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Saturday, July 6, 2019

Hollow Empire

​Honestly Looking,​

Denial is America’s national pastime, but real patriotism requires honesty, Helen (of DesTroy) Buyniski​
As its economic fortunes began to decline in the latter half of the 20th century, the US government threw its considerable weight behind keeping up appearances, prioritizing maintaining the facade of a prosperous nation ahead of fixing the problems keeping prosperity at bay. Disciples of Milton Friedman’s neoliberal economics convinced the government that their only hope was to keep cutting taxes on the rich and hope they would eventually trickle a little down on everyone else. Admitting that this system had failed would betray weakness that would surely be leveraged into a full-fledged communist takeover. As a result, Americans have become shockingly adept at lying to themselves...
  America’s once-mighty military-industrial complex, the best-funded sector of the economy, with more money flowing in than the next nine countries’ military budgets combined, is in such a sad state the government increasingly has to bully allies into buying its substandard product...
 The Pentagon was recently reminded of just how dire the situation has become when China hinted that it could bring the US economy to a screeching halt by holding onto its rare earth minerals. While the US developed the rare-earth magnets currently used in nearly every item of high-tech military equipment and consumer electronics, the Pentagon is now 100 percent reliant on China for 20 minerals needed to make everything from fighter jets to cell phones to batteries and computer chips.  
This is no accident – Chinese investors were able to use the mechanisms of Wall Street to take control of the US’ rare earth industry and ship it overseas – and it doesn’t help that US banks have bent over backward to help in this not-so-hostile takeover...
 Even Silicon Valley, once the last hope for a nation that no longer builds anything, has been quietly offshored, shipped off to Israel over the past decade thanks in large part to hedge funder Paul Singer, who has worked hand in hand with PM Benjamin Netanyahu through his Start-Up Nation Central initiative, described as “a foreign ministry for Israel’s tech industry,” to make Big Tech an offer it can’t refuse. Rolling out the red carpet to multinationals like Amazon and Microsoft, populating their ranks with bright young alumni of the IDF’s Unit 8200 (often compared to the American NSA) and tempting them with a buffet of ripe-for-acquisition innovation-rich startups, Netanyahu has freely admitted he has a “very deliberate policy” to make Israel boycott-proof by making it the center of the Big Tech universe...
 Intel’s announcement earlier this year that it would invest $11 billion in yet another Israeli factory was followed by hundreds of stateside layoffs; the company cut 12,000 US jobs in 2016, and last year plowed $5 billion into another Israeli factory. Intel is cleaning up, with hefty subsidies from both US and Israeli governments - but only one country is getting a return on its investment...
 It’s no wonder Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are quietly packing up and leaving, too. Nice work, if you can get it...
 What does the US have left? The media, which should be sounding the alarm over the increasingly desperate looting of the nation, is instead a microcosm of the same catastrophe. Best exemplified by the grotesque pageantry of CNN - a network which purports to be a private company but is forced to pad its commercial breaks with ads for defense contractors like Boeing and Raytheon...
 ...If we really love America, it's time to take an honest look at what needs to be fixed.

The Military, Big Bankers and Big Oil Are Not In Climate Denial, They Are in Control and Plan to Keep It That Way​.
 Capitalism, militarism and imperialism are disastrously intertwined with the fossil fuel economy….A globalized economy predicated on growth at any social or environmental costs, carbon dependent international trade, the limitless extraction of natural resources, and a view of citizens as nothing more than consumers cannot be the basis…for tackling climate change….Little wonder then that the elites have nothing to offer beyond continued militarisation and trust in techno-fixes.”​ ...
​ To maintain power they need to limit our thinking. The two most important narratives imposed on us are climate change as a “threat to national security” and as a “business opportunity” — the twin rationales for military and corporate power. They want to focus us on how to manage the crisis, profit from it, or adapt to it, instead of opposing it.​..
 In truth, the military is caught in a crisis of its own making. As Desiree Hellegers puts it: “The US Military Poses a Significant Threat to the US Military.”[2]​...
​ ​So how is it that the bankrollers of climate chaos, investing  $1.9 trillion in fossil fuels just since the Paris Accords, also claim to “manage and mitigate these climate-related risks?”
​ ​According to the bankers, the problem with climate change is that it’s “posing significant risks to the prosperity and growth of the global economy.” What they will not say is that the global economy — which demands enormous fossil fuel production and consumption — is posing significant risks to the climate. The global shipping and aviation on which peak profit-making depends is, like the military, exempt from the Paris Accords.​..
 What the bankers will not say is that billions of the dollars they trade in are “petrodollars” — as explained in this informative documentary video.  A 40-year back-room deal with the Saudis secretly recycled oil money back to the US. This deal essentially shifted the US dollar from the “gold standard” to the “oil standard.”​ ...
​ ​Buying oil in dollars is a form of imperial tribute other countries pay to the US — which is why the US insists all oil trading be in US currency. Iraq and Lybia once traded oil in other currencies. Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia and China still do. See?
​  Since oil props up the US Dollar, bankers have a direct interest in wars that prop up the fossil-fuel regime.​..
 ​ ​“We cannot expect politicians to do what only mass movements can do…from below and to the left.” Truth. But how?  

