Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Today's Links

 "Yellow vests' are the latest sighting of a loosely affiliated populist trend that has pushed voters throughout the Western world, on both the right and left, away from incumbent parties & ideologies toward ... non-traditional candidates, normally by vilifying perceived elites." glenn greenwald

The three leading DC advocates for Venezuela regime-change happen to be Koch Cartel's three stooges: Rubio, Pence, Pompeo. Related: Koch Cartel wants to wet its beak again on Venezuelan oil, fertilizers & petrochemical products, marc ames, follow the money

1--Housing Bubble Watch--San Francisco Bay Area & Seattle lead with biggest multi-month drops since 2012

2--US must observe Manbij agreement

The next meeting of the Turkey-U.S. Joint Working Group, tasked to coordinate the American troops withdrawal from Syria, will be held in Ankara between Feb. 28 and March 1.
“This task force only focuses on the withdrawal. The roadmap on Manbij and other issues are being held within the scope of the joint working group,” Çavuşoğlu said....

On Feb. 13, Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said Washington will establish a multinational observer force to replace U.S. military in northeastern Syria....

Turkey, however, plans to push YPG militants at least 30-40 kilometers (18-24 miles) south of its border and to take military measures to block them.
The YPG dominates the SDF, an umbrella group acting as the ground armed forces of the anti-ISIL coalition. However, Turkey deems the YPG as an offshoot of the illegal PKK which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

In line with the Manbij roadmap, joint investigations by Turkey and the U.S. are ongoing for the restructuring of civil and military councils in the northern Syrian town of Manbij.
The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of YPG militants from the city to stabilize the region, which is located in the northern part of Syria’s Aleppo province.

Turkey wants the quick realization of information sharing over the names and opposes the ones linked with the YPG taking posts in administrative units.
Turkish authorities urge the new administration to be set up in accordance with the demographic structure in what it says is an Arabic-majority region.
In order to implement the plan, the U.S. needs to push around 1,000 armed YPG members out of the city, the officials said.
During negotiations in Ankara and Washington, the Turkish delegation warned that if the U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria occurred before reaching a mutual agreement in line with Turkey’s security concerns, Ankara would reserve its right to self-defense

3--New Cuban constitution recognizes private property

By Alexander Fangmann
27 February 2019
Approved by a referendum on Sunday whose overall outcome was not in doubt, the Cuban government has adopted a new constitution explicitly allowing private property and enshrining earlier initiatives to more deeply integrate the country into the global economy and dismantle what remains of the radical economic measures taken in an earlier period...

The most significant of the changes to the constitution is the explicit recognition of private property in “certain” means of production by “natural or juridical Cubans or foreigners.” In other words, the provision goes beyond the sanctification of the small-time operations of most cuentapropistas, or “self-employed” people. This measure is preparing the ground for the future privatization of state companies and property and the expansion of the activity of foreign corporations on the island....

Aside from the fact that while the Cuban Revolution was not a socialist revolution and it never established socialism, similar claims were made by the Stalinist bureaucracies just as they prepared to reintroduce capitalist property and market relations into the Eastern European economies some thirty years ago......

ndeed, the Cuban government’s new constitution and drive to de-nationalize industry and expand market relations throughout the country is driven by the recognition that it can no longer rely on deep subsidies from Venezuela or survive another “Special Period” without a social upheaval. Basing itself not on the international working class, it seeks support from international capital in the hopes of preserving the privileges of the bureaucracy.

4--Socialism and the case for expropriation


 Soaring share buybacks


Share buybacks are already on track to eclipse the record $1 trillion in buyback activity set last year. CNN reported that buybacks by corporate clients of Bank of America Merrill Lynch are up by a staggering 91 percent this year, putting the United States “on pace for another record year,” as corporations divert ever-greater sums away from productive investment and into pumping up their own stock prices.

All these factors have created what economist Gabriel Zucman called a return “to Gilded Age levels” of inequality. Commenting on a research paper he published earlier this year, Zucman recently wrote, “What the data show is that wealth concentration in the United States has returned to the level of 1920. Forty percent of total household wealth belongs to the top 1 percent. About 20 percent belongs to the top 0.1 percent, which is about the same as the bottom 90 percent’s wealth share....

What none of these self-styled reformers address is how, in the face of a ruthless and reactionary ruling elite, even these extremely modest proposals are to be carried out. If the Federal Reserve cannot raise rates—in defense of the long-term interests of capitalism—and the courts ride roughshod over existing anti-trust laws, it is not difficult to imagine the furious backlash to even the most limited effort to increase taxes on the rich.

No struggle against capitalism is possible without the full expropriation of the financial oligarchy and the source of their power: the exploitation of human beings through capitalist property relations.
What is necessary are not “aspirational” proposals to raise taxes by a few percentage points—measures that will never be achieved under capitalism—but the expropriation of the ruling class. All large corporations and banks must be placed under public ownership and democratic control. The stranglehold of the financial oligarchy over economic, and therefore political, life, must be broken.

The social force that will carry out this sweeping transformation of society, the international working class, has already entered into struggle. It must take up the program of socialism, that is, the reorganization of society in the interest not of the top 1 percent, not of their envious hangers-on in the top ten percent, but of the bottom 90 percent of society: the great mass of the working class that creates all wealth.

5--Roundup found in beer and wine

A new study has shown that traces of a commonly-used and possibly cancerous weed killer can be found in the majority of wine and beer.
Researches tested five wines and 15 beers from the US, Asia and Europe for traces of pesticide glyphosate

The research found that of the 20 samples, 19 (95 per cent) contained particles of the chemical, including products labelled as organic.

6--Please, go home and leave us alone

Moscow and Damascus have jointly called on Washington to end its military presence on Syrian soil and let Syrian government forces and allied Russian troops evacuate civilians from a refugee camp near Jordan.
A joint statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday urged “the United States, whose military units are on Syrian territory illegally, to leave the country.”

 7--In Joint Statement, Russia and Syria Tell US Forces to Leave Syria


Russia and Syria issued a joint statement on Wednesday calling on US forces to leave Syria and to allow people inside a refugee camp in the southeast of the country to be evacuated by Russian and Syrian forces.
The statement, released by Russia’s Ministry of Defense, said Russian and Syrian forces had prepared buses to relocate refugees at the camp in the Rubkan area and would guarantee them safe passage so they could start new lives.
“We also call on the United States, whose military units are on Syrian territory illegally, to leave the country,” the joint statement read.

