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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Invisible Hands

Watching the Dealer,

Trump may have a semi-independent foreign policy that does not include nuclear war in Asia.
Trump said "there is no reason ... to be spending large amounts of money on joint U.S.-South Korea war games," amid stalled denuclearization talks with North Korea.
Trump canceled the joint military exercise in June due to "tremendously expensive" costs and what he called their "provocative" nature.
Trump's move falls out of step with the Pentagon, which has maintained that the joint exercises are routine, purely defensive and vital to maintaining readiness on the Korean Peninsula.

The US still has not staged the chemical weapons false-flag attack in Syria, to justify bombing the Syrian military again. Maybe it is being saved for the actual attack on American-funded  jihadis, when they call for protective airstrikes.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Lavrov has warned the West not to interfere in Syrian and Russian forces engaged in antiterror actions in the northwest province of Idlib: "I hope our Western partners will not give in to [rebel] provocations and will not obstruct an antiterror operation," he said.
This as Reuters reports that a planned "phased offensive" is imminent and as massive Syrian Army reinforcements and military convoys have been filmed this week heading toward the last major anti-Assad holdout.

​Eleni sends this article about the "successful" life of John McCain, which touts his own-goals for/against the Empire, but also has this very informative tidbit about Russian sale of US Treasuries a few months ago:
The effect of the sanctions in simultaneously driving down both the ruble and the Russian stock market has allowed the Russian government to sell dollars high and to buy up Russian industrial stocks low, effectively re-nationalizing Russian industry at bargain-basement prices, shifting the share of its government ownership from around 16% to at least 65% while squeezing out Western financial interests. The profits that would have otherwise been pocketed by Western investors are now flooding into the Russian treasury, to be spent on health, education, housing, roads and bridges and so on. McCain, you socialist you!

​Now-jobless whistle-blower gives the longish story of the propaganda operations set in motion well before the 2016 election, to prevent or disable a Trump presidency. They involve deep state agencies and the media, so are unaccountable to anybody. Here is how they pick off individuals.
Flynn’s career with Trump ended as quickly as it came. He was forced to resign as Trump’s National Security Advisor 27 days after taking the job. The highly classified conversation between Flynn and former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was leaked to the Washington Post in January 2017 and he was later questioned by the FBI on that conversation. According to former FBI Director James Comey, the agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe he was lying, but in the end, Flynn pled guilty to one count of lying to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He had already spent more than $1 million in lawyers fees and sold his home to help with the debt. According to sources, Flynn’s family was being threatened by the Mueller team.

Glenn Greenwald points out that the whole "mainstream" corporate media lies all the time, consistently, in one direction, and when exposed, will not talk about it. When there are retractions, they are late, small and go unnoticed. The original falsehoods continue to live long lives, referred to as supportive "facts". (Consider the Syrian chemical weapons attacks against Syrian government supporters and their children, whenever government forces are advancing on our good terrorists).

Colleen sends this article by Diana Johnstone about the "real Russian Interference in US Politics" It's those pesky oligarchs we installed in business over there. They like the hand that feeds them.

Ilargi, at The Automatic Earth, got cut out of facebook without explanation, or any answer to his questions, despite sending his non-bot credentials and proof of personhood. That cut out the majority of his views, and revenue, and so on. No comment. none... Non-acknowledgement.

Craig Murray, a former UK ambassador who did some whistle-blowing on the empire has also been erased from Facebook. Who runs that operation?
Facebook has deleted all of my posts from July 2017 to last week because I am, apparently, a Russian Bot. For a while I could not add any new posts either, but we recently found a way around that, at least for now. To those of you tempted to say “So what?”, I would point out that over two thirds of visitors to my website arrive via my posting of the articles to Facebook and Twitter. Social media outlets like this blog, which offer an alternative to MSM propaganda, are hugely at the mercy of these corporate gatekeepers.
Facebook’s plunge into censorship is completely open and admitted, as is the fact it is operated for Facebook by the Atlantic Council – the extreme neo-con group part funded by NATO and whose board includes serial war criminal Henry Kissinger, Former CIA Heads Michael Hayden and Michael Morrell, and George Bush’s chief of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, among a whole list of horrors.

​The Ron Paul Instirute has more on that psy-ops arm of NATO, The Atlantic Council.
The Atlantic Council, until recently kept comparatively in the shadows for obvious reasons, is a think tank that has more than any other organization effected the transition of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from a seeming Cold War relic with the break-up of the Warsaw Pact and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 to the world's only and history's first international military network with 70 members and partners on six continents currently. All thirteen new full member states are in Eastern and Central Europe; four of them border Russia.
Three months ago it began collaborating with Facebook to police and censor that and (presumably) soon after other social media companies which in recent decades have become the major sources of information and communication for the seven billion citizens of the planet. No modest undertaking.

Bees seem to get addicted to those neonicotinid pesticides, in a chemically similar way to how humans get addicted to nicotine. that's bad for bee colonies, but it doesn't kill them outright. Bayer/Monsanto is not killing bees, any more than RJ Reynolds is killing smokers. They all have free will...

Buzzed Bee

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Musical Beds

Dancing,

Vladimir Putin shows up to the wedding of the Austrian Foreign Minister, with flowers and a choir for her, dances gallantly with her, and flies off to speak with Angela Merkel about a new system for international trade, which is not subject to US sanctions, or denominated in dollars.
“Germany is in deep fear of the Strait of Hormuz being shut, stranding a major supply of her natural gas and oil, and placing her totally dependent on oil and natural gas from Russia,” the newsletter states. “That is why Germany has to hold up the Iranian nuclear deal against all costs.
“Hence, the meeting of Merkel and Putin and the floating of a new currency plan to break the control over Germany and the world of the SWIFT-CHIPS dollar system.”


