Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Today's Links

1--The Real Reason Democrats Love Bush Now

Democrats are Bush now. Everything they once opposed they have now been manipulated into supporting, and the smiling, blood-soaked face of establishment politics is allowed to lull us all deeper and deeper into insanity

2--The Real Aim of the Secret Memo Is the Mueller Investigation

Republicans are pushing the narrative that a cabal of politically biased law enforcement officials set out to sabotage Mr. Trump. And they are portraying a dossier written by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, which laid out unverified claims that Russia had compromised Mr. Trump and was conspiring with him, as the fountainhead of the Russia investigation..

Mr. Nunes’s three-and-a-half page memo bolsters conservatives’ story line. According to people who have read it, the memo centers on a fall 2016 application for a wiretap order targeting Carter Page, a onetime Trump campaign official who had visited Moscow that June and was preparing to return there in December. The memo is said to criticize law enforcement officials for including information provided by Mr. Steele in the application without adequately explaining to the judge that Democrats financed Mr. Steele’s research....

Of particular importance, the Republican memo is said to cite the role of Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general appointed by Mr. Trump last year, in signing off on an application to extend the surveillance of Mr. Page — meaning he approved the resubmission of Mr. Steele’s information to the court. Mr. Rosenstein’s role could provide critics of the inquiry ammunition to go after him

3--The problem is US occupation no Kim's nukes

Korea’s history is one of implacable and fairly constant conflict with the violent and aggressive West, as well as resistance to both Japanese and Chinese domination: it is, in short, the history of a fiercely nationalistic people determined to shape their own destiny in the face of avaricious imperialism....

While the communist North and the Western-occupied South certainly developed along far different lines, beneath the thin veneer of official ideology the country retained its nationalistic character. Both fragments of the split apart nation set up ministries devoted to “unification,” and, despite efforts by the Bush II administration to stop it, the “Sunshine Policy” of economic cooperation and closer ties nearly succeeded in bringing the two regimes to the point where unity was at least a possibility.

However, the Bushites were determined to torpedo that effort and they finally succeeded, naming the North as part of the “axis of evil,” and threatening to invade by regularly conducting military “exercises” that limn a full-scale frontal attack. This is a yearly ritual.

Despite all this, Queen Min is still looking out for her subjects: her unabashedly nationalist spirit pervades the new sense of optimism that is preceding the Winter Olympics, to be held in South Korea, with the full participation of the North. In a move that surprised – and horrified – the warmongers in the West (both inside and outside the Trump administration) North and South Korean athletes will march together under a special “unification flag”: the two countries will unite their hockey teams, and the North’s two champion figure skaters, Ryom Tai-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik, described by their South Korean counterparts as "friendly and kind and a little bit shy," will be the stars of the show. The North Korean state orchestra is scheduled to perform.

4--US, UK, France and Saudis Have a Modest Dismember Syria

The five countries also suggested stripping the Syrian government from many of its powers and creating two parliaments that will have limited powers. This will leave most of the state’s establishments under the control of the local authorities in a decentralized political system.
Syrian pro-government activists described the proposed constitution as an attempt to legalize the stateless situation in some parts of Syria in order to end the Syrian state once and for all.

5--US Savings rate hits crisis lows

6--The story of Russian support for Turkish op in Syria

On Jan. 13, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said they would not repeat the mistakes of Iraq and allow an “ISIL 2.0” to emerge and would continue to support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as long as they were willing to fight. The SDF is a “renamed version” of the YPG, an initiative realized by the U.S. Special Forces Command. The group includes some Arab tribes, in order to conceal the YPG-PKK linkage.

On Jan. 14, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against the ISIL said a Border Security Force of 30,000 troops would be formed of the SDF to protect Syria’s borders with Iraq and Turkey. The statement stirred outrage in Ankara. Turkey had previously been an important contributor of the coalition but in this instance the country was not consulted.

On Jan. 16, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met with the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Vancouver and asked him to stop collaboration with the YPG/PKK, saying that Turkey could help Syrian objectives on the ground if the U.S. did co-operated.

On Jan. 17, Tillerson said the “border army” rhetoric was poorly expressed but that U.S. forces would train such a force.

On Jan. 20, the Turkish air force and artillery started to bomb YPG positions in the northwestern town of Afrin, held by the YPG since the beginning of the Syrian civil war. The air operation would not have been possible without Russia’s consent. It was also coordinated with the Syrian regime through Russia, as revealed by Çavuşoğlu later on.

7--Erdogan will clear the Syrian border

8--US to protect Manbij

9--The United States and the Kurds: A Brief History

in the mid-1970s, in conjunction with the dictatorial Shah of Iran, the United States goaded Iraqi Kurds into launching an armed uprising against the then left-leaning Iraqi government with the promise of continued military support. However, the United States abandoned them precipitously as part of an agreement with the Baghdad regime for a territorial compromise favorable to Iran regarding the Shatt al-Arab waterway. Suddenly without supply lines to obtain the necessary equipment to defend themselves, the Iraqi army marched into Kurdish areas and thousands were slaughtered. Then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dismissed concerns about the humanitarian consequences of this betrayal by saying that "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.