8-- This Could Be Very, Very, Very Bad News For Trump…


9--American miscalculations in the Middle East


10--Will Putin stop a looming Idlib attack or sit on the sidelines?


 Following the Russia-Turkey agreement, Iranian newspapers were filled with articles complaining about "Russia's betrayal." The Assad regime was also frustrated, as it was planning to take control of Idlib, spilling tons of blood and declaring his victory. It was blocked by Putin and Erdoğan.Putin and Erdoğan's Moscow agreement was kind of pulling a rabbit out of a hat, and it was one of the most clear signs that show us how determined Putin is to end the war in Syria by cooperating with Turkey, unlike Iran...


Turkey has already gotten good results eliminating al-Qaida affiliated groups inside Idlib for more than a year. Avoiding internal clashes, which would risk the lives of civilians, Turkey has been pressuring mainstream opposition groups to join forces and challenge the HTS and other smaller terrorist groups. Last winter, Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zinki came together and formed the Syrian Liberation Front (SLF), while most of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions merged under the National Liberation Front (NLF). By uniting all these groups, Turkey has pushed them to confront the radical elements. Maybe, that's why the HTS had to change its strategy and chose to obey the new rules....


Assad was in Tehran and met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It was his first public visit since 2011 to his closest ally and the only guardian left to protect him. During the meeting, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, who have appeared on front lines across Syria recalling the attempts of Iran's Shiite expansion plans in the region, was sitting next to Assad. Iran has shown with this meeting that it will never let the Arab League's efforts to take Syria back to their side after it spilled so much blood in the war-torn country. 


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Today's Links

  after almost two years of the Mueller investigation, the number of Americans thus far indicted for criminally conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election is zero. We spend remarkably little time asking why this is--glenn greenwald, twitter

A new article from Foreign Affairs cites independent (academic and definitely not pro-government) research showing that the government is now providing food to 90 percent of Venezuelans

 Seems pretty obvious that the reason Trump appointed Elliott Abrahms to deliver Venezuela "humanitarian aid" was to make extra sure the aid would be rejected. Abrahms is a provocation in strategy of tension. The whole point is regime-change, not aid. marc ames, twitter

It's wrong to confine opposing Trump on Venezuela just to hypothetical military intervention: a devastating economic war is being waged. That's uncomfortable for Dems because Obama paved the way (), but that makes it all the more of an obligation to oppose.  aaron mate

...North Korea has the bomb. This is how deterrence works. If Saddam Hussein or Muammar al-Qaddafi had finished their bombs, they’d both likely still be around." , FP


In a declaration in April 2018, Kim proclaimed a “new strategic line” for the ruling Workers’ Party, heralding an age of “socialist economic construction.





1--Consequences of “Leaving Interest Rates Very Low for a Long Time


A litany of problems, from too much debt to deflating housing bubbles in Vancouver and Toronto.

 “We have seen the natural results of leaving interest rates very low for a long time. For one thing, this has been hard for people, such as retirees, who rely on interest from their savings for their income.

“Further, people have taken on a lot of debt, mostly in the form of mortgages and home equity lines of credit.

2--US amasses special ops in Puerto Rico, army in Colombia to oust Maduro – Russian Security Council

By deploying troops and special ops forces to Puerto Rico and Colombia, Washington is getting ready to intervene in Venezuela and topple its leader, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council said.
The US is “preparing for a military invasion” in Venezuela, Nikolai Patrushev told Russian media on Tuesday.

The relocation of American special forces’ units to Puerto Rico, the deployment of the US Army units to Colombia and other facts evidently show that Pentagon is enhancing its military in the region in order to use it in ousting… President [Nicolas] Maduro.
“The people of Venezuela understand this clearly,” Patrushev said, adding that this notion increases popular support for Maduro and drives the government to reject the aid offered by “an aggressor state.”

3--Iran’s Supreme Leader warns US against creating buffer zone in Syria

Meeting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Tehran on Monday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei specifically warned Washington again creating a buffer zone in Syria, the Iranian news agency Press TV reports.
“The issue of the buffer zone, which Americans seek to establish in Syria, is among those dangerous plots that must be categorically rejected and stood against”, Khamenei stressed.

In January, US President Donald Trump claimed on his Twitter page that creation of a 30-kilometre buffer zone in northern Syria could protect the Kurds and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from an alleged attack by Turkey.
The SDF leadership is spearheaded by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, an arm of the Kurdistan Workers Party. The party has been blacklisted by Ankara as a terrorist organisation

4--Why There Will Be No Full US Troop Withdrawal From Syria

By February 23, the story had developed further with the Pentagon officially declaring that the remaining US troops will be a part of the multinational force consisting of “primarily” NATO member states. While Pentagon spokesman Commander Sean Robertson, provided no manpower estimations for this force, media reports relying on US defense officials suggested that the US allies will keep from 800 to 1,500 troops.

Therefore, from 1,000 to 1,700 troops, 200-400 of whom will be US personnel, will remain deployed in the war-torn country alongside with an unknown number of private military contractors. Comparing to the current 2,000-3,000 US troops operating in Syria, this is a notable decrease. However, this is far from any kind of the rapid and full troops withdrawal announced by the US president in December 2018.

5--US Preparing For Military Invasion In Venezuela: Russian Security Council Secretary


The United States is preparing for a military invasion in Venezuela to remove legally elected incumbent President Maduro from power, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on February 26.
“By showing sarcasm and arrogance towards the Venezuelan people, the United States is preparing a military invasion on an independent state. The transfer of American special forces to Puerto Rico, the landing of US forces in Colombia and other facts clearly indicate that the Pentagon is reinforcing the grouping of troops in the region in order to overthrow the lawfully elected incumbent president (Nicolas) Maduro,” Patrushev stressed, according to Sputnik.
Patrushev pointed out that the deployment of US forces in Puerto Rico and Colombia as well as other facts indicate that the US military is preparing a force to participate in the agression against Venezuela.
The security official explained that Venezuela is not accepting US humanitarian aid because it understands that Washington is preparing to overthrow the democratically elected government.

