Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Today's Links

Arthur Rimbaud--"Il faut être absolument modern"

  trans--One must be absolutely contemporary


---"“There is a need to rethink the problem of limited nuclear war in which the United States is a direct participant, or between other parties where the United States has a major security interest,” Krepinevich writes. “As opposed to the global apocalypse envisioned in the wake of a superpower nuclear exchange during the Cold War, there will very likely be a functioning world after a war between minor nuclear powers, or even between the United States and a nuclear-armed Iran or North Korea. US forces must, therefore, be prepared to respond to a range of strategic warfare contingencies along the Eurasian periphery."  WSWS



1--Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution


Now I want to be clear about this “deep state” thing, as the mainstream media is already labeling anyone who uses the term a hopelessly paranoid conspiracy theorist. The deep state, of course, is not a conspiracy. It is simply the interdependent network of structures where actual power resides (i.e., the military-industrial complex, multinational corporations, Wall Street, the corporate media, and so on). Its purpose is to maintain the stability of the system regardless of which party controls the government. These are the folks, when a president takes office, who show up and brief him on what is and isn’t “possible” given economic and political “realities.” Despite what Alex Jones may tell you, it is not George Soros and roomful of Jews...

The system the deep state primarily serves is not the United States of America, i.e., the country most Americans believe they live in; the system it serves is globalized Capitalism. The United States, the nation state itself, while obviously a crucial element of the system, is not the deep state’s primary concern. If it were, Americans would all have healthcare, affordable education, and a right to basic housing, like more or less every other developed nation....

And this is the essence of the present conflict. The Trump regime (whether they’re sincere or not) has capitalized on people’s discontent with globalized neoliberal Capitalism, which is doing away with outmoded concepts like the nation state and national sovereignty and restructuring the world into one big marketplace ...

we’re in a state of crisis, aren’t we? This is not the time to sit around and analyze political and historical dynamics. No, this is a time for all loyal Americans to set aside their critical thinking and support democracy, the corporate media, and the NSA, and CIA, and the rest of the deep state  as they take whatever measures are necessary to defend us from Putin’s diabolical plot to Nazify the United States and reenact the Holocaust for no discernible reason. (sarcasm) The way things are going, it’s just a matter of time until they either impeach his puppet, Trump, or, you know, remove him by other means. .... After he’s convicted and dying in jail, triumphant Americans will pour out onto the lawn of Lafayette Square again, waving huge flags and hooting vuvuzelas, like they did when Obama killed Osama bin Laden. I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t attend

2--Is a Trump-Putin Detente Dead?


Among the reasons Donald Trump is president is that he read the nation and the world better than his rivals.
He saw the surging power of American nationalism at home, and of ethnonationalism in Europe. And he embraced Brexit.

While our bipartisan establishment worships diversity, Trump saw Middle America recoiling from the demographic change brought about by Third World invasions. And he promised to curb them.
While our corporatists burn incense at the shrine of the global economy, Trump went to visit the working-class casualties. And those forgotten Americans in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, responded.

And while Bush II and President Obama plunged us into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Trump saw that his countrymen wanted to be rid of the endless wars, and start putting America first...

The anti-Putin paranoia here is astonishing.
That he is a killer, a KGB thug, a murderer, is part of the daily rant of John McCain. At the Munich Security Conference this last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham promised, “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.” How’s that for statesmanship...

they mean to beat him to death is this narrative:
Trump is the Siberian Candidate, the creature of Putin and the Kremlin. His ties to the Russians are old and deep. It was to help Trump that Russia hacked the DNC and the computer of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, and saw to it WikiLeaks got the emails out to the American people during the campaign. Trump’s people secretly collaborated with Russian agents.
Believing Putin robbed Hillary Clinton of the presidency, Democrats are bent on revenge — on Putin and Trump....

