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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Pieces In Motion

Moving Parts,

Yves Smith summarizes today's increasingly pressured Brexit games: It does not look like Theresa May has anything on tap but the bad deal, repeatedly rejected, and crash-out-Brexit...
It all sounded so reasonable. A realistic timetable. Cross-party cooperation. It was like a whole new prime minister. But then came the dangerous part. She got to that bit in her statement where, if you were looking hard enough, you could see the tactical sleight of hand.
“The government would then bring forward the withdrawal agreement bill,” she said, referring to the domestic legislation enacting the deal with Brussels. “We would want to agree a timetable for this bill to ensure it is passed before the 22nd of May, so the UK need not take part in European parliamentary elections.”
And that’s when the alarm bells started ringing. That is the bit that will define if this is a real attempt to turn the page on how she approaches Brexit or another cynical trap based on deception.

The European elections are a crucial moment in the Brexit process. The EU has been clear that if the UK does not take part in those elections, it cannot remain inside, because it would mean that the European parliament would potentially be illegally constituted. The danger was always that May would use this fact to pivot parliament into a place where it had to choose between her deal or no-deal.
This is way too late to be workable. Notice how May called for working up new indicative vote options in case the round tomorrow fails. May may figure her gambit doesn’t increase the odds of anything passing and could lower them, or lead the vote to be pushed back a day or two for Conservative-Labour canoodling. Any time loss at this juncture increases the odds of a crash out, which May clearly believes increases leverage for approving her deal. And even though the EU is no doubt unhappy with yet another display of May’s pig-headedness, if she were to manage to get her deal approved by next Wednesday or Thursday, the EU would grant an extension to May 22 for the UK to tidy things up legally.
To look at this another way, even if May actually had a Damascene conversion, she’s not capable of working with Labour. It would be difficult for even a more skilled PM given the very short runway and the lack of prior engagement. So her offer is a ruse whether by accident or design.

Tom Luongo: Brexit Desperation as Betrayal Deepens
 They are searching for a way to find a solution that involves them winning voter support while betraying Brexit. 
Project Fear hasn’t worked and now we’re into Project Attrition.
The problem is there is no such solution.