6--Washington's strategic overreach in Venezuela

Venezuela's vast oil supplies certainly make a tempting target. But previous US efforts at regime change, most notably in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven woefully incompetent in securing control of their victims' strategic resources, much less organizing them for profit. ...

the recklessness and indeed plain stupidity of charging into Venezuela and risking opening up an endless war in a tropical jungle environment for the first time in half a century since Vietnam ought to be obvious to the National Security Adviser of the United States.

US forces remain overstretched and exhausted, caught up in major unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and sucked into highly dangerous commitments in Georgia and Ukraine and the Baltic States any of which could escalate through recklessness or sheer incompetence into global war....

Getting involved in Venezuela does much more to weaken US power in Afghanistan, Eastern Europe and the Middle East than anything the governments of Russia, China and Iran combined could come up with, even if they wanted to. It is a classic case of strategic overstretch and dissipation of effort.

Bolton and his friends have become victims of their own rhetoric, drunk on their own mad delusions. They really believe that the United States has become an eternal hyper-power, virtually omnipotent and inexhaustible - able to project limitless power in every direction simultaneously.

 7--Ditching Russia gas would be suicide 


 Russia’s state-run energy major Gazprom said its share of sales of natural gas in the European Union has increased to 36.7 percent last year, rising over two percent against 34.2 percent in 2017.

“In 2018, according to preliminary data, the share of gas supplies to the EU countries and Turkey has reached an all-time high and totaled 36.7 percent,” the director general of Gazprom Export Elena Burmistrova said at Gazprom’s Investor Day event, taking place in Singapore.

8--Sanders throws his support behind US propaganda campaign over Venezuela

By Genevieve Leigh
26 February 2019 
 Figures such as Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez play an important role. While occasionally spouting left and socialist phraseology, both have signed onto the right-wing policies and campaigns of the Democrats
Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took to Twitter on Saturday to voice his support for the staged “humanitarian aid” provocation in Venezuela.
“The people of Venezuela are enduring a serious humanitarian crisis,” Sanders tweeted on Saturday. “The Maduro government must put the needs of its people first, allow humanitarian aid into the country, and refrain from violence against protesters.”...

There is no reference to the fact that the “humanitarian crisis” to which Sanders refers has been severely compounded by US policies, including crippling economic sanctions, combined with the pro-capitalist policies of the Maduro regime.

As for “allowing humanitarian aid,” it is worth noting that the Red Cross opposed the US “aid” operation due to its transparently political purpose.

Sanders is quickly falling into line behind the Democratic Party, which backs the Trump administration operation in Venezuela. Sanders was criticized late last week after comments in an interview with Univision, in which he would not say that he recognized Guaidó as the legitimate president of the country. Asked whether he considered Maduro to be a dictator, Sanders refused to say yes or no....

More recently, he has backed the US-orchestrated civil war in Syria, denouncing “Russian and Iranian support for Bashar al-Assad’s slaughter in Syria,” while criticizing the UN for being “too slow or unwilling to act.”..

The uncritical acceptance of the propaganda campaign by Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez is not surprising. It flows from the character of Democratic Party politics and their own role in providing the right-wing Democratic Party with a pseudo-left veneer.

9--Pence threatens war in Venezuela at Colombia summit: “There is no turning back”

The Washington Post wrote that Pence “embraced a sobbing elderly man,” an immigrant waiting to enter Venezuela. The Post reporters, tears welling in their eyes, wrote that Pence “told the man in English, ‘We are with you.’”
The Post report made no mention of the thousands of immigrants currently sleeping on the streets in Mexican cities along the US-Mexico border after the US barred them from entering the country to apply for asylum.
President Trump has long privately expressed his interest in waging war on Venezuela. In his recently published book, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe reports that Trump once brought up Venezuela in his presence, saying, “That’s the country we should be going to war with. They have all that oil and they’re right on our back door.”..

The Trump administration has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, now scheduled for Tuesday. The US will likely use the opportunity to denounce Russia and China, which are likely to exercise their veto power as permanent members to block a pseudo-legal international fig leaf to US imperialism’s machinations in South America. 

10--Rising level of corporate debt a risk to global economy – OECD 


Companies around world need to repay or refinance as much as $4tn over next three years

Sounding the alarm over the scale of the debt mountain built up over the past decade since the last financial crisis, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that global company borrowing has ballooned to reach $13tn by the end of last year – more than double the level before the 2008 crash.

Corporate borrowing levels have rapidly accelerated over the past decade amid rock-bottom interest rates from major central banks, after they cut borrowing costs in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis in order to avert the last recession turning into another great depression.
Central banks have, however, begun to raise interest rates once more, raising the risk that some companies could run into difficulty keeping up with repayments...

Compared with annual average borrowing in the corporate bond markets worth $864bn during the years leading up the crisis, the OECD said that between 2008 and 2018 the global average skyrocketed to $1.7tn per year.

11--US lacks strategy on Syria: Turkish FM

On Feb. 13, Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said Washington will establish a multinational observer force to replace U.S. military in northeastern Syria.
A Turkish official, who spoke anonymously due to restrictions on talking to the media, said Turkey is still a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting against ISIL.

The official stressed the U.S. intention to give Turkey a symbolic place in the coalition observer force to prevent the country from having a powerful military presence in northeastern Syria.
Turkey, however, plans to push YPG militants at least 30-40 kilometers (18-24 miles) south of its border and to take military measures to block them....

“This task force only focuses on the withdrawal. The roadmap on Manbij and other issues are being held within the scope of the joint working group,” Çavuşoğlu said.

In line with the Manbij roadmap, joint investigations by Turkey and the U.S. are ongoing for the restructuring of civil and military councils in the northern Syrian town of Manbij.
The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of YPG militants from the city to stabilize the region, which is located in the northern part of Syria’s Aleppo province.
Turkey wants the quick realization of information sharing over the names and opposes the ones linked with the YPG taking posts in administrative units.

Turkish authorities urge the new administration to be set up in accordance with the demographic structure in what it says is an Arabic-majority region.
In order to implement the plan, the U.S. needs to push around 1,000 armed YPG members out of the city, the officials said.
During negotiations in Ankara and Washington, the Turkish delegation warned that if the U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria occurred before reaching a mutual agreement in line with Turkey’s security concerns, Ankara would reserve its right to self-defense.

