Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Today's Links

The Dems (Dims?) have done absolutely everything wrong since the last election. They're now trying to turn this election into a referendum on the last one ... and I think they're going to lose again. It's time for them to quit obsessing over Trump and begin the hard work of trying to repair their relationship with 'flyover country'. Otherwise, it could be a long, long time before they're returned power again.


Fucking useless Dems couldn't make a 1/10th of the effort they put against Kavanaugh when it came to opposing Trump's insane tax cuts, and these assholes care more about Stormy Daniels than about Trump destroying the INF treaty. Frankly, everyone in the opposition to Trump should consider them as traitors whose efforts have undermined the so-called (and quite fake) "Resistance" for the last 18 months.
So, indeed, I don't see them winning either House.
Posted by: Clueless Joe

Vladimir Putin:  I think the problems that have appeared in the past few years or so concerning global politics are related to the unipolar world that, as just pointed out, appeared after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Everything is recovering now though and the world is becoming or has already become multipolar, and it will inevitably lead to the need to recreate the importance of international law as well as international global institutes such as the United Nations.
It is necessary to, based on the UN Charter and on everything that was achieved in the past decades, on mutual trust – and one needs to handle the rest of trust with care, to learn to listen, hear and respect each other and be ready to find compromises.
I think that it is inevitable in the long run. The sooner it happens, the better. We are ready for this." Putin, Valdai



1--Midterms? Don't expect a  Blue Wave

What are the chances that the mid-term elections in the United States, one week from now, will change the majority in the House or Senate?

The Democrats need to pick up 23 seats in the House to gain a majority. Of the 48 seats that are in play only 16 seem likely to change in their favor. In the Senate they need to take gain two seats to become a majority, but at least one of the Democrats' current seats is endangered and polls for the other 9 seats that potentially might change show a tossup.

My personal hunch is that the Republicans will keep both houses and may even gain a few seats.
The U.S. economy is doing relatively well. The recent drop in share prices points to a more mixed outlook from here on, but so far everything held up.

The Democrats have neither a program nor a leadership that incites to vote fro them. They wasted two years with hyping a non-existent Russiagate that no one but Washington insiders and the media cares about. Did they actually oppose anything Trump did? They tried a #metoo stunt around a Supreme Court nomination but how effective was that?

2--Wages and salaries jump by 3.1%, highest level in a decade

  • Wages and salaries rose 3.1 percent in the third quarter, the biggest increase in a decade, according to the Labor Department.
  • Overall compensation costs were up 2.8 percent, ahead of Wall Street expectations.
  • Wages have been the missing piece in the economic recovery, though the Fed has been raising rates to guard against future inflationary pressures.

3--Why has the funk hit the market? Too easy for too long..Santelli 

4--Bolsonaro’s victory and the debacle of Brazil’s Workers Party

What is most striking about the incoming government is the predominant role being assumed within it by senior officers of Brazil’s military. His vice president will be the right-wing general, Hamilton Mourão, who retired only last year after publicly declaring his support for a “military intervention” to secure “law and order.” On the day of the election, it was announced that retired Gen. Augusto Heleno will be the incoming defense minister, an appointment that breaks with the post-dictatorship practice of putting civilians in that post.

Heleno was part of the so-called “Brasilia group,” a cabal of senior military officers who served as a pillar of Bolsonaro’s campaign. The group has reportedly submitted 25 names for appointment to Bolsonaro’s transition team, which if accepted would form fully half of the body.
Over the course of his political career including in a television interview on Tuesday, Bolsonaro has insisted that Brazil’s military regime, responsible for murdering, torturing and imprisoning tens of thousands of workers, peasants, students and left-wing activists, was not a dictatorship...
With the advent of the worst economic crisis in the country’s history, the PT government pursued policies that placed the full burden of this crisis onto the backs of the working class, while defending the obscene wealth of the financial elite. With average real wages falling 30 percent and 14 million people joining the official jobless rolls, Brazil’s billionaires’ fortunes only grew, with the wealth of the top 1 percent soaring by 12.3 percent.

The PT, like all of the other bourgeois parties, was fully implicated in massive corruption that siphoned some $4 billion out of public coffers to pay out bribes and kickbacks.
The votes for Bolsonaro largely represented an expression of popular hatred for all the established parties that presided over social catastrophe and rampant corruption, but most particularly for the PT, which tried to dress up its reactionary policies in fake “left” and even “socialist” colors. This same hatred found expression in the record numbers—fully a third of the electorate—who refused to cast a ballot for either candidate....

The growth of the right wing due to the anti-working class policies pursued by the nominal “left” is by no means a uniquely Brazilian phenomenon. In the US, the identification of the Democrats and Hillary Clinton with the interests of Wall Street and the military-intelligence apparatus opened the doors of the White House to Trump. In Italy, the coming to power of the right-wing anti-immigrant government of Matteo Salvini was prepared by the pro-capitalist austerity policies pursued by a series of “left” governments, based on successor organizations to the Italian Communist Party. A similar growth of the right has been witnessed throughout Europe, while in Latin America the so-called “Pink Tide” has receded, giving rise to a series of right-wing governments.


5--Why Whitey Bulger got whacked 

6--Who Is Footing the Bills for Food, Care and Transport of the Caravan of Migrants?


7--Kim Jong-un: The new kid on the diplomatic block


Adam Mount from the Federation of American Scientists told me: "Each new relationship provides leverage against American efforts to pressure the regime. Outreach to Beijing has made sanctions relief a virtual certainty, especially given that the Trump team has positioned itself as the one endangering a peace process.
"Growing indications of an alignment with Moscow are particularly worrisome. If they continue to expand, they could afford Pyongyang a variety of ways to break out of containment in the future."...

what is North Korea's end game? And what happens after the summit?
Former US state department official Joel Wit, who also founded the North Korea analysis site 38North, told a press briefing: "This isn't a 'charm offensive', this isn't a sort of tactical trick. There is enormous momentum in Pyongyang behind what they're doing. I personally don't think it's because of sanctions.
"That may have played a small role. But it's something they decided internally and it has to do with the size of their nuclear arsenal, the missiles, the desire for modernization of their economy. All of these different issues have sort of come together at this moment.
"And I think what you need to do is pay attention to what the North Koreans are saying. It's not just propaganda. He doesn't just say things. This is a new formulation that is very important.

8--The deafening quietude of the FISA court and John Roberts

Two years ago this month, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) issued a warrant authorizing the FBI to spy on Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to President Trump. The stated suspicion was the nominee’s campaign was colluding with Russia.
The issuance of a so-called FISA warrant was momentous and unprecedented, permitting a Democratic-run Justice Department to obtain communications inside the duly-elected GOP nominee’s campaign during its final weeks before the election.

Since that time, we have learned much about the evidence — or lack thereof — that supported the warrant.
We know, for example, the primary evidence was a dossier created by British intelligence operative Christopher Steele, but the court wasn’t told his work was directly paid for by Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party.

Instead, the FBI used this footnote in its warrant application to describe who hired Steele: “The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit” the Trump campaign. That’s hardly complete or forthcoming....

We recently learned that the FBI’s initial justification for opening the Trump-Russia collusion case — the belief that another campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, might have colluded with Moscow — quickly fell apart when Papadopoulos told an FBI informant he didn’t collude and would consider such activity treasonous.

Finally, the House intelligence committee dug up evidence that Steele and the FBI engaged in leaks with the news media about the Russia investigation, then used some of those articles to support its FISA application. That is a practice known as circular intelligence, where single-source reporting is made to look multi-sourced.

There are more exculpatory pieces of evidence I could detail but these alone make a compelling case that the initial FBI and DOJ representations to the court were, at best, flawed and, at worst, desperately biased and driven by an election clock.

