Friday, January 11, 2019

Today's Links

We might take credit for the perceived improvement in the economy, but nearly all of the money that we’ve created remains in the form of excess reserves. It isn’t circulating through the economy. What we have done, basically, is to provide a monetary head fake."...


"I  would say one consensus emerged, and that is that quantitative easing is unambiguously inflating asset prices and, according to some, is distorting financial market functionality. As one said, artificially low interest rates invite fiscal sin...." Richard Fisher, Dallas Fed, 2013

"If there is anything that constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors,” justifying the immediate initiation of impeachment procedures, it is such a threat to override Congress through executive fiat." WSWS





1--The prospect of a second referendum is increasing, interview with Nigel Farage


2--US to setup 4 new military bases along Syrian border: report


3--Russian-Kurdish Negotiations In Moscow: Turkey Has Defined Its Options And Washington Is Trying To Gain Time


the Kurds have finally learned their lesson and would like to be part of the Syrian state. They have seen the world watching – impotently, unwilling to intervene against Turkey – the exodus of hundreds of thousands from Afrin. They have heard Trump’s decision to abandon them. With his departure their dream of Rojava, the long awaited Kurdish state, evaporates....


The Kurds welcomed the Syrian army in the area still under their control. Turkey has accepted to keep its forces and those of its Syrian proxies away from Manbij as long as the Kurdish militants are disarmed. Russia proposed and obtained the withdrawal of the Kurdish forces, re-establishing its observation posts, patrolling west of Manbij. Erdogan still hopes to reach a deal over North Syria during his forthcoming meeting with President Putin, expected sometime in January. The presence of thousands of Syrian jihadists and armed proxies at the gates of Manbij is further weakening the Kurdish negotiation position. They have no other place to seek refuge but in Damascus....


Trump’s apparent willingness to revoke any deal (the Iranian nuclear agreement) or give up on his allies (the Kurds) is helping to push Turkey into Russia’s arms....


The US says it will remain around the al-Tanf crossing between Iraq and Syria. The establishment’s excuse for this presence has been to stop the Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut bridge. Iran has been supplying Syria with weapons for over seven years of intensive multi-front continuous war. It has supplied Hezbollah with weapons and finance from 1982 until now. The US presence may disturb a possible railway or land road between Iran and Lebanon but cannot disrupt the established supply of weapons. The cost of air or sea shipment is indeed higher but so too are the costs of a prolonged US presence at al-Tanf, in the middle of the Syrian-Iraqi desert. The US is trying to gain time in Syria: in fact it is just wasting it.


Secret negotiations are ongoing in Moscow and Damascus between representatives of the Syrian Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Russian officials concerning the fate of Kurdish militants in Syria. The Kurdish delegation is hoping that Russia – and not the US – will adopt the role of guarantor of their safety and is trying to gain a few more concessions to reduce their losses when the Syrian government forces regains complete control of al-Hasaka province in Northeast Syria.

This will happen only when the US establishment finally decides to pull out its last soldier and ends its occupation of al-Hasaka. PKK representatives have offered a “road map” meant to include promises of protection, the sharing of wealth and the security of borders with Turkey. The US is trying to offload responsibility for the Kurds’s safety onto Turkey, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rebuffed US requests to offer this kind of protection to his PKK enemies in Syria. Erdogan is evidently putting his strategic-commercial alliance with Russia ahead of his turbulent NATO alliance with the USA.

The Kurdish militant group known variously as YPG, the People’s Protection Units, and the PKK (Syrian branch) is convinced the time has come to climb off the US’s shoulders onto Russian ones since Washington has decided to drop them off the Turkish cliff. Nevertheless, Syrian officials are also determined to give no concessions to the Kurds notwithstanding the Russian mediation with Damascus

4--YPG violence in Syria against the Kurds, the Turkish case against the YPG

The PYD announced in 2014 that they founded three cantons "Afrin, Kobani and Jazira" and alleged that the territory they captured would be a federal region called "Rojava." Actually, the Assad regime retreated from those areas in the north of Syria, leaving the PYD in control to oppress the Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens in this region and prevent them from joining anti-regime opposition groups. At least 300,000 Kurds had to flee to Iraq and no fewer than 200,000 fled to Turkey since the YPG was as ruthless against the Kurds as Daesh and the Syrian regime....