12--Coup plotter Gülen accuses Turkish gov’t of turning its back on Islam’s democratic principles

Gülen, who is accused by Turkish prosecutors of establishing an armed organization to suspend Turkey's secular constitution and democratic government, was described by the French newspaper as a "Turkish opponent" despite solid evidence of him directing the July 15, 2016, coup attempt that killed 251 people and injured 2,200 others.

Almost all Turkish political parties and circles except for his own followers accuse Gülen and FETÖ of staging the coup attempt, in addition to leading a decadeslong campaign to turn Turkey into a theocratic regime governed by Gülen's own interpretation of Sunni Islam, which had a very narrow following among the public even when the shadowy group was at its strongest.

Many pundits in Turkey and abroad also accuse Gülen, who is frequently referred to as an authority in Islam in the U.S. and Western Europe, and his international network of schools and businesses of collaborating with the U.S. since the early 1980s to implement a religious theory known as "moderate Islam." The theory, which was among the methods used to contain the USSR at the time, was part of the formation of a "Green Belt" that included close relations with the Saudi hardliners and Afghan mujahideen. Following the end of the Cold War, Gülen's network rapidly expanded in Turkey's surrounding regions of Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Middle East....

The judiciary and the police were FETÖ's primary focus, and once Gülen's followers gained control, they unleashed their wrath on their adversaries though sham trials based on fake evidence, illegal wiretappings and abuse of judicial and police powers. Hundreds of active or retired public and military officials, journalists, academics and politicians from various political groups were implicated in Ergenekon and Balyoz trials of scheming to overthrow the government in a military intervention...

FETÖ also disrupted the rule of law after launching two series of mass raids, dubbed as corruption operations, against the government and figures linked to their families in 2013. The operations on Dec. 17 and 25 were conducted through illegal wiretapping and evidence gathering while ignoring the state hierarchy. The operations, now widely described as the initial coup attempts by FETÖ, not only breached legal and ethical limits, but also damaged the actual fight on corruption through politicizing the judiciary and the police.



Monday, February 25, 2019

Today's Links

One does not have to rely on the statements of the Senate Intelligence Committee to understand that no shred of evidence of Trump-Russia collusion has yet been shown to the public. Last month, The Nation’s Aaron Mate wrote:

“Not a single Trump official has been accused of colluding with the Russian government or even of committing any crimes during the 2016 campaign. As The New York Times recently noted, “no public evidence has emerged showing that [Trump’s] campaign conspired with Russia.” disobedient media

The heartbreaking violence in Venezuela must stop. I stand with President , the National Assembly, and the people of as they embrace their right to live in peace, choose their leaders, and decide their future, in harmony with their neighbors.Bill Clinton, Twitter
Marco Rubio horrifically tweets images of revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal execution at hands of US-backed jihadis in Libya just one day after the US failed to invade VZ under the pretext of humanitarian aid. The Bolivarian Republic is resisting his sick plan. anya parampil, twitter." Palmer Report, Twitter

NATO worked with al-Qaeda-aligned extremists to overthrow the once prosperous, oil-rich nation of Libya and turn it into a failed state with open-air slave markets. Imperialist sadist Rubio is now threatening Venezuela with the same death and destruction." ben norton, twitter

Marco Rubio just posted photos of Gaddafi being lynched in an open death threat to Maduro. Libya is now a slave state thanks to US. Fuck you Marco, you’re a deranged piece of shit who should immediately resign." @AbbyMartin

There is absolutely no way to reconcile (a) the active, aggressive, and multi-level support given by the US to the world's worst dictators with (b) the lofty Freedom and Humanitarian rhetoric the US uses when it wants to change a regime, so everyone who does (b) just ignores (a) glenn greenwald, twitter

The "lesson from Libya" is that we have no right to topple foreign governments -- thereby producing "challenges" like plummeted living standards, divided rule of warring factions, flourishing slavery, empowered jihadists -- not this brand of juvenile revisionism from : aaron mate

1--Syrian Kurds disavow efforts to equate them with YPG

 Syrian Kurds have expressed their discomfort over being identified with the YPG terrorist organization, especially by the U.S., expressing that they are against any kind of terrorist activities...

On Thursday, representatives of Syrian tribes, who came together in northwestern Azaz province to elect 50 members of a newly established local government body, also declared their support for Turkey's planned operation east of the Euphrates in Syria to eradicate terror threats emanating from the presence of the YPG and provide a convenient area for refugees to return.

"We want to take back our occupied lands from the YPG with Turkey's support. Our aim is bringing peace and stability to the region," the final announcement of the meeting read, also pledging to protect rights of all locals, including Kurds living in YPG-controlled areas.

2--The US must build a safe zone with Turkey


 The United States is revising its decision to exit Syria.

Washington initially hoped to complete the withdrawal by April or, at the latest, the summer months. Yet the White House announced last week that 200 U.S. troops would remain on the ground for an unspecified amount of time to promote peace.

3--If the YPG problem is solved...

The situation in Syria is becoming increasingly dependent on the U.S. stance on the PKK and YPG. Apart from the U.S.' insistence on supporting the PKK/YPG, there is almost no other disagreement over either the issue of terrorist groups or a political solution to the Syrian problem. And it is clear that this is largely a result of the Astana process, not the Geneva process.

" Again, all parties underlined that Syria belongs to the Syrian people and that it is up to the Syrians to decide the fate of their country. As Russian President Vladimir Putin said, "Only the Syrians themselves can decide on their future. There is no other alternative."...

Of course, there are still serious divergences with the U.S., which appears determined to set up a PKK statelet in northern Syria, and other coalition partners. I think one of the most important reasons why the U.S.-led coalition remains distant from the Astana process is that divergence in approach....

Ankara's red line

Undoubtedly, key among the vital issues for Turkey is to prevent the PKK terrorist group from carving up a state in northern Syria. Ankara's strong reaction to the U.S. on that issue is well known but there is no meaningful sign yet that the U.S. has renounced this goal. Ankara approaches the U.S. decision to withdraw troops from Syria with cautious optimism. There is a serious lack of trust here. It is known that weapons are still being delivered to the terrorists in the region. On the other hand U.S. President Donald Trump said, "We will protect the Kurds in the region." With this, Trump is equating the PKK and its Syrian affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG) with Syrian Kurds and threatening Turkey.

