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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Say again

Misinterpreted,

Matt Taibbi puts Yellow Vests in context. It's the times we are in and most people are tired of being bled and thought-manipulated by the rich master class.
Their evangelical insistence on pushing centrism — which is just a nicer word for “trickle-down economics” — is what got us into this mess in the first place.
We don’t need a new front to make centrism cool. We need to move on from centrism, to something a little less elitist. Which is different from being elite, as most of the world seems to have realized by now.

Yellow Vest protesters show up at Macron's Mediterranean castle and are repelled by security forces. Nice looking place!

BOOM! Here's the ticket...
Legislating for de-growth is the right government policy, but the wrong approach. If the nation state is the wrong climate change actor, then the national economy is also the wrong perpetrator. Yet this is what every plan to combat climate change focuses on: national emissions. But this focus hides massive inequities within national populations and, more importantly, obscures both who is responsible for carbon emissions and who has the power to arrest them.
It is really important that we – that is, the vast majority of humanity who will or already are suffering the effects of dangerous climate change – move past “national action plans” and start to take action immediately against two groups largely responsible for climate change. They are the 100 or so corporations responsible for 71% of global carbon emissions​ ​and the wealthiest 10% of the global population responsible for 50% of consumption emissions. To put the latter in perspective, if this 10% reduced their consumption to the level of the average European that would produce a 30% cut in global emissions.
Focusing on the wealthy and their corporations would enable us to bring about an immediate cut in carbon emissions. But it would also form part of a just transition, ensuring that the majority of the world’s population do not have to pay for climate policy, a conflict we have already seen on the streets of Paris in recent weeks in the yellow vests movement.

​"China's War On Pollution Will Change The World" Moving massive manufacturing, based on burning coal for power, and the pollution involved, to China had a big effect, didn't it? Chinese are dying in droves from pollution. China is taking steps to burn less coal. Natural gas is the main part of this transition, which is not for lack of making solar panels. (I contest the portrayal of hydrogen as an "energy source". It is a lossy energy transfer medium, like batteries.)

Residential batteries in people's houses almost always lead to increased CO2 emissions, as typically used. It costs people a lot of money to use them in ways which slightly reduce CO2 emissions. Nobody is that stupid. Using less is the thing to do, not buying expensive stuff with environment-trashing impact.
​When Will Russia Stop Behaving Like An Enemy Of Western Europe? ​
Dima Vorobiev, I worked for Soviet propaganda
Russia is not the enemy of the Western Europe. The disruptive policy of President Putin is aimed at (1) weakening the political and military dominance of the US in Europe and/or (2) full or partial acceptance by the West of the following list of Russia’s political objectives:
Recognition of Crimea as Russian territory
Total freeze on expansion of NATO. No membership for Sweden, Finland, Ukraine or Georgia.
No NATO bases in the Baltics, Poland, Czech republic and Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. Removal of the American anti-ballistic bases in Central Europe.
Finlandization of Georgia, Ukraine and guarantees of such arrangement for Belarus, in case it gets a pro-Western government in the future.
Guarantees of unhindered land connection through Lithuania between the Russian heartland and the exclave of Kaliningrad. The unhindered transit through the Suwalki gap would be very useful for Russia as a gauge of the level of determination on the part of NATO in the case of a swift escalation in tensions.
Recognition of Russia’s right to permanent military presence in the Mediterranean (through bases in Syria and possibly in Libya or other places)
Repeal of all sanctions against Russian oligarchs, their companies and sectoral interests.

In the latest attempt by Russia to offer an olive branch to the US, on Sunday Russian President Vladimir Putin told his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in a New Year letter that Moscow was ready for dialogue on "the most extensive agenda”, the Kremlin said following a series of failed attempts to hold a new summit, most recently in November, when Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina, citing tensions about Russian forces opening fire on Ukrainian navy boats and then seizing them.
Trump and Putin also failed to hold a full-fledged meeting in Paris on the sidelines of the centenary commemoration of the Armistice. The two leaders held their one and only summit in Helsinki in July.
An official statement by the Kremlin said that "Vladimir Putin stressed that Russia-US relations are the most important factor behind ensuring strategic stability and international security, and reaffirmed that Russia is open to dialogue with the United States on the most extensive agenda."

​The US military may leave Iraq this coming year, too. There is a lot to suggest it as safer, easier and cheaper in blood and money.
There is no doubt that Iraq is a close ally of Iran and not a fanatic supporter of the US. The Iraqi parliament can exert pressure over the government of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi to ask President Trump to pull out US troops before the end of his mandate in 2020. The US establishment and the “Axis of the Resistance” can both connive and plan, but the last word will belong to the people of Iraq and to those who reject US hegemony in the Middle East, those who can accept losses and nurse their wounds in hopes of a better future.

The European Union has roundly condemned new Israeli plans to build more than 2,000 homes in the West Bank. Israel's settlements in the occupied territory are a major obstacle to peace efforts in the region.  

This Christian scholar says the slant placed on the writings of the New Testament authors is not what they were saying, and does not describe the world they lived in, nor their views of it. (Seems like my own conclusions.) Thanks Charles.

Mistranslated

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Certainty

Friends in Need,

Moon of Alabama has a concise and information dense update on the war in Syria. Syrian Arab Army forces have raised the Syrian flag in Manbij, after Kurdish (Syrian separatist) forces withdrew so they could do so. Turkey and Kurds are in Russia, negotiating with the Russians. Turkey has stepped back from invasion plans, and is likely being schooled on how good it would be for Turkey to withdraw from the Syrian territory it currently occupies. The US is withdrawing, and has set up 2 new bases in Iraq to cover that. The Iraqi parliament is in the process of legislating US forces out of Iraq. Israeli F16s fired smart bombs at Syrian positions from behind 2 commercial passenger planes (cowards),over Lebanon, did a little damage, since most of the guided bombs were shot down by short range missiles, and stopped when Syria hit an Israeli position with a missile. (Note, Israel, it gets worse after this. Stop!) The Arab League is welcoming Syria back in, having failed in their attempted murder. There will be a price for them to pay. Syria will not forget their role, and will not forget that Iran shed blood and gold to save Syria at the critical moment. Blood brothers. Hezbollah, the other blood brother is not mentioned here...

As confusion and tensions mount in the Syrian Kurdish city of Manbij, located just 70 miles north of Aleppo, US helicopters have been filmed hovering above the potential battle lines, even after widespread reports of a US troop pullout from the area and following Kurdish militias quickly calling on Assad's help to prevent a Turkish invasion.  
This as Turkish Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), other heavy equipment, and Turkish troop reinforcements were seen crossing into Syria. Currently, the Syrian Army is deployed in and around the city saying it stands ready to protect it from nearby pro-Turkish forces after Friday Syria's defense ministry announced it had "raised the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic" over Manbij for the first time after years of war as confirmed by Russian television footage from on the ground; however, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly refused to acknowledge the Syrian Army's presence, dismissing the Syrian statement as a “psychological action.”  ... 
On Saturday Russia and Turkey announced plans to coordinate ground operations in Syria following last week's surprise announcement of a full US troop draw down from Syria, according to statements by Moscow's top diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. When it comes to Manbij, for Erdogan this will require proof of a full withdrawal of armed Kurdish YPG fighters from the town and countryside.
Lavrov said after talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Moscow, "Of course we paid special attention to new circumstances which appeared in connection with the announced US military pullout." He explained further, "An understanding was reached of how military representatives of Russia and Turkey will continue to coordinate their steps on the ground under new conditions with a view to finally rooting out terrorist threats in Syria."
"We will continue active work (and) coordination with our Russian colleagues and colleagues from Iran to speed up the arrival of a political settlement in the Syrian Republic," he said in remarks also confirmed by Cavusoglu, according to the AFP.
However, the wild card that remains is whether or not US forces will fully and truly make a complete break from the theater. Considering the Trump administration is currently considering whether or not to leave US weapons with the Kurds, it appears a full pullout is indeed happening. 

