train troops. Yet Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov accused Washington of sending its soldiers not to training ranges, “but directly in the combat zone near Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Artyomovsk and Volnovakha.”

    “The US appears to be the ultimate instigator of all military conflicts in the world. The Western countries have begun to hold themselves out as ‘architects’ of the international relations system, leaving to the US the role of the world’s only superpower,” Kartapolov said at a military-scientific conference dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Russia’s victory in WWII.

    9--US military instructors in eastern Ukraine combat zone – Russian military, RT

    10--Iran, P5+1 start drafting on sanctions removal: Araqchi

    A senior Iranian nuclear negotiator says Iran and the P5+1 group have started drafting the text of mechanisms related to the removal of sanctions imposed on Tehran over its peaceful nuclear program.
    Speaking to Press TV following meetings with representatives of the P5+1 group in the Austrian capital city of Vienna on Friday, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi said that the US negotiating delegation gave the Iranian nuclear team “very useful” explanations regarding the removal of anti-Iran sanctions.

    “This time we only worked on the question of sanctions but the fact is that we had worked on other issues some months ago; I think in July last year. We have already [drafted] some parts of our text. We had already done some drafting in the past, but then it was stopped because we had no solution on major issues. Now we have solutions in almost all issues. What we have to do is to write down these solutions in form of a draft of an agreement. We have also started now from the sanctions and we will go to other issues next time,” he said.

    11---Iran disputes US nuclear deal 'fact sheet', guardian

    12--Good clarifications made on removal of anti-Iran bans: Araqchi" Press TV

    13--Petras: Moles in the state dept?

    14--Trans Pacific Partnership, John Ratliff
    15--China’s perspective on the Pivot and the TPP

    16-- Glazyev
    This is what is happening at present: The U.S. is attempting to resolve its accumulated economic, financial, and industrial imbalances at other countries’ expense, by escalating international conflicts that will allow it to write off debts, appropriate assets belonging to others, and weaken its geopolitical rivals. When this was done during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the result was World War II. The American aggression against Ukraine pursues all of the above-mentioned goals. First, economic sanctions against Russia are intended to wipe out billions of dollars of U.S. debt to Russia. A second objective is to take over Ukrainian state assets, including the natural gas transport system, mineral deposits, the country’s gold reserves, and valuable art and cultural objects. Third, to capture Ukrainian markets of importance to American companies, such as nuclear fuel, aircraft, energy sources, and others. Fourth, to weaken not only Russia, but also the European Union, whose economy will sustain an estimated trillion-dollar loss from economic sanctions against Russia. Fifth, to attract capital flight from instability in Europe, to the USA.Thus, war in Ukraine is just business for the United States

    17--Blackwater Mercenaries Spotted in East Ukraine

    The private military company was brought into further disrepute earlier this month when four ex-Blackwater guards were sentenced for the massacre of unarmed civilians killed in Baghdad.
    “In the territory controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces, namely, in Volnovakha, the presence of 70 representatives of the private military company Academi has been revealed,” explained Eduard Basurin, Defense Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

    Today's Links

    "A Look Inside The Secret Deal With Saudi Arabia That Unleashed The Syrian Bombing"

    ... the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to "bless" US airstrikes and make them appear as an act of some coalition, is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that, as we also explained last year, the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America's desire -- what better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?

    1--Oil Mania? From peak to valley

    2008/9 The financial crisis reached its zenith in 2008 with perhaps the crucial point being the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Meanwhile, as trade credit on which the oil trade relies dried up, the oil price collapsed from $147/barrel in July 2008 to $35/barrel by December 2008.

    2--Through an (oil) glass darkly, chris cook

    The Oil Shock
    Winding the clock back to 1973, the Arab oil embargo during the Yom Kippur War came as a complete shock to the US generally and to secretary of state Henry Kissinger in particular, who believed that this step would never be taken.  As a result of this embargo, the oil price quadrupled from US$3 to $12 per barrel by early 1974.
    But as we now know from the then Saudi oil minister, Sheikh Zaki Yamani, while both the Saudis and the Shah of Iran were content for the oil price to fall back to $3, Kissinger prevailed upon the Shah to maintain the price at the higher level.

    Why would Kissinger and the US have done that? Firstly, new oil production   in Alaska, the North Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico – which reduced US/UK reliance on the Saudis – was only viable at the higher price. Secondly, the US was able to pay for the oil with newly printed “petrodollars”, which it was agreed would be recycled to the US.  The genius of the strategy was that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) got the blame....

