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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Completely Different

Fresh Eyes,

 Naomi Klein ("Shock Doctrine") has a new book out about the need for a new and sustainable social and environmental contract, since we have outgrown the nature-is-limitless model. 
 She lays out the species-wide agreement which must be made. Industrial and financial capitalism are extractive of resources, a one-way trip to less than when you started.Economy must become broadly regenerative, which life can do. 
Life must be the basis of the "Green New Deal", not Mine-to-Landfill. Billions and billions of epiphanies need to happen. 
 Why is there not already a Green New Deal? 
We were approaching it when Reagan got elected. My own answer is that the deal is what Chinese farmers with bicycles had 40 years ago. Really good farmers, by the way... Grow vegetables!
​ ​On Fire’: In New Book, Naomi Klein Makes the Case for a Green New Deal to Save the Planet” (interview) [Democracy Now]. This part two of a multipart series (one, three, four, and five)
[KLEIN:] But it isn’t a single carbon-based policy, like a tax, you know, or cap and trade. It’s really about transforming the economy and making it fairer. Right? So, it’s battling poverty, it’s battling racism, it’s battling all forms of inequality and exclusion, at the same time as we radically lower our emissions, because we do know that if we are going to lower our emissions in time, it is going to take transformations of how we live in cities, how we move ourselves around, how we grow our food, where we get our energy from. So, essentially what the Green new Deal is saying: If we’re going to do all that, why wouldn’t we tackle all of these systemic economic and social crises at the same time? Because we live in a time of multiple, overlapping crises.​..

​(It’s not enough to know that you have a house on fire, or even that you desperately wish to extinguish it. Is the cause of the fire electrical, or not? Should we use water, or not? For our home, the earth, is the fire caused by bad ideas? White supremacy? Income disparity? Capital? And if combined, how? Surely our answer as to why there is no GND, and what we should do to get one, will vary, according to our theory of the cause of the fire? Given a theory of the fire, what is to be done? “Furious activity is no substitute for understanding,” as programmer H.H. Williams once said.​  Lambert​​)​

​This kind of thinking within the same box is never going to accomplish the human transformation into stewards of life on Earth, which is what we need to become.  
"Scientists​ Set Out How to Halve Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2030" fails to address the extractive economic model, and suggests that Google and Facebook should adjust people's thinking more effectively, so that they will embrace this necessary austerity for their own good. "Here, here's the list of what you have to do and what you have to give up to be worthy of your own life.You'll do fine." 
Nothing is said about applying this to the owners and managers first.

T​his is the third day that the Federal Reserve is coming up short with quick-pawn-cash for secure assets, like US Treasuries (and maybe some crap assets, too)​. Despite trying to get back ahead of the action, this morning's $75 billion repo auction was oversubscribed. The pawn shop did not have enough cash to satisfy the pressured supplicants.

Asymmetric-warfare-changes-everything update: 
​ ​We are the Houthis and we’re coming to town. With the spectacular attack on Abqaiq, Yemen’s Houthis have overturned the geopolitical chessboard in Southwest Asia – going as far as introducing a whole new dimension: the distinct possibility of investing in a push to drive the House of Saud out of power...
​ ​The only missile parts shown by the Saudis so far come from a Yemeni Quds 1 cruise missile. According to Brigadier General Yahya Saree, spokesman for the Sana’a-based Yemeni Armed Forces, “the Quds system proved its great ability to hit its targets and to bypass enemy interceptor systems.” ...
​ ​My conversations with sources in Tehran over the past two years have ascertained that the Houthis’ new drones and missiles are essentially copies of Iranian designs assembled in Yemen itself with crucial help from Hezbollah engineers.
 Professor Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran, who has very close relations with the Foreign Ministry, is adamant: “It didn’t come from Iran. If it did, it would be very embarrassing for the Americans, showing they are unable to detect a large number of Iranian drones and missiles. That doesn’t make sense.”...
​ ​Now we are entering a whole new dimension in asymmetric hybrid war.
​ ​In the – horrendous – event that Washington would decide to attack Iran, egged on by the usual neocon suspects, the Pentagon could never hope to hit and disable all the Iranian and/or Yemeni drones. The US could expect, for sure, all-out war. And then no ships would sail through the Strait of Hormuz. We all know the consequences of that.
​ ​Which brings us to The Big Surprise. The real reason there would be no ships traversing the Strait of Hormuz is that there would be no oil in the Gulf left to pump. The oil fields, having been bombed, would be burning.

 ​ ​In comments to reporters on Wednesday, President Trump is continuing to reject the idea of starting a war with Iran. After dismissing Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) calls, saying not starting a war was a sign of strength, he continued to roast Graham, citing Graham’s support for the Iraqi War, and saying reporters should ask “how did going into Iraq work out?“

 Russian President Vladimir Putin has during talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman called for an unbiased investigation to be carried out into the recent attack on Saudi oil facilities on 14 September, the president's press service reported.
​ ​"The issue of the attack on Saudi oil refineries has been discussed [during talks]. Vladimir Putin expressed his concern with regard to the situation and has called for conducting a thorough and unbiased investigation of the incident", the statement said.

​ ​The UN has sent its experts to Saudi Arabia to investigate the attacks on the Saudi Aramco oil refineries, AFP news agency informed, citing diplomatic sources.
Earlier, Riyadh informed that Saudi officials aim to invite international experts and UN specialists to investigate the attacks.

​Looks like foreign policy is Bolton's show and O'Brien is a worker-bee.
​ According to media reports, the US President Previously had planned to give the seat of the National Security Advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
 Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O'Brien will join his administration as a new National Security Advisor. The Californian lawyer will replace John Bolton, who left the White House last week due to disagreements with the US President and members of his team.