we see U.S. troops headed for Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, NATO troops being sent into the Baltic States, and new tough rhetoric from the White House about Russia having to restore Crimea to Ukraine. We read of Russian spy ships off the coast, Russian planes buzzing U.S. warships in the Black Sea, Russians deploying missiles outlawed by the arms control agreement of 1987.
An Ohio-class U.S. sub just test-fired four Trident missiles, which carry thermonuclear warheads, off the Pacific coast.
Any hope of cutting a deal for a truce in east Ukraine, a lifting of sanctions, and bringing Russia back into Europe seems to be fading.
Where Russians saw hope with Trump’s election, they are now apparently yielding to disillusionment and despair.
The question arises: If not toward better relations with Russia, where are we going with this bellicosity?

3--Priebus says US intel officials call campaign-Russia story 'garbage


(Did the NYTs lie?) “I can assure you, the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that [the allegation] is not only grossly overstated, but also wrong,” Priebus told “Fox News Sunday.” “They have made it very clear that the story is complete garbage.”


4--The Deep State Targets Trump


the deep state is deeply committed to Cold War II.


Hence, suddenly, we read reports of a Russian spy ship off the Connecticut, Delaware and Virginia coasts, of Russian jets buzzing a U.S. warship in the Black Sea, and Russian violations of Reagan’s INF treaty outlawing intermediate-range missiles in Europe.

Purpose: Stampede the White House into abandoning any idea of a detente with Russia. And it appears to be working. At a White House briefing Tuesday, Sean Spicer said, “President Trump has made it very clear that he expects the Russian government to … return Crimea.”


Is the White House serious?


Putin could no more survive returning Crimea to Ukraine than Bibi Netanyahu could survive giving East Jerusalem back to Jordan.

How does the deep state go about its work? We have seen a classic example with Flynn. The intelligence and investigative arms of the regime dig up dirt, and then move it to their Fourth Estate collaborators, who enjoy First Amendment immunity to get it out.

For violating their oaths and breaking the law, bureaucratic saboteurs are hailed as “whistleblowers” while the journalists who receive the fruits of their felonies put in for Pulitzers....

Those in the FBI, Justice Department and intelligence agencies who were complicit in a conspiracy to leak the contents of Flynn’s private conversations in order to bring down the national security adviser should be exposed and prosecuted.


5--Has the Deep State already neutered Trump’s foreign policy?


“In the end, it was Trump’s decision to cut Flynn loose. In doing this he caved in to his political and bureaucratic opposition. [Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin] Nunes told me Monday night, that this will not end well. ‘First it’s Flynn, next it will be Kellyanne Conway, then it will be Steve Bannon, then it will be Reince Priebus,’ he said. Put another way, Flynn is only the appetizer. Trump is the entrée.”...

It is precisely this back-to-front neocon world view that has so corrupted American foreign policy: America, for decades now, has aligned itself with Saudi Arabia and Gulf States who finance, arm and support terrorist movements (such as Al Qaeda), while labeling Iran, which actually fights and defeats these “jihadists,” as the chief sponsor of terror in the Middle East. One really cannot get it more back-to-front. This is now more widely understood by the American public, yet the neocons never pull back; they never desist in trying to tie America to the Saudi Arabia-Israeli axis and to promote phobia towards Iran...

“[On Feb. 14] the White House spokesperson said: President Trump has made it very clear that he expects the Russian government to deescalate violence in the Ukraine and return Crimea.

“[On Feb. 15] Trump tweeted: Donald J. Trump Verified account @realDonaldTrump
Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama Administration. Was Obama too soft on Russia?

6--Trump’s Foreign Policy: Retreat or Rout?

what was perhaps even more remarkable about this ambush of Flynn...was the collusion between U.S. intelligence agencies and a mainstream media intent on bringing down President Trump — or at least preventing him from redirecting U.S. foreign policy away from “regime change” wars in the Middle East and toward a détente with Russia.

When Trump hastily demanded Flynn’s resignation – at least in part to appease Vice President Mike Pence who complained that Flynn hadn’t been fully forthcoming with him – a media feeding frenzy followed....

