Friday, November 30, 2018

Today's links

The Social Contract is a theory or model that originated during the Age of Enlightenment and usually concerns the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual. Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the ruler (or to the decision of a majority) in exchange for protection of their remaining rights.

 

 


 




1--North and south Korea seek unification despite US opposition--South Korea train enters North for first time in a decade


He said relinking the railway will facilitate expansion of South Korea's "economic territory" to Eurasia by land because the division of the Korean Peninsula has left his country geopolitically cut off from the continent for decades.

Reconnection of the railway systems was among the agreements signed earlier this year during a crucial meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the South's President Moon Jae-in....

One of the lines is linking the North's southernmost Kaesong City to Sinuiju City near the Chinese border, and the other is connecting Mount Kumgang near the inter-Korean border to Tumen River, bordering Russia in the east.

According to South Korea’s transport ministry, they will travel nearly 2,600 kilometers on railway tracks together for the project.

The railway project has faced delays over concerns it could violate the US-led UN Security Council sanctions imposed on Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.
The Security Council, however, granted an exemption for the joint project last week, but it remains unclear whether it will allow more following the conclusion of the initial assessment phase

From December 2007 until November 2008, freight services ran between the two Koreas to support factories in a joint economic zone at Kaesong in North Korea. The line, however, was cut in 2008 as relations deteriorated.

2--Israel Signs Pipe Deal to Rival Russia as Gas Supplier to Europe

South Stream 2.0 will have competition

3--Is Putin the Provocateur in the Kerch Crisis?


Some Westerners want even more in the way of confronting Putin.

Adrian Karatnycky of the Atlantic Council urges us to build up U.S. naval forces in the Black Sea, send anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, ratchet up sanctions on Russia, threaten to expel her from the SWIFT system of international bank transactions, and pressure Europe to cancel the Russians’ Nord Stream 2 and South Stream oil pipelines into Europe.
But there is a larger issue here.

4--The showdown in Idlib is nea


5--Sober realism about relations with Russia missing these days in US – chief-editor of The Nation


NATO is it should halt its expansion, Ukraine should become non-aligned, the future of Ukraine should be as a bridge between East and West, that was the hope. Not as a proxy country for a civil war between the United States and Russia. 

 

The election we just had showed the disconnect between the media-political establishment and ordinary people. RussiaGate, the scandal alleging that Putin put Trump in the White House, was not an issue in the election! It didn’t figure! The issues were issues like healthcare, like pensions, which I think is a big issue in Russia too, what we call bread and butter issues. In fact, a recent poll, a Gallup poll, showed 57% of Americans want a more cooperative relationship with Russia. So there’s a disconnect that a smart politician, Democrat, would understand needs to be seized, because there’s not a lot of hunger or appetite for this kind of anti-Russian politics. It is being fanned by a media-political establishment, which…

 

John Bolton, the neo-conservative advisor who Trump brought in, he was the architect of withdrawal from, I would argue, the most important stabilizing arms control agreement in 2002, the ABM, the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. The withdrawal from the INF is part of a larger problem, Sophie, it’s part of the unravelling of a stabilizing framework for arms control. If this goes down, and it was a great achievement, as you know, of Gorbachev and Reagan, abolishing an entire class of nuclear weapons in 1987, we could see the unravelling of arms control as we know it...

 

Trump was a shock to the American system, and I think for many Americans, particularly Democrats, I am sad to say. Instead of looking deeply into themselves and looking at their own pathologies and problems that American has, the financial crisis, the inequality, the disinformation, the dark money, the suppression of the vote, it’s easier to blame others. And so I think there’s an attempt to blame Russia for Putin, that in the end is not only dangerous, wrong-headed, and leads America not to better understand what it needs to do to reform itself and become a more just, a more democratic country. So, in that sense, Trump also, I think, wants to get the monkey off his back, do you know that expression? RussiaGate. So he’s ready to do these, take these steps, and because he is so undisciplined, and so much about himself, he will listen to these advisors, who are hawkish, as you said, and leading to a bad relationship even when he’s still attacked as a Putin puppet.

 

6--Bolton visits Bolsonaro: a US meeting of the minds with Brazil’s fascistic president-elect


Bolton’s visit follows his bellicose speech earlier this month in Miami in which he laid out an agenda of regime change against the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. He labeled them a “troika of tyranny,” an obvious mimicking of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” theme, rolled out in advance of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the same speech, Bolton described Bolsonaro—who has praised the country’s former US-backed military dictatorship and threatened opponents with jail or exile—as a “likeminded leader” and his election as one of the “positive signs for the future of the region.”

Last Tuesday, Bolton echoed this theme, declaring that Bolsonaro’s election presented a “historic opportunity for Brazil and the United States to work together in a number of areas, such as economy, security and others.
 

7--The US mortality crisis: CDC reports extraordinary drop in life expectancy

 

Social devastation, suicide and drug addiction following 8 years of Obama misrule 

The figures contained in the latest CDC report are a reflection of the diseased nature of American society and the failure of the capitalist system. The last decade has seen a historic rise in social inequality in the aftermath of the economic crash of 2008 and the bailout of Wall Street, overseen by Obama and the Democrats, which saw the greatest transfer of wealth in history from the working class to the rich.

Low-wage, tenuous employment, where it is available, has replaced the jobs that were destroyed in the process. The boondoggle that is known as Obamacare, far from providing the population with healthcare, has funneled billions of dollars to the healthcare industry and increased corporate profits by compelling workers to buy substandard health insurance out of their own pocket.....

As indicated by the prevalence of suicide in rural regions, joblessness and social isolation reap a terrible toll. Workers are driven to despair under the ruling class assault against the living standards won by the working class in the 20th century.

There is no solution to the continued decline in life expectancy forthcoming from the ruling class. In reality, the increased death rates are seen as the cost of doing business, necessary to funnel ever greater sums of money into the pockets of robber barons like Jeff Bezos and fuel unprecedented spending on the US military.

A socialist response is required to meet the needs of the working class. A direct assault must be launched on the wealth of the corporate and financial elite. The wealth of the one percent must be expropriated to fund universal healthcare and turn the giant pharmaceutical companies into publicly-owned utilities.

The decades-long campaign to strip workers of their social gains must be reversed. Society must be transformed to ensure that every person has access to high quality healthcare, education and housing, and ensure the right to a high-paying job and leisure. Above all, this requires the building of a mass working class movement independent of both big business parties, fighting for socialism
 ...Life expectancy in the United States continued its extraordinary decline in 2017 after stagnating in 2016 and falling in 2015. Not since the combined impact of World War I and the Spanish Flu in 1918 has the country experienced such a prolonged period of decline in life expectancy...

The US suicide death rate rose to the highest in 50 years last year. Since 2008, it has ranked as the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the US. In 2016, suicide became the second leading cause of death for ages 10–34 and the fourth leading cause for ages 35–54. From 1999 to 2017, suicide rates have increased for both males and females, with the greatest yearly increases occurring since 2006.
The average annual increase in suicide rates shifted from about one percent per year from 1999 through 2006 to two percent per year from 2006 through 2017 Minsk Accord



8--Should Fed keep rates low?


The economy is currently growing at 3.5 percent, on the heels of 4.2 percent growth last quarter. It is on track to exceed 3 percent growth for the first time since 2005. The stock market has increased by about 30 percent since President Trump was elected, boosting retirement and college savings accounts. The unemployment rate currently sits at a 49 year low, with near record lows for blacks, hispanics, and youth. Wage growth is at its fastest pace in a decade, and the small business startup rate has surged.

Yet cracks in this strong economic foundation have started to emerge in concert with Powell’s aggressive agenda. Stock markets are down. Existing home sales have fallen for eight straight months. American auto sales fell by 4 percent in the third quarter, with General Motors announcing major domestic layoffs. And global growth forecasts have been revised downward.

The pumping of the economy’s brakes in the form of quarterly 25 basis point rate increases is being compounded by the Fed pulling the parking brake in the form of systemic unwinding of its unprecedented balance sheet accumulated as a result of Quantitative Easing in the aftermath of the Great Recession. This dangerous tight money combination threatens to put an end to the current economic expansion. 

the core inflation rate, which is the Fed’s preferred measure, came in at just 1.8 percent, in numbers released today by the Commerce Department. This is below the Fed’s 2 percent target, meaning there is not a need to increase interest rates to control inflation. Given that core inflation averaged just 1.6 percent over the last six years, the economy could even withstand short bouts above 2 percent. Don’t forget that in 2016 the Fed clarified that the 2 percent target is “symmetric,” not a “ceiling.”