Starting Over

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Killer Drone Pacifism

Glass House Dwellers,

The House of Saud has ruthlessly bombed and starved poor Yemenis for the last 5 years, without fear of consequences, let alone retaliation. 
The world is hurriedly recalculating the financial implications of that Yemeni brick through the west wall of the Glass House of Saud.
​ ​The devastating blitz on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry has led to a flurry of accusations from US officials blaming Iran. The reason for the finger-pointing is simple: Washington’s spectacular failure to protect its Saudi ally.
The Trump administration needs to scapegoat Iran for the latest military assault on Saudi Arabia because to acknowledge that the Houthi rebels mounted such an audacious assault on the oil kingdom’s heartland would be an admission of American inadequacy.
​ ​Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars in recent years purchasing US Patriot missile defense systems and supposedly cutting-edge radar technology from the Pentagon. If the Yemeni rebels can fly combat drones up to 1,000 kilometers into Saudi territory and knock out the linchpin production sites in the kingdom’s oil industry, then that should be a matter of huge embarrassment for US “protectors.”
​ ​American defense of Saudi Arabia is germane to their historical relationship. Saudi oil exports nominated in dollars for trade – the biggest on the planet – are vital for maintaining the petrodollar global market, which is in turn crucial for American economic power. In return, the US is obligated to be a protector of the Saudi monarchy, which comes with the lucrative added benefit of selling the kingdom weapons worth billions of dollars every year.
​ ​According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Saudi Arabia has the world’s third biggest military budget, behind the US and China.

​This is just going to get more embarrassing with each passing day...
​ ​Saudi Arabia revealed yesterday that, contrary to its initial estimates, Aramco should be able to restore oil production to 100% capacity by the end of the month. And on Wednesday morning, the kingdom's Defense Ministry said it was planning a press conference to present "material evidence" purportedly linking Tehran to the unprecedented attack on the Kingdom's oil infrastructure.
​ ​The country's defense ministry will hold a news conference later in the day laying out new evidence. This follows reports from the US claiming that the roughly 20 missiles and drones used in the attack had been traced back to a 'launch site' in southern Iran.

​Japan says they don't know of any evidence that Iran attacked Saudi Arabia, and believe that the Yemenis did it, like they said. 
(It could be more than one attack, and Israel could have done the second one. Yemen made 10 holes. Who made the other 7 holes?)​

  ​Iran tells Saudi Arabia it should see missile strike on its oil facilities as a WARNING and end its war with Yemen  
​Sounds like reasonable advice. The House of Saud should pay for some food, medicine, electricity, water, sewer, and hospitals, too.  

​There is a sudden desperate rush for $US right away, and nobody can seem to say why. There may be panic in covering some kind of speculation, which we might presume has flipped negative from the successful cheap-Yemeni-drone attacks on the big Saudi refinery. 
What cascading repercussions are underway now?

Trump talks big to move financial markets (and Israeli elections?), then quietly moves to reduce actual risk.
​ ​It appears oil markets just heard that one - since the early Saturday attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities talk of war has been on the table, especially given President Trump's initial "locked and loaded" threat - however it now seems certain there will be no war, given the president has announced new sanctions.
"I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!" Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

​Trump names Mormon Hostage Negotiator, Robert O'Brien to National Security Adviser post. (whazzat gonna mean?)​
It looks like he has a lot of experience negotiating settlements for blowback-damage mitigation. Negotiate with Iran?

​We are members of nature, participants in the web of life on Earth, not separate owners/managers of lifeless property. Grow vegetables.
​ In the Anthropocene, we are seeing more and more how the fates of humanity and nature are intertwined. Governments and corporations have developed such control over the natural systems they exploit that they are destabilising the fundamental chemistry of the global climate system. As a result, inhospitable heat, rising seas, and increasingly frequent and extreme weather events will render millions of humans and animals refugees.

What actual steps need to be taken to consider Green New Deal concepts as the basis for a long term, sustainable economy, that will support global life forms and healthy ecosystems? What is the next step after Sparkle-Pony?
 But here is the problem. Increases in the scale of economic activity (as conventionally measured in terms of GDP) are associated with increases in the throughput of energy and materials, and these increases have involved increased emissions of greenhouse gases, resulting primarily from the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. Green growth, requires that this association between GDP and GHG emissions must cease to exist: this is known as ‘decoupling’. It is doubtful whether any developed country has achieved this at the scale and permanence required (Burton and Somerville 2019, pp. 99–101), especially when international shipping and aviation plus embodied carbon in imports are taken into account (Anderson 2019)...
  So the desired, clean, growth of the economy has undesirable implications in terms of additional resource and energy use. Clean begets dirty...
  So far, increases in renewable energy deployment have not led to a reduction in fossil fuel usage globally. Overall their deployment has been to add to the global energy mix rather than replacing fossil fuels. Moreover, it is doubtful whether renewables can provide the scale of concentrated energy used by the current global economy: the constraints are less in the power that could theoretically be generated from natural flows than in the minerals needed to deploy them: minerals used in generators and motors, in batteries and in electronics, as well as copper for transmission of power (García-Olivares 2015). These are finite and with limited substitutability. The revolution will be low powered, so the Green Deal has to factor in a plan for energy descent...
...You can’t create minerals from sunlight. These economic consequences of the increasing scarcity and inaccessibility of most minerals and metals need to be addressed in any credible Green Deal, yet there is almost no discussion of this crucial reality in any of the proposals, nor of the ‘hidden’ resource intensive demands of new technology...
 “Four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a result of human activity:
Two of these, climate change and biosphere integrity, are what the scientists call ‘core boundaries’. Significantly altering either of these “core boundaries” would “drive the Earth System into a new state”...
  Some advocates suggest that the GND be funded through money created by government especially for this purpose – by electronically printing money.
​ ​In all these cases, the advance of money for investment ultimately requires ongoing expansion of capital, the modus operandi of the capitalist system, founded on the expropriation of surplus value in the labour process, which we know as economic growth. Without expansion, there is no, or insufficient, return on the outlay.
Despite the claims of some GND advocates, Green Deals are predicated on the expansion of GDP and as we saw, we can’t rely on that to decouple from material impacts.
​ ​That is, unless another way can be found. There are some indications that this might be possible.
Resource and energy caps.
Review evidence that credit needn’t imply growth.
Take production out of private ownership.
Redirect unnecessary expenditure.​ 
Substitute material production with social & environmental stewardship / “dépense”.

​Hostage For Life​

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Laughing Nervously

Reported by Russians.

​ ​Hawaii Congresswoman and Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard took a shot at President Donald Trump after he tweeted about the US being “locked and loaded” and ready to respond pending Saudi conclusions on who was responsible for this weekend’s drone attacks against the country’s oil supplies.
​ ​Trump: Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!
​ ​Gabbard: Trump awaits instructions from his Saudi masters. Having our country act as Saudi Arabia's bitch is not "America First."  