And that begs the question: What do the FISC judges and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, the ultimate judicial disciplinarian, think about what happened?
After all, the FISC issued not one but four warrants allowing the FBI to monitor Page for nearly nine months into Trump’s presidency...

But a troubling whisper has begun inside the Justice Department. “FISAs aren’t required to include exculpatory evidence,” one official told me on background in a recent text message.
That emerging sentiment should alarm all of us, no matter our political stripe.
A court that excludes legal representation for the accused almost certainly will fail to protect civil liberty if it isn’t allowed to see proof of innocence or evidentiary flaws

9--Trump--Loading on the red ink

The U.S. Treasury projects it will borrow $425 billion in the fourth quarter, and is expected to result in the fourth consecutive quarter of larger auction sizes across every maturity. If the Treasury’s forecasts are accurate, the U.S. government would have borrowed the most in a fourth quarter since 2009, according to Jefferie...

Back in 2009, the U.S. posted its largest fiscal deficits in history, as the financial crisis devastated tax revenue and the Obama administration signed off on a trillion-dollar stimulus package to boost the economy. This time around, the soaring deficits have been driven by President Donald Trump’s tax cuts and increases to budget spending caps amid buoyant growth, a backdrop that usually sees debt levels fall.  ...

, the federal government’s growing deficits have sparked questions over the appetite for Treasury bonds as investors draw attention to the sustainability of the U.S.’s debt burden. Against a backdrop of potential buyer fatigue, an increase of auctions in the more liquid 10-year note could mitigate an unnecessary increase in borrowing costs

10--From the Horse's Mouth-- Putin on the Dollar, economic integration in asia and developments on the Korean peninsula

Vladimir Putin: You know, the situation around the Korean Peninsula is moving in a positive direction in general. You have noted this, too; we all can see this. You have just said that we were on the brink of war, and now, thank god, we are on the brink of peace.

Direct contacts between the US administration and North Korea are ongoing. I hope they will continue soon, in the near future. We hear that preparations for a new meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un are underway. I also hope it will take place.
Let me express my position once again; I have already spoken about this. I do not think that this work will be effective if it is a one-way street. Demanding total disarmament and total denuclearisation from North Korea without providing any security guarantees is hardly a good approach.
Nevertheless, anything is possible. If North Korea believes the promises of the US, this could be the best way to de-escalate the situation. It is difficult for me to say.

What positive role could Russia play here? We could implement those trilateral plans we have discussed many times: connecting the South Korea – North Korea – Russia railway; power lines; and a pipeline from Russia to South Korea via North Korea, including gas routes. We still could establish some joint enterprises. Of course, it would be a contribution.

This is because joint work in the economy unites us and creates conditions to resolve political and security issues. Let us not forget that China has done a great deal in this regard. Russia and the People’s Republic of China have a joint platform. We are trying – I will not repeat this now because I have said it many times – to comply with these joint agreements.

What else can Russia do? I think (I have also said this many times, but I will repeat it once again) that it is very important to establish security guarantees for North Korea. Of course, Russia could also play a certain role here, because I believe that if we want these guarantees to be effective they should be international.

We do not want to see any military action there or any tensions. Russia and North Korea are neighbours; so Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a nuclear power, as well as other participants of this process – China and the United States – could of course make a contribution by creating and participating in the system of guarantees.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Yerlan Karin.
Director of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Yerlan Karin: Good evening, Mr President. I would like to take the Asian issue further. Five years ago, during his visit to Kazakhstan, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke about the Belt and Road Initiative.
Two years later, you and the Chinese President adopted a joint statement on integrating the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative.
Today, given the current events in the international political arena, all these sanctions and more trade disputes between China and the United States, are these initiative still relevant? Are they losing their importance, or are there new prospects? I would like to hear your point of view.
And the second question. In August, together with your colleagues, leaders of Caspian states, you adopted a very important document in Aktau, a convention that, as many think, has become a sort of constitution of the Caspian region. How do you see the further cooperation in the region and the resolution of other issues related to this area?
Vladimir Putin: First, as regards China's Belt and Road Initiative and everything related to it, including the economic aspect. This initiative of our friend, and I indeed consider him our friend, Chinese President Xi Jinping, is becoming even more relevant. This is because all economic restrictions are, on the one hand, putting pressure on the global economy and markets, which is a negative factor, yet these actions create certain windows of opportunities.

This means that in these circumstances Russia can carve out an additional niche. For instance (this is not the key point, but still): Americans used to deliver a great deal of soybeans to China, and now we will slowly enter this Chinese market with our soy, and we will give our Chinese partners the opportunity to produce soybeans in the Russian Far East in the event they want to invest their money in this agricultural sector.

Say, in aircraft engineering. Indeed, China like us was a major purchaser of Boeings. And now together we have intensified the work on a wide-bodied long-range aircraft. We will move on and construct big heavy helicopters. We will jointly continue our work on space programmes.
We have a huge trade turnover when it comes to the field of military-technical cooperation and we have agreed that we will engage not only in sales but we will also transfer technology. We are interested in this not to the detriment of our security and nobody should have any doubts about this. This is why I mention the high level of trust between our countries that we have attained.

The development of infrastructure is extremely important for the region in general, so we welcome, say as part of this Chinese initiative – the Silk Road – participation of our Chinese friends in the development of the Northern Sea Route. These are absolutely specific things.

The Chinese Silk Road Fund is one of the shareholders of our new LNG enterprise in the Arctic established by our company NOVATEK jointly with the French company Total. This is real work.
The enterprise has been built and is up and running. Therefore, someone’s sanctions do not make this initiative less relevant, on the contrary it is taking on a new aspect.

Our trade turnover with EU countries is actually growing. It shrank by 50% but now it is increasing year after year. Trade with the Asian-Pacific region is expanding at priority rates. While the EU share in our trade turnover is 42 percent, the Asian countries have already reached 31 percent and it is on the rise.

Of course, we are interested in building infrastructure, including in the field of transport. Of course, we are interested in building up the operations of the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur railways. We expect the railway cargo traffic to go up four times and the cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route to grow up to 80 million tonnes.

And all this is absolutely naturally compatible with the Chinese initiative and our development within the Eurasian Economic Union where Kazakhstan is also one of the key players.
So, we are happy with the way this situation is developing in this sphere and we will be most active in working jointly with all our partners....

As regards using the dollar in international transactions, I am not the only one talking about this. For instance, the French president recently mentioned this. He said Europe should increase its economic and financial sovereignty. This means shifting from the US dollar, and France is one of the United States' major trade and economic partners.
As I recently said, our American friends are quarrelling with their bread and butter. They challenge the reliability of the dollar as a universal tool for international settlement. Once again, this is a typical mistake for an empire.
Why is this happening? Because – and I am not lashing out at anyone – but an empire always thinks it can make minor mistakes and allow excess, because its might makes it all irrelevant.
But the number of these excesses and minor mistakes inevitably grows, and the time comes when this cannot be handled either from a security standpoint or from an economic standpoint. Obviously, this is the way our American friends are acting; they are devaluating confidence in the dollar as a universal settlement tool and the world's sole reserve currency.

And of course, everyone started giving it more thought. The EU countries want to conduct trade with Iran. They do not think Iran has violated anything in its nuclear deal with the international community. And it actually has not. But our US partners decided that this deal should be revised, but the Europeans disagree with that.

The Americans are imposing sanctions, so-called secondary sanctions, on everyone cooperating with Iran. Certainly, why should companies lose if they are working in the US market? Some will leave anyway and someone else, who is not tied up with the US, will be pleased to continue working there, however, settlements should be arranged for. For this reason, an alternative to SWIFT, the current international settlement system, is being created, and more transactions are being completed in national currencies.

