Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Today's Links

1---60 percent of Americans don’t trust their mass media - poll
Pollsters found only 28 percent of Americans were satisfied with the state of the nation, down from 40 percent in 2004. Broken down by institution, only 8 percent of Americans had trust in their Congress, 21 percent in television news, 23 percent in the criminal justice system and 32 percent in the US Supreme Court


2--Putin "must watch" video
3---Kerry warns Lavrov over Russian airstrikes in Syria


4--Daesh has WMDs(?)
Also on Wednesday, Lavrov warned the Security Council that the Takfiri militants are in possession of weapons of mass destruction.
In vast areas of Syria and Iraq, Daesh has “created an extremist quasi-state, which commands an efficient repressive apparatus, stable sources of income, well-equipped army and elements of weapons of mass destruction,” he said.


"As a result of airstrikes, ammunition and fuel depots, heavy military hardware, as well as command posts in the mountainous areas have been destroyed," he added.


5---Russian officials have on numerous occasions underscored that Moscow does not support Assad personally, but rather backs him as "the legitimately elected president" of Syria.


Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stressed that Moscow does not agree to the precondition that calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside before any meaningful talks between parties to the Syria crisis and the subsequent peace process in the country.
On Monday, Lavrov stated that Russia's position "has not changed" on Syria and a solution to the conflict should come "without outside interference or any kinds of preconditions."
The remarks came in response to the August 14 allegations by the head of the so-called Syrian National Coalition, Khaled Khoja, that Moscow is "not clinging to Bashar al-Assad."
Russian officials have on numerous occasions underscored that Moscow does not support Assad personally, but rather backs him as "the legitimately elected president" of Syria.


The Western-backed Geneva I and Geneva II peace conferences on Syria, held in June 2012 and February 2014 respectively, ended in total failure since foreign-sponsored opposition figures refused to discuss widespread terrorism in the country and persisted in demanding the ouster of the Syrian government as a precondition


6---Asked if his true intentions were to bolster Assad rather than eradicate Isis, Putin answered: “Well, you’re right.” US officials said on Wednesday that they were still working to determine whom the Russian strikes hit, although early indications suggested a US-backed militant group was bombed.









Sunday, September 27, 2015

Today's Links

1--U.S. support for Syria rebels illegal: Putin


"In my opinion, provision of military support to illegal structures runs counter to the principles of modern international law and the United Nations Charter," he said in an excerpt of an interview with U.S. television networks CBS and PBS released by the Kremlin.


2--China capital flight hits record high as yuan plunges


3--“We would welcome a common platform for collective action against the terrorists,” Putin said.


Today, terrorism threatens a great number of states, a great number of people – hundreds of thousands, millions of people suffer from its criminal activity. And we all face the task of joining our efforts in the fight against this common evil,” Putin told Rose.


When asked about Russia’s presence in the Arab country, Putin replied that as things stand now, Russia’s activities have been limited to supplying weapons to the Syrian government, training personnel and providing humanitarian aid for the Syrian people.
“We act based on the United Nations Charter, i.e. the fundamental principles of modern international law, according to which this or that type of aid, including military assistance, can and must be provided exclusively to the legitimate government of one country or another, upon its consent or request, or upon the decision of the United Nations Security Council,” said Putin.


3--Iran in talks to develop largest oilfield


4--Japan's Abe airs Abenomics 2.0 plan for $5 trillion economy


Abe recently announced plans to accelerate reductions in corporate taxes. The central bank also is widely expected to add to its already unprecedented monetary easing by pumping more cash into the economy later this year.
Japan's economy, estimated at $4.6 trillion in 2014, contracted at a 1.2 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, and China's slowdown and recent market turmoil are hindering a rebound.


At Japan's recent pace of growth, achieving Abe's goal — for which he set no timetable — would be a stretch. The Japan Center for Economic Research, an independent think tank, is forecasting growth at 0.9 percent this year and 1.5 percent in 2016. A sales tax increase planned for April 2017, to 10 percent from 8 percent now, is expected to dent growth for that year.


Japanese officials acknowledge in private that the country needs a "great leap" in productivity, which is hard to attain at a time when the labor force is shrinking due to the aging population.
Given that reality, Japanese employers have been reluctant to invest or to raise wages, even when many are short-handed.
With wages still barely rising, families have tended to save, and increases in demand from monetary stimulus have been weaker than expected.



5---Putin Said to Plan Islamic State Strike With or Without U.S.


6--Putin's motives in Syria are clear: protecting Assad


7---Kerry's remarks on Syria trouble Turkey


8-- Upper House: No request from Putin to dispatch troops in Syria  9--Rasmus: Buybacks

US$8 Trillion Stock Buybacks, Dividend, & Interest Payouts
The US$7.3 trillion in corporate cash represents what is left over after trillions more has already been to their investors since 2008.

In the United States alone since 2009, more than US$4.5 trillion has been distributed in stock buybacks and dividend payouts by just the largest 500 U.S. corporations, according to Standard & Poor’s research. Another US$500 billion has been distributed in dividends to all businesses, corporate and non-corporate alike, according to U.S. government data sources. That’s US$5 trillion. But even that astounding number does not include distributions by U.S. private equity firms to partners, estimated at US$1.3 trillion in just the last three years, or additional amounts by global hedge funds, or by other ‘shadow banks’, to their member partners in what’s called interest payments.


10---Russia Not Establishing Military Base in Syria So Far, Situation May Change
11---US Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the United States and Russia could find ways to cooperate on the deadly crisis in Syria.
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/09/24/430611/US-Russia-Syria-Pentagon-

The Pentagon chief on Thursday called on Moscow to pursue a political solution to help put an end to the four-and-a-half-year conflict in the Arab nation.
Carter said if Russia were to fight Daesh (ISIL) terrorists, and not just attack opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Washington and Moscow might work together.
"On a course like that, it is possible that we could find areas of cooperation," Carter told reporters



"But if it's a matter of pouring gasoline on the fire on the civil war in Syria, that is certainly not productive," he added.
US officials claim that Russia is engaged in a military build-up in the Arab nation.
They say Moscow has recently sent hundreds of troops, as well as fighter jets, artillery and other military hardware to an airport in Syria’s western province of Latakia.

11--Turkey’s Erdoğan says Assad may be part of Syria transition process
 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who had pressed for the departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad for any solution of the intractable Syrian conflict, has said a solution that would include Assad is possible during a transition process.
“It is possible that this [transition] process may be without Assad or the transition process may continue with Assad. However, nobody sees a future with Assad in Syria. It is impossible for them [Syrian] to accept a dictator who led to the death of up to 350,000 people,” Erdoğan said on Thursday following Eid prayers in İstanbul.



12--Erdogan makes the case for invading syria


 Nobody can foresee Syria’s future with al-Assad. It’s not possible to accept a person responsible for killing 300,000 to 350,000 people, a dictator,” Erdoğan said, after performing his Eid al-Adha prayer early on Sept. 24 in Istanbul.

On Sept. 25, the Turkish president also stressed Syrian opposition groups did not “approve an approach with al-Assad, hence the ongoing fight.”

“If al-Assad has a modicum of love for Syria, he should leave this job and go. We don’t have a problem with Syria’s domestic policies. But neither al-Assad nor the world should forget that we have a 911-kilometer-long border with Syria,” Erdoğan added.

“At every turn we are under the threat of terrorist groups there. Our patience has a limit. We are the ones who feed 2 million people [refugees],” the president noted, stressing only Qatar and Saudi Arabia had taken Ankara’s side as international efforts were going on regarding the crisis in Syria.



13--Russia, US engage for major move in Syria



Russia has in recent weeks sent hundreds of troops, as well as fighter jets, artillery and other military hardware to the Latakia region in northwestern Syria, leaving Washington wondering if - or when - Russia will intervene in the four-and-a-half-year civil war on behalf of its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said Sept. 24 if Russia were to fight Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists while also pursuing a political solution to the crisis, and not just “indiscriminately” attack foes of al-Assad, Washington and Moscow might find ways to work together.