The final declaration of the summit says: "The presidents discussed the situation in the northeast of Syria and agreed to coordinate their activities to ensure security, safety and stability in this area including through existing agreements, while respecting the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country."

President Erdoğan also highlighted the importance he gives to the issue by saying, "I want to make it clear that we will not allow a terrorist corridor to emerge along our southern border. I would like to express that we evaluate our future within the framework of the Adana accord of 1998."

4--The U.S. withdrawal from Syria is turning into a major debacle

 Washington's superpower status enables it to exploit the disequilibrium in military might to invade other nations. But, retreating from the battlefield is another story. Time and again, Americans have proved unable to create functioning state structures or promote democracy in occupied territories. Nor have they been able to leave as planned. Iraq and Afghanistan immediately come to mind, yet Washington is struggling in Syria now.

Instead of shaking hands on the Turkish plan, which involved a 20-mile wide safe zone in northern Syria, the U.S. opted to explore options that are far more complicated. President Donald Trump's team turned to their European partners, in light of a proposed transfer of territory from the People's Protection Units (YPG), the PKK terrorist organization's Syrian affiliate, to the so-called Arab forces..

5--Pentagon: Multination Force To Establish Safe-Zone In Northeastern Syria


6--The S-400s are a done-deal


Pence, who called Ankara two days before the Erdoğan-Putin summit, overtly said that U.S. President Donald Trump wants the S-400 deal to be terminated. Erdoğan responded by saying that this deal was made after Turkey’s security needs were determined and that the deal is at a point of no return. In brief he said, “It’s done.”...

Turkey will purchase the S-400s in accordance with its needs, meaning that the deal is done. The delivery will be made in July 2019. The Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSB) is in contact with the U.S. officials in the meantime. Principally, Turkey’s demands are evident, thus, the U.S. officials need to take a step as part of these demands.

However, instead of this, the habits of posing threats and blackmails have emerged. Ankara was told that “sanctions will take place in the event of an S-400 purchase.” The U.S.’s sanction threat is based on the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act) legislation the U.S. Congress ratified in 2017. It is said that as per the aforementioned deal, due to Turkey’s deals it conducted with Russia’s military industry, sanctions are on the agenda.

7--NATO expansion?

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has absorbed 13 nations, some on the Russian border, others bordering lands that had been part of Russia’s sphere of interest for centuries. This constitutes a policy of encirclement, which no nation can accept without protest or pushback. And if NATO were to absorb those lands of traditional Russian influence—particularly Ukraine and Georgia—that would constitute a major threat to Russian security, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to emphasize to Western leaders for years.
So, no, NATO has not deterred Russian aggression for 70 years. It did so for 40 and has maintained a destabilizing posture toward Russia ever since.

8--Manbij Roadmap?


 9--The text of the Manbij agreement has not been released, but it appears to have two main components. 

The first is an arrangement between the American and Turkish militaries to conduct “independent but coordinated patrols” that will eventually be integrated and conducted jointly. The second — and far more difficult — step will involve efforts to change the local system of governance, which is now run by a majority Arab council linked to the Syrian Democratic Forces. The joint patrols give the Turkish military a more direct role in providing security around Manbij, whereas previously the two sides faced off across a semicircular front line. Down the road, after patrols become standardized, Turkey hopes to replace elements of the governing council with its own preferred Syrian groups.
Ankara’s goal is to weaken the Syrian Democratic Forces in favor of its own allied non-state actors, active in Northern Aleppo and trained in Turkey....

American policymakers felt compelled to travel to Ankara to reduce tensions and mend fences. The result was the roadmap and an overt American commitment to compel the Syrian Democratic Forces to make compromises. The agreement, if fully implemented, could reduce tensions with Turkey, but could also prompt the Syrian Democratic Forces to hold American interests at risk or to explore different alliance partners.

The roadmap was negotiated independent of any broader American plan for Syria. Specifically, U.S. policymakers have yet to reconcile Trump’s announced intention to withdraw U.S. military forces with the ongoing refusal to negotiate with the Syrian regime. Thus, the United States is trying to mollify a treaty ally, Turkey, while simultaneously managing its ground force, the Syrian Democratic Forces, without having settled on a Syria policy or even articulating achievable policy goals in the multi-sided civil war.

The roadmap ignores this, and instead narrowly focuses on mollifying Turkey while simultaneously managing Kurdish expectations....

10--How the Upper Middle Class Is Really Doing

Is it more similar to the top 1 percent or the working class?

The only real winners in today’s economy are at the very top, according to this side of the debate. When Bernie Sanders talks about “the greed of billionaires” or Thomas Piketty writes about capital accumulation, they are making a version of this case...

The first is indeed the top 1 percent of earners, and especially the very richest. Their post-tax incomes (and wealth) have surged since 1980, rising at a much faster rate than economic growth. They are now capturing an even greater share of the economy’s bounty.

Then there are the bottom 90 percent of households, who are in the opposite position. The numbers here take into account taxes and government transfers, like Social Security, financial aid and anti-poverty benefits. Even so, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent have trailed G.D.P. Over time, their share of the economy’s bounty has shrunk.

Finally, there is the upper middle class, defined here as the 90th to 99th percentiles of the income distribution (making roughly $120,000 to $425,000 a year after tax). Their income path doesn’t look like that of either the first or second group. It’s not above the line or below it. It’s almost directly on top of it. Since 1980, the incomes of the upper middle class have been growing at almost the identical rate as the economy.

11--Russiagate In Flames: No Evidence Of Collusion, New Findings Challenge DNC Hack Narrative


In the last few weeks, we have witnessed two pillars of the Russiagate narrative continue to disintegrate and erode. First, we heard that a bipartisan inquiry by the Senate Intelligence Committee admitted that they have yet to find evidence indicating that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential election. Secondly, new light was shed on the process by which the DNC Emails published by WikiLeaks may have been sourced, thanks to two reports: one authored by former NSA Technical Director Bill Binney and former CIA analyst Larry Johnson, with the other work penned by Disobedient Media’s Adam Carter.

Of course, this does not entail that the establishment-backed media will stop promoting the neo-McCarthyist insanity that has held legacy press audiences captive for the last two and a half years.