9--This Guardian Fake News Story Proves That The Media Can't Be Trusted

 

10--Le Pen and Farage destroy Junker at EU



11-- Yes, Cohen lied to Congress. So did Brennan, Comey and Clapper--Tucker Carlson 

 

12--Dershowitz: Mueller won't produce a balanced, fair report

 

13--Another Neocon??? Pompeo Hires Never Trumper Mary Kissel as Senior Policy Adviser

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Today's Links

“Well, let’s see what happens with Jay Powell. So far, I can tell you—I said it the other day, and I’ll say it again: I think the Fed right now is a bigger problem than China.” Donald Trump

Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper's reputation. @WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange. https://archive.fo/pUjrj

1/ Why do attacks on the US media - calling it "Fake News" - resonate so widely? Because of utterly fabricated and reckless articles like this one from @politico, by a former *CIA officer allowed to write under a "pen name"*. The whole thing is a fraud: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/11/28/paul-manafort-julian-assange-222694 

 

 Manafort, meanwhile, issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon through a spokesman, saying: "This story is totally false and deliberately libelous. I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or Wikileaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false."

 

 

 

 

1--Trump threatens to declassify ‘devastating’ docs about Democrats


President Trump said Wednesday that if House Democrats launched probes into his administration — which he called “presidential harassment” — they’d pay a heavy price.

“If they go down the presidential harassment track, if they want go and harass the president and the administration, I think that would be the best thing that would happen to me. I’m a counter-puncher and I will hit them so hard they’d never been hit like that,” he said during a 36-minute Oval Office sitdown.

The commander-in-chief said he could declassify FISA warrant applications and other documents from Robert Mueller’s probe — and predicted the disclosure would expose the FBI, the Justice Department and the Clinton campaign as being in cahoots to set him up.
“I think that would help my campaign. If they want to play tough, I will do it. They will see how devastating those pages are.”...

In September, a group of Trump allies in the House – led by Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York – called on Trump to declassify scores of Justice Department documents they believe undercut the start of the Russia investigation and show bias against Trump.
The documents include Justice officials’ request to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and memos on DOJ official Bruce Ohr’s interactions with Christopher Steele, the author of a controversial dossier that alleged Trump ties with Russia.

2--Wall Street economists think the stock market misinterpreted Powell and big rally was overeaction



The central bank chief's proclamation that interest rates are "just below" what would be considered a "neutral" level represents a definite change in verbiage from his October "a long way from neutral" assessment. But as a practical matter, these Fed watchers say, the chairman was only saying that the current rate is near the "range" of estimates from the Fed's individual policymakers. That range is between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent.

The distinction could be critical for where the Fed is headed in the future.
"If there has been one certainty of late it is the market's ability to misinterpret Fed Chairman Powell," Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets, said in a note. "The market viewed this as a dovish development. We think this is the wrong interpretation. Powell is not suggesting that since they are just below the range they may stop soon. All he is doing is pointing out an obvious idea."

3--FARAGE & LE PEN DESTROY JUNCKER AFTER HIS ELECTION   (Must watch) 

 

4--Manafort/Assange Drama Proves Media Will Buy Any Russia Conspiracy Story, No Matter Its Flaws  (Excellent!)

 

Many media figures have swallowed whole, without evidence, a conspiracy theory that Donald Trump became president by treasonously colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 election from its rightful owner, Hillary Clinton. The information operation that pushed this story turned out to have been secretly developed and funded by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, a fact uncovered only through the tenacious digging of Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the face of major opposition from the media and Democrats on the committee.

The information operation has been fed to an increasingly compliant and credulous media with nearly no resistance. Fusion GPS is the Clinton- and Democrat-funded group that initiated the Russia collusion story, although it is now, according to congressional testimony, being spearheaded by the Democracy Integrity Project and funded to the tune of $50 million. The Washington Post quietly admitted, buried the news, really, that the operation was funded by George Soros.

 

The latest questionably sourced information in support of this dramatic tale that opponents of Trump cling to in order to delegitimize the results of the 2016 election is that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2013, 2015 and, ominously, in spring of 2016, just as the Trump campaign was heating up. Assange is holed up in London at the Ecuadorian embassy there and published the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton aide John Podesta....

Since the visitor logs for the Ecuador embassy are public and show no mentions of Manafort, the story had to come up with a convenient excuse for why he was missing from the logs. They went with “Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.” Okay, then...

 

It’s been seven and a half months, for instance, since McClatchy’s Peter Stone and Greg Gordon claimed, without evidence, that the special counsel had the goods showing that Trump attorney Michael Cohen had gone to Prague to collude with Russia in the run-up to the 2016 election. This was a key fact in the dossier and Cohen claimed it was a bald-faced lie. Even after he agreed to cooperate with the feds, he claimed it was a lie. In the seven and a half months since McClatchy ran that “bombshell” story that nearly everyone fell for, literally no one has been able to corroborate the story....

 

Both Assange and Manafort strenuously and explicitly denied the story. Here’s Manafort, for instance:
This story is totally false and deliberately libelous. I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or Wikileaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false.
WikiLeaks also announced it was suing the Guardian for printing a false report....

The authors expected people to believe that Manafort and Assange, two highly surveilled people, had not one, not two, but three meetings never noticed by intelligence agencies? Most crazy of all was the notion that this explosive piece of collusion evidence was real but never leaked until now. And no one picked up on any of these three visits on congressional committees or among the media?...

Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee’s Russia Conspiracy Theory is a powerful one. It was used not only for political messaging during the 2016 campaign, but weaponized by intelligence agencies to surveil political opponents in multiple ways. That surveillance continued during the Trump administration, and the theory was used to sideline an attorney general, oust a national security advisor via criminal leaks that no one has been held responsible for, and generally undermine the peaceful transition of power from President Obama to President Trump.
The media have behaved shamefully throughout this, ignoring or downplaying multiple story lines of problematic behavior by high-ranking government officials while hyping every collusion story, no matter its flaws.

5--Bye Bye Uncle Sam-- Iran formally leaves the West to become partner in Russia-led free trade zone


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has endorsed a much-awaited agreement for the establishment of a free trade zone between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) thus facilitating the process for the Islamic Republic to join the Moscow-led regional economic bloc.
According to a Kremlin announcement, the agreement became a federal law after Putin’s endorsement and was accordingly forwarded to the relevant institutions to be implemented.
The move had been approved earlier this month by Russia’s State Duma as well as the country’s Federal Assembly.

Apart from authorizing the creation of a free trade zone between Iran and the EU, the document would be meant to support their cooperation over a wide range of economic and commercial areas.
The EEU is comprised of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an international organization created with the aim of encouraging regional economic integration through the free movement of goods, services and people within the union.

The bloc was established in 2015, after it superseded the Eurasian Economic Community that functioned from 2000 to 2014. The union has an integrated single market of 183 million people and a gross domestic product of over $4 trillion.

The EEU’s prime ministers resolved in March to make talks with Tehran a priority, scenting an opportunity to expand beyond the bloc’s combined market of 183 million people.
Russia’s President Putin said last August that Moscow wanted Iran to join the EEU – a move that was seen as crucial in bringing the two countries closer in their plans to form a strategic partnership.
Putin emphasized that a research had already started over the possibility of creating a free-trade zone between Iran and the EEU.
“Iran is Russia’s longtime partner. We believe that bilateral relations will benefit from the reduction of tensions around Iran following the comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program,” Putin was quoted by the media as saying.

6--Nord Stream 2 Will be Built Whether US and Baltic States Like it or Not - Prof



 7--Senate approves regime change operation in Saudi Arabia (american democracy is a farce)


A Senate resolution that would end US support for the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen may be using humanitarian concerns as a pretext to dethrone Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, analysts say.
A bipartisan proposal to block any further US military assistance to the Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen is one step closer to being adopted, after the Senate voted 63-37 on Wednesday to allow a floor vote on the resolution....

Pushing MBS out?

The resolution’s real aim is not to axe Washington’s ties with Saudi Arabia, but to push MBS out, and replace him with a “more pliable” Saudi royal, Cavell told RT. “The relationship will continue because Saudi Arabia has nowhere else to turn.”

8--This Guardian Fake News Story Proves That The Media Can't Be Trusted  (Sue the bastards)

 

The story was weakly sourced and included some details that seemed unlikely to be true. Glenn Greenwald noted that the Ecuadorian embassy is under heavy CCTV surveillance. There are several guards, and visitors have to provide their identity to enter it. Every visit is logged. If Manaford had really visited Assange, it would have long been known:
In sum, the Guardian published a story today that it knew would explode into all sorts of viral benefits for the paper and its reporters even though there are gaping holes and highly sketchy aspects to the story.
Moreover, the main author of the story, Luke Harding, is known to be a notorious fraud, a russo-phobe intelligence asset with a personal grievance towards Assange and Wikileaks. A year ago an important Moon of Alabama piece - From Snowden To Russia-gate - The CIA And The Media - mentioned Harding:
The people who promote the "Russian influence" nonsense are political operatives or hacks. Take for example Luke Harding of the Guardian who just published a book titled Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. He was taken apart in a Real News interview (vid) about the book. The interviewer pointed out that there is absolutely no evidence in the book to support its claims. When asked for any proof for his assertion Harding defensively says that he is just "storytelling" - in other words: it is fiction. Harding earlier wrote a book about Edward Snowden which was a similar sham. Julian Assange called it "a hack job in the purest sense of the term". Harding is also known as plagiarizer. When he worked in Moscow he copied stories and passages from the now defunct Exile, run by Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames. The Guardian had to publish an apology.