​The US has made impressive, expensive offensive weapons and platforms, which were profitable for the military-industrial-complex. Russia and Iran have long had to find cheap ways to make do and defend themselves from attack, and also to create deterrent's to attack. US and allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel are having to suddenly come to terms with these capabilities. (No, Mr. President, you don't want an open war with Iran, nor do your regional allies, now that they see what that might mean.)
​ ​Yesterday, during a press conference in Ankara with his Turkish and Iranian colleagues, Putin trolled Saudi Arabia (video @38:20) with a similar offer as he had made to Trump:
Q: Does Russia intend to provide Saudi Arabia with any help or support in restoring its infrastructure?
Putin: As for assisting Saudi Arabia, it is also written in the Quran that violence of any kind is illegitimate except when protecting one’s people. In order to protect them and the country, we are ready to provide the necessary assistance to Saudi Arabia. All the political leaders of Saudi Arabia have to do is take a wise decision, as Iran did by buying the S-300 missile system, and as President Erdogan did when he bought Russia’s latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft system. They would offer reliable protection for any Saudi infrastructure facilities.
President of Iran Hassan Rouhani: So do they need to buy the S-300 or the S-400?
Vladimir Putin: It is up to them to decide.
Erdogan, Rouhani and Putin all laughed over this exchange.

​The Pantsir Missile System and sophisticated electronic jamming measures are what you need to defend your refineries and nuclear reactors from swarms of cheap drones carrying bombs. Too bad nobody makes that stuff... except Russia, of course.​  

​Bedtime for Bibi: 
Netanyahu basically lost the Israeli election, because he needed an absolute majority in the Knesset to get around the legal process which will put him in prison for some of the crimes that he and his wife Sarah did. 
No party got a majority. A lot more dancing will be done before there is a new Israeli gub'mint.
Initial exit polls Tuesday reportedly indicate Netanyahu failed to secure a parliamentary majority. And while Israel's three major television stations had challenger Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party holding a slight lead over Netanyahu's Likud party, neither will reportedly be able to control a majority in the Knesset — at least without the support of former Netanyahu ally Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party, which refused to join Netanyahu's coalition in April. Lieberman may very well end up playing the role of kingmaker.

​Now that Israeli voting is over... Only two of these candidates have the military background for National Security Adviser. Bolton never did.
President Trump Tuesday afternoon revealed to reporters his short list of candidates to replace former national security adviser John Bolton. He presented his "top 5 candidates" which had been whittled down from 15 he was previously reported to be considering.
Per Axios the finalists are:
Top hostage negotiator Robert O'Brien

Former deputy national security adviser Ricky Waddell​ ​
(yeah, Major General, but sleazy career​ in central America​)  
Department of Energy Under Secretary for Nuclear Security Lisa Gordon-Hagerty
Bolton's former chief of staff Fred Fleitz
Vice President Mike Pence's national security adviser Keith Kellogg.

​What if the North and the South both had nuclear weapons during the American Civil War?​
​ ​Risking further inflaming tensions over Kashmir, a chief minister in the Indian state of Gujarat warned Pakistan to brace for losing its part of the contested state to New Delhi as it is ready to ‘re-unite’ pre-1947 India.
​ ​Islamabad “should be ready to lose Pakistani-occupied Kashmir,” Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was quoted as saying by local media, using the Indian term for the disputed territory. The bellicose remark came weeks after India stripped Jammu and Kashmir region of its autonomous status, which the minister said provides an opening for Indian territorial claims.
​ ​Now, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) too is ours ... For fulfilling the dream of united India, we are ready to move forward for PoK.
​ ​Both countries were part of British India until the 1947 partition which triggered bitter sectarian divides and led to the Kashmir dispute. India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full, but control only parts of it.
​ ​They fought a number of conventional wars, along with several border skirmishes, most recently this February.

Pakistani PM Khan hints at nuking India in ‘surrender-or-death’ scenario​  ​(Well, there's always THAT...)

​Since wars just got un-winnable in yet another unexpectedly cheap way, how's about we all play Good-Guy and save the earth from global warming by winding this shit down? 
What'cha say? War Machines are destroying the environment worse than just about anything. 
Let's all start slowly walking backwards...
“Before this political civilization came to its power and opened its hungry jaws wide enough to gulp down great continents of the earth,” Tagore wrote in “On Nationalism,” his 1917 book of essays, “we had wars, pillages, changes of monarchy and consequent miseries. But never such a sight of fearful and hopeless voracity, such wholesale feeding of nation upon nation, such huge machines for turning great portions of the earth into mincemeat, never such terrible jealousies with all their ugly teeth and claws ready for tearing open each other’s vitals.”  
At the time of his writing, World War I was underway. Tagore saw that conflict as the first of the modern wars that showed us the great power we had gained to destroy the natural world along with our fellow humans. The massive military industries created during that conflict pointed to an even more inhuman future that might be in store.

​There's this other big problem, but it's related to the weaponization of agriculture that Henry Kissinger and Earl Butz figured out for Richard Nixon to help keep-America-great after losing Vietnam and running out of gold.
​ ​The public is providing more than $1m per minute in global farm subsidies, much of which is driving the climate crisis and destruction of wildlife, according to a new report.
​ ​Just 1% of the $700bn (£560bn) a year given to farmers is used to benefit the environment, the analysis found. Much of the total instead promotes high-emission cattle production, forest destruction and pollution from the overuse of fertiliser.
​ ​The security of humanity is at risk without reform to these subsidies, a big reduction in meat eating in rich nations and other damaging uses of land, the report says. But redirecting the subsidies to storing carbon in soil, producing healthier food, cutting waste and growing trees is a huge opportunity, it says.
​ ​The report rejects the idea that subsidies are needed to supply cheap food. It found that the cost of the damage currently caused by agriculture is greater than the value of the food produced.

​Living Cheaply​

Monday, September 16, 2019

Global Resource War

Externally Combusting,

Moon of Alabama has more about the Houthi attack with drones and cruise missiles on the largest refinery complex in the world, which is taking about half of Saudi oil production offline, a 5% reduction in world supply.
Abqaiq processes 6.8 million barrels of crude oil each day. More than two thirds of all Saudi oil and gas production runs through it. It is not clear yet how much of the widespread facility was destroyed.  

​Satellite images say it will take months to fix the extensive damage done by the drones and cruise missiles.

