Saturday, July 23, 2016

Today's links

Today's quote:  "When the Democratic Party convenes in Philadelphia on Monday, the Democrats and their media advocates will be cheering “inclusion” and “diversity,” while the Democratic president continues slaughtering Syrian and Iraqi civilians by the hundreds in US air strikes and contemplates his next move after the failed US-backed coup in Turkey."  WSWS

1---G-20 pushes for fiscal stimulus to address shrinking earnings

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 are huddling in China's southwestern city of Chengdu to discuss how to confront global challenges exacerbated by Britain's decision to leave the European Union.
The specter of protectionism, highlighted by U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's "America First" rhetoric and talk of pulling out of trade agreements, also hangs over the meeting.
"The recovery continues but remains weaker than desirable. Meanwhile, the benefits of growth need to be shared more broadly within countries to promote inclusiveness," the G20 ministers said in a draft communique seen by Reuters.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Saturday it was important for G-20 countries to boost shared growth using all policy tools, including monetary and fiscal policies as well as structural reforms, to boost efficiency....

Data out of Britain on Friday seemed to bear out fears, with a business activity index posted its biggest drop in its 20-year history. And Hammond said on Friday the UK could reset fiscal policy if necessary.
European officials were keen for more information.
"Brexit has already had an impact. All international organisations and governments are revising downwards their growth projections due to Brexit-related uncertainty and impact on demand. So this is already a problem," Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan told Reuters...

Lew, in a bilateral meeting with Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso, reiterated the need for G-20 members to refrain from competitive devaluations....(after 3 rounds of QE???)

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Saturday he would ease policy further if necessary to achieve its 2 percent inflation goal, but again shrugged off talk of the BOJ taking the radical policy step of "helicopter money."
"If it means that central banks are directly underwriting government bonds, or managing monetary and fiscal policies as one, that would be prohibited in Japan as well as other advanced economies, as lessons from history tell us," he said

2--Britain's economy shrinking at fastest rate since 2009, says survey Britain sinking fast

Manufacturing dropped to its lowest level since February 2013, according to Markit, which compiles the data in its purchasing managers’ index (PMI).
The composite index, which measures both services and manufacturing, fell from 52.4 in June to 47.7 - an 87-month low. Anything below 50 signals a contraction in activity.
The services index dropped from 52.3 in June to 47.4, an 88-month low, while manufacturing fell from 52.1 in June to 49.1.
Chris Williamson, the chief economist at Markit, said: “July saw a dramatic deterioration in the economy, with business activity slumping at the fastest rate since the height of the global financial crisis in early 2009.

3--Thinking the unthinkable---The "benefits" of a nuclear war with China?

The July 20 report was overseen by prominent strategic analyst Anthony Cordesman and is headlined “China’s nuclear forces and weapons of mass destruction.” A key section is devoted to reviewing allegations by some US sources that China has been concealing the full extent of its nuclear arsenal in a massive network of underground facilities and tunnels. The thread running through the CSIS analysis of China’s nuclear arsenal is that it is expanding in both size and capability. Along with other reports published in recent years by Pentagon-linked think tanks, it implicitly leads to the conclusion that the US should act sooner, rather than later, to militarily confront Beijing.

In the event of conflict, Cordesman writes: “China and the United States have every reason to calculate that moving beyond the tacit threat already posed by the existence of the other’s nuclear forces to actual nuclear exchanges at any level would almost certainly be so destructive and to be far costlier to both sides than any strategic or military gains could ever be worth. At the same time, history is a grim warning that deterrence sometimes fails, and escalation occurs in ways that are never properly planned or controlled.”

In 2013, Cordesman authored another document in which he invoked the need to “think about the unthinkable”—a reference to the 1960 claims by American strategist Herman Kahn that it was possible to both survive and “win” a nuclear war. At the time, Kahn was dismissed by many as essentially insane and became one of the inspirations for the Stanley Kubrick character “Doctor Strangelove.”

Cordesman, matching Kahn’s insanity, wrote in 2013 regarding a nuclear war between India and Pakistan: “The good news, from a ruthlessly ‘realist’ viewpoint is that such a human tragedy does not necessarily have serious grand strategic consequences for other states, and might well have benefits ... The loss of India and Pakistan might create some short term economic issues for importers of goods and services. However, the net effect would shift benefits to other suppliers without any clear problems in substitutions or costs” [emphasis added].