The U.S. has been highly successful at pursuing financial warfare, including sanctions. But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
As the U.S. wields the dollar weapon more frequently, the rest of the world works harder to shun the dollar completely.
In the short run, the U.S. is likely to enforce its sanctions rigorously. European businesses will probably go along with the U.S. because they don’t want to lose business in the U.S. itself or be banned from the U.S. dollar payments system.
But in the longer run, this is just one more development pushing the world at large away from dollars and toward alternatives of all kinds, including new payment systems and cryptocurrencies.
It’s also one more sign that dollar dominance in global finance may end sooner than most expect. We are getting dangerously close to that point right now.


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday urged the remaining signatories to its 2015 nuclear agreement to act to save the pact, although France’s leader called again for broader talks on Tehran’s missile program and its role in the Middle East region.
In a phone call to French President Emmanuel Macron, Rouhani said Iran wanted the Europeans to give guarantees on banking channels and oil sales as well as in the field of insurance and transportation, according to the state-run Iranian news agency IRNA.
“Iran has acted upon all its promises in the nuclear agreement and, with attention to the one-sided withdrawal of America ... expects the remaining partners to operate their programs more quickly and transparently,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.

..
As tension has escalated between Iran and the United States, senior U.S. officials have said they aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the most senior authority in the Islamic Republic, said last month that he supported the idea that if Iran is not allowed to export oil, then no country should export oil from the Gulf.

Why did our ruling elites get so greedy and petty? They used to be much more reasonable, and even participated in the economy themselves in the Eisenhower years. What? Same change happened in Rome, when the Republic transformed to Empire? Charles Hugh Smith has a look.
Neoliberalism is the belief that the social order is defined and created by markets: if markets are free, participants, society and the political order are also free.
 
This conceptual framework is the perfect enabler for the dominance of credit-based, leveraged capital, i.e. Neofeudalism. In a "free market," those with access to nearly-free money can outbid everyone who must rely on savings from earned income to finance borrowing. In a "free market" where those with access to leverage and unlimited credit are more equal than everyone else, the ability of wage earners to acquire rentier assets such as rental housing, farmland and timberland is intrinsically limited by the financial system that makes credit and leverage scarce for the many and abundant for the few.
The moral bankruptcy of our financial and political elites is self-evident.Combine financialization, neoliberalism and moral bankruptcy, and you end up with predatory, parasitic elites.

The Bayer-Monsanto merger may not be as bad as expected, since Vietnam intends to sue the sociopathic global behemoth for the damage done to millions of Vietnamese people by Agent Orange. There's a good use for Lawyers. Strip 'em clean!
In the wake of a U.S. court ordering Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to man who says its weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer, Vietnam has called on the agrichemical giant to pay reparations to Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.
"This case is a precedent that rejects previous arguments that the herbicides supplied to the U.S. military by Monsanto and other U.S. chemical companies during the Vietnam War are not harmful to people's health," spokesperson for the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Phuong Tra said to reporters last week.
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/08/27/eyeing-landmark-verdict-roundup-cancer-case-vietnam-demands-monsanto-be-held-liable


Last Aspirin

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

NAFTAthoughts

Unrepresented Canadians,

Trump made a bilateral trade deal with Mexico, and scrapped NAFTA. It's reportedly pretty similar, and Canada can take it or leave it. Taking it will be a little worse, and not taking it will be considerably worse.

Chapter 19 of NAFTA got eliminated. This gives the US the upper hand in all disputes.
Chapter 19 has provided an effective mechanism for exporters and importers subject to AD or CVD measures imposed by trade regulatory bodies (in the U.S., the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission, and in Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal) to seek review from  a binational NAFTA panel. These panels are comprised of trade experts from the two countries involved in the dispute, with a mandate to re-evaluate the legal basis for imposition of such measures. For both Canada and Mexico, Chapter 19 was a critical component of NAFTA that ensured U.S. law could not be applied in a protectionist manner, particularly by the U.S. Department of Commerce, to block fairly traded goods. Since the implementation of NAFTA, the U.S. has been the target of most cases brought before Chapter 19 panels, with 43 of the 71 matters heard by the panels being directed against the U.S. Canada’s success rate under Chapter 19 has been positive. Without Chapter 19, Canadian companies would need to rely on U.S. courts to conduct reviews of U.S. measures, where the success rate has been limited.  

Canada’s NAFTA negotiator, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, is cutting short a trip to Europe to fly to Washington on Tuesday to try to restart talks.  

​Defanging the dollar:
"With Germany, we are determined to work on an independent European or Franco-German financing tool which would allow us to avoid being the collateral victims of U.S. extra-territorial sanctions," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday during a meeting with press association AJEF. “I want Europe to be a sovereign continent not a vassal, and that means having totally independent financing instruments that do not today exist.”
The discussions, which also involve the U.K., are a signal that European powers are trying to get serious about demonstrating a greater level of independence from the U.S. as President Donald Trump pursues his “America First” agenda.

“Foreign specialists” have arrived in Syria and may stage a chemical attack using chlorine in “the next two days,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. This will be filmed for international media to frame Damascus forces.
Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the operation is planned to unfold in the village of Kafr Zita in Syria’s northwestern Hama Province in “the next two days.”
Konashenkov said that “English-speaking specialists” are already in place to use “poisonous agents.” While a group of residents from the north has been transported to Kafr Zita and is currently being prepared “to take part in the staging of the attack” and be filmed suffering from supposed “‘chemical munitions’ and ‘barrel bombs’ launched by the Syrian government forces.”
The groups of residents will be used to assist “fake rescuers from the White Helmets.” They will be filmed apparently suffering from the effects of chemical weapons and then be shown in “the Middle Eastern and English-language media.”


