Saturday, October 15, 2016

Today's Links

1---Russia’s First Year of Operations in Syria


...the goal of the operation is a modest one–the denial of victory to the West-backed jihadist coalition. Once that objective is achieved, once every major anti-Syrian actor acknowledges that Syria’s legitimate government or Russia’s military presence in Syria cannot be dislodged by any combination of political and military measures, they will be forced to negotiate a peace settlement that will preserve both the territorial and political integrity of the Syrian state....

the jihadists and wild geeze aren’t the most dangerous foes faced by Syria. The Russian military had to minimize the prospect of a direct NATO military operation against the Syrian military and government that, as in the case of Libya, would have been spearheaded by US airpower. The goal of conventional deterrence against both air and land NATO incursions was achieved, though only after the loss of one Su-24 bomber, treacherously shot down over Syria by Turkish fighters, by the deployment of advanced S-400 air defense systems, Su-35 fighters, and Iskander-M tactical ballistic missiles, and the demonstration of the power of Russia’s air- and sea-launched cruise missiles which would have struck US air bases throughout the Middle East in the event of any escalation.....

The effect, however, has been nothing short of spectacular. Rebel forces are in retreat on nearly every important sector of the front, and even the crucial struggle for Aleppo, which has reached the scale of a general battle that will decide the future of Syria, has decisively swung in Syria’s favor. Outside Syria, both friend and foe have taken note. Russia’s engagement has served as a veritable “seed capital” that drew larger contingents of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Iraq’s Shia militias, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, into the fray. Turkey has opted for what amounts to a negotiated “separate peace” with Russia and Syria in exchange for a free hand to focus on the Kurdish threat to its own sovereignty. Even the US, whose leaders are perennially invoking “Plan Bs” in an effort to intimidate Russia, is finding itself without viable policy options. While the war is still far from over, after one year of intervention all the political and military trends in Syria are now in a positive direction.

2--Leviathan Israeli-Turkish Gas Deal Unlikely, Due to Technical, Political Reasons


3--UN Staff Arrive in Aleppo to Begin de Mistura Proposed Militants' Evacuation


4--'Obama cyber saber-rattling against Russia possible ploy to boost Clinton camp'


5--Hillary publicly supported TPP 45 times


6--Citigroup chose Obama’s 2008 cabinet, WikiLeaks document reveals

Rigged from the very beginning

Those communications, such as the Frohman email, which expose who really rules America, have been virtually ignored by the media. The pro-Democratic Party New Republic called attention to it in an article published Friday, but the story has received little if any further coverage.The media has instead focused on salacious details of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s sexual activities, designed, in part, to divert attention from the substance of the Clinton campaign-related emails being released by WikiLeaks and other sources.


One month before the presidential election of 2008, the giant Wall Street bank Citigroup submitted to the Obama campaign a list of its preferred candidates for cabinet positions in an Obama administration. This list corresponds almost exactly to the eventual composition of Barack Obama’s cabinet.


The memorandum, revealed by WikiLeaks in a recent document release from the email account of John Podesta, who currently serves as Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, was written by Michael Froman, who was then an executive with Citigroup and currently serves as US trade representative. The email is dated Oct. 6, 2008 and bears the subject line “Lists.” It went to Podesta a month before he was named chairman of President-Elect Obama’s transition team.

The email was sent at the height of the financial meltdown that erupted after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on September 15. Even as Citigroup and its Wall Street counterparts were dragging the US and world economy into its deepest crisis since the 1930s, they remained, as the email shows, the real power behind the façade of American democracy and its electoral process.

Froman’s list proved remarkably prescient. As it proposed, Robert Gates, a Bush holdover, became secretary of Defense; Eric Holder became attorney general; Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security; Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff; Susan Rice, United Nations ambassador; Arne Duncan, secretary of Education; Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services; Peter Orszag, head of the Office of Management and Budget; Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs; and Melody Barnes, chief of the Domestic Policy Council.

For the highly sensitive position of secretary of the Treasury, three possibilities were presented: Robert Rubin and Rubin’s close disciples Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner. Obama chose Geithner, then president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Geithner, along with Bush Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman Sachs CEO) Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, had played the leading role in organizing the Wall Street bailout.

Rubin had served as Treasury secretary in the Bill Clinton administration from 1995 until 1999, when he was succeeded by Summers. In that capacity, Rubin and Summers oversaw the dismantling of the Glass-Steagall Act (1933), which had imposed a legal wall separating commercial banking from investment banking. Immediately after leaving Treasury, Rubin became a top executive at Citigroup, remaining there until 2009....


Citigroup’s recommendations came just three days after then-President George W. Bush signed into law the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which allocated $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue the largest Wall Street banks. The single biggest beneficiary was Citigroup, which was given $45 billion in cash in the form of a government stock purchase, plus a $306 billion government guarantee to back up its worthless mortgage-related assets.