Then we heard Defense Secretary James Mattis in Brussels (NATO headquarters), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Bonn (G20 Foreign Ministers meeting) and Vice President Pence in Munich (Security Conference) collectively pledge unswerving loyalty to the NATO alliance, insist that any new talks with Russia must be conducted from “a position of strength,” and vow to hold Russia accountable for the full implementation of the Minsk Accords, meaning all sanctions stay in place pending that achievement which the Ukrainian government has consistently blocked while blaming Moscow.

Amid these signals of surrender from the Trump Administration – suggesting continuation of the disastrous foreign policy of the last 25 years – the newly revived enemies of détente on Capitol Hill added more anti-Russian sanctions and threats. In response to alleged violations by the Kremlin of the Treaty on Intermediate and Short-range Missiles (INF) dating back to 1987, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, introduced a bill enabling the re-installation of American nuclear-tipped cruise missiles in Europe. If enacted, this would undo the main achievements of disarmament from the Reagan years and bring us back to a full-blown Cold War....

On a related front, The New York Times has reported that Trump plans to appoint businessman Stephen Feinberg to evaluate and recommend reorganization of the intelligence agencies, viewed as a shake-up to restore order and loyalty to the Chief Executive....

Only via détente – meaning an end to the permanent wars abroad with their heavy operational costs and the dismantling of the vast global network of U.S. military bases – can Trump free up budgetary resources to finance his plans for massive U.S. infrastructure investments, modernizing the military, and addressing the needs of veterans. The sums involved are on the order of $600 billion annually which presently go to maintain some 800 military bases in 70 countries, bases which generate much anti-Americanism and entangle the U.S. in regional conflicts.

7--Trump’s ISIS Plan: Another US Invasion?

In language reminiscent of his plans to build a wall on the Mexican border, the president told a political rally in Florida over the weekend that he was going to set up “safe zones” in Syria and would make the Gulf States pay for them. There are several problems with this plan.

First, any “safe zone” set up inside Syria, especially if protected by US troops, would amount to a massive US invasion of the country unless the Assad government approves them. Does President Trump want to begin his presidency with an illegal invasion of a sovereign country?

Second, there is the little problem of the Russians, who are partners with the Assad government in its efforts to rid the country of ISIS and al-Qaeda. ISIS is already losing territory on a daily basis. Is President Trump willing to risk a military escalation with Russia to protect armed regime-change forces in Syria?
Third, the Gulf States are the major backers of al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria – as the president’s own recently-resigned National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, revealed in a 2015 interview. Unless these safe zones are being set up to keep al-Qaeda and ISIS safe, it doesn’t make any sense to involve the Gulf States.

Many will say we should not be surprised at these latest moves. As a candidate, Trump vowed to defeat ISIS once and for all. However, does anyone really believe that continuing the same strategy we have followed for the past 16 years will produce different results this time?

8--The CIA vs. The Presidency: This is Not the First Time

President Trump is in his own war against the CIA and other parts of the intelligence community (IC).

In his case, he has overtly criticized the IC and called them disseminators of fake news and lies. He claims he’s putting an end to foreign wars of conquest. He’s already canceled a major Globalist trade treaty, the TPP.

But the IC believes it owns the Presidency and sets his agenda.

This is not a recent assumption. It goes all the way back to the early days of the CIA; Eisenhower, Kennedy.

In 2016, the IC leadership decided Trump would be a threat to their power, so they leaked/invented information about the Russians influencing the election on behalf of Trump. This effort was aimed at corroding his right to claim that he was the legitimate president.

The war continues.

The IC doesn’t want presidents with independent ideas.

They’re the bosses, and they intend to keep it that way....

