Monday, March 12, 2018

Today's links



1--Trump-Kim Summit??


Chinese President Xi Jinping, who took time off from a key meeting of China’s National People’s Congress to telephone President Trump in order to make clear China’s wish that the Trump-Kim summit takes place and that progress towards a comprehensive settlement of the Korean conflict takes place.
Here is how China’s Xinhua news agency reports the call

Speaking by telephone, Xi told Trump that he appreciates the US president’s desire to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue politically, hoping that the United States and the DPRK will start dialogue as soon as possible and strive for positive results.

Xi added that he hopes all parties concerned will show goodwill and avoid doing anything which might affect or interfere with the improving situation on the peninsula, calling on them to maintain the positive momentum on the Korean Peninsula issue.

It has been proved that President Xi is right to insist on a dialogue between the United States and the DPRK, Trump said, adding that the US side highly appreciates and values China’s significant role in resolving the Korean Peninsula issue, and is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China over the issue, Trump said.
Xi pointed out that China remains persistent in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, and resolving the nuclear issue through talks.

At present, the positive changes in the situation on the Korean Peninsula are conducive to putting the denuclearization process back on the right track of settlement through dialogue, which is also in line with the direction set by UN Security Council resolutions concerning the DPRK, Xi said.

“I believe that as long as all parties adhere to the general direction of political and diplomatic settlement, we will surely push forward the Korean Peninsula issue in the direction that the international community has been looking forward to,” Xi said


This is revealed in a 2017 UN report titled, "UNHCR seeing significant returns of internally displaced amid Syria’s continuing conflict," which states (emphasis added): 
Aid agencies estimate that more than 440,000 internally displaced people have returned to their homes in Syria during the first six months of this year. In parallel, UNHCR has monitored over 31,000 Syrian refugees returning from neighbouring countries so far in 2017. Since 2015, some 260,000 refugees have spontaneously returned to Syria, primarily from Turkey into northern Syria.  
The main factors influencing decisions for refugees to return self-assisted mostly to Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Damascus and to other governorates are primarily linked to seeking out family members, checking on property, and, in some cases, a real or perceived improvement in security conditions in parts of the country.

3-- Democrats and the Crisis of Legitimacy
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/03/12/democrats-and-the-crisis-of-legitimacy/

 71% of eligible voters didn’t vote for the Democratic Party candidate. 73% didn’t vote for Donald Trump (Clinton won the popular vote). Ninety million eligible voters (40%) didn’t cast a ballot at all. Why it makes sense to present outcomes in terms of what voters didn’t do is (1) the duopoly Parties control which candidates and programs are put forward and (2) voters have fled the duopoly Party system rather than simply switching Parties. ...

. Between 2009 and 2016 somewhere between eight and ten million registered voters— 20% of registered Democrats, fled the Democratic Party. In conjunction with the loss of over 1,000 legislative seats over this same period, the Democrats were in the midst of a full blown political crisis going into the 2016 election....

By 2016 over 40% of registered voters, including those who had recently left the Democratic Party, were self-defined as unaffiliated with either duopoly Party (graph below). And this figure leaves aside thirty million eligible voters who aren’t registered to vote....

Hillary Clinton was the insiders’ candidate precisely because she, amongst the available murderers, thieves, rubes and hacks, put the best liberal face on programs that actual democratic choice would have tossed into the rubbish bin years ago. More domestic spying? More trade deals that benefit connected insiders? More looting by corporate titans? More privatization of the public realm? Hadn’t the 20% of affiliated Democrats who left the Party by 2016 already rejected this program?

4-- Blocking Peace in Korea by Lying about the Past

Pyongyang... tends to keep its promises. This is not to say that North Korea is a wonderful, virtuous country, only that its government is interested in peace, very interested. Of course, it is. After all, violence is a tool of the powerful, not the weak....


One of the first examples of how Washington “pockets concessions” and then later “reverses course” is the armistice that was supposed to lead to a peace treaty after the Korean War was halted in 1953. Yes, right from the very beginning Washington’s lack of good faith was evident. Under the armistice that was signed, introducing qualitatively new weaponry to the Peninsula was prohibited, but Washington brought in nuclear cannons and Honest John nuclear-tipped missiles in January 1958. They continued stockpiling nuclear weapons until 1991. Then they switched to more effective conventional weapons. The US also had ICBMs that could strike from a distance and nuke-equipped submarines that could be moved to the Korean Peninsula at any time. Thus the Korean Peninsula was originally nuclearized by Washington and has been kept that way ever since 1958.


