Thursday, November 7, 2019

Today's Links

1--US Congressional Panel Plots Next Phase of Dirty War on Syria: Occupy Oil Fields & Block Reconstruction


Despite President Donald Trump’s order of a partial withdrawal of troops from Syria, the United States’ regime-change war against the country continues in broad daylight.


At a U.S. -funded think tank at the forefront of shaping Washington’s interventionist designs, an American official succinctly laid out the continued-regime change strategy.
Dana Stroul, a longtime U.S. diplomat who oversaw a congressionally mandated study of Syria, outlined the four-pronged plan for what she called the “new phase” of the war:
  • U.S. military occupation of Syria’s “resource-rich” “economic powerhouse”;
  • “Diplomatic isolation” of the Syrian government;
  • Economic sanctions against Damascus and its allies; and
  • “Preventing reconstruction aid and technical expertise from going back into Syria.”
  • It is beyond debate that this approach will lead to massive suffering, privation and even the deaths of masses of Syrians. But when Stroul presented it before a panel, the potential impact on civilians was not even mentioned once.

    This disturbing plan was articulated on Oct. 31 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a militaristic think tank funded by the U.S. and its allies, along with the arms industry, fossil fuel corporations, and banks.

  • 2--The sordid political record of Joe Biden

  • Delaware is the Cayman Islands or Singapore of America, sheltering corporate tax evasion and criminality of every kind, and every capitalist politician from that state, Democrat and Republican alike, upholds that distinction. It was this particularly noxious milieu that produced the young Senator Joe Biden.

    It took several years of cajoling, but in 1977 Biden finally obtained a coveted seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, then under the chairmanship of James Eastland. In 1981, when the Republicans gained a majority in the Senate, the chairmanship passed to Republican Strom Thurmond, the antediluvian reactionary from South Carolina who had run for president in 1948 as the candidate of the States’ Rights Democratic Party, the ultra-right segregationist wing of the Democrats, and who crossed over to the Republicans in 1964 in opposition to Lyndon Johnson’s concessions to the civil rights movement.

    From 1981 through 1997, a period of nearly two decades, Biden was either the ranking Democrat under Thurmond or chairman himself after the Democrats regained control in 1987-1995. Thurmond and Biden collaborated closely in approving such Supreme Court nominees as Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas, and in passing numerous pieces of law-and-order legislation that resulted in longer jail terms for millions of people.

  Biden was one of the principal proponents of US intervention in the former Yugoslavia, a role he describes in his 2007 campaign autobiography as his proudest achievement in foreign policy. He advocated a direct US attack on Serbia during the 1999 Kosovo crisis, joining with a like-minded Republican senator to introduce the McCain-Biden Kosovo Resolution authorizing Clinton to use “all necessary force” against Serbia. 


Biden was chairman of the committee from 2001 to 2003, and then from 2007 until his entry into the Obama administration. As committee chairman, he played a critical role in authorizing both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq...


One other aspect of Biden’s long and reactionary record has been raised in the 2020 campaign. He was one of the most fervent Democratic supporters of the reactionary 2005 legislation overhauling the consumer bankruptcy laws, making it much more difficult for working class and middle-class families to escape debt burdens exacerbated by the corrupt and misleading marketing tactics employed by companies like MBNA, the largest US issuer of credit cards. MBNA was then headquartered in Delaware and employed the senator’s son Hunter as an executive vice president. (MBNA has since been acquired by Bank of America.


After the collapse of his 2008 campaign, Biden was tapped by Obama as his running mate. At the time, this writer described the choice of Biden in the following terms:
The selection of Senator Joseph Biden as the vice-presidential candidate of the Democratic Party underscores the fraudulent character of the Democratic primary campaign and the undemocratic character of the entire two-party electoral system.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the supposed protagonist of “change,” has picked as his running mate a fixture of the Washington establishment, a six-term US senator who is a proven defender of American imperialism and the interests of big business…

Obama has selected Biden to provide reassurance that, whatever populist rhetoric may be employed for electoral purposes in the fall campaign, the wealth and privileges of the ruling elite and the geo-strategic aims of US imperialism will be the single-minded concerns of a Democratic administration.