“The CIA had already planned the April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion before Kennedy took office in January, and when the invasion failed, Kennedy felt that the CIA had set him up. He let it be known he intended to dismantle the CIA and assign its functions to the other intelligence units within the government. He reportedly vowed ‘to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds’… Kennedy, a Democrat, forced the Republican Allen Dulles to resign, along with other senior CIA officers. But the CIA was too deeply involved just then in operations around the world to be disassembled. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, in a way that implicated the CIA…critics of the Warren Commission Report, maybe even J. Edgar Hoover—believed the CIA had some hand in Kennedy’s assassination and the coverup. If it had, the CIA was again demonstrating that the presidency was subordinate to the CIA


9--Global Stocks and Bond Yields Rise -- U.S. stocks approach fresh records, equity gains in Europe checked by bank shares


The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq Composite all closed at record highs on Friday. Investors have been betting that a growing economy and friendly fiscal policies in the U.S. will boost corporate profits and keep stock markets supported, even as interest rates move higher.
“We are in the early stages of long-term interest rates returning to conventional levels,” said Ian Williams, strategist at brokerage Peel Hunt. “With growth and inflation picking up slightly, it makes equities more favorable as a place to put your cash.”

The Dow has risen over 4% since Inauguration Day, marking the best first 30 days in office since President Roosevelt in 1945, while the Nasdaq has closed at a record levels 18 times this year, the most since 1999.
The 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio for the S&P 500, a common measure of the market’s valuation, recently rose to 17.6, according to FactSet, —its highest since 2004.

The ascent we’ve seen since election day is just incredible,” said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA Research. “It makes us a little nervous…we think a lot of the move is based on euphoria and hope surrounding [Mr. Trump’s] policies, especially tax reform,” she said.
Meanwhile, guidance from companies for the end of the year has been more negative, but analysts’ earnings estimates have yet to come down, posing a risk to the stock market in the second half of the year, she said.

10-- In Policy Dissent, Jim Mattis Wields Influence-- Defense chief’s disagreements with President Trump may be prodding the White House away from some positions

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appears to be at odds with President Donald Trump on Russia and other key issues, setting up potential discord but also helping to nudge the White House toward more conventional policy stances.
In recent days, other top administration officials have aired foreign-policy views that don’t align perfectly with the new president. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for example, have suggested a tougher line with Russians, demanding they de-escalate violence in Ukraine.
..
While the president has turned to generals for several key posts—on Monday naming Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as national security adviser—Mr. Mattis remains the highest-profile and most widely respected of all the generals in the administration. Further, on some matters, including Russia and Ukraine, Mr. Mattis has strong allies, including Mr. Pence....

At nearly every stop of his second overseas trip that finished Tuesday, after a visit to Iraq, Mr. Mattis made clear his own positions, which haven’t always squared with the public pronouncements of the president....

Mr. Mattis has also taken a different stance on Russia than Mr. Trump, although there are signs the administration is moving his way. The defense secretary and Mr. Pence have said Russia must be held accountable for its actions in Ukraine and that Moscow’s annexation of Crimea wouldn’t be recognized. Mr. Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley have also taken a tough line against relaxing sanctions.

11--US-European tensions remain despite reassurances on NATO

The US would be “unwavering” in its support for NATO, Pence declared, and Donald Trump would “stand with Europe.” He added, “Know this: The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable,” even as the Trump administration seeks “common ground” with Moscow.
After his remarks, Pence met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and, according to a White House statement, “underlined that the United States does not recognize Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of the Crimean peninsula,” which rejoined Russia following a popular referendum held in the wake of the Western-orchestrated right-wing coup in Kiev in 2014.

Pence’s statement regarding Russia followed similar remarks last week by Trump’s defense secretary, former Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who ruled out any military collaboration with Russia until Moscow “proves itself” regarding Ukraine and Crimea.

Even more bellicose were members of a bipartisan congressional delegation present in Munich. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Sunday that “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russian ass in Congress,” and vowed that Congress would pass new rounds of sanctions against both Russia and Iran. Senator Christopher Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut who spoke on the same panel as Graham in Munich, said there would be no “partisan divide” on the push for redoubled sanctions.