“On a course like that, it is possible that we could find areas of cooperation,” Carter told reporters. “But if it’s a matter of pouring gasoline on the fire on the civil war in Syria, that is certainly not productive.”

Syrian government forces used newly arrived
Russian warplanes to bombard ISIL militants in Aleppo province in northern Syria, a group monitoring the civil war said on Sept. 24, in an attempt to break a siege on a nearby air base.

On Sept. 23, the Syrian military deployed Russian-supplied drones for the first time, a security source in Damascus said. The army received new weaponry from
Russia for its fight against jihadists, including at least five fighter jets, a senior Syrian military official told AFP.

“At every turn we are under the threat of terrorist groups there. Our patience has a limit. We are the ones who feed 2 million people [refugees],” the president noted, stressing only Qatar and Saudi Arabia had taken Ankara’s side as international efforts were going on regarding the crisis in Syria.

 14--
According to press reports, Russia’s stepped-up intervention in Syria has been seen in Berlin, in contrast to Washington, as positive. “Many in the government coalition are agreed that there is no solution to be found without Moscow,” wrote Der Spiegel in its latest edition. “Even Russia’s support for dictator Assad is seen by many as an opportunity rather than a problem.”
The German Institute for International and Security Affairs, a thinktank close to the government, proposed in a paper titled “A German Strategy for Syria,” arguing that Berlin participate in the bombing of the Islamic State (IS) and, following up its military aid to the Peshmerga of the Iraqi Kurds, provide the Syrian Kurds of the PYD with weapons.
The US-led wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, as well as the destabilization of Syria and the arming of Syrian jihadists through the NATO powers and their allies in the region, have created the present catastrophe and turned millions into refugees. Now, in the name of the “struggle against the causes of flight,” the next round of military interventions and wars are being prepared.
In the meantime, virtually all of the imperialist great powers and regional powers in the Middle East are pursuing their own interests with military means. The entire region resembles a seething cauldron which, like the Balkans prior to the First World War, could ignite a new worldwide conflagration.



15--Fed chief points to rate rise this year

The evidence is abundant,” Booth wrote, “that the ability of monetary policy to spur economic growth is exhausted. More concerning are increasing distortions in the economy and financial system that threaten to collapse into crisis. The financial markets may not be fully on board with rising interest rates, but any further kowtowing to investors promises to strip the Fed of its last vestige of credibility.”
The Fed’s actions had facilitated bad behaviour on the part of corporate chieftains. “Why bother investing in the long term when it is so much more fun, to say nothing of more lucrative, to buy back shares, reduce share count and puff up profits?”

in the week since the Fed cited global considerations as the reasons for not moving, those headwinds have become stronger. Data from the Chinese economy released this week showed that manufacturing had contracted by the largest amount since the depths of the global financial crisis in March 2009.
The prices of major industrial commodities—an indicator of global growth—have continued to fall, with predictions that they will go even lower. Interest rates on Brazilian government bonds have soared to 16 percent, an indication of the worsening situation in the country’s China-dependent economy. The value of currencies in so-called “emerging markets,” once touted as a new source of global growth, continue to fall and are at their lowest levels in 13 years.

Continuation of the zero rate could “encourage excessive leverage and other forms of risk taking that might undermine financial stability.” However this is not a future prospect. It has already taken place, with speculative and parasitic financial activities, such as mergers and acquisitions and share buybacks, returning to levels reached before the 2008 financial meltdown.


The glaring contradictions in Yellen’s speech and her obvious bewilderment underscore a point made long ago by Karl Marx.
Bourgeois economists, he noted, are unable to comprehend the real course of the economy because they seek to expunge the contradictions of the capitalist system and therefore view crises as an “aberration” and an external factor—a deviation from the normal—rather than arising from the very nature of the profit system itself.
 




Thursday, September 24, 2015

Today's Links

“Our main goal is to defend the Syrian state." Russian President Vladimir Putin


“I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security. And we must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue.” V Putin


1--The Obama Two-Step on Syria


clearly the most damaging information that revealed the extent of the Obama’s administration moral complicity with the carnage that it unleased in Syria was the report from the Defense Intelligence Agency ( DIA) written in 2012 that clearly documented that “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al- Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” being supported by “the West, Gulf countries and Turkey.” And like the report that exposed that white terrorist organizations represented a major threat to domestic security in the U.S., this report was also ignored by the administration.


When retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), was asked why the Obama administration didn’t act on his agency’s concerns, his response was that the administration apparently decided to ignore the findings, “I think it was a willful decision.”...


The geo-strategic objective for the Obama Administration was regime change, therefore, the plan implemented for that objective had nothing to do with wanting to liberate Syrians. In their cynical calculations, eliminating al-Assad outweighed any considerations for the longer term interests of the Syrian people. For the cold-hearted strategists of the Obama Administration, the talk of a people’s revolution was only a ploy to obscure their real intentions and confuse liberals and even some leftists...


by early 2013 when it became clear that the al-Assad government would not surrender, the destruction and dismemberment of the Syria State became the goal of U.S. policy. The impact that this decision would have on the people of Syria was of no concern for U.S. planners


2--Yemen as Laboratory: Why is the West So Silent About This Savage War?


In early June at a Council on Foreign Relations event, retired Major General Anwar Eshki of Saudi Arabia laid out the package. He was joined at the event by Ambassador Dore Gold of Israel. What Eshki said is not news in Saudi Arabia. But it is not often spoken out aloud, and certainly not reported with any measure of diligence in the West. Here is Eshki’s package:


“In the Arabian Peninsula, there is a promising oil field in the Empty Quarter [Rub’al-Khali] that will obligate the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemen to cooperate to protect it and its gains. This unity will be modeled—or rather, must be modeled—on the U.S. constitution that united America and granted it its democracy. As for the promising Ogaden [oil] field in Ethiopia, it will unite the Horn of Africa under Ethiopia’s leadership. And a bridge shall be built between the African continent and the Arabian Peninsula: The Al-Noor Bridge that shall connect the city of Al-Noor in Djibouti and the city of Al-Noor in Yemen.
All this demands a number of things:


1 Achieving peace between Arabs and Israel.
2 Changing the political system in Iran.
3 Unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
4 Achieving peace in Yemen and revitalizing the port of Aden because this will rebalance the demographics of employment in the Gulf.
5 Establishing an Arab force with American and European blessing to protect the countries of the Gulf as well as the Arab countries and to safeguard stability.


6 The speedy establishment of the foundations of democracy with Islamic principles in the Arab world.
7 Working toward the creation of a greater Kurdistan in peaceful ways as this will weaken Iranian, Turkish, and Iraqi ambitions and would split up a third of each of these countries in favor of Kurdistan.”
Why is the West so silent about Yemen? Perhaps these seven points provide the elements of an answer.”


3--A coup in the making? Saudi royal said to be calling to family members to replace king


4--Meet The Real Carly Fiorina


Corporate suicide....Skip ahead a few years and the Republican establishment appears to have decided that Carly Fiorina, disgraced HP CEO, “debate winner,” maker-up of stuff, will save them from Donald Trump. So the corporate media outlets are pushing Fiorina hard. Blogger Atrios, in “I Guess Jeff Sent A Memo” (referring to Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos), included this picture of a list of Washington Post columns, which is representative of what is going on across the media right now:


By the end of her term at HP, Fiorina had laid off up to 30,000 people. In the five months after she left in 2005 HP had to lay off another 15,000. In “Why I Still Think Fiorina Was a Terrible CEO,” Jeffrey Sonnenfeld (Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management at Yale School of Management) writes at Politico:
“In the five years that Fiorina was at Hewlett-Packard, the company lost over half its value. … During those years, stocks in companies like Apple and Dell rose. Google went public, and Facebook was launched.
… And I have to point out the obvious: If the board was wrong, the employees wrong, and the shareholders wrong—as Fiorina maintains—why in 10 years has she never been offered another public company to run?” 


