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. 


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