Moon of Alabama has more specific details of the precisely targeted damage today.
Damage At Saudi Oil Plant Points To Well Targeted Swarm Attack
Saturday's attack on the Saudi oil and gas processing station in Abqaiq hit its stabilization facility:
​ The stabilization process is a form of partial distillation which sweetens "sour" crude oil (removes the hydrogen sulfide) and reduces vapor pressure, thereby making the crude oil safe for shipment in tankers. Stabilizers maximize production of valuable hydrocarbon liquids, while making the liquids safe for storage and transport, as well as reduce the atmospheric emissions of volatile hydrocarbons. Stabilizer plants are used to reduce the volatility of stored crude oil and condensate.
​ ​The pictures show some 17 points of impact. There are cars visible in the second more detailed picture that demonstrate the gigantic size of the place. The targets were carefully selected. At least 11 of those were egg shaped tanks with a diameter of some 30 meter (100 foot). These are likely tanks for pressurized (liquidized) gas that receive the condensate vapor from the stabilization process. They all have now quite neat holes in their upper shells.
​ ​The piping to and from the egg shaped tanks shows that these were configured in groups with double redundancy. Two tanks beside each other share one piping system. Two of such twin tanks are next to each other with lines to their processing train. There are a total of three such groups. Damage to any one tank or group would not stop the production process. The products would be routed to another similar tank or group. But with all tanks of this one special type taken out the production chain is now interrupted.

​ ​Two processing areas were hit and show fire damage. At least the control equipment of both was likely completely destroye​d..​.
​ ​The hits were extremely precise. The Yemeni armed forces claimed it attacked the facility with 10 drones (or cruise missiles). But the hits on these targets look like neither. A total of 17 hits with such precise targeting lets me assume that these were some kind of drones or missiles with man-in-the-loop control. They may have been launched from within Saudi Arabia.​ (Distant launch with nearby control?)
​ ​There is no information yet on the damage in Khurais, the second target of the attacks.
​ ​The U.S. and Israel are able to commit such attacks. Iran probably too. Yemen seems unlikely to have this capability without drawing on extensive support from elsewhere. The planing for this operation must have taken months.​..
U.S. President Donald Trump was way more careful in attributing the strike than his Secretary of State.
​ ​Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 0:50 UTC · Sep 16, 2019
​ ​Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but ​ ​are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!
​ ​Any direct attack on Iran would result in swarms of missiles hitting U.S. military installations in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Saudi water desalination plants, refineries and ports would also be targets.
It is doubtful that Trump or the Saudis are ready to risk such a response.​..
​ ​Saudi Arabia has no defenses against this kind of attacks. The U.S. has no system that could be used for that purpose. Russia is the only country that can provide the necessary equipment. It would be extremely costly, and still insufficient, to protect all of the Saudi's vital facilities from similar swarm attacks.
​ ​Attacks of this kind will only end when Saudi Arabia makes peace with Yemen and when the U.S. ends its sanctions of oil exports from Iran. As Iran's President Rouhani said:
“If one day they want to prevent the export of Iran’s oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf”  

Houthis Say It's Not Over - Saudi Oil "Still Within Range"; Iraq Denies Its Territory Used
​ ​While US officials were quick out of the gate to allege an Iranian attack on Saudi Aramco facilities launched from Iraq early Saturday, a theory which the WSJ said was focus of an ongoing US-Saudi investigation, Iraq's government issued a firm denial on Sunday, which followed Iran's own denial that condemned Washington's "maximum lies".
​ ​Saying there was no link to Iraqi soil and the attack which caused oil prices to spike to record levels the moment markets opened, initially surging to as much as 18% before retreating after President Trump authorized use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to "keep the markets well-supplied," the Iraqi government further vowed to “punish anyone who intended to use Iraq as a launchpad for attacks in the region.”
​ ​Despite Yemen's Houthis themselves claiming responsibility for the precision strike using ten drones, unleashing explosions that rocked Abqaiq facility and the Khurais field, US officials have long eyed Iraq's Shia paramilitary forces also as bad actors which Iran deploys as proxies from Iraqi soil.  

​"Iranian Weapons Used", Saudi Arabia (Duh)​
​ ​Update: It's official — after Trump over the weekend put the ball squarely in the Saudis' court, saying the US was "waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!" — Saudi Arabia has responded by saying it was indeed Iran, confirming that "Iranian weapons" were used to attack its oil facilities.
​ ​After the US apparently ruled out Iraq as a launching pad on Monday, following Baghdad's firm denial, it looks like Riyadh appears to be pointing to a potential direct cruise missile or drone attack from Iran.

​Ilargi at The Automatic Earth, It's a "New World Order", Alright:​
​ ​Those winds just keep on shifting, no matter that the western press either doesn’t see them shift, doesn’t recognize them for what they are, or chooses to ignore them. But these winds bring tidings of a tectonic plate-shaking shift in the global political climate.
​ ​The fires in Saudi oil installations, whether they were caused by drones or missiles, and whoever fired those, are a major story, and rightly so, because they could shake up economies in drastic ways. But they may still, not be the biggest story after all.
​ ​Last Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to annex the Jordan Valley (already occupied territory, 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israeli settlers live there). He did that to steal votes from the far right in next Tuesday’s (Sep. 17) Knesset election. “Bibi” also called Donald Trump his “friend” every second word for that same purpose. Trump responded in kind. He may come to regret that. Choose your friends wisely.

​Charles Hugh Smith says "The Black Swan is a Drone":
What was "possible" yesterday is now a low-cost proven capability, and the consequences are far from predictable.
Predictably, the mainstream media is serving up heaping portions of reassurances that the drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities are no big deal and full production will resume shortly. The obvious goal is to placate global markets fearful of an energy disruption that could tip a precarious global economy into recession.
The real impact isn't on short-term oil prices, it's on asymmetric warfare: the coordinated drone attack on Saudi oil facilities is a Black Swan event
that is reverberating around the world, awakening copycats and exposing the impossibility of defending against low-cost drones of the sort anyone can buy.
(Some published estimates place the total cost of the 10 drones deployed in the strike at $15,000. Highly capable commercially available drones cost around $1,200 each.)
The attack's success should be a wake-up call to everyone tasked with defending highly flammable critical infrastructure: there really isn't any reliable defense against a coordinated drone attack, nor is there any reliable way to distinguish between an Amazon drone delivering a package and a drone delivering a bomb.  