“On August 28, 1980, the three-car motorcade of John Gunther Dean, the American Ambassador to Lebanon, was attacked on the motorway by several assailants armed with automatic rifles as well as light anti-tank weapons or LAWs. The ambassador and his wife escaped unscathed...  “Over the years Ambassador Dean has repeatedly argued that Israel was behind the August 1980 attempt on his life. In an interview for the Oral History Project in September 2000, he explained how the Lebanese Intelligence services had managed to retrieve the empty canisters of two of the light anti-tank weapons (LAWs) that had been used during the attack on his motorcade and, during raiding a house by the intersection where the assault had taken place, found 8 more. Dean collected the numbers on the 10 missiles & sent them to Washington to be traced... “The LAWs had been manufactured in the US and ‘were sold and shipped to Israel in 1974.’... “In 1979, [Rafael] Eitan and [Meir] Dagan [both brass in the Israel Defense Forces] created the Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners, and ran that fictitious group from 1979 to 1983. In 1981 and 1982, Ariel Sharon used that Front to conduct a series of indiscriminate car bombings that killed hundreds of civilians. “The objective of this massive ‘terrorist’ car bombing campaign was to ‘sow chaos’ amongst the Palestinian & Lebanese civilian population” and, in 1981-82, to provoke the PLO into resorting to ‘terrorism,’ thus providing Israel with an excuse to invade Lebanon... “Bergman himself does not mention the assassination attempt against Dean. But we know that the FLLF took credit for this attack at the time. That Dean’s own investigation pointed to Israel & to its Lebanese proxies. And we now know that the FLLF was CREATED and RUN by Israel.

​Becoming Serfs, Chris Hedges:
Income inequality in the United States has not been this pronounced in over a century. The top 10 percent has 50 percent of the country’s income, and the upper 1 percent has 20 percent of the country’s income. A quarter of American workers struggle on wages of less than $10 an hour, putting them below the poverty line, while the income of the average CEO of a major corporation is more than 300 times the pay of his or her average worker, a massive increase given that in the 1950s the average CEO made 20 times what his or her worker made. This income inequality is global. The richest 1 percent of the world’s population controls 40 percent of the world’s wealth. And it is getting worse.

​The "nightmare" of unmowed lawns. What happens to America when you can't just import wage slaves from Mexico in the summer and send them back in late September? Horror of horrors, Americans are not used to doing this kind of summer work! (I was. A lot of us were. Those jobs for American teenagers and college students went away. I wonder if there is any fixing that.​ Could they do it? My friend Randy has all American workers, even here in Austin.)
To sum up, small businesses across the country are faced with a shortage of temporary American workers because of the Trump administration’s limits on hiring foreign workers. Many of these companies have tried to source local labor but it turns out Americans do not want low wage jobs. President Trump has touted his “America First” agenda at rallies and at White House events. As a candidate, he often spoke on the campaign trail about his desire to prioritize American workers over immigrants seeking jobs.  

​Permanent Serfs; Debt Prisoners forever: Yanis Varoufakis writes...  
 Mrs Merkel’s aides informed her that, just like the German banks, the over-indebted Greek state was finding it impossible to roll over its debt. Had it declared its bankruptcy, Italy, Ireland, Spain and Portugal would follow suit, with the result that Berlin and Paris would have faced a fresh bailout of their banks greater than €1tn. At that point, it was decided that the Greek government could not be allowed to tell the truth, that is, confess to its bankruptcy.
To maintain the lie, insolvent Athens was given, under the smokescreen of “solidarity with the Greeks”, the largest loan in human history, to be passed on immediately to the German and French banks. To pacify angry German parliamentarians, that gargantuan loan was given on condition of brutal austerity for the Greek people, placing them in a permanent great depression.
Ridiculously high VAT and small business tax rates will, of course, continue, as will fresh pension cuts and new punitive income tax rates for the poorest that have been scheduled for 2019. The Greek government has also committed to maintaining a long-term budget surplus target, not counting debt repayments (3.5% of national income until 2021, and 2.2% during 2022-2060) that demands permanent austerity, a target that the IMF itself gives less than 6% probability of ever being attained by any eurozone country.
In summary, after having bailed out French and German banks at the expense of Europe’s poorest citizens, and after having turned Greece into a debtor’s prison, last week Greece’s creditors decided to declare victory. Having put Greece into a coma, they made it permanent and declared it “stability”: they pushed our people off a cliff and celebrated their bounce off the hard rock of a great depression as proof of “recovery”. To quote Tacitus, they made a desert and called it peace.

​Greeks of all ages are having higher death rates under austerity; lower life expectancy. Whatever the medical indicator measured, it's worse. No surprise.

Refugees unprotected in open air prisons on Greek islands, waiting forever to be "processed", never having a shower or a safe wink of sleep, want to die, rather than keep existing there; women, children and men. This is not the work of Greeks, either. 
One refugee explained: “Whatever your disease, you will get the same medicine which is a painkiller only.”
​Prisoner without recourse​

Monday, August 27, 2018

McCain's Legacy

Non Murderers,

"Do NOT let them make a Saint of this Asshole" reminds Caitlin Johnstone.
You will be told that you do not have permission to say such things. You have permission to say such things. You will be told that you are being impolite to John McCain’s family. The families of mass murderers are not entitled to our politeness. You will be told that you are making yourself look bad. Creating a world where neoconservative war whores experience an appropriate amount of rejection is more important than looking good. Kill their propaganda narratives with mockery and irreverence and help usher in a new world where it is no longer considered okay to be a psychopathic neocon.  

John McCain Requests Ashes Be Launched Into Iraq
John McCain single-handedly blocked declassification of information on POWs and MIAs that the whole House and other Senators supported. Why? He needed his records of collaboration and special treatment in Hanoi kept secret forever. Blocking legislation before 4:00, Stories about "Songbird" after 4:00 min. Video statements of various participants.

This recording of John McCain making a prisoner propaganda statement for North Vietnamese radio in 1969 became public due to being misfiled, released by accident.

Former presidents Bush-2 and Obama will say nice things about John McCain, who made a special point of excluding the current president from coming to his funeral. Do you recall the speaker of the words below ever saying anything truthful? Just askin'
George W. Bush, to whom McCain lost the 2000 GOP nomination, said "John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order."  

"Feeling's mutual..."  In a report that is likely to provoke further scrutiny of the tense relationship between the president and the late Senator John McCain - to put it mildly - the Washington Post reports that President Trump rejected issuing a statement that "praised the heroism and life of Sen. John McCain", instead telling White House aides he preferred to issue a tweet before posting one Saturday night that did not include any praise for the late Arizona Republican. Trump told aides he wanted to post a brief tweet instead, and the statement praising McCain’s life was not released:  "My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!" Trump posted Saturday evening shortly after McCain’s death was announced.
“It’s atrocious,” Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for Trump’s legal team and a longtime Republican strategist, said of Trump’s reaction to McCain’s death. “At a time like this, you would expect more of an American president when you’re talking about the passing of a true American hero.”  