​Nils Melzer, UN Human Rights Investigator​: (Jesus was crucified for being an advocate of debt & slavery-forgiveness, the traditional "Jubilee")
 Throughout history, dissidents have brought about lasting political change, liberation from oppression, and the empowerment of the people. By 'dissident', I do not mean the opposition in parliament, I mean political activists challenging established power from the outside. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela were dissidents whose names are now cherished worldwide. Yet, all of them radically challenged the political, social and economic order of their time, which got two of them murdered and the third incarcerated for 27 years.
 What is it, then, that makes dissidents such a threat? Contrary to common criminals they serve a higher cause. Contrary to terrorists, they inform, empower and mobilize the people. And contrary to parliamentary oppositions, they have no stakes in corrupt institutions and practices that often feed both sides of the political aisle. Governments fear dissidents, because they cannot be owned and controlled. Some imprison, torture and execute them routinely, based on classified evidence and summary trials. Others conceal their oppression behind a veil of due process, crushing them through judicial harassment and defamation.
 Whether we like it or not, Julian Assange is a dissident. He despises secrecy and cannot be tamed, bought or otherwise controlled. He has flooded the world with compromising disclosures, including evidence for war crimes, aggression and abuse, without ever resorting to violence or fake news. He has initiated a paradigm shift in public awareness and dried up safe havens of governmental impunity. And like everyone who endangers the perks of the powerful, he has been made to pay the price.
https://www.newsweek.com/assange-freedom-dissent-torture-1447756  

​Tom Luongo sees weakness in the globalist-uniparty old-guard, as "Orange Julius" Trump snowballs.​
 I would say that the optics of sending Bolton to Mongolia are pretty clear. Bolton’s time in the White House is nearly over. This is also a strong signal to Iran that Trump trying to back down without actually saying that.
 The drone incident was intended to box Trump into a path to war with Iran after the tanker attack in the Gulf of Oman two weeks prior. That was likely not the Iranians but the Saudis and/or MEK, again trying to get Trump to fly off the handle, since he’s easily manipulated into emotional acts.
 But he was talked out of it at the last minute, presumably by Tucker Carlson, who was with him on Air Force One when Trump went to meet Kim.
 Has Trump finally woken up to the reality that he can’t appease these neocons anymore? That their lust for power can only be sated by perpetual war? That he has to lead and be President? Asking for advice from your cabinet is one thing, being led by your nose to foregone conclusions which are anathema to what put you in the White House in the first place is another.
 He hasn’t drained one ounce of The Swamp because he wasn’t strong enough to do it.
 A lot has changed in the past four months since the end of the Mueller investigation. And the signs are all there that Trump is feeling a lot more secure both politically and financially that would allow him to not only make bold first moves but follow through on them...
B olton was pushed on him by major Republican donor and Israeli Firster, Sheldon Adelson. And Adelson is the real issue here. So much of Trump’s foreign policy has centered around the wishes of this odious man...
 It’s becoming obvious to everyone that the Deal of the Century for Israel and Palestine is a dead letter. So many of Trump’s mistakes have been in service of this deal which they can’t even bring to the table.
 The last piece of this puzzle is whatever happened at the G-20 between Trump, Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. Trump folded on the worst of his trade war with China. His uber-hawks wanted Huawei destroyed for not giving the US backdoor access to spy on the world, everything else is just noise.

​ ​A huge development Thursday regarding enforcement of Iran sanctions and the West's economic war on both Damascus and Tehran: British Royal Marines seized an oil tanker in Gibraltar off Spain's southern coast while it was en route to Syria in what's being called an unprecedented and aggressive move to enforce EU sanctions.
​ ​As critics of the West's sanctions policy on Syria are noting: the European Union has for years allowed advanced weaponry to flow into the hands of anti-Assad jihadists, but it will act swiftly to block vital oil access to the war-torn and starved population.

​"Aargh!", John Bolton​
 ​Iran has called for the "immediate release" of its oil tanker after British Royal Marines boarded and seized it off Gibraltar a day ago after it took a long 90-day trek around the tip of Africa, presumably to evade sanctions enforcement en route to Syria. Authorities had accused the Grace 1 supertanker of illegal smuggling as it had reportedly been transiting some 2 million barrels of Iranian oil.
​ ​Iran's foreign ministry had immediately summoned the UK ambassador over the incident, saying the move was "unacceptable". An official statement of protest called for "the immediate release of the oil tanker, given that it has been seized at the request of the US, based on the information currently available," the statement added.
 ​Iran's position is that the EU sanctions on Syria have not been endorsed by the UN, while the US received the news as a positive development in the global crackdown on Iranian oil. "Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions," John Bolton said on Twitter.
​ ​But Syria and Iran as well as some Arab commentators have shot back that the some few dozen Royal Marines seizing the tanker by fast-roping in on helicopter amounts to "piracy".

