Thursday, November 29, 2018

False-Information Economy

Embedded Consciousness,

Ilargi: Whenever you read anything at all about Trump, Russia/Putin and Assange in the major news outlets, chances that it is not objective or properly due diligence researched are far higher than that it is. You have to start out with the idea that what you’re about to read or watch is not true, for the simple reason that the vast majority of it is not; it only exists to serve an agenda and a narrative.
And because reporting what is not accurate makes ‘news sources’ much more money than reporting the truth. In the meantime, though, NATO, US/UK/EU intelligence and the military-industrial complex may be happy, but you should not be. Because you’ve landed somewhere in the middle between Orwell, Huxley and the Matrix. And that’s not going to end up doing you any good. Let alone your kids.
Shake it off, guys. You’re sinking. Information dissemination has become like walking into quicksand. Walking into a pre-processed narrative that deprives you of your ability to think. Not something we should wish upon anyone. But take this from me: you’re already in it, and you need to get out. It’s no longer about trying not to get in, those days are long gone. You’re already there.

​Charles Hugh Smith: ​The reality is there is no avenue left for advocacy, grievances or redress in a system dominated by global corporations and self-serving political insiders.The castle on the hill doesn't exist; it is diffused all over the planet, and well protected by state minions who listen only to neofeudal corporate interests.
The problem for well-meaning politicos is the system cannot be reformed or repaired: the cartel-state socio-economic system is now the wrong unit size and the wrong structure. As I explain my my new book, the cost of buying political influence is a small fraction of the gains reaped from buying the influence.
Mere debt-serfs and tax donkeys cannot compete with campaign contributions and influence purchased with tens of millions of dollars in cartel profits. The system isn't simply rigged to benefit insiders--it's incapable of listening to debt-serfs and tax donkeys because their demands would collapse the system.
Corporate power and self-serving insiders destroy democracy. That is the heart of neofeudalism, which is the only possible output of the status quo.

​From 1945 until today, American tax dollars have been working hard to kill 20 to 30 million people: ​The Vietnam War, which spread to Cambodia and Laos, caused a number of deaths estimated at 7.8 million (plus a huge number of wounded, and genetic damage affecting generations due to the dioxin sprayed by US aircraft). The proxy war of the 1980’s in Afghanistan was organised by the CIA, which trained and armed – with the collaboration of Osama bin Laden and Pakistan – more than 100,000 mujahideen to fight the Soviet troops who had fallen into the “Afghan trap” (as it was later described by Zbigniew Brzezinski, specifying that the training of the mujahideen had begun in July 1979, five months before the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan).
The bloodiest coup d’√Čtat was organised in 1965 in Indonesia by the CIA – it handed over the list of the first 5,000 Communists and others marked for death to the Indonesian murder squads. The number of people assassinated is estimated at between 500,000 and 3 million.
That is the “free and open international order” that the United States, independently of the White House, persist in pursuing in order to “safeguard the people from aggression and coercion”.

​The Saker Blog, about current moves by Ukraine to pick another fight with Russia:​ Some kind of limited Ukronazi military operations against Russia, Novorussia, Crimea or the Kerch bridge would be militarily suicidal but political very profitable as it would allow Poroshenko to a) blame Russia for all the Ukrainian problems and b) demand even more aid to “resist against the Russian aggression”.  The problem with that option is that there are good signs that a lot of the Ukrainian military personnel does not have the courage to actually fight the Russians (for ex: look how ALL the Ukie soldiers folded in Crimea; also, the blog of “Colonel Cassad” reports that of the three ships which tried to breach the Russian border, at least one had a captain who voluntarily surrendered his ship to the Russians; finally, one Ukrainian sailor has apparently been shot for refusing to open fire against the Russians).  

Russia's South Stream Pipeline is almost ready to carry gas to southern Europe: Significantly, the tenders were secured in compliance with the EU Energy Directives. This means that Gazprom latest venture has addressed the main cause of the EU's original objections to the same pipeline prior to 2014. In the case of open tenders process, Gazprom used exactly the same scheme to secure capacity orders for its Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia back in 2017. According to the experts cited by Kommersant, this makes in impossible for the EU to shut down the project.
Of course, history reminder due, South Stream was primarily killed off not by the EU, but by the U.S. keen on protecting Ukraine's near monopoly on Russian gas transit. The Obama Administration exerted massive pressure on Bulgaria and other South Stream-receiving countries to prevent landing Russian gas in Southern Europe. So far, there has been little indication what Washington's position on the latest iteration of the South Stream might be, but I doubt it will be welcoming.