​Eleni sent thi "End of Israel" article by Gilad Atzmon a few days ago. It is staggering how much deep mistrust and fear of other Israeli Jews exists among Jewish political factions. Bibi can lose tomorrow, too. Then what?​

Gail Tverberg looks at the complex interwoven relationship between cheap oil/energy and cheap debt, to stimulate productive economy. Energy got more expensive, so interest rates had to come down (but can't really be paid off). That is now towards the end of it's rope. Not mentioned here is that Saudi oil has supported the Petro-Dollar since Nixon/Kissinger made those deals with King Faisal.
​ ​All of the problems listed above are manifestations of an economy that is not producing sufficient total return. The laws of physics distribute the problem to many areas of the economy, simultaneously.
​ ​A person wonders what could be ahead. We seem to be reaching the end of the line regarding the takedown of interest rates, as shown in Figure 13. If a takedown in interest rates is possible, it acts as a relief valve for some of the other problems the economy is facing, including too much wage disparity and energy prices that are too low for producers.
​ ​In Section [10], we saw that when the relief valve of lower interest rates had disappeared, wars and depressions have taken place. We can’t know the precise outcome this time, but our current situation doesn’t look good. Will we encounter wars, or a serious depression, or financial problems worse than 2008? We can’t know for certain. Or will we somehow find a way around serious problems?

​The Long Now, Make, Protect, Teach, by Ben Hunt
Epsilon Theory site does not post a lot, but when it does post, it is worthy of deep consideration.
Romania may have been worse in some ways than Germany and the USSR in the Depresion/WW-2 epoch. 
Impossible to say, isn't it?​
A book was written where the citizens of a town turned into rhinoceroses one by one, until only one non-rhino was left, alone, in a destroyed town. Oddly, after a few citizens morphed, it became accepted as fairly normal. It matters not if this is left totalitarianism or right totalitarianism, the human pattern is the same. Normal humans change to become murderers, as in The Killing Fields. Normal. We can do this. Ben thinks we should nurture what is good and creative for the future that will come some distant day, after The Long Now. I agree. Details have not happened yet.

On a brighter note, go outside and exercise. It's good for your health and state of mind. (It's what Mother Nature expected of you, too.)

Outside Dog

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Rumors Of Wars

Interested Parties,

Remember how Reagan's "Star Wars" was designed to bankrupt the USSR as it tried to keep pace? Kupperman said what many thought.
​ ​President Donald Trump’s acting national security adviser, former Reagan administration official Charles Kupperman, made an extraordinary and controversial claim in the early 1980s: nuclear conflict with the USSR was winnable and that “nuclear war is a destructive thing but still in large part a physics problem.”
​ ​Kupperman, appointed to his new post on Tuesday after Trump fired his John Bolton from the job, argued it was possible to win a nuclear war “in the classical sense,” and that the notion of total destruction stemming from such a superpower conflict was inaccurate. He said that in a scenario in which 20 million people died in the U.S. as opposed to 150 million, the nation could then emerge as the stronger side and prevail in its objectives.
​ ​His argument was that with enough planning and civil defense measures, such as “a certain layer of dirt and some reinforced construction materials,” the effects of a nuclear war could be limited and that U.S. would be able to fairly quickly rebuild itself after an all-out conflict with the then-Soviet Union.
​ ​At the time, Kupperman was executive director of President Ronald Reagan’s General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament. He made the comments during an interview with Robert Scheer for the journalist’s 1982 book, “With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush, and Nuclear War.”

​Eleni sent this. Tuesday's vote in Israel determines if Bibi stays in power or goes to prison. 
He's in a tight spot. Putin and Trump have more leverage than usual.​
Israeli Attacks On Syria Halted After Russia Threatened To Shoot Down Jets

​Eleni also sent this, about how Sheldon Adelson (and Bibi Netanyahu) need Trump right now.​ (Adelson looks like a zombie.)
Sheldon Adelson needs Donald Trump more than Trump needs Adelson (no kidding!)
​ ​Donald Trump fired the fire-breathing national security adviser John Bolton. Bolton was gifted to the Trump administration in 2018 by Sheldon Adelson, Trump's biggest donor, and Trump duly ended the Iran deal once Bolton came aboard.
​ ​Now Trump has fired Bolton, thereby signaling that he is open to renegotiating the Iran deal. And Trump's Defense Department has all but criticized Israel for its drone war in Iraq and Syria that is threatening Americans and American proxies.
​ ​Trump is showing more independence of the rightwing Israel lobby than he has his entire administration - after three years of doing everything for Israel that the rightwing lobby wanted, from Jerusalem to the Golan to UNRWA.
​ ​The simple explanation for Trump's conduct is that he at last has the upper hand in his relationship with Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson.

Netanyahu advertises that only he can "recruit Trump" for further illegal land grab.​ Israeli political perspective piece.​
Netanyahu’s Last Minute “Sovereignty Extension” Gambit Unlikely To Succeed
Netanyahu, feeling the increasing unpopularity of his alliance with the religious parties, dangles the carrot of sovereignty extension only possible in the Trump era

​ ​ Immediately after the last election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined to members of his inner circle a plan to extract him from facing trial. The plan was based on obtaining immunity from the Knesset and passing legislation to prevent the High Court of Justice from removing that immunity. If his bloc wins 61 Knesset seats next week, Netanyahu will presumably resort to this rescue plan. For him it will be the Day of Judgment. “Stop being frightened. It’s time for them to be frightened,” Netanyahu told his confidants, referring to justice officials, headed by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who have decided to indict him in three cases, subject to a hearing.
​  ​Netanyahu told his confidants why he insisted on his destructive plan, telling them he had lost all confidence in the legal system on all levels – the attorney general’s office, the state prosecutor and the court system. “They want me in prison,” he told one of his cronies, noting that if he were indicted that would indeed be the result – not because he had crossed a red line, but merely due to the jurists’ collective hostility toward him and his ideology.

​This looks like the perfunctory slap-and-spit-in-your-face of Trump beginning negotiations with another country...
​ ​In a sharp, if perhaps not unexpected, escalation, US Secretary of State - now without John Bolton by his side - tweeted at 4pm on Saturday, that contrary to earlier reports, "there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen" and instead accused Iran of launching today's "unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply" which has now indefinitely taken offline as much as 5mmb/d in Saudi crude production.
​ ​In a follow up tweet, Pompeo said that he calls "on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks" which is odd as not even Saudi Arabia accused Iran of today's aggression (which many speculated could have been a Saudi false flag in hopes of sending the price of oil soaring ahead of the Aramco IPO). Pompeo concluded that "the United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression."