    Since Saudi Arabian oil is essentially played out and in run-off mode, the profit margins that Big Oil requires are no longer to be made there, but are instead to be found in the development of Iran and Iraq’s vast, relatively unexploited, and extremely cheap to produce oil reserves.
    This is today’s great oil prize. It was why a delegation of 120 French businessmen was in Tehran when I was last there, and why Germany, Italy and other European countries are all over Iran like a rash.
    It is also why the US is so keen to conclude a deal with Iran, and why Big Oil will see to it that once an agreement has been reached their tame Republican legislators will call off the dogs

    3--Putin speech: The World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules.

    4--Top German Editor: CIA Bribing Journalists

    Members of the German media are paid by the CIA in return for spinning the news in a way that supports US interests, and some German outlets are nothing more than PR appendages of NATO, according to a new book by Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany's largest newspapers.
    Ulfkotte is a serious mainstream journalist.

    Operation Mockingbird, which began in the 1950s, was a secret CIA operation which recruited journalists to serve as mouthpieces for the American government. The program was officially terminated after it was exposed by the famous Church Committee investigations, but evidence of ongoing CIA influence over the media continues to accumulate. 

    Just last week Glenn Greenwald's (of Edward Snowden fame) new groundbreaking investigative website, The Intercept, charged that the CIA leveraged its considerable influence - some might even say friendship - with media in order to discredit Gary Webb, the fearless American journalist who uncovered CIA cocaine trafficking as part of the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s

    5--The New Saudi Foreign Policy (US assumes role as military franchise )  CFR

    However, in this new cold war, the Saudis will have to use their military in a manner that they had not contemplated before. In the past four years, the Saudis have already intervened in two countries—Bahrain and Yemen—and more such interventions may soon be the order of the day. This means that the Saudi military has to undergo its own modernization with creation of a more capable officer corps and a standing army larger than the coup-conscious House of Saud had previously considered safe.

    The Nuclear Option?
    Hovering over all this are Saudi nuclear calculations. In recent years, the Saudis have expressed interest in nuclear technologies and even establishing a domestic enrichment infrastructure matching that of Iran. Atomic weapons may yet provide an important deterrent capability for a sparsely populated state with considerable wealth. Should it possess this weapon, then Saudi Arabia can ensure that its territory will not be molested by larger neighbors coveting its oil.

    In the past, America’s security umbrella had provided the necessary reassurance, obviating the need for such measures of self-reliance. This may no longer be the case. It is important to stress that in the new Middle East, the Saudi nuclear calculus may no longer be contingent on what happens to Iran’s nuclear program. It was once thought that Saudis would try to match Iran’s capabilities, but increasingly, nuclear arms may make sense for the monarchy irrespective of what happens on the other side of the Persian Gulf.

    the interim president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, failed to govern effectively—unable to provide security and basic public goods such as electricity and fuel. With oil production declining, the state faced a fiscal crisis that Hadi’s government failed to address, and the economy slipped into a precipitous decline. 

    7--Steen Jakobsen: Get Ready For The Biggest Margin Call In History

    0% interest rates at $0 down has not created the additional momentum to the economy The Fed was hoping for. The trickle down effect, the wealth effect, has instead made for bigger inequality in society. So I think we’re set for a rate hike in either in June or in September. I think this will be the biggest margin call in history on the asset inflation created by the Fed ....

    The market will ask in September when the Fed hikes: “Why are you hiking interest rate when growth is below target, inflation below target”? Well, the Fed's response will be “Because this is the biggest asset inflation we’ve seen in human history and we need to address it”.

    8--US Weapons Industry Profits From Conflicts of Carnage in Middle East

    The NYT describes the sales bonanza for the US weapons industry:
    As the Middle East descends into proxy wars, sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using it and wanting more. The result is a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business in an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets — but also the prospect of a dangerous new arms race in a region where the map of alliances has been sharply redrawn. (Italics inserted by BuzzFlash.)

    Last week, defense industry officials told Congress that they were expecting within days a request from Arab allies fighting the Islamic State — Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt — to buy thousands of American-made missiles, bombs and other weapons, replenishing an arsenal that has been depleted over the past year.