10--Where Is Public Opinion On The Russia Investigation?

11--Syria's Kurds: from the margins to de facto autonomy

“Turkey knows where our forces are in Manbij, and what they are doing there, and why they are there –to prevent any kind of escalation between the groups who are in that area,” Dillon told Rudaw TV. “The Coalition will continue to support our Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against ISIS. We have said this all along, and we have said this with the Kurdish elements of the SDF. We will provide them equipment as necessary to defeat ISIS.”

12-- The US and Turkey inch closer to war in Syria

13-- Turkey’s attack on Syrian Kurds could overturn the entire region

Furthermore, the Kurds of Turkey could exploit an upsurge in Kurdish militancy and intensify their insurgency. Such a ramping up of Kurdish nationalism would also be evident in Iraq and Iran. With a rising insurgency beginning with the success – or even noble failure – of the defence of Afrin, a broader Kurdish revolt against their host states and allies is not beyond the realms of possibility....

For Russia, involvement in Syria offered an opportunity to undermine the integrity of Nato, to further Russian interests in eastern Europe, the Baltic, and perhaps beyond into other theatres. With Russia seemingly helping Turkish operations in Afrin – by granting permission to use the airspace and openly condemning the US for its “unilateral”actions in strengthening the YPG – Moscow could claim to have at least part-orchestrated a beautifully conceived plan. Two Nato members – the US and Turkey or at least their proxies – could end up pitched into a very bloody and protracted conflict.
Turkey has another, important bargaining chip against Russia: the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. Moscow has pinned high hopes on the project and it does not want anything to hinder its construction.

14-- support for Kurdish gov in Iraq  US

Moscow's consent to a Turkish operation in Afrin coincided with a statement from Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller, confirming a long-awaited agreement on the construction of a second gas line passing through the territorial waters of Turkey.

This makes it unlikely for Ankara to suspend the project in the near future, as it did in 2015. If the construction continues without hindrance, the Turkish Stream can be completed in 2019 as planned.
US troops will not withdraw from Syria’s Manbij: CENTCOM Gen Votel

15--Foreign Fighters Back Kurdish Militia in Syria in Fight Against Turkey

• The aim of the operation: Yıldırım said the operation, launched on Jan. 20 and named “Operation Olive Branch,” did not aim at Syria’s territorial integrity. On the contrary, he said, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) Syria branch, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) - all of which Turkey is fighting against - were trying to carve out parts of Syria. Turkey would pull out as soon as the terror threat on its borders with Syria is eliminated and the people of Syria win. ...•

The row with the U.S. over the YPG: “What the Americans keep telling us is that their cooperation with the PKK/YPG against ISIL was ‘not a choice, but a necessity,’” Yıldırım said. “And they are telling us that they would collect the weapons given to them when they are done. Does that sound convincing to you? They are not selling arms to us, a NATO ally, but are delivering weapons to terrorists for free. On top of this, they announce the formation of an army of 30,000 members on our borders, which are also NATO borders. I don’t understand this. This is enmity. Turkey cannot allow this, no matter who is behind it, what its name is and how powerful it is.  Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım

S. troops will not withdraw from Manbij, a strategically important city in northern Syria, Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the United States Central Command, told CNN International on Jan. 28.
Votel said withdrawing U.S. forces from Manbij is “not something we are looking into,” the broadcaster reported.

Manbij is a key flashpoint in northern Syria - located northeast of Aleppo and around 40 kilometers south of Jarabulus, which sits on the Syrian-Turkish border.
Turkey on Jan. 20 launched a massive military operation against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria’s northwestern district of Afrin and vowed that it will expand it to the Manbij area of Syria where YPG troops are located along with U.S. forces.

This means that U.S. troops risk being caught up in Turkey’s military push into northern Syria should Ankara follow through with a pledge to advance into the area.
The confirmation of U.S. commitment to Manbij comes as parties involved in the conflict prepare to meet in Russia-hosted peace talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Today's Links

Mattis declared that “Great Power competition between nations (is) becoming a reality once again.” He continued: “Though we will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists … Great Power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”

1-- Turkey forces US to revise its Syria policy

2-- The story of Russian support for Turkish op in Syria

The security and military cooperation between Turkey and the U.S., which has served as the bastion of the alliance for the last 60 years, has reached an impasse. In Manbij, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), close affiliates of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), are waiting to pull the trigger of the American weapons in their possession against the Turkish army....

Every time Turks question whether the U.S. stance on the YPG is compatible with the one a NATO ally should have, Americans reciprocate by questioning whether the purchase of S-400s from Russia is compatible with being a NATO ally. When Ankara argues: “But the YPG-PKK relationship is an existential threat to me,” Washington insists that Russia poses an existential threat to NATO.