5--U.S. Special Ops Forces Deployed in 135 Nations: 2015 Proves to Be Record-Breaking Year for the Military’s Secret Military


6--Putin Said to Plan Islamic State Strikes With or Without U.S


President Vladimir Putin, determined to strengthen Russia’s only military outpost in the Middle East, is preparing to launch unilateral airstrikes against Islamic State from inside Syria if the U.S. rejects his proposal to join forces, two people familiar with the matter said.
Putin’s preferred course of action, though, is for America and its allies to agree to coordinate their campaign against the terrorist group with Russia, Iran and the Syrian army, which the Obama administration has so far resisted, according to a person close to the Kremlin and an adviser to the Defense Ministry in Moscow...


Russia has sent two dozen fighter jets to a new airfield near Assad’s ancestral home of Latakia and deployed hundreds of servicemen to the airbase and a nearby port, according to satellite images and media reports in Moscow. The Kremlin said last week that Russia may enter combat operations if the government in Damascus requests help.
Any armed intervention by Russia will be coordinated with Iran, Syria’s main ally, and Assad’s government, the Defense Ministry adviser said....


Putin, who came to power fighting Islamist separatists in the Caucasus in 1999, has reason to fear the rise of jihadists in Syria. Their numbers include about 2,000 Russian-speakers, according to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, raising the threat of attacks inside Russia.


Russia’s involvement in Syria will help bring stability to the region and bolster the chances of defeating Islamic State, Eshki said by phone. The Syrian opposition should “put its hand in Russia’s hand,” he said..


7--Putin the Great


Well, at least the White House and the State Department seem to have finally understood that those Sukhois and surface-to-air missiles now in Syria are there to protect the Latakia air base. It was up to the Pentagon to elucidate a clueless John Kerry; these are for “force protection”.
The new batch includes 4 Su-30SM multirole combat jets; 12 Su-25 ground attack jets; 12 Su-24M attack fighters; and six possible Ka-52 attack helicopters. According to IHS Jane’s, these provide “a significant capability to target rebels opposed to the Syrian government and to secure the Latakia homeland of President Bashar al-Assad.”


8---Putin's motives in Syria are clear: protecting Assad


The agreement in July between Turkey and the United States, allowing the U.S. to use the Turkish air base at Incirlik to launch strikes against ISIS, also likely influenced Mr. Putin. The development greatly facilitated the U.S. military effort because the U.S. would no longer have to exclusively depend on long-range sorties from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. And while the U.S. said it planned to use Incirlik only to launch attacks on ISIS, Moscow could not be sure of this. Turkish President Recep Erdogan has made no secret of his desire to oust Mr. Assad, and Mr. Putin may have felt that Mr. Erdogan, together with other anti-Assad forces in the world, could convince President Obama to take a more aggressive position toward Syria, especially because Mr. Assad has killed far more Syrians than ISIS has and because the existing administration policy toward Syria had been an abject failure....


Under these circumstances, Mr. Putin evidently decided to put Russian aircraft and helicopters into Syria, after first fortifying (with tanks, armored personnel carriers, air-defense missiles and troops) and enlarging an air base south of Latakia. With Russian aircraft flying in the skies of Syria, the threshold for any possible U.S. attack on the Assad regime would be raised considerably. To reinforce this point Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for the resumption of military-to-military talks between Russia and the United States, previously broken off because of the Russian seizure of the Crimean Peninsula. The U.S., perhaps fearing a clash with Russian aircraft, has agreed to the request.


Through his actions, Mr. Putin has demonstrated that Moscow stands by its ally. He has thrust Russia into the heart of Middle East politics, thus achieving another of his goals, which is to demonstrate Russia is again a great power. The danger for Russia, however, is "mission creep." Should ISIS threaten the Russian-controlled air base, Mr. Putin might be tempted to send in more troops to protect it. Nonetheless, Mr. Putin has evidently decided that the risk is worth it.


9--ISIS War Czar Gen. Allen to Resign, Citing Opposition to Policies
           Had Been Pushing White House to Escalate War Even Further


10--EU adopts plan to keep out refugees


11--China, emerging economies and commodities roil financial markets


The very economies that were hailed as the engines of global growth following the Wall Street crash of September 2008—China and “emerging” markets such as Brazil, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, etc.—are now at the forefront of a deflationary crisis that threatens to plunge the world into a full-scale depression....


Commodity markets are experiencing their sharpest downturn since the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. David Hufton of PVM, an oil brokerage, told the Financial Times: “The Fed decision is alarming because of the implications. It implies that Fed policymakers are so concerned about events in China and emerging markets that they are prepared to risk… the US economy financially overheating yet again.”...


12--Assad may take part in Syria transition, Erdoğan says


“Either a transition process without al-Assad, or with al-Assad, is possible. But what is the required is the opposition … Nobody can foresee Syria’s future with al-Assad. It’s not possible to accept a person responsible for killing 300,000 to 350,000 people, a dictator,” Erdoğan said after performing his Eid al-Adha prayer early on Sept. 24 in Istanbul.

Elaborating his discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sept. 23, Erdoğan said he “could not see a clear [perspective] in Russia’s approach to Syria.”

But he also said that the Turkish and Russian foreign ministers would launch a new working group on the Syrian crisis, according to an agreement reached in talks with Putin.

“We have decided to work on this issue at the U.N. General Assembly as a group of three foreign ministers from the U.S., Turkey and Russia,” Erdoğan said, adding that Iran and Saudi Arabia could also be involved in the process. With the participation of the EU, Jordan and Qatar, efforts for Syria could be extended, the president also said.

Erdoğan added that he told Putin that al-Assad’s current aim is to declare a “boutique Syria” of 15 percent of the country from Damascus to Latakia, including Homs.

The Turkish president also reiterated Ankara’s wish to create a “safe haven” in Syria, which it hopes will be cleared of “terrorist organizations


13--Erdogan softens approach to Assad


The comments represent a softening of Turkey’s position towards Assad, whose four-year war against rebel groups and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters has claimed more than 200,000 lives.
The United States and Britain have already made similar shifts to their stances on Syria, as Russia bolsters its support for Assad with a military buildup in the country. US Secretary of State John Kerry recently said that the timing of Assad's exit following a peace deal would be negotiable.
That had prompted a swift rebuke from Turkey as Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu rejected any solution that does not exclude Assad from the start. Last Saturday, he clung to Ankara's firm position, stating that, after committing brutal atrocities against his own people, Assad cannot be part of any solution.
Backing armed opposition groups fighting the regime, Ankara places most of blame on the Assad regime for carnage and devastation in Syria, clinging to the view that the regime's brutal methods to crush upheaval has been the chief reason that fed extremism


14--Russia’s game plan in Syria




The Financial Times, citing Oxford Economics, reported Wednesday that emerging market gross domestic product growth rates are set to fall to 3.6 percent this year on average, their lowest level since the 2008–2009 financial crisis. The newspaper cited analysts at Commerzbank as saying: “The majority of market participants are concerned that China could see a hard landing which would drag the global economy—or at least the emerging economies—down with it.”
These fears were compounded Wednesday when a new report on manufacturing in China showed the biggest contraction since March of 2009. The preliminary Caixin/Markit China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dropped to 47.0 for September, falling below market expectations of 47.5 and declining from August’s final 47.3. Levels below 50 signify a contraction.