    America is the land of second, third, and even fourth chances.  The same applies to house lusting buyers.  The National Associate of Realtors (NAR) had some interesting data regarding potential future home buyers.   Their analysis found that between 2006 and 2014 some 9.3 million homeowners were foreclosed on, received a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or short sold.  Bottom line, there were a boatload of people losing their homes when it was once thought to be the safest investment. 

    12--The strategy was hardly unnoticed in Moscow, as evidenced by the annual report of the Russian Foreign Ministry published on Wednesday. The document said the US is pursuing “a systematic obstruction to Russia, rallying its allies with the goal to damage domestic economy” through blocking credits, technology transferee and an overall destabilization of the business environment.
    The ministry said Washington had some success with the policy that resulted in an almost 8 percent drop of Russia’s trade with EU members in 2014

    13--The US Hand in Libya’s Tragedy, SC

    The R2Pers, led by then-National Security Council aide Power with the backing of Secretary of State Clinton, convinced President Barack Obama that a “humanitarian intervention” was needed to prevent Gaddafi from slaughtering people whom he claimed were Islamic terrorists.

    As this U.S.-orchestrated bombing campaign was about to begin in late March 2011, Power told a New York City audience that the failure to act would have been “extremely chilling, deadly and indeed a stain on our collective conscience.” Power was credited with steeling Obama’s spine to press ahead with the military operation.

    Under a United Nations resolution, the intervention was supposed to be limited to establishing no-fly zones to prevent the slaughter of civilians. But the operation quickly morphed into a “regime change” war with the NATO-led bombing devastating Gaddafi’s soldiers who were blown to bits when caught on desert roadways....

    Now, the chaos that the U.S.-sponsored “regime change” unleashed has grown so horrific that it is causing desperate Libyans to climb into unseaworthy boats to escape the sharp edges of the Islamic State’s knives and other depredations resulting from the nationwide anarchy.
    Thus, Libya should be a powerful lesson to Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and the other R2Pers that often their schemes of armed “humanitarianism” can go badly awry and do much more harm than good. It should also be another reminder to the MSM to question the arguments presented by the U.S. government, rather than simply repeating those dubious claims and false narratives.

    But neither seems to be happening. The “liberal interventionists” – like their neoconservative allies – remain unchastened, still pumping for more “regime change” wars, such as in Syria. Yet, many of these moral purists are silent about the slaughter of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, Palestinians in Gaza, or now Houthis and other Yemenis dying under Saudi bombs in Yemen.

    14--Mortgage lending standards should not be relaxed further , oc housing
    15--Sergei Glazyev on Ukraine, SC

    16--Obama has been working hard for those oil companies to become enabled to sell such oil into Europe. (Who will provide EU with gas, that is the heart of the conflict)  The recent bombings in Syria, and in Ukraine, are a business-operation being carried out as a war

    In other words, the wars in both Syria and Ukraine are being fought basically in order to grab the European energy market, away from Russia, somewhat in the same way (though far more violently) as Iran’s share of that market was previously grabbed away by means of the U.S.-led sanctions against that country. The current bombing campaigns in both Syria and Ukraine are directed specifically against Iran’s chief ally, Russia...

    there has been proposed, in order to promote  Russian gas flowing into Europe, an eastbound Iran-Iraq-Syria-Turkey-Europe gas pipeline (but sanctions stopped that); and there was also proposed, in order to undercut  Russian gas flowing into Europe, a northbound Qatar-Saudi-Jordan-Syria-Turkey-Europe gas pipeline -- those being two different and competing ways of supplying gas into Europe.
    Russia’s ally Syria is crucial to both  proposed pipelines, which means that Assad has needed to be overthrown in order for the northbound pipeline from Qatar to be constructed and so to compete against Russia’s gas-supplies to Europe.
    The Moslem Brotherhood want to control Syria, and would love to approve a gas pipeline from Qatar through Syria to Europe, to reward their chief benefactor, Qatar’s royals. As for the Saudi royals, they want Assad to be replaced by an anti-Iranian, Sunni ISIS leader, who will represent the Sauds’ Wahhabist sect in Islam, which provides Saudi royals their  ‘legitimacy.’ (Saudi royals say they don’t like Al Qaeda and ISIS, but that’s said mainly for public consumption in the West.) Right now, Saudi Arabia supplies less than 5% of Europe’s energy, which is a mere one-eighth of what Russia does. So: each of these two royal families relies primarily upon a different category of Islamists. Obama prefers the ‘moderate’ Muslim Brotherhood to the extremist ISIS, but Saudi royals accept his having that preference, because any way to weaken Iran and its backer Russia is fine with them, especially since it would open wide the enormous European market for their oil.

