Thursday, December 1, 2016

Today's Links

Today's Quote:  "With a Trump-led government, a regime of a new type will take power in the United States—in which military-police violence and authoritarian methods of rule will more openly predominate. As Obama wishes Trump every success, and Democrats pledge to work with the incoming administration, Trump is packing his cabinet with individuals who have as much contempt for democratic rights as he does." WSWS

Bill Blum: "If the American mainstream media were officially state-controlled, would they look or sound significantly different when it comes to U.S. foreign policy?"

1--India's wacky demonetization scheme

There is a reason why demonetization has never previously happened in peacetime or in the absence of hyperinflation. Those are events that acknowledge the widespread breakdown of social life and attempt to reset it. Money itself is an essential metaphor, a social contrivance to signify a means of final settlement of debts without which binding commitments or promises would be impossible. The anonymity of money is exactly what allows people who don’t have any strong social ties to cooperate in all sorts of ways. And cash, in particular, allows for cooperation and coordination among the poor, the rural population; people who don’t have access to electronic payments systems or coordination through corporate structures, professional networks and so on. Demonetization undermines those structures and in that, the sense of a collective social understanding. Doing so, while unlikely to be fatal, will corrode this most basic trust.

2--Magic mushroom ingredient psilocybin could be key to treating depression - studies

A single dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms, can lift the anxiety and depression experienced by people with advanced cancer for six months or even longer, two new studies show.
Researchers involved in the two trials in the United States say the results are remarkable. The volunteers had “profoundly meaningful and spiritual experiences” which made most of them rethink life and death, ended their despair and brought about lasting improvement in the quality of their lives...

“They are defined by a sense of oneness – people feel that their separation between the personal ego and the outside world is sort of dissolved and they feel that they are part of some continuous energy or consciousness in the universe. Patients can feel sort of transported to a different dimension of reality, sort of like a waking dream.”

3--The Washington Post’s Propaganda about Russian Propaganda

We have used a combination of manual and automated analysis, including analysis of content, timing, technical indicators, and other reporting, in order to initially identify (“red-flag”) the following as Russian propaganda outlets...

Given all that, check to see whether the social-media account/commenter/outlet qualifies under our definition of propaganda:
A systematic form of persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for political, ideological, and religious purposes, through the controlled transmission of deceptive, selectively-omitting, and one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels....

Financial propaganda weakens citizen and investor confidence in foreign markets and posits the failure of capitalist economies. Stoking fears over the national debt, attacking institutions such as the Federal Reserve, and attempts to discredit Western financial experts and business leaders are all part of this arsenal.

4--Wall Street Wins Again as Trump Picks Bankers, Billionaires

5--Trump picks notorious warhawk as deputy national security adviser

Kissinger chose McFarland’s position well. She has consistently called for more military intervention in Syria, and has made clear her desire for regime change in Iran. McFarland wants to increase the already gargantuan U.S. military budget, which is in line with Trump’s position.
The appointment of K.T. McFarland is the biggest indicator yet that Trump is opening the door to the neocon globalist cabal, despite his claims of being against the establishment. This is especially troubling, considering the unabashed hostility of Trump and his appointees against Muslim nations that do not submit to the will of the U.S

One should not insist on nailing [Trump] into positions that he had taken in the campaign,” Kissinger told CNN the Sunday after the meeting.
Coming from Kissinger, this can be taken to mean that Trump will abandon his non-interventionist position in order to continue stoking endless conflict around the world that is crucial to the CFR globalist agenda...

For all of Donald Trump’s words about going against the Washington establishment, his pick for deputy national security adviser makes much of that null and void.
President-elect Trump has tapped K.T. McFarland for deputy national security adviser, who is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and former aide to Henry Kissinger during the Nixon administration. More recently, she has plied her trade as a talking head on Fox News, which regularly pushes the narrative of U.S. military hegemony and keeps Americans in a state of fear over terrorism.

McFarland would serve directly under Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the firebrand Islamophobe who was forced out of his job as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn, who calls for increased domestic surveillance and escalating tensions with Iran, became a big Trump supporter – and that loyalty is now being rewarded.
McFarland, being a long-time CFR member, has a history of pushing war all over the globe in the interest of the U.S. war machine.

6--Syrian Army Reaches a 'Turning Point' in Battle for Aleppo

7--Subprime Auto-Loan Delinquencies Surge to NY Fed’s Attention

Subprime auto loans make up 24% (or $272 billion) of total auto loans.
  • Banks and credit unions originated only 25%, or $68 billion, of these subprime loans.
  • Auto finance companies originated 75%, or $204 billion, of these subprime loans.