In a toxic atmosphere where China’s rise is being blamed for the economic decline of US imperialism, the horrifying prospect is that across the American political establishment will conclude that the nuclear devastation of China also “might well have benefits

4--Kaine; As hawkish as Hillary--In signal to military, Hillary Clinton picks Senator Tim Kaine as running mate

In selecting Kaine, Clinton is making clear that she plans on running a right-wing, pro-war campaign targeted at winning over the military and sections of the Republican Party dissatisfied with Trump, and particularly with the Republican candidate’s attitude toward Russia. Clinton also wanted to repudiate any association with the issues of social inequality that motivated the widespread support for her main rival in the primaries, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Kaine is among the most hawkish figures among Senate Democrats. As governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010, Kaine oversaw billions of dollars in cuts to the state budget. The state of Virginia is a major center for the military and defense industry, and is home to the Pentagon and the headquarters of the CIA.

Between 2009 and 2011, Kaine served as the head of the Democratic National Committee, the leadership body of the Democratic Party. He is close to Wall Street, having recently backed measures to deregulate banks.

As a Senator since 2013, Kaine has regularly called for increased US involvement in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. He has consistently supported the Obama administration’s reckless brinkmanship against Russia and China, two nuclear-armed powers. He has repeatedly pushed for a Congressional resolution officially declaring war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in order to clear the way for stepped-up US intervention.

Like Clinton, Kaine has also supported the creation of a no-fly zone in Syria, an action that would quickly provoke a confrontation with Russia.

Earlier this month, in the lead-up to the NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, Kaine co-authored an open letter to President Barack Obama urging him to “carry a message to world leaders…[that] success in Ukraine and resistance to Russian aggression, including through the rotational deployment of NATO troops to Eastern Europe, are in the best interest of all member countries

5--'Timber Sycamore': Untold Story of CIA Covert Operation in Syria

American blogger Jeremy R. Hammond argues that the CIA kicked off its clandestine operation back in spring 2012, citing Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reports:
"The CIA and State Department had begun stepping up their coordination with the Free Syrian Army in March 2012 in furtherance of the US goal of regime change," Hammond wrote.

Meanwhile, in 2014 Washington ramped up its support to the so-called moderate Syrian rebels by providing TOW anti-tank guided missiles to them.

Soon the CIA-led Timber Sycamore operation was complicated by the need to destroy Daesh, prompting the US government to launch an all-out air campaign first in Iraq and then in Syria against the Islamic extremists.

Despite having stepped in overtly in Syria, the Obama administration has not halted its clandestine program. There is clear logic behind it, according to the scholars.
"With Russian and American pilots in the skies, keeping the American program against Russia's ally in Damascus low-profile makes US-Russian crisis prevention measures easier," they note.

6--Down the memory hole:  Full text: bin Laden's 'letter to America'  --archive 2002

Bin Laden:  "Why are we fighting and opposing you?"

Because you attacked us and continue to attack us. Palestine, in Somalia, in Iraq....

The blood pouring out of Palestine must be equally revenged. You must know that the Palestinians do not cry alone; their women are not widowed alone; their sons are not orphaned alone....

You attacked us in Somalia; you supported the Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya, the Indian oppression against us in Kashmir, and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon.
(c) Under your supervision, consent and orders, the governments of our countries which act as your agents, attack us on a daily basis....

These governments give us a taste of humiliation, and places us in a large prison of fear and subdual.
(iii) These governments steal our Ummah's wealth and sell them to you at a paltry price.
(iv) These governments have surrendered to the Jews, and handed them most of Palestine, acknowledging the existence of their state over the dismembered limbs of their own people.
(v) The removal of these governments is an obligation upon us, and a necessary step to free the Ummah, to make the Shariah the supreme law and to regain Palestine. And our fight against these governments is not separate from out fight against you.

(d) You steal our wealth and oil at paltry prices because of you international influence and military threats. This theft is indeed the biggest theft ever witnessed by mankind in the history of the world.
(e) Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; you corrupt our lands, and you besiege our sanctities, to protect the security of the Jews and to ensure the continuity of your pillage of our treasures.

(f) You have starved the Muslims of Iraq, where children die every day. It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million Iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet when 3000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down.  ...

These tragedies and calamities are only a few examples of your oppression and aggression against us. It is commanded by our religion and intellect that the oppressed have a right to return the aggression. Do not await anything from us but Jihad, resistance and revenge. Is it in any way rational to expect that after America has attacked us for more than half a century, that we will then leave her to live in security and peace?!! ....