You are certainly right that volatility in the developing markets, the volatility of national currencies, is very high, which is unavoidable. Still, certain instruments are being introduced that can reduce this volatility. For example, a pool of national currencies and a joint bank have been created in the framework of BRICS, which means that such instruments are already on the way. It’s true that this bank cannot be compared with the IMF in terms of potential, but at least something is being done in this respect.

Indeed, currency volatility exists. However, if we keep working at this, and we are working on it, insurance support or other ways to hedge risk will be found, they are real. I will not go into details, but even now, in dealing with some countries, we have found certain instruments to avoid these risks. We can link them to certain agreements; we can do whatever needs to be done.

This will not happen today or tomorrow. And our companies in, say, the oil and gas field, in energy commodities, are not interested in giving up dollar transactions at this point and going to only national currencies.

But if these instruments are created – that provide for giving up the US dollar and disposing of national currency volatility – a transition will be guaranteed. As soon as this happens, hard times will come for the US dollar as a universal unit in accounting.

We will see. We will definitely move in this direction, not because we mean to undermine the US dollar but because we want to guarantee our own security, because they impose sanctions on us and do not give us a chance to operate in US dollars.

This is why we have reduced our gold and foreign currency reserves in dollar equivalent in the treasury; the Central Bank had to withdraw from this.

Why are they doing this? In my opinion, it would be wiser of them to pursue their goals without discrediting their national currency. Nevertheless, many companies in the US are following this route. I believe they are making a big mistake....

My second point is the following. There are new crises associated with terrorism, and the actions of our American partners are doing little to improve the situation in the region. On the contrary, truth be told, we repeat a hundredth time, and you just said: the invasion of Iraq resulted in a sharp increase in the terrorist threat due to the weakening of statehood. That's what happened.

And Libya? In general, that state ceased to exist. It is being torn to pieces between separate armed units still fighting among themselves. This is a catastrophe. Gaddafi once said Libya was an insurmountable obstacle to the movement of refugees and immigrants from Africa to Europe. He said: “What are you doing? You are destroying this wall.” So it was destroyed. This is what is happening right now. Seeking for a guilty party. But they have only themselves to blame.

It’s okay to dislike a regime in a country. Tastes differ. But, destroying the existing regime and offering nothing in return or offering something that is unacceptable or impossible for the people due to historical specifics is absolutely thoughtless, immoral policy that leads to the worst results.

Our position is that we probably can support someone or sympathise with someone without directly interfering in the affairs of other states, but any move should primarily rely on the country’s internal development. True, this requires patience, and a delicate handling of the current situation, but there is no other option. Any other behaviour, attempts to impose something from the outside leads to the gravest consequences, as in Libya or Iraq. This is the result of monopoly, the result of a unipolar world, which they tried to create at the time. Thank goodness, this situation of unipolarity and monopoly is already coming to an end and it has practically disappeared. I believe this is very dangerous, including for the monopolists, because they lose their bearings and get a sense of permissiveness, and this is always very dangerous and leads to dire consequences.


But at any rate, at a certain level, as we now deal with the Syrian crisis, we have developed a way of cooperation between Russia, Iran and Turkey, which is working and is rather effective, although we do not use the same approach for everything that is taking place in the region. Nevertheless, we did manage to do this. We have developed enough contacts, at any rate, at a working level, with all the participants in this process, including with the United States. As a matter of fact, the US military behave in a more responsible way than certain politicians, but all of this, in any case, paves the way for expanding the basis of joint work.

Militarisation is always a bad thing. What good can it do? It’s an explosive region. We know Turkey’s grievances against the selfsame United States: It is arming various groups. We see what is happening. I have mentioned the current goings-on on the left bank of the Euphrates: They are supplying arms there as well as they are bankrolling the armed groups, but, regrettably, they have failed to cope with the threat, which is yet to be finally eliminated. Seven hundred people have been taken hostage. It’s a disaster! But, alas, this is really happening. We should work together.




Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Today's links

Donald Trump was out of central casting—seemingly a caricature of what the ruling class said about its opponents. But the words he spoke were less significant than that he spoke with angry contempt for the ruling class. That—and the crowded field that never allowed a head-to-head choice—is what got him the chance to be the alternative to the ruling class. And that is what got him elected President of the United States.
Those who voted for Trump believing or hoping that he would do a, b, or c, were fewer than those who were sure that he offered the only possibility of ending, or at least pausing, the power of an increasingly harmful, intolerant, disdainful, socio-political identity.

Suppression of dissent is what Political Correctness is all about.


1--Giraldi on Obama

President Barack Obama, who has practically been beatified by the U.S. mainstream media, was the first American head of state to openly target and kill American citizens overseas. He and his intelligence advisor John Brennan would sit down for a Tuesday morning meeting to revise the list of Americans living outside the U.S. who could be assassinated. To cite only one example, the executions of Yemeni dissident Anwar al-Awlaki and his son were carried out by drone after being ordered from the White House without any due process apart from claimed presidential authority. Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also attacked Libya, a nation with which America was not at war, destroyed its government, and reduced the country to its current state of anarchy. When its former ruler Moammar Gaddafi was captured and killed by having a bayonet inserted up his anus, Hillary giggled and said “We came, we saw, he died.”

2--Syrian Army attacks jihadist rebels inside Idlib buffer zone


3--Russia sees no risk to Idlib buffer zone agreement falling apart


4--ISIS Advances In Euphrates Valley


The US-led coalition’s strategy to keep an ISIS safe haven in Syria’s Euhprates Valley in order to justify its military presence in the war-torn country has appeared to have some “unexpected” consequences.
ISIS units operating in the Hajin pocket have re-groupped, received fresh supples and kicked off a large-scale advance on positions of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). A lack of US-led coalition airstrikes on ISIS targets in the area has also played own role.


5--Trickle up? Richest getting richer: Wealth of world’s billionaires surges 20 percent in 2017

A joint report by UBS and PWC showed that world’s billionaires’ wealth enjoyed its greatest-ever increase last year, hitting $8.9 trillion shared among 2,158 individuals.
“The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age” the report said. “That period bred generations of families in the US and Europe who went on to influence business, banking, politics, philanthropy and the arts for more than 100 years. With wealth set to pass from entrepreneurs to their heirs in the coming years, the 21st century multi-generational families are being created.”

6-- Unprecedented Summit of Four in Istanbul Reveals Unbridged, Irreconcilable Differences Between Russia and the West Over Syria

It is clear that France, Germany and Turkey are looking for a very different outcome of these processes from Russia.  This might lead one reasonably to ask whether Vladimir Putin is able to properly defend the interests of the Assad government...

Macron insisted that the cause of the refugee outflow from Syria was and is opposition to the Assad regime. Under this hypothesis, no return of refugees is possible, nor will it be assisted by France, so long as Assad is in power.  While France joined Russia in providing some limited humanitarian assistance to Syrians following the fall of Eastern Ghouta to government forces, it did so via NGOs and so far refuses to provide assistance to government held territory.  This position remains directly in contradiction to Vladimir Putin’s request for infrastructure assistance, such as restoration of power and water, as a precondition for return.

In conclusion, I believe that the world media, Western and Russian, have chosen not to highlight the issues I have raised here because of the complicity of the parties in presenting a fairly optimistic story to the general public while everyone temporizes.
The default position is that Damascus, with assistance from Russia and Iran, will complete its clawing back of all its territory, including Idlib, cost what it may. In that case, the Syrian crisis will in fact be resolved by military means, whatever gloss diplomats may choose to apply. How the country will be rebuilt if the “international community” continues to turn its back on Damascus remains an open question. This is the “lose-lose” situation that Vladimir Putin is trying mightily to avoid.

