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.

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