  • 8--Trump's propaganda minister, Steve Bannon

    Picking a master of propaganda as his Chief Strategist in the White House is serious cause for concern about the impending Presidency of Donald Trump. In 1990, Marie Brenner wrote at Vanity Fair about Trump’s divorce from his first wife, Ivana. Brenner reported the following:

    “Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed…Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist.”

    A friend, Marty Davis, confirmed that he had given the book to Trump. The response from Donald Trump in the article was: “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.”...

    What sets this so-called documentary out as a pure propaganda film is what is missing from the film and the fascinating backgrounds of those who have speaking parts in the film.

    Occupy Wall Street grew out of the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression, which was orchestrated by the unbridled greed and unchecked corruption of Wall Street men with too much political clout in Washington. But there is nothing about the financial collapse in the film. There is nothing about the millions of honest Americans who had lost their jobs and their homes. There is nothing about the Wall Street bank CEOs who walked away with tens of millions of dollars in golden parachutes as their century-old banks collapsed. There is nothing about the taxpayer-bailed-out banks paying millions in bonuses to their reckless executives. There is nothing about the Federal Reserve secretly funneling to the Wall Street banks $16 trillion cumulatively from 2007 to 2010 in loans mostly below 1 percent interest as the same banks charged 19 and 20 percent credit card interest to struggling Americans.

    You won’t find one word in this 75-minute film about why Occupy Wall Street protesters were so genuinely angry and fed up; why people from all walks of life in cities across America took to the streets to express outrage at the unprecedented wealth and income inequality fueled by Wall Street and the one percent.
    What you will find is David Horowitz using various means on camera to demonize the protesters. Horowitz says the protesters only pretend to be interested in ideas but just “basically hate America

    9--Huh?? There are no terrorists in Aleppo

    10--Jihadists postpone the inevitable defeat

    Meanwhile, reports appeared that “Aleppo rebels” have created a united command to fight back the Syrian army’s offensive in Aleppo city, again… The newly created command is allegedly named “Aleppo Army” and will include Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, Sham Front, al-Zinki and other militant groups operating in Aleppo city under the banners of Jaish al-Fatah and Fatah Halab coalitions.
    However, it looks as a PR move for the mainstream media because on November 15 the same factions announced the creation of the so-called “Aleppo Command Council” with the same goal. The united commad already exists.

    11--The “fake news” furor and the threat of Internet censorship

    12--Trump names Medicare opponent to head health programs: Who is Tom Price?

    President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Georgia Congressman Tom Price as his secretary of health and human services makes clear his intention to carry out a fundamental attack on Medicare and Medicaid, the government health insurance programs for the elderly, the handicapped and the poor that cover a combined total of 130 million people.

    Trump announced the appointment on Tuesday, calling the diehard opponent of the bedrock government health programs a “problem solver” and “go-to expert on health care policy.” He also named Seema Verma to head the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Verma worked with Republican leaders in Indiana, including the current governor and vice president-elect, Mike Pence, to substantially privatize the state’s Medicaid program for the poor and impose co-payments on recipients. In the process, she made millions of dollars for her Indianapolis-based firm.

    Both Trump and Price have long declared their opposition to the health care overhaul enacted by the Obama administration in 2010, popularly known as Obamacare. But Price’s appointment involves more than the promised repeal of Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is part of a scheme to use the total or partial repeal of Obamacare to begin the dismantling of both Medicare and Medicaid as government-run, universal entitlement programs, and their transformation into voucher programs, in which seniors and poor people would be given government subsidies that would cover only a fraction of the cost of private insurance...

    The EPFA calls for effectively ending Medicaid as a national program by reducing it to a system of block grants to the states, each of which would have total control over its own program, with the power to restrict eligibility, reduce benefits and impose out-of-pocket costs. According to the Washington-based Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, spending on Medicaid would be cut by as much as 34 percent by 2025 under Price’s block grant system.

    Medicare would be transformed from a program guaranteeing a defined set of benefits to a “premium support” model, i.e., it would provide vouchers for seniors and disabled people to apply toward the purchase of policies from private insurers. According to one study, this “reform” would shift the cost-sharing between beneficiaries and the government from the current situation, where the government pays 70 percent and recipients pay 30 percent, to the reverse, with seniors paying 70 percent of health costs.

    It is obvious that this scheme will mean a drastic decline in health care for the elderly and disabled and result in increased poverty and disease and premature death for millions of people. This is precisely what corporate America, which considers health care for the elderly and poor an intolerable drain on its profits, intends.