In the meantime, the debate around Turkey’s NATO membership is gaining traction once again in Washington. But this time members of the “We lost Turkey, there is no need to wrestle for this relationship” camp are more crowded. The general mood at Capitol Hill says that Erdoğan’s Turkey is neither a rational actor nor a reliable ally and reflects the pressure point on the Trump administration....Nobody in Washington is really sure whether Ankara is bluffing about attacking the YPG in Manbij. That might be the strength of the Turkish position for the time being as long as this is backed by clever diplomacy in negotiations not by impulsive rhetoric or actions.

4--Russian economy under Putin: Quality of life tripled, foreign debt fell 75%

5--US needs to withdraw from Syria's Manbij region immediately: Turkish FM

6--US arms still flowing to kurds

7-- Manifestation of heinous intention’: North slams US’ recent sanctions against Pyongyang

8-- Netanyahu speaks...

“I agree that there is an alignment of Israel and other countries in the Middle East that would’ve been unimaginable 10 years ago, and certainly in my lifetime. I never saw anything like it,” the Israeli premier said.
“Yes, it starts with a common concern for a common enemy which is radical Islam, either of the radical Sunnis, Daesh, before that al-Qaeda, which Israel fights ... and also our common stance against Iran,” he added.

1-- Erdogan has made his choice

2--American, European pro-Kurdish fighters flock to Syria’s Afrin for battle against Turkey-led forces

Foreign fighters from the United States, Canada and Europe are arriving in Syria’s Afrin region to fight alongside Kurdish forces against the Turkish Army and militant groups allied to it.
Ranks of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units based in the Syrian region of Afrin (Aleppo province) have received a boost recently with the arrival of experienced North American and European volunteer fighters.

3--Full text: Trump Davos speech transcript 

4--The Saker: Uncle Sam Dumps The Kurds (Yet Again)

The US-Israeli goals in Syria were really very simple. As I have already mentioned in a past article, the initial AngloZionist plan was to overthrow Assad and replace him with the Takfiri crazies (Daesh, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, ISIS – call them whatever you want). Doing this would achieve the following goals:
Bring down a strong secular Arab state along with its political structure, armed forces and security services.

Create total chaos and horror in Syria justifying the creation of a “security zone” by Israel not only in the Golan, but further north.
Trigger a civil war in Lebanon by unleashing the Takfiri crazies against Hezbollah.

Let the Takfiris and Hezbollah bleed each other to death, then create a “security zone”, but this time in Lebanon.
Prevent the creation of a Shia axis Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon.
Breakup Syria along ethnic and religious lines.
Create a Kurdistan which could then be used against Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Make it possible for Israel to become the uncontested power broker in the Middle-East and forces the KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and all others to have to go to Israel for any gas or oil pipeline project.
Gradually isolate, threaten, subvert and eventually attack Iran with a wide regional coalition of forces.

Eliminate all center of Shia power in the Middle-East.
In fact, it is pretty clear that the US Americans have, yet again, betrayed an ally: Tillerson has now “greenlighted” a 30km safe zone in Syria (as if anybody was asking for his opinion, nevermind permission!). Take a look at this simple map of the Afrin region and look what 50 miles (about 80km) look like. You can immediately see that this 30km “safe zone” means: the end of any Kurdish aspirations to created a little independent Kurdistan in northern Syria.

To say that  all these developments make the Russians really happy is not an exaggeration. It is especially sweet for the Russians to see that they did not even have to do much, that this ugly mess of a disaster for the USA was entirely self-inflicted. What can be sweeter than that?

Syria, Iran and Turkey now realize a simple thing: only Russia stands between the crazy US-Israeli plans for the region and them. Absent Russia, there is nothing stopping the AngloZionist from re-igniting the “good terrorists” and the Kurds and use them against every one of them....
the Russians need to talk to the Kurds and offer them the same deal again: large autonomy inside Syria in exchange for peace and prosperity. The Kurds are not exactly the easiest people to talk to, but since there is really no other option, my guess is that as soon as they stop hallucinating about the US going to war with Turkey on their behalf they will have to sit down and negotiate the deal. Likewise, the Russians will have to sell the very same deal to Damascus which, frankly, is in no position to reject it.

5--First sign of end to Afrin crisis as Kurds call on Assad for help

there are also reports that the US is itself stepping supplies of anti tank missiles to the Kurds....
It appears that there was a furious row between Trump and Erdogan, with Trump telling Erdogan to stop his operation against the Kurds in Afrin and with Erdogan refusing to do so.