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-29/us-helicopters-flying-over-manbij-confusion-reigns-turkey-and-russia-announce

President Trump has been invited by to visit Turkey in 2019 by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said on Monday night. While Trump has not accepted the offer, he "is open to a potential meeting in the future," according to White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.
As Bloomberg notes, the invitation was extended less than a week after President Trump announced a massive withdrawal of US troops from Syria - where they have supported Kurdish forces considered enemies of the Turkish state. Erdogan considers the US allies an extension of the PKK - deemed a terrorist group by both the EU and US.  
During a lengthy phone call on Dec. 14, Trump shocked even those in his inner circle by yielding to a suggestion from Erdogan to pull U.S. forces from the country, where eight years of civil war has forced millions of citizens to flee and established Iran and Russia as protectors of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The president later declared that the U.S. had won the battle against Islamic State, saying that was “my only reason for being there.” -Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s announcement of an imminent withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria summoned a predictable paroxysm of outrage from Washington’s foreign policy establishment. Former secretary of state and self-described “hair icon” Hillary Clinton perfectly distilled the bipartisan freakout into a single tweet, accusing Trump of “isolationism” and “playing into Russia and Iran’s hands.”
Michelle Flournoy, the DC apparatchik who would have been Hillary’s secretary of defense, slammed the pull-out as “foreign policy malpractice,” while Hillary’s successor at the State Department, John Kerry, threw bits of red meat to the Russiagate-crazed Democratic base by branding Trump’s decision “a Christmas gift to Putin.” From the halls of Congress to the K Street corridors of Gulf-funded think tanks, a chorus of protest proclaimed that removing U.S. troops from Syria would simultaneously abet Iran and bring ISIS back from the grave.
Yet few of those thundering condemnations of the president’s move seemed able to explain just why a few thousand U.S. troops had been deployed to the Syrian hinterlands in the first place. If the mission was to destroy ISIS, then why did ISIS rise in the first place? And why was the jihadist organization still festering right in the midst of the U.S. military occupation?
Too many critics of withdrawal had played central roles in the Syrian crisis to answer these questions honestly. They had either served as media cheerleaders for intervention, or crafted the policies aimed at collapsing Syria’s government that fueled the rise of ISIS. The Syrian catastrophe was their legacy, and they were out to defend it at any cost.

Much, much more here. Operation Timber Sycamore was just the beginning.
The invasion and occupation of Syria by tens of thousands of jihadists who were recruited from around the world to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, was financed mainly by US taxpayers and by the world’s wealthiest family, the Sauds, who own Saudi Arabia and the world’s largest oil company, Aramco. America’s international oil companies and major think tanks and ‘charitable’ foundations were also supportive and providing propaganda for the operation, but the main financing for it came from America’s taxpayers, and from the Saud family and from the Government that they own.  

​Tom Luongo on the remarkable stability of the Russian Ruble, despite sanctions and oil price fluctuations:
Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev finally made it clear that Russian political leaders have turned a corner on their thinking.
He added that US sanctions have pushed Moscow and Beijing to think about the use of their domestic currencies in settlements, something that “we should have done ten years ago.”
“Trading for rubles is our absolute priority, which, by the way, should eventually turn the ruble from a convertible currency into a reserve currency,” the Russian prime minister said.
That’s what Putin’s endless meetings are all about, building trade across central Asia with the ruble as a viable alternative for the dollar.
The trend is clear. The West is broke. The endless hunt for taxes to shore up federal budgets will continue. The U.S. is interested solely in maintaining its power. This is really what Trump means when he says, “Make America Great Again.”

​Always colorful, Jim Kunstler,on dealing with fundamental economic changes...
Thursday’s last minute 900-point turnaround was another marvelous stunt to behold. Somebody gave the drowned man a pair of swim fins to kick himself furiously to the surface for a gulp of air. The truth, of course, is that pension funds are sunk, however you balance their investment loads while they’re underwater. They over-bought stocks out of sheer desperation during ten years of near-ZIRP bond yields, and started rotating back into bonds as they crept above the ZIRP handle, and now with bond yields retreating, they’re loading up again on still-overpriced stocks that pretend to be “bargains.” Everybody knows that this will not end well for pension funds. Glug Glug.
The financial press and their red-headed step-siblings in the regular news media seem to think that getting rid of Mr. Trump will power the perpetual bull market into an Elon Musk nirvana of Martian vacations, hyperloops, and another chapter of US world domination — with Wonder Woman running the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spearheading an army of eunuchs. ..
 The true rebalancing of pension funds, and everything else in American life, will come with the recognition that we are tapped out and bumping up against actual limits. Alas, economies don’t de-grow, at least not in an orderly way. They reach a certain complete efflorescence and then they wilt, or collapse. ..
The argument will come down to the Mitigationists versus the Adapters. The problem for the Mitigators is that most of what they can do is based on pretending: e.g. that some energy miracle is at hand… that we’ll soon be mining asteroids… that we’ll build dikes around Miami Beach… that Modern Monetary Theory (the “science” of getting something for nothing) can negate the physical laws of the universe. The Mitigationists will be disappointed as they “consume” their last images of iPhone porn, waiting for Elon Musk to save the world.  The Adapters will be out there working with the changes that reality serves up, probably with hand tools. There may be a lot fewer of them, living in a more austere everyday economy, but they will remain onstage when the Mitigationists depart this earth in tears for a mysterious realm that turns out not to be a golf course subdivision on Mars with a Tesla in every driveway.  

​There was a stock market head-fake Friday afternoon as "somebody" placed buy orders on stocks, in the pattern of pension funds buying, in order to force a short squeeze and run up prices (and presumably sell into the rally). It started to work, then didn't work at all.
Meanwhile, as it became clear that no real pension bid was coming, the selling returned, and stocks closed near session lows, with the Dow losing almost 400 points of gains and briefly dropping below 23,000 although the selloff was far more controlled than the liquidation puke observed on Monday.  