3--Wall Street at record highs as global growth slows

The figures on the state of the real economy, both in the US and internationally, make clear that the rise of the stock market to record highs is not a sign of economic health, but an indicator of a permanent and deepening malaise

It is rooted in financial manipulation, such as share buybacks, and the supply of ultra-cheap money from the US Federal Reserve and other major central banks around the world. Last month the Fed cut its interest rate by 0.25 percent for the third time since July, and indicated that it had no intention of lifting rates again in the foreseeable future, deferring to the financial markets and scrapping any commitment to “normalising” monetary policy. In addition, the Fed has been pumping money into overnight credit markets and is committed to buying at least $60 billion worth of short-term assets a month.

Ostensibly these measures have been introduced to stabilise the interest rates in the overnight money market, which spiked to 10 percent in September, after major banks refused to lend money from their reserves. But they are widely regarded as another form of quantitative easing aimed at boosting the financial markets.

In an editorial comment published last month, in the wake of the IMF report on the state of the world economy, Bloomberg said the prospect of recession would be concerning under any circumstances, but under present conditions it was “truly alarming.” The “hesitant recovery” of the past decade had depleted the conventional tools of macroeconomic policy in many countries, including in the US, it noted, because budget deficits had boosted ratios of public debt to national income.

Furthermore, the “extraordinary measures” undertaken since the financial crisis—ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing—had “heightened financial fragility,” manifested in “outlandish asset valuations and heightened credit risk.” Banks, it said, had added capital since 2009, “but not enough to make them safe in another big downturn.”

4--Turkey's Continued Care For ISIS Will End Badly

The Guardian reported that Baghdadi's entourage had reached Idleb from east Syria by traveling through Turkey:
Iraqi officials say that in mid-September they identified a Syrian man who had been used to smuggle the wives of two of Baghdadi’s brothers, Ahmad and Jumah, to Idlib province via Turkey. The same smuggler had earlier helped move Baghdadi’s children from Iraq. Iraqi intelligence officers say they were able to co-opt the man and a woman believed to be his wife, as well as one of Baghdadi’s nephews, into providing information about the route he used and the destination of the people travelling with him. It was a break like no other, and was soon passed to the CIA.

Turkey is evidently becoming another Pakistan. That country went from bad to worse when it supported an Islamist insurgency against a communist regime in its neighbor country. The war radicalized millions within its own border. Many of the fighters' families settled in Pakistan which further established extremist views. It led to at times civil war like insurgencies in several of Pakistan's provinces.
Turkey's President Erdogan seems to believe that his coddling of ISIS members and other radicals will not harm his country.

Lindsey Snell @LindseySnell - 19:48 UTC · Nov 6, 2019
There are 5000 ISIS members from 28 countries at this SDF-run prison in Hasakah. We asked a Turkish ISIS member if he wanted to return to Turkey and he said “evet!” He says he knows of many ISIS members who returned to Turkey, were detained for a week or so, and then freed.
Erdogan thinks that he can keep the ISIS cells in his country under control. That is unlikely. I am afraid that during next few years Turkey will have a rather rude awakening.

5--South Koreans Are Pleading for a Breakthrough in the US–North Korea Talks

“We are on the cusp of a dangerous time,” a peace delegation declared at the UN


6--Dangerous Liaisons: New York Fed and JPMorgan’s Incestuous Relationship


The Fed doesn’t want you to call the $60 billion a month QE4 because that would strongly suggest that this is just Stage II of the continuing 2008 bailout of Wall Street and that QE-Infinity is coming.)