    According to press reports, Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress plan to move quickly to enact measures along the lines of those proposed by Price. They intend to pass legislation in 2017 combining the full or partial repeal of Obamacare with the crippling provisions regarding Medicare and Medicaid outlined above

    13--President-elect Trump on flag-burning: The crisis of American democracy

    The New York Times, in its editorial on Wednesday, wrote that when Trump pledges to defend the Constitution, “we the people will have good reason to doubt he knows what he’s talking about.” Of Trump, they write, “He tweets, he posts, he incites. He trolls. He commands a global platform and will soon be America’s commander in chief. But it has to be said, and said again: This is not normal. It demeans the presidency.”...

    It was the constitutional law professor Obama, who established the principle that the president of the United States has the authority to assassinate, without due process, any American citizen that he determines to be a “terrorist” and threat to national security, a power that Attorney General Eric Holder declared applies on US soil. His administration has used this power to kill at least three US citizens, along with thousands of other individuals incinerated by drone bombs all over the world.....

    With a Trump-led government, a regime of a new type will take power in the United States—in which military-police violence and authoritarian methods of rule will more openly predominate. As Obama wishes Trump every success, and Democrats pledge to work with the incoming administration, Trump is packing his cabinet with individuals who have as much contempt for democratic rights as he does.
    Yet this government arises out of and expresses social contradictions in American society that are exploding the circuit-breakers of bourgeois democracy. It is the response of the American ruling class to the extreme growth of social inequality. If the ruling class is prepared to jail people for burning the flag, what will it do about mass protests against war, police violence and the destruction of health care?

    14--Sanders explained how Trump had won the election

    “What Mr. Trump did – and this speaks to why I personally believe we need major, major reforms of the Democratic Party – what Mr. Trump said and talked about is something that the pundits here in Washington have not a clue about; and the corporate media has very little understanding about. And that is what he understood to be true is true: is despite the fact that today we are far, far better off economically after eight years of Obama than we were when Bush left office, that is true. There is another reality. And that is that all across this country there are millions and millions of good people that are frightened about the world that they are living in. There are mothers out there, single moms or young couples, who are making $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 a year; Mom and Dad are working, they need child care for their children and yet child care costs $10,000 or $15,000. How do you afford $15,000 for child care when you’re making $40,000 or $50,000 a year?

    “There are workers in my state who see an explosion in technology, they see the very wealthiest people in this country becoming phenomenally richer. They see large corporations enjoying record breaking profits. Yet they are working not at one job, they’re working two jobs, they are working three jobs. There are people all over this country who are 55, 60 years of age. They have worked their entire lives. And now they are going to be retiring soon and you know what, half of those older workers do not have a nickel in the bank for retirement.

    “There are young people who went deeply into debt – $30,000, $50,000, $80,000 in debt – in order to go to college but when they leave school they find that the only jobs you can get are jobs which pay them twelve, fourteen bucks an hour – not enough to repay their debt. That is the reality for millions of people in this country.”

    Following his speech, Sanders sat down on stage for an interview by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. At one point, Dionne read the following passage from Sanders’ book:
    “The Clinton approach was to try to merge the interests of Wall Street and corporate America with the needs of the American middle class – an impossible task.”

    … There are about 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam while they were happening, or shortly thereafter? Or even opposed to any two of these seven wars? How about one?

    In 1968, six years into the Vietnam War, the Boston Globe (Feb. 18, 1968) surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading U.S. papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out.” Has the phrase “invasion of Vietnam” ever appeared in the U.S. mainstream media?
    In 2003, leading cable station MSNBC took the much-admired Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq. Mr. Kirby would undoubtedly call MSNBC “independent.”
    If the American mainstream media were officially state-controlled, would they look or sound significantly different when it comes to U.S. foreign policy...

    “RT disputed the findings of the researchers in an e-mail on Friday, saying it played no role in producing or amplifying any fake news stories related to the U.S. election.” RT was quoted: “It is the height of irony that an article about ‘fake news’ is built on false, unsubstantiated claims. RT adamantly rejects any and all claims and insinuations that the network has originated even a single ‘fake story’ related to the US election.”

    It must be noted that the Washington Post article fails to provide a single example showing how the actual facts of a specific news event were rewritten or distorted by a Russian agency to produce a news event with a contrary political message.
    What then lies behind such blatant anti-Russian propaganda? In the new Cold War such a question requires no answer. The new Cold War by definition exists to discredit Russia simply because it stands in the way of American world domination

    Notes:  He did not just wittingly named Russia in 2012 as the USA’s geopolitical enemy No. 1. Romney consistently supports for a No Fly Zone in Syria and considers cooperation with Moscow in the fight against IS* “morally unacceptable”....


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