​America, the "Mock Democracy"
The citizens are disenfranchised and conditioned to be politically apathetic consumers. In recent decades, democracy has been replaced by the illusion of democracy. New forms of organization of power and psychological methods for manipulation of our consciousness protect the powerful against the risks of democratic empowerment and strengthen their position... Democracy today really means an elected oligarchy of economic and political elites, in which central areas of society, especially the economy, are fundamentally removed from any democratic control and accountability; at the same time, large parts of the social organization of our own life lie outside the democratic sphere. And freedom today means above all the freedom of the economically powerful...Democracy, which was originally associated with great hopes for political self-determination and a safeguarding of internal and external peace, is left only as a formal shell in the real structure of society. Democracy has been reduced to a staged spectacle of periodical elections, where the population can choose from a given «elite spectrum». Real democracy has been replaced by the illusion of democracy; free public debate has been replaced by opinion- and outrage-management. The guiding principle of the responsible citizen has been replaced by the neoliberal ideal of the politically apathetic consumer... Hardly more than a historical memory is left of the great hopes originally associated with democracy and international law, namely, the hopes that civilization could contain power and violence. The populace is all the more being forcefully convinced of the political rhetoric of democracy and international law, with which the economically or militarily strong seek to win the consent or tolerance of the populace for their actual practice of a violent realpolitik. In today’s realpolitik, the right of the strongest has again long been accepted...The social transformation process associated with these things is similar to the effects of a «revolution from above», i.e. a revolution that represents a project of the economic elites and serves to expand and consolidate their interests. The transformation process that accompanies this revolution essentially rests on two pillars...  The first pillar of this transformation process is that the organizational forms of power are designed more abstractly and with a purposeful diffusion of social responsibility, so that the unease, indignation or anger of those ruled can find no concrete, i.e. politically effective, targets. Thus a will for change in the population can no longer find expression among the actual decision-makers... The second pillar is the development of sophisticated and highly effective techniques that can in a targeted way manipulate the consciousness of the ruled. Ideally, those who are ruled should not even know that there are centers of power behind the political surface, presented by the media, of seemingly democratically controlled power. The most important goal is to neutralize any social will to change in the population or divert their attention to politically insignificant goals. (transgender bathrooms?) ... We can only develop promising strategies of resistance to the current order based on power and violence if we sufficiently understand these new organizational forms of power. The same applies to the manipulation techniques, through which specific properties of our mind can be exploited for political purposes.

Imagine you were the chief of a CIA section called Consciousness Covert Ops. What would you try to do, given that your motive, as always, is control?
“The brain functions according to laws. We’re discovering more and more about those laws. We can determine when the brain is malfunctioning. We’re learning how to correct those malfunctions.”
Indeed.
You’re spinning narrative about the brain as if it were a car that has to visit the shop. That’s what you want. You want to make people believe their brains need fixes, because, after all, you come out of the long tradition of CIA MKULTRA mind control.​..​
“Consciousness? A very old idea that, in light of the progress of technology, has no merit. It’s really information processing. The brain handles that. The brain is a computer. We’re learning how to build a better brain…” 
Brain=computer=consciousness is the greatest covert op on the planet. It’s supported with major money and labs and journals and armies of psychiatrists and neurological professionals and physicists and the military.
And the op is completely false, because, again, the very scientists who push it are saying the brain is composed of sub-atomic particles THAT CONTAIN ZERO CONSCIOUSNESS.
​Thinking It Over​

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Threats Of Peace

G​uardedly Hopeful,​

​Thanks Eleni in Athens:​
The US withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan, as well as the resignation of General Mattis, attest to the upheaval that is shaking the current world order. The United States are no longer the leaders, either on the economic or the military stage. They refuse to keep fighting for the sole interests of the transnational financiers...
 By withdrawing now, the Pentagon avoids the test of power and the humiliation of an inevitable defeat. Indeed, Russia has successively refused to give the United States and Israël the security codes for the missiles delivered to Syria. This means that after years of Western arrogance, Moscow has declined the sharing of control of Syria that it had accepted during the first Geneva Conference in 2012, and that Washington had violated a few weeks later...
For the last few months, the United States have been discreetly negotiating with the Taliban for the conditions of their withdrawal from Afghanistan. A first round of contact with ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad took place in Qatar. A second round has just begun in the United Arab Emirates. Apart from the two US and Taliban delegations, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan are also participating... After forty years of uninterrupted destruction, President Trump states that US military presence is not the solution for Afghanistan, it’s the problem.
 http://www.voltairenet.org/article204453.html

​Thanks Colleen. The Foreign Policy Blob is Horrified by Trump's Syria Move!

Trump doing what makes sense catches everybody off guard!
Erdogan had planned to only occupy a 10 miles deep strip along the Syrian-Turkish border. Some 15,000 Turkish controlled 'Syrian rebels' stand ready for that. He would need some 50-100,000 troops to occupy all of east Syria northward of the Euphrates. It would be a hostile occupation among well armed Kurds who would oppose it and an Arab population that is not exactly friendly towards a neo-Ottoman Turkey.
Erdogan knows this well. Today he announced to delay the planned invasion:
“We had decided last week to launch a military incursion... east of the Euphrates river,” he said in a speech in Istanbul. “Our phone call with President Trump, along with contacts between our diplomats and security officials and statements by the United States, have led us to wait a little longer.
“We have postponed our military operation against the east of the Euphrates river until we see on the ground the result of America’s decision to withdraw from Syria.” ... Any larger occupation of northeast Syria would create a serious mess for Turkey. Its army can do it, but it would cost a lot of casualties and financial resources. Turkey will hold local government election in March and Erdogan does not want any negative headlines. He will invade, but only if Syria and Russia fail to get the Kurds under control... Besides the presence of 4,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops and contractors in northeast Syria there also a contingent of 1,100 French troops and an unknown number of British forces. France for now says it wants to stay to finish the fight against the Islamic State enclave along the Euphrates. But France does not have the capability to sustain those forces without U.S. support. Syria and Russia could ask Macron to put them under their command to finish the fight against ISIS, but it is doubtful that President Macron would agree to that. It is more likely that he will agree to a handover of their position to Russian, Syrian or even Iraqi or Iranian forces. Those forces can then finish the fight.
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/12/first-fallout-of-trumps-decision-to-withdraw-from-syria.html#more

​I think Israelis don't have the support for a real war, and the IDF has done more and more poorly in recent years. Hezbollah is the real deal, a real, seasoned combat force. This is a bargaining position.
Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta said that Israel is preparing for a comprehensive war on Syria following the US’ withdrawal from the country.
The newspaper said that the decision of US President Donald Trump to withdraw American troops from Syria has left Israel forced to face the Iranian presence in Syria with its troops alone.

​The Arab League​ acknowledges the outcome...
Gulf nations are moving to readmit Syria into the Arab League, eight years after Damascus was expelled from the regional bloc over its brutal repression of peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad.
At some point in the next year it is likely Assad will be welcomed on to a stage to once again take his place among the Arab world’s leaders, sources say. Shoulder to shoulder with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and Egypt’s latest autocrat, General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the moment will mark the definitive death of the Arab spring, the hopes of the region’s popular revolutions crushed by the newest generation of Middle Eastern strongmen.

​That pair of middle aged bicyclists arrested for holding up 300,000 passengers with drones over the runways at Gatwick last Thursday and Friday have been released without charges. There are no suspects. This massively unsettling development has no apparent perpetrator. (London bankers, then?...)

Japan, after more than 2 decades, gives up on trying to cause inflation (It was the bad inflation, anyway.) and prepares to sell deflation, falling prices, as a good thing. It seems the government is forced to follow the public on this one. Abenomics has been futile and fears becoming irrelevant. Watch Japan!

Cutting Expenses

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Context

Indebted,

Professor Michael Hudson says the version I grew up saying every night, "Forgive us our debts , as we forgive our debtors", was right all along.