Venezuela, geostrategically, is as important to Moscow as Syria and Ukraine.
Gerasimov also detailed how, “the Pentagon has begun to develop a fundamentally new strategy of warfare, which has been dubbed the ‘Trojan Horse’. Its essence lies in the active use of the ‘protest potential of the fifth column’ in order to destabilize the situation with simultaneous strikes by precision-guided weapons on the most important targets.​ ​
”Then the clincher; “The Russian Federation is ready to oppose every one of these strategies. In recent years, military scientists, together with the General Staff, have developed conceptual approaches to neutralize the aggressive actions of potential opponents. The field of research of military strategy is armed struggle, its strategic level. With the emergence of new areas of confrontation in modern conflicts, methods of struggle are increasingly shifting towards the integrated application of political, economic, information and other non-military measures, implemented with the support of military force.​  ​”Call it Russia’s response to Made in USA Hybrid War. With the major incentive of being a value for money operation; after all the Russian General Staff, unlike the Pentagon, is not in the business, for all practical purposes, of stealing trillions of dollars from taxpayers for several decades...Rostislav Ishchenko, arguably the top Russian analyst of the Ukraine saga, explained it to me in detail:​  ​“Putin does not ‘take over the elites’ or ‘guide the nation.’ His genius lies in an acute intuitive sense of the strategic needs of the nation (which creates a strong feedback and causes absolute trust of the absolute majority of the people), but most importantly, he is a master of political compromise, understanding the importance of maintaining peace between different social, economic, and political groups within the country, to ensure its stability, prosperity, and international authority. Given that foreign policy is always a continuation of domestic policy, we can clearly trace his desire for compromise in Russian international activity.”“Putin, Ishchenko added, “does not try to suppress the opponents even in those cases when Russia is unconditionally stronger and the result of the confrontation will clearly be in her favor. Putin understands that both the loser and the winner lose in the confrontation. Therefore, he always offers a compromise for a long time, almost to the last opportunity, even to those who clearly do not deserve it, moving to other solutions only after the opponent has clearly crossed all possible red lines and can pose a threat to the vital interests of Russia. An agreement based on consideration of each other's interests is always stronger than any short-term ‘victories’, which tomorrow will result in the need to reaffirm their status of the winner again and again. It seems to me that Putin understands this well. Hence the effectiveness of his actions. You can also take a look at his team. These are professionals who adhere to a variety of ideological views (or do not adhere to any). The main thing is that they perform their work qualitatively. The ability to manage such a team is another of its undoubted advantages. After all, these are all ambitious people who are aware of their professionalism and are able to defend their opinion, which is not always the same for everyone. Nevertheless, they work as a single mechanism and achieve really great results.”​  ​https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/04/01/pentagon-obsession-china-china-china.html
Maduro's stay in power has Washington as well as various regional neighbor countries worried about the situation. It seems that Venezuela's neighbors followed a false promise to get rid off the Venezuelan President rather quickly. According to the report, allies of the U.S. are disappointed with the result and are now questioning their decision to recognize Juan Guaido as interim president.  A military invasion seems to be the only method available to accomplish their goal, and such a scenario doesn't sit all too well with countries like Colombia and Brazil, according to the report.  ​https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Washington-Concerned-Over-Maduros-Stay-in-Power-20190402-0021.html  
​Turkish election insights from Moon Of Alabama. Erdogan is still in power in rapidly shifting circumstances: Over the last two quarters Turkey's GDP declined. The country is in a recession. Inflation is near to 20% which leaves no room to lower interest rates. Before Sunday's election the central bank of Turkey propped up the Lira. It will have to end that or will otherwise diminish Turkey's foreign currency reserves. After the long build up of the credit bubble it will take years for the economy to return to a steady state. There is little room for the government to turn the economy around.
Erdogan's decision to become more independent of NATO is also taking its toll. Buying the Russian made S-400 air defense system secures Turkey from a potential U.S. attack but also means that its access to 'western' weapons ends. Germany stopped cooperation for the production of a new Turkish tank even before the S-400 issue came up. Today the U.S. haltedall F-35 fighter plane deliveries and training for Turkey. This will be a loss for both sides but add to Turkey's economic problems:
“Because Turkey is not just an F-35 purchaser, but an industrial partner, blocking delivery of these systems represents a major escalation by the United States as it threatens to impose serious costs on both sides,” Hunter said.
Reuters reported last week that Washington was exploring whether it could remove Turkey from production of the F-35. Turkey makes parts of the fuselage, landing gear and cockpit displays. Sources familiar with the F-35’s intricate worldwide production process and U.S. thinking on the issue last week said Turkey’s role can be replaced.
Russia will be happy to supply Turkey with Su-35 fighter planes. They are arguable better than the F-35 and will likely be cheaper. But they will come with a political price.
Turkish supported Jihadis still hold Syria's Idleb provinces and need to be removed. Erdogan tried to turn them into 'moderate rebels' but failed. Russia has for some time pressed Turkey to become more active in Idleb and to do more common Turkish/Russian patrols. These alienate the Jihadis, some of whom start to see Turkey as an enemy. Russia intends to do everything possible to intensify that feeling, while urging Turkey to finally solve the problem.​  ​
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/04/turkeys-problems-will-change-the-dynamics-on-the-idlib-front.html
 An explosive report by Reuters confirms that John Bolton sabotaged the denuclearization talks between Kim Jong un and Donald Trump in Hanoi in February. According to a March 29 exclusive by journalists Lesley Wroughton and David Brunnstrom:
“Donald Trump handed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a piece of paper” demanding that Kim surrender all of his “nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the United States.” Trump also added a number of unrelated demands including “fully dismantling” all “chemical and biological warfare program(s)…. and ballistic missiles, launchers, and associated facilities.” Trump surprised Kim by demanding complete, unilateral disarmament in exchange for a flimsy promise to lift economic sanctions sometime in the future. Naturally, Kim rejected the offer.​  ​
http://www.unz.com/mwhitney/reuters-confirms-that-bolton-torpedoed-the-hanoi-summit/
Fun with hair-sniffing-Joe: ​Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor. In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. “I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recalled telling Poroshenko. “Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat. ​ ​https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/436816-joe-bidens-2020-ukrainian-nightmare-a-closed-probe-is-revived
Michael Hudson published … and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure, and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year in November of last year. It is the first volume in what will be a trilogy on the long history of the tyranny of debt. I have interviewed him extensively as he writes the second volume, The Collapse of Antiquity.  John Siman: Michael, in the first volume of your history of debt — “ … and forgive them their debts, dealing with the Bronze Age Near East, Judaism and early Christianity — you showed how over thousands of years, going back to the invention of interest-bearing loans in Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC, many kings from a variety of Mesopotamian civilizations proclaimed Clean Slate debt cancellations on a more or less regular basis. And you showed that these royal proclamations of debt amnesty rescued the lower classes from debt bondage, maintaining a workable economic balance over many centuries. Because these kings were so powerful — and, let’s say, enlightened — they were able to prevent the social and economic polarization that is inevitable when there is no check on an oligarchic creditor class extracting exponentially increasing interest from debtors. But now, as you write the second volume, your theme gets turned upside down. You are showing how the Greeks and the Romans learned about interest-bearing debt from their contacts with Middle Eastern civilizations, but tragically failed to institute programs of Clean Slate debt amnesty. Their failure has been a kind of albatross around the neck of Western economies ever since.So I’d like to start this conversation in the late 500s BC, because we can see at that time the beginnings of both the Athenian democracy and the Roman Republic, plus of two more important civilizations. First was the Athens of Cleisthenes, who had led the overthrow the “tyrant” Hippias and became the father of Athenian democracy. Second, there was the Roman Republic of Lucius Junius Brutus, who overthrew the last of Rome’s legendary kings, the “tyrant” Tarquinius Superbus.Third was the Persian civilization of Cyrus the Great. He was a “divine king,” in many ways in the ancient tradition of Hammurabi. Fourth were the post-exilic Jews of Ezra and Nehemiah, who returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt the Temple and redacted the Bible. They were the inventors of the Jubilee years of Clean Slate debt forgiveness, even though they depicted the teaching as coming from Moses.So, beginning with the late 500s BC, to what extent was the notion of Clean Slate debt amnesty remembered, and to what extent was it rejected?  ​https​://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/04/the-delphic-oracle-was-their-davos-a-four-part-interview-with-michael-hudson-about-his-forthcoming-book-the-collapse-of-antiquity-part-1.html 