​McCain pushed for wars of aggression on 13 countries in his career, and usually got his way. This does not include North Vietnam, where he killed civilians himself, by dropping bombs on them, until he was shot down​.

One Yemeni Medic's family story. It's succinct. 3 pictures. He's still working, saving lives; cleaning up...

Syria:
There are signs that al-Qaeda in Syria and similar groups will try to preempt the upcoming attack on them by an offense of their own. The U.S., UK and France prepare for another chemical incident in support of the Jihadi attack. They would strike Syrian government forces and institutions after a new fake incident would be attributed to the Syrian government... 
Abu Jihad John Bolton warned that any use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would be responded to with force:
"We are obviously concerned about the possibility that Assad may use chemical weapons again.
"Just so there's no confusion here, if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons we will respond very strongly and they really ought to think about this a long time," [Bolton] added.
This was obviously an invitation to the terrorists to stage a fake chemical weapon attack as they had done earlier in east-Ghouta and other places. Those incidences were blamed on the Syrian government without any evidence and led to U.S. strikes on Syrian forces.
In preparation for the general attack on Idleb the Russian Navy is building up a strong force in the eastern Mediterranean which includes several frigates with Calibr cruise missiles:
There is an obvious build up on all sides for a large battle over Idleb province. No plans on how the battle will proceed have been published. The number of forces assembled will make sure that it will be the biggest battle the war on Syria has seen so far.   

North Korea:
It is more likely that Trump is punting here because there is no way he can get North Korea to denuclearize before signing an official peace agreement with it. Signing a peace agreement is not what the U.S. wants. With Korea at peace and on the way to re-unification, the U.S. would lose the justification for keeping U.S.troops in South Korea, its only major foothold on the east-Asian continent.
This position - denuclearization as precondition for talks about a peace agreement - has long been held by Secretary of State Pompeo. It is  in contradiction to the Singapore Statement Trump and Kim Jong-un signed. The Statement included (twice) a sequence of three steps:
​"​
President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:

The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
The United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
​"​

Even hawkish Korea analysts agree that this sequencing was the new, unprecedented core of the agreement:
For the first time in the history of negotiations, Washington essentially accepted, whether blindly or wittingly, Pyongyang’s wish list on sequencing: 1) normalization of bilateral relations, 2) establishment of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, and then 3) “complete denuclearization.”
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/08/trump-ties-north-korea-talks-to-trade-deal-with-china.html#more

Charles Hugh Smith explains why everything is more expensive and crapified. The "Neofeudal extortion" mechanisms are just a bunch of added fees, wherever they can be inserted, in the making of  every product and service. Being a properly positioned parasite to skim wealth flows is where it is at.

Oh No! Globalization, itself may be threatened, according to Bank for International Settlements Chief.
However, as the general manager of the Bank of International Settlements, Agustin Carstens warned, the greater risk is not how many points of GDP the rising tariffs will subtract from the US and China, but the growing danger to globalization itself, and on Saturday, Karstens delivered a scathing critique of rising protectionism, a not-so-subtle rebuke to Trump’s use of tariffs and trade talks to wring concessions from China, Mexico and many other countries.  

Water crises are already "here", just maybe not my "here" yet. We are particularly fortunate in North America, though California and the Ogalala Aquifer are exhausting quickly.

Mostly Water

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Matrix Wars

Free Thinkers,

Caitlin Johnstone: ​
And then, there are the oligarchs. The master manipulators. These corporate kings of the modern world have learned the secret that every ruler since the dawn of civilization has known: whoever controls the narratives that are believed by a society is the controller of that society. Identity, language, etiquette, social roles, opinions, ideology, religion, ethnicity, philosophy, agendas, rules, laws, money, economics, jobs, hierarchies, politics, government: all mental constructs which only influence society to the extent that they are believed and subscribed to by a significant majority of the collective. If you have influence over the things that people believe about those mental constructs, you have influence over society. You rule it. The oligarchs manipulate the narratives of entire societies.  

​Not part of that matrix, is (Bolshevik) Russian Social-political Theorist PyotrStolypi. Thank Eleni. This is translated, but useful for non-Russians.
We live in the world of models, all kinds of them. Some models are simple, others—very complex. The main task of those models is to predict how things, those models describe, will behave depending on the circumstances. Some of those models work brilliantly, others fail miserably. Worst models in terms of reliability are those dealing with geopolitics. A record of dismal failures of Western in general, and American in particular, geopolitical models to predict anything right is widely available for everyone to see. Time after time those models and predictions turned out to be wrong.
https://www.unz.com/article/grand-strategy-revisited/

​Worried about Secretary of State, John Bolton's foreshadowing remarks about "punishing Assad if he uses chemical weapons again", Russia sends more warships to the Syrian port of Tartus.​

Sun Tzu and the Art of Fighting A Trade War. Pepe Escobar points out that the Chinese Matrix has existed for thousands of years, and it is not identical. China has her own elite puppet-masters, who just spent a couple of weeks in a Davos kind of thing they do there.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass says that it is time for "A New World Order". Sounds catchy; kind of familiar, somehow.
We will not allow you to go over our heads, and at our expense. That is why it was right to protect European companies legally from sanctions. It is therefore essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels independent of the US, a European monetary fund and an independent SWIFT [payments] system. The devil is in thousands of details. But every day that the Iran agreement lasts, is better than the potentially explosive crisis that threatens the Middle East otherwise.
https://global.handelsblatt.com/opinion/making-plans-new-world-order-germany-us-trump-trans-atlantic-relations-heiko-maas-europe-956306#.W30v1EXjSfI.twitter