Allah, the Almighty, legislated the permission and the option to take revenge. Thus, if we are attacked, then we have the right to attack back. Whoever has destroyed our villages and towns, then we have the right to destroy their villages and towns. Whoever has stolen our wealth, then we have the right to destroy their economy. And whoever has killed our civilians, then we have the right to kill theirs. ...

It will suffice to remind you of your latest war crimes in Afghanistan, in which densely populated innocent civilian villages were destroyed, bombs were dropped on mosques causing the roof of the mosque to come crashing down on the heads of the Muslims praying inside. You are the ones who broke the agreement with the Mujahideen when they left Qunduz, bombing them in Jangi fort, and killing more than 1,000 of your prisoners through suffocation and thirst. Allah alone knows how many people have died by torture at the hands of you and your agents. Your planes remain in the Afghan skies, looking for anyone remotely suspicious.....

What happens in Guatanamo is a historical embarrassment to America and its values, and it screams into your faces - you hypocrites, "What is the value of your signature on any agreement or treaty?" ...

We also advise you to pack your luggage and get out of our lands. We desire for your goodness, guidance, and righteousness, so do not force us to send you back as cargo in coffins.
(6) Sixthly, we call upon you to end your support of the corrupt leaders in our countries. Do not interfere in our politics and method of education. Leave us alone, or else expect us in New York and Washington...

The Islamic Nation that was able to dismiss and destroy the previous evil Empires like yourself; the Nation that rejects your attacks, wishes to remove your evils, and is prepared to fight you. You are well aware that the Islamic Nation, from the very core of its soul, despises your haughtiness and arrogance.

7--William Engdahl on the Turkish coup

This was a network of officers inside the Army loyal to the Fetullah Gülen Movement. Gülen is a 100% CIA controlled asset. He even lives since years in exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania having gotten safe passage and a green card by former top CIA people like Graham Fuller and the former US Ambassador to Ankara.
Gülen has been a decades-long mad project of the CIA to weaponize political Islam as an instrument of regime change...

What is interesting to watch now will be the foreign policy of Erdogan: Rapprochement with Russia, reopening talks on the Russia Turkish Stream gas pipeline to the Greek border. The simultaneous Erdogan rapprochement with Netanyahu. And most critical, Erdogan’s apparent agreement, part of Putin’s demands for resumption of ties, that Turkey cease efforts to topple Assad by covertly backing DAESH or other terrorists in Syria and training them in Turkey, selling their oil on the black market. This is a huge geopolitical defeat for Obama, probably the most incompetent President in American history (even though he has some serious competition for the title from George W. Bush and Clinton)...

should be clear from what I have said that Washington was behind the coup as their impotent reaction to the major Erdogan geopolitical shift since June, when he fired Davotoglu as Prime Minister and named loyalist Binali Yıldırım. At that point Erdogan simultaneously turned away from the Washington anti-Assad strategy in Syria and towards Israel (who is in a sharp geopolitical conflict with Washington these days), towards Russia and now, even towards Assad in Syria.
Q: What impact on developments has the fact that Turkey is a member of NATO? WE: This is difficult to assess. Washington desperately needs Turkey in NATO for its global strategy, especially in controlling oil flows of the Middle East, and now its natural gas. This is why the moment it was clear the coup would fail, Obama and company “embraced” their “friend” Erdogan. It’s called damage control in intelligence parlance.

8--Turkey - Erdogan Bashing Will Not Stop Foreign Policy Changes

The big question is Syria on which Russia demands that Turkey changes its position. What will Erdogan do with regard to it?
There are signs that he will change his policies there too. There are already reports that Turkish intelligence agents in Syria are in retreat. Turkey may well completely stop the support for the Jihadis and close its borders. The Turkish point man on Syria so far was the intelligence chief Hakan Fide. He was recruiting, supplying and controlling the Jihadis and running the whole show. There are now signs that he will soon get fired. He will be made the fall guy for not detecting the coup early enough:
Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Friday that deep-rooted changes will be made to the National Intelligence Agency of Turkey (MİT).
"It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it. I told it to the head of national intelligence," President Erdoğan told Reuters in an interview at the presidential palace in Ankara.
Turkey's biggest concern now are the Kurds who seem to have U.S. military support to unite and to organize into an independent state with huge petroleum reserves (pdf).
I expect Turkey to make nice with the governments in Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus (with Russia as the grand power behind) to defeat the common threat of an independent Kurdish state

9--Victory over terrorists in Syria on the horizon: Russian FM

10--Is an alliance between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran possible?

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