Whatever differences have surfaced between the Trump administration and Washington’s NATO allies over Russia—not to mention the bitter internecine struggle in Washington over the issue—the US-NATO build-up continues with the deployment of some 4,000 US troops to Eastern Europe, while the remarks in Munich suggest that no lifting of US sanctions against Moscow are imminent.
Present in Munich for Pence’s remarks to the conference, Konstantin Kosachyov, the head of Russia’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee, responded: “I heard nothing in the speech. The new American leaders have started to reproduce the negatives accumulated under the previous administration.”

Much of Pence’s speech was given over to a celebration of American militarism and vows that under Trump the US build-up to war would undergo a dramatic acceleration.

“I can assure you that the United States will be strong, stronger than ever before,” said the vice president. “We will strengthen our military, restore the arsenal of democracy and, working with many members of congress gathered here today, we’re going to provide soldiers, sailors, airmen and coast guard with renewed resources to defend our nation and our treaty allies from the threats of today and unknown threats of tomorrow.”...

One notable feature of Vice President Pence’s speech was that, while it included multiple vows of support for NATO, it made not a single mention of the European Union, which some in Munich took as a warning that Washington is embarking on an aggressive pursuit of US imperialist interests at Europe’s expense.
Wolfgang Ischinger, the former German ambassador to Washington who chairs the Munich Security Conference, told Deutsche Welle that if the Trump administration continued to take a hostile attitude to the EU, “it would amount to a kind of nonmilitary declaration of war. It would mean conflict between Europe and the United States. Is that what the US wants? Is that how he wishes to make America great again?”

12--Trump White House under mounting pressure from anti-Russia campaign

Trump’s congressional defenders are pushing back against his opponents within the intelligence apparatus. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes sent a letter Friday to the FBI asking it to investigate leaks of classified information to the media. He suggested that the leaks came from either career officials who oppose Trump’s policies or holdovers from the Obama administration. According to one press report, Nunes “believes that Trump is being targeted by the intelligence community. It’s an abuse of authority.”

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus appeared on three Sunday television interview programs to denounce the media reports of “constant contact” between the Trump campaign and Russia as false and deliberately aimed at undermining the Trump administration.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Priebus acknowledged receipt of the Senate Intelligence Committee letter and said the White House would cooperate with the request. “I know what they were told by the FBI,” he said, “because I’ve talked to the FBI. I know what they’re saying. I wouldn’t be on your show right now telling you that we’ve been assured that there’s nothing to the New York Times story if I actually wasn’t assured.”

13--Trump’s DHS memos: Millions at risk of deportation as crackdown looms

14--Military junta continues in Washington-- Trump names Iraq war general and militarist as national security adviser

The appointment has special significance in terms of policy towards Russia because McMaster has been engaged in a major military project to study the conflict in Ukraine and the lessons to be drawn by US military planners preparing for war in Eastern Europe against the Russian army and air force. He said in 2016 that the Ukraine conflict has “revealed that the Russians have superior artillery firepower, better combat vehicles, and have learned sophisticated use of UAVs [drones] for tactical effect.”

According to a report last year in Politico, “McMaster is quietly overseeing a high-level government panel intended to figure out how the Army should adapt to this Russian wake-up call.” He told a Senate committee, “Russia possesses a variety of rocket, missile and cannon artillery systems that outrange and are more lethal than US Army artillery systems and munitions.” He called for developing advanced weapons to replace the two main Army armored vehicles, the Abrams tank and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

This background suggests that McMaster will be aligned with Secretary of Defense Mattis in viewing Russia as the main strategic adversary of US imperialism in both the Middle East and Europe. That accounts for the widespread praise for his selection by those who have been spearheading the anti-Russian campaign on behalf of the US military-intelligence apparatus...