An angry and humiliated Erdogan has subsequently tried to conceal the extent of the row by claiming that the readout is inaccurate so as to pretend that the row never took place.
This brings up again the question of the seemingly confused state of US policy on the Kurdish question
I have for some time presumed that are different opinions in the White House and especially in the Pentagon with regards to Turkey and the Kurds. The realist-hawks and NATO proponents are on Turkey’s side while the neoconservative “liberal” forces are on the Kurdish side. Yesterday the NYT noted the split:

The White House sent out a message aimed at mollifying Turkey’s president on Tuesday, suggesting that the United States was easing off its support for the Syrian Kurds.That message was quickly contradicted by the Pentagon, which said it would continue to stand by the Kurds, even as Turkey invaded their stronghold in northwestern Syria.

The former director of the Council of Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, takes the pro-Kurdish position. Linking to the NYT piece above he says:
Richard N. Haass‏ @RichardHaass – 12:00 PM – 24 Jan 2018
Pentagon right; US should be working w Kurds in Syria for moral and strategic reasons alike. A break with Erdogan’s Turkey is inevitable, if not over this than over other differences. Time for DoD to come up with plan to substitute for Incirlik access.It is not only the Incirlik air-base which is irreplaceable for NATO’s southern command. Turkey also controls the access to the Black Sea and has thereby a say over potential NATO operations against southern Russia and Crimea.
In a Bloomberg oped former U.S. Supreme Commander of NATO Stavridis takes a pro-Turkish position:

At the moment, Washington is trying to sail a narrow passage between supporting its erstwhile Kurdish combat partners and not blowing up the relationship with Turkey. But the room for maneuver is closing and a choice is looming. What should the U.S. do?
W]e simply cannot afford to “lose” Turkey. …

The Turks have a strong and diversified economy, a young and growing population, and have stood alongside the U.S. for much of the post-World War II era. Their importance both regionally and globally will continue to grow in the 21st century. Yes, U.S. officials can and should criticize Turkish actions where they violate international law or human rights — but in private, at least at this stage of the situation.

[T]he overall U.S. strategic interest lies in keeping Turkey aligned with NATO and the trans-Atlantic community. It would be a geopolitical mistake of near-epic proportions to see Turkey drift out of that orbit and end up aligned with Russia and Iran in the Levant.

6--Trump & the Fed: US Shadow Bankers About to Deepen Control of US Economy

8--Toward the Reunion of the Two Koreas

9--Turkey Will ‘Target’ US Troops If They Keep Supporting Syrian Kurds
Deputy PM Says US Is 'Risking Confrontation' With Turkey 

10--- North Korea Issues Statement Calling for Breakthrough in UnificationUrges All Koreans to Push Bilateral Cooperation

11--Who Lost Turkey?" - The U.S.-Kurdish Project In Syria Endangers NATO

12--Will there be a US nuclear sneak attack on North Korea?

13--Democrats demand Facebook and Twitter release information on campaign over spying on Trump

14--Allies or Terrorists: Who Are the Kurdish Fighters in Syria?

Hassan Hassan, a Syrian analyst and author, said that the Americans repeatedly had broken promises to Turkey about the alliance: They said the Syrian Democratic Forces would not cross the Euphrates River. It did. They said it would withdraw. It stayed.
The Americans also said that the Y.P.G. would refrain from promoting P.K.K. ideology outside Kurdish areas. But Y.P.G. fighters hoisted a huge poster of Mr. Ocalan in the center of the city of Raqqa after wresting it from the Islamic State last year, a huge embarrassment to the United States.

15--The US Finally Told the Truth About Its Military Objective in Syria

16--The Pentagon Gets Its War in Syria

17--anti-Trump FBI Official Identified As Leaker To WSJ, WaPo Reporter 

18  Allies or Terrorists: Who Are the Kurdish Fighters in Syria?

19-- Permanent war on terror? gareth porter

20 Russiagate implodes

21-- Korea, Raimondo

“The initiative is going to have to come from Seoul, which has the most to lose if war breaks out. And when this initiative does come, Washington must welcome it, and do everything to foster it. When Trump was campaigning for President, he questioned the US presence in the South and wondered aloud why we had to risk war and bankruptcy providing for Seoul’s defense. His instincts were right: now perhaps we’ll get to see if his policies match his campaign rhetoric.”

The initiative did come from Seoul. Trump’s bellicose rhetoric since taking the White House has caused many of the more hysterical NeverTrumpers to squeal that he’s about to launch a first strike at Pyongyang. Folks, it ain’t happening. His rhetoric no doubt helped motivate South Korean President Moon Jae-in to take the initiative in fulfilling his campaign promise to revive the “Sunshine Policy” and pursue better relations with the North in a serious way.

History isn’t all about us. Sometimes – and, in the future, I believe this will increasingly be the case in a multi-polar world – it’s about people independently determining their own destiny and pursuing the path of peace.

22-‘Operation Olive Branch’: Key points of Turkish military campaign against Syrian Kurd

23--Propornot unmasked

24--US in bed with Isis?

