Thursday, June 18, 2015

Today's Links

Today's quote:  "The 2008 crash and subsequent developments have revealed certain fundamental realities about American society. All of the official institutions, including the presidency, the courts, Congress and the financial regulators, have worked single-mindedly to shield the banks and the financial elite and enable them to grow even richer.
So-called “democracy” in America is a façade. The reality is a plutocracy―the rule of the rich." Rolling in Dough


Quote 2 from Ron Unz comments: Battle for Blair Mountain
says:
  
The Troika should be viewed as mafiosa loan sharking operation like the kind that John Gotti used to run in his youth. The intent from day one was to steal the assets of Greece for German Eurotrash Bankster Gangsters.
Abolish the Greek debt. If the German Bankster-Gangsters try to pass this illegitimate debt off to the German People…the German People should rise up and pack the German Banksters-Gangsters Wives-Daughters-Sisters and Nieces into sexual slavery in the Sudan.




1--The call to reinstate the draft Ron Fournier
2--Russia to construct new gas pipeline to Germany via Baltic Sea – Gazprom Putin outfoxes Obama again


Gazprom is planning to construct two threads of a new gas pipeline with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year. Shell, E.On and OMV have been invited to participate, said the company. This could double direct supplies of Russian gas to Europe.
The four companies have signed a memorandum of intent to create the gas transportation infrastructure to ensure direct supplies of Russia gas to European consumers.


"The memorandum demonstrates the intention of the sides to construct the two threads of the pipeline from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to the coast of Germany. The capacity of the new pipeline will be 55 billion cubic meters annually," Gazprom said in a statement.
The new pipeline will have a similar route to Nord Stream, said Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov.
The company’s stake will be no less than 51 percent, he added.
Given declining production in Europe, as well as a global increase in demand for gas, Gazprom, E.ON, Shell and OMV will shortly create a joint venture to implement the project intended to fill the demand gap, TASS reports.


3--NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg Unveils Biggest Build-Up Since Cold War---Numbskull US protects the maginot line while putin slips thru the Ardennes and onto Paris


And therefore NATO has to respond. We are responding, and we are doing so by implementing the biggest reinforcement of our collective defenses since the end of the Cold War and the Spearhead force is a key element of this reinforcement, and it's great to see that it's functional, and that it's exercising here in Poland
More than 15,000 troops from 22 nations are also taking part in operation Allied Shield, a series of exercises designed to test the strength and readiness of NATO and allied armed forces.

This Alliance is Ready, Willing and Able"

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Stoltenberg and Gen. Breedlove, the head of US European Command and NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe said: "We are in Poland this week to meet and see allied forces take part in Exercise Noble Jump, the first deployment of NATO's new Very High Readiness 'Spearhead Force'.


Allied Shield will demonstrate that NATO is able to deploy combat forces anywhere within NATO's territory within days should a crisis break out or if allies are threatened," the NATO pair said.
"It will show the world that this alliance is ready, willing and able to deal with whatever challenges it faces."
"Moreover, the Spearhead Force is exactly that: the tip of the spear. Behind it lies the NATO Response Force, which allies have agreed to more than double in size over the coming months. It will consist of more than 30,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and aircrew, ready to reinforce allies or defend our security interests wherever needed," they said


4---The pipeline will be constructed jointly with Gazprom’s European partners: E.ON, Shell and OMV.


5--Russia economic isolation "impossible"


The official noted that, for his part, he will use his speech to "point out that in the age of economic globalization, in the age of all sorts of challenges and risks, it is impossible to imagine a return to the strategy of the economic blockade, just as it impossible to imagine Russia's isolation. I believe that we cannot afford to lose Russia as a strategic partner. After all, the world economy requires cooperation, openness and accessibility between partner nations, and the development of trade relations. The global economy and political cooperation are closely linked to one another."...


The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum opened on Thursday and is set to run until Saturday. The annual event has taken place since 1997, and is positioned as a unique growth and stability network for emerging markets and growth economies, with discussions, forums and round tables on issues of economic and business importance. Last year, over 4,700 participants from 73 countries attended the Forum


6--Greece's Tsipras heads to Russia for some love


There is speculation that talks between the leaders will focus on the proposed construction of a gas pipeline through Greece and the country's potential participation in a new BRICS development bank, set up by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa with a reserve fund for emergency situations.