7--Pseudo left makes case for escalation in Syria


In response to one question from Clwyd, Johnson said that Assad, Russia and Iran were perpetrating a “gross crime against humanity,” in Aleppo. Asked by Clwyd which “policy options” were open to the UK in Syria, Johnson invoked the “humanitarian” crisis in Aleppo, saying it was necessary to “intensify actions on some of the key players in the Assad regime and on the Russian as well.”...


It is under these conditions that a broad swath of the pseudo-left has moved to demand that Corbyn reverse his opposition to stepped up military action. Around 180 members of the Corbyn-supporting Momentum activist network, other Labour members, trade union officials and the Alliance for Workers Liberty group issued an open letter demanding that the Labour leader “say clearly and unequivocally that the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria are barbaric war crimes, and that you will seek to end them, and to hold their perpetrators to account.”


8---Democrats focus on sex scandal as conflict with Russia escalates


Behind a nearly total media blackout, the White House National Security Council held a closed-door meeting Friday to review the US military’s campaign in Iraq and Syria. The only major media advance report on the meeting, carried by Reuters on Thursday and then quickly dropped, noted that US officials were weighing “air strikes on Syrian military bases, munitions depots or radar and anti-aircraft bases.” Asked about the meeting at a press conference Friday afternoon, deputy White House press secretary Eric Schultz refused to even acknowledge that it was taking place....


Russian officials, for their part, threatened retaliation against any US strikes against Syrian government targets. “Any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson General Igor Konashenkov said last week.
He added, “Russian air defense system crews are unlikely to have time to determine in a ‘straight line’ the exact flight paths of missiles and then who the warheads belong to. And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality.” Konashenkov’s reference to ‘invisible’’ jets was a warning that the advanced Russian S-400 air defense systems are capable of downing fifth-generation fighters with stealth capabilities, such as the American F-22 and F-35.

Should US air strikes against Syrian targets lead to the downing of American fighters by Russian forces, the White House will come under immense pressure to retaliate, potentially setting off a chain reaction that could result in the first use of nuclear weapons since World War II.
In evident preparation for such an eventuality, Moscow sent nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles to the Russian Baltic city of Kaliningrad on October 8. From Kaliningrad, the missiles can strike targets, including NATO bases, across Poland and the Baltic republics...

The war in Syria is just one flashpoint in what military strategists are increasingly warning will be an “inevitable” conflict with major military powers. Last month, the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, published a report titled The Future of the Army, which made clear that the US military’s primary concern is preparing to fight “major and deadly” wars between “great powers,” entailing “heavy casualties” and “high levels of death and destruction.”

At an October 4 meeting of the Association of the US Army in Washington, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said war between the US and global powers such as Russia and China was “almost guaranteed.” At the same conference, Gen. William Hix, a top Army strategist, declared that a conflict “in the near future” with a country like Russia or China would entail a level of violence “that our armies have not seen on a scale probably since Korea, if not in World War II

9--Obama NSC Meeting To Plot Next Syria Move

Oct. 14, 2016 (EIRNS)—Washington sources have confirmed news reports that President Obama convened a meeting of the National Security Council to hear policy options for Syria, in light of the Syrian-Russian military operations to wipe out the last rebel stronghold in Aleppo. Broadly, four options have been prepared: A no-fly zone, a safe zone, a bombing campaign to wipe out the Syrian Air Force, and an expanded arming of the “vetted” Syrian rebel groups. According to one source, there is heavy opposition to the proposal to bomb the Syrian Air Force, because it would almost certainly escalate into a direct conflict with Russia. Among the options of arming the Syrian rebels, there is a range of possibilities, from highly restrictive arming, focused on the Kurdish fighters in the Syrian Democratic Force (YPG for the most part), to a much broader arming of rebel forces integrated into some of the hardcore Salafist groups.

A second source, who in the past participated in the process of developing and presenting such military options, anticipates that Obama will make a specific decision, based on the three or four options presented to him, and he will make a formal decision, and later issue an execute order.
One source emphasized that the situation on the ground has gotten far more dangerous, citing the movement of Turkish military units into areas very close to where Syrian Army units are operating, as well as the intensity of Russian and Syrian military operations in and around Aleppo. The “threat of a direct conflict with Russia” has increased, the source admitted.

10--Fed's Yellen says 'high-pressure' policy may be only way back from crisis


Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive of DoubleLine Capital, said he read Yellen as saying, "'You don't have to tighten policy just because inflation goes to over 2 percent.'
"Inflation can go to 3 percent, if the Fed thinks this is temporary," said Gundlach, who agreed Yellen was striking a chord similar to Summer's "secular stagnation" thesis. "Yellen is thinking independently and willing to act on what she thinks."

While investors by and large think the Fed is likely to raise interest rates in December this year, in a nod to the country's 5.0 percent unemployment rate and expectations that inflation will rise, they do not see the Fed moving aggressively thereafter.
"This is a clear rebuttal of the hawkish arguments," to raise rates soon, a line of argument pitched by some of the Fed's regional bank presidents, said Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial


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