Monday, April 3, 2017

Today's Links

1--The world's most lethal killing machine, just lost its head. Trump relinquishes authority over military.


While most of the talk about the Pentagon’s proposals for various wars to President Trump has focused on requests for more troops in more countries, a much less publicized effort has also been getting rubber stamped, one giving commanders in those wars increasing autonomy on operations.

Buried in the details of almost every proposal from Iraq and Syria to smaller operations like US troops in Yemen and Somalia, there is always a mention of commanders wanting to be able to conduct strikes at will, both airstrikes and ground raids.

While President Trump is eager to make such moves early on to show that he is “listening to the generals,” granting so much autonomy to the military to fight its own wars without political oversight is risky business, since the president will ultimately be held responsible for what the military does.
The long term ramifications could be even more dangerous, as it further distances America’s direct foreign interventions from politicians, and by extension from the voters, turning the details of major military operations into little more than bureaucratic details for career military brass.
These major changes are happening in almost complete silence, as while there have been mentions of the Pentagon seeking these new authorities, always as an afterthought to getting more troops, there is little to no interest in debating the question.


2--McMaster the War Criminal


3--Archive--Barack Obama 'has authority to use drone strikes to kill Americans on US soil'   President Barack Obama has the authority to use an unmanned drone strike to kill US citizens on American soil, his attorney general has said


4--archive 2011--ACLU Statement on Padilla Decision--Deep state overturns habeas terminating Bill of Rights


In A Blow To The Rule Of Law, Court Dismisses Lawsuit To Hold Former Government Officials Accountable For Torture Of Jose Padilla
Torture Crimes Must Not Go Unpunished, Says ACLU

A federal court today dismissed an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other current and former government officials for their roles in the unlawful detention and torture of U.S. citizen Jose Padilla. In a troubling 32-page ruling, South Carolina federal judge Richard Mark Gergel held that Padilla had no right to sue for constitutional violations, and that Rumsfeld and the other defendants “are entitled to qualified immunity regarding all claims of alleged constitutional violations arising out of Padilla’s detention as an enemy combatant.”


“The court today held that Donald Rumsfeld is above the law and Jose Padilla is beneath it,” said Ben Wizner, Litigation Director of the ACLU National Security Project. “But if the law does not protect Jose Padilla, it protects none of us, and the executive branch can simply label citizens enemies of the state and strip them of all rights—including the absolute right not to be tortured. If Jose Padilla is not allowed his day in court, nothing will prevent future administrations from engaging in similar abuses.”


Padilla was seized from a U.S. jail in 2002, declared an “enemy combatant” and secretly transported to a military brig in South Carolina. He was imprisoned for nearly four years, during which he was subjected to extreme abuse and was unable to communicate with his lawyers or family for two years. The Bush administration sought to justify his detention and harsh interrogation methods in part by claiming Padilla was plotting with al-Qaeda to detonate a radiological “dirty bomb” in a U.S. city, but no evidence of such a plot has been presented in court


5--Yikes!  Medicaid now provides medical care to four out of 10 American children. It covers the costs of nearly half of all births in the United States. It pays for the care of two-thirds of people in nursing homes


The Times summed up how far-reaching Medicaid had become, now enrolling 21 percent of the population — more than Medicare (the program of public health insurance for Americans over 64):

Medicaid now provides medical care to four out of 10 American children. It covers the costs of nearly half of all births in the United States. It pays for the care of two-thirds of people in nursing homes. And it provides for 10 million children and adults with physical or mental disabilities […] almost two-thirds of Americans in a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation said they were either covered by Medicaid or had a family member or friend who was.

Medicaid is not a universal entitlement, but it is an entitlement that now affects tens of millions of people who are not poor. This provides it with some considerable political protection. The only major entitlement that was taken away from us was Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), which was undone by the Clinton administration in 1996. It was vulnerable because it served only poor people; sadly, since its repeal, there has been a large increase in the number of people living in extreme poverty.

6--COLLAPSE IN DEMAND

Basically we have a trickle up effect, workers take on debt that fuels the profits of the corporates that dominate the consumer supply chains. However this rise in corporate profits has not been recycled back into the real economy via workers wages. There will come a point where the workers can no longer take on more debt. When this happens consumer demand will fall, wages will fall and unemployment will rise. Existing loans made by workers will fall into default, creating another banking crisis. If the banks are not saved by government or central bank intervention the credit created by the banks will become worthless. So, it is in the interests of the wealthy elite to protect the banking system whatever the cost to the rest of society. In the end the wealthy elite will themselves, destroy the financial system by taking so much of it that demand collapses

7-- The ECB is the heart of Europe  When banks rule, people suffer

The euro-sclerosis and the euro-pessimism are only a few of the old neologisms that got a new lease on life thanks to "reformers" and "crisis managers" who devastated the euro area economy with their – take a deep breath – "austerity growth model," consisting of deep public spending cuts, tax hikes, jobs-destroying structural reforms and a monetary policy that should look the other way.