 

The new Guardian story looked like another weak attempt to connect the alleged Russian malfeasance with Assange and the Wikileaks publishing of the DNC emails. No public evidence exists to support such claims.
Shortly after the Guardian's fake news story went public Paul Manafort issued an unequivocal denial:
“I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him,” the statement said. “I have never been contacted by anyone connected to Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or Wikileaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false.”


 ...
A day after the Guardian smear piece the Washington Times reported that Manafort's passports, entered into evidence by the Muller prosecution, show that he did not visit London in any of the years the Guardian claimed he was there to visit Assange.
The story was completely false and the Guardian knew it was. It disregarded and left out the denials the subjects of the story had issued before it was published.

The Guardian has become a main outlet for British government disinformation operations aimed at defaming Russia. It smeared Assange and Snowden as Russian collaborators. It uncritically peddled the Russiagate story and the nonsensical Skripal claims which are both obviously concocted by British intelligence services. That seems to have become its main purpose.
As Disobediant Media notes (emphasis in the original):
While most readers with functional critical thinking capacity may readily dismiss the Guardian’s smear on its face, the fact that the Guardian published this piece, and that Luke Harding is still operating with even the tiniest modicum of respect as a journalist despite his history of deceit, tells us something bone-chilling about journalism. It is no accident that Luke Harding is still employed: in fact, it is because of Harding’s consistent loyalty to establishment, specifically the UK intelligence apparatus, over the truth that determines his “success” amongst legacy press outlets. Harding is not a defacement or a departure from the norm, but the personification of it....

Jonathan Cook, a former Guardian writer, makes a similar point:
The truth is that the Guardian has not erred in this latest story attacking Assange, or in its much longer-running campaign to vilify him. With this story, it has done what it regularly does when supposedly vital western foreign policy interests are at stake – it simply regurgitates an elite-serving, western narrative. Its job is to shore up a consensus on the left for attacks on leading threats to the existing, neoliberal order: ...
The Guardian did not make a mistake in vilifying Assange without a shred of evidence. It did what it is designed to do....

Unfortunately no western main stream media can any longer be trusted to publish the truth. The Guardian is only one of many which peddle smears and disinformation about the 'enemies' of the ruling 'western interests'. It is on all of us to debunk them and to educate the public about their scheme.

9--"Everybody—Ford, Chrysler, GM—needs to strike right now”

Autoworkers’ outrage grows over GM plant closings

Jerry White


”I am not surprised by what GM has done,” a GM contract worker in the Detroit area said. “It is cut, slash and burn, destroying people, families and communities. Look at Detroit 40 years ago. It was absolutely beautiful. Now look at Flint. Everything they touch turns to s**t.”....

What has changed since the 2008 crash? They bailed out the super-rich and all the corporations. But for us workers, we got nothing. How secure are our jobs? We’re desperate and dodging creditors, and this is supposed to be the best of times.”

The global financial crash in 2008 was followed by Obama’s 2009 bankruptcy restructuring of GM and Chrysler, which led to the halving of the wages of all new workers, the end of the eight-hour day, and the elimination of the Jobs Bank, which provided some semblance of income protection to laid off workers.

In exchange for handing over these concessions, the UAW was given control of a multi-billion retiree health care trust and the largest chunk of GM’s corporate shares. After selling 40 million shares back to the company last February—for a return of a cool $1.6 billion—the UAW still retains 100 million shares currently valued at $3.67 billion. When GM stock shot up after the plant closing announcement, the value of the union’s holdings rose by $214 million

10--Fed turbo-charges stocks


US stock markets rose sharply yesterday after US Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell gave a speech indicating that the central bank may not go ahead with the interest rate hikes planned for next year.
....“Interest rates are still low by historical standards, and they remain just below the broad range of estimates of the level that would be neutral for the economy—that is, neither speeding up nor slowing down,” Powell said.
This was in stark contrast to what the chairman said less than two months ago, the last time he commented on Fed policy. On October 2, in a question-and-answer session on PBS, he said “extremely accommodative” interest rates had been needed in the past but they were “not appropriate anymore.” While interest rates were gradually moving to a neutral point, “we’re a long way from neutral at this point, probably.”...

There was no “preset policy path,” Powell said. “We will be paying very close attention to what incoming and financial data are telling us.”
This was music to the ears of the Wall Street traders and speculators. It indicated that the Fed is not committed to further rate increases next year and is very attuned to their demands, despite official claims that its policies are set by the state of the economy not the markets.

11--The template for online censorship is now in place


Over the second half of 2016, WikiLeaks released information provided to it by an unknown whistleblower documenting massive corruption on the part of Hillary Clinton, her campaign, and the Democratic National Committee. The emails showed that, in exchange for six-figure speaking fees, Clinton would tell Wall Street bankers that wealthy people should have more influence in American politics.

They also documented how Clinton received debate questions in advance that her opponent did not have access to, and how the Democratic National Committee leadership had been bought by the Clinton campaign and worked to ensure the defeat of her opponent. These revelations were reported throughout the print and broadcast media.

According to Stamos and Kristof, the major newspapers should have simply censored themselves and refused to cover WikiLeaks’ revelations.
These allegations mark a new stage in the campaign against freedom of expression in the United States.

An effective censorship regime has been created online. Now, the leading architects of internet censorship are calling for major newspapers to practice self-censorship. With oppositional news outlets censored, and mainstream outlets gagging themselves, Stamos, Kristof, and their ilk hope the public will have no way to learn what the political establishment does not want them to know.

12--Ukraine’s provocation in the Azov Sea-- another provocation originating in washington


The Azov Sea crisis fully confirms the warning made by the International Committee of the Fourth International in 1991 that the dissolution of the Soviet Union would open up a new historical period of imperialist wars. The undermining of Russia’s influence in the Black Sea region, which has historically been of major geostrategic significance to Russia as a water gateway to the Mediterranean and the energy-rich Middle East, has been a central component of US imperialism’s efforts to bring all the resources of the vast landmass previously covered by the USSR under its direct control.

If in 1991 Turkey was the only NATO member-state bordering the Black Sea, today all states bordering the Black Sea except for Russia itself are either NATO members or have right-wing, anti-Russian and pro-US regimes that were installed by imperialist-orchestrated “color revolutions” (Ukraine and Georgia).

 

13--Dershowitz: Cohen Guilty Plea an Example of Mueller “Creating” Crimes

 

Dershowitz said this shows Mueller “didn’t start with very much” and is now charging former Trump associates with making false statements to his investigators.

“The very fact that he’s conducting an investigation has created these crimes. … In the end, I don’t think Mueller is going to come up with very much terms of criminal conduct that existed before he was appointed and that’s quite shocking,” he said, adding that it calls into question the role of a special counsel in “creating” crimes

14--Is the Mueller investigation a "clown show"??


Lets assume that Jerry Corsi has contacts at wikileaks and gets info from them that he passes on to Roger Stone who passes it on to Trump.
Okay?
Where's the crime? There is NO crime?
So what is Mueller investigating.
Trump is not colluding by getting info from an aid
This is why Mueller has only been able to charge people with false statements BECAUSE the underlying thing he is investigating is NOT a crime. 

15--No collusion after 18 months--No indictments and no evidence on original charges



Former Trump administration official Michael Anton said Thursday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has yet to indict anyone on charges related to collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign.
The former National Security Council spokesman said Michael Cohen's new guilty plea is another example of Mueller pursuing a "process" crime rather than pursuing collusion-related offenses, which was the original goal of the investigation.
Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, made a second plea agreement with federal prosecutors in New York, reportedly admitting to lying to Congress in 2017 about a Trump real estate deal in Russi







 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Today's Links

1--Putin Triumphs-- Russian South Stream 2.0 Pipeline Comes Out of the Shadows


The 2nd pipe and extension of the TurkStream pipeline will be nothing more than the previously canceled South Stream pipeline by another name
  • Russia suddenly canceled the South Stream pipeline in late 2014 after the US pressured Bulgaria into dragging its feet on the project, and made the surprise announcement the pipe would be laid to Turkey instead
  •  
  • Gazprom has completed laying two (not one) pipes for Turkish Stream, one intended to supply Turkey and another, to supply Southern Europe, 
  • Gazprom secured tenders for purchases of gas from all EU states to be connected to the South Stream project (Bulgaria's open tender closes in December 2018, but all other countries have already signed onto supply agreements).