More significant from the standpoint of his current position is the attitude McMaster adopted towards social and political constraints on the military. His book strongly attacked the Joint Chiefs of Staff of that period, 1963-1965, for failing to demand the all-out mobilization of up to 700,000 troops they believed necessary to win the war. They did not press these demands because Johnson was committed to a strategy of limited war in order to provide resources for domestic social reforms such as Medicare, Medicaid and the “war on poverty.”

Such an approach suggests that General McMaster, like Trump himself, would favor the plundering of social programs in order to pay for the rapid and extensive military buildup that both have advocated, preparing for an explosion of American militarism on a scale that would dwarf both Vietnam and the current wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.



Retired or active-duty military brass hold four top positions: Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis and Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly are both retired Marine Corps major generals. McMaster will head the NSC, and retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who had been acting head during the week since Flynn’s dismissal, will resume his position as NSC chief of staff, now as McMaster’s deputy....

The appointment was backed by many of those who have been denouncing Trump for his alleged “softness” on Russia. The ultra-right magazine National Review hailed the appointment, comparing it to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, and writing that “Trump’s key generals—James Mattis, John Kelly, and now H.R. McMaster—represent the best of modern military leadership. Their presence in the government is deeply reassuring. It’s now incumbent on President Trump to heed their counsel and give them the level of authority that they have earned.”

Senator John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, fresh from a speech to the Munich Security Conference in which he portrayed the new administration as a potential threat to world stability, praised the nomination as well. “I give President Trump great credit for this decision, as well as his national security cabinet choices,” McCain said in a statement. “I could not imagine a better, more capable national security team than the one we have right now

15--Thinking the unthinkable--How many people would die in a war between the US and Russia?

Behind the scenes, however, the intelligence agencies and Pentagon, along with their allied geo-strategic think tanks, are engaged in intense discussions and detailed planning premised on the possibility, indeed inevitability, of a major war with Russia. Plans are being laid and preparations made to wage and “win” such a war, including through the use of nuclear weapons.

One does not have to look far to find the people who are heading up the war planning. Yesterday, President Trump appointed Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, an army strategist, as his new national security advisor.

The selection of McMaster is broadly seen as a concession to Trump’s anti-Russia critics in the political and intelligence establishment. He is the leading figure in an Army project called the Russia New Generation Warfare study, whose participants have made repeated trips to the battlefields of eastern Ukraine to study Russia’s military capabilities and devise strategies and weapons systems to defeat them. McMaster has called on the US to prepare for high-intensity conventional war with Russia, involving not only long-range missile systems and stealth aircraft, but also “close” combat.

Beyond conventional warfare, US think tank strategists are discussing what it would take to “win” a nuclear war. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) recently put out a 140-page report, “Preserving the Balance: A US Eurasia Defense Strategy,” which discusses this issue in detail. The CSBA is headed by Andrew Krepinevich, the report’s author, and includes on its Board of Directors figures such as former Under Secretary of the Army Nelson Ford, former CIA Director James Woolsey and retired general Jack Keane.

“There is a need to rethink the problem of limited nuclear war in which the United States is a direct participant, or between other parties where the United States has a major security interest,” Krepinevich writes. “As opposed to the global apocalypse envisioned in the wake of a superpower nuclear exchange during the Cold War, there will very likely be a functioning world after a war between minor nuclear powers, or even between the United States and a nuclear-armed Iran or North Korea. US forces must, therefore, be prepared to respond to a range of strategic warfare contingencies along the Eurasian periphery

In an earlier report entitled “Rethinking Armageddon,” Krepinevich argued that the use of a “small number” of battlefield nuclear weapons should be included among the appropriate responses by a US president to conventional threats from Russia.

During the Cold War, the “limited” use of nuclear weapons was seen as an invitation for a full-scale nuclear exchange and the destruction of the planet. Now such discussions are considered “respectable” and prudent.

These plans are being realized in the US military arsenal. The US is currently in the midst of a $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program commissioned under Obama. The program centers on the procurement of lower-yield, maneuverable nuclear weapons that are more likely to be used in combat. However, the Defense Science Board, a committee appointed to advise the Pentagon, recently called on the Trump administration to do more to develop weapons suitable for a “tailored nuclear option for limited use...