Predictably, the area's economy took it on the chin and went down for the count, with millions of lives destroyed by soaring poverty and destitution -- until the European Central Bank (ECB) stepped in to provide the antidote to that cruel nostrum and to begin a long process of healing and recovery.

8-- GDP --Call the mortician

Trumped up expectations are fading a bit while ‘hard data’ continues to fade. And note the real disposable personal income chart which continues its deceleration that began when oil capex collapsed...

Highlights
A second month of weak spending on services pulled down on consumer spending which could only manage a 0.1 percent rise in February, one that follows a nearly as weak 0.2 percent gain in January. February’s result is below consensus and at the low end of the Econoday forecast range.
Income data are more favorable headlined by an as-expected 0.4 percent gain and a very solid 0.5 percent increase in the wages & salaries component. And consumers moved money into the bank as the savings rate climbed 2 tenths for a second straight month to 5.6 percent. Increases in savings are a factor behind the weakness in spending....

less-than-excited consumer who, after a vehicle-buying spree in the fourth quarter, may be cutting back and putting money into the bank. This may be good for consumer health and the long-term outlook, but it won’t help first-quarter GDP which, after today’s report, now looks to be decidedly soft.

Atlanta Fed, March 31-- 0.9 percent Q1

9--Donald Trump’s tax cuts are in trouble

10--Trump was bugged?

Housley appeared on a Fox News segment to discuss his report later Monday, apparently catching the president’s eye. Citing multiple sources, Housley said “there was electronic surveillance of Trump and the people close to Donald Trump, including some supporters for up to a year before inauguration.”
“It’s unprecedented, I’m told, the way this was done,” he said.

In a tweet tagging the FBI, Trump quoted Housley: “.@FoxNews from multiple sources: ‘There was electronic surveillance of Trump, and people close to Trump. This is unprecedented.’”


11--The Real Russiagate: Obama’s Stasi State — Michael Hudson and Paul Craig Roberts


12--US drops firebombs in Syria


13--Trump's neocolonial war of Relentless Savagery --Trump administration plans economic and military offensive against Africa


In Africa and worldwide, Trump’s policies mark the decisive transformation of Washington into the most destabilizing factor in world politics
By Thomas Gaist
3 April 2017
In February, the Trump administration struck down minimal restrictions on the collaboration of American corporations with mercenaries in Congo’s war-torn eastern provinces. The leaking of the executive order on the “conflict mineral rule,” the only substantive Africa policy document to so far emerge from the White House, has the appearance of a calculated political signal. It sends an unmistakable message of “open season” to American corporations, and to their militarist collaborators on the continent. The order also signals the US government’s commitment to the violent breakup, if necessary, of Congo’s government and the all-out looting of its natural wealth.....
During his first three months in office, Trump approved major expansions of the US Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) interventions in Somalia, Libya, Nigeria, and several other unnamed Central and West African countries.
Trump reportedly favors giving US commanders in Africa wide latitude to wage war in complete secrecy, and without direct authorization from the civilian government. The White House has granted American ground forces expanded powers to call in airstrikes against large areas of Somalia, which were officially declared “areas of active hostilities” subject to “war-zone targeting rules” by the Trump White House on Thursday.
The new president is casting aside the pretense, upheld by Obama, that the ever-growing US war operations in Africa are aimed at enabling mutually beneficial economic development. The shape which US-Africa business relations will take under Trump was highlighted in mid-March, when the White House declined to give exemptions from its travel ban to some 100 African business leaders seeking to enter the United States to attend the 2017 African Global Economic and Development Summit.
The near-total silence of the Trump administration over its plans for the African continent has become something of a cliche among commenters on African politics. Indeed, the US government is maintaining military-style secrecy over its foreign political activities not only in Africa, but in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere around the globe.
Despite the relative secrecy, the general outlines of Trump’s Africa policy can nevertheless be deduced from his administration’s opening moves on the continent, when these are understood as the outgrowth of the crisis of American imperialism and the worldwide militarist offensive it has waged since the dissolution of the Soviet Union more than a quarter century ago.