For now, and probably for only a few months ahead of the US mid-term elections in November, President Trump is forcing currency difficulties on his enemies by aggressive trade policies, including sanctions, and by weaponizing the dollar. It is a trick that has been used by successive American administrations for a considerable time. The Chinese are particularly wary of a currency war being waged against her yuan and are unlikely to escalate tensions unnecessarily. They are playing for and winning a longer game.
President Trump’s actions over trade, which appear to have some short-term successes, are driving countries away from 
America's​ sphere of influence. Ultimately this will prove counterproductive. Speculators buying into Trump’s short-termism and the Fed’s normalization policies are for the moment driving the dollar higher, without realizing that foreigners, far from suffering from a shortage of dollars, already own all the excess dollar liquidity created since the Lehman crisis. This seems certain to lead to the dollar’s downfall.
Therefore, the dollar is rising only on short-term considerations, driven by nothing more substantial than speculative flows. Once these abate, the longer-term prospects for the dollar will reassert themselves, including the escalating budget and trade deficits, record levels of foreign ownership of the dollar, and rising prices fueled by a combination of earlier monetary expansion and the extra taxes of trade tariffs.
And if that’s not enough, the erosion of its hegemony coupled with China’s future demands for infrastructure capital seem bound to lead to a fundamental reallocation of capital to the detriment of the dollar. No wonder China and Russia decided to corner the market for physical gold.


​Structural reasons the global economy is going into long deflation. This analysis doesn't need physics, or even climate change... The rich hoard, and the poor reproduce. It was cooperation in work and sharing rewards that brought us to our former peak (and oil, and forests, and coal, and iron ore...)
Of course, if per capita incomes reversed their current trajectories, this would change the math significantly.  But when you have a declining base of consumption among those with all the means to do so and growth among those with little or essentially no means... this is the most deflationary case possible.
​Nomi Prins, The fed Will Not Give Up Dark Money (So our oligarchs are trapped in their own Matrix until the power outage, i guess...)​

There's this. It emanates about a 590 nM wavelength of light under the right conditions, which are not rare, but occur daily.

Artificial General intelligence Is Here, and "Impala" Is It's Name (not "Bonneville", "Impala") Sorta' spooky, and not the distant future.

​Chevy Vega​

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Rome Burns

Economic Participants,

The truth is this economic system has always been on fire. The terrifying object at the end of the extraction economy is the devastating and total incineration of almost everything we know and love. This is the only endgame in the extraction economy — it is what happens when a model dependent on infinite growth is played out on a planet with finite resources.
The extraction economy is an extinction economy, or maybe more accurately an extinction machine. It has always burnt everything in its path. That is what it’s designed to do. The people and living things on the periphery have always felt it first.
But now in a world of global climate disruption, the match has burned down to our fingers. There is no periphery and no centre. Just one interconnected and interdependent world – on fire, together.


Charles Hugh Smith: The Telltale Signs of Imperial Decline (Hey, I resemble that remark!) and also these added bonus signs:Sir John Glubb listed a few others in his seminal essay on the end of empires The Fate of Empires, what might be called the dynamics of decadence:
(a) A growing love of money as an end in itself: Check.
(b) A lengthy period of wealth and ease, which makes people complacent. They lose their edge; they forget the traits (confidence, energy, hard work) that built their civilization: Check.
(c) Selfishness and self-absorption: Check.
(d) Loss of any sense of duty to the common good: Check.
Glubb included the following in his list of the characteristics of decadence:
-- an increase in frivolity, hedonism, materialism and the worship of unproductive celebrity (paging any Kardashians in the venue...)
-- a loss of social cohesion
-- willingness of an increasing number to live at the expense of a bloated bureaucratic state

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange's mother, Christine Assange, tweeted - and then deleted - what many believe to be a suggestion that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich "leaked docs proving corruption."
In response to the question "why did Julian publish damning docs against Hillary at such a crucial time which gave Humpty Dumpty Trump the upper hand?" Christine Assange replied "Its the duty of media to inform citizens about corruption," adding "a #DNC #Bernie supporter disgruntled with rigging leaked docs proving corruption."
"What should Wikileaks should have done? Hold on to them till after the election to advantage #Hillary?" she continued, adding "You are shooting the messenger!"

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-21/internet-buzzing-after-julian-assanges-mother-implicates-seth-rich-dnc-leak

Dmitry Orlov was there for the collapse of the Soviet Empire, and gives perspective:
All empires follow a certain trajectory. Over time they become corrupt, decadent and enfeebled, and then they collapse. When they collapse, there are two ways to go. One is to slog through a millennium-long dark age—as Western Europe did after the Western Roman Empire collapsed. Another is for a different empire, or a cooperating set of empires, to take over, as happened after the Ottoman Empire collapsed. You may think that a third way exists: of small nations cooperating sweetly and collaborating successfully on international infrastructure projects that serve the common good. Such a scheme may be possible, but I tend to take a jaundiced view of our simian natures...
What everyone seems to want is a humble, low-budget, cooperative global empire, without all of the corruption and with a lot less life-threatening militarism...
But it is doubtful that these attempts will work. The EU has been too slow in recognizing just how pernicious its dependence on Washington has become, and will take even more time to find ways to free itself, but the process has clearly started. For its part, Washington runs on money, and since its current antics will tend to make money grow scarce even faster than it otherwise would, those who stand to lose the most will make the Washingtonians feel their pain and will force a change of course. As a result, everyone will be pushing in the same direction: toward a slow, steady, controllable imperial collapse. All we can hope for is that the rest of the world manages to come together and build at least the scaffolding of a functional imperial replacement in time to avoid collapsing into a new post-imperial dark age.  