No Evidence For Trump-Russia Collusion

A recent report from NBC related an admission from both Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, indicating that they have discovered no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion to date. NBC’s report reads in part:

“The Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the 2016 election has uncovered no direct evidence of the Trump campaign conspiring with Russia, Democrats and Republicans on the committee told NBC News. But different parties’ investigators in the probe, which is winding down, disagree over the implications of a pattern of contacts between Trump associates and Russians.” 

Let’s review that again: the only thing the Democrats and Republicans disagree on is the significance of an alleged “Pattern of contacts between Trump associates and Russians.”


12--Opinion: How To Successfully Achieve Denuclearization For North Korea

Basic elements of the American offer must include:
  • North Korea to become a signatory to a denuclearization agreement that includes any necessary outside assistance with the process.
  • An Armistice between North and South Korea to formally end the Korean War.
  • Guarantees from the United States that they will not attack or invade North Korea after denuclearization along with tangible promises to assist with economic development.
The time to reach an agreement is now. A suitable offer from the US should have the intended effect of causing the North Koreans to feel that an agreement will help maximize their potential as a nation in a way that the possession of nuclear weapons never can.

13--Ex-Iraqi PM accuses Obama of helping ISIS seize large parts of Iraq

Maliki agreed with remarks made by incumbent President Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential campaign that Obama was the “founder” of Daesh, since he fully evacuated Iraq at the wrong time to let the terrorist group overrun it.
“We should never have gotten out the way we got out. We unleashed terrible fury all over the Middle East. Instead of allowing some small forces behind to maybe, just maybe, keep it under control, we pulled it out”, Trump said in August 2016.

14--US imperialism stages provocation on Venezuela’s borders

On Monday, US Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Colombia to join Guaidó and the leaders of the other Latin American countries, plus Canada, that have joined the so-called Lima Group of nations supporting Washington’s coup against the elected Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro.
There are now reports of US military activity in Colombia, where National Security Advisor John Bolton recently threatened to send 5,000 US troops.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that Maduro’s “days are numbered.” Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted two photos side by side: one of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi alive and one of his mangled dead body.

This Nazi-like threat, made in brazen violation of international law, is a warning of the level of criminality and devastation that will befall Venezuela in a US intervention. As the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria show, everything the US touches turns to rubble.

Venezuela is a country of over 30 million people and is among the most developed in Latin America, with 88 percent of its population living in urban areas....

There is a possibility that a US intervention would involve a clash with Russia, another nuclear-armed power. There are a substantial number of Russian nationals working in Venezuela’s oil extraction industry. US Naval Commander Craig Faller told the Voice of America earlier this month that the US military is preparing for a possible conflict with Russia in what Faller called “our neighborhood” of Latin America. It is also possible that Nicaragua and Cuba would become involved in fighting, drawing the entire hemisphere into war....

There is virtually no opposition within the US political establishment to the Trump administration’s reckless provocations. On the contrary, the corporate media was full of stories expressing shock that Maduro would use tear gas at the border and ban border crossings. There was no mention that the Venezuelan military’s tactics against right-wing thugs storming its borders resembled the methods used by the US border patrol against defenseless women and children seeking to exercise their right to apply for asylum.

Most telling is the response of the self-styled “left wing” of the Democratic Party, which has lent legitimacy to Trump’s threats. Senator Bernie Sanders, who announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination last week, tweeted Saturday: “The people of Venezuela are enduring a serious humanitarian crisis. The Maduro government must put the needs of its people first, allow humanitarian aid into the country and refrain from violence against protesters

15--Human Rights Watch Appears to Be a Propaganda Organization

HRW: “No independent government institutions remain today in Venezuela to act as a check on executive power.”
“A series of measures by the Maduro and Chavez governments stacked the courts with judges who make no pretense of independence.”

“The government has been repressing dissent through often-violent crackdowns on street protests, jailing opponents, and prosecuting civilians in military courts. It has also stripped power from the opposition-led legislature.”

Fact: Venezuela is the hemisphere’s leading democracy, polar opposite growing US-led Western tyranny – at war on humanity at home and abroad, including by police state toughness.
Fact: The above claims turned truth on its head, reading like lines scripted in Washington. Reality is polar opposite HRW’s Big Lies.

16--Turkish army ready for Manbij, Euphrates’ east: Minister

“Our preparations for Manbij and the east of the Euphrates [River] are complete. We will take the necessary steps when the time comes upon the orders of our president,” Hulusi Akar told a rally in Turkey’s southern Hatay province on Feb. 24.
Stressing that Ankara had no desire to threaten another country’s territorial integrity, Akar said developments in Syria were a matter of “survival.”

 17--Erdogan on safe zone and syrian constitution

It’s believed that the American forces along with other coalition partners are to be stationed in the security zone to be set up in the northeastern Syria to both address Turkey’s security concerns and to provide protection for the YPG, a group Ankara considers as terrorist because of its links with the PKK.
Without mentioning about the change in the U.S. plans, Erdoğan reiterated a well-known Turkish approach vis a vis the security zone, saying “It will be unacceptable for us if the security zone would be shaped in a way that contradicts with our own strategic understanding. If there will be a security zone on my border, it has to be under our control.”...

Erdoğan disseminated optimism for the creation of a constitutional committee tasked to write Syria’s new charter as parties are now discussing over the last three names to establish the committee. He also announced Turkey’s readiness to lend assistance in writing a constitution, as a country that has vast experience on it.

18--Muduro's days are numbered--Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday also lashed out at Maduro, saying his administration's "days are numbered."
"We're very hopeful in the days and weeks and months ahead the Maduro regime will understand that the Venezuelan people have made its days numbered," Pompeo told in an interview with Fox News on Sunday....

Turkey, Russia, Iran, Cuba, China, and Bolivia reiterate support for Maduro, who vowed to cut all diplomatic and political ties with the U.S. following the diplomatic spat.

19--Trump-Kim Summit--An end to the war?

Hopes that Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un will formally declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War at the Hanoi summit rose Monday, after South Korea said the two leaders could reach an agreement.
The devastating conflict between communist North Korea, backed by China, and the capitalist South, aided by the United States, ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving Pyongyang and Washington still technically at war.

"I believe that the possibility is there," the South's presidential Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters about a formal declaration.
"There is no way of knowing what kind of declaration it might be, but I believe the U.S. and North Korea may reach an agreement."...