7--Evidence that Popodopolous was framed, and there was no collusion, Carlson 

8--Evidence of Popadopolos innocence was withheld by FBI

"i was set up by western itelligence agents masquerading as Russians..."

9--Wall Street falls as US-China trade tensions rise

By Nick Beams
30 October 2018 

For its part, the US is determined that China’s economic development cannot be allowed to reach a point where it can challenge American dominance—a position that Washington will seek to maintain by all means, including intensified trade war and ultimately military conflict.

There were major swings on Wall Street yesterday, with the Dow moving in a range of 900 points, in response to a report that US President Donald Trump is planning to impose a tariff on all Chinese goods if he does not receive a satisfactory trade offer from President Xi Jinping.
The two leaders are set to meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the end of next month, with the US demanding that China present a list of actions it is prepared to carry out to meet its demands.
These demands centre on measures against the alleged theft of intellectual property rights, forced technology transfers and state subsidies to major industries that the US claims distort international markets.
Bloomberg, citing “three people familiar with the matter,” reported that the administration was planning to announce tariffs covering all remaining Chinese imports if talks between Trump and Xi failed to “ease the trade war.”...

The conflict goes far beyond negotiating tactics, however. The basic issue, as set out in a list of initial demands presented last May, is that the US is demanding that China roll back, or at least severely curtail, its program for advanced industrial and technological development under its “Made in China 2025” plan. This would involve Beijing ceasing the acquisition of new technologies, which the US claims involves theft and forced transfers from firms operating in China, and ending “market distorting” subsidies to major industries.

In other words, the US is insisting that China must not pursue the path of economic development that has been taken by other capitalist economies, including the US, Japan and South Korea, in the past. So far as the US is concerned, China should be reduced to a semi-colonial status as a supplier of cheap consumer goods, and must not be allowed to develop industries and technologies that could challenge US economic and military supremacy.

This is a demand that the Chinese regime cannot meet.

10--Trump slams the media as 'the true Enemy of the People' days after CNN was targeted with mail bombs

  • In the wake of the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue and a series of mail bombings addressed to prominent Democrats and CNN, President Donald Trump says the "great anger in our Country" is "caused in part" by the "Fake News Media."
  • "The true Enemy of the People," Trump says in a pair of tweets, "must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly."

11--Our Revolution's Logic

The Democratic Party and the millions it represents having refused to accept 2016’s results; having used their positions of power in government and society to prevent the winners from exercising the powers earned by election; declaring in vehement words and violent deeds the illegitimacy, morbidity, even criminality, of persons and ideas contrary to themselves; bet that this “resistance” would so energize their constituencies, and so depress their opponents’, that subsequent elections would prove 2016 to have been an anomaly and further confirm their primacy in America. The 2018 Congressional elections are that strategy’s first major test.

Regardless of these elections’ outcome, however, this “resistance” has strengthened and accelerated the existing revolutionary spiral. We begin with a primer on such spirals, on the logic of mutual hate that drives them, and on their consequences; move to a general description of our evolution’s driving logic, describe the 2016 elections as the revolutionary spiral’s first turn and the “resistance” thereto as the second. Then we examine how the “resistance” affects the other side, and how this logic might drive our revolution’s subsequent turns.

The Constitution of 1787 had been its paradigm. Under its words and by its laws, Americans had enjoyed safety and predictability for themselves and their way of life. But Progressives’ subordination of the Constitution, laws, and institutions to their own purposes and for their own primacy ended all that. The rest of America’s increasing realization that only fire can fight fire has followed naturally.
This is our revolution: Because a majority of Americans now no longer share basic sympathies and trust, because they no longer regard each other as worthy of equal consideration, the public and private practices that once had made our Republic are now beyond reasonable hope of restoration. Strife can only mount until some new equilibrium among us arises....

In our time, the most widespread of differences between rulers and ruled is also the deepest: The ruled go to church and synagogue. The rulers are militantly irreligious and contemptuous of those who are not. Progressives since Herbert Croly’s and Woodrow Wilson’s generation have nursed a superiority complex. They distrust elections because they think that power should be in expert hands—their own. They believe that the U.S Constitution gave too much freedom to ordinary Americans and not enough power to themselves, and that America’s history is one of wrongs. The books they read pretend to argue scientifically that the rest of Americans are racist, sexist, maybe fascists, but above all stupid. For them, Americans are harmful to themselves and to the world, and have no right to self-rule. That is why our revolution started from a point more advanced in its logic than many others....

The 2016 election’s primaries were all about the American people’s search for means of de-throning increasingly insufferable rulers. Even on the Democratic side, many bridled at their self-serving unaccountability. But since the Democrats are the party of government, it was clear that protection from and vengeance against the existing power structure would have to come from the nominal opposition party. Yet the Republicans were very much part of the problem. That is why 2016’s real struggle took place within the Republican primaries, the most enduringly significant fact of which is that Jeb Bush, the candidate most closely identified with the Progressive ruling class, spent some $150 million and secured only three convention delegates. Americans in general, and Republicans in particular, were looking for the polar opposite.

“The Resistance”
The ruling class’s “resistance” to the 2016 election’s outcome was the second turn. Its vehemence, unanimity, coordination, endurance,and non-consideration of fallback options—the rapidity with which our revolution’s logic has unfolded—have surprised and dismayed even those of us who realized that America had abandoned its republican past.


 (Russiagate?) the U.S government’s upper echelons merged politically with the campaign of the Democratic Party’s establishment wing, and with the media. They aimed to secure the establishment candidates’ victory and then to nullify the lost election’s results by resisting the winners’ exercise of legitimate powers, treating them as if they were illegitimate. The measure of the resistance’s proximate success or failure would come in the 2018 elections.

 The “resistance” worked. You may have won the last election, said the ruling class. But we’re still in charge. Indeed, they are. And they might stay that way. But human nature ensures that people reply, and repay. Establishment Republicans were driven to admit that their kind could no longer buy the Left’s comity. Hence the Wall Street Journal’s editorial announcing “We’re all deplorables now.” That is the only sense in which the “resistance” may rue the Kavanaugh saga. That is revolution’s logic

The voters who, over four election cycles, stripped the Democratic Party of the U.S. Presidency, left it in the minority in both Houses of Congress, without Governors in two-thirds of the States, and in the minority in two-thirds of the state legislatures did so not out of love for the Republican Party. They were being insulted and made to feel strangers in their own country, and wanted that to stop. But elections did not stop the ruling class’s assaults on their supposed inferiors. Instead, the “resistance” increased pressures on them. Political correctness is more virulent than ever, speech is more restricted than ever. Being on the wrong side of the right people is more dangerous than ever.

12--Greenwald on Bolsonaro (Must see) 


13--Corporate debt is a ticking time bomb


there's also leveraged loans — basically, loans taken on by businesses that already have a lot of debt on their books. They aren't always counted together with standard high-yield debt. But leveraged loans are also quite risky, and they've doubled since 2010. Leveraged loans combined with high-yield debt make up a whopping 37 percent of all corporate debt. Meanwhile, available cash stockpiles are concentrated among the top 1 percent of companies. There's a wide swath of riskier companies who now have $1 in cash for every $8 in debt, a record low (yes, worse than 2008)...