Significantly, the tenders were secured in compliance with the EU Energy Directives. This means that Gazprom latest venture has addressed the main cause of the EU's original objections to the same pipeline prior to 2014.
  •  

....history reminder due, South Stream was primarily killed off not by the EU, but by the U.S. keen on protecting Ukraine's near monopoly on Russian gas transit. The Obama Administration exerted massive pressure on Bulgaria and other South Stream-receiving countries to prevent landing Russian gas in Southern Europe...

These developments are undoubtedly a major concern for Ukraine - the country already raised criticism of the South Stream on November 19 - as transit of Russian gas via Ukraine is a major revenue earner for Kyiv. Based on the European Council on Foreign Relations data, between 1991 and 2000, Ukraine accounted for 93 percent of Russian gas transit to Europe; by January 2014, this amounted to 49 percent. Naftogaz, Ukrainian State gas company, tried repeatedly to extract monopoly-level revenues from Gazprom. Back in 2008, Naftogaz tried to charge Gazprom $9 per tcm/100km in transit fees - triple the price charged for transit by Slovakia and Poland, and more than double the fee charged by the majority of the Western European states. This pricing came on top of Ukrainian authorities expecting Gazprom to supply gas to Ukraine for domestic consumption at severely subsidised prices. It is, of course, worth noting that Gazprom itself is a monopoly and has, in the past, used its dominant market positions to exercise market power. There are no innocents (other than European buyers of gas) in the long-running disputes between Naftogaz-Ukraine and Gazprom-Russia.

Nonetheless, the situation is asymmetric. Russia currently continues to rely on Ukraine for transit of its main traded commodity, while Ukraine continues to rely on Russia for a large share of its economic activity. In a recent note, Bruegel (http://bruegel.org/2018/01/the-clock-is-ticking-ukraines-last-chance-to-prevent-nord-stream-2/) estimated that Nord Stream 2 coming on line can cost Ukrainian economy ca 2-3 percent of GDP in foregone Russian gas transit earnings. South Stream is likely to add another 1.5 percent.  In the longer run, overall cost to Ukraine of losing Russian gas transit routes can cost as much as 5-6 percent of GDP.

2-- Assange Never Met Manafort. Luke Harding and the Guardian Publish Still More Blatant MI6 Lies 165

 

Neither Manafort nor these “Russians” are in the visitor logs.

Craig Murray----This is impossible. The visitor logs were not kept by Wikileaks, but by the very strict Ecuadorean security. Nobody was ever admitted without being entered in the logs. The procedure was very thorough. To go in, you had to submit your passport (no other type of document was accepted). A copy of your passport was taken and the passport details entered into the log. Your passport, along with your mobile phone and any other electronic equipment, was retained until you left, along with your bag and coat. I feature in the logs every time I visited.
There were no exceptions...

My friend William Binney, probably the world’s greatest expert on electronic surveillance, former Technical Director of the NSA, has stated that it is impossible the DNC servers were hacked, the technical evidence shows it was a download to a directly connected memory stick. I knew the US security services were conducting a fake investigation the moment it became clear that the FBI did not even themselves look at the DNC servers, instead accepting a report from the Clinton linked DNC “security consultants” Crowdstrike....

I can also assure you that Luke Harding, the Guardian, Washington Post and New York Times have been publishing a stream of deliberate lies, in collusion with the security services.
I am not a fan of Donald Trump. But to see the partisans of the defeated candidate (and a particularly obnoxious defeated candidate) manipulate the security services and the media to create an entirely false public perception, in order to attempt to overturn the result of the US Presidential election, is the most astonishing thing I have witnessed in my lifetime....

he Guardian, New York Times and Washington Post are involved in the spreading of lies to damage Assange, and are seeking his imprisonment for publishing state secrets, is clear evidence that the idea of the “liberal media” no longer exists in the new plutocratic age. The press are not on the side of the people, they are an instrument of elite control...

...Trump/MBS/Netanyahu is the real axis of evil today. In Syria and Yemen the West has abandoned all belief in human rights and in basic decency, in favour of promoting a crazed Sunni jihadist agenda against Iran. The effects are so perverse, that we reached a stage where the continuation of the Assad regime is the best outcome that can be hoped for short term in Syria because the alternative is now al-Nusra. Western foreign policy in the Middle East has long been both illegal and morally indefensible; it has now also become extremely stupid. 

3--Nord Stream 2 Will be Built Whether US and Baltic States Like it or Not - Prof

 
 Economic integration of greater europe continues apace

4--The Guardian Walks Back Disgraced Reporter’s Story on Manafort-Assange Meeting

 

The Guardian has updated the copy with a number of qualifiers indicating that the outlet cannot confirm the authenticity of its sources' allegations. Initially, the publication opted to report its anonymous sources' charges straight, but later characterized the testimony as a "claim" and therefore not necessarily factual.

The report, authored by journalists Luke Harding and Dan Collyns, cites sources saying that Manafort met with Assange in 2013, 2015 and the spring of 2016. However, his visits to the Ecuadorian embassy in London were "not logged" according to the Guardian's sources in Ecuador, despite that fact that "visitors normally register with embassy staff." Harding and Collyns have previously reported on visitors Assange has received, but never mentioned Manafort.
The third meeting is "tentatively" dated to March 2016, as Manafort was joining the Trump team but prior to him being named campaign chairman....

While Harding's reporting on an alleged Assange-Manafort meeting is flimsy, it is not atypical of the Guardian reporter's track record. Harding has long feuded with WikiLeaks, and his book "Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House," "presents no evidence, documents or other tangible proof" of its thesis — that there collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials — journalist Glenn Greenwald noted Tuesday.
Moreover, the Ecuadorian embassy in London is heavily surveilled, meaning that if Manafort did truly meet with Assange, it would have been captured on video, Greenwald pointed out....

Hannah Jonasson, who is a member of Assange's legal team, tweeted out a picture on Tuesday of Harding and Collyns with the US-funded journalist Fernando Villavicencio, saying the Guardian's duo had previously bylined other bogus stories with Villavicencio. According to a documentary produced by the Venezuelan-funded news organization Telesur, Villavicencio was among a group of CIA informants in Ecuador.

Jonasson's Twitter account was "temporarily restricted" after the tweet, which appears to have been deleted.

5-- The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty



Donald Trump was Elected by Russia? Mass Dementia in the Western Establishment, Diana Johnstone


All Putin wants is normal relations with the West, which is not much to ask.

 

7-- Diana Johnstone: Financial Elite Created France's New President, Emmanuel Macron



 

Submit to what?  Mainly, to the euro and to the antisocial, neoliberal policies of the European Union that are ruining France.
French flags and la Marseillaise have replaced the Internationale at Mélenchon rallies. “The Europe of our dreams is dead,” he acknowledges, vowing to “end the nightmare of dictatorship by banks and finance”.


As the traditional left goal of economic equality was abandoned, it was superseded by emphatic allegiance to “human rights”, which is now taught in school as a veritable religion.  The vague notion of human rights was somehow associated with the “free movement” of everything and everybody. Indeed the official EU dogma is protection of “free movement”: free movement of goods, people, labor and (last but certainly not least) capital. These “four freedoms” in practice transform the nation from a political society into a financial market, an investment opportunity, run by a bureaucracy of supposed experts. In this way, the European Union has become the vanguard experiment in transforming the world into a single capitalist market

For a long time, the left has complained about job loss, declining living standards, delocalization or closure of profitable industries, without recognizing that these unpopular results are caused by EU requirements. EU directives and regulations increasingly undermine the French model of redistribution through public services, and are now threatening to wipe them out altogether – either because “the government is bankrupt” or because of EU competition rules prohibit countries from taking measures to preserve their key industries or their agriculture.  Rather than face reality, the left’s reaction has mostly been to repeat its worn-out demand for an impossible “Social Europe”.

On May 29, 2005, French voters rejected the treaty by 55% to 45%.
What seemed to be a great victory for responsible democracy turned into its major failure.  Essentially the same document, renamed the Lisbon Treaty, was ratified in December 2007, without a referendum.  Global governance had put the people in their place. This produced widespread disillusion with politics as millions concluded that their votes didn’t matter, that politicians paid no attention to the will of the people.

8--France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface


 

9--US-South Korean tensions over stance towards North Korea

 

South Korea announced last weekend that the UN Security Council had finally granted an exemption from sanctions for its plans to work with North Korea on a joint survey as the first step towards reconnecting rail and road links between the two Koreas severed during the Korean War of 1950–53.
While the US did not use its veto in the UN Security Council to block its ally, the Trump administration is increasingly dissatisfied with moves by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to foster closer relations with North Korea prior to a deal on its denuclearisation. Washington effectively delayed the planned survey in August, and again last month, by declaring that it could violate UN sanctions.

Trump is insisting that the US will not lift punitive sanctions on North Korea until it has met his demands for the dismantling of its missile and nuclear arsenals, production facilities and programs. He met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June which produced a vaguely-worded, joint statement agreeing to “the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula” in return for unspecified security guarantees from the US.