The weird solitary confinement purgatory of Julian Assange, and the secret sealed charges arranged to move him to an American prison. 
Even the white cat is gone now...

On Oct. 12, the Moreno government took a further step toward stripping Assange of asylum status by issuing a “Special Protocol” that prohibits him from any activities that could be “considered as political or interfering with the internal affairs of other states.” It further required all journalists, lawyers and anyone else who wanted to meet with Assange to disclose social media usernames and the serial number and IMEI codes of their cellphones and tablets. And it stated that that personal information could be shared with “other agencies,” according to the memorandum reported by The Guardian.
In response, Assange’s lawyers initiated a suit against the Ecuadorian foreign minister, Jose Valencia, for “isolating and muzzling him.” But it was yet another sign of the efforts by both the British and Ecuadorian governments to justify a possible move to take away Assange’s protection from extradition to the United States.

​It goes better for friends of Bill Clinton, much better. And the buck stops right there, too,.  
“Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless. He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right,’’ said Courtney Wild, who was 14 when she met Epstein.​..​  “By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old. He was involved in my life for years,” said Wild, who was released from prison in October after serving three years on drug charges.​.. ​ “The common interview with a girl went like this: ‘I was brought there by so and so. I didn’t feel comfortable with what happened, but I got paid well, so I was told if I didn’t feel comfortable, I could bring someone else and still get paid,’ ’’ Recarey said.
But on the morning of the breakfast meeting, a deal was struck — an extraordinary plea agreement that would conceal the full extent of Epstein’s crimes and the number of people involved.
Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes, according to a Miami Herald examination of thousands of emails, court documents and FBI records.
The pact required Epstein to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. Epstein and four of his accomplices named in the agreement received immunity from all federal criminal charges. But even more unusual, the deal included wording that granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators’’ who were also involved in Epstein’s crimes. 
(No Bill Clinton behind that iron curtain!) These accomplices or participants were not identified in the agreement, leaving it open to interpretation whether it possibly referred to other influential people who were having sex with underage girls at Epstein’s various homes or on his plane.  As part of the arrangement, Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims. As a result, the non-prosecution agreement was sealed until after it was approved by the judge, thereby averting any chance that the girls — or anyone else — might show up in court and try to derail it... Now President Trump’s secretary of labor, Acosta, 49, oversees a massive federal agency that provides oversight of the country’s labor laws, including human trafficking. He also has been on a list of possible replacements for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned under pressure earlier this month... Federal prosecutors identified 36 underage victims, but none of those victims appeared at his sentencing on June 30, 2008, in state court in Palm Beach County. Most of them heard about it on the news — and even then they didn’t understand what had happened to the federal probe that they’d been assured was ongoing... by the time the agreement was unsealed — over a year later — Epstein had already served his sentence and been released from jail... Unlike other convicted sex offenders, Epstein didn’t face the kind of rough justice that child sex offenders do in Florida state prisons. Instead of being sent to state prison, Epstein was housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County jail. And rather than having him sit in a cell most of the day, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office allowed Epstein work release privileges, which enabled him to leave the jail six days a week, for 12 hours a day, to go to a comfortable office that Epstein had set up in West Palm Beach. This was granted despite explicit sheriff’s department rules stating that sex offenders don’t qualify for work release.

​This ball is in play... ​The Senate voted Wednesday afternoon to advance a resolution that would cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the first time a resolution targeting the war has been approved and a sign of how fast the debate in Washington over the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia has shifted... Outside the White House, the brutality of the Yemen conflict and American culpability in it have become harder to ignore since the last vote thanks to a series of tragedies, including one in August in which 40 children on a school bus were killed by a bomb supplied by the U.S. The U.N. has warned that as much as half of Yemen’s population could soon be on the brink of famine. But the killing of journalist and U.S. resident Khashoggi is clearly what has done more than anything else to change the tenor of the debate. The resolution still has a long way to go. Today’s procedural vote will force a full floor debate and amendments could still be introduced. According to Murphy, Corker has indicated he could change his vote before it goes to a full debate if the administration takes further action on its own to pressure Saudi Arabia. It’s also unlikely to pass the House in this session.