15-- Game changer in Syria  http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/russia-real-game-changer-in-syria--.aspx?pageID=449&nID=88863&NewsCatID=429


http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/09/iran-welcomes-russia-in-syria.html#ixzz3mZaru6Cx

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/09/iran-welcomes-russia-in-syria.html#ixzz3mZamc7nI

Read more:
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/09/turkey-usa-syria-ankara-angered-kerry-remarks.html#ixzz3mZYE9hOj
...
President Putin has effectively declared to the world that Russia intends to fight a war directly against ISIS and similar groups in Syria, while keeping the Syrian regime as a key ally in this war. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-09-21/putins-plan-moscow-handles-syria-us-looks-after-Iraq


"Satellite imagery provided by AllSourceAnalysis confirms the recent arrival of Russian main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, and other military equipment at an airbase in Syria’s coastal Latakia province, indicating that Russia has deployed troops inside Syria. Concurrent military exercises inside Russia with the stated mission of training for long-range deployments of airborne troops suggest that Russia may intend to deploy additional forces, possibly further inside Syria..... The Russian deployment to Syria is game-changing. It will alter the nature of international negotiations, compromise and weaken the cohesion and efforts of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, strengthen the Assad regime, and initiate direct Russo-Iranian military operations ....The U.S. and its partners must fundamentally reassess their approach to the Syrian conflict in light of this critical inflection."  ISW study linked below
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2015/09/httpwwwnytimescom20150919worldeuropeus-to-begin-military-talks-with-russia-on-syriahtml.html



“Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations — military force. The United States has overstepped its national borders in every area.  And this hasn't helped to resolve matters at all...


The US has brought us to the abyss of one conflict after another....making  political solutions impossible....As a result, no one feels safe. Let me repeat that: No one feels safe."






The Obama administration's original plan was to remove Bashar al Assad form power and replace him with a US puppet. Having failed on the account, Washington has moved on to Plan B, support the many disparate armed militias and al Qaida-linked groups in order to effectively destroy the country transforming it into a chaotic, ungovernable failed state that poses no threat to Israel's regional hegemony or US imperial ambitions.
 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Today's Links

Archive: WHAT PUTIN SAID:  A Plea from Caution from Russia  Sept 11, 2013


RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.


Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.    
   
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.

The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.

Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.

Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”

But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.

No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.

The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.
We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.

A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.

I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.
If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.



What Putin said Today:  Speech of Vladimir Putin before the Collective Security Treaty Organisation’s Collective Security Council in Dushanbe, Vineyard of the Saker


The state of affairs in Syria is very serious. The so-called Islamic State controls significant stretches of territory in Iraq and Syria. Terrorists are already publicly stating that they have targets set on Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Their plans include expanding activities to Europe, Russia, Central and Southeast Asia. We are concerned by this...Basic common sense and a sense of responsibility for global and regional security require the international community to join forces against this threat.

 We need to set aside geopolitical ambitions, leave behind so-called double standards and the policy of direct or indirect use of individual terrorist groups to achieve one’s own opportunistic goals, including changes in undesirable governments and regimes..... "

So, Putin sincerely wants to assemble a coalition to defeat ISIS, but he is not going to rubber-stamp Washington's regime change plans nor is he going to go along with the wacky notion that one group of Islamic extremists can be separated from another group of Islamic extremists. In his book, they're all the same; they're all homicidal maniacs who have to be eliminated in order to restore security.

We support the Syrian government in countering terrorist aggression. We provide and will continue to provide the necessary military technology assistance and urge other nations to join in.....
Of course, it is imperative to think about the political changes in Syria. And we know that President Assad is ready to involve the moderate segment of the opposition, the healthy opposition forces in these processes, in managing the state. But the need to join forces in the fight against terrorism is certainly at the forefront today. Without this, it is impossible to resolve the other urgent and growing problems, including the problem of refugees we are seeing now........
I am certain that we must resume concrete discussions on creating Euro-Atlantic systems for equitable and indivisible security... The OSCE and other international organisations can be used to agree on legally binding guarantees concerning the indivisibility of security for all nations, achieve observance of important fundamental principles of international law (respecting the sovereignty of states, not meddling in their domestic affairs), and strengthen regulations on the inadmissibility of appeasing anti-state, anti-constitutional coups and the promotion of radical and extremist forces."



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Today's links

1--BofA: peak in liquidity = peak of excess returns = trough in volatility
Deflationary recovery means “growth”, “yield”, “quality” remain structurally bid. We stay long US$, volatility, real estate & stocks>bond, but upside for risk assets now constrained until unambiguous handoff from liquidity to growth.


2--The Russian leadership has decided that Syria is a key guarantor of its interests in the Middle East, and that the Russian-Iranian alliance in Syria is a strategic priority.
Many considerations are behind this thinking. First, Russia is present on the ground to exercise influence, by turning the port in Tartous to a Russian military base, and the civilian airport in Latakia to a Russian air base.

 Another consideration is the oil and gas reserves off the Syrian coast and its implications for Russian oil and gas interests.
There is also the consideration related to restoring Russian prestige, after the United States excluded Russia from Iraq and the war on terrorism there, and after NATO "tricked" Russia in Libya.
Another major consideration for Russia is seeking to prevent Islamists from taking power, as the United States and Britain tried to engineer in Egypt by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Russia is seriously worried about Islamist terrorism, and is convinced that its victory in Syria would bring it to Russian soil.
...Russia moved to replace the Geneva process with a new one that does away with the fundamental idea in the Geneva I communique, namely, establishing a transitional governing body with executive powers. For this reason, President Putin spoke about Assad's willingness to share power with the "sound" opposition - as defined by the Russian and Syrian governments....
 Russian President Vladimir Putin tasked his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to chair a ministerial session of the Security Council titled "Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Settlement of Conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and Countering the Terrorist Threat in the Region."

 President Putin has effectively declared to the world that Russia intends to fight a war directly against ISIS and similar groups in Syria, while keeping the Syrian regime as a key ally in this war. Russia wants the United States to be a military partner - including of the Syrian regime - in this bid....


The US-led international coalition, which comprises Arab countries, and which has focused on Iraq, does not include Russia and Iran as official members, even through Iran is a secret partner in the war on ISIS in Iraq. This coalition has proven its failure against ISIS, and has failed to factor in the important political elements that are key to success.....


The Russian-Iranian concern for the fate of the Syrian regime led to a shift in a direction opposite to the one predicted by President Obama, who had claimed Moscow and Tehran were willing to abandon Assad to preserve the regime. Both capital have instead decided that discussing Assad's fate is misplaced or premature, and that the developments instead require increasing political and military support for the Assad regime.
President Putin's announcement of this decision and linking it to the war on terrorism ushers in a new phase in the Russian role in Syria. Putin spoke about a regional-international alliance, and is now spoking about an international decision to build a coalition against terrorism. The bottom line is that Russia has decided to fight a war on terrorism in Syria.

 The requirements of the Russian war on terror in Syria, according to the Russian president, include having Moscow in the lead. Putin is practically saying to Obama: You run the war on ISIS in Iraq, and I run the war on ISIS in Syria. This would require Washington to - publicly or tacitly - agree to Russia's strategy to win that war in partnership with the regime.


3--The Beauty of Truth and the Beast of Dogma John P. Hussman, Ph.D., Hussman Funds


The real problem isn’t what the Fed may do, but the ultimately unavoidable consequences of what the Fed has already done. The cost of reckless Fed-induced yield seeking will likely be felt first in the financial markets as previous paper gains evaporate, while defaults on excessive low-quality covenant-lite credit will emerge over the course of the economic cycle, and the impact of malinvestment will be to limit productivity and economic growth over the longer run. This is all rather inevitable except in the eyes of those who haven’t watched and memorized a dozen adaptations of the same movie. ....


investors should remember that the Fed did not tighten in 1929, but instead began cutting interest rates on February 11, 1930 – nearly two and a half years before the market bottomed. The Fed cut rates on January 3, 2001 just as a two-year bear market collapse was starting, and kept cutting all the way down. The Fed cut the federal funds rate on September 18, 2007 – several weeks before the top of the market, and kept cutting all the way down.


“What will matter significantly for investors is the condition of market internals, credit spreads, and other risk-sensitive measures in the event that U.S. economic activity begins to further reflect the downturn that is already evident abroad. It is that evidence of investor risk-preferences that will determine the proper response to any change in Fed policy.”