The US has wound back its joint military exercises with South Korea, and North Korea has halted all missile and nuclear testing. However, after more than five months, talks between the US and North Korea have stalled. Washington has rejected North Korean calls for moves towards a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War and a step-by-step lifting of sanctions in return for moves to denuclearise.

A meeting earlier this month between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong-chol was cancelled. Last week a North Korean website criticised the failure of the US to make any concessions. “These acts by the US apparently came from a medieval-era way of thinking that only threatening, coercive and barbarian tactics could enhance its negotiating leverage,” it stated, adding that such tactics would not work...

At a summit in April, Moon and North Korean leader Kim agreed to take practical steps towards reconnecting the rail and road systems of the two countries. South Korea offered to renovate North Korea’s rail system and to send a train and engineers across the border to conduct a joint survey, to which North Korea agreed.

Re-establishing transport links is just part of the Moon administration’s broader plans to economically integrate the economies of the two Koreas. His Democratic Party has long been associated with the so-called Sunshine Policy aimed at transforming North Korea into a cheap labour platform for South Korean conglomerates.

Following the weekend announcement of a UN sanctions exemption, shares in South Korean companies linked to rail construction increased sharply—Korea Engineering Consultants and Yooshin Engineering by 30 percent. An IBK Economic Research Institute report this year estimated that the government’s plans for economic engagement with North Korea could increase South Korea’s GDP by more than 1 percent.

Rail, road and pipeline links through North Korea to China, Russia and on to Europe were central to the Sunshine Policy of President Kim Dae-jung. However, US President George Bush sabotaged these plans on assuming office in 2001 when he called for a review of US policy towards North Korea and scuttled the 1994 Agreed Framework to end Pyongyang’s ambitions to build nuclear weapons.

resident Moon has also taken steps to ease military tensions with North Korea at the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas. Agreements were reached during talks in September to dismantle all guard posts and halt live-fire exercises along the DMZ, and disarm and limit the number of troops from both sides in the shared border village of Panmunjom. This month North and South Korea have each demolished 10 guard posts.

The Trump administration, however, has expressed its concerns about warming relations between the two Koreas. Last week Secretary of State Pompeo warned South Korea “to make sure that peace on the peninsula and the denuclearisation of North Korea aren’t lagging behind the increase in the amount of inter-relationship between the two Koreas.” He was speaking after a joint working group with South Korea to “coordinate” North Korean policy—that is, to ensure that Seoul toes Washington’s line.

While the Moon administration has not openly opposed or criticised the Trump administration’s hard-line stance towards North Korea, there is frustration in government ranks over US intransigence. “As long as this lack of confidence persists, the United States and North Korea will just be going around in a vicious circle,” Lee Soo-hyuck, a former South Korean negotiator and government lawmaker, told the Washington Post recently.

The Trump administration, however, shows no sign of making any concessions to North Korea. Earlier this month the US military provocatively held small-scale military drills with South Korea involving altogether 500 Marines. Last week, US Defence Secretary James Mattis foreshadowed that the annual joint Foal Eagle war games would proceed next year, albeit “reduced in scope” so as to keep from “being harmful to diplomacy.”

The Foal Eagle military drills are clearly a rehearsal for war with North Korea. Although delayed this year so as not coincide with the Winter Olympics in South Korea, these war games involved more than 300,000 US and South Korean troops backed by artillery, heavy armour, warships and military aircraft.

If the exercises proceed next year, they will certainly provoke an angry response from Pyongyang. While North Korea has frozen its nuclear and missile testing and destroyed the entrances to its nuclear test site, the only step taken by the US has been to wind back its joint military drills. North Korea is desperate for an easing of UN and US sanctions which have blocked much of its trade and crippled its economy.

While a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim has been mooted, nothing has been announced. Instead, Vice President Mike Pence told NBC News that if Kim is to meet Trump, it is “absolutely imperative” that he hand over a verifiable plan to disclose nuclear and missile sites, open them for inspection and dismantle them.

Such ultimatums threaten a return to extreme tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to destroy South Korean efforts to improve relations with North Korea.


 




 

 







Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Today's Links

 

Ivan Katchanovski
12 hours ago
It is amazing that so many educated people again took at face value what appears like an incident staged by the Maidan government leaders to stay in power. Such unquestionable trust in Ukrainian politicians, who are implicated in staging the Maidan massacre, the Bulatov crucifixion, and the Babchenko assassination, is striking. It can be explained by simple political convenience even though these politicians sacrificed lives of other people and threw Ukraine into conflicts fo...
See More

 

 

 

1--Nigel Farage--The worst deal in history

 "the European Union is the epicenter of the globalist project, and they are not taking Brexit lying down".

2-- Tense standoff around Kerch Strait between Russia & Ukraine: How it developed


The Russian officers repeatedly asked the Ukrainian vessels to leave Russia's territorial waters, but they ignored those requests. The ships also entered waters that had been temporarily closed to navigation.

A giant bulk freighter accompanied by several Russian military vessels blocked the only passage through the Kerch strait for security reasons. The Russian military also scrambled aircraft, while the situation remained tense. Videos from the site showed Russian Ka-52 gunships cruising under the Crimea Bridge. Later, they were joined by several Su-25 strike fighters.

3--How Guccifer 2 Planted "Fake Russian Fingerprints" On 'Leaked' DNC Docs

 

4--After Wasting $14 billion on Share-Buybacks, GM Prepares for Carmageddon & Shift to EVs, Cuts Employees, Closes 8 Plants

 

During this four-year period in which GM blew, wasted, and annihilated nearly $14 billion on share buybacks, the price of its shares, including today’s 5.5% surge – getting rid of workers is always good news for shares – fell 10%.

But don’t worry. All those expenses incurred during this restructuring will be “adjusted” out of the non-GAAP metrics that Wall Street touts. GM reassured us in the statement that these costs will be adjusted out of EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes), adjusted EPS (earnings per share), and its “automotive free cash flow.” But the cost savings from reduced salary expenses, etc. will be fully represented in all metrics in all their glory. Wall Street’s accounting magic wins again.

5--Russian South Stream 2.0 Comes Out of the Shadows 


South Stream was primarily killed off not by the EU, but by the U.S. keen on protecting Ukraine's near monopoly on Russian gas transit. The Obama Administration exerted massive pressure on Bulgaria and other South Stream-receiving countries to prevent landing Russian gas in Southern Europe....

Between two new pipelines, Gazprom can easily deliver its current supply contracts to Europe by-passing Ukraine...

Based on the European Council on Foreign Relations data, between 1991 and 2000, Ukraine accounted for 93 percent of Russian gas transit to Europe; by January 2014, this amounted to 49 percent. Naftogaz, Ukrainian State gas company, tried repeatedly to extract monopoly-level revenues from Gazprom. Back in 2008, Naftogaz tried to charge Gazprom $9 per tcm/100km in transit fees - triple the price charged for transit by Slovakia and Poland, and more than double the fee charged by the majority of the Western European states. This pricing came on top of Ukrainian authorities expecting Gazprom to supply gas to Ukraine for domestic consumption at severely subsidised prices. It is, of course, worth noting that Gazprom itself is a monopoly and has, in the past, used its dominant market positions to exercise market power. There are no innocents (other than European buyers of gas) in the long-run..

In a recent note, Bruegel (http://bruegel.org/2018/01/the-clock-is-ticking-ukraines-last-chance-to-prevent-nord-stream-2/) estimated that Nord Stream 2 coming on line can cost Ukrainian economy ca 2-3 percent of GDP in foregone Russian gas transit earnings. South Stream is likely to add another 1.5 percent.  In the longer run, overall cost to Ukraine of losing Russian gas transit routes can cost as much as 5-6 percent of GDP.

Note: the latest developments in the Sea of Azov can put significant political pressure on the South Stream project, if the EU and the U.S. choose to significantly escalate their pressure on Russia in the wake of the Russian blockade of trade routes through Kerch Straits and in response to the naval incidents reported today. Both, the reported blockade and the naval incident, are worrying developments, and the onus is on Russia to rapidly de-escalate the already volatile situation in the Azov Sea
.

Russia and Turkey have announced that the two countries have reached significant progress in reviving the November 2014-shut down South Stream gas pipeline intended to land Russian gas across the Black Sea. The project is the part of the already secured open tender contracts for purchases of gas signed between Gazprom, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria
 
 
Ukrainian ships ventured deliberately into Russian territorial waters near the Crimean Peninsula, apparently not notifying Russian authorities before doing so, though the Ukrainians claim they did warn of their crossing...
 
The waters near the Crimean peninsula were the site of a tense standoff between Russian and Ukrainian ships that involved a chase, some gunfire, and fighter jets, followed by strong statements from Moscow and Kiev....
 
The Russian officers repeatedly asked the Ukrainian vessels to leave Russia’s territorial waters, but they ignored those requests. The ships also entered waters that had been temporarily closed to navigation.
 