”The Christianity we know today is not the Christianity of Jesus,” says Professor Hudson... The Lord’s Prayer, ‘forgive us our sins even as we forgive all who are indebted to us’, refers specifically to debt. “Most religious leaders say that Christianity is all about sin, not debt,” he says. “But actually, the word for sin and debt is the same in almost every language.” 
”‘Schuld’, in German, means ‘debt’ as well as ‘offense’ or, ‘sin’. It’s ‘devoir’ in French. It had the same duality in meaning in the Babylonian language of Akkadian.”...
People tend to think of the Commandment ‘do not covet your neighbour’s wife’ in purely sexual terms but actually, the economist says it refers specifically to creditors who would force the wives and daughters of debtors into sex slavery as collateral for unpaid debt...
Similarly, the Commandment ‘thou shalt not steal’ refers to usury and exploitation by threat for debts owing.
The economist says Jesus was crucified for his views on debt. Crucifixion being a punishment reserved especially for political dissidents.
”To understand the crucifixion of Jesus is to understand it was his punishment for his economic views,” says Professor Hudson. “He was a threat to the creditors.”
Jesus Christ was a socialist activist for the continuity of regular debt jubilees that were considered essential to the wellbeing of ancient economies...
Jesus’ first reported sermon in Luke 4 documents his announcement that he had come to revive the enforcement of the Jubilee Year. The term “gospel” (or ‘good news’) was used specifically to refer to debt cancellation which became the major political fight of the imperial Roman epoch, pitting Jesus against the pro-creditor Pharisees, (a political party and social movement that became the foundation for Rabbinic Judaism around 167 BC).
The Pharisees, Hillel (the founder of Rabbinical Judaism) and the creditors who backed them decided that Jesus’ growing popularity was a threat to their authority and wealth...

”Over the last 1000 years the Catholic Church has been saying it’s noble to be poor. But Jesus never said it was good to be poor. What he said was that rich people are greedy and corrupt. That’s what Socrates was saying, as well as Aristotle and the Stoic Roman philosophers, the biblical prophets in Isaiah.”

Neither did Jesus say that it was good to be poor because it made you noble.
What Jesus did say is that say if you have money, you should share it with other people...

”When you have a massive build up of debt that can’t be paid, either you wipe out the debt and start-over like Germany did during ‘the 1947 Miracle’ when the Allies forgave all its debts except for minimum balances, or you let the creditors foreclose as Obama did in America after the 2008 crisis and 10 million American families lost their homes to foreclosure,” he said...

”Today’s world believes in the sanctity of debt. But from Sumer and Babylonia through the Bible, it was debt cancellations that were sacred.”

”If you want to be like Jesus then you become political and you realise that this is the same fight that has been going on for thousands of years, across civilisation – the attempt of society to cope with the fact that debts grow faster than the ability to pay.” 

Late on Payments

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Anticipating Spring

Longing for Light,

Caitlin Johnstone looks at "liberals" in America FREAK OUT about Trump ordering 2000 illegally occupying American military personnel out of Syria...
It is absolutely bat shit crazy that we feel normal about the most powerful military force in the history of civilization running around the world invading and occupying and bombing and killing, yet are made to feel weird about the possibility of any part of that ending. It is absolutely bat shit crazy that endless war is normalized while the possibility of peace and respecting national sovereignty to any extent is aggressively abnormalized. In a sane world the exact opposite would be true, but in our world this self-evident fact has been obscured. In a sane world anyone who tried to convince you that war is normal would be rejected and shunned, but in our world those people make six million dollars a year reading from a teleprompter on MSNBC.
 How did this happen to us? How did we get so crazy and confused? ...
You stumble toward adulthood without knowing what’s going on, and then confident-sounding people show up and say “Oh hey I know what’s going on. Follow me.” And before you know it you’re donating ten percent of your income to some church, addicted to drugs, in an abusive relationship, building your life around ideas from old books which were promoted by dead kings to the advantage of the powerful, or getting your information about the world from Fox News...
 That’s all mainstream narratives are: hands reaching out in the darkness of a confusing world, speaking in confident-sounding voices and guiding you in a direction which benefits the powerful. The largest voices belong to the rich and the powerful, which means those are the hands you’re most likely to encounter when stumbling around in the darkness. You go to school which is designed to indoctrinate you into mainstream narratives, you consume media which is designed to do the same, and most people find themselves led from hand to hand in this way all the way to the grave.
That’s really all everyone’s doing here, reaching out in the darkness of a confusing world and trying to find our way to the truth. It’s messy as hell and there are so many confident-sounding voices calling out to us giving us false directions about where to go, and lots of people get lost to the grabbing hands of power-serving narratives.

​Vladimir Putin advises against US misadventurism, which is prudent advice. Declaring one will break the intermediate ballistic missile treaty is sort of acceptable. Breaking it will have retaliatory consequences. Russia doesn't bluff. To say this means it is already certain.
​Dan sends this long article about the Saudi use of American smart-bombs for maximum genocide, in this case, destroying the new water well for a drought stricken Yemeni town.
​The US is well prepared to foment massive war in South and Central America. Trump has apparently been dragging his feet on the war against Venezuela, which is overdue to go military after the failed coup-by-drone-attempt on Maduro.​ Thanks Eleni.
http://www.voltairenet.org/article204400.html

​The US has recently ramped up it's prisons-at-sea program for Latin American countries. Floating Gitmos. Thanks Dan.
The conflicting images the United States is projecting in the Southern Hemisphere are perfectly illustrated by its bizarrely bifurcated seaborne missions of hope and despair. On the one hand, the hospital ships, as their very names -- Mercy and Comfort -- suggest, are beacons of U.S. public diplomacy. On the other hand, those Coast Guard prison ships lower the “hammer” not just on drug dealers but on international legal codes, domestic law, and military law, while hammering this country’s reputation abroad as well. (It’s no irony but a reflection of twenty-first-century Washington reality that the prisoners shackled on those vessels are from some of the same countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, targeted this year by those hospital vessels.)

​Nafeez Ahmed looks at European economic decline as the fundamental feed-stock, oil, has to come from elsewhere at higher cost, and even European supplies are costing more to extract, as the "easy oil" gets finished off. Thanks Charles.
Moor cited internal Russian Ministry of Energy reports from 2016 warning of a “Western Siberia rapid decline curve amounting to a loss of some 8.5 percent in volume by 2022. Some of this is already underway.” Although Russia is actively pursuing alternative strategies, wrote Moor, these are all “inordinately expensive”, and might produce only temporary results.
It’s not that the oil is running out. The oil is there in abundance — more than enough to fry the planet several times over. The challenge is that we are relying less on cheap crude oil and more on expensive, dirtier and unconventional fossil fuels. Energetically, this stuff is more challenging to get out and less potent after extraction than crude.
The bottom line is that as Europe’s domestic oil supplies slowly dwindle, there is no meaningful strategy to wean ourselves off abject dependence on Russia; the post-carbon transition is consistently too little, too late; and the impact on Europe’s economies — if business-as-usual continues — will continue to unravel the politics of the union.
While very few are talking about Europe’s slow-burn energy crisis, the reality is that as Europe’s own fossil fuel resources are inexorably declining, and as producers continue to face oil price volatility amidst persistently higher costs of production, Europe’s economy will suffer...
The verdict on the UK predicament is stark. They find that “the UK as a whole has had a declining EROI in the first decade of the 21st century, going from 9.6 in 2000 to 6.2 in 2012… These initial results show that more and more energy is having to be used in the extraction of energy itself rather than by the UK’s economy or society.” ​...
In other words, early last year, a major scientific study found that for the last two decades and beyond, Britain’s economic growth is fundamentally constrained by domestic net energy decline. But this groundbreaking news did not make the ‘news’.​...
That is why despite the so-called ‘recovery’ — tepid as it is and based on accelerating debt levels (in biophysical terms borrowing from the Earth today with promise of paying it back tomorrow with what has already been over consumed today) — in real terms, peoples’ purchasing power continues to decline.​..
And so in France, instead of addressing the question of how to galvanise a third industrial revolution to speed a post-carbon transition and infrastructure revival, Macron’s response to the climate crisis was to protect fossil fuel and nuclear producers while hiking up fuel taxes. He didn’t want to tackle the horrendous supply chains of big French corporations. He didn’t want to penalise the powerful oil, gas and nuclear lobbies that he hopes might help him get re-elected, and did next to nothing to speed a viable post-carbon transition that might transform economic prosperity on more sustainable foundations.
And so by placing the burden almost exclusively on French workers and consumers, Macron triggered the spiral of rage and riots.​..
France’s riots therefore did not come out of the blue. They are part and parcel of a wider process of slow-burn EROI decline in which the returns to society from economic activity are being increasingly constrained by the higher energetic costs of that activity and productivity declines of the ageing centralised industrial-era infrastructure and technology. It was only a matter of time before the average person began to feel the impact of that squeeze in their day to day lives. Macron’s tax hikes were not the cause, but the trigger. They lit the match, but the tinder box was already fuming.​..
   Earth system disruption does not inevitably result in destabilisation of human systems. But if human systems refuse to engage and adapt to those disruptions, then they will be destabilised. As long as Britain, Europe and their citizens continue to obsess myopically on the symptoms rather than the causes, we will be incapable of responding meaningfully to those causes.​..
    The crisis of Brexit and the eruption of the riots in France are symptoms of a great unfolding civilizational transition, in which an old reductionist paradigm of materialist self-maximation is dying.   