    Other internal conflicts also exist within Obama’s team. For example, an expert on these matters, Felix Imonti, explained to me in a personal communication, that, “Qatar ... abandoned the [pipeline] plan in 2010 for a very simple reason. Saudi Arabia will not permit a pipeline to be constructed across its territory. Qatar is interested along with Turkey in installing a MB government in Syria. ... The Saudi objective is to drive out the Iranians from Syria.” The Saudis’ “objective was to establish a Wahhabi based [fundamentalist Moslem] state that would include western Iraq with Syria,” which, of course, is what ISIS is all about. Imonti also says: “Egypt [except for the brief time when it was controlled by the MB] is a bought puppet of Saudi Arabia. The Egyptians are bombing Qatari groups in Libya.” That Egyptian action is indirectly a Saudi attack against the Qatari royals’ own support-base. These issues between the two royal families are like squabbles within a family: more is shared in common than splits them apart. Obama’s decisions are often determinative on such matters.

    So, America’s aristocracy supports both the Saudi and the Qatari aristocracies, despite their disagreements, in order to defeat the aristocracies in Russia, China, and the other “BRIC” countries.
    Or, as President Obama's speech at West Point, on 28 May 2014, propagandized for this view on the part of America’s aristocracy: "Russia's aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China's economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us.” So, Obama made clear to the graduating cadets that the BRIC countries are the enemy, from the standpoint of America’s aristocracy. Ours want to crush the aristocrats in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Though it’s alright for those other countries to produce more, that’s true only if American aristocrats control the local ones, like in any other international empire -- not  if the local aristocrats there do. Similarly, for example, the British Empire didn’t wish for local aristocrats in India to be in control, but only for those client aristocrats to be of use. Obama added, placing a nationalistic coloration on his promotion of America’s empire: “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” He promised to keep it that way: “That has been true for the century passed [sp.: past [[somebody at the White House didn’t know the difference between ‘past’ and ‘passed’]] and it will be true for the century to come.”...

    Qatar ships most of its gas into Asia, they’d like to have some way to pipe it more nearby, into Europe, to undercut Russia’s Gazprom. And that’s why the U.S. is working with Qatar to bump Assad from Syria.
    The Saudis are actually doing the most of all to defeat Russia, by driving oil prices down so low as to upset Russia’s economic plans, which have been based upon minimum $100/barrel projections. We’re already around 10% below that. As Imonti writes, “The Saudis can sustain these lower prices for seven or eight years while drawing on their foreign reserves to cover the deficits. They could very well be trying to break the fracking business in the U.S. that has high production costs. [Of course, America’s gas aristocrats won’t like that, but Obama has to balance multiple sub-constituencies, including Qatar’s royals.] They might also be directing the target towards Russia that supports Assad and Iran. They could be doing all of the above with one action.” If the Sauds keep this up “for seven or eight years,” then Russia will be hit a lot harder than Russia is being hit, or is likely to be hit, by any economic sanctions.
    Qatar has been the main funder of the overthrow-Assad movement, for the Moslem Brotherhood; and Saudi Arabia has been the main funder of the overthrow-Assad movement, for ISIS....