The U.S. dollar is fake money. And the Fed lends it out at fake rates. That’s always going cause trouble.
But the problem is the Fed’s Mistake #1 (leaving rates too low for too long), not its Mistake #2 (trying to correct its error by “normalizing” them after 10 years of emergency low rates).
Even now, two years after beginning its “tightening” program, the Fed’s key rate is still below the level of consumer price inflation – meaning, the Fed is still lending at less than zero percent of “real” interest…
This is why corporate, consumer, and government debt is so high… and is going higher
 

  11--FSB: Detailed Timeline Of Provocation Acts Of Ukrainian Navy

 

12--Ukraine security chief says intel agents were on board Navy ships during Kerch standoff 

 

13--Russia-led Eurasian Union notches up major success in dumping dollar in favor of national currencies

 (Russia factors large in new trade union--US outside looking in)

Countries like China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela and others are also planning to substitute the US national currency in oil trade amid deliberate policy of sanctions implemented by Washington over recent years.
The meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council is kicking off in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The agenda of the meeting includes digital technology, cooperation in trade, industry and agriculture, energy, economic and financial policies. Participants are also set to discuss the formation of a common gas market for the union, the draft concept of the common financial market, along with other issues of supranational regulation.
Officially launched in 2015, the EEU currently includes five member states – Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova as an observer state. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria and Tunisia are reportedly planning to join the union.

14--Russia-Ukraine stand-off over Azov Sea continues as Poroshenko declares martial law

 

15--No to Macron’s maneuvers to strangle the Yellow Vest protests in France

 

It is time to take the revolutionary road. There is nothing to negotiate with Macron. Elected by default against the neo-fascist Marine Le Pen, ruling with a legislative majority chosen by fewer than half of French voters, he imposes the naked diktat of the banks. His plan to spend €300 billion by 2024 on a European army, and his austerity policy—based on a labor law adopted without a parliamentary vote, under a state of emergency suspending basic democratic rights, and despite the opposition of the overwhelming majority of Frenchmen—have no legitimacy whatsoever...

 

As the union bureaucracies openly participate in implementing austerity, the PES calls for the formation of rank-and-file organizations in workplaces, schools and working-class communities across France. These are critical to provide workers and youth with forums to discuss and organize opposition to the social attacks and war plans of the entire political establishment.”


 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Today's Links

1--Fixing GE's massive debt pile is 'critical' to corporate America, analyst says

  • General Electric Company has watched its share price crater more than 56 percent across 2018.
  • Investors are taking fright at its huge debt pile.
  • The wider U.S corporate debt market has stretched to more than $9 trillion.
Janjuah said that despite decent cash levels on an aggregate basis, a little bit of investigation reveals alarming imbalances in corporate America.

"If you break it down, you realize that the vast bulk of that cash holding is by about eight companies and that most of corporate U.S. is actually more levered than it has ever been," he added.

Total U.S. corporate debt has swelled from nearly $4.9 trillion in 2007, when the global financial crisis was becoming apparent, to nearly $9.1 trillion halfway through 2018, according to Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) data.

The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) — a central bank for central banks — has also warned over a global rise in "zombie firms," describing these as companies unable to cover debt costs from profits over an extended period.
The BIS warned further that these companies would likely be further exposed by any rising interest rate environment. The U.S. Federal Reserve has so far risen its key rate three times in 2018 and has indicated at least three more rises in 2019

2--Information War Against Russia. Kerch Strait Maritime Incident

 

3--Will record business debt trigger a financial crisis? And what will it do to stocks?, The Wolf Street Report


4--US Envoy: US, Russian Forces Have Clashed a Dozen Times in Syria

 

5--New climate change report: Impact of global warming “already being felt”



6--French riot police assault mass protests in Paris


The outpouring of demands reflecting the concerns of people outside the top 10 percent of society is staggering the ruling elites in France and internationally. Claims that the protests are just a tax revolt demanding smaller government are a fraud. In fact, the criticisms of social inequality and war reflect opposition to European Union (EU) policies of austerity and militarism that are reviled by workers in Europe and internationally....

This is exposing the pro-corporate trade unions and allied political parties of the affluent middle class. These forces boycotted the Yellow Vest march. Instead, the Stalinist French Communist Party (PCF), Lutte Ouvrière (LO, Workers Struggle) and members of the Pabloite New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) attended a small protest against gender violence on Opéra square.....“The unions eat from the same trough as the ministers. It's divide and rule: they are told, sit here, you'll be protected, but make sure things stays under control. We know how they work.” 

The “Yellow Vest” protest was sparked by Macron's planned fuel taxes hike that disproportionately hit suburbs and rural areas. It has a heterogeneous character, bringing together workers, contractors and small businessmen, who claim to be “apolitical” and to want to build a “popular” movement. However, their growing focus on opposition to social inequality, militarism and to Macron is striking a political chord with broad layers of workers in France and internationally.

Another worker said: “Money rules, Macron is a banker … He is smashing everything. It started well before, but now we've reached the limits. I work at a hospital, and you see hospitals are closing all the time.” Opposing Macron's planned pension cuts, she added: “A pension is not a privilege, it is the fruit of a lifetime of labor. So retirees have to live with dignity, and today I don't think retirees live with dignity. All this has to stop … there is too much social inequality.

An older worker said, “We regress, regress, regress. Our parents struggled to establish social rights, we are losing everything they won for us. I work for a company and now they only hire temps, you fart once in the wrong direction and you're fired. Workers aren't respected anymore, they treat us just as objects, nothing more. It was always going to explode one day or the other, and now it has begun.”

He said, “We should give the ministers 1,200 euros and see if they can make that last for a month. Our kids are struggling, they live at home until they're 30 because they can't find housing, all the entry-level jobs are minimum wage in most professions. Thank God the old folks are still there to help them, because by themselves they don't have the wherewithal. We are totally fed up.”

7--Thoughts From The Precipice

Things are worsening. But we're not over the edge quite yet.

 

8--We know who JFK and why

 

We know who killed him: the national security state, led by the CIA, killed him, not Lee Harvey Oswald.  It was a coup d’état purposely conducted in plain sight to send a message that every president since has heeded: Your job is to make war and threaten nuclear annihilation for the Deep State elites.  Follow orders or else.  And they have followed.

If you find my assertion about the CIA audacious and absurd, first read James Douglass’s JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, a book widely regarded as the best book on the assassination and its meaning.  Read it very closely and slowly.  Check all his sources, read his endnotes, and analyze his logic.  Approach his meticulous research as if you agreed with Gandhi’s saying that truth is God and God is truth. Try to refute Douglass. You will be stymied.

Then read David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard for further clarification. You will come away from these two books profoundly shaken to your core.  Be a truth-seeker, if you are not one already.

9--Israeli military commander calls for Hezbollah leader’s assassination


 





Sunday, November 25, 2018

Today's links

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif---Where is the West in condemning the chemical attack in Aleppo by terrorists? West's pattern: chemical weapons only condemned if alleged to be used by an enemy; not an ally. A blind eye turned when Saddam used them against Iran, but war waged to destroy them when he was an enemy.

1--Moscow-Seoul free trade zone?


Negotiations on the implementation of a free trade zone agreement between Moscow and Seoul may start in 2019, according to South Korea’s ambassador in Moscow, Woo Yoon-keun.
Woo told TASS that “the documents have already been submitted to the parliament [of the Republic of Korea]... We hope that next year we will start intensive negotiations.”
An agreement on setting up a free trade zone between the countries was inked in June during the visit of South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Moscow.

Seoul is seeking to significantly ramp up business with Moscow. It wants to speed up the building of the so-called “nine bridges,” meaning gas, railways, the Northern Sea Route, shipbuilding, job creation, fishing, and other types of cooperation.
Last year, trade between Seoul and Moscow grew 40 percent to $19 billion. The countries have joint projects in Russia’s Far East and economic ties can grow if the countries reach a breakthrough on gas deliveries.

2--US Pushes for Dangerous Military Activity Near Russian Border - Lavrov

 

"The architecture of the Russia-EU dialogue is seriously damaged. European producers suffer multibillion losses, the Kiev regime wages war against its own people, a new conflict emerged in Europe, while the United States suffers no losses at all… Moreover, [the United States] takes advantage of the situation to encourage dangerous military activities at Russian borders, and to promote arms race in our region, while we all used to hope that there was no place for a new cold war there," Lavrov said.

He added that the security of the European people was "becoming hostage to the subversive policy pursued from overseas.

3--This is undeclared hybrid war...


Essentially, they have shown that they are willing to use any means necessary to achieve their aims, including the Skripal affair, Donbass, Crimea; that is, any dirty trick to compromise RThis is an undeclared hybrid war. ussia. This is a direct interference by the UK in the affairs of other states, and Russia first and foremost."

"If this information is true, it confirms that all the propaganda about the alleged 'Russian penetration into Europe' is more than just a lie, and more than just a part of a new cold war which the West wants to wage against Russia. It is used, and this is becoming more and more clear, as a tool for control, for imperialistic policies by stronger Western states toward smaller Western states, such as Greece," Grivas stressed.