Riskier corporate loans are also being repackaged in collateralized loan obligations that then sell as lower risk instruments to investors. The problem isn't anywhere as severe as the repackaging of mortgages in the housing crisis. But the similarities are obviously unnerving. And the practice is spreading....


the reason companies borrow is to finance expansions. Yet business investment in the economy fell over the same period that borrowing increased, and is now at astonishing lows. But even as the correlation between borrowing and investment broke down, the correlation between borrowing and payouts to shareholders tightened up considerably. Part of the reason is dividends. But an even bigger part is share buybacks, which were deregulated in 1980 and have now grown to epic proportions. In other words, corporations aren't just depressing wages and investment in order to send more cash to shareholders. They're literally borrowing more, and making their collective financial positions even riskier, to further feed the payout binge. As William Lazonick, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, told The Week, the small number of corporations with good debt positions gorge on buybacks. That sets shareholder expectations and puts pressure on the wider world of less well-positioned companies to keep up 


14--Common ground on Syria: What France, Germany, Turkey & Russia agreed in Istanbul


15--Erdogan, Putin, Macron, Merkel give statement following Syria summit (you tube)

16--From the Horse's Mouth--Putin at Valdai

we must prevent the worst course of events.” And what would the worst development be for us? Full “somalisation” of that region, complete degradation of statehood and infiltration of a significant part of the militants into the territory of the Russian Federation and into the territory of neighbouring states with which we have no customs barriers, or borders in fact, a visa-free regime. That would have posed a real, serious danger to us.

But we have largely ruled out that risk by our actions, because we did a lot of damage to the terrorists in Syria. Many of them were eliminated, and some of them, thank God, decided they wanted out: they laid down their arms after losing faith in the principles they considered right. This, I would say, is the most important outcome.
The second, no less important thing, is that we have preserved Syrian statehood and in this sense helped stabilise the region. We talked about this in some detail with the President of Egypt just yesterday; he shares this position, and it is shared by many other countries. Therefore, I believe we have generally achieved the goals we had set for ourselves in starting the operation in the Syrian Arab Republic; we have achieved a result.

Look, after all, for some years before us, countries that agreed to participate in these anti-terrorist operations, most often voluntarily, and maybe even with less than perfect goals and objectives – what result have we seen in the previous three years? None. While we have liberated almost 95 percent of the entire territory of the Syrian Republic. This is my first point.
Second. We supported Syria’s statehood, prevented the state from collapsing. True, there are still many problems. Now we see what is happening on the left bank of the Euphrates. Probably, our colleagues know: this territory is under the patronage of our American partners. They rely on the Kurdish armed forces.
But they have obviously left a loose end: ISIS remains in several locations and has begun to expand its area of influence recently. They took 130 families hostage – almost 700 people.
I think few of those present here know that they have made ultimatums, extended demands and warned that if these ultimatums are not met, they would shoot 10 people every day. The day before yesterday, 10 people were shot. Executed. They have begun to fulfil their threats.

Vladimir Putin: You know, there is an old joke, but some people may not know it. They might find it amusing. It sounds like that. Question: ”How do you relax?“ Answer: ”I am relaxed.“ (Laughter.)
The same goes for tensions in international affairs. We are not creating any problems for anyone Are we the ones creating problems? No. Instead, we are being accused of things. They say that Russia was “highly likely” to have done this or that, intervened at one place and wreaked havoc at another. But, no one believes it is necessary to produce any evidence.

For me it is clear, and I have said this: this is the result of the internal political struggle in the Western world as a whole. Now they are fighting over the conditions for Britain’s exit from the EU; the Democrats and the Republicans are fighting in the United States, and there is controversy among the Republicans themselves. So someone has apparently decided that playing the anti-Russia card would be a very convenient way to resolve domestic political problems. This is bad for everyone.
I hope this will pass, but apparently we need to wait for internal political crises to be resolved. Whether this will happen after the Congressional election or not, I do not know yet, but maybe. Or maybe it will happen in 2020, with the next US presidential election, and then he will no longer have to constantly deal with those who speculate with anti-Russia rhetoric.
Were our meetings with President Trump harmful or helpful? I believe that, despite the attempt to discredit these meetings, they nevertheless were more positive than negative. Why? Because we can see what is happening there.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Yes, they are very interesting. They create this image of a person who only listens to and hears himself. When you meet with him, does he listen to you?

Vladimir Putin: This is not true. Maybe he behaves this way with someone else – but then they are to blame. We have a comfortable professional dialogue with him. Of course he listens. And not just listens, I see that he reacts to the arguments I make. He may disagree with something I say, just as I would disagree with something he might say. We have different views on some things, different approaches, but this is a normal discussion between partners. I do not share the opinion of those who say that he speaks like a wood grouse calling out and never listening. That is not true.

Vladimir Putin: I think we are, pretty much yes. Look, there are senior executives from our television company Russia Today sitting across from me. What is happening in some countries where they operate? They are being banned. What does this mean? It means those who do so are afraid of the competition. This is what it means. We do not close anyone here, whereas they are faced with conditions that preclude their operation as mass media. Someone is making it hard for them. That means we are winning. We have just one radio station, and we are not a monopoly on this information field. We do not have global media like CNN, Fox News, BBC and so on. We do not have these. We have just one fairly modest channel. Even if it causes so much heartburn and fear of it being able to influence minds, then we are winning this competition

 Chinese proverb, the trees want to remain quiet, but the wind will not stop

Vladimir Putin: You know, the situation around the Korean Peninsula is moving in a positive direction in general. You have noted this, too; we all can see this. You have just said that we were on the brink of war, and now, thank god, we are on the brink of peace.

Direct contacts between the US administration and North Korea are ongoing. I hope they will continue soon, in the near future. We hear that preparations for a new meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un are underway. I also hope it will take place.

Let me express my position once again; I have already spoken about this. I do not think that this work will be effective if it is a one-way street. Demanding total disarmament and total denuclearisation from North Korea without providing any security guarantees is hardly a good approach.
Nevertheless, anything is possible. If North Korea believes the promises of the US, this could be the best way to de-escalate the situation. It is difficult for me to say.

What positive role could Russia play here? We could implement those trilateral plans we have discussed many times: connecting the South Korea – North Korea – Russia railway; power lines; and a pipeline from Russia to South Korea via North Korea, including gas routes. We still could establish some joint enterprises. Of course, it would be a contribution.

This is because joint work in the economy unites us and creates conditions to resolve political and security issues. Let us not forget that China has done a great deal in this regard. Russia and the People’s Republic of China have a joint platform. We are trying – I will not repeat this now because I have said it many times – to comply with these joint agreements.

What else can Russia do? I think (I have also said this many times, but I will repeat it once again) that it is very important to establish security guarantees for North Korea. Of course, Russia could also play a certain role here, because I believe that if we want these guarantees to be effective they should be international.
We do not want to see any military action there or any tensions. Russia and North Korea are neighbours; so Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a nuclear power, as well as other participants of this process – China and the United States – could of course make a contribution by creating and participating in the system of guarantees.


George Garvy, "Keynes and the Economic Activists of Pre-Hitler Germany," The Journal of Political Economy, Volume 83, Issue 2, April 1975, pp. 391–405).

Monday, October 29, 2018

Today's links

"All the talk in the media about the need to “restore civility” and end “divisive political rhetoric” are empty platitudes that evade all the critical issues. What must be abolished is the capitalist system itself." WSWS


“I know that the Americans are viscerally repulsed by us North Koreans, but if they talk with us, they will find out that I am not the type of person who would shoot a nuclear missile to the South or toward the Pacific or at the United States.” Kim Jong Un 





1---No EU Member Ready to Host Mechanism to Defy US Anti-Iranian Sanctions – Report


The so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which was earlier initiated by Germany, Britain and France, aims to allow the EU to continue business and trade with Iran after the US sanctions against the Islamic Republic's oil and banking sectors enter force on November 5.
No EU member state is willing to host the so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to safeguard Brussels' trade ties with Tehran from Washington's anti-Iranian sanctions, according to The Financial Times.