On Jan. 24, Donald Trump used the harshest language that a US president has ever directed against a NATO ally, expressing “concern about destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey, and about United States citizens and local employees detained under the prolonged State of Emergency in Turkey,” and warning Turkey “to deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees.” Turkish stocks were unchanged.

Turkey meanwhile has reached a strategic accommodation with Russia over the future division of Syria: Turkey will abandon Sunni rebels whom it supported in the past in return for Russia’s forbearance while Turkey reduces Kurdish forces friendly to the United States. According to a Jan. 22 TASS press summary, Kirill Semenov, the head of the Islamic Research Center of the Institute of Innovative Development, explained: “Turkey’s operation in Afrin could have only happened as a result of agreements with the Russian side, particularly taking into account the fact that the Turkish air force used the Syrian air space.

26-- Fed loses control of US Economy

27--How did the US rename a terror group to work with it?

Notes and links--

Facebook Says ‘Insignificant’ Overlap Between Russia Ads, Trump


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

today's Links

1--Federal shutdown ends as Democrats cave in to Trump

In the annals of cowardly capitulations, there are few spectacles that can match Monday’s collapse by the Democratic Party, which abandoned its blockade against the budget resolution less than 72 hours after it began. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer announced the decision in a brief, nearly blubbering speech on the Senate floor, which combined phony invective directed against Trump with a complete surrender to the bigot-in-chief in the White House....

Obama only finally issued the executive order on DACA as a political maneuver to boost his reelection campaign in 2012. The Democrats are quite willing to shed tears over DACA recipients for electoral purposes in the Hispanic community, but Obama deported more undocumented immigrants than all previous presidents combined.

As the National Defense Strategy document released by the Pentagon last week made clear, the US military’s priority is no longer the so-called war on terrorism, but rather preparation for “great power” confrontation, including war with both Russia and China.
The White House statement went on to declare that Washington was urging “Turkey to exercise restraint in its military actions and rhetoric; ensure that its operations are limited in scope and duration; ensure humanitarian aid continues; and avoid civilian casualties.”...

“The US is urging that the operation should not last too long and should be conducted within a certain time frame,” he continued. “I ask the US: Does your operation in Afghanistan, which you launched more than 10 years ago, have a certain time frame? When will it be completed? You are also still in Iraq, aren’t you? Do these kind of operations have a certain time frame?”...

The depth of the crisis of US imperialist policy in Syria found its unmistakable expression in the reaction of a section of the pseudo-left. A group of “activists” and academics, led by Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the supposedly radical critic of US foreign policy, issued a statement condemning the Turkish action in Syria and the “inaction by the US to stop it.” The thrust of this appeal is for US imperialism to launch another war in the name of human rights, this time to assert its dominance over a challenge from a formal ally and de facto regional rival, that could lead to a massive escalation of the carnage in the Middle East.

3--Evidence of FBI Conspiracy Grows by Publius Tacitus

4--South Korea Slips Off the US Leash

5--Turkey invades Syria

The Russians also said that the US supplies of advance weapons to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria triggered Turkey’s military operation against the Kurdish militias in Afrin.
Uncontrolled deliveries of modern weapons, including reportedly the deliveries of the man-portable air defense systems, by the Pentagon to the pro-US forces in northern Syria, have contributed to the rapid escalation of tensions in the region and resulted in the launch of a special operation by the Turkish troops,” the ministry said. (

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Today's links

1---As North and South Korea Begin to Talk, Trump Watches From Sidelines

South Korea embarked on fragile new talks with North Korea on Wednesday.

The United States, the South’s key ally, views the overture with deep suspicion. For months, it has said that talks with North Korea would make no sense until its leader,...Trump administration officials said on Wednesday that they were not opposed to the idea of talks, provided that they be limited to the Olympics and that the South Koreans not make any concessions to the North that they, and the United States, would later regret. The White House plans to stay in close touch with South Korean officials to coordinate the messages going out and to review any offers coming in....

North Korea, they said, has a long history of using such overtures to sow dissent between South Korea and the United States, particularly at times, like now, when the countries have governments with divergent politics.

Trump said on Twitter, “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!”...

“The default position of the United States should be to support North-South dialogue,”

2--Over 76 percent of South Korean citizens back the idea of resumption of a dialogue with the North in an effort to settle the nuclear crisis, a poll showed Thursday
The National Unification Advisory Council's survey revealed, according to the Yonhap news agency, that 76.9 percent of respondents believe that the dialogue should be resumed, while 22 percent said that they disagree with such prospects....

According to the poll, about 60 percent of respondents think that within the framework of the unification policy, South Korea should pay special attention to the denuclearization of the North, while 25 percent of respondents think that Seoul should exert more efforts to improve the situation concerning human rights in the neighboring country.