​ ​An attack on Saudi oil facilities on Saturday is believed to have disrupted half the country’s production capacity, making the United States the only real holder of the global supply cushion via its ability to raise own output or to soften sanctions against other major oil producers.  

 The Trump administration is prepared to tap U.S. emergency oil reserves if necessary after drone attacks shut oil output in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, a Department of Energy spokeswoman said.
​ ​Energy Secretary Rick Perry “stands ready to deploy resources from the Strategic Petroleum Oil Reserves if necessary to offset any disruptions to oil markets as a result of this act of aggression,” spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said.  

​ ​China gave Britain a stern warning this week that any naval maneuvers conducted with the US near its declared territories in the South China Sea will be met with a military response.
​ ​Beijing rapped London further, telling it to dump its “colonial attitude” with regard to Hong Kong. However, the ultimate leverage, was the caustic reminder to Britain that if it wants to trade with China in the future, then it better mind its manners.

Trade-warrior-in-chief gets more ammo to use against "friends".​
​ ​The United States has gotten the green light to impose billions of euros in punitive tariffs on EU products in retaliation for illegal subsidies granted to European aerospace giant Airbus. Four EU officials told POLITICO that the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the U.S. in the long-running transatlantic dispute and sent its confidential decision to Brussels and Washington on Friday. The decision means that U.S. President Donald Trump will almost certainly soon announce tariffs on European products ranging from cheeses to Airbus planes. One official said Trump had won the right to collect a total of between €5 billion and €8 billion. Another said the maximum sum was close to $10 billion.  

​The Spy Who Failed:
Scott Ritter probes Oleg Smolenkov’s role as a CIA asset and the use of his data by the director of the CIA to cast doubt over the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

​Secret agent Man​

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Talk Is Cheap

Usual Suspects,

Selected Democrats (Not Tulsi Gabbard) sorta' debated Thursday. Here are a few quotes:
–Cory Booker: “I’m the only person on this stage that finds (Justin) Trudeau’s hair very menacing”
–Joe Biden to Bernie Sanders: “For a socialist, you’ve got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do.”

–Bernie Sanders: “It goes without saying that we must — and will — defeat Trump, the most dangerous president in the history of this country.”
–Kamala Harris: “But the bottom line is this, Donald Trump in office on trade policy, you know, he reminds me of that guy in “The Wizard of Oz,” you know, when you pull back the curtain, it’s a really small dude?”
–Amy Klobuchar: “What [Trump] has done here, has assessed these tariffs on our allies, he’s put us in the middle of the trade war and treating our farmers and workers like poker chips in one of his bankrupt casinos.”
–Pete Buttigieg: “Well, the president clearly has no strategy. You know, when I first got into this race, I remember president Trump scoffed and said he’d like to see me make a deal with Xi Jinping. I’d like to see him making a deal with XI Jinping. Is it just me or was that supposed to happen in like April?”
–Julian Castro to Joe Biden: “Barack Obama’s vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered. He wanted every single person in this country covered. My plan would do that, your plan would not.”
–Elizabeth Warren: “I was in the United States Senate when 54 Senators said, ‘let’s do background checks, let’s get rid of assault weapons’ and with 54 Senators, it failed because of the filibuster. Until we attack the systemic problems, we can’t get gun reform in this country.”
–Beto O’Rourke: “We’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
–Andrew Yang: “My campaign will now give a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month for an entire year to 10 American families”

​Ed Snowden told the truth and lived to keep telling. He has a book now.
​ ​Meeting with both The Guardian and Spiegel Online in Moscow as part of its promotion​...​
​ ​While The Guardian interview is 'okay,' scroll down for the far more interesting Spiegel interview, where Snowden goes way deeper into his cloak-and-dagger life, including thoughts on getting suicided.
​ ​First, The Guardian:
​ ​Snowden describes in detail for the first time his background, and what led him to leak details of the secret programmes being run by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s secret communication headquarters, GCHQ.
​ ​He describes the 18 years since the September 11 attacks as “a litany of American destruction by way of American self-destruction, with the promulgation of secret policies, secret laws, secret courts and secret wars”.
​ ​Snowden also said: “The greatest danger still lies ahead, with the refinement of artificial intelligence capabilities, such as facial and pattern recognition.
​ ​“An AI-equipped surveillance camera would be not a mere recording device, but could be made into something closer to an automated police officer.”

Snowden: Entering the world of espionage sounds so grand. I just saw an enormous landscape of opportunities because the government in its post-9/11 spending blitz was desperate to hire anybody who had high-level technical skills and a clearance. And I happened to have both. It was weird to be just a kid and be brought into CIA headquarters, put in charge of the entire Washington metropolitan area's network.
DER SPIEGEL: Was it not also fascinating to be able to invade pretty much everybody's life via state-sponsored hacking?
Snowden: You have to remember, in the beginning I didn't even know mass surveillance was a thing because I worked for the CIA, which is a human intelligence organization. But when I was sent back to NSA headquarters and my very last position to directly work with a tool of mass surveillance, there was a guy who was supposed to be teaching me. And sometimes he would spin around in his chair, showing me nudes of whatever target's wife he's looking at. And he's like: "Bonus!"
DER SPIEGEL: You became seriously ill and fell into depression. Have you ever had suicidal thoughts?
Snowden: No! This is important for the record. I am not now, nor have I ever been suicidal. I have a philosophical objection to the idea of suicide, and if I happen to fall out of a window, you can be sure I was pushed.

​Pepe Escobar presented 50 unanswered (officially) questions about 9/11 on 9/11/09, 10 years ago​. Thanks Eleni.