Anonymous blew the lid off Britain's 'Integrity Initiative' program on Friday, publishing a trove of documents which showed that its ostensible noble goal of "defending democracy against Russian disinformation" is really a cover for a well-funded, large-scale program of interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Russia is the initiative's main target. The hacktivist collective discovered that in addition to the UK, NATO, the US State Department, Facebook and other government and non-government structures are involved in the program.

UK authorities have done their best to brush off the negative implications of the leak, with a Foreign Office telling Sputnik that the program was actually "already in the public domain" and that London was "happy for the project to receive greater exposure." The FBI declined to comment, referring Sputnik to British authorities, despite the fact that at least 250,000 pounds-worth of State Department cash has flowed into the project's coffers....

"The West's policy of active 'informational counteraction' against Russia and Russian media, and active meddling in the affairs of sovereign states, severely undermines the potential for success of constructive dialogue between Russia and the West, while hindering the search for mutually acceptable solutions to pressing issues," the lawmaker lamented....

Dr. Alexander Gusev, a veteran political observer and specialist in UK and US politics, believes the Integrity Initiative revelations are extremely important, since they help reveal the extent to which London is waging its hybrid warfare campaign against Russia.

"The materials which have been published have shed light on many processes in the system of international relations. These materials are very important, since Anonymous essentially uncovered the existence of actual instructions on how to 'act against Russia', how to present the Kremlin's role in the world. It's been shown that this organization operates throughout Europe, from Spain to Lithuania, its tentacles penetrating quite deeply. This is very serious news," the analyst stressed.

4--Anonymous Reveals Covert UK Special Ops on Hybrid Warfare in EU

 

A hacker group claims to have obtained documents shedding light on the activities of a London-based NGO that officially has a noble mission: to "defend democracy against disinformation." Instead, the project, known as Integrity Initiative, was reportedly used by London to interfere in the domestic affairs of European countries.
The online hacker group Anonymous said on Friday that the British government has created a "large-scale information secret service" across Europe, the US and Canada to meddle into the domestic affairs of European nations.
Citing a "large number" of leaked documents, Anonymous claimed that Integrity Initiative, a network of clusters across Europe and North America launched in autumn 2015 to "reveal and combat propaganda and disinformation", was in reality a project funded and operated by London through "concealed contacts in British embassies."...

"All the work is done under absolute secrecy via concealed contacts in British embassies, which gives rise to more suspicion that Britain uses plausible excuse to create a global system of information influence and political interference into the affairs of other countries."

5--Russian Jets Hit Targets at Militants' Staging Ground for Aleppo Chemical Attack


Earlier in the day, Damascus accused unnamed western countries of supplying weapons to armed terror groups so that they could stage false flag chemical attacks and then blame them on the government. Syria also urged the UN to take "punitive measures" against the countries that were supporting the Aleppo attackers

6--The Economy’s Too Robust for the Fed to Bow to Markets

Growth would need to slow to around 1.8 percent before the central bank considers slowing the pace of interest-rate hikes.

The challenge for the Fed is managing an economy that is transitioning through an inflection point. The odds are very high that economic growth slows markedly next year. The lagged impact of the Fed’s seven rate hikes over the last two years (which is already evident in housing), fading fiscal stimulus and slower global growth all point in this direction. That is the Fed’s baseline forecast as well.

But will growth slow enough to ease what the Fed believes are underlying inflationary pressures? In general, central bankers believe the economy currently operates at or beyond full employment. To be sure, they are not sufficiently concerned to boost rates at a faster pace, believing instead they can use the opportunity to squeeze some extra slack from the labor market. Policy makers are, however, sufficiently concerned about the potential for overheating that they would prefer that unemployment didn’t drift much lower.

From the perspective of the Fed, that means growth needs to slow to something closer to 1.8 percent, which happens to be the Fed’s estimate of the longer-run growth rate. As of last month, the Fed forecast 2.5 percent growth for 2019, even with continued rate hikes. In other words, a slowdown to 2.5 percent leaves activity still too robust to ease the Fed’s concerns

This, of course, creates a difficult environment for investors. If the economy is near or beyond full employment, we can expect continued pressure on profit margins even if growth slows. That is a double whammy: lower margins and slowing sales...

Although the Fed might not ride to the rescue in the near term, the “Fed put” on the economy remains alive and well. As long as inflation remains contained, the Fed will feel comfortable shifting to a more dovish stance if data softens more than they expect.

7--Amazon


As Tim Roache, head of the London-based GMB union explained: “The conditions our members at Amazon are working under are frankly inhuman. They are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious, and being taken away in ambulances.”

Amazon CEO “Jeff Bezos is the richest bloke on the planet; he can afford to sort this out. You’d think making the workplace safer so people aren’t carted out of the warehouse in an ambulance is in everyone’s interest,” Roache added. “These are people making Amazon its money. People with kids, homes, bills to pay—they’re not robots.

8--Is Korea’s Cold War About to End?

 

Here’s the good news: It wouldn’t take very much to push the U.S.-North Korean negotiations forward. All the Trump administration has to do is offer to reduce some economic sanctions in exchange for a specific ask, for instance an inventory of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and complex.
This might seem like Arms Control 101. Unfortunately, the U.S. position has been all-or-nothing, not give-and-take.

 

Remarkable changes are taking place on the Korean peninsula.

The two Koreas are actually starting to demilitarize the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Just in the last couple weeks, they have taken down 22 guard posts, demined the Joint Security Area, and established a no-fly-zone about the peninsula’s dividing line. They’ve pulled back from confrontation along their maritime boundary. North Korea has shut down its coastal artillery units and the two sides have discussed a plan to reduce the large number of artillery positions near the border.

One key indicator of the seriousness of these changes: speculators are driving up the price of land near the border on the South Korean side. Even in a slow-motion reunification scenario, this farmland will become increasingly valuable.

The two Koreas have also revived plans to reunify economically, step by step. At the third inter-Korean summit, the leaders of the two countries agreed to relink, finally, the railroad as well as roads and to restart the shuttered Kaesong industrial complex, which married North Korean labor with South Korean capital and managerial skills. Also on tap is the resumption of tourism projects that have brought large numbers of South Koreans to select locations in the north.

All of this has been met with deafening silence in the United States. Worse, the big Korea news this week is, once again, about what the perfidious North Koreans are doing to reinforce the Cold War, not dismantle it.

9--British Government Runs Secret Anti-Russian Smear Campaigns

 

10--Anonymous blows lid off huge psyop in Europe and it's funded by UK & US

 

11--Why I Think this Sell-Off is Just One Step in Methodical Unwind of Stock Prices


 

The seven FANGMAN stocks – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google’s parent Alphabet, Microsoft, Apple, and NVIDIA – fell 1.3% on Friday in combined market cap. Over Thanksgiving week, they have now plunged 6.7%, or by $259 billion. Those are real dollars gone in four trading days with just seven stocks.
Since their combined market-cap peak of $4.63 trillion at the end of August, nearly $1 trillion — $994 billion to be precise – has dissolved into ambient air, as their combined market cap has plunged 21.5% in ca. 12 weeks (data via YCharts):

Three of the seven have already plunged by 38% to nearly 50%. Two more have plunged by 26% to 27%. Only two have dropped by less than 20%.
These are the market cap and percentage losses for each of the FANGMAN stocks from their respective peaks:
  • Facebook [FB]: -$250 billion (-39.8%)
  • Amazon [AMZN]: -$255.3 billion (-25.7%)
  • Netflix [NFLX]: -$69.5 billion (-38.2%)
  • Google [GOOG]: -$170.2 billion (-19.3%)
  • Microsoft [MSFT]: -$92.5 billion (-10.5%)
  • Apple [AAPL]: -$304 billion (-27.1%)
  • NVIDIA [NVDA]: -$87.4 billion (-49.7%).
Added together, these price drops of each FANGMAN stock from its individual peak balloon to $1.23 trillion.

There is a large amount of money waiting in special funds to jump into the fray when the sell-off of particular shares or the market overall reaches certain levels. Get in, make a buck, get out. Dip buying is a huge thing, and will continue to be. It’s driven by humans and algos – and by companies buying back their own shares at strategic moments to push their prices back up. These dynamics will continue, sell-offs followed by dip-buying, followed by sell-offs that will “gradually” – as the Fed would likely say – wring the excesses out of the market, possibly for years to come, even as individual stocks, one after the other, get destroyed.