​European Spring, Thanks Wiggs
In a sense, 2018 is less like 1848 itself and more like the decades that preceded that tumultuous year. These were, in the words of Trygve Tholfsen in his 1977 study of working-class radicalism in the run-up to 1848, ‘hungry decades’ – decades in which disgruntlement and radicalism bristled and grew before exploding in firm demands for change.

Nurturing New Growth​

Friday, December 21, 2018

Full Moon Solstice

Moonstruck,

Moon of Alabama: 
Last Friday President Trump had another long phone call with the Turkish President Erdogan. Thereafter he overruled all his advisors and decided to remove the U.S. boots from Syria and to also end the air war.
This was the first time Trump took a decisive stand against the borg, the permanent neoconservative and interventionist establishment in his administration, the military and congress, that usually dictates U.S. foreign policy.
It was this decision, and that he stuck to it, which finally made him presidential.
Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton, his Secretary of Defense 'mad dog' Mattis and his Secretary of State Pompeo were all against this decision. The specialist working on Syria, the lunatic (vid) special representative for Syria engagement James Jefferey and Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS, were taken by surprise. They had worked diligently to install a permanent U.S. presence in a Kurdish ruled proxy state in northeast Syria...
Trump decided that to prevent Turkey from leaving NATO, and from joining a deeper alliance with Russia, China and Iran, was more important than to further fool around at the margins of the Middle East. It is the right decision.  ...
But if the hope is that Turkey will end its relations with Russia and Iran the outcome will be disappointing. Turkey depends on Russian and Iranian gas and as export markets. After the attempted coup against him Erdogan does not trust the U.S. side. Moreover, the position that gives him the most flexibility and leverage is between the two 'blocks', both of which will continue to court him. He will continue to vacillate between them to get the most from both sides...
  The U.S. State Department is already moving its people out of Syria. The 4,000 to 5,000 U.S. military and contractors were given 60 to 100 days (other sources say 30 day but that is a bit too hasty) to pack up and leave.
They will coordinate with Russia for a handover. There will be Russian advisors that will replace the U.S. Green Berets who command the Kurdish and Arab tribal forces against ISIS. Russia will also try to convince Turkey that there is no further need to invade Syria's east. It will promise to disarm the Kurdish forces or to integrate them into the Syrian army. Its air force will replace the U.S. and others who currently bomb the 2,000 or so Islamic State fighters left in their hold out along the Euphrates.
The Kurds in Syria will have to make nice with Damascus. They have nowhere else to go.

Turkey will do everything possible to trade with Iran, bypassing US sanctions (like before, but more.)

James Mattis has tendered his resignation as Secretary of Defense, effective next February, over differences in strategic opinion, especially Trump declaring that the US will exit Syria forthwith, 
Ron Paul:
President Trump shocked Washington this morning when he Tweeted confirmation of rumors that he would order the removal of US troops from Syria. According to his spokesperson, the order has already been given. The neocons are not happy, with Sen. Lindsey Graham Tweeting that removing troops is an "Obama-like" move. Will Trump's own staff rebel? What about the fine print? Are we really leaving?
One thing is for sure, the hawks are having a meltdown...


Trump orders 7000 troops home from Afghanistan. (Trump seems to be able to give orders now. What happened?)
Mike Kreiger sees US global/foreign policy perhaps taking a turn towards a form of rationality.
Then came the second major event, which was the arrest of Wanzhou Meng, the CFO of China’s telecom giant Huawei earlier this month. Importantly, she’s much more than just an executive at a giant Chinese company, she’s “the daughter of the telecom giant’s founder, Ren Zhengfei. An ex-officer with the People’s Liberation Army, Ren is one of the country’s most revered business figures.”
It’s also worth mentioning that she was arrested while Trump was sitting down to dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit. I can’t even imagine the level of anger this must have caused on the part of the Chinese. This made me realize that the “trade war” is just a prelude to a much bigger confrontation.
Moving along, yesterday we learned of a sudden plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria. I want to make it clear we don’t know if this is just talk or will actually happen (for a skeptical take see this), but if it does occur, it will make it increasingly likely that U.S. foreign policy has undergone a massive and monumentally significant shift. A shift away from failed regime change boondoggles in far flung areas of the world Americans don’t care about, to a very major and probably long-lasting confrontation with China itself.
If this is in fact the case, it’s impossible to overstate its significance. In my view, such a shift would signal that the U.S. has acknowledged the unipolar imperial world completely dominated by America is over and unrecoverable, and therefore resources will shift away from the silly dream of full spectrum global dominance into a managed retreat. A managed retreat would be considered preferable since it could be done on U.S. terms as opposed to having the terms forced upon it. In other words, it would be a proactive foreign policy based on reality, rather than a reactive one forced upon it by circumstances.

North Korea clarifies some things:
“The United States must now recognize the accurate meaning of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and especially, must study geography,” the statement said.
And further, the KCNA statement said the following, according to the AP:
When we talk about the Korean Peninsula, it includes the territory of our republic and also the entire region of (South Korea) where the United States has placed its invasive force, including nuclear weapons. When we talk about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, it means the removal of all sources of nuclear threat, not only from the South and North but also from areas neighboring the Korean Peninsula.
The statement also charged Washington with altering what had been agreed upon at Singapore and using threats to create an impasse over post-summit talks. And since the the stalled talks, satellite imagery recently published in international media suggests North Korea is actively upgrading its nuclear facilities.
The KCNA said, “If we unilaterally give up our nuclear weapons without any security assurance despite being first on the U.S. list of targets for pre-emptive nuclear strikes, that wouldn’t be denuclearization — it would rather be a creation of a defenseless state where the balance in nuclear strategic strength is destroyed and the crisis of a nuclear war is brought forth.”
And demanding the end of sanctions and "and end to hostile policies" as a precondition to denuclearization, the statement continued:
The corresponding measures we have asked the United States to take aren’t difficult for the United States to commit to and carry out. We are just asking the United States to put an end to its hostile policies (on North Korea) and remove the unjust sanctions, things it can do even without a snap of a finger.