​ ​The sanctions on Syria were always aimed at one goal: getting rid of Assad. That purpose failed either miserably or spectacularly, depending on your point of view. It did achieve one thing though, and if I were you I wouldn’t be too sure this was not the goal all along.
​ ​That is, out of a pre-war population of 22 million, the United Nations in 2016 identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance; over 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and around 5 million are refugees outside of Syria. About half a million are estimated to have died, the same number as in Iraq.
​ ​And Assad is still there and probably stronger than ever. But it doesn’t even matter whether the US/UK/EU regime change efforts are successful or not, and I have no doubt they’ve always known this. Their aim is to create chaos as a war tactic, and kill as many people as they can. How do you define terror, terrorism? However you define it, ‘we’ are spreading it.
​ ​That grossly failed attempt to depose Assad has left Europe with a refugee problem it may never be able to control. And the only reason there is such a problem is that Europe, in particular Britain and France, along with the US, tried to bomb these people’s homelands out of existence.

https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2019/07/the-winds-are-shifting/  

​Will Israel let them almost finish the railroad, before it starts bombing?​
BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:00 A.M.) – Iran is preparing to begin construction on a large railway that links their capital city of Tehran to the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, the Director of Syrian Railways Najib Al-Fares said on Wednesday.
According to Fares, the new railway will promote regional trade between Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
The new project is expected to be funded by the Iranian government, with support from both Syria and Iraq.
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syria-and-iran-to-defy-sanctions-by-building-railway-from-tehran-to-mediterranean/  
 
Jim Kunstler almost seems to have a morality tale here, if only I could get-it. "Invest at the bottom"?
We heard there was a good parade up in Salem, NY, ten miles northeast of here. Salem was a railroad town after 1852. It changed everything for a while. Farmers could send their potatoes and milk all the way to Boston. Slate was abundant nearby and there was a lively commerce in it for roofing and other things. Marble came over from Vermont and was dressed into tombstone blanks, which were sent as far as the Midwest. The railroad itself employed scores of hands in the roundhouse where its locomotives were repaired. This rail connection to distant places and markets must have seemed wondrous...
 The economic history of this place looks like a sequence of great works performed at enormous capital investment, and then quickly trashed for the next new thing. It must have been intoxicating at the time. I’d put the high-tide of it all at about 1900, when all the systems of manufacturing and transport were humming in synchrony. Turns out it was an economy with a surprising purpose: to get rid of itself!  And it’s stunning how gone it all is now. What replaced it is not only happening far, far away, but many items made far, far away can’t even be bought within a twenty-mile journey of any town in the county​..​.
​ ​There’s one big advantage to living in this flyover corner of America: it has received next-to-zero of the destructive suburban development overlay that has obliterated the landscape in those parts of the country that can pretend to still be booming. It is a blessing that I’m keenly aware of. We’re just too far away from the cities, and even from the Interstate Highway network. So, when I behold the economic desolation in these little towns of the Battenkill Valley, I’m aware that, at least, we will not have to dig out from under the burden of the Big Box hell imposed on just about every other place from sea to shining sea, when that economy turns over — a process actually underway now.   
https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/ghosts-of-the-fourth/  
 
​Legally-robbing retirees before they can give that stuff to their kids is one of the last viable growth-models in American business.​
 Older parents are taking advantage of reverse mortgages to pay off credit cards and to escape poverty and debt. This reduces equity in the home and often leads to foreclosure, leaving traditional heirs with nothing but memories.
 Not only are reverse mortgage companies feasting upon the assets of older Americans; so too are health insurers and prescription drug companies.

Don't wait for it. Invest in your future world. Consider your many real options.
 Researchers have identified swathes of lost tropical rainforests as the best places to replant trees, hoping to redress some of the damage done by deforestation and limit climate change.
 A four-year study used high-resolution satellite imagery to pinpoint more than 100 million denuded hectares (247 million acres) - from South Sudan to Brazil and India - that would deliver good results if reforested.
 "Globally, more than half of the tropical forests in the world are gone - most of that in the last 50 years," said Robin Chazdon, a professor at the University of Connecticut and co-author of the study published on Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.
 "These forests provide a huge amount of functioning and services for our planet and people that have gone unappreciated," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
 The tropics lost 12 million hectares of tree cover in 2018, the fourth-highest annual loss since records began in 2001, according to forest monitoring service Global Forest Watch.
 Of greatest concern, it said, was the disappearance of 3.6 million hectares of old-growth rainforest, an area the size of Belgium.

Elderly Lorax

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