Friday, June 1, 2018

Today's Links

1---Japanese and Russian leaders meet to discuss economic and security concerns

Russia has largely sided with China in the dispute over the Korean Peninsula. Beijing has regularly called for the resumption of the six-party talks over North Korea’s nuclear program, which would include Russia, allowing both to have their security concerns heard. Beijing has sharply criticised the deployment of a US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in South Korea, ostensibly directed at the North, and the ballistic missile systems in Japan.

China and Russia, which both share a border with North Korea, correctly fear that these missile systems and accompanying radar systems are being used to spy on their territories and could be deployed against them if a larger war breaks out. Washington earlier this year said it was preparing for great power conflicts with both China and Russia....
  The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which has close connections to the US Defense Department, pointed out following the Abe-Putin summit that Tokyo fears Washington’s anti-Russia campaign is pushing Moscow toward a front with China, at the expense of Japan’s security interests.
While the CSIS called for the US and Japan “to stay joined at the hip” in their response to matters in East Asia, the Trump administration’s actions on trade and lack of communication on North Korea are contributing to a wedge between the two allies.
Ultimately, Japan hopes that it can win enough favour with Russia to prevent a growing Moscow-Beijing relationship, which would negatively affect Tokyo’s imperialist designs on the Asian mainland. The growing isolationist sentiment of the US is bringing tensions, once hidden behind the phony talk about “democratic values” or “human rights,” to the surface. Regardless of any potential deal with North Korea in coming weeks, these tensions will only sharpen.

2-- Fed eases “Volcker Rule” limits on bank speculation


Based on that timetable, it appears likely that by the time the tenth anniversary of the September 2008 crash rolls around, the banks will have been effectively released from even cosmetic restrictions on the kind of speculative trading that produced the biggest financial catastrophe in history.

The supposed purpose of the Volcker Rule was to prevent banks from using ordinary deposits, guaranteed by the FDIC, to engage in speculative trading, particularly in highly leveraged markets like those for derivatives and other extremely complex financial instruments. In effect, the banks were making risky gambles to get quick superprofits, with the assurance that the taxpayers would pick up the tab if the bets went sour...

The Fed move follows less than a week after President Donald Trump signed into law a partial rollback of the Dodd-Frank banking legislation, which provided the legal basis for the Volcker Rule. That bill passed the House and Senate by comfortable margins with large numbers of Democrats joining nearly all Republicans in voting for the legislation.

These measures were imposed after the Wall Street crash in a cosmetic effort by congressional Democrats and the Obama administration to disguise the trillion-dollar bailout of the banks as part of an effort at “reform” of the financial system to prevent future crashes.

With the dismantling of the pretense of bank regulation, the bailout can be seen for what it was: a brazen handout of trillions of dollars in taxpayer funds to the biggest financial institutions, including banks, hedge funds and brokerage houses, to preserve the capitalist system and the wealth of the financial aristocracy, at the expense of working people.

3--As the role of a well-connected group of British and U.S. intelligence agents begins to emerge, new suspicions are growing about what hand they may have had in weaving the Russia-gate story, as Daniel Lazare explains. 

The intelligence agencies initiated reports that Donald Trump was colluding with Russia, they nurtured them and helped them grow, and then they spread the word to the press and key government officials.  Reportedly, they even tried to use these reports to force Trump to step down prior to his inauguration.  Although the corporate press accuses Trump of conspiring with Russia to stop Hillary Clinton, the reverse now seems to be the case: the Obama administration intelligence agencies worked with Clinton to block “Siberian candidate” Trump.  


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