Costco quits buying RoundUp:

One of the world’s most common pesticides will soon be banned by the European Union after safety officials reported human health and environmental concerns.
Chlorothalonil, a fungicide that prevents mildew and mould on crops, is the most used pesticide in the UK, applied to millions of hectares of fields, and is the most popular fungicide in the US. Farmers called the ban “overly precautionary”.
But EU states voted for a ban after a review by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) was unable to exclude the possibility that breakdown products of the chemical cause damage to DNA. Efsa also said “a high risk to amphibians and fish was identified for all representative uses”. Recent research further identified chlorothalonil and other fungicides as the strongest factor linked to steep declines in bumblebees.

Scientists have found an extraordinary snapshot of the fallout from the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
Excavations in North Dakota reveal fossils of fish and trees that were sprayed with rocky, glassy fragments that fell from the sky.
The deposits show evidence also of having been swamped with water - the consequence of the colossal sea surge that was generated by the impact.Robert DePalma, from the University of Kansas, and colleagues say the dig site, at a place called Tanis, gives an amazing glimpse into events that probably occurred perhaps only tens of minutes to a couple of hours after the giant asteroid hit the Earth.
When this 12km-wide object slammed into what is now the Gulf of Mexico, it would have hurled billions of tonnes of molten and vaporised rock into the sky in all directions - and across thousands of kilometres.
And at Tanis, the fossils record the moment this bead-sized material fell back down and strafed everything in its path.

​Frozen In Time​

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