In short, my view is that activist Fed policy is both ineffective and reckless (and the historical data bears this out), and that the Federal Reserve has pushed the financial markets to a precipice from which no gentle retreat is ultimately likely. Similar precipices, such as 1929 and 2000, and even lesser precipices like 1906, 1937, 1973 and 2007 have always had unfortunate endings (see All Their Eggs in Janet’s Basket for a review). A quarter-point hike will not cause anything. The causes are already baked in the cake. A rate hike may be a trigger with respect to timing, but that’s all. History suggests we should place our attention on valuations and market internals in any event.


Moscow began “quiet support” to the Syrian regime
  • A Russian “stormy support” would follow to regain the initiative on the ground and recovery main cities


  • “Special Elite Russian combat forces arrived to Hama, Aleppo, Homs, Damascus, as well as Zabadani to monitor, participate and study the military map on the field and suggest future workflow Combat plans. These Special Forces submit to the operating room suggestions to determine the full plan to start the flow of further Russian special combat forces and troops on the battlefield all over the Syrian map where it is necessary”......


    Russia is beginning with what we define as a” quiet support ” supplying advanced technology and preparing a spearhead force before reaching a further level we call the” stormy Support “. We expect a large presence of troops that will be supported by Russian Air Force. There are around 2500 Russian fighters, military expert and consultant in Syria. The number is expected to go much higher in the near future “, confirm the source that is in contact with the Russian units on the Syrian ground.
    “There are two aspects for the Russian intervention in Syria: In the first, the front line should be reinforced, maintained and is expected later to recover more lands and lost cities. The second is to hunt and bomb the Islamic State (ISIS) group leaders as well as other extremist groups in Syria, without exception. There are no red lines for the Russian operational tactics against terrorism that may extend to Iraq if necessary. The Kremlin has decided to face and fight terrorism by all means and is determine to eliminate, not to contain, ISIS. The Russians are aware of the necessity of cooperation with the U.S. led coalition over the sky of Syria to prevent unnecessarily accidents “, the source said.


    The senior commander explained, “Israel and the United States are also concerned about the possibility that Hezbollah could benefit from the advanced Russian military equipment pouring into Syria. As far as it concerns us, Damascus and Hezbollah are strategically linked and share the same destiny. Any sophisticated weapon owned by Syria and Iran that an organized but irregular force, like Hezbollah, can use in case of war against Israel is already in our possession. Israel is raising the alarm by saying that its “national security” could be in jeopardy if Hezbollah has this or that technology or could benefit from Russia’s presence to transport more weapons into Lebanon. Russia’s answer is that its own national security is already in jeopardy due to terrorism expansion. Russia is not fighting a battle but a war on terror on Syrian soil and elsewhere and is present in a hostile environment. Russia will pursue and won’t give up upon in this war, in Syria, regardless any possible international pressure to persuade it otherwise”....


    From MoA:


    US/Kerry says Assad must go, timing down to negotiation
    Kerry said the United States welcomed Russia's involvement in tackling the Islamic State in Syria but a worsening refugee crisis underscored the need to find a compromise that could also lead to political change in the country.
    "We need to get to the negotiation. That is what we're looking for and we hope Russia and Iran, and any other countries with influence, will help to bring about that, because that's what is preventing this crisis from ending," said Kerry.
    ...
    Kerry said of Assad's removal: "For the last year and a half we have said Assad has to go, but how long and what the modality is ...that's a decision that has to be made in the context of the Geneva process and negotiation."
    Kerry added: "It doesn't have to be on day one or month one ... there is a process by which all the parties have to come together and reach an understanding of how this can best be achieved."
    Posted by: Oui | Sep 20, 2015 5:32:51 AM | 32
    The ‘magic words:’ How a simple phrase enmeshed the U.S. in Syria’s crisis
    After a month of interagency emails, intelligence assessments and legal reviews, the White House settled on a written statement that President Barack Obama would issue on Aug. 18, 2011. There was a preamble hailing the peaceful demonstrators who stood up to the regime’s “ferocious brutality,” and then the money line:
    “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”


    5--George Galloway on Corbyn http://www.presstv.ir/Video/2015/09/18/429722/Britain-Tory-David-Cameron-Jeremy-Corbyn


    6--Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says the solution to the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe lies in "serious" fight against terrorism.
    "The solution to this problem is to seriously fight and counter terrorism," Rouhani said in a meeting with the visiting Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Sunday....


    “Terrorism should not be viewed as a problem limited to our region; rather it [should be considered as] a global scourge and fighting it requires global determination,” Rouhani said.
    He noted that most challenges in the Middle East have been imposed from outside the region


    7--75 US-trained militants enter Syria via Turkey: Report


    8--Putin announces his unreserved support for national sovereignty, international law and non intervention. He declares his wholehearted opposition to regime change and support of terrorist organizations for geopolitical gain ("anti-constitutional coups and the promotion of radical and extremist forces....")  Did Putin just declare war on the US?


    I am certain that we must resume concrete discussions on creating Euro-Atlantic systems for equitable and indivisible security; we need to carry out a full inventory of existing problems and disagreements. This analysis can be used to achieve a discussion of the principles of sustainable political development. The OSCE and other international organisations can be used to agree on legally binding guarantees concerning the indivisibility of security for all nations, achieve observance of important fundamental principles of international law (respecting the sovereignty of states, not meddling in their domestic affairs), and strengthen regulations on the inadmissibility of appeasing anti-state, anti-constitutional coups and the promotion of radical and extremist forces....


    the situation in Syria and Iraq; they are the same as the situation in Afghanistan, in that they worry all of us. Please allow me to say a few words on the situation in this region, the situation around Syria.
    The state of affairs there is very serious. The so-called Islamic State controls significant stretches of territory in Iraq and Syria. Terrorists are already publicly stating that they have targets set on Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Their plans include expanding activities to Europe, Russia, Central and Southeast Asia.
    We are concerned by this, especially since militants undergoing ideological indoctrinations and military training by ISIS come from many nations around the world – including, unfortunately, European nations, the Russian Federation, and many former Soviet republics. And, of course, we are concerned by their possible return to our territories.


    Basic common sense and a sense of responsibility for global and regional security require the international community to join forces against this threat. We need to set aside geopolitical ambitions, leave behind so-called double standards and the policy of direct or indirect use of individual terrorist groups to achieve one’s own opportunistic goals, including changes in undesirable governments and regimes.
    As you know, Russia has proposed rapidly forming a broad coalition to counteract the extremists. It must unite everyone who is prepared to make, or is already making, an input into fighting terrorism, just as Iraq and Syria’s armed forces are doing today. We support the Syrian government – I want to say this – in countering terrorist aggression. We provide and will continue to provide the necessary military technology assistance and urge other nations to join in.


    Clearly, without active participation by the Syrian authorities and military, without participation by the Syrian army, as the soldiers fighting with the Islamic State say, you cannot expel terrorists from this nation, as well as the region overall, it is impossible to protect the multi-ethnic and multi-faith people of Syria from elimination, enslavement and barbarism.
    Of course, it is imperative to think about the political changes in Syria. And we know that President Assad is ready to involve the moderate segment of the opposition, the healthy opposition forces in these processes, in managing the state. But the need to join forces in the fight against terrorism is certainly at the forefront today. Without this, it is impossible to resolve the other urgent and growing problems, including the problem of refugees we are seeing now....


    the support of the legitimate government in Syria is not in any way related to the flow of refugees from nations like Libya, which I already mentioned, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and many others. We were not the ones that destabilised the situation in those nations, in whole regions of the world. We did not destroy government institutions there, creating power vacuums that were immediately filled by terrorists. So nobody can say that we were the cause of this problem.
    But right now, as I said, we need to focus on joining forces between the Syrian government, the Kurdish militia, the so-called moderate opposition, and nations in the region to fight the threat against Syria’s very statehood and the fight against terrorism – so that together, with our efforts combined, we can solve this problem.