Beating that horse even deader, here is Jim Kunstler on the current and future imperial rulers and hoy-ploy.
The one thing he has truly accomplished is driving his opponents in the overclass out of their gourds with loathing and resentment. (The term, overclass was minted, I believe by the excellent essayist Michael Lind.) It’s a wonderfully inclusive term in that it describes basically everyone who is not in the underclass — that now-dreadful realm of tattooed diabetics moiling in the war memorial auditoriums and minor league ball parks for their hero and leader to descend like Deus ex Machinain the presidential helicopter to remind them how much they’re winning.
Meanwhile, the class of former winners-turned-losers — the Silicon Valley executives, the Hollywood movers and shakers, the Brooklyn Hipsters, the Ivy League faculties, the Deep State guideline writers, the K-Street consultants, the yoga ladies of Fairfield County, Connecticut, the acolytes of Oprah Winfrey and Elizabeth Warren — resort to righteous litigation in their crusade to restore the proper order of rule in this land. When they come to power, the shining city will be at hand….
I kind of doubt it. The truth is, all current winners and losers are living in the shadow of a financial system that doesn’t really work anymore, because it doesn’t represent the reality of wealth that is no longer there. The consolation, perhaps, is that there will be plenty for all those who survive the collapse of that system to do when the time comes. But it will be in a disposition of things and of power that we can’t possibly recognize from where we stand these days.

More on the consortium of American political "winners" and "losers" from Tom Luongo, via Tom K. 
Y'all may recall how the "Dixiecrats" used to be a thing, the party of-not-Lincoln in the south, until Kennedy and Johnson advanced civil rights and did away with Jim Crow, against the working southern whites "deplorable" class of that day. Since George Wallace could never make the jump to the White House, but had consolidated a lot of voters, Richard Nixon worked his "Southern Strategy" and the "Party of Lincoln" became the party of status-quo-racial-stratification. It was way watered down from Jim Crow, but it was the option provided, and Texas went Republican after Johnson. 
In recent years, the Democratic Party has felt that it "owned" black votes, and could have some token black Democratic Party officials as "thought leaders". speak politically correctly, complain about Republican racism, and do what it pleased with global multinational corporations to gut jobs for black working people and small farmers. "Mission Accomplished!". Donald Trump is offering some things that appeal to industrious non-corporate blacks as much as they appeal to industrious non-corporate whites. Unbiased-deplorable-appeal-Trump... 
Rasmussen released a bombshell report on Friday stating that Trump’s support among black voters is now a whopping 36%.
This versus 19% a year ago. Go back to Trump’s polling with black voters just a few months ago and you’ll see numbers in the 17% range.
Today 36%.  That, my friends, is crossing the chasm in a big way.

And it’s typical.  Italy’s Northern League ‘crossed the chasm’ in January and doubled support in six months.

Greeks have government debt of 190% GDP, no way to service it, and all their "assets" have been sold to foreign corporations. Greece has been collapsed, but the Greeks have the breath of life in them. What avenue will present itself? (I like the idea of Greece and Turkey aligning for a "New Byzantium" or something.) Eleni sends this from (Southerner) Paul Craig Roberts:
The declaration that the Greek crisis is over is merely a statement that there is nothing left to extract from the Greek people for the interest of the foreign banks. Greece is sinking fast. All of the income associated with sea ports, airport, municipal utilities, and the rest of public property that was forcibly privatized now belongs to foreigners who take the money out of the country, thus further driving down the Greek economy.

​The $US is the solvent that the Empire uses to extract wealth from the periphery, and keep it weakened.​ Will it be borrowed widely in 2020?
Despite all efforts of Russia, China, Iran and other countries to shift away from US dollar dependence for international trade and finance, the dollar remains still unchallenged as world central bank reserve currency, some 63% of all BIS central bank reserves. Moreover almost 88% of daily foreign currency trades are in US dollars. Most all oil trade, gold and commodity trades are denominated in dollars. Since the Greek crisis in 2011 the Euro has not been a serious rival for reserve currency hegemony. Its share in reserves are about 20% today.
Since the 2008 financial crisis the dollar and the importance of the Fed have expanded to unprecedented levels. This is only now beginning to be appreciated as the world begins to feel for the first time since 2008 real dollar shortages, meaning a much higher cost to borrow more dollars to refinance old dollar debt. The peak for total emerging market dollar debt falling due comes in 2019, with more than 1.3 trillion dollars maturing.
Here comes the trap. The Fed is not only hinting it will raise US Fed funds rates more aggressively later this year into next. It is also reducing the amount of US Treasury debt it bought after the 2008 crisis, so-called QT or Quantitative Tightening.


​Germany proposes a non-dollar Global Payment System​:

Wait! What do I think about all this? Let me check Facebook... Oh, OK. Glad that's handy.
The FireEye report Facebook acted on notes:
FireEye has identified a suspected influence operation that appears to originate from Iran aimed at audiences in the U.S., U.K., Latin America, and the Middle East. This operation is leveraging a network of inauthentic news sites and clusters of associated accounts across multiple social media platforms to promote political narratives in line with Iranian interests. These narratives include anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Iran, such as the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA). 
...Based on an investigation by FireEye Intelligence’s Information Operations analysis team, we assess with moderate confidence that this activity originates from Iranian actors.
The evidence FireEye presents is quite thin. The purpose of its inquest and report is obviously self-promotion.
Moon of Alabama is also promoting anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes. It supports the JCPOA deal. This is, according to FireEye, "in line with Iranian interests". It may well be. But does that make Moon of Alabama a "suspected influence operation"? Is it an "inauthentic news site"?
Is the @MoonofA Twitter account showing "coordinated inauthentic behavior" when it promotes the pieces presented on this site? We, by the way, assess with high confidence
​ ​
that that this activity originates from a German actor. Is that a reason to shut it down?
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/08/facebook-kills-inauthentic-foreign-news-accounts-us-propaganda-stays-alive.html#more

​Arguably Deplorable​

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What'cha Cookin'

Mark of Cain,

Facebook's Secret User Reputation Score is part of the content-censorship algorithm being used. COOL! How can we tweak 'em? I'll say what's "true".
“For example, if someone previously gave us feedback that an article was false and the article was confirmed false by a fact-checker, then we might weight that person’s future false news feedback more than someone who indiscriminately provides false news feedback on lots of articles, including ones that end up being rated as true.”
Wigs sends this perspective piece, which I have excerpted.​ (Zuckerberg ain't in the CFR, that I can tell, though...)