2-- Russia-Germany trade up by almost 25 percent – Kremlin

The official numbers show that last year, trade turnover between the two countries was $50 billion.
German firms continue investing in the Russian economy despite facing barriers from economic sanctions against Russia. The total amount of accumulated German investments in Russia currently exceeds $18 billion, while Russian investments in Germany stand at $8.1 billion.

According to the chairman of the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce, Matthias Schepp, “the foundations of German and Russian economic relations are solid even in the time of sanctions.” He told RT at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in May that not only car manufacturers invest heavily in Russia but also medium-sized businesses.

Sanctions against Moscow were introduced by Brussels in 2014 over Russia’s alleged involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The punitive measures targeted Russia’s financial, energy, and defense sectors; along with some government officials, businessmen, and public figures.
The Kremlin responded by imposing an embargo on agricultural produce, food, and raw materials from countries that joined the sanctions on Russia. Since then, both sides have been extending the measure

3--Brazil’s Polarizing New President, Jair Bolsonaro, in His Own Words

Mr. Bolsonaro has described having a female child as a “weakness,” and has said he would not treat or pay women the same as men in the workplace.
“Because women get more labor rights than men, meaning they get maternity leave, the employer prefers to hire men … I would not employ [women equally]. But there are a lot of competent women out there.”
In 2014, he told a fellow lawmaker:
“I would not rape you because you are not worthy of it.”
In 2013, he said that he would “rather have a son who is an addict than a son who is gay,” and that he was “proud to be homophobic.” 
In June 2011, he said he would “rather his son die in a car accident than be gay,” adding:
“If a gay couple came to live in my building, my property will lose value. If they walk around holding hands, kissing, it will lose value! No one says that out of fear of being pinned as homophobe.”
In April 2017, Mr. Bolsonaro spoke about visiting traditional Afro-Brazilian communities. He described the weight of the residents using the word “arrobas,” an outdated unit used to weigh cattle and agricultural products.
“The lightest Afro-descendant there weighed seven ‘arrobas’. They don’t do anything. They are not even good for procreation.”
Mr. Bolsonaro advocates it:
“I am in favor of torture — you know that. And the people are in favor of it, too.
After criticizing Brazil’s government during a 1999 interview, Mr. Bolsonaro was asked whether he would shut down Congress if he were president. He said:
“There is no doubt. I would perform a coup on the same day. [Congress] doesn’t work. And I am sure that at least 90 percent of the population would celebrate and applaud because it doesn’t work. The Congress today is useless … lets do the coup already. Let’s go straight to the dictatorship.”
In the same interview he also said:
“Elections won’t change anything in this country. Unfortunately, it will only change on the day that we break out in civil war here and do the job that the military regime didn’t do: killing 30,000. If some innocent people die, that’s fine. In every war, innocent people die. I will even be happy if I die as long as 30,000 others go with me.”
At a rally in São Paulo on Oct. 21, Mr. Bolsonaro vowed to imprison or exile his political opponents once in office

4--This week in history: October 29-November 4

29 October 2018

25 years ago: Maastricht Treaty establishes European Union

The formation of the European Union had two basic purposes. Externally, it aimed to weld together the countries of the European continent, following the collapse of the Soviet bloc, in an economic entity dominated by Germany and France that would be able to compete on a world scale with American imperialism and the rising powers of Asia, primarily Japan and China. Internally, it sought to instigate a continent-wide drive against the working class, slashing social programs and driving down wages and benefits.

For the struggle against the working class, the EU countries adopted what became known as the Maastricht criteria or “convergence criteria,” defined by the Treaty in terms of inflation rates, public debt and deficits, exchange rate stability and interest rates. In effect, the poorer and weaker economies were subjected to financial constraints imposed by the stronger economies, above all Germany, whose consequences eventually became apparent in the Greek debt crisis some 20 years later.

The most notorious of the criteria was the requirement that the ratio of the annual government deficit to a country’s gross domestic product could not exceed 3 percent a year. The ratio of gross government debt to GDP could not exceed 60 percent. Most EU countries were in breach of one or both of these ratios, and the threat of EU sanctions was used to force through right-wing austerity policies throughout the continent.

5--Obama stumps for Democrats in Michigan: A legacy of social devastation

The purpose of Obama’s appearance is to try to convince workers and youth in one of the poorest large cities in America once again that the Democratic Party, a right-wing pro-capitalist and pro-war party, represents their interests.

Ten years ago, when Obama was first running for president, it was said that the election of an African American president would mark a fundamental progressive shift in American politics. However, Obama and the Democrats have left behind a legacy of social devastation for the working class in Detroit and across the country, paving the way for the election of the fascistic President Donald Trump....

Obama oversaw the forced bankruptcies of GM and Ford, resulting in the closure of factories across southeastern Michigan and the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs in the US. New hires in the auto industry had their wages cut in half. The United Auto Workers (UAW) union collaborated with the companies to eliminate the eight-hour day, implement a multiple-tier pay scale and create new low wage temporary part time (TPT) positions.

The horrific conditions that prevail in the factories as the result of the collaboration between the UAW, the Obama administration and the auto companies have contributed to the deaths and injuries of countless workers..

Obama last visited Detroit in 2016 to rub shoulders with union executives and auto bosses at the North American International Auto Show. His visit was meant to mark the “return” of Detroit after the restructuring of the auto industry and the city’s 2013 bankruptcy, backed by Obama, which resulted in the looting of city workers’ retirement pensions and a restructuring of the entire city in the interests of billionaires like Dan Gilbert.
As the president hailed Detroit’s supposed renaissance, he was silent on sickouts being carried out by Detroit teachers to protest deplorable school conditions and to demand the return of wages and benefits given away by the Detroit Federation of Teachers....

The legacy of the Obama administration in Detroit is one expression of the class policy that Obama and the Democrats oversaw for eight years. This included a massive bailout of the banks, an unprecedented transfer of wealth to the ruling elite, an attack on health care packaged as a “reform,” and the expansion of war abroad. Former US Attorney General Eric Holder, who is joining Obama today, is most notorious for his argument that the president has the right to assassinate anyone, including US citizens, without due process.

6--What brought Trump to power?

The consequences of the financial crisis of 2008 and the pro-Wall Street policies of the Obama administration, which enabled the right wing to posture as defenders of the “forgotten man.” The impact of more than a quarter-century of unending war, 17 years under the banner of the “war on terror.” The turn by the ruling class and both Democrats and Republicans to ever more authoritarian forms of rule in response to growing resistance from the working class.

... What is the significance of the reemergence of fascism, 85 years after the coming to power of Hitler and nearly 80 years after the outbreak of the Second World War?

Today, approaching 30 years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union by the Stalinist bureaucracy, the essentially reactionary character of what transpired in 1989–1991 is exposed before the entire world. The fascist disease, which was somewhat in remission during the period following World War II, has powerfully reemerged. The end of the USSR produced not a flowering of democracy, as the propagandists of capitalism prophesied, but an explosion of inequality, imperialist war, authoritarianism and a revival of fascism.

Fascism is a political expression of extreme capitalist crisis. Leon Trotsky explained in “What is National Socialism?” (1933) that with the rise of Nazism, “capitalist society is puking up [its] undigested barbarism.” Fascism, he wrote, “is the most ruthless dictatorship of monopoly capital.”...

7--Brazil's fake left paves the way for Bolsonaro

The election of Bolsonaro, an open defender of the US-backed, 21-year military dictatorship that ruled Brazil until 1985, and of its murderous and barbaric repression, marks a thorough-going breakdown of the regime of civilian bourgeois democratic rule that emerged in Brazil after the military ceded power...