From the outset, the selection of key leadership positions overseeing various US operations on the continent has underscored the hardline corporatist and militarist character of Trump’s agenda in Africa.

Trump has chosen retired US Air Force Colonel Rudolph Atallah to serve as Africa director on the National Security Council (NSC). Attalah was previously director of the US Special Operations Command Sub-Saharan Africa Orientation Course, which prepares US soldiers and government officials for deployment to the region. Trump’s leading choices to head the State Department’s Africa Bureau include Jeff Krill, the former vice president of Kosmos Energy, a company with substantial financial interests throughout West Africa, and retired US Army intelligence officer Charles Snyder.
Its initial military moves have made clear the Trump regime’s determination to intensify the neocolonial African policies of the previous four administrations, pursuing nothing less than the unconditional subordination of the continent’s economies, resources and working masses to the profit-drive of the American ruling class.

14--Washington rolls out red carpet for the butcher of Cairo


This is not merely a matter of foreign policy or even the personal pleasure Trump and similar parasitical billionaires take in rubbing shoulders with mass killers and war criminals. What the US president sees in the bloody events in Egypt is America’s future. Under conditions of ever widening social inequality, he and the ruling class he represents are prepared to unleash similar massacres and mass arrests to defend their wealth and power from an uprising by the working class....

The military regime consolidated its grip on power through the August 2013 massacre of over 1,000 Egyptians in Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square where they were protesting Mursi’s overthrow.
Since then, the regime has jailed some 60,000 political prisoners, under conditions of rampant torture by the military and the police. Over 1,250 remain “missing” after falling into the clutches of the security forces, and over 1,000 have been sentenced to death in political trials.
Under conditions in which the Democratic administration was invoking “human rights” to justify wars for regime change that it launched in both Libya and Syria, Obama and the State Department found themselves compelled to formally distance themselves from the butcher of Cairo

15--US to balkanize Syria under Kurdish pretext


Oldest plan in the book: Balkanize Syria

The US’s vision of the future Syrian map was detailed by Kissinger during a presentation at the Ford School Syria with pretty much a distorted history lesson. He stated that Syria was not a historic state “It was created in its present shape in 1920, and it was given that shape to facilitate the control of the country by France, which happened to be after a UN mandate,” he said.
Kissinger then claimed that the current Syria was conceived as a more or less artificial national unity consisting of different tribes and ethnic groups.

This same theory was also presented by the Israeli Oded Yinon plan which is an article published in February 1982 in the Hebrew journal Kivunim ("Directions") entitled A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s. This plan is an early example of characterizing political projects in the Middle East in terms of a logic of sectarian divisions and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states.
Hence, supporting the partitioning of Syria began with the US and Israel’s full support of the so- called “Rojava Project”.


16--'Senate Looking in the Wrong Place' as FBI Influenced US Election - Kucinich


17--"Over the past 6 years, the US has committed countless crimes in Syria, but even these crimes did not allow the Americans to fully realize their plans in Syria. They only created extremism, fostered terrorism, which because of its uncontrollable nature will sooner or later return as a boomerang and destroy them."   Advisor to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hossein Sheikholeslam


18--Been there, done that. German tanks mass on Russia border


It's impossible to imagine a German Chancellor sending tanks to the Russian border. Stop these madmen," Mandy Simon wrote in response to an article on the German military equipment heading to Lithuania published in Focus, a German weekly news magazine....

"What do we want on the Russian border?" Klaus Graf asked. "Due to our history we are indebted to the whole world forever. And now we are standing close to Russian border


19--Michael Hudson


Profits without Prosperity,” calculating that for the decade 2003-2012, the 449 companies publicly listed in the S&P 500 index spent only 9% of their earnings on new capital investment. They used 54% to buy back their own stock, and 37% to pay dividends. I told the reporter that I thought the President’s point was that the financial sector was not financing capital formation and employment to increase output.


Notes--Alfred McCoy

After a post-Cold War quarter-century of globalization, displaced workers around the world began mobilizing angrily to oppose an economic order that had made life so good for transnational corporations and social elites.Between 1999 and 2011, for instance, Chinese imports had eliminated 2.4 million American jobs, closing furniture manufacturers in North Carolina, factories that produced glass in Ohio, and auto parts and steel companies across the Midwest. As a range of nations worldwide reacted to such realities by imposing a combined 2,100 restrictions on imports to staunch similar job losses, world trade actually started to slow down without a major recession for the first time since 1945.

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