Largely unbeknownst to the general public, executives and top journalists of almost all major US news outlets have long been members of the influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Established in 1921 as a private, bipartisan organization to “awaken America to its worldwide responsibilities”, the CFR and its close to 5000 elite members have for decades shaped U.S. foreign policy and public discourse about it. As a well-known Council member famously explained, they transformed the American republic into a global empire, albeit a “bene­volent” one.
In a column entitled “Ruling Class Journalists”, former Washington Post senior editor and ombudsman Richard Harwood described the Council and its members approvingly as “the nearest thing we have to a ruling establishment in the United States”.
Harwood continued: “The membership of these journalists in the Council, however they may think of themselves, is an acknowledgment of their active and important role in public affairs and of their ascension into the American ruling class. They do not merely analyze and interpret foreign policy for the United States; they help make it. () They are part of that establishment whether they like it or not, sharing most of its values and world views.”
K​
ey members of the private Council on Foreign Relations have included:
several U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents of both parties;
almost all Secretaries of State, Defense, and the Treasury;
many high-ranking commanders of the U.S. military and NATO;
some of the most influential Members of Congress (notably in foreign & security policy);
almost all National Security Advisors, CIA Directors, Ambassadors to the U.N., Chairs of the Federal Reserve, Presidents of the World Bank, and Directors of the National Economic Council;
many prominent academics, especially in key fields such as Economics and Political Science;
many top executives of Wall Street, policy think tanks, universities, and NGOs;
as well as the key members of both the 9/11 Commission and the Warren Commission (JFK)
Harvard economist and Kennedy supporter, John K. Galbraith, confirmed the Council’s influence: “Those of us who had worked for the Kennedy election were tolerated in the government for that reason and had a say, but foreign policy was still with the Council on Foreign Relations people.”
“The directors of the CFR make up a sort of Presidium for that part of the Establishment that guides our destiny as a nation. () [I]t rarely fails to get one of its members, or at least one of its allies, into the White House. In fact, it generally is able to see to it that both nominees are men acceptable to it.”
It was not until the 2016 election that the Council couldn’t, apparently, prevail. At any rate, not yet.

The software behemoth Microsoft Corp wants to gain an insider view on candidates and election campaigns at the federal, state and local level. The Seattle based company now offers a "special cybersecurity protection" to those candidates and campaigns that use its Office 365, Outlock or  Hotmail cloud services. Those who take up the offer will put their emails, internal strategy papers and financial records onto Microsoft owned and administrated servers where Microsoft personal will have a special eye on them.
​.. ​
All internet companies that offer services "free of charge" will use the data they acquire through these services for their own needs. They might use it to sell advertisements, to train 'artificial intelligence' networks they can resell, or to get insight into issues that might effect their bottom line.
There is no free lunch.

This analysis of the market positions in gold trading since 2000 ("Brown's Bottom Backwardation") is very helpful, not obscuring things at all. The 2008 crisis followed 7 years of gold bull market. I remember I could not understand why gold was going down that summer, with such sketchiness in the markets. People were selling their gold positions, largely futures, to pay bills coming due. There were a whole lot of leveraged longs. Right now, 7 years into a gold bear market, there are a preponderance of leveraged shorts in the market. Latest (weekly Friday evening release) data shows that gold positions last Tuesday were net short. Those positions will lose at leverage unless gold goes down further, and they may double down to fight that. Some of that likely did already happen between Tuesday and Friday last week. By the end of this month, a lot of that may appear as a forced short-covering-rally in gold, as leveraged shorts arre forced to actually buy, to cover their bets coming due. The author looks at prices of dollars in milligrams of gold. Which has a usefulness. He always explains things. The narrative was easier for me than some of the unfamiliar charts.

US/China trade talk 4th round happens 8/22/18. I predict the current (unofficial) truce on Yuan-Gold peg will be extended to anything that would disrupt the global economy going into November elections in the US. (Polish this turd!)
So is there any hope that tomorrows 4th meeting between the two trade delegations will finally reach a breakthrough?​ Y​es, but as both sides admit, it all rests on what Trump will say or do, which in turn may be determined by how confident the president is as he enters the final midterm elections stretch: if the GOP is seen as losing momentum, Trump may have no choice but to yield especially as US farmers and producers growing increasingly frustrated with Trump's tariffs. Alternatively, if Trump is confident he has the upper hand, the 4th trade meeting between China and the US will end exactly like the prior three...

​Hothouse Earth author says (as have many) that neoliberal economics prevents any change to the status quo, which is grinding forward, chewing up a world of "inputs" into a world of waste-products and "profits". That's what it does.​

Charles sends "The Social Ideology of the Motorcar", by Andre' Gorz, written in 1973. (Damn! What's the use-by-date on this thing?)
Ivan Illich sums up the effect in these startling figures: “The typical American devotes more than 1500 hours a year (which is 30 hours a week, or 4 hours a day, including Sundays) to his [or her] car. This includes the time spent behind the wheel, both in motion and stopped, the hours of work to pay for it and to pay for gas, tires, tolls, insurance, tickets, and taxes .Thus it takes this American 1500 hours to go 6000 miles (in the course of a year). Three and a half miles take him (or her) one hour. In countries that do not have a transportation industry, people travel at exactly this speed on foot, with the added advantage that they can go wherever they want and aren’t restricted to asphalt roads.”

M
​ichigan​ Health Chief will go to trial on Involuntary Manslaughter Charges, as Flint water continues to kill people. Thanks Jeanine.

According to the study undertaken by Inacio Pereira Lima, a master's student in Women's Health at the Federal University of Piaui's (UFPI) Center of Health and Sciences, 83.4 percent of the breast milk samples were found to contain glyphosate or aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) or both substances.