Following the release of the results of the election, Bolsonaro delivered a rant on social media denouncing socialism and communism. Shortly afterwards, he appeared on national television vowing his support for democratic rule of law and property rights as well as fiscal responsibility. He also signaled that he would more closely align Brazil’s foreign policy with that of Washington. He added that he had received a congratulatory call from US President Donald Trump who said that the two could reach “great partnerships.”...


The entire pseudo left in Brazil attempted to give this bankrupt and reactionary policy a “left” façade, portraying a vote for Haddad as the only means of stopping the advent of fascism in Brazil. This attempt to corral workers back under the wing of the party that had betrayed them over the course of decades proved itself an abject failure.

The reality is that the right-wing social and economic policies that Bolsonaro will now attempt to introduce would have been adopted by an incoming PT government as well. And his move to bring the military into the government also would have been seen under a PT government, with Haddad making one of his first visits after the first-round vote to the chief of staff of the Brazilian armed forces for a political discussion

8--Brazil, Fascism and the Left Wing of Neoliberalism

Missing from explanations of the rise of Mr. Bolsonaro is that for the last decade Brazil has experienced the worst economic recession in the country’s history (graph below). Fourteen million formerly employed, working age Brazilians are now unemployed. As was true in the U.S. and peripheral Europe from 2008 forward, the liberal response has been austerity as the Brazilian ruling class was made richer and more politically powerful.

Since 2014, Brazil’s public debt/GDP ratio has climbed from 20% to 75% proclaims a worried IMF. That some fair portion of that climb came from falling GDP due to economic austerity mandated by the IMF and Wall Street is left unmentioned. A decade of austerity got liberal President Dilma Rousseff removed from office in 2016 in what can only be called a Wall Street putsch. Perhaps Bolsonaro will tell Wall Street where to stick its loans (not

Between 1928 and 1932 German industrial production fell by 58%. By 1933, six million formerly employed German workers were begging in the streets and digging through garbage looking for items to sell. The liberal (Socialist Party) response was half-measures and austerity. Within the liberal frame, the Depression was a political problem to be addressed in the realm of the political. Centrist accommodation defined the existing realm. Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, the pit of the Great Depression.

In Brazil in the early-mid 2000s, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula, implemented a Left program that pulled twenty million Brazilians out of poverty. The Brazilian economy briefly recovered after Wall Street crashed it in 2008 before Brazilian public debt was used to force the implementation of austerity. Dilma Rousseff capitulated and Brazil re-entered recession. Rousseff was removed from power in 2016. Hemmed in by Wall Street and IMF mandated austerity, any liberal government that might be elected would meet the same fate as Rousseff


 The rise and fall of a global radical right have been episodic. It has tied in history to the development of global capitalism in a center-and-periphery model of asymmetrical economic power. Finance from the center facilitates economic expansion until financial crisis interrupts the process. Peripheral governments are left to manage debt repayment with collapsed economies. Globally, debt has forced policy convergence between political parties of differing ideologies. European center-left parties have pushed austerity even when ideology would suggest the opposite. In 2015, self-identified Marxists in Greece’s SYRIZA party capitulated to the austerity and privatization demands from EU creditors led by Germany. Even Lenin negotiated with Wall Street creditors (on behalf of Russia) in the months after the October Revolution....


Propaganda was developed and refined by Edward Bernays in the 1910s to help the Wilson administration sell WWI to a skeptical public. It has been used by the American government and in capitalist advertising since that time. The idea was to integrate psychology with words and images to get people to act according to the desires and wishes of those putting it forward...


Liberalism is the link between capitalism and fascism, not its antithesis.

Having long ago abandoned Marx, the American Left is lost in the temporal logic of liberalism. The way to fight fascists is to end the threat of fascism. This means taking on Wall Street and the major institutions of Western capitalism.

9--PEW-- Public Trust in Government: 1958-2017

Public trust in the government remains near historic lows. Only 18% of Americans today say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (3%) or “most of the time” (15%).

When the National Election Study began asking about trust in government in 1958, about three-quarters of Americans trusted the federal government to do the right thing almost always or most of the time. Trust in government began eroding during the 1960s, amid the escalation of the Vietnam War, and the decline continued in the 1970s with the Watergate scandal and worsening economic struggles. Confidence in government recovered in the mid-1980s before falling again in the mid-1990s. But as the economy grew in the late 1990s so too did confidence in government. Public trust reached a three-decade high shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but declined quickly thereafter. Since 2007, the share saying they can trust the government always or most of the time has not surpassed 30%

10--(2015 survey!) PEW-- Beyond Distrust: How Americans View Their Government (Was this a signal that Trump would win?)

A year ahead of the presidential election, the American public is deeply cynical about government, politics and the nation’s elected leaders in a way that has become quite familiar. Currently, just 19% say they can trust the government always or most of the time, among the lowest levels in the past half-century. ...

both Republicans and Democrats favor significant government involvement on an array of specific issues. Among the public overall, majorities say the federal government should have a major role in dealing with 12 of 13 issues included in the survey, all except advancing space exploration...

, while majorities of Republicans favor a major government role in ensuring a basic income for people 65 and older (59%), protecting the environment (58%) and ensuring access to high-quality education (55%), much larger shares of Democrats – 80% or more in each case – favor a large government role.
However, these differences are a matter of degree. Overwhelming numbers of Republicans and Democrats say the federal government should have either a major or minor role on all 13 issues tested. Relatively few in either party want the government to have no role in these issues, though 20% of Republicans say the government should have no role in ensuring health care.

11--Summit in Istanbul

12--On North Korea, the South’s Leader Has One Key Point: Kim Jong-un Is Different

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea takes every opportunity to describe Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, as a “young and candid” strategist, one who is ready to bargain away his nuclear arsenal to secure economic growth for his impoverished nation.

In doing so, Mr. Moon is attempting something that his predecessors who favored dialogue with the North also tried to do, but failed: changing North Korea’s global image as a regime that simply cannot be trusted.

For decades, it has been an article of faith among Washington’s foreign policy establishment, as well Mr. Moon’s conservative critics at home, that North Korea will renege on any agreement made. For that reason, they say, there can be no substantial concessions to the North in the talks over its nuclear weapons until it takes real steps toward disarming.

“There is a bottom-line difference between President Moon and the skeptics,” said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. “He believes that Kim Jong-un was sincere when he told him that he was willing to denuclearize. The skeptics don’t.”
If Mr. Kim wanted to change his image from nuclear madman to mature negotiator, it’s unlikely he could have found a better agent than Mr. Moon.

Mr. Moon, who has met with Mr. Kim three times this year, has repeatedly endorsed him as a leader of good faith. After their first meeting in April, Mr. Moon’s office quoted Mr. Kim as saying, “I know that the Americans are viscerally repulsed by us North Koreans, but if they talk with us, they will find out that I am not the type of person who would shoot a nuclear missile to the South or toward the Pacific or at the United States.”

A central message in Mr. Moon’s diplomatic efforts is that Mr. Kim truly wants to be a great economic reformer for his country, as Deng Xiaoping was for China decades ago, and that the world must not miss the opportunity. Mr. Kim, he says, intends to negotiate away his nuclear weapons if Washington lifts sanctions and provides security guarantees, like a peace treaty ending the Korean War, so he can focus on economic development.

”Chairman Kim told me that besides the moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and missiles, he would dismantle the facilities that produce them, as well as all the nuclear weapons and fissile materials his country owns, if the United States takes corresponding measures,” Mr. Moon said this month.