Update 5: The U.S. House passes a stopgap govt funding bill that includes $5b for a wall on the border with Mexicoafter President Trump said he wouldn’t sign a bill that didn’t have the extra money, setting up a conflict with the Senate.
The vote on the amended House version of H.R. 695 is 217-185.
Of course this now hits a brick wall - as Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says Trump’s wall funding can’t pass the Senate.

Freshly more-presidential, Trump now does have his back to the wall, and will veto anything without it. Apparently he can, and has to...

"The end of France as we know it" looks like the rebirth of France (without quotes)
It's not just France. The Zeitgeist is awakened.

Take a meteor shower while enjoying the full moon this long night.

Lunatic

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Expect Disruptions

Delayed,

In a scene from a movie Alfred Hitchcock never got to make, London's Gatwick airport has been frozen for 13 hours by mysterious drones, which pose a hazard to take-offs and landings. 110,000 people are in a sleeping-on-the-floor limbo, with many stuck on planes from other parts of the world, in other airports, waiting to take off again. This is anonymous, but very effective. ISIS has not taken credit, nor has the Rothschild Bank...
Update: The Royal Army has been called in and is trying to figure out who is operating the drones and how to stop them. 
This is big. This plays against Brexit, by ramping up fear of the unknown. 
Who benefits? Why have they not been revealed? Why is the army powerless?

Unlike Sweden's Riskbank, which surprised this morning with its first rate hike in 7 years, a move that was expected by only 10 of 24 analysts polled by BBG, the Bank of England had nothing up its sleeve when its Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously (9-0) to leave rates unchanged at 0.75% and warned that Brexit uncertainties had "intensified considerably" since its November meeting.  
(The top 2% finally see the writing on the wall.)​
Markets whipsawed violently in the aftermath of the Fed's "less dovish than expected" rate hike, with European stocks sliding to 2 year lows, and Japanese stock entering a bear market as crude oil tumbled after another mini flash crash after the European open as the dollar slumped.
US equity futures initially rose, then tumbled sliding to a new 2018 low around midnight dragged lower by Asian market fears, then once again rebounded around the time Europe opened, and were trading mostly flat as US traders walked in. Investors “think the Fed has completely misjudged the situation and now it’s just a matter of just trying to find an exit while you can,” said Kyle Rodda, a market analyst at IG Group in Melbourne. “We’re probably entering a stage now where markets have got it their head that we’re preparing for quite sustained downside going into 2019.”
The sell-off that began Wednesday after Powell disappointed markets with a rate hike and a promise to keep reversing quantitative easing after downplaying the implications of market volatility, gathered pace in Asia and Europe. Markets were mostly spooked by Powell's comment that the process of unwinding QE is on "autopilot."​ The Fed’s been a huge friend of the stock market and they are now a little bit of an enemy” and will probably become a worse enemy before this is all over, Bob Doll, Nuveen chief equity strategist and senior portfolio manager, said.

Pay no attention to the Central Bankers Behind The Curtain!
Steven Guinness looks at statements from the BIS and IMF, and globalist implications.
Speaking of a renewed economic crisis, the IMF stated that there might be uncertainty ‘as to whether there would be one preferred source of global liquidity. Such uncertainty could be exacerbated by geopolitical developments.’
In their own words, a ‘radically reformed‘ SDR could ‘conceivably serve as a global currency‘.
As 2018 comes to a end, the prospect of reforming the SDR is prominent in the minds of central bankers. Given that quotas are coming up for renewal, the avenue is gradually being created for the IMF to use geopolitical events – namely the scapegoats of nationalism and populism – as a cover for attempting to move the financial system closer to the implementation of a global​ ​currency. Whilst they may not be successful, it will not prevent them from making the attempt.  
https://stevenguinness2.wordpress.com/2018/12/19/hidden-amongst-the-furore-synchronised-warnings-from-the-bis-and-the-imf/
It would also be nice to think the president and commander-in-chief has the final say in his administration’s policies overseas, given the constitution by which we are supposed to be governed. But the misleading announcement on the withdrawal of troops, followed by Trump’s boastful tweet, suggest something close to exactly the opposite.​  ​As Trump finishes his second year in office, the pattern is plain:​ ​This president can have all the foreign policy ideas he wants, but the Pentagon, State, the intelligence apparatus, and the rest of what some call “the deep state” will either reverse, delay, or never implement any policy not to its likingSyria is a case in point, but one among many. Trump announced in March that he would withdraw American troops as soon as the fight against ISIS was finished. By September the Pentagon was saying no, U.S. forces had to stay until Damascus and its political opponents achieved a full settlement. From the new HQ in Raqqa, The Washington Post tells us, U.S. forces will extend “overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria.” https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-19/dont-hold-your-breath-us-troop-withdrawal-syria

​The US/Israeli/Saudi axis-of-evil does not hold the upper hand in Syria, and all positions weaken for the Empire of Petrodollar. Tom Luongo excerpts:
Since the beginning of l’affair Khashoggi Turkey has been extracting concession after concession from the US as the Trump administration tries to salvage its soon-to-be-unveiled Middle East peace plan. The latest concession may be the biggest. There’s a report out now that the Trump administration is readying the extradition of cleric Fethulah Gulen, who President Erdogan believes was behind the coup attempt against him in July of 2016... 
Whether the US ever returns Gulen to Ankara or not is actually irrelevant; keeping it a sore spot open is its biggest value while Turkey prepares an assault against US-backed YPG forces in Manbij, Syria. It helps raise Turkey’s position with the other countries involved in the Astana peace process for Syria while keeping Trump, his foreign policy mental midgets and Saudi Arabia on their collective back foot...
All of this is making the US presence in eastern Syria more untenable over time while the Saudis struggle with falling oil prices and no longer want to pay the bill for the US’s proxy war...
 If these things weren’t enough Turkish Prime Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said recently that Ankara was now willing to work with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if he survives “democratic and credible” elections. This is rich coming from Turkey, but whatever. The importance of this statement, however, cannot be overstated. Turkey was one of the major partners in the mission to destroy Syria. And now they have joined with Russia, Iran and China in negotiating the peace process...​ ​They have gone from “Assad must go!” to “Assad can stay.” It is an admission that the US plan for balkanization of Syria will eventually fail and that their best bet is putting maximum pressure on the US to give up its regional plans. 
Russia, of course, stands behind Turkey in this and themselves are now upping the costs on the US and the Israelis. 
Because, it is now Russian policy to assist Syrian Arab Army forces in proportional retaliation against Israeli aggression in Syrian territory... 
An airport for an airport, as it were... 
It is now the US and the Saudis that are feeling the pinch of yet another quagmire without end. Moreover, the Israeli security situation is now worse than it was before all of this started in the first place... 
The real war of attrition was never about physical resources and money. It was always about time. The Iranians and Russians have played for time. 
Time brought out the truth about the Syrian invasion. It exposed the real causes of the conflict. 
The hope now for the US is that financial pressure will get Iran to knuckle under. But, look at what is happening. Oil prices are in freefall as the global economy slows down thanks to debt saturation, a rising dollar and increasing opposition in the West to neoliberalism and globalism... 
EU technocrats who fancy themselves the inheritors of a waning US empire, bristle under Trump’s plans. 
They will build an alternative payment vehicle to buy goods and services from sanctioned entities. 
This is about much more than Iranian oil... 
Trump’s energy dominance plan is as transparent as his narcissism. More likely the sanctions exemptions for buying Iranian oil will be extended in May because he can’t have a global crisis be his fault as he prepares for re-election in 2020... 
Now Netanyahu is hemmed in on all sides and the Saudis are political pawns between the warring factions of the US government – Trump who wants an Arab NATO and the Deep State that wants him on a platter. 
Their benefactor, Trump, is in an increasingly untenable position who will soon be forced to choose between hot war and impeachment. 
Meanwhile, Iran, Turkey and Russia will continue to bleed out the US forces in Syria while sanctions prove to be increasingly less effective. 
Simultaneously, the Astana process moves forward with all groups trying to reach out to each other around the sclerotic reach of the US and put an end to this shameful period of US foreign policy insanity.