​Hello Worlds, Mark P Xu Neyer
This essay and the Moody Blues song, In The Beginning both present Artificial Intelligence becoming self-aware in a sensitive and humanistic light. 
Mostly, we see The Terminator, and for good reason, but this thoughtfulness contains a seed of something, more than just our own self awareness, something I can't put my finger on...
​Unmarked Vehicle​

Monday, August 20, 2018

Believe Robots

Reading Entrails,

I am working with​in​ the hypothesis that the Chinese Yuan peg to gold has been negotiated last Friday, and will no longer be contested. The Friday gold market-price graph shows an eerie straight line climb of $7-8/oz in the last 150 min, upon which nobody comments (like WTC #7). That higher level has held today and is climbing. The CNY peg appeared to be around 8200 CNY per oz. and was embattled all last week, though China can clearly hold it, and the battle is now off. I have been following this on my blog since 8/11/18 Gold Peg War.Look at Kitco gold http://www.kitco.com/charts/popup/au24hr3day.html
Look at Gold Price China https://goldprice.org/gold-price-china.html
The bottom is in for gold, and the Chinese Yuan is fixed to it around 8100 – 8200 CNY/oz
This is necessarily the beginning of the end of the $US as global reserve currency. Who would want to borrow in dollars that bite your fingers off next time around? While people owe dollars, and the countries who already borrowed in Dollars, largely non-Chinese Asians, are feeling the stress of reduced dollar supply, really need them to pay what they owe, borrowing in something neutral, not weaponized, will be a better choice in the next round of economic borrowing.
The $US will undergo inflation, as it did in the 1970s, likely stagflation again. Before that, we will get the second-leg-down of the 2008 crisis, which I expect to hit the top 5% pretty hard in their assets. There will need to be some kind of Bernie-Sanders social compact for most people, with Medicare for All, legal pot, and maybe iPhones and bicycles. Will the crash happen before, during or after November?
And this will go badly:  As Peter Boockvar notes, "for those who care about gold such as myself, in the just released CFTC data for the week ended Tuesday, speculators went net short for the first time since December 2001 when gold was priced at $275 an ounce. It’s tough to find a more contrarian indicator."
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-18/gundlach-warns-bond-bears-massive-increase-shorts-could-cause-quite-squeeze

The Saker: Sanctions, Sanctions, Sanctions, The Finale Demise of Dollar Hegemony?
China also has a solid economy and gold-based currency, the Yuan – which is on a fast track to overtake the US-dollar as the number one world reserve currency.
​..​
​ ​ 
This behavior by the dying empire is driving allies and friends into the opposite camp – to the east, where the future lays, away from a globalized One-World-Order, towards a healthy and more equal multi-polar world. – It would be good, if our world body, the members of the United Nations, created in the name of Peace, would finally gather the courage and stand up against the two destroyer nations for the good of humanity, of the globe, and of Mother Earth.

​Pepe Escobar usually has much better taste than he does in this piece, which styles "The Sanctioned" as a rock supergroup of yore, when T.Rex ruled the world. He closes with a link to Mott The Hoople performing All The Young Dudes in 1972. Always a good song. Pepe has a lot of good information about what all those countries hit with $US sanctions can do and are doing with each other, without dollars.
ATMs are being disappeared fast. Where's yours? Got cash? Plastic money always works. Don't worry!

What happens if smart appliances get hacked? 
Hacking 1.5% of air conditioners in summer, to control them with a botnet, can crash the grid, at least in Poland. Probably the rest of us don't have to be concerned.

This study says children quickly came to trust robots more than themselves. Grown-ups, not so much. So, safe.... right?
“People often follow the opinions of others and we’ve known for a long time that it is hard to resist taking over views and opinions of people around us. We know this as conformity. But as robots will soon be found in the home and the workplace, we were wondering if people would conform to robots,” one of the scientists behind the study,  Professor in Robotics Tony Belpaeme, explained.
“What our results show is that adults do not conform to what the robots are saying. But when we did the experiment with children, they did. It shows children can perhaps have more of an affinity with robots than adults, which does pose the question: what if robots were to suggest, for example, what products to buy or what to think?”
https://www.rt.com/news/436106-robots-influence-children-research/

Occupy London Facebook page is taken down for repeatedly violating rules against talking about the trampling of Palestinian rights by the Illegally "ocupying" Israeli colonials and military. Seems reasonable. Everybody agrees on that, right?
A Facebook page containing pro-Palestinian posts has been taken down by the social media giant. The latest in a string of pages removed by Facebook, it has renewed claims of “censorship” against the company.
The closure of the Occupy London page, which has garnered more than 150k followers since its opening in 2011, follows the “continual removal of posts related to Palestine”, an Occupy London spokesperson told The Canary.
“It feels like censorship. For months, we faced removal of posts related to Palestine. Perhaps once every few weeks or so, a post would be taken down and admins for the page were frozen out of their personal accounts. Then, today, Facebook unpublished the entire page.

​Look at what Michael Creighton has to say about censorship on his American Everyman site. Thanks Colleen.

Moon of Alabama is still up. This is actually fun and informative about necrophiliac John Brennan.
U.S President Trump revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.
Good. It is probably the best thing Trump has ever done. Brennan is one of the most despicable former U.S. officials alive. He should rot in hell instead of making money off his former status.
Abu Jihad Brennan was the CIA's station chief in Saudi Arabia. Some assert he went native, i.e. converted to Wahhabism. Brennan was in Riyadh when the Khobar Towers were bombed. Al-Qaeda did it, but Brennan was helpful in b

laming the attack on Hizbullah and Iran. He was deputy executive director of the CIA on 9/11. That 9/11 happened was an intelligence failure or, as some have it, an incident arranged by the deep state. Brennan was CIA chief of staff while the agency concocted false stories about Iraqi WMD. He was within the line of command that ran the CIA torture program. It was Brennan who conspired with the Gulf dictators to hire Jihadis to destroy Libya and to attempt the same in Syria. In short - the man was always ruthless, incompetent and dishonest.

Eric Margolis:   After 17 bloody years, the longest war in US history continues without relent or purpose in Afghanistan.
There, a valiant, fiercely-independent people, the Pashtun (Pathan) mountain tribes, have battled the full  might of the US Empire to a stalemate that has so far cost American taxpayers $4 trillion, and 2,371 dead and 20,320 wounded soldiers.  No one knows how many Afghans have died. The number is kept secret.
https://ericmargolis.com/2018/08/afghanistan-the-war-that-shames-america/

​Twilight of Empire​