7---Global Disorder Reigns!" George Soros Warns Washington "Mend Relations With China" Or Face World War 3


In the financial sphere the Bretton Woods institutions—the IMF and the World Bank—have lost their monopoly position. Under Chinese leadership, a parallel set of institutions is emerging. Will they be in conflict or will they find a way to cooperate? Since the financial and the political spheres are also interconnected, the future course of history will greatly depend on how China tackles its economic transition from investment and export-led growth to greater dependence on domestic demand, and how the US reacts to it. A strategic partnership between the US and China could prevent the evolution of two power blocks that may be drawn into military conflict.
How did we reach this point of global disorder?...


Then in 1997, a group of neoconservatives argued that the US should use its military supremacy to impose its national interests, and established a think tank called the Project for the New American Century, “to promote American global leadership.” But that was a false approach: military force cannot be used to rule the world. After the terrorist attack of September 11, the neocons persuaded President George W. Bush to attack Iraq on dubious grounds that turned out to be false, and the US lost its supremacy. The Project for the New American Century had approximately the same lifespan as Hitler’s Thousand-Year Reich: around ten years.


On the financial side, by contrast, there was a clear consensus—the so-called Washington Consensus—on America’s role in the world. It became dominant in the 1980s under the leadership of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. It had strong ideological support from market fundamentalists; it had a supposedly scientific foundation in the Efficient Market Hypothesis and Rational Choice Theory; and it was efficiently administered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The consensus was a much more subtle compromise between international governance and national self-interest than the neocons’ view that military power is supreme.


Indeed, the Washington Consensus had its roots in the original compromise on which the Bretton Woods institutions were founded. John Maynard Keynes proposed a truly international currency, the bancor, but the US insisted on the dollar as the world’s reserve currency and it prevailed. In the memorable words of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” ...


Unfortunately, the scientific foundations of this approach proved to be ill conceived. Unregulated financial markets are inherently unstable: instead of a general equilibrium that assures the optimum allocation of resources, they produce financial crises. This was dramatically demonstrated by the crash of 2008. By coincidence, 2008 marked both the end of America’s political supremacy and the demise of the Washington Consensus. It was also the beginning of a process of financial and political disintegration that first manifested itself in the microcosm of the European Union, but then spread to the world at large.
The crash of 2008 had a lasting negative effect on all the economies of the world, with the notable exception of China’s...


International governance on a global scale is equally fragile. The world may break up into rival camps both financially and politically. China has begun to build a parallel set of financial institutions, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); the Asian Bond Fund Initiative; the New Development Bank (formerly the BRICS Bank); and the Chiang Mai Initiative, which is an Asian regional multilateral arrangement to swap currencies. Whether the two camps will be able to keep their rivalry within bounds will depend on how China manages its economic transition and on how the US reacts to it


The US would be making a major concession if it opened the door to allowing the renminbi to become a potential rival to the dollar. It could demand similar concessions from China in return, but that would be the wrong approach. The relationship between two great powers is not a zero-sum game: one party’s gain is not necessarily a loss for the other.
China is seeking SDR status for the renminbi not to please or hurt the US but for reasons of its own that are only indirectly connected with China’s ultimate ambition of replacing the US dollar as the dominant currency in the world. China seeks to use financial liberalization as an engine of growth for the Chinese economy


On his last state visit to the US in 2013, President Xi spoke of a “new type of great power relationship.” The subject has been widely discussed in China since then. President Obama should outline his own vision by drawing a distinction between Putin’s Russia, which has replaced the rule of law with the rule of force, and today’s China, which does not always abide by the rule of law but respects its treaty obligations. Russian aggression needs to be firmly resisted; by contrast China needs to be encouraged—by offering a more constructive alternative—to avoid the route of military aggression. This kind of offer may elicit a favorable response. Rivalry between the US and China is inevitable but it needs to be kept within bounds that would preclude the use of military force....


China has more in common with Russia than with the US. Both Russia and China consider themselves victims of America’s aspiration to world domination. ...the US government should nevertheless make a bona fide attempt at forging a strategic partnership with China




8---India to sign free trade deal with Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union


9--Wage gains? Uh, uh....Real Hourly Earnings Drop To Lowest In 2015


10--You've Been Warned: Calls For Mandatory "National Service" For Americans Aged 18-28 Have Begun
Ron Fournier is the Senior Political Columnist and Editorial Director of National Journal. Prior to joining NJ, he worked at the Associated Press for 20 years, most recently as Washington Bureau Chief. A Detroit native, Fournier began his career in Arkansas, first with the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record and then with the Arkansas Democrat and the AP, where he covered the state legislature and Gov. Bill Clinton. In January 1993, Fournier moved to Washington, where he covered the White House and presidential campaigns for the AP. ...


From the National Journal:
I know a better way to fight ISIS. It starts with an idea that should appeal the better angels of both hawks and doves: National service for all 18- to 28-year-olds.