Even leaving aside the question of his true intentions, Mr. Kim is a difficult figure to vouch for.
He has indeed taken steps to reform his country’s economy, allowing markets and private businesses to open, giving farmers more freedom to sell their crops and factory managers more autonomy to decide what to produce. Despite international sanctions, he engineered a building boom in Pyongyang, the capital, which Mr. Moon called “remarkable progress” when he addressed a cheering crowd of 150,000 there in September.

Last year, Mr. Kim was following his father and predecessor Kim Jong-il’s “military first” playbook as he accelerated nuclear and missile tests and threatened the United States, as well as the region, with nuclear war. But this year, he announced a “new strategic line” under which “all efforts” would be channeled toward “the socialist economic construction.”

In less than a year, Mr. Kim has made more concessions on his nuclear weapons program than Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush ever extracted from his father — though critics say that in truth, he has given up little of substance. He imposed a voluntary moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests and shut down the North’s underground nuclear test site. He also agreed to dismantle some missile-test facilities and — if Washington took “corresponding” steps — to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear complex, a center for producing nuclear bomb fuel.

But another South Korean analyst, Lee Seong-hyon, shared Mr. Moon’s vision, saying “a great transformation” was unfolding on the Korean Peninsula.
“It’s easy to make the same old argument about why North Korea can’t be trusted,” said Mr. Lee, of the Sejong Institute near Seoul. “But rather than being fixated on the old way of looking at North Korea, we should ask ourselves whether we can recognize Kim Jong-un as a new type of leader and find a solution there.”

Even if Mr. Moon and Mr. Kim haven’t convinced every analyst, they have made a far bigger score with Mr. Trump, whose attitude toward Mr. Kim and the North has changed drastically.
“I do trust him,” Mr. Trump said this month, barely a year after threatening to “totally destroy North Korea.” “I get along with him really well. I have a good energy with him.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also expressed a willingness to give Mr. Kim the benefit of the doubt, at least to some degree. Mr. Kim, he said recently, told the Americans that he had made the strategic decision that the North no longer needs its nuclear arsenal.

13--(archive, june 6, 2018) Kim Jong-un’s Image Shift: From Nuclear Madman to Skillful Leader

The man described by critics as a murderous dictator and nuclear lunatic has held hands and had heart-to-heart talks with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, who has encouraged and abetted Mr. Kim’s makeover.

Mr. Kim has enticed South Korea and the United States into negotiations by dangling the possibility of denuclearizing his country. His popularity has surged in polls in South Korea as he prepares to become the first North Korean leader to meet a sitting American president....

he whetted Washington’s appetite for negotiations by announcing a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests, closing North Korea’s only known nuclear test site and releasing three American prisoners. He also appeared to have hedged his bets by meeting twice with Mr. Xi, mending frayed ties with an old ally whose protection he needed as he entered delicate negotiations with Washington.
The diplomatic outreach was a sharp departure from North Korea’s history of rhetorical bombast, chest-thumping theatrics, military parades and mass rallies, which have fed the country’s image as an international pariah.

Mr. Kim’s image reinvention was skillfully staged with the help of Mr. Moon’s government, which made sure every detail of the leaders’ April 27 summit meeting was steeped in potent symbols dear to both Koreas: respect, ethnic unity and eventual Korean reunification...

But nothing softened Mr. Kim’s image like the moment when he arrived at the border to meet with Mr. Moon. At Mr. Kim’s suggestion, Mr. Moon stepped across the border into the North for 10 seconds. Then Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon walked back across to the South for their meeting, holding hands, an encounter that transfixed television viewers in South Korea.

“That single gesture went beyond political language,” said Mr. Chung, the anthropologist. “The theatrics conveyed messages of trust that language alone could not.”
The summit meeting mainly rehashed old inter-Korean agreements that had never been kept, producing only a vaguely worded commitment to denuclearization and peace. But the images made the event a success, providing momentum for warmed ties between the two countries and redefining Mr. Kim in the eyes of many South Koreans.

The next morning, a South Korean newspaper filled its front and back pages with a photograph showing Mr. Moon and Mr. Kim crossing the border hand in hand. Mr. Kim, formerly vilified as the region’s most dangerous leader, was considered “trustworthy” by 77 percent of South Koreans following the meeting, according to a survey by the Korea Research Center.

“Chairman Kim’s popularity has risen rapidly among South Koreans, and so have the expectations,” Mr. Moon told Mr. Kim last month when they met for the second time at Panmunjom. He said the summit meeting especially strengthened Mr. Kim’s image among younger South Koreans, who have shaped their views of North Korea through the past decade of inter-Korean tensions and have become increasingly skeptical of reconciliation, much less reunification, with the North.

14--Kim Jong-un Focuses on Economy as Nuclear Talks With U.S. Stall


15--As Economy Grows, North Korea’s Grip on Society Is Tested

 16-- Will Kim Jong-un Trade His Nuclear Arsenal to Rebuild Economy?


South Korean policymakers argue that Mr. Kim is signaling a willingness to dismantle his nuclear arsenal for the right incentives, including economic aid, a peace treaty and other security guarantees from Washington — measures he needs to rebuild the North’s economy.


“He is seeking the kind of rapid economic growth seen in China,” said Lee Jong-seok, a former unification minister of South Korea. “The North Korea he envisions is different from his father’s North Korea.”


Mr. Lee also noted: “We have looked only on the nuclear side of Kim Jong-un’s rule, trying hard not to look at the other side. He is ready to bargain away nuclear weapons for the sake of economic development. If he were content with just feeding his people three meals a day, he would not give up his nuclear weapons.


American officials say they have been repeatedly cheated by the North in previous talks on denuclearization. A deal in 1994 eventually collapsed when the United States accused the North of secretly enriching uranium. Another deal in 2005 fell apart in a dispute over how to verify a nuclear freeze. In 2012, the North launched a long-range rocket after agreeing to a moratorium on missile testing.


At the same time, he has introduced market-oriented reforms, initiating a building boom in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

He also has announced plans to open special economic zones in his country, where he hopes to attract foreign investors, a dream that can be realized only if international sanctions against North Korea are eased....

If Mr. Kim is serious about economic growth, though, he will need the world’s help, analysts say. They point to the example set in the 1980s by China’s paramount leader at the time, Deng Xiaoping, whose opening to the West was critical to his country’s boom.
“Whether Kim Jong-un will become the Deng Xiaoping of North Korea will depend on whether the international community, including the United States and South Korea, can provide security guarantees and opportunities for economic development so that it will denuclearize,” Mr. Cheong said.

17--Summit in Istanbul (Escobar) The truth behind the Khashoggi affair?

Riyadh is now part of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which will in fact be “renamed as the Russian-Chinese-Saudi Fund”, as revealed by its director, Kirill Dmitriev, at the Future Investment Initiative, or “Davos in the Desert”. The fund was originally set up in 2012 by RDIF and China Investment Corporation (CIS) to turbo-charge bilateral economic cooperation between Moscow and Beijing.


Istanbul summit participants stick to their positions on Syrian settlement - expert






-MOA on the Pittsburg attack

the NYT report ignores the killer's anti-Trump stand. It goes on to blame the incident on Trump's rhetoric:
The anguish of Saturday’s massacre heightened a sense of national unease over increasingly hostile political rhetoric. Critics of President Trump have argued that he is partly to blame for recent acts of violence because he has been stirring the pot of nationalism, on Twitter and at his rallies, charges that Mr. Trump has denied.
This ignores that Trump uses the same nationalistic rhetoric that all U.S. presidents use:
At the U.S. Military Academy last year, Obama pronounced unequivocally: “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”
Nor are anti-immigration positions a Trump phenomenon. It was Obama who was called the "deporter-in-chief":
More than 2.8 million undocumented immigrants have been deported over the last eight years, ...