    9--US Syria Strategy Officially Unravels: Kerry Admits Timetable For Assad Exit Is Completely Unknown


    10--Islamic State threat to Russia is real – FSB
    11--Russia is ready to rip


    Russian business newspaper Kommersant cited Israeli military expert Yakov Kedmi, who emphasized that with the creation of a base at Latakia capable of serving as a point of entry for Russian military supplies and equipment, including advanced aviation, "it will now be extremely important to specify the conditions and to coordinate in order to avoid a direct clash between the Israeli and Russian armies, and this is a topic which is best to be discussed at the highest level."


    12-- Putin's statements about Russia's role in the resolution of global conflicts have sounded loud and clear."

    ..Appearing on the podium of the UN on September 28, following a ten-year absence, Vladimir Putin will not be coming empty-handed," Leventhal noted. "He will outline his proposal to resolve the crisis in Syria, including proposals for dialogue between Assad and the so-called 'healthy opposition', that is, the Free Syrian Army and moderate opposition. He will propose the formation of a coalition for the fight against ISIL, but in a form which suits Russia."
    13--Russia won't give up on assad


    As I wrote in my last column, over the past few weeks Russia has begun to boost its military presence in Syria.
    Not only does Moscow intend to be more visible, including playing a larger role in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) by increasing its support for its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia is also working to put itself center stage in efforts to broker a political solution for the Syrian crisis. The Kremlin's goal is to safeguard Russia's strategic and military interests in a region where the balance of power is rapidly shifting.
    While nothing has been officially confirmed, Russia seems to be in the process of establishing its first military air base in the coastal province of Latakia, where the Assad family claims its family roots are. Latakia airport is undergoing large-scale renovation. This would significantly boost the presence Russia already has through its naval base at Tartus in the Eastern Mediterranean region. There is also talk of a new naval base being created at Ramaileh.


    14--Russia has been providing military assistance and expert training to its ally, the Assad regime, for a long time. Recently there has been a visible increase. As of the beginning of this week, the Pentagon reported that it had tracked a total of 15 Russian Antonov-124 Condor flights into Syria, reflecting a steady stream of military cargo into the country with an average of two Russian cargo planes flying into Syria each day. There is a growing consensus that Russia is preparing to bring in fighter jets in addition to the dozen or so tanks it has already delivered to a Syrian airfield near Latakia.


    Latakia is one of the few remaining strongholds of Assad that is under the strong protection of the Shia militia. Russia has also reportedly sent some three dozen armored personnel carriers, about 15 new artillery pieces, and housing for some 1,500 people. This seems to indicate that Russia is preparing to build a new military hub. The coastal region offers Russia vital access to the Mediterranean Sea. Russia already has a naval base in the port city of Tartus, about 60 miles south of Latakia, that it is reportedly upgrading. Concerns over Russia's plans led to Washington asking Bulgaria and Greece to close their airspace to Russia. Bulgaria did so, Greece did not.


    According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, “supporting the Syrian regime is essential if the world wants to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] … air strikes alone are not enough … and it is necessary to cooperate with ground troops and the Syrian army.” Hence at the very least it seems the Kremlin wants to help Assad, by giving a boost to his flagging military in order to preserve the limited control his regime now has over the country


    15--Kerry discusses Syria with Turkish FM after talks with Russia


    Kerry reiterated al-Assad must go, saying the timing of his departure should be decided through negotiations.

    “It doesn’t have to be on day one or month one. There is a process by which all the parties have to come together and reach an understanding of how this can best be achieved,” he said on Sept. 18, speaking after talks with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

    Al-Assad’s removal has to be made in the context of the Geneva process and negotiation, Kerry said.
    During a press conference on Sept. 18, Sinirlioğlu ruled out al-Assad’s role in Syria’s future or in any settlement process.

    “[Al-Assad] is already buried in history as a leader who declared war on its own people. Al-Assad has no role to play whether in Syria’s future or in efforts to bring stability to Syria,” Sinirlioğlu stated.

    Following his visit to Russia, Turkey’s top diplomat reiterated Ankara disagreed with Moscow over ways to handle the Syrian conflict, with a particular difference of view of the regime being run by the Syrian president.

    “Our view is that al-Assad cannot play a role in Syria reaching stability again because he is the principal one who is responsible for this matter and is on top of those who are responsible for the division in Syria. But the Russians state that this should be decided by the Syrian people,” he said in an interview with the state-run Anadolu Agency.

    Erdoğan to visit Russia
    Meanwhile, Erdoğan will pay a one-day visit to Russia on Sept. 23 and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The main agenda of the talks is expected to be the Syrian crisis.


    16--One of its most vocal supporters, Anne-Marie Slaughter, had very clear ideas about the way forward: “Establishing ‘free zones’ would require nations like Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to arm the opposition soldiers with anti-tank, counter-sniper and portable antiaircraft weapons. Special forces from countries like Qatar, Turkey and possibly Britain and France could offer tactical and strategic advice to the Free Syrian Army forces. Sending them in is logistically and politically feasible; some may be there already.”
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2015/09/recipe-for-disaster-how-supporting-syrian-rebels-put-us-foreign-policy-into-disarray.html

    The budget deficits have been shrinking under Obama which means that the government share of aggregate spending has gone down which reduces growth.
    The same is true with government employment which has shrunk under Obama more than any president in the post war era.
    Obama may be the best Republican president we ever had, but he's a pretty shitty progressive. He is, in fact, America's high priest of austerity...more Milton Friedman than the original.
    Additionally, congress has relinquished any role in providing stimulus for the economy, the whole kit-n-kabootle has been handed over to the Fed on a silver platter...
    The Fed provides trillions for financial markets and underwater banks, but not a dime dribbles down to the workerbees below. Stocks have tripled in 6 years while workers get bupkis.
    Thursday's FOMC meeting just confirmed that the recovery is a fraud and the Fed has no idea what its doing. So investors bailed out.
    Can you blame them?

    Saturday, September 19, 2015

    Today's Links

    1--US begins military talks with Russia on Syria, NYT


    "We are not saying Assad and all his cronies have to go on day one," Mr. Hammond told a parliamentary committee. "If there was a process that was agreed, including with the Russians and the Iranians, which took a period of months and there was a transition out during that period of months, we could certainly discuss that."


    2--U.S. says Assad must go, timing down to negotiation


    Speaking after talks with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in London, Kerry called on Russia and Iran to use their influence over Assad to convince him to negotiate a political transition.


    3--Obama to nominate first openly gay service secretary to lead the Army (weapons pusher, Fanning)


    The U.S. nuclear triad — comprised of land-based ballistic missiles, long-range bombers and submarines that can launch ballistic missiles — is aging and in need of modernization or replacement. Russia’s military activities in Ukraine may push the U.S. government to move forward with procuring new weapons, said Loren Thompson, an analyst at the Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Va.-based think tank.

    The most expensive leg of the triad to modernize is the Ohio-class submarine replacement, which the Navy wants to begin building in 2021. At about $6 billion per copy, the service will likely struggle to fit procurement costs into its shipbuilding budget, which is about $15 billion per year.

    The Air Force also intends to purchase a long-range strike bomber at $550 million per aircraft to replace the B-2 and B-52, Undersecretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning said earlier in March. He indicated that the price of the aircraft is causing the service to cut back on desired capabilities.

    Although the Air Force plans to start building the new bombers in the mid 2020s, officials want to delay certification for nuclear operation until the 2040s, Thompson said. “If concern about a resurgent Russian threat persists, though, it may move up the date when the new bomber can contribute to nuclear deterrence,” he wrote in a March 20 editorial for Forbes.

    The service soon must also decide whether to upgrade its collection of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles or pursue new delivery vehicles. It is conducting an analysis of alternatives due later this year.

    “The most important military consideration that Vladimir Putin overlooked in mounting his annexation of Crimea is how it would bolster the resolve of western nations to maintain their defenses. … Many people in Washington might have been prepared to forego spending money on a new generation of nuclear weapons before Putin made his move, but he has now changed the strategic calculation,” Thompson said.