    Russia has the world's largest proven reserves of natural gas, and that’s without their even needing to use fracking-techniques in order to get at it. #2 Iran has 69% as much gas, and is allied with Russia, and it also doesn’t frack. But sanctions close them out of Europe. Then #3 Qatar, at 47%, is allied with U.S. oil companies, but has no need to frack. Then #4 Turkmenistan, 37%, is allied with Russia, and also doesn’t frack. Then #5 U.S., 20%, is allied with U.S. oil companies, and only fracks. Then #6 Saudi Arabia, 17%, is also allied with U.S. oil companies, and doesn’t need to frack.
    The European Union bans fracking, because they have environmentally-concerned publics. But U.S. and other Western corporate-owned oil companies want to frack gas in Europe, just as they do in America; and the new Ukrainian Government is desperate enough to want their land to be fracked.
    The main shale-gas (fracking) field in Ukraine is Yuzivska, right in the middle of the Donbass region, where the residents don’t want fracking and don’t want U.S. rule (which includes fracking).
    "The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria"
    "Mystery Sponsor Of Weapons And Money To Syrian Mercenary ‘Rebels’ Revealed"
    Tyler Durden on 05/16/2013 19:12 -0400
    ... [Excerpt:] So there you have it: Qatar doing everything it can to promote bloodshed, death and destruction by using not Syrian rebels, but mercenaries: professional citizens who are paid handsomely to fight and kill members of the elected regime (unpopular as it may be), for what? So that the unimaginably rich emirs of Qatar can get even richer. Although it is not as if Russia is blameless: all it wants is to preserve its own strategic leverage over Europe by being the biggest external provider of natgas to the continent through its own pipelines. Should Nabucco come into existence, Gazpromia would be very, very angry and make far less money!
    "A Look Inside The Secret Deal With Saudi Arabia That Unleashed The Syrian Bombing"
    Tyler Durden on 09/25/2014 10:17 -0400
    … [Excerpt:] Said otherwise, the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to "bless" US airstrikes and make them appear as an act of some coalition, is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that, as we also explained last year, the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America's desire -- what better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?

    Only Assad is in the way
    "Qatar: Rich and Dangerous"

    No sooner had Qaddafi been caught and shot, Qatar approached Bashar Al-Assad to establish a transitional government with the Moslem Brotherhood. As you would expect, relinquishing power to the Brotherhood was an offer that he could refuse. It didn’t take long before he heard his sentence pronounced in January 2012 on the CBS television program, 60 Minutes by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
    The Emir declared that foreign troops should be sent into Syria.  At the Friends of Syria conference in February, Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said, "We should do whatever necessary to help [the Syrian opposition], including giving them weapons to defend themselves."

    Why would Qatar want to become involved in Syria where they have little invested? A map reveals that the kingdom is a geographic prisoner in a small enclave on the Persian Gulf coast.
    It relies upon the export of LNG, because it is restricted by Saudi Arabia from building pipelines to distant markets.  In 2009, the proposal of a pipeline to Europe through Saudi Arabia and Turkey to the Nabucco pipeline was considered, but Saudi Arabia that is angered by its smaller and much louder brother has blocked any overland expansion.

    Already the largest LNG producer, Qatar will not increase the production of LNG. The market is becoming glutted with eight new facilities in Australia coming online between 2014 and 2020.
    A saturated North American gas market and a far more competitive Asian market leaves only Europe. The discovery in 2009 of a new gas field near Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Syria opened new possibilities to bypass the Saudi Barrier and to secure a new source of income. Pipelines are in place already in Turkey to receive the gas. Only Al-Assad is in the way...

    Qatar along with the Turks would like to remove Al-Assad and install the Syrian chapter of the Moslem Brotherhood. It is the best organized political movement in the chaotic society and can block Saudi Arabia’s efforts to install a more fanatical Wahhabi based regime. Once the Brotherhood is in power, the Emir’s broad connections with Brotherhood groups throughout the region should make it easy for him to find a friendly ear and an open hand in Damascus.
    A control centre has been established in the Turkish city of Adana near the Syrian border to direct the rebels against Al-Assad. Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud asked to have the Turks establish a joint Turkish, Saudi, Qatari operations center. “The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations” a source in the Gulf told Reuters.
    The fighting is likely to continue for many more months, but Qatar is in for the long term. At the end, there will be contracts for the massive reconstruction and there will be the development of the gas fields. In any case, Al-Assad must go. There is nothing personal; it is strictly business to preserve the future tranquility and well-being of Qatar.
    "Qatar: Rich and Dangerous"

    17--Leading German Journalist Admits CIA 'Bribed' Him and Other Leaders of the Western 'Press'

    18--Central Bank Governor Veers Off Script, Sees “Illusion of Liquidity” & “Asset Bubbles,” Dreads Crash , wolf street

    Financial instability is the current central-bank and IMF euphemism for a crash. But even if central banks are afraid of this event, the current monetary policies “are not sustainable.” Someday, they must stop. Or else.
    “To assess the risks associated with the unwinding of these policies, we have to identify the unintended consequences they have caused.” The policies were supposed to promote growth “by enticing more risk-taking by economic agents.” The idea was that, one, consumers would respond to QE, lower interest rates, and the hoped-for wealth effects by consuming more. And that, two, companies would respond with “real risk taking,” namely “higher corporate investment.”