In keeping with an annual tradition that has persisted since shortly after his election to the highest office in the Russian Federation, Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-year marathon Q&A session Thursday in downtown Moscow...
Putin asserted that the number of news stories warning about the prospects for nuclear war have risen recently. Putin said that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, people thought the prospects for nuclear war had fallen. But in reality, they have remained roughly steady, according to RT.
"The danger of such developments coming true is being blurred or is going away, it is deemed impossible or unimportant," Putin said. "Meanwhile, if, God forbid, something like that happens, it would see an entire civilization - or even the planet - perish." ...​
Asked about President Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria, Putin said US troops had been in the country illegally, and that the decision to withdraw them was "the right decision."
"Donald's right and I agree with him," Putin said.​..​
Moving on to the subject of Russia's international finances, Putin confirmed that Russia has been reducing its holdings of US Treasurys (something we've pointed out in the past).
He also said he has no plans to ban the US dollar in Russia, and that he doesn't know whether he will meet US President Trump in the near future (they had been planning another summit for early next year). Russia will be ready to normalize relations with the US when the the US is ready, Putin said.​..​
Typically, Putin's Q&A goes on for at least three hours, but with the broad number of issues that need to be addressed, it's likely that this year's press conference could continue for significantly longer.

Wiggs sends some perspective on European nationalism:
Yanis Varoufakis writes:
“Students of European integration are taught that the European Union started life in the form of the ECSC. What they are less likely to come across is the well-kept secret that it was the United States that cajoled, pushed, threatened and sweet-talked the Europeans into putting it together…Indeed, it is indisputable that without the United States’ guiding hand the ECSC would not have materialized.”
He goes on:
“There was one politician who saw this clearly: General Charles de Gaulle, the future President of France…When the ECSC was formed, de Gaulle denounced it on the basis that it was creating a united Europe in the form of a restrictive cartel and, more importantly, that it was an American creation, under Washington’s influence.”​ ...​
In 1958, two years after the Suez debacle, De Gaulle entered the Elysee Palace as French president. Thereafter, the humiliation of Suez still raw, he embarked on an assertion of the country’s independence from Washington that contrasted with Britain’s slavish and unedifying subservience. The French leader withdrew France from NATO’s integrated command and twice blocked Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community (EEC) – the previous incarnation of today’s EU – on the basis that London would be a US Trojan horse if admitted.
There is, given this history, delicious irony in the fact that the country responsible for injecting the poison of neoliberalism into the EU – the UK under its fanatical leader Margaret Thatcher – is currently embroiled in a messy divorce from the bloc.
The EU in its current form is a latter-day prison house of nations locked inside a neoliberal straitjacket and single currency. Not only can’t it survive on this basis, but it also does not deserve to. Ultimately, either Europe’s political establishment decouples from Washington and its works – the Trump administration notwithstanding – or its peoples will decouple from them and theirs.

​Eleni sends this news about other French Generals with strategic vision, and that Rothschild-Trojan-Horse, Macron.
General Antoine Martinez has written the letter signed by ten other generals, an admiral and colonel, and also includes former French Minister of Defense Charles Millon.
They’ve given strong warning that Macron’s signing the U.N. Global Migration Pact strips France of even more sovereignty providing an additional reason for “an already battered people” to “revolt”.
The highly decorated military co-signees assert that the beleaguered Macron is “guilty of a denial of democracy or treason against the nation” for signing the migration pact without putting it to the people.
https://voiceofeurope.com/2018/12/macron-accused-of-treason-by-french-generals-for-signing-un-migration-pact/

​Eleni, in colonized, subjugated Greece​, also sends this:
“No Christmas this year” is written on the placard of a protester in Toulouse, the “ville rose” of Southwest France, once a bastion of French socialism.
“What do you want for Christmas?”a mother asks her 20-year-old son. “To win”, comes the answer.
This exchange of words catches a rare moment. It is when Ego, the “Me”, escapes, for a while, the very limits of its miserable existence, submitting itself to, diluting itself into and being identified with the, temporarily at least, infinite and all-powerful “We”.
It’s the moment when the individual becomes aware that the collective interest is more important than the individual one, that individuals cannot live or be saved by themselves. They need other human beings, they need Society and Civilization.
If that happens and if all other means like parties, elections, trade unions etc. have been exhausted, then a revolt​ ​becomes possible.

A Texas elementary school speech pathologist has filed a federal lawsuit after her school district refused to renew her contract unless she signed a pro-Israel oath.
Bahia Amawi has worked for the Pflugerville Independent School District since 2009 on a contract basis. Each year when it came to the time to renew her contract, the school district did so. Amawi always signed the correct documents, and had another year of guaranteed employment.
But this year, in August, there was a new addition to the contract papers. That addition was an oath which Amawi was being asked to sign, promising that she “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract” and will refrain from any action “that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in an Israel-controlled territory.”
That was a problem for Amawi, who, along with her family, refrains from buying goods from Israeli companies in support of the global boycott to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
But aside from that, Amawi noted that the very fact that this was the only oath she was being asked to sign – and it was to do with Israel – was extremely strange.
“It’s baffling that they can throw this down our throats, and decide to protect another country’s economy versus protecting our constitutional rights,” Amawi, who was born in Austria and is of Palestinian descent, told The Intercept.

​Full, long Glenn Greenwald story.on mainstream-gatekeeper site, The Intercept, is a toe-in-the-water towards freedom to boycott Israel, which is financially-criminalized in 26 States. 
You may recall that people and contractors could not get State Funds after Hurricane Harvey last year, unless they signed an oath to never boycott Israeli goods or say anything to support such a boycott. 
Greenwald argues that this is against "freedom of speech", but we know that only correct speech can really be "free", right?

Nick Cunningham says "2019 will be a wild year for oil", which is the lifeblood of modern physical economy. Tumult...

Why Everything that Needs To Be Fixed Remains Permanently Broken, Charles Hugh Smith
The status quo has a simple fix for every crisis and systemic problem:
1. create currency out of thin air
2. give it to super-wealthy banks, financiers and corporations to boost their wealth and income.

​Ellen Brown says the "Green New Deal" may actually work, if the world just abandons neoliberalism. Well, that's ideal, isn't it?
Ocasio-Cortez and the 22 representatives joining her in calling for a Select Committee are also proposing a novel way to fund the program, one which could actually work. The resolution says funding will primarily come from the federal government, “using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks, public venture funds and such other vehicles or structures that the select committee deems appropriate, in order to ensure that interest and other investment returns generated from public investments made in connection with the Plan will be returned to the treasury, reduce taxpayer burden and allow for more investment.”

Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Seeing The Difference

Out of Sight,

The US seems to be committed to ongoing illegal occupation of about 1/3 of Syria, similar in size to Croatia or Louisiana. With oil. Did Congress declare war? Whose war is this? Is the military-industrial-spy-complex actually "the government"? 

