Saturday, July 15, 2017

Today's Links

"Russia wants good relations with all nations. Unrelenting US hostility makes improving bilateral ties unattainable."  Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

1--Report: Lynch Tapped Manafort's Phone During Trump Jr. Meeting With Russian Lawyer

(The extreme powers of illegal surveillance are now being used as they were intended to be used, to subvert democracy and impose a permanent totalitarian state that cannot be opposed)


If Brower's tweet is proven correct and Paul Manafort's phone was being tapped during the meeting - it means Loretta Lynch's surveillance of Manafort, an American, was done without a FISA warrant - as the first FISA request by the Obama administration came in July, the same month as the meeting in Trump Tower.

2--After the Economy Implodes, Who You Gonna Blame?

...out here in flyover country, things are looking grim. It will probably take a full-blown Greatest Depression before the people actually do something to “drain the swamp,” dismantle the Federal Reserve, and cleanse government of parasitical Wall Street leeches.

3--The Non-Issue of Trump Jr.’s Emails

Trump Jr.’s meeting and email correspondence with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya amounted to much ado about nothing.

A nothing story disgracefully became a cause celebre, anything to bash, denigrate and weaken Trump for the wrong reasons, ignoring plenty of justifiable ones – done directly or through other parties, in this case his son.

Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya is a private citizen unconnected to the Kremlin. There was nothing improper or illegal about Trump Jr. meeting with her. No “collusion” occurred, no connection to Russia, no other known criminal activity of any kind.

Trump Jr. published emails between himself and Veselnitskaya, showing they had nothing to do with Russia. Issues discussed related to adoption of children and related charitable activities.

Emails between himself and publicist/tabloid writer Rob Goldstone claimed a Russian government lawyer had incriminating documents about Hillary, yet nothing of the sort was discussed or transmitted

4--“Do you think there exists a campaign to delegitimize President Trump and his administration or not?”  Lendman

87% of Republicans think so, 63% of independents, even 40% of Democrats....

The poll showed also two-thirds of respondents believe congressional and FBI investigations of Russia are “hurting the country.”

Most respondents said “Deep State” leaks aim to “unseat” Trump. A June YouGov poll showed 70% of Americans believe establishment media are biased against him, saying they “report stories in a light that’s partial to who owns them.”

The notion of a free press in America and other Western societies is pure fantasy – other than independent alternative media. Journalist AJ Liebling (1904 – 1963) once said press freedom is only for “those who own one.”...

One of numerous NYT daily anti-Trump propaganda pieces ludicrously blustered “America…is hanging by a thread (with Trump) playing with the shears.”

The commentary hyped willful deception about Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016, claiming it reflects “Russia and its government’s support for his father,” disgracefully adding:

“This is clear evidence of collusion and pushing disturbingly close to the possibility of other crimes including treason…”

Fact: It’s “evidence” of nothing more than private citizens meeting, unconnected to Russia or anything improper or illegal.

5--California-Berkeley professor Michael Reich shows that significantly raising the minimum wage boosts worker pay and hasn’t led to either job losses or a slowdown in economic growth

Seattle is leading the charge for a more equitable future. In 2014 the city council passed the first minimum wage increase scheduled to rise to $15 an hour. Other cities have followed, including San Francisco and, just recently, Minneapolis.

Research from University of California-Berkeley professor Michael Reich shows that significantly raising the minimum wage boosts worker pay and hasn’t led to either job losses or a slowdown in economic growth, among a slew of other social and economic benefits.

The federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour, so low that there isn’t a single city in the country where a worker can afford to live and support a family on that wage.

6--Bank Health, Imperiled

Knee-jerk deregulation is not the only threat to financial stability. It’s entirely possible that the system is more fragile than the Fed’s stress tests indicate. By the Fed’s calculations, capital held by the nation’s eight largest banks was nearly 14 percent of assets, weighted by risk, at the end of 2016.

Alternative calculations of capital, including those that use international accounting rules rather than American accounting principles, put the capital cushion much lower, at 6.3 percent. The difference is largely attributable to regulators’ differing assessment of the risks posed by derivatives, the complex instruments that blew up in the financial crisis and that still are a major part of the holdings of big American banks.

7--Part One: Amazon cashes in on war crimes and mass surveillance

8--Another Fed feeding Frenzy--Fed ‘Stress Tests’ Clear All Banks to Issue Payouts to Shareholders

On average, requested payouts are near 100% of banks’ expected earnings over the next year, up from 65% last year

9-- Wages and Wall Street

15 July 2017
Despite mounting geo-political conflicts, economic stagnation and governmental crises in country after country, stock markets in the US and around the world continue their spectacular upward climb. On Friday, as new revelations in the Trump-Russia saga intensified the crisis facing the deeply unpopular US administration, Wall Street chalked up another banner day. The Dow and the S&P 500 closed at new record highs and the Nasdaq recorded its best week of the year. Since its post-2008 crisis low point in March of 2009, the Dow has risen by 340 percent.

The other persistent economic trend, particularly in the United States, is the stagnation and decline of wages. This is despite a nominal US unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, a low level by historical standards, and what the media characterizes as “robust” job-creation....

The Wall Street boom and profit bonanza for the rich are not the result of a growth in production or a new upward spiral of the productive forces. On the contrary, the International Monetary Fund has placed at the center of continuing economic and trade stagnation a persistent decline in productive investment and, related to that, a slump in productivity growth.
What has happened is that the process of financialization and the growth of parasitism that led to the 2008 crash—triggered by the outright criminality of the major banks and investment firms—have accelerated in its aftermath. Far from diverting a small portion of corporate profits to finance social reforms, governments and central banks have overseen an unprecedented plundering of the world economy to rescue the financial aristocracy and make it even richer, at the direct expense of the working class...

The banks used their super-profits to provide a windfall for the financial aristocracy in the form of dividend increases, stock buybacks and corporate mergers. Just this month, the Fed gave the green light for banks to raise their payouts to big investors. Bank of America said it would increase its dividend by 60 percent and unveiled a $12 billion share repurchase plan.
This was accompanied, under Obama, with a policy of austerity and wage-cutting directed against the working class. This included the bailout of the auto corporations on the basis of an across-the-board 50 percent cut in the wages of newly hired workers, the gutting of health care for millions of workers in the form of Obamacare, and an assault on pensions signaled by the Detroit bankruptcy.

The social reforms of the New Deal were not the result of beneficence on the part of Franklin Roosevelt, but the explosive eruption of working class struggle, particularly between 1934 and 1938, including general strikes that paralyzed entire cities and a wave of sit-down strikes in auto and other industries.

10--In one record day, a bad year for stock buybacks becomes a good one

11--Trump Wants Authority to Build New Bases in Iraq, Syria

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