Wednesday, June 8, 2016

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1--Fallujah: An enduring symbol of US war crimes


The killing of four Blackwater mercenaries in Fallujah in March 2004 triggered a massive American military response. Across Iraq, the defiance of the people of Fallujah became a clarion call for resistance. In the first week of April, the stand in the city against the occupation was joined by an uprising of tens of thousands of Shiite working class youth in Baghdad and cities across southern Iraq. The armed insurgency against the US forces spread to predominantly Sunni cities such as Ramadi, Tikrit and Mosul.

The dominant feature of the anti-occupation resistance in Iraq in 2004 was that it objectively unified Iraqis of all backgrounds who opposed the US occupation and its local collaborators. However, it lacked any coherent perspective or strategy. In city after city, Iraqi fighters were overwhelmed by the superior firepower of the US military, including in Fallujah in November 2004. After a months-long siege, the city was left depopulated and in rubble. Of its 200 mosques, 60 were destroyed or damaged, along with some 39,000 homes and other buildings.

The other central feature of the US occupation in 2004 was the deployment of US-trained Shiite death squads, such as the Wolf Brigade, against the Sunni population. Thousands of people were murdered. At the same time, Al Qaeda in Iraq escalated sinister bombings of Shiite civilians, which assisted the US occupation in driving a wedge between the two communities. By 2006, US policy had provoked a full-scale sectarian civil war that forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee for safety into areas controlled by the militias of their religious denomination.

The origins of the present savage sectarianism Iraq lie in the manner by which US imperialism “stabilised” Iraq under the control of its Shiite-dominated puppet state, using the criminal methods of divide-and-rule, mass killings and mass dislocation. In 2011, as it withdrew its forces from Iraq, Washington launched a regime-change war in Libya and began sponsoring a regime-change operation in Syria using the same methods that had triggered civil war in Iraq. In Syria, however, the CIA and US military worked through Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to arm Sunni-based groupings to overthrow the Russian- and Iranian-backed Shiite-dominated government of Bashar al-Assad.

One of the main groupings that benefited from the flow of arms was the remnants of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which sent fighters into Syria and soon emerged as a dominant force in the civil war. In April 2013, strengthened by a flood of foreign Islamist fighters who were permitted to enter Syria from Turkey, it renamed itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The ISIS fighters who entered Fallujah in late 2013 and claimed control over the city in January 2014 had been financed, equipped and armed as part of the US intrigues in Syria. ISIS seized other areas of Sunni-dominated western and northern Iraq, most dramatically the city of Mosul, in July 2014. To the extent the Islamist movement received support, it was because it pledged to defend the Sunni population from the consequences of the US invasion, including the depredations and abuses of the US-backed government in Baghdad. Both materially and ideologically, ISIS is the by-product of US policy.
The current onslaught on Fallujah is only the latest chapter in the catastrophe that US imperialism has inflicted on the peoples of Iraq and the Middle East as a whole.

2--Democrats Are Now the Aggressive War Party


3--Markets applaud speech by Fed Chair Yellen signaling delay in rate hikes


The May jobs report showed a net payroll gain of only 38,000, the lowest monthly increase since September 2010. Together with a downward revision in the jobs figures for March and April, the May total brought to three-month average to 116,000, a precipitous decline from last year's monthly average of 230,000. The report also showed a huge exit of people from the workforce and a sharp increase in people forced to accept part-time employment because they could not get a full-time job. The labor force participation rate fell to a nearly four-decade low of 62.6 percent.

The response of the stock market to these latest indicators of social misery and economic distress and the resultant signal from the Fed that it would keep the flood of cheap credit flowing was typical of the entire period since the 2008 financial crash—relief and exultation. On Monday, the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index rose 0.5 percent to close at its highest level this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 113 points, or 0.6 percent, to approach the 18,000 level. The Nasdaq also jumped 0.5 percent...

These developments are a further expression of the domination of the US and global economy by a financial aristocracy that accumulates its vast wealth on the basis of non-productive and anti-social activities. The supposed justification for the bailout of the banks following the 2008 Wall Street meltdown and the subsequent regime of zero or negative interest rates as well as central bank money-printing ("quantitative easing") was the claim that pumping virtually free and unlimited cash into the financial system would spark productive investment and the creation of new, decent-paying jobs.

In fact, the financial parasites who dominate economic life have used their tax payer-financed windfalls to further pad their stock portfolios and offshore bank accounts through various forms of speculation, while starving the economy of productive investment in machines, buildings, new technology, research and development, etc. The decline in productive investment, and the linked decline in labor productivity, are major factors in the ongoing slump in the real economy, even as stock prices and CEO pay soar to record heights....

The article noted that major corporations not directly impacted by the fall in the price of oil and other commodities, including Eli Lilly, McDonald’s and Verizon Communications, have either capped or slashed their capital budgets while raising dividends.
In other words, the enormous subsidies from governments and central banks are being used by banks and corporations not to increase the productive forces, but to reward their top executives and major shareholders by bidding up the value of their stock holdings and increasing their capital gains. This can best be described as a vast and criminal plundering of the world economy by the financial elite.

4---This is How Draghi Will Sock it to Investors that Weren’t Invited to the Secret Meetings

June 8 is the propitious day everyone has been waiting for: the ECB – which is already buying government debt, covered bonds, and asset backed securities – begins buying euro-denominated corporate bonds. Maturities will range from six months to 30 years. It will buy these bonds either in the secondary market, where previously issued bonds are traded, or in the primary market, thus handing its freshly printed euros directly to the companies (“helicopter money” for corporations).

“The prospect of average yields below 1% is very scary,” Juan Esteban Valencia, a credit strategist at Societe Generale in Paris told Bloomberg. “Investors are being pushed outside their comfort zone to sectors like high-yield debt, where they may not have expertise.”

And where they won’t be paid for the risks they’re taking.
So junk bond yields have plunged as conservative investors are getting pushed into risky paper with a good chance of default, though the ECB won’t be buying junk bonds under the current program. According to the BofA Merrill Lynch Euro High Yield Index, the average junk-bond yield fell from over 6% earlier this year to 4.16% as of June 6....

Draghi and his ilk excel in shuffling guaranteed profits to their cronies in this manner, all under the mantel of wanting to stimulate inflation. And if pension funds, life insurers, and other retirement arrangements that so depend on yield, impoverish retirees down the road, well, so be it

5--Mtg purchase apps, Productivity, Unemployment survey, Article submitted

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