3-- GOP reps demand release of 'shocking' surveillance memo

A growing number of Republicans are demanding the release of a classified report that they say reveals political bias at the FBI and Department of Justice in the investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian election meddling

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) spearheaded the effort this week to allow lawmakers to view a top-secret report compiled by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

Scores of Republicans have since viewed the document in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility on Capitol Hill. They left expressing shock, saying the special counsel investigation into whether Trump’s campaign officials had improper contacts with Russia is based on politically motivated actions at the highest level of law enforcement.


The story is simply this: the exchange of emails that was released by the Department of Justice Inspector General shows that very top-level FBI officials, including the head of counterintelligence, were plotting to make sure #1: that Trump did not win and #2: that if he did win, they would be able to push a narrative saying ‘Aha, he didn’t win fairly, and it was the Russians that helped him win.’

That is the narrative that prevails in our media right now; it’s a really, really shameful thing because even my progressive friends believe it. Even the progressive websites that used to automatically print my materials, like CommonDreams for example, or Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. I am shunned, like those dissidents in Russia way back when the Soviet Union existed

5--U.S. Humiliates South Korea, Threatens North Korea

6--All the Pieces Starting to Come Together

7--Glenn Greenwald-- The four-page memo

8--Twisted Tillerson: "Good news, Koreans are dying because of US policy"

we’re seeing it in some of the intel, we’re seeing it through anecdotal evidence coming out of defectors that are escaping.

The Japanese made a comment yesterday in our session that they have had over 100 North Korean fishing boats that have drifted into Japanese waters – two-thirds of the people on those boats have died – they weren’t trying to escape – and the ones that didn’t die, they wanted to go back home. So they sent them back to North Korea. But what they learned is they’re being sent out in the wintertime to fish because there’s food shortages, and they’re being sent out to fish with inadequate fuel to get back.

So we’re getting a lot of evidence that these sanctions are really starting to hurt. And so the rapprochement of the North to the South, now they’re on to the playbook that you know as well as anyone. And the playbook is, okay, we’re going to start our charm offensive to the rest of the world and let them see we’re just normal people like everybody else. We’re going to engender some sympathy. We’re going to try to drive a wedge between South Korea and their allies. And we spent an extraordinary amount of time yesterday in the group discussion hearing from Foreign Minister Kang of South Korea about how they’re not going to let that happen.

So we understand what this is about, and we’ve been supportive of this rapprochement, because the other element of the diplomacy is we’ve been waiting for Kim to decide he wants to talk. We’ve been very clear, and our channels are open

9--WikiLeaks offers $1 million for memo

10--The Forever War--US announces indefinite deployment of military forces in Syria

The criminality, and hypocrisy, of the American ruling class has no limit. Amid the hysterical accusations of “Russian meddling” in the US elections, Tillerson baldly asserted that the United States will decide the fate of Syria. Among the political forces that the US is working with are the very Islamist extremists that Washington exploited to justify its intervention into the seven-year civil war that has ravaged the country.

The recklessness of the policy outlined by Tillerson is immense. In pursuit of regime-change, the US is seeking to effectively partition Syria, formally carving off the north into an American protectorate under the control of Kurdish nationalist forces, while placing the eastern region of the country under Islamist militias

11-- Dying North Koreans a sign US diplomatic strategy works, Tillerson says

12--Pentagon unveils strategy for military confrontation with Russia and China

13--One year of Democratic sabotage of opposition to Trump

14--Will the Dollar Tank???

15--North Korea Wants to Reunite with South, But Only if U.S. Stays Out


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Today's links

1-- Pew: US media bias ranks worst in the world

Americans on both sides of the political aisle believe the media does a poor job covering political issues fairly, according to a blockbuster new survey of media consumption in 38 nations.

What’s more, the Pew Research Center’s study found that supporters of President Trump believe the media is doing a worse job covering politics than the supporters of any of the other international political leaders in countries surveyed.

“Large gaps in ratings of the media emerge between governing party supporters and non-supporters. On the question of whether their news media cover political issues fairly, for example, partisan differences appear in 20 of the 38 countries surveyed. In five countries, the gap is at least 20 percentage points, with the largest by far in the U.S. at 34 percentage points,” said Pew.

The survey found that just 21 percent of Americans supportive of Trump and Republicans believe the media is fair. Some 55 percent of those who don’t back Trump also believe the media is fairly covering politics in the U.S.
In every other case, those numbers are flipped, said Pew.

2-- Putin sees the US as the main obstacle in Korea dispute?

Putin then recognizes the US is the main obstacle to resolving the crisis, yet he collaborates with it in passing punitive measures against North Korea — the more reasonable of the two parties in dispute. ..

The new sanctions drasticaly limit oil imports and ban virtually all exports, which turns the country into an economic welfare case wholly dependent on Chinese subsidies for as long as the US, which holds veto power in the UN, wants the sanctions maintained. — Which given the absurd levels of hostility against the North in the imperial capital is likely to be for a very long time, possibly for as long as the UN and the American empire exist.