12--The Fed’s QE Unwind Hits $321 Billion 

 

From October 3 through October 31, the Fed’s holdings of Treasury Securities fell by $23.8 billion to $2,270 billion, the lowest since February 19, 2014. Since the beginning of the QE-Unwind, the Fed has shed $195 billion in Treasuries

 

13--Financial Time

 

Central banks have purchases $12 trillion in assets...Now the great unwind 


14--Macron bans fuel tax protest in Paris as strikes expand

 

The decisive question remains to orient the movement against Macron’s austerity measures toward the international working class, and to organize independently of the trade unions. Workers face not merely an economic struggle but a political fight against the Macron government and the entire European Union that stands behind it. It is therefore necessary to build a Marxist leadership of the working class to wage such a fight.

 

15--Diana Johnstone: Financial Elite Created France's New President, Emmanuel Macron

  "Must read"

 

“Resisting globalization is just the most basic self preservation impulse.”

On Sunday French voters went to the polls and chose Emmanuel Macron rather than Marine Le Pen to be France’s next president. Macron, a former investment banker and economics minister in the hugely unpopular government of President Francois Hollande, was endorsed by Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and the rest of the global elite who favor the unfettered reign of global capital. As economics minister, he succeeded in passing anti-labor legislation that caused rioting in French streets . He supports the privatization of social services like health care and education, NATO hostilities on Russia’s border, and President Donald Trump’s direct missile strikes on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

Marine Le Pen called for France’s departure from both NATO and the European Union, restoration of the French franc as its currency, and “intelligent protectionism” to defend the living standards of French farmers and workers. She favors detente with Russia, she condemned Trump’s missile strikes on Syria, and she has pushed for restricting immigration and deporting citizens of other nations who are on France’s terrorist watch list. She was endorsed by prominent British Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage and praised by Donald Trump.

“Macron has virtually promised to make things worse for working people, but nobody paid any attention to that because so many people were screaming, ‘Fascism! Fascism!.’”

...
AG: Just to make it quite clear what we’re talking about here, Macron and the rest of the globalist elite are advancing an order in which global capital can freely chase the cheapest labor all over the world, including industrial farm labor, then come back with products with no tariffs imposed upon them, and even sue any government that becomes inconvenient for them.



DJ: That’s about it. What Le Pen and others have said is that they want some “intelligent protectionism” and that goes against the whole neoliberal program, which is to make the whole world safe for investment capital.

Certain countries will just be wiped out by this. France has a tradition of pretty good social services. In fact they’ve been excellent, though they’re now getting worse because of the current government. The French are very attached to their social services, but if you privatize them all and then international financial capital says, “Hmm, we can make more profit in something other than transportation, health care or other services," then they’ll just go and invest somewhere else. So, if you just have unfettered capital like that, you can’t necessarily preserve the existence of your country. Resisting globalization is just the most basic self preservation impulse; people want to preserve their countries as places where you can live decently. That is demonized as being nationalism and nationalism is demonized as fascism and racism.



AG: When I spun off my little description of globalization, I should have included the privatization of everything. 



DJ: Yes, that’s right. And Europe is already the frontline of globalization. It’s been opened up as a playground for financial capital, and Macron was made by financiers. The financial elite found him to be a talent; they brought him into the Rothschild Bank and in no time, he’d made a few million dollars. Once someone finds out how fast they can make money like that, it’s like they’re being initiated into the club and they’re going to defend its interests in every possible way.

16--Virginia Hefferman—The Empire’s Whore—and Naveed Jamali—The Scum of the Earth

 

17--Quantitative Tightening video (must watch)


bond prices will rise even though demand is weak


18--Quantitative Tightening: Bloomberg



What’s quantitative tightening?

The easy answer is that it’s the opposite of quantitative easing, or QE. Milton Friedman had proposed a type of QE decades ago, and the Bank of Japan pioneered its use in 2001 after it had run out of conventional ammunition by lowering its benchmark short-term interest rate to zero. In QE, a central bank buys bonds to drive down longer term rates as well. As it creates money for those purchases, it increases the supply of bank reserves in the financial system, and the hope is that lenders go on to pass that liquidity along as credit to companies and households -- spurring growth. To avoid the impression that the central bank is just financing the government, it buys the bonds in the secondary market rather than directly from the Treasury or finance ministry.

. When did QE switch to QT?

The U.S. Federal Reserve applied QE in force starting in 2008, buying up bonds to revive the flow of credit to a shrinking economy. It stopped increasing its stockpile of bonds in 2014, and now is shrinking its balance sheet. While the BOJ and European Central Bank are still in the QE business, they’re tapering their purchases. Their collective balance sheet peaked in March. Bloomberg Economics has declared this October as the month the world’s major central banks collectively started running down their bond holdings

How does QT work?

The Fed is now letting as much as $50 billion of its bond holdings mature every month without replacing them. That takes money out of the financial system, as the Treasury Department then finds new buyers for its debt. The Fed describes the winding down of its balance sheet, along with rate hikes, as part of a “normalization” of its policy stance and a response to the solid performance of the American economy and a return of more-normal inflation rates. The ECB, BOJ and Bank of England were among the central banks that deployed QE and may at some point start shrinking their own balance sheets as the Fed is now doing.

How much QT has there been?

Since the ECB and BOJ are still buying securities, what’s happened so far is essentially a scaling back of QE, rather than an actual unwinding. But the shift has been enormous. A simple summing of the G-3 central banks’ balance sheet shows a drop of about $92 billion in 2018, through September. The same period of 2017 showed a jump of about $1.7 trillion, so that suggests roughly $1.8 trillion dollars’ worth of liquidity injection went missing from the markets this year. Balance sheets can be affected month-to-month by items other than just the QE programs, and exchange rates change, but the direction is clear. And the pace of change is set to accelerate: Not only did the Fed increase its monthly draw-down this quarter, but the ECB is scheduled to terminate QE by year-end and the BOJ has been opportunistically trimming its bond purchases.

. How are the markets reacting?

There’s always debate on the causes of market declines. But the increased volatility seen across asset classes this year has occurred against the backdrop of the titanic shift away from QE. A global sell-off in stocks in late January and early February followed the ECB beginning to taper its bond purchases. As the Fed drew down its Treasuries holdings and kept raising rates, yields climbed, putting particular strains on emerging markets by late April. And the October slump in equities across the world came the same month that the collective central bank bond portfolio started shrinking. The Fed’s rollback has helped propel a strengthening in the dollar, putting yet more strain on borrowers in developing nations with debt obligations in greenbacks.

6. Is there disagreement about QT’s impact?

Absolutely. To some market observers, the main point is still how accommodative the central banks still are. Even as they stop, slow or reverse their buying of bonds, Bank of America Corp. reckons, the combined balance sheet of the Fed, ECB, BOJ and Bank of England will be just 4 percent smaller by the end of 2020. That means plenty of liquidity left sloshing around the global financial system and supporting the world economy.

7. Who are the winners and losers of QT?

The assets that were QE winners are QT losers and vice-versa. While longer-dated Treasuries have enjoyed historically low yields for the better part of a decade, JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, for one, has warned of 10-year yields climbing past 4 percent, from less than 3.5 percent now. His bank has estimated that bond issuance skewed toward lower-rated companies and longer-dated securities in the QE era. Investors in money markets are big winners. They’ve gone from earning next-to-nothing to drawing more than 2 percent. The stronger dollar means that emerging markets in particular are facing strains, as investors worry about the ability of developing countries to pay off their dollar-denominated debt.

8. Does anyone think this is a bad idea?

Yes. While U.S. President Donald Trump has focused his criticism on the Fed’s interest-rate hikes, he made clear during the Oct. 10-11 stock slump that he wants the central bank to hold off on tightening. Emerging market countries have also called for the Fed to be mindful of the ramifications of its normalization campaign. The finance minister of Indonesia, the world’s fourth most-populous nation, said in October that spillover effects from the Fed are “very real for many countries.” India’s central bank governor wrote a newspaper column in June warning a “crisis” in dollar funding will be inevitable if the Fed doesn’t ease off on QT. In Europe, populist political parties may agitate against the ECB drawing down its holdings of debt and -- by extension -- potentially pushing up government borrowing costs. Some Fed officials have called for discussion about bringing an earlier end than anticipated to the balance-sheet contraction, after some signs of tightness in the market for overnight cash.


19--Hypocrisy Overload? Hillary Clinton Tells Europe to Stem Refugee Flow to Avoid 'Populist Politics 

 

"3 main countries for asylum applicants to EU: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan--all bombed by the United States"

 

20--  Michelle Obama prepares for Presidential run


Many in the Democratic party are clambering for Obama to run of the presidency in 2020. In addition to her consistently high approval rating, Obama brings with her a moral fortitude and aspirational tenor that so many are seeking from elected officials in the next election. Per The Hill:
As the country appears more splintered than ever, Obama’s aspirational tone gives the former first lady a high moral position within the party and American life. It is a similar tone Obama employed during her time as first lady, when she largely attempted to leave the political jabbing to her husband, focusing on children's health and nutrition issues as well as assisting military families. And it is one that will likely remain untarnished in the Obama post-presidency because of her adamance in not running for political office.

 21--Meddling playbook: UK runs covert network to 'counter Russia' - docs  video