Western media will not talk about the human rights violations, including torture, rapes and other acts of sexual violence against all people in Syria committed by the YPG. Because Washington does not care about torture such as "the burning of and threats to burn genitals with cigarette lighters," forced migration, arrests and the arbitrary killings of others. All they care about is the PKK's Syria branch, which they keep referring to as "the Kurds," in a way that ignores and insults millions of Kurds who have never accepted the terror group as their representatives. According to the people in Washington, the goal is just to protect the YPG, and all the rest can go to hell....

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), there was quite a lot of torture, maltreatment and killings in the prisons of the YPG. Assassinations of many other Kurdish leaders never stopped until they got total control. Those were all ignored by the Americans. U.S. ignorance gave them more courage and they did not stop. The U.S. did not even try to stop them.

And the recruitment of children? A 107-page HRW report, namely "Under Kurdish Rule: Abuses in PYD-run enclaves of Syria," documents the use of children by the YPG, which is a violation of international law, among many other abuses. Did the U.S. care about that? Of course not....

Even the former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone said in 2012 that the PKK did nothing to help Kurdish citizens; on the contrary, they killed more Kurds than everyone else. However, those concrete facts are now like dust and sand for the Americans.

5--Washington officials' mission impossible in the Middle East

Pompeo's success will be judged by President Donald Trump from achievements in his goal of containing Iran. Trying to limit both Turkey and Iran at the same time is a challenging and unrealistic goal for the U.S. Such a policy was pursued by some Obama period officials, but so far this policy has just antagonized Turkey and led to the strengthening of Turkish-Russian ties. The Saudi and Israeli obsession against Turkey misguides U.S. policies toward the region and makes Pompeo's task much more complicated. Besides, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Iraq have very different positions vis-à-vis the Iran issue, and those countries also do not perceive any threats from Turkey.

Trump differs from Pompeo and Bolton

Trump's overall plan and policy line are more realistic than both Pompeo's and Bolton's. Trump wanted to regain the trust of Turkey and aimed to develop much more constructive relations with Turkey. His plan includes the gradual abandoning of the YPG, which previously constituted the major obstacle to a Turkish-American rapprochement. Trump also implied that Israel and Saudi Arabia should not have unrealistic expectations in their regional objectives by depending on U.S. support. Donald Trump's statement: "Iran is pulling people out of Syria, but frankly they can do whatever they want there" in his talk to reporters after a Cabinet meeting in the White House was shocking for Israel. His recent statements implied that there is no unlimited American support to Israel's or Saudi Arabia's regional ambitions. Bolton's gambits in Israel and Ankara were not too promising. Pompeo's irresponsible and offensive statements against Turkey may be applauded in Israel, or in Riyadh or by the YPG militants, but those statements have a negative impact in Ankara. Reconciling with Turkey, and taming the Israeli and Saudi regional ambitions, is the only option if the U.S. wants to reduce its presence in the region safely

6-- Venezuela’s Maduro sworn in for second term amid rising social unrest and threats of intervention

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a tweet denouncing Maduro’s inauguration, while making a thinly veiled appeal for a military coup in Venezuela:
“The U.S. condemns #Maduro’s illegitimate usurpation of power and urges those who support the Venezuelan regime, including security forces sworn to support the constitution, to stop enabling repression and corruption. The time is NOW for a return to democracy in #Venezuela.”...

Pompeo issued the tweet from Cairo, where he gave a speech that consisted of a full-throated defense of US imperialist intervention along with praise for the Egyptian dictator Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who seized power in a bloody 2013 coup that saw the massacre of some 1,600 supporters of the ousted elected president Mohamed Mursi and the subsequent roundup and imprisonment of at least 60,000 people for political reasons. Washington has no problem with the legitimacy of Sisi’s regime, nor with that of the other members of its anti-Iranian axis in the Arab world, a collection of dictatorial monarchies to whom Pompeo is paying call....