    4--German government adopts drastic measures to deter refugees


    The German government wants to drive away refugees by leaving them to starve and refusing them all medical support. A draft law to this effect has been in discussion between the various ministries since Monday and will be debated in parliament in October....
     Three weeks ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel, responding to a wave of solidarity from the German population, had promised to let in refugees from war-torn areas in the Middle East, underscoring this with the words, “We can do it”. Since then, her government has systematically worked to close off Germany’s borders—and the other European countries have followed suit....
    ...
    . They are to be scared away through hunger and homelessness, and transported back like cattle to countries where unspeakable conditions prevail and where they are confined in virtual concentration camps....





    Hungarian President Viktor Orban has received much international criticism for his brutal treatment of refugees. However, by closing the border he is merely doing what the German and other European governments have demanded of him. By tightening up the asylum laws, Germany is adopting Orban’s own brutal methods.


    5--The resurrection of borders in Europe  NB


    6--Wanna See The 'Trick' In Trickle-Down?


    In the chart below I’ve indexed real median personal income against real corporate profits (before tax w/o adjustments) to the beginning of 2009, the point at which central bankers implemented trickle down economics to rescue Americans from the largest gov/banking policy induced disaster in the history of the world.   Let’s have a look at the results of the bankers trickle down strategy….
    Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 11.50.58 AM
    Go figure eh….  Anyone think moar QE is the answer??


    7--Pollsters arrested in Turkey
    Some pollsters working for the Gezici Research and Polling Company were detained on Saturday as they were on the job, the company said.
    The company announced on its official Twitter account on Saturday that its pollsters were detained and prevented from doing their job. It was not clear what the pollsters are accused of but the company is known for its almost accurate predictions as opposed to increasing number of pro-government companied which are used to manipulate public opinion ahead of the elections. The crackdown comes with few weeks left for the snap elections scheduled for Nov. 1.
    In a recent survey conducted, the company said the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is losing public support, with its percentage of votes falling from 40.8 percent in the June 7 general election to 39.2 percent in August.
    Back in February, auditors from the Finance Ministry carried out a raid at the Gezici Research Company's office in İstanbul following the company released showing votes for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) decreasing below 40 percent


    8---Turkey's governors denied 282 of 290 army requests for anti-terrorism operations in 2014


    The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) filed 290 requests for permits to conduct anti-terror operations in three Turkish provinces with the corresponding governor’s offices in 2014, with only eight of them receiving a positive response, daily Hürriyet has reported.


    9--With or without al-Assad?



    Thursday, September 17, 2015

    Today's Links

    1--Cameron: No-fly zone back on the table. Clash with Moscow possible
    2--What Putin said


    In essence what Putin is saying is very simple: the Islamic State is an existential threat to everyone and all those involved in the Syrian civil war should put aside their differences and their geopolitical strategies to combine against it.


    To that end Putin proposes a revival of what is in essence the peace plan to bring an end to the Syrian conflict proposed by Kofi Annan at the Geneva Conference in 2012 – that there should be negotiations between the Syrian factions to set up a power sharing government until a final settlement of the conflict can be agreed.


    As Putin points out, Assad has accepted this proposal (“President Assad is ready to involve the moderate segment of the opposition forces in these processes, in managing the state”)....


    Above all Putin remains adamantly opposed to regime change.  He points out that it is the West’s relentless pursuit of regime change that has destabilized the entire region, and which has caused the refugee exodus...
    The following are extracts from a speech made by Putin in Dushanbe taken from Russia’s Presidential website 
    I mentioned the situation in Syria and Iraq; they are the same as the situation in Afghanistan, in that they worry all of us. Please allow me to say a few words on the situation in this region, the situation around Syria. 
    The state of affairs there is very serious. The so-called Islamic State controls significant stretches of territory in Iraq and Syria. Terrorists are already publicly stating that they have targets set on Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Their plans include expanding activities to Europe, Russia, Central and Southeast Asia.
    We are concerned by this, especially since militants undergoing ideological indoctrinations and military training by ISIS come from many nations around the world – including, unfortunately, European nations, the Russian Federation, and many former Soviet republics. And, of course, we are concerned by their possible return to our territories. 
    Basic common sense and a sense of responsibility for global and regional security require the international community to join forces against this threat. We need to set aside geopolitical ambitions, leave behind so-called double standards and the policy of direct or indirect use of individual terrorist groups to achieve one’s own opportunistic goals, including changes in undesirable governments and regimes.
    As you know, Russia has proposed rapidly forming a broad coalition to counteract the extremists.....


    3-- Engineered Refugee Crisis to Justify "Safe Havens" in Syria
    4--Assad: The Interview


     As you know, we are at war with terrorism, and this terrorism is supported by foreign powers. It means that we are in a state of complete war. I believe that any society and any patriotic individuals, and any parties which truly belong to the people should unite when there is a war against an enemy; whether that enemy is in the form of domestic terrorism or foreign terrorism. If we ask any Syrian today about what they want, the first thing they would say is: we want security and safety for every person and every family


    5--How Wall Street took over the auto industry


    6--US-Russian tensions rise over Syria


    7--US-Russian tensions rise over Syria


    This US-led air war is threatening to heat up, with Australia announcing that its warplanes launched their first air strikes inside Syria on Monday, claiming they were directed against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets.
    French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, meanwhile, told France Inter Radio Wednesday that French warplanes would launch their own air strike in coming weeks in an attempt to stop ISIS advances, particularly near the city of Aleppo, Syria’s largely destroyed former industrial and commercial capital


    Putin also stated that Syria’s President Assad was prepared for a political compromise with “the healthy part of the opposition.”
    Washington and its regional allies have insisted that no compromise is possible outside of Assad’s ouster. Some European officials, however, have called this policy into question, fearing that a precipitous collapse of the Assad regime would only result in either ISIS or the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front overrunning Damascus.
    British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond, suggested last week that Assad could remain in office during a six-month “transitional period,” a scheme that was rejected by the Syrian government, which questioned the right of London to impose the length and outcome of such a process.
    ...
    What is clear is that Washington’s principal objective in Syria is not the defeat of ISIS, but rather regime change. Its aim is to deprive Russia of its one ally in the Middle Eastand its sole foreign naval baseas part of a broader strategy of militarily imposing US hegemony over the energy-rich region, and more broadly over the Eurasian landmass.
    To that end, US imperialism is escalating its military threats against Russia. Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord, in an interview with Bloomberg news, indicated that the US 2017 military budget is being reshaped largely in preparation for a confrontation with Moscow.
    “The thing that we have the most thinking to do about in this budget compared to any other previous budgets is Russia,” McCord said, adding that this is “in terms of are we doing the right things in investments and posture


    8-EPI---from 2000–2014, the median income for non-elderly households fell from $68,941 to $60,462, a decline of $8,479, or 12.3 percent


    Since 1973, the median man working full-time, full-year has seen no sustained growth, dropping from $53,291 in 1973 to $51,902 in 2002 and falling further over the 2002-07 recovery and the recession to $50,383 in 2014


    9--El Erian  Rate hikes?
    Financial markets have become excessively reliant on central banks. This dependence has significantly untethered markets from underlying economic and corporate fundamentals. Years of rock-bottom interest rates and liquidity injections, both wrapped in a "volatility suppression" monetary regime, have encouraged investors to believe they can safely venture far and wide in search of returns that provide little cushion for the risks incurred.
    There is fear that a signal of a change in the Fed's interest rate regime, no matter how small, would trigger very large capital flows and portfolio reallocations, leading to frightening financial asset air pockets that would be aggravated by patchy liquidity.


    10--Jeremy Corbyn's QE for the people is exactly what the world may soon need
    The rich have made a killing off QE. Next time it should be injected directly into the veins of the real economy ...