Require virtually every young American—the civic-minded millennial generation—to complete a year of service through programs such as Teach for America, AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, or the U.S. military, and two things will happen:
11--World Hasn’t Had So Many Refugees Since 1945, Report Says
12--U2′s Bono Partners with Monsanto to Flood African Agriculture with GMOs


13--NATO Launches “Trident Juncture 2015″, Largest Military Exercise since the End of the Cold War




14--Housing starts on a per capita basis. It’s not yet up to prior recession lows:


15--QE asset inflation Millionaires projected to own 46 percent of global private wealth by 2019


In total, the world added $17.5 trillion of new private wealth between 2013 and 2014. The report notes that nearly three quarters of all these gains came from previously existing wealth. In other words, the vast majority of money gained has been due to pre-existing assets increasing in value—not the creation of new material things.
This trend is the result of the massive infusions of cheap credit into the financial markets by central banks. The policy of “quantitative easing” has led to a dramatic expansion of the stock market even while global economic growth has slumped.
While the wealth of the rich is growing at a breakneck pace, there is a stratification of growth within the super wealthy, skewed towards the very top.
...


An Oxfam report from January, for example, shows that the bottom 99 percent of the world’s population went from having about 56 percent of the world’s wealth in 2010 to having 52 percent of it in 2014. Meanwhile the top 1 percent saw its wealth rise from 44 to 48 percent of the world’s wealth.
In 2014 the Russell Sage Foundation found that between 2003 and 2013, the median household net worth of those in the United States fell from $87,992 to $56,335—a drop of 36 percent. While the rich also saw their wealth drop during the recession, they are more than making that money back. Between 2009 and 2012, 95 percent of all the income gains in the US went to the top 1 percent. This is the most distorted post-recession income gain on record


16---Greek central bank warns of “uncontrollable crisis


17--Rolling in dough; Rich rule America


These rulings are part of an accelerating legal offensive by the American financial aristocracy not only to exonerate itself for criminal actions that triggered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, but to assert the untrammeled domination of private capital over the public interest.
It is approaching seven years since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008 and the government bailout of AIG the following day. The net result of the policies carried out in the ensuing years by Democratic and Republican administrations alike, backed by Congress and the courts, is a massive increase in the wealth of the richest one percent of the population, a further concentration of power among a handful of Wall Street banks, and legal impunity for financial malefactors who are responsible for untold human suffering.
Not one leading banker has been prosecuted, let alone jailed. Rather, financial gangsters are being shielded by the government and vindicated by the courts...


The 2008 crash and subsequent developments have revealed certain fundamental realities about American society. All of the official institutions, including the presidency, the courts, Congress and the financial regulators, have worked single-mindedly to shield the banks and the financial elite and enable them to grow even richer.
So-called “democracy” in America is a façade. The reality is a plutocracy―the rule of the rich



18--End of sanctions? Europe courting Iran for business bonanza


Last month, Germany hosted Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh for rare high-level discussions about investments in oil, gas and petrochemical industries.


19--Policy elites choose to repeat the mistakes made in iraq


In that regard, apparent disagreement on specifics masked a deeper consensus consisting of three elements:
* That ISIS represents something akin to an existential threat to the United States, the latest in a long line going back to the totalitarian ideologies of the last century; fascism and communism may be gone, but danger is ever present.
* That if the United States doesn’t claim ownership of the problem of Iraq, the prospects of “solving” it are nil; action or inaction by Washington alone, that is, determines the fate of the planet.
* That the exercise of leadership implies, and indeed requires, employing armed might; without a willingness to loose military power, global leadership is inconceivable

...


what the former secretary of defense, think tank CEO, and retired general chose not to say in fretting about ISIS is as revealing as what they did say. Here are some of the things they chose to overlook:
* ISIS would not exist were it not for the folly of the United States in invading -- and breaking -- Iraq in the first place; we created the vacuum that ISIS is now attempting to fill.
* U.S. military efforts to pacify occupied Iraq from 2003 to 2011 succeeded only in creating a decent interval for the United States to withdraw without having to admit to outright defeat; in no sense did “our” Iraq War end in anything remotely approximating victory, despite the already forgotten loss of thousands of American lives and the expenditure of trillions of dollars.
* For more than a decade and at very considerable expense, the United States has been attempting to create an Iraqi government that governs and an Iraqi army that fights; the results of those efforts speak for themselves: they have failed abysmally.
Now, these are facts
..