    None of these two things has happened. Consumers are struggling. And corporate investment actually fell, he said: “the median decline in the emerging and advanced economies has been around 2.5 percentage points of GDP.”
    Instead, QE and interest rate repression have accomplished something else – the unintended consequences:
    Meanwhile there has been massive investments in financial instruments of all sorts, both in local and external markets in what has been called the ‘search for yield,’ which has created considerable spillover effects of unconventional monetary policies.
    The crux of the matter is that financial risk-taking has been far more responsive to unconventional monetary policies than real risk-taking has been

    19--US troops arrive at western Ukraine training camp, wsws

    20--Interview William Lind: The Washington establishment, which is bipartisan, thought that now we could rule the world. It could dictate to everyone and it could force its ideology, which is sometimes called globalism or liberal democracy, but is in fact the soft totalitarianism of Brave New World, on everyone in the world. If necessary, with military force. This is the classic hubris that has destroyed one great power after another. There is nothing new about it.

    Victor Olevich:  Why has Washington chosen Ukraine as a battleground in its new Cold War against Russia?
    William Lind: Russia under President Putin represents the state system and the way states normally act within the state system, based on their interests. The ideology of the Washington establishment says that is not how the world is going to work anymore.  It is instead going to be essentially a one world government based in Washington. This ideology includes such concepts as the feminist definition of women’s rights, devaluation of all religions, so called gay rights, and the belief that this must be universal.  Russia is saying no to this.  It is saying that it still believes in the state system and is going to pursue its own interests on the world stage.  So when Russia asserted its interests in the face of Ukraine threatening to join NATO, then Washington reacted very strongly....

    William Lind: Yes, of course. The United States and the EU are being hurt by the sanctions also. Russia has very strong foreign currency reserves, and it owes about 800 billion dollars to Western banks, with much of that starting to come due. Now, because of the sanctions, Russia is not going to be able to roll that over by borrowing more in the West. Obviously, what Russia can do in that case is say that it is suspending payment on all loans due to institutions in countries that are participating in the sanctions until the sanctions are lifted. Suddenly, the sanctions will hurt Europe much more than they hurt Russia, because Europe will have another massive banking crisis on its hands. There was a news flash last week about Russia and China buying a great deal of gold.  This points to another way the sanctions can backfire. The rest of the world, and not just Russia, is getting tired of the United States trying to dictate to institutions, particularly banks, in their own countries, on what they will do, as if they were American institutions in complete disregard for their national sovereignty. One way to destroy this entire sanctions tool, not just in the case of Russia but also in regards to other countries, is to move trade to a gold basis instead of a dollar basis. The the role of American banks will become irrelevant, because trade will be completed in gold.

    Victor Olevich: Is Europe able to act on its own, independently of U.S. foreign policy goals?
    William Lind: No, Europe at this point is still very much in Washington’s orbit.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that the EU is an American satellite

    21--Interview William Blum, RT

    America, for two centuries has had one basic, overriding goal, and that is world domination, at least from 1890s if not earlier, one can say that. World domination is something which appeals to both Republicans and Democrats or Liberals or Conservatives. The idea that we're the exceptional nation and have something very important to impart to the rest of the world, our marvelous values, American exceptionalism... Each party believes in that very strongly. They don't argue about that at all, except through their campaign debate, they'll take certain opposing views just to appear different. But, in power, they have the exact same policy – world domination.

    SS: Now back in 2009 President Obama made it clear that the missile shield in Europe would no longer be necessary if the threat from Iran was eliminated – and nuclear deal with Iran was struck. Now, historic deal is close, but NATO is saying there will be no change in missile shield plans – why not?

    WB: Because NATO shares America's desire to dominate the world. NATO is just an arm of the U.S. foreign policy, there's no point actually in making a distinction between US foreign policy and NATO policy – they are the same. If US were not in NATO, NATO would not exist. US founded NATO, US is its main supporter and financial source, there's no distinction between US and NATO, and they share the same view of American world domination. So, it doesn't matter whether Iran is doing this or that – they know that Iran is not a lover of an Empire, and anyone who's not a lover of the Empire has a short life span. Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, whatever. That is the test, do you love Empire or not.

    22--The IMF’s Big Greek Mistake