Meanwhile the respected U.S.-based website 38 North reported on Monday there is no indication Pyongyang is operating its nuclear reactors at the Yongbyon complex.
The dismantling of the complex is expected to be among the key denuclearization steps that the U.S. and North Korean leaders will likely discuss in Hanoi.
"There is no steam venting from the generator hall, nor is there any hot water effluent at the cooling water outfall pipe," the website said

20--Diverging security visions among the global powers

With Obama and Trump, the focus is now on great power politics and competition. Dealing with China and Russia now appears to be more important than focusing on humanitarian interventions, counterterrorism and democracy promotion exercises. The latest National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, adopted in late 2017 and early 2018, respectively, testify to this new mentality. This introverted approach and increasing aversion from military engagements abroad seem to have strengthened the realist, pragmatic and isolationist tendencies in U.S foreign policy....

Ongoing transformations
Recent years have also witnessed the rise of illiberal, populist, anti-integrationist, anti-immigrant and anti-globalist parties across the European continent. The EU's post-modern integration process seems now to be on life support. The United Kingdom leaving the EU is a fatal blow to the EU's credibility and its ability to act strategically on a global level. Neither Germany nor France can lead the European ship in the uncharted waters of the emerging century. The idea of European integration being based on common identities, social policies and the legitimacy of Brussels-based institutions might further erode in the years to come should centrist politicians in key EU member states fail to provide solutions to the daily problems of their people and continue to lose elections against fringe parties....

China is not questioning the Western-led international order in a revolutionary fashion. What it wants is to see its growing ascendance in the global power hierarchy be accommodated institutionally and peacefully. In case of Western reluctance to do so, China does not hesitate to mastermind the establishment of alternative institutional platforms under its patronage....

Putin's Russia has been striving to help bring into existence a multipolar world order in which Russia plays a decisive role....Russia offers an example of traditional nation-states where sovereignty, state survival and territorial integrity are still the most important security issues....

Russian elites are very much obsessed with the ideas that Russia is historically and empirically entitled to have an equal standing with the West and Russia's greatness and distinctiveness should be recognized by outside actors. As Westerners question Russia's equality and continue to lecture Russians on the superiority of Western values and Russia's shortcomings, Russia tends to define itself in opposition to the West.

21--Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?

The standard narrative in the U.S. media is that the mere act of talking with North Korea is an excessive concession and it is now up to the DPRK to unilaterally disarm....

The DPRK regards the long overdue signing of a peace treaty as one leg in a comprehensive security arrangement; perhaps not the most reliable component, in that a treaty would do nothing to deter the United States from launching an attack if it chose to do so. Nevertheless, the entire Washington establishment is adamantly opposed to a peace treaty, fearing that it might encourage the Korean people to demand the closure of U.S. bases and put at risk an important geostrategic position in the military encirclement of China...

Moon is keen on trying to change that narrative so that progress can resume. “It all comes down to whether the U.S. is ready to provide corresponding measures in a swift way,” he said in an interview on Fox News. “The U.S. promised to end hostile relations with North Korea to provide security guarantees and work toward new U.S.-North Korea relations – these actions need to be taken in parallel.” ...

the corresponding measures he is seeking for nuclear disarmament are security guarantees and progress towards normalization of relations.  ...denuclearization “should also be realized along with building a peace regime under the principle of simultaneous actions, step-by-step, starting with what we can do and giving priority to trust-building.”

The Trump administration has yet to concede a need to offer North Korea anything in exchange for disarmament. What it has provided instead is to pile more sanctions on the beleaguered North Korean people. “Maximum pressure” must continue, we are repeatedly told, to encourage North Korea to negotiate

 The current impasse in U.S.-North Korea negotiations is due entirely to Washington’s expectation that North Korea complete nuclear disarmament in exchange for nothing more than vague promises of future improved relations. North Korea experienced the annihilation of all of its towns and cities by U.S. bombers during the Korean War and in the decades since then the U.S. has regularly conducted military exercises rehearsing a repeat attack. The fate of Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya presented North Korea with the vivid object lesson that a small nation relying on conventional forces alone is virtually defenseless against the world’s foremost military power.

By the time it announced a freeze on nuclear weapons and ballistic missile testing, North Korea had nearly completed development of its nuclear weapons program, lacking only final testing of a reentry vehicle. By placing his nuclear weapons program on the table, Kim Jong-un is engaging in a sort of high-wire act in international relations without the benefit of a safety net. He is gambling that reciprocal measures by the United States will ensure his nation’s security, negating the need for a nuclear deterrent. In that context, the Washington establishment could not be more mistaken in its firm belief that North Korean disarmament is achievable through sanctions alone. North Korea has security concerns that must be taken into consideration....

North Korean, Chinese, and Russian foreign ministry officials met in Moscow on October 9, to coordinate policy on denuclearization. The three sides issued a joint press release which stated that issues on the Korean Peninsula should be resolved in a peaceful and diplomatic manner. Denuclearization “should be of a step-by-step and synchronized character and accompanied by reciprocal steps of the involved states.” Along those lines, “the UN Security Council should start in due time revising the sanctions against North Korea,” the statement declared. [19]

In an apparent and welcome challenge to Washington’s maximum pressure campaign, South and North Korea agreed on October 15 to reconnect rail and road links between the two nations. Onsite rail surveys are scheduled to take place around the end of the month, and groundbreaking ceremonies are planned for about a month later. [20] The Trump administration wasted little time in making its displeasure known, and that same day a State Department spokesperson reiterated the position that “improvement in relations between North and South Korea cannot advance separately from resolving North Korea’s nuclear program.” Sanctions will remain in place until nuclear disarmament has been completed.  “We expect all member states to fully implement UN sanctions.” [21]

Last August the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, acting in his role as head of the UN Command, blocked an inter-Korean joint rail inspection project. The State Department spokesperson’s message clearly indicated that Washington’s position had not shifted in the meantime, and the U.S. would not allow the two Koreas to carry out the agreement they had signed with each other...

Washington perceives talks as a surrender mechanism, whereas the DPRK is looking for normal diplomatic give-and-take. There is no bridging the two concepts. The conventional view of diplomacy in Washington is that cooperation is a sign of weakness, and results can be produced through punishment alone.