My own contribution to the televised debate was modest and ineffectual. Toward the end, the moderator offered me a chance to redeem myself. What, she asked, did I think about Panetta’s tribute to the indispensability of American leadership?
A fat pitch that I should have hit it out of the park. Instead, I fouled it off. What I should have said was this: leadership ought to mean something other than simply repeating and compounding past mistakes. It should require more than clinging to policies that have manifestly failed. To remain willfully blind to those failures is not leadership, it’s madness.


20--Asia: On the Rocks


. China security expert Yu Bin writes:
Despite its long historical record of sovereignty claims, China physically possess the fewest islets in the Spratlys (eight compared with 29 by Vietnam and nine by the Philippines) and is the last one to construct runways and other large-scale facilities (Vietnam has constructed 10,000 square meters of facilities in its occupied reefs since 2011). Nor has China resorted to the use of force to retake the reefs in the Spratlys from other claimants but chooses instead to construct those islets it has physically possessed......
the real drivers of bilateral tension are elsewhere. U.S. modernization of its nuclear arsenal, our sale of advanced fighters to Japan, the push for South Korea to adopt our missile defense shield: These are the more structural provocations.
Viewed from this more strategic vantage point, the South China Sea is not just about fishing rights and potential energy deposits. The real issue is the degree to which China can use the area for its new class of nuclear submarines and whether, conversely, the United States can box China in.
The South China Sea, in other words, is a make-or-break region: where the United States either holds on to its geostrategic advantage or China manages to “break out” and challenge U.S. hegemony....


Beijing has effectively accomplished this challenge in the geo-economic sphere, with its initiatives to set up a parallel set of global financial institutions. But up until recently, China simply didn’t have sufficient nuclear weapons or conventional forces to assert itself regionally, much less globally. Creating another leg in its strategic forces — alongside a very modest number of nuclear-tipped ICBMs — represents a potential game-changer, but only if China has a home for these subs and a way for them to roam the Pacific and Indian Oceans...


When the United States wades into the South China Sea dispute, it’s not just supporting allies like the Philippines or trying to drive a further wedge between China and Vietnam. Nor is it just about protecting the sea lanes through which so much of the world’s resources flow.
The “who lost the South China Sea” accusation that neoconservatives, liberal hawks, and Republican presidential candidates are preparing to level against the Obama administration — so reminiscent of of the 1950s debate over “who lost China?” — is really about the preservation of U.S. global power..


21--Get Ready for BRICS plus Germany, pepe escobar


Just as much of Europe is stagnant German economic ties with Asia are growing rapidly. Eventually politcs has to catch up with economics


That happened in the framework of a major ‘Pipelineistan’ game-changer. After Moscow cleverly negotiated the realignment of South Stream towards Turk Stream, right up to the Greek border, Putin and Greek Prime Minister Tsipras also agreed to a pipeline extension from the Turkish border across Greece to southern Europe. So Gazprom will be firmly implanted not only in Turkey but also Greece, which in itself will become mightily strategic in European ‘Pipelineistan’.


So Germany, sooner or later, must answer a categorical imperative - how to keep running massive trade surpluses while dumping their euro trade partners. The only possible answer is more trade with Russia, China and East Asia. It will take quite a while, and there will be many bumps on the road, but a Berlin-Moscow-Beijing trade/commercial axis – or the “RC” in BRICS meet Germany - is all but inevitable


22--Italy moves towards Russia


The “Moscow Agreement”
Indeed that Moscow trip by Renzi — the first official visit by a Western leader to Russia since the annexation of Crimea — signaled that Italy’s foreign policy was going to stray from its European allies (French President Francois Hollande held a brief talk with Putin at the Moscow airport in December 2013).


But the French fatally overestimated the time it would take the Germans to transit the Ardennes and reach the Meuse. The French Army would have had ample time to concentrate on any possible crossing of the Meuse, it was believed. But in 1938, a French parliamentary deputy, warned of the threat of a German breakthrough in the Ardennes-Sedan region.


This is, of course, precisely what happened. In one of military history’s most audacious feats, German mechanized forces crossed the Meuse, shattered weak French defenses there, and raced for the Channel, cutting off the British Expeditionary Force and France’s armies in the north that were poised to invade Germany’s Ruhr industrial region. The Dunkirk disaster ensued. Hitler’s foolish hopes of a German-British alliance saved the British forces at Dunkirk from total destruction.


Germany’s racing Panzer divisions and their close air support then drove south, sweeping aside French divisions, and taking Paris on 14 June, 1940. The German advanced across northern France and then down the Rhone Valley. More than 300,000 French mobile and “interval” troops with large numbers of heavy artillery were deployed to defend the Maginot Line.



















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