In addition to the unprecedented power that the New York Fed has grabbed for itself, it has a strange, incestuous and unexplained relationship with JPMorgan Chase.
For starters, JPMorgan Chase is one of the largest shareholders in the New York Fed. Yes, each regional bank of the Federal Reserve is privately owned by their member banks, the same banks being “supervised” by that regional bank. If that sounds like an insurmountable conflict of interest, it is.
Not only do the member banks own the regional Fed bank, but executives from these banks are allowed to sit on the regional Fed bank’s Board of Directors, despite it being their regulator. Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, sat on the New York Fed’s Board from January 2007 through December 2012....

just to summarize the situation in 2012 at the New York Fed: it is a primary regulator to the bank holding company of JPMorgan Chase; Jamie Dimon, the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase is sitting on its Board of Directors; JPMorgan Chase is a major shareholder in the New York Fed; the President of the New York Fed who certainly plays some role in the supervision of JPMorgan Chase, is married to a woman receiving $190,000 a year from JPMorgan Chase – money which is tied to the bank’s survival; and JPMorgan Chase is under a criminal and U.S. Senate probe for using hundreds of billions of dollars of its depositors’ money to gamble in high-risk derivatives in London and lose at least $6.2 billion.
Welcome to bank supervision, New York-style. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg....

Associate Attorney General Tony West said this about the settlement: “The conduct JPMorgan has acknowledged — packaging risky home loans into securities, then selling them without disclosing their low quality to investors — contributed to the wreckage of the financial crisis.  By requiring JPMorgan both to pay the largest FIRREA penalty in history and provide needed consumer relief to areas hardest hit by the financial crisis, we rectify some of that harm today.” (For what was really going on here, read Matt Taibbi’s report on the “$9 Billion Witness” against JPMorgan Chase that the Justice Department failed to use to prosecute the bank.)

Despite being hit with the largest fine in history for selling toxic mortgage-backed securities to public investors, the incestuous New York Fed put JPMorgan Chase in charge of its own holdings of – wait for it – $1.7 trillion in mortgage-backed securities that the New York Fed had purchased from the banks as part of its bailout of the surplus toxic waste in the banking system. As far as we can tell, that vendor agreement between JPMorgan Chase and the New York Fed has been in place since December 31, 2008 to this very day, with numerous amendments along the way. (See our 2014 report: The New York Fed Has Contracted JPMorgan to Hold Over $1.7 Trillion of its QE Bonds Despite Two Felony Counts and Serial Charges of Crimes.)

At the time that we made our inquiry, JPMorgan Chase had pleaded guilty to two criminal felony counts for its role in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. The very next year it pleaded guilty to another criminal felony count for its role in rigging foreign currency trading. Last month, for the first time that anyone can remember, one of its trading desks (precious metals) was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with being a criminal enterprise and three of its traders, including the head of that desk, were charged under the RICO statute, a law typically used to prosecute organized crime figures.

Despite all of these facts that are easily verifiable by Congress, neither the Senate nor House have called one hearing since the New York Fed began pumping money to Wall Street on September 17 of this year to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a week of money created out of thin air – authorized by not one public official that has been elected by the American people.

7--NATO chief says Turkey 'key to keeping Europe safe'


8--Turkey has had Baghdadi's wife for more than a year


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed for the first time on Nov. 6 that she had been detained.
“We caught his wife -- I say this today for the first time -- but we didn’t make a big fuss about it,” he said. Erdoğan noted that Turkey had also captured Baghdadi’s sister and brother-in-law.

On Nov. 7, Erdoğan said, “His wife has been in our hands for the past 1.5 years. It’s a sensitive issue for us that his DNA-confirmed child is also with Baghdadi’s wife.”

He stated that al-Baghdadi’s “inner circle” was trying to enter Turkey from Syria. “All of al-Baghdadi’s inner circle is mostly targeting our country, and these people are looking for ways to settle in our country or to come to our country,” the president told reporters before departing for Hungary.




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