3--Manning run is a Russian plot?

Russia is responsible for Manning’s whistleblowing, and Russia is somehow behind her decision to run for office.

Her statements were called out by The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who helped make Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing a reality. “One of the media’s favorite Russia-obsessed ‘experts’ didn’t even wait an hour before depicting Chelsea Manning’s Senate candidacy as a dastardly Kremlin plot,” he tweeted. He went on to call out the “demonstrable, obvious falsehoods about Manning’s motives & WikiLeaks’ role” which McKew wrote about in her second tweet..

Oh my god: this is how deranged official Washington is. The President of the largest Dem Party think tank (funded in part by dictators) genuinely believes Chelsea Manning's candidacy is a Kremlin plot. Conspiracy theorists thrive more in mainstream DC than on internet fringes

We leave it up to the exquisitely mocking words of Greenwald to conclude:

This conspiracy theory mocks itself.

The idea that Vladimir Putin sat in the Kremlin, steaming over Benjamin Cardin’s report on Russia, and thus developed a dastardly plot to rid himself of his daunting Maryland nemesis – “I know how to get rid of Cardin: I’ll have a trans woman who was convicted of felony leaking run against him!” – is too inane to merit any additional ridicule.
But this is the climate in Washington: no conspiracy theory is too moronic, too demented, too self-evidently laughable to disqualify its advocates from being taken seriously – as long as it involves accusations that someone is a covert tool of the Kremlin.

4-- Syria - U.S. Traps Itself , Commits To Occupation, Helps To Sustain The Astana Agreement

The U.S.Congress is concerned about this move:
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, David Satterfield, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, outlined US goals in Syria as finishing off IS, stabilizing northeastern Syria and countering Iranian influence.
“That won’t pass muster,” committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., interjected.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who initially asked Satterfield the question he declined to answer, expressed concerns that eliminating Iranian influence from Syria entirely was a fool’s errand that could keep US troops tied up in Syria forever.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the committee, also voiced concern that the Trump administration does not have the necessary legal authorization from Congress to keep US troops in Syria beyond the defeat of IS....

Joshua Landis believes that the U.S. has given up on Turkey as an ally and is solely committed to do Israel's and Saudi Arabia's bidding. It is completely concentrated on countering Iran. But there are few if any Iranian troops in Syria and the supply line from Tehran to Damascus is via air and sea and can not be influenced from an enclosed Kurdish enclave. Moreover, the U.S. presence in the north-east is not sustainable....

Turkey's wannabe Sultan Erdogan has long tried to play Russia against the U.S. and vice versa. He ordered Russian air defense systems which will enable him to withstand a U.S. air attack. At the same time he allowed U.S. ships to pass the Bosporus Straits into the Black Sea and to threaten Russia in Crimea even when the Montreux Convention would have allowed him to restrict their passages. The U.S. now leaves him no choice. Russia is the one force that can help him to handle the new threat.

The NATO bigwigs in Brussels must be nervous. Turkey has the second biggest army within NATO. It controls the passage to the Black Sea and with Incirlik the most important NATO airbase in the south-eastern realm. All these give Turkey leverage that it can use when Russia offers it a decent alternative to NATO membership.

One wonders who in the White House developed this idea. It goes against everything Trump had said about U.S. engagement in the Middle East. It goes against NATO's interests. There is no legal basis for the move. It has little chance of being sustainable.

My guess is that National Security Advisor McMaster (pushed by his mentor General Petraeus) is the brain behind this. He has already proven to lack any strategic vision beyond moving military brigades here and there. What will he do next? Order the CIA to restart arming al-Qaeda aka the "Syrian rebels" who just sent their emissaries to Washington to beg for renewed support? Turkey needs Russia and Russia is fighting those "Syrian rebels". Why should Turkey, which controls the border to Syria, allow new CIA weapons to pass?

It is beyond me how the U.S. expects to sustain its positions in the north-east of Syria. It is hard to understand why it believes that such a position will give it any influence over Iran's commitment to Syria. The move robs it of any political flexibility. It is a trap of its own design.

In the end the U.S. military will have to retreat from the area. The Kurds will have to crawl to Damascus to beg for forgiveness. The strategic shortsightedness of both, the U.S. administration and the YPG leadership, amazes me. What do these people think when they make such decisions?

5--The guest that never went home-- US announces plan to occupy Syria indefinitely

In a provocative step that immediately fuelled tensions with Turkey and Russia, the US announced last weekend the establishment of a 30,000-strong Border Security Force (BSF) in enclaves of Syria under the control of the American proxies fighting to topple the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. The BSF will be dominated by fighters from Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), alongside elements from various Islamist militias.
Having proclaimed the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Washington has no intention of leaving Syria. It is determined to carve out a swathe of territory from which to prosecute its goal of ousting Assad. The latest move will not only intensify the civil war in Syria but bring the US into direct conflict with Russia and Iran, which back the Assad regime, and Turkey, which regards the YPG as a direct military threat.