Eleni sent this:
Operation “Timber Sycamore”, initiated by President Barack Obama was privatized a little before the election of President Donald Trump. It is now coordinated by the investment fund KKR (established by Henry Kravis and whose military activities are led by the former head of the CIA, General David Petraeus).
“Timber Sycamore” is the most important arms trafficking operation in History. It involves at least 17 governments. The transfer of weapons, meant for jihadist organizations, is carried out by Silk Way Airlines, a Azerbaïdjan public company of cargo planes.
In the week 27 November - 2 December 2018, eight of this company’s cargo planes landed at Aden (Yemen), Erbil and Bagdad (Iraq), Beirut (Lebanon), Djibouti (Djibouti), Kabul and Bagram (Afghanistan) and Tripoli (Libya).


And this:
Syria will adopt a new rule of engagement with Israel now that Russia has taken a tougher and clearer stance on the conflict between Israel and the “Axis of the Resistance”. Henceforth, Damascus will be responding to any Israeli strike. If it damages a specific military target it will reply with a strike against a similar objective in Israel. Decision makers in Damascus said “Syria will not hesitate to hit an Israeli airport if Damascus airport is targeted and hit by Israel. This will be with the consent of the Russian military based in the Levant”.
This Syrian political decision is based on a clear position taken by Russia in Syria following the downing of its aircraft on September 18 this year.

And this, too, explaining why puppet Poroschenko ordered the Ukrainain Navy to send military vessels across the Kerch Strait without notifying Russian forces.:
In 1997, Ukraine and Russia concluded a Treaty of Friendship which entered into force in 1999. This document was supposed to be automatically renewed every 10 years unless it was denounced by one party or the other.
In October 2018, Ukraine decided to denounce this treaty. Then it organized the incident at Kertch. Furthermore, President Petro Poroshenko gave his administration the task of listing all the agreements concluded with Russia and identifying those that he should denounce.
One of the provisions of the Treaty of Friendship and its extension in 2003 provide that the Sea of Azov falls within the territorial waters of Russia and Ukraine. As such, warships cannot enter these waters without the authorization of both states. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 does not apply in this case.
Once the treaty and its extension is repealed, the Azov Sea will be governed by international law, with the Ukrainian and Russian territorial waters as well as an internationalized part. As a consequence, Nato ships will no longer need Russia’s consent to enter.
This explains why NATO is involved in the preparation of the incident at Kertch.

There is no disagreement between Republicans and Democrats on the absolute need to feed the war machine more, at any cost. Again, thanks Eleni.
To pay for all this, social services are to be gutted. “Mandatory entitlement programs drive spending growth,” the report complains, demanding that Congress address these programs, which include Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. It warns that “such adjustments will undoubtedly be quite painful.”
And finally, all of society must be mobilized behind the war effort. A “whole-of-nation” approach must be adopted, including “trade policy; science, technology, engineering, and math education.” Everything from private corporations to academic institutions must be brought to bear.
In listing the various challenges to the United States fighting and winning a war against Russia or China, none of the distinguished members of the committee arrived at the seemingly obvious conclusion: that maybe the United States should not fight such a war.

https://russia-insider.com/en/bipartisan-panel-us-must-prepare-horrendous-devastating-war-russia-and-china/ri25414

Trump’s foreign and military policy is indistinguishable from the policy of Bush father and son, Clinton husband and wife, Cheney, Obama, and the rest of the neoconservative/neoliberal clown posse who run this country. No kerfuffle is too trivial for the US not to intervene, no hamlet too remote to send the troops and hardware. The only requirements are that the intervention projects power—Washington-speak for forcing somebody to do what they don’t want to do—and funnels money to the connected...
If hubris and stupidity don’t fell the Empire, insolvency will. France’s revolt can spread like a California wildfire. The dirty secret of the welfare state is that somebody has to pay for it. France has the highest tax burden in the developed world, but there’s a long list right behind where it is almost as onerous. Especially galling is the largess bestowed on immigrants The horror: taxpayers might get the idea that they—not the state and its wards—own their own lives. Around the globe, the French revolt could inspire those stuck with the tab to do something more drastic than vote for candidates who pledge to cut tax rates a percentage point or two.
Crashing stock markets and a global recession, or worse, would expand the ranks of the Gilets Jaunes. Crashing bond markets would drive up interest rates for profligate governments and tighten the noose, just as they’re faced with aging populations, unfunded liabilities, shrinking economies, and demonstrations and riots. Any sympathy for the ruling class rather than its victims would be woefully misplaced.

General Michael Flynn was set up and framed and forced to plead guilty, as he did not have funds to defend himself against Robert Mueller and the FBI.
Flynn’s attorney’s had noted in their memorandum to the courts that the documents revealed that FBI officials made the decision not to provide Flynn with his Miranda Rights, which would’ve have warned him of penalties for making false statements.  “The agents did not provide Gen. Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 before, during, or after the interview,” the Flynn memo says. According to the 302, before the interview, McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport.” ... In the redacted 302 report Strzok and Pientka said they “both had the impression at the time that Flynn was not lying or did not think he was lying.” Information that Flynn was not lying was first published and reported by SaraACarter.com. ... In the report, the two agents describe Flynn as being very open and noted said Flynn “clearly saw the FBI agents as allies.” Flynn is described as discussing a variety of  “subjects.”

The Justice Department's internal watchdog revealed on Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller's office scrubbed all of the data from FBI agent Peter Strzok's iPhone, while his FBI mistress Lisa Page's phone had been scrubbed by a different department, according to a comprehensive report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released on Thursday.

​George Galloway, a member of Parliament in the UK for 30 years, writes abut the recent links that millions of pounds of government money was spent on covert operations to smear Jeremy Corbyn. (The same UK government seems to have meddled rather seriously in the 2016 US election, and lost their bet.)
As it stands, two million pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent in part on discrediting the alternative government of Britain. It doesn’t get much more serious than that...
Mrs May, the prime minister (at the time of writing), put it best herself when she told him to his face live on TV in Parliament: “We will never allow you to rule”...
That Corbyn has faced such an unprecedented campaign of vilification, anathematization and delegitimization is a matter of public record. The journalists and broadcasters behind it are known. The source of funding of just one part of it now lies exposed, the British government itself.  

The Integrity Initiative, a British pseudo-NGO tasked with running anti-Russian propaganda operation, was recently exposed. Further digging into it revealed a much wider operation. It seems to involve a mole British spies inserted into the Bernie Sanders campaign...  We have already seen many consequences of this and similar programs which are designed to smear anyone who does not follow the anti-Russian government lines. The 'Russian collusion' smear campaign against Donald Trump based on the Steele dossier was also a largely British operation but seems to be part of a different project.

​Charles Hugh Smith on what drives Yellow Vest Protests:
Part of downward mobility is becoming politically invisible, a topic I discussed in France in a Nutshell: "The Government Stopped Listening to the People 20 Years Ago"(December 12, 2018).
The protesters rightly perceive that they are politically invisible: the ruling class, regardless of its ideological flavor, doesn't believe it needs the support of the politically invisible to rule as it sees fit. The ruling class has counted on the cultural elites to marginalize and suppress the politically invisible by dismissing any working-class dissent as racist, fascist, nationalistic and other words expressly intended to push dissent into the political wilderness.
Many commentators have listed the systemic sources of the erosion in standards of living and financial security: the loss of cheap, plentiful oil to fuel "growth" at rates that lift all boats; the financialization of the economy, which favors capital over labor; globalization, which increases corporate profits via labor, social welfare and pollution arbitrage (move production where these costs are the lowest), and the corruption of the political machinery via pay-to-play (favoring the corporations and super-wealthy) and the concentration of financial and political power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many.

​Abruptly Visible​