More contemporary studies have shown similarly disastrous outcomes. A 2007 report by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War suggested that a “limited” nuclear exchange could lead to the deaths of over a billion people, mostly as a result of widespread climate disruption.

16--White House delivered EU-skeptic message before Pence visit: Sources

In those remarks, delivered via Skype, Bannon spoke favorably about European populist movements and described a yearning for nationalism by people who "don't believe in this kind of pan-European Union."...

The worst-case scenario from Europe's point of view was described by Ischinger in an article published last week, entitled "How Europe should deal with Trump".
He said that if the U.S. administration actively supported right-wing populists in the looming election campaigns it would trigger a "major transatlantic crisis".

17--Worse Than a Decade of Stagnation --

18--Biggest Gasoline Glut In 27 Years Could Crash Oil Markets

the glut of gasoline is now the worst in 27 years. At 259 million barrels, U.S. gasoline storage levels are now at their highest level since the EIA began tracking the data back in 1990

19--Election year spending spree-- Half of 2016 GDP came from gov spending

20--US stock market record rally irrational – Goldman Sachs

“Cognitive dissonance exists in the US stock market. S&P 500 is up 10 percent since the election despite negative [earnings per share] revisions from sell-side analysts,”said David Kostin, the chief US equity strategist at Goldman Sachs.

21--Media as "enemy of the American people"  Trump presser

"And I'm saying, the first thing I thought of when I heard about it, is how does the press get this information that's classified? How do they do it? You know why? Because it's an illegal process, and the press should be ashamed of themselves, but more importantly, the people that gave out information to the press should be ashamed of themselves. Really a shame," Trump said....

"The press has become so dishonest that if we don't talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk about it. We have to find out what's going on because the press, honestly, is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control," the US president said in the course of the conference.

22--US Subprime Car, College Loans Surge to Hazardous Levels

This would not be such a big deal had US economic growth and gains in disposable incomes been sustainable enough to offset the risks associated with rising household debt burden. However, with the post-recession economic recovery being rather weak, and salaries and wages having stagnated for two decades, US consumers can't service their obligations as efficiently as ten years ago, when the mortgage meltdown unravelled due to the rising number of home loan delinquencies.

In December 2016, total US household debt stood at $12.5 trln, its highest since mid-2008, the NY Fed reported, while the share of car loans was at its highest since at least 2003, when records on this parameter were first taken.
"Debt held by Americans is approaching its previous peak, yet its composition today is vastly different as the growth in balances has been driven by non-housing debt," Wilbert van der Klaauw, Senior Vice President of the NY Fed, said.


23--TRUMP'S SYRIA POLICY NOT YET CLEAR

Before assuming office, Trump suggested he could
end support for FSA groups and give priority to the fight against Islamic State (IS), whose well-armed jihadists hold large tracts of eastern and central Syria.

But Trump's administration has yet to declare a firm policy towards Syria and Iraq, despite his repeated vows to eradicate IS, so it has been "business as usual" with covert and overt training and military support programs, one U.S. official said....

The CIA-backed program has regulated aid to the rebels after a period of unchecked support early in the war - especially from Gulf states - helped give rise to an array of insurgent groups, many of them strongly Islamist in ideology....

U.S. intelligence and military officials said the leakage, sale and capture of U.S.-supplied and other weapons from units of the FSA to Islamic State, the Nusra Front, and other splinter militant groups have been a concern since the CIA and U.S. military began arming and training a limited number of rebels.

From the start, said one of the officials, some U.S.-backed rebels have migrated from groups that were battered by Syrian government forces to others such as IS that were seizing and holding territory at the time. Aid has slowed or stopped in Idlib and nearby areas, officials said, amid fears the pattern may be continuing after rebels lost ground there.

24--McCain meets Salman and Erdogan, talks "safe zones"


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