The Agreed Framework



the Syrian Army has de facto sliced rebel-controlled territories in East Ghouta into three isolated pockets, severely compromising the ability of militant groups to further organize an effective defense.






Within the ruling class, there are growing warnings about the way workers have used the Internet to organize their struggles and escape the stranglehold of the corporatist, anti-working-class trade unions.
In their four-decade-long string of unending betrayals, the unions have depended on a monopoly of information and the isolation of workers to lie, threaten and browbeat workers to submit to concessions. This is beginning to break down. In particular, social media platforms have allowed workers in different sectors and countries to communicate directly with each other, organize protests and share information.
The New York Times, in an article published March 8 (“West Virginia Walkouts a Lesson in the Power of a Crowd-Sourced Strike”) comments worriedly that West Virginia teachers “found ways to organize and act outside the usual parameters of traditional unionism. Teachers and service workers across the state aired their frustrations in an enormous Facebook group, and their walkout ultimately included members of three different unions and many people who did not belong to a union.”
The rebellion of teachers against the back-to-work order from the unions “was a crucial turning point, and a telling one,” the Times writes. “[T]he rank and file, not union leaders, came to call the shots


8--Putin-Kelly


there is a missile defence system deployed in Alaska. The distance between Russia’s Chukotka and Alaska is only 60 kilometres.
Two systems are being deployed in Eastern Europe. One is already in place in Romania. Construction of another one is almost finished in Poland. There is also the navy. US ships are based very close to Russian shores both in the south and the north.
Imagine if we placed our missile systems along the US-Mexico or the US-Canada border in their territories on both sides and brought our ships in from both sides. What would you say? Would you take action? Meanwhile we would respond that you are escalating the arms race? Ridiculous, isn’t it? This is exactly what is happening....

there is a missile defence system deployed in Alaska. The distance between Russia’s Chukotka and Alaska is only 60 kilometres.
Two systems are being deployed in Eastern Europe. One is already in place in Romania. Construction of another one is almost finished in Poland. There is also the navy. US ships are based very close to Russian shores both in the south and the north.
Imagine if we placed our missile systems along the US-Mexico or the US-Canada border in their territories on both sides and brought our ships in from both sides. What would you say? Would you take action? Meanwhile we would respond that you are escalating the arms race? Ridiculous, isn’t it? This is exactly what is happening.

Vladimir Putin: No. I am saying that we are developing just one brand of new heavy missile, which will replace a missile that we call Voyevoda, and you have dubbed it Satan. We will replace it with a new and more powerful missile. Here it is: a ballistic missile. All the other missiles are not ballistic.
Therein lies the entire meaning of this, because any antimissile defence system operates against ballistic missiles. But we have created a set of new strategic weapons that do not follow ballistic trajectories and the antimissile defence systems are powerless against them. This means that the US taxpayers’ money has been wasted.

8-- With Snap ‘Yes’ in Oval Office, Trump Gambles on North Korea

9-- Get ready for the next big Crash

The U.S. Senate is about to set in motion the next financial crash on Wall Street but you would never know it from watching cable news channels CNN or MSNBC last evening. Both news channels obsessed for endless hours over the Trump-Russia scandal and a hush money payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels, neglecting one of the most critical topics of the day: what was happening on the Senate floor this week.

Some of the most informed Democratic voices in the U.S. Senate are making impassioned and heartbreaking appeals to their colleagues this week on the floor of the U.S. Senate to vote down Senate bill S.2155, which carries the Orwellian title: “The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act.” The bill is a Republican/Wall Street lobbyist masquerade to ostensibly help small community banks but will effectively gut enhanced oversight of banks with up to $250 billion in assets – mega banks by any measure – that want to dodge oversight of their derivative counterparty exposure to the largest Wall Street banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup...

The Fed actually was doing something. Unknown to the public and Congress, the Federal Reserve was secretly using its so-called emergency lending authority from 2007 to at least the middle of 2010 to provide a cumulative $16 trillion in almost zero interest rate loans to some of the most corrupt banks in the United States and Europe to bail them out of a financial crisis of their own making. It did this while the Federal government provided crumbs to desperate families struggling to keep a roof over their children’s heads.





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