Maduro won three times the number of votes cast for his closest rival, but this represented just 28 percent of Venezuela’s eligible voters.
Of course, the Trump administration, which is denouncing the Venezuelan president’s election as illegitimate, came to power with fewer votes than Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and the support of just 26 percent of US eligible voters.

Sixty-four percent of the population is living under conditions of extreme poverty. Some 2.6 million Venezuelans have emigrated because of the economic crisis....

The aim of Washington and its allies is not to alleviate the desperate conditions confronting the masses of working people in Venezuela, but to deepen them through the imposition of ever-tightening economic sanctions aimed at destabilizing and toppling the government.
And, for all of the cries from the imperialist powers and the right-wing capitalist governments in Latin America about “democracy” and “legitimacy,” their aim is to transfer power to a right-wing layer that has no broad base of support within the country.

Washington’s regime-change objectives are bound up with the drive by US-based energy conglomerates to reassert their previous unchallenged hegemony over Venezuela’s oil, the largest proven reserves in the world, as well as the Pentagon’s strategy of global confrontation with the so-called “revisionist powers”, China and Russia, which have established economic and political ties with Caracas.

7--Huawei sales director arrested in Poland over spying allegations 


8--NewsGuard' app gives news sites 'trust' ratings & targets alternative media. What could go wrong?


NewsGuard has received wide praise from mainstream outlets in recent months. The Boston Globe described it as a tool which "helps stand guard against fake news,” while TechLife hailed NewsGuard's founders as the "Guardians of the (Online) Galaxy.”

Who is behind NewsGuard?

So, who are these guardians of truth, exactly? NewsGuard was co-founded by veteran journalist Steven Brill, who also founded the American Lawyer magazine, and Louis Gordon Crovitz who was previously the executive vice president of Dow Jones and has edited books for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation — two neoconservative think tanks which were heavily involved in promoting the Iraq war.

Heritage and the AEI, are linked to the US defense industry and have also been involved in pushing for the expansion of US military action in countries like Syria and Libya.
Crovitz himself, as noted by MintPress, has been accused of “repeatedly getting his facts wrong” in his Wall Street Journal articles and even his own sources have taken him to task over “fantastically false claims.”

NewsGuard also has a number of “advisors” which might raise eyebrows. Among them are Tom Ridge, a former Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, former CIA director Michael Hayden and Richard Stengel, a former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy under Barack Obama and now “distinguished fellow” at the US arms manufacturer-funded Atlantic Council think tank. Stengel admitted that some people described his former post at the State Department as akin to being the “chief propagandist” for the US government.

9--Trump at the Rubicon

In threatening to override Congress with a “state of emergency,” Trump is making clear that he is prepared to use the presidency to effectively obliterate the separation of powers, marking a milestone in the destruction of American democracy.
This threat is the consummation of systematic efforts under the Bush and Obama administrations to expand the powers of the presidency to undermine bedrock principles of democratic rule and fundamental rights protected under the Constitution.

Following the stolen election of 2000, the Bush administration used the 9/11 terrorist attacks to rush through the passage of the Patriot Act and implement a series of unconstitutional policies, including indefinite detention, torture and warrantless domestic surveillance. The pseudo-legal rationale was that the president, as commander-in-chief of the military, has virtually unlimited powers.

The Obama administration used this precedent to claim the right to assassinate American citizens, including within the borders of the United States, without due process, and to impose martial law in Boston in 2013.

Trump, in his unvarnished criminality, is bringing this process to a culmination by using a “state of emergency” to oppose Congress in a domestic political crisis.

Such an action would concentrate in his hands, and in those of his successors, a new mechanism for the exercise of unrestrained presidential power. In this fundamentally new political system, the vast resources that are regularly allocated by Congress to the military could be marshalled by the president to carry out actions not just internationally, but within the United States itself



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