Foreign ministers and senior officials from 20 nations will hold a full-day meeting in Vancouver on Tuesday, hosted by the United States and Canada, looking to increase diplomatic and financial pressure on North Korea to give up development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States, a program that has raised fears of a new war.
Canadian and U.S. officials say the meeting will discuss ways to ensure implementation of wide-ranging U.N. sanctions, including steps agreed last month to further limit Pyongyang’s access to refined petroleum products, crude oil and industrial goods.
Brian Hook, the U.S. State Department’s director of policy planning, said last week that participants, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, would probe how to boost maritime security around North Korea and options to interdict ships carrying prohibited goods in violation of sanctions.
Diplomats say China’s absence will limit what can be achieved, while North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has shown no sign of being willing to bow to pressure to give up weapons he sees as vital to his survival.
The White House on Friday welcomed news that China’s North Korea imports plunged in December to their lowest in dollar terms since at least the start of 2014, but President Donald Trump accused Beijing last month of allowing oil into North Korea, a charge Beijing denied.

7--Ray McGovern on Russiagate 

with its Monday decision, "the German Central Bank quite unceremoniously spoiled the party," the journalist added. While the bank initially did not specify the amounts or timeframes for its yuan purchases, Bundesbank board member Joachim Wuermeling soon offered more details about the move, telling Reuters that "the decision to accept the yuan is part of a long-term strategy of diversification and reflects the increased role of the Chinese currency in the global financial system.

Washington cannot but be upset with this line of reasoning, according to Danilov, since 'long-term diversification' inevitably means a weakening role of the dollar and the subsequent decline in demand, particularly if other countries follow Germany's lead.
"This is especially important in light of America's huge budget deficits, which will grow by at least another trillion dollars due to Donald Trump's recent tax reform. After all, the convenient printing press used to plug gaps in the US budget is possible only thanks to the enormous demand for dollars outside the US. If such demand ceases to exist, or is greatly reduced, the country will either have to learn to live within its means (something they have long-since forgotten how to do), or take Zimbabwe's hyperinflationary route."
9--"Thirty thousand fighters will ensure the security of the borders of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS)," the SDF spokesman said. "America has a positive view about the idea of federalism, and is supporting us on this matter."...

The spokesman underscored that the newly formed army will become a large-scale and all-encompassing military force. He emphasized that the SDF wants to turn their military contingent into a professional well-trained army.
"We want to move confidently towards federalism," Balli stressed. "Our partners [Washington and the US-led coalition] approve of our actions. The YPG self-defense units, SDF fighters, as well as some other elements will be incorporated into the new military structure. The new army will include Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and other peoples."

He further specified that the new military structure, which will be trained and equipped by the US, will be called "Border Security Force": "This army will be part of the SDF. It will be called 'Border Security Force.' The training of the new force is already underway.
Prins convincingly shows that colluding central bankers have effectively become the markets through a never-ending flow of cheap money to the mega banks which have deployed that cheap money to buy back and inflate their own stock – with a green light from their own regulator and money pimp (our term, not hers) – the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Prins correctly points out that what these central banks are doing is providing artificial stimulus to markets – the opposite of what free markets are all about.
The 2007-2009 financial crash was equivalent to a financial World War and the Fed’s emergency money-pumping measures, justified by it as essential to saving the system until it repaired itself, have become instead an opioid-like addiction within U.S. and global markets according to Prins. After failing miserably as a regulator of the biggest Wall Street banks and allowing banks holding insured deposits to be housed under the same roof with casino-like investment banks, the Fed has now effectively become a cheap-money drug dealer to Wall Street and the markets.

13--Here we go again-- Democrats Add Momentum to G.O.P. Push to Loosen Banking Rules

The most significant attempt to loosen rules imposed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis is underway in Congress as the Senate looks to pass legislation within the next month that would roll back restrictions on swaths of the finance industry.
Buoyed by their success in rewriting the tax code, the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers have now set their sights on helping the financial industry, which has been engaged in a quiet but concerted push to relax many post-crisis rules and regulatory obligations, particularly for thousands of small- and medium-sized banks.
But unlike the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, which passed along party lines, the effort to loosen the post-crisis rules is somewhat bipartisan. A group of Senate Democrats has joined Republicans to support legislation that would mark the first major revision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, a signature accomplishment of President Barack Obama that has been deemed “a disaster” by President Trump.
The bill would allow hundreds of smaller banks to avoid certain elements of federal oversight, including stress tests, which measure a bank’s ability to withstand a severe economic downturn. Under current law, banks with assets of $50 billion or more are considered “systemically important financial institutions” and therefore governed by stricter rules. The bill would raise that threshold to institutions with assets of $250 billion or more, leaving fewer than 10 big banks in the United States subject to the stricter oversight.