On the afternoon of 9/11/01, Real Estate Developer, Donald Trump was interviewed by Channel 9 in New York City:
Channel 9: “There is a great deal of questions about whether or not the damage and the ultimate destruction of the buildings was caused by the airplanes, by architectural defect or possibly by bombs, or after-shocks. Do you have any thoughts on that?”
 Donald Trump: “It wasn’t architectural defect. The World Trade Center was always known as a very, very strong building. Don’t forget that it took a big bomb in the basement [in 1993]. Now the basement is the most vulnerable place, because that is your foundation and it withstood that. And I got to see that area about 3 or 4 days after it took place, because one of my structural engineers actually took me for a tour because he did the building. And I said ‘I can’t believe it’. The building was standing solid and half of the columns were blown out. This was an unbelievably powerful building if you know anything about structure. It was one of the first buildings that was built from the outside. The steel, the reason the WTC had such narrow windows is that in between all the windows you had steel on the outside of the building. That’s why when I first looked at it you had big, heavy I-beams. When I first looked at it I couldn’t believe it because there was a hole in the steel. And this was steel that was … you remember the width of the windows of the World Trade Center, folks, I think that you know, if you were ever up there, they were quite narrow and in between was this heavy steel. I said: How could a plane, even a 767 or 747 or whatever it might have been, how could it possibly go through the steel? I happen to think that they had not only a plane, but they had bombs that exploded almost simultaneously. [italics mine]. Because I just can’t imagine anything being able to go through that wall. Most buildings are built with the steel on the inside around the elevator shafts. This one was built from the outside, which is the strongest structure you can have. And it was almost just like a can of soup.”
Channel 9: “You know…we were looking at pictures all morning long of that plane coming into Building #2. And when you see that approach the far side, then all of a sudden within another millisecond the explosion pops out the other side.”
Donald Trump: “Right. I just think that there was a plane with more than jet fuel.” 

​UN report says US forces may have committed war crimes in Syria. (Narrative control slipping...)

​ ​Houthi rebels in Yemen say they deployed 10 armed drones which hit two large Saudi Aramco oil facilities on Saturday morning, causing massive fires and huge clouds of smoke on the sites.
​ ​The attack was carried out by the Houthi Air Force, the spokesperson for the Yemeni rebel group, Brigadier Yahya Serai, said on Al Masirah TV, vowing to “expand the operations against the Saudi regime in the future.”
​ ​The drones targeted a refinery in the city of Abqaiq in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province, which state-run giant Aramco describes as the world’s largest oil processing plant, and a refinery at the vast Khurais oil field, around 150km from Riyadh.  

California bans private prisons. Good Move!

Trade war is part of everything-war, so there's plenty of room for enemies of the empire to do deals. Trump does want his own deal with Iran.
 In direct defiance of US sanctions against Iran, China has stepped into the breach, increasing its oil purchases from Iran while becoming Iran’s major energy trade and finance partner. Like Russia, it seems that Iran is moving towards a military alliance with China. If the west worries about China’s expansive moves in the South China Sea, along China’s own borders, what to make then of China moving in on Hormuz, where some 30% of world oil is transited each day?
​ ​If these are considered winning policies for the West, one has to ask what failure looks like.
​ ​The West is already slowly becoming aware of the blowback this disastrous policy has caused. Evidence for this can be found in Macron’s efforts to persuade Trump towards a peaceful resolution with Iran.
​ ​It is well known that the US has been in secret meetings with Iran representatives, much to the dismay of the Saudi Arabia and Israel. As Bloomberg reports, after the G7 meeting, Trump publicly and repeatedly stated he was ready to meet with Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani. Bloomberg also reported that in a meeting with his Cabinet, Trump announced that he was ready to ease sanctions as a possible way to open negotiations between the two countries. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin agreed with the President, while National Security Advisor Bolton voiced strong opposition, that only one day later, led to his firing. Secretary of State Pompeo stated that Trump may meet on the sidelines of the upcoming UN meeting with Iran’s President.
​ ​The firing of Bolton was immediately followed by a fall in the price of oil and gold. Allowing Iran to continue to increase supplies into already well supplied oil markets will add downward pressure on oil prices. For the Trump administration, this is not necessarily a bad thing… unhappy consumers at the gas pump make for unhappy voters.

​ ​Despite the media’s obsession on gender, race and sexual orientation, the real and determining divide in America and other advanced countries lies in the growing conflict between the ascendant upper class and the vast, and increasingly embattled, middle and working classes.
​ ​We’ve seen this fight before. The current conflict fundamentally reprises the end of the French feudal era, where the Third Estate, made up of the commoners, challenged the hegemony of the First Estate and Second, made up of the church and aristocracy...

 Today’s neo-feudalism recalls the social order that existed before the democratic revolutions of the 17th and 18th Century, with our two ascendant estates filling the roles of the former dominant classes. The First Estate, once the province of the Catholic Church, has morphed into what Samuel Coleridge in the 1830s called “the Clerisy,” a group that extends beyond organized religion to the universities, media, cultural tastemakers and upper echelons of the bureaucracy. The role of the Second Estate is now being played by a rising Oligarchy, notably in tech but also Wall Street, that is consolidating control of most of the economy...
 Together these two classes have waxed  while the Third Estate has declined. This essentially reversed the enormous gains made by the middle and even the working class over the past 50 years. The top 1% in America captured just 4.9 percent of total U.S. income growth in 1945-1973, but since then the country’s richest classes has gobbled up an astonishing 58.7% of all new wealth
in the U.S., and 41.8 percent of total income growth during 2009-2015 alone...
 The new feudalism, like the original, is not based simply around the force of arms, or in this case what Marx called “the cash nexus.” Like the church in Medieval times, the Clerisy sees itself as anointed to direct human society, a modern version of what historian Marc Bloch called the “oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven.”  ...
 Like their predecessors, today’s Clerisy embraces an orthodoxy, albeit secular, on a host of issues from race and gender to the environment. Universities have become increasingly dogmatic in their worldview...
​ ​The new feudalism increasingly defines geography not only in America but across much of the world. The great bastion of both the Oligarchy and high reaches of the Clerisy lies in the great cities, notably New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. These are all among the most expensive places to live in the world and play a dominant role in the global media...
 The impact of the rising Clerisy and Oligarchs poses a direct threat to the future of the Third Estate. On the economic side, relentless consolidation and financialization has devastated Main Street. In the great boom of the 1980s, small firms and start-ups powered the economy, but more recently the rates of entrepreneurship have dropped as mega-mergers, chains and on-line giants​ ​slowly reduced the scope of opportunities.  

"Medicare For All would cut poverty by over 20%" ("but the jobs, the jobs lost!" :-o)

​Brexit mastermind Dominic Cummings has a mind of his own, and a widely ranging life history. 
"Brilliant" is not in question​, but he is seen in different lights by various friends and enemies. 
He is decisive, clear-headed and often impolite. He's hated and feared. 
He loves math and Russian literature, in Russian. 
He admires Otto Von Bismark, Richard Feynman and Sun Tzu.

There is near-mutiny over policy at the European Central Bank. Draghi just didn't let anybody vote on his recent QE action. He decreed unanimity.