22--South Korea will take economic integration with North Korea even if full denuclearisation is off the table


In recent weeks, Moon and other members of his cabinet have been talking up the possibility of a single inter-Korean economic community. In more concrete terms, Moon has discussed an East Asian Railroad Community binding together the whole of Northeas Asia

From Seoul’s perspective, this is the bedrock of a lasting sustainable peace on the Korean peninsula – linking North Korea to one of the most economically dynamic regions in the world. This would fundamentally transform North Korea’s relations with the outside world. It would significantly increase the incentives for Pyongyang to seek cooperation and avoid a return to provocations...

North Korea’s opening up would ease tensions and could boost South Korean economic growth. North Korean workers could also help Seoul to tackle labour shortages in areas such as construction or domestic care.
A key question is whether North Korea shares this enthusiasm for an inter-Korean economic community. According to Seoul, the answer is yes. Few South Koreans believe that
Kim Jong-un
is bent on bringing democracy to his communist country. But many think that he is a Deng Xiaoping seeking economic reform. And this is all they need at this point....
The Kim family wants to follow the Chinese and
model of trading away political reform in exchange for economic prosperity.
While the Moon government has been careful to make clear that it will continue implementation of the sanctions regime, others have spoken out. In a recent op-ed, former minister of unification Lee Jong-seok scolded the
United States
for standing in the way of inter-Korean cooperation. A growing number of South Koreans share this view.
Moon and pro-engagement South Koreans, however, think they still have time on their side. A large majority of the country’s population supports their government’s North Korea policy. There is a realisation that
have failed. Otherwise, North Korea would not hold several nuclear warheads....
Ultimately, South Koreans have made a decision: Koreans both sides of the 38th parallel should determine the fate of their peninsula. This might seem counter-intuitive, but this has not always been the case. As many South Koreans see reconciliation and economic cooperation within reach, the Moon government is seeking to drive their dreams.

23--Why North Korea is set to become the next big thing for investors

To modernise North Korea’s economy, outside aid and investment – a great deal of it – will be needed from governments, multilateral agencies and private investors....

There are myriad potential opportunities for outside investors. Apart from a vast need for new infrastructure in the form of transport, energy and communication networks, all of which suggest opportunities for foreign contractors and suppliers, North Korea is rich in minerals.

The country’s mountain ranges conceal not only nuclear testing sites but also, according to some estimates, minerals including gold, iron, copper, zinc, and graphite. Some of these stocks are said to be among the largest in the world, with a potential total value of up to US$10 trillion.
As it happens, that is perhaps around the same sum of money required to modernise North Korea’s economy and bring it level with that of South Korea. And exploiting this vast mineral wealth will obviously require foreign finance and technology...

As Jesper Koll, the head of investment house WisdomTree in Tokyo, has noted, “as North Korea prepares to emerge slowly but surely from decades of isolation, an enormous potential investment opportunity is about to unfold”

24--North Korea’s Economic Integration and Growth Potential


The growth projections based on cross‐country evidence show that North Korea could achieve higher economic growth in the long run if it embarks on substantial policy reforms toward a market‐oriented and open economy. Using an empirical gravity model of trade and direct investment, we forecast that, when the two Koreas pursue economic integration and cooperation without military conflicts, North Korea's trade with South Korea can increase by up to 36 percent of North Korea's GDP and its foreign direct investment (FDI) flows from South Korea by up to 6 percent of GDP. Overall, by promoting trade and FDI integration with South Korea, North Korea can boost its GDP growth by approximately 3 percentage points per year. Combined with a market‐oriented reform, the North Korean economy could grow by approximately 4.7 percent per year over the coming decades. Conversely, if more rigid sanctions imposed on North Korea become effective, its trade and investment will decrease and its GDP growth rate is expected to fall by approximately 2 percentage points per year

25--South Korea’s economic integration plan with North risks US ire

With a nod to the origins of the EU as a simple trading bloc, the 65-year-old leader added that he wished to create a “north-east Asian railroad community” that would bring together the two Koreas, the US and four other Asian countries, most likely China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia

This community will lead to an energy bloc and economic bloc in north-east Asia by expanding our economic area to the northern continent and becoming the foundation of coexistence and prosperity in north-east Asia. And this will mark the start to a multilateral security system in north-east Asia,” he said
Such integration could effectively end South Korea’s “island” status by integrating it into energy and transport networks in Russia and China.

26--North Korea seen looking to China, not U.S., for help in any economic transformation..." “a capital dictatorship,”"???


That delegation went to China only weeks after Kim declared an end to nuclear and missile tests and vowed an all-out effort toward “socialist economic construction.” Chinese media labeled Kim’s announcement North Korea’s “opening and reform”, shorthand for Deng’s policies, sparking a flurry of investment in housing in Dandong, the Chinese border town.

“Kim is talking to Trump because he needs to get the United States to back off sanctions. After that, headlines will be all about Kim and Xi Jinping,” said Jeon Kyong-man, an economist at the Institute for Korean Integration of Society, with reference to the Chinese president....

China’s model of shifting from a planned economy to a market economy is attractive for Pyongyang because it was achieved with political, economic and social stability, according to Zhang Anyuan, chief economist at Dongxing Securities in Beijing.  ...

China’s model of shifting from a planned economy to a market economy is attractive for Pyongyang because it was achieved with political, economic and social stability, according to Zhang Anyuan, chief economist at Dongxing Securities in Beijing....

As part of efforts to maintain control, any opening could initially be limited to “special economic zones,” where Pyongyang has sought to combine its cheap labor with China’s financial firepower and technological know-how, according to BMI Research, a unit of Fitch Group.

The Wonsan Special Tourist Zone in the east coast, or the suspended inter-Korean factory park in the North’s border city of Kaesong are some other examples Kim might pursue to maintain state controls over the economy, experts say.
In Wonsan, Kim has already built a ski resort and a new airport to turn the city of 360,000 people into a billion-dollar tourist hotspot.
“These are the sorts of projects that are most likely to get underway first if the sanctions are eased,” BMI Research said

27--North Korea may choose to follow Vietnam's economic model as it looks to open up


  • As Hanoi prepares to host the second U.S.-North Korea summit later this month, experts say North Korea may be gearing up to study Vietnam's model of economic development.
  • Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh went to Pyongyang on Tuesday following North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho's visit to Hanoi last year.
  • Vietnam's ability to retain one-party rule, strict censorship, minimal dissent and a top-down system of control after integrating into the global economy is seen as an attractive prospect for the North.