    Jeremy Lawson, from Standard Life, gave his blessing to radical action this week, arguing central banks should be willing to fund fiscal stimulus directly, and even inject money "directly into household bank accounts" if need be.
    Mr Corbyn's ideas are a variant of "helicopter money", the term coined by Milton Friedman, the doyen of monetary orthodoxy, lest we forget.
    Friedman did not, of course, mean that banknotes should be dropped from the sky, though they could be in extremis, but rather that central banks have the means to create money to fund tax cuts, or to cover state spending, until the economy comes back to
    ...
    Variants of People's QE were tried in the inter-war years. Japan's Christian prime minister Takahashi Korekiyo instructed the Bank of Japan in 1932 to fund a blitz of fiscal spending until deflation was defeated, pulling his country out of the Great Depression remarkably quickly.
    The European Central Bank is dipping its toe in these waters right now. It is quietly buying the bonds of the European Investment Bank, an EU public body that chiefly finances infrastructure. While the ECB may not care to admit it - for fear of fresh lawsuits at the German constitutional court - it is in effect "printing" money to pay for fiscal stimulus.


    11--West 'ignored Russian offer in 2012 to have Syria's Assad step aside'
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/15/west-ignored-russian-offer-in-2012-to-have-syrias-assad-step-aside


    12--Emerging Markets Are Not Facing a 1997-Style Crisis—They're Facing Something Worse


    13--Loose money's first casualty: Abe


    Standard & Poor’s cut Japan’s long-term credit rating one level to A+, saying ....
    “We believe that the government’s economic revival strategy -- dubbed "Abenomics" -- will not be able to reverse this deterioration in the next two to three years,” S&P said in a statement. “Economic support for Japan’s sovereign creditworthiness has continued to weaken.”


    14--Setting rates becomes aspirational rather than real   Todays "must read"


    In the past, the central bank kept the fed funds rate at or near the target chosen by policy makers by injecting or draining bank reserves from the system via the New York Fed’s trading desk. The amounts of cash involved were small and the Fed was pretty good at hitting its desired rate. Not anymore.


    Three rounds of so-called quantitative easing from 2008 to 2014, in which the Fed bought bonds to support the economy, has swamped banks with cash -- deposited with them by investors who sold bonds to the Fed. That added $2.6 trillion of reserves in excess of requirements to banks’ accounts held at the Fed. It also boosted the size of the Fed’s own balance sheet to $4.5 trillion, a five-fold increase from pre-crisis levels...


    “We don’t know what’s going to happen when we lift off,” Simon Potter, the New York Fed official in charge of the trading desk, said in April, answering questions after a speech. “We’re pretty sure that we have the ability to lift rates at the initial point.”

    Money Markets Swamped

    With so much cash and little need for banks to borrow in the fed funds market, the Fed has lost the ability to lift the funds rate in the way that it did before the crisis. It has also decided for now against selling the bonds back to investors, which would shrink its own balance sheet and extinguish the excess reserves.


    Instead, Fed officials designed new tools to help the central bank raise rates without reducing its balance sheet, which it hopes to slowly shrink over years by letting the bonds it now holds mature, without reinvestment. Officials say they expect to phase out reinvestments sometime after liftoff


    Tighter Credit

    The upshot: Credit will become more expensive faster than in previous tightening cycles as banks pass higher deposit costs on to borrowers in an effort to maintain profitability. The effects will probably become larger after the Fed’s second or third rate increase, according to Justin Fuller, a senior director at Fitch Ratings in Chicago.
    “When you start to get up to 50 to 100 basis points of tightening and higher, that is when you start seeing much more competition by banks for operational retail-oriented deposits,” Fuller said. “Banks all over the country will be doing this.”


    The potential side effects of rate increases with so much cash in the system and unfamiliar new regulations will make the Fed’s attempts to fine-tune the economy a lot more challenging, according to Michael Cloherty, head of U.S. interest-rate strategy at RBC Capital Markets LLC in New York.


    “Under the old framework, you had 100 years of history to say: ‘If I raise the funds rate, I have a pretty good feel of how it hits the economy,’” Cloherty said. “It will take the Fed a really long time to figure out how the new world works.”
    Cloherty estimates banks could see almost $1.5 trillion of deposits leave by the end of 2017, with $625 billion of it going to money funds, which would put it in the Fed’s overnight reverse repo facility. Those numbers jump to nearly $2.3 trillion and $900 billion in a worst-case scenario.


    15--How to Help Refugees get home...Syrian Girl
    want to help the refugees? Stop the wars

    Stop Turkey, Qatar, Saudi from funding Isis-al Qaida terrorists
    Stop US political support for al Qaida linked rebels
    stop your governments from airstriking Syria

    End sanctions
    Rebuild Syria
    Donate to Syrian Red Cresent or WafaRelief Fund
    http://thesaker.is/refugeecrisis-what-the-media-is-hiding-help-syrianrefugees-go-home/


    16--Turkey creates refugee pretext for war in Syria?


    Analyst asks the same question, that is, why this "sudden and convenient deluge of refugees has flooded Europe, almost as if on cue. ...
     In reality, they did not appear out of a puff of smoke. They appeared in Turkey, a NATO member since the 1950’s and one of America’s closest regional allies. ...
     Turkey has suspiciously maintained a very enthusiastic “open door” policy for refugees, spending inexplicable sums of money and political capital in accommodating them. ....There is little way that these refugees could suddenly “disappear” and end up in Europe without the Turkish government and more importantly, European governments either knowing about it or being directly involved.

     Clearly Turkey lacks any altruistic motivation behind its refugee policy. Turkey is one of the chief facilitators of terrorists operating in Syria, and a primary collaborator in NATO’s proxy war against its neighbor. ....Likely, the refugees were to serve as the initial population of whatever proxy state NATO planned to create with territory it seized and established no-fly-zones over in northern Syria.
     Now it appears many of these refugees are instead being rerouted to Europe.
     ... It appears that Turkey is serving as a central transit point, not just for terrorists it is feeding into the Syrian conflict, but also for collecting refugees from across MENA and Central Asia, before allowing them to proceed in vast numbers to Europe.
     
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/social-engineering-101-how-to-make-a-refugee-crisis-destruction-of-all-prevailing-political-orders-in-the-middle-east/5475758


    17--The Fed’s Chatter About a Rate Hike Is to Appease Foreign Investors – Which Includes Money Launderers


    There’s a legitimate basis for concern. When the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released its “World Investment Report” on June 25, 2015, it reported that the United States had slipped to number 3, behind China and Hong Kong, for inflows of Foreign Direct Investment....


    Adding to concerns, UNCTAD reported that owing to lackluster growth in the global economy, overall global inflows of Foreign Direct Investment had declined 16 percent in 2014. That meant that the U.S. was not just slipping in investment stature but was competing for a piece of a shrinking investment pie.
    According to UNCTAD, foreign investment inflows to the United States fell to $92 billion in 2014, a drop of 40 percent from the 2013 level, while China became the largest recipient with $129 billion in inflows. Hong Kong ranked second with $103 billion....


    On August 31, Wall Street On Parade published a review of economist Michael Hudson’s new book, “Killing the Host.” One thing we did not write about has lingered in our thoughts — an episode Hudson shares from his days working in Chase Manhattan’s economic research department. It also concerns an apparent desire by the U.S. to tap illicit foreign money as investment inflows. (Chase is now the commercial banking unit of Wall Street investment firm, JPMorganChase.)
    Hudson writes:


    “My last task at Chase dovetailed into the dollar problem. I was asked to estimate the volume of criminal savings going to Switzerland and other hideouts. The State Department had asked Chase and other banks to establish Caribbean branches to attract money from drug dealers, smugglers and their kin into dollar assets to support the dollar as foreign military outflows escalated. Congress helped by not imposing the 15 percent withholding tax on Treasury bond interest. My calculations showed that the most important factors in determining exchange rates were neither trade nor direct investment, but ‘errors and omissions,’ a euphemism for ‘hot money.’ Nobody is more ‘liquid’ or ‘hot’ than drug dealers and public officials embezzling their country’s export earnings. The U.S. Treasury and State Department sought to provide a safe haven for their takings, as a desperate means of offsetting the balance-of-payments cost of U.S. military spending.”