5G goes live in Switzerland, with immediate and widespread onset of neurological symptoms.
 As soon as the antennas were installed, several residents and entire families in the heart of Geneva reported similar unusual symptoms of loud ringing in the ear, intense headaches, unbearable earaches, insomnia, chest pain, fatigue and not feeling well in the house. 29-year-old Geneva resident, Johan Perruchoud, called up Swisscom and was told that indeed the 5G cell towers were activated on the same day he began to feel the symptoms. When others called Swisscom they were told everything is legal and within guidelines.

Israel is accused (by those in the know) of setting up special cellphone towers near the White House, to intercept cellphone conversations and data and positions. Israel says, "We never spy in America". Trump says nothing at all.

Scientists race to save bananas from spreading killer fungus through genetic engineering. ("Roundup ready"?)

Vaping is causing weird diffuse lipoid pneumonia from inflammatory response in lungs, due to oil-vehicles in the vape mixture. 
Stricken Speechless

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Longer Wars


 Over a century of hot and cold war between the US and USSR/Russia is documented here. The hostilities commenced in 1918, when President Woodrow Wilson sent 13,000 American soldiers to fight bolsheviks and sink Russian ships under Bolshevik control. 
The term "Red Scare" originated in 1919, during this action.
In 1933 FDR finally recognized the USSR, as most countries had done over a decade before. (There was a lot of fear among American capitalists!) 
 At the start of the Cold War, Stalin was strictly adhering to what Roosevelt and Churchill had agreed at Yalta. Truman accused Stalin of breaking the agreement, because FDR had just lied to Congress about what the agreement said. Truman, who FDR despised, was never in any of the loops.
 We all know that George HW Bush promised up and down to never expand NATO an inch towards Russia, and that he and Reagan both said there were "no losers, only winners" when the cold war ended. 
All of this was first broken when Bush, running for re-election said the US won the cold war and inferred that the Russian losers could take what we gave them.
Clinton gave them Russia's Idi Amin, Boris Yeltsin the drunk toady mass murderer. 
Yeltsin was precisely that bad. See the details here:

Foreknowledge of the WTC-7 collapse is one of the sloppiest points in the sloppy cover-up of the events of 9/11/01. 
Everybody on the street was told for an hour before the 5:20 PM collapse to get away, that the building would be brought down soon. 
"The Lehman Building" was announced as having already collapsed on BBC news, as it still stood in the window in the background. 
"Lucky Larry" Silverstein spun on camera that the Fire Department told him WTC-7 was a goner and he told them to "go ahead and pull it" (demolish). There is camera footage of firemen telling people the building would soon come down, to get away. 
On 9/8/19 I posted the story about the U. Alaska, Fairbanks study that basically found that nothing but controlled demolition could have done it. 
That's always been the case. The top of WTC-7 hit the ground in freefall time. 
A basketball dropped from that roof at the same moment would have tied hitting the same ground.

Mass Media Purges always align with imperial interests, because it is a global corporate empire, without real lines between the CIA, NSA, Google, Facebook, Mossad and Wall Street. (It's perfect, really, and shall remain perfect until we all die in our isolated solitary confinement.)
Sister Caitlin in Oz has the story, until she gets deplatformed again. 
There is a Democratic Debate tonight. I should probably get bounced when I send this out today. It's an experiment.

Matt Taibbi has this (brave judge should not fly in small planes now)
​ ​A judge last week ruled the federal government’s Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), which secretly categorized more than 1 million people as “known or suspected terrorists,” is unconstitutional.
​ ​Like a number of “War on Terror” reforms instituted in the Bush years, the TSDB’s unconstitutionality was obvious from its inception. Indeed, the very idea that we needed to “take the gloves off” in our post-9/11 “State of Exception” was an original selling point of some of these programs.
​ ​The TSDB is cousin to the No-Fly List (a different and more restrictive list ruled unconstitutional in 2014), the Distribution Matrix (the drone assassination program also known as the “Kill List”), the STELLAR WIND warrantless surveillance program, multiple expansions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the broadened use of National Security Letters to obtain private data without warrant, the “Enhanced Interrogation” program the rest of the world calls torture, and countless other War on Terror initiatives that were and are clear violations of the spirit of the constitution.

Asia Times says Bolton's firing raises the odds of a US-China trade deal. (Stocks went up and gold went down on the news.)

Today's hot rumor is that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might serve both as as National Security Adviser, and as Secretary of State, as did Henry Kissinger. Other candidates for Bolton's vacancy are also discussed. 
This will be another signal regarding US foreign policy and sincerity of negotiation overtures going forward. 
Bolton was always a genocide-first kind of guy.

Charles Hugh Smith
All of America's bubbles will pop, and sooner rather than later.
​ ​Financial bubbles manifest three dynamics: the one we're most familiar with is human greed, the desire to exploit a windfall and catch a work-free ride to riches.
​ ​The second dynamic gets much less attention: financial manias arise when there is no other more productive, profitable use for capital, and these periods occur when there is an abundance of credit available to inflate the bubbles.  

​ ​Humans respond to the incentives the system presents​ ...​  
(Note to New Green Deal advocates: if corporations reckoned they could earn more by investing the $2.5 trillion in alternative energy projects rather than stock buy-backs, they would have done so.)  

​ The European commission’s incoming president has been pilloried for giving the EU’s most senior official on migration the job title “protecting our European way of life”...
  The British Labour MEP Claude Moraes, a former chair of the European parliament’s justice and home affairs committee, said the title could not stand. “Calling the European commission migration portfolio ‘protecting our way of life’ is deeply insulting,” he said... “If that [title] survives then we are in a bad position as progressives, because it is an embarrassment for us.” ...
​ ​The fuzzy aspirational titles contrast with the outgoing commission, which uses prosaic factual terms, such as “foreign policy and security” or “digital single market”.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is allowing nationwide enforcement of a new Trump administration rule that prevents most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States.
​ ​The justices’ order late Wednesday temporarily undoes a lower court ruling that had blocked the new asylum policy in some states along the southern border. The policy is meant to deny asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. without seeking protection there.
​ ​Most people crossing the southern border are Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty. They are largely ineligible under the new rule, as are asylum seekers from Africa, Asia and South America who arrive regularly at the southern border.
​ ​The shift reverses decades of U.S. policy.  

(US policies of covert military and economic warfare continue, however.)