Why is the US still supporting Saudi Arabia? Why is the US military in the Middle east? Moon of Alabama finds clues, not answers.

(I wonder what nuclear weapons Saudi Arabia might already have purchased.)
Last week, the NY Times ran a front-page story on Saudi Arabia’s efforts to purchase nuclear fuel enrichment capabilities and as many as 16 nuclear power generating plants from the US. The principal concern expressed here was the Saudi’s insistence on ownership of nuclear fuel-enrichment technologies.
Typically, when the US has exported its reactor technology, it is accompanied by a fuel purchase agreement. We sell the fuel more or less as finished product. In the past, reluctance to export fuel-processing technology stemmed from concerns regarding proliferation of nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia does have domestic sources of uranium they could mine but they have also expressed the need to respond to a potential nuclear arms rivalry with Iran.
But this article omitted the most important point. The key question is what are the Saudi’s motives regarding construction of a vast number of nuclear power plants for supposedly civilian purposes? The answer is obvious. There is no earthly commercial or economic reason for them to produce those quantities of electricity in the proposed nuclear fashion. We should also point out that the seemingly large number cited for these nuclear power plants, $80 billion, is understated by a factor of almost five. Sixteen Westinghouse-designed nuclear stations with two reactors apiece would cost roughly $30 billion apiece! And 16 such plants would cost $480 billion – not $80 billion.

​Growing Awareness​

Monday, November 26, 2018

Redesigning Reality

Creating Humanity,

What will we choose to sacrifice and create as the last of the industrial empires enter terminal decline? Across the globe connections are breaking and new spaces are being created, often with great violence. The demands of the old system exceed the Earth’s capacity and with every passing year, more and more people will be searching for new solutions. We must discover new ways to sing to one another and build our utopias not as end goals but as practices through which we can learn how to better take care of one another. We must create it together, in all our diversity, to give new meanings to the way we live.
It is our historical moment to be such a generation, to live amidst such immense forces of change. The high priests of our system fiercely deny this and demand ever more blood sacrifice from us to end the eclipse of their infinitely growing future. The very logic of their organization precipitates their extinction. However, if we embrace our position, balanced between destruction and creation, we can begin to create harmony amidst the crescendo of the old world. We live amongst dinosaurs. The meteor is coming. We must learn to be warm blooded, how to flower. Will our successional ecology be a golden age or a toxic one? The choice will be ours.

There’s a hidden battle I think is taking place. A battle for the future. Whether or not it will have a soul...  Capitalism is an algorithm... The algorithm of capitalism goes like this. Maximize profits, minimize costs, erase anything that stands in the way. It’s not complicated, it’s not subtle — and there is absolutely no room for human judgment in it... So we get by now that the Facebook algorithm makes us crave fake friendship, constantly dislodging our sense of inherent worth — and the YouTube algorithm tempts us with the most incendiary and extreme videos around. But all this misses the point — the “algorithm” of a “company” is just one expression of the larger algorithm of capitalism. Facebook’s and Youtube’s and Twitter’s algorithms are so noxious, so disappointing, so harmful — and so threatening to democracy, civilization, reason, by way of attacking our self-development — because they are all really the same thing: capitalism’s algorithm...  True freedom begins with the absence of control — which is to say, it is just as much freedom from needing, wanting, hoping to abuse, exploit, demean, harm as it is freedom from suffering them. So all this is about you, becoming someone who transcends this old, decrepit way, which has gone on too long now in human history — this way of being trapped by pleasure, inside systems of domination, great algorithms for controlling human minds, desires, thoughts, possibilities, by doing violence to others, and calling that freedom. And that means that you are going to have to the difficult work of developing a soul. If that is, you want the future to have one, too.

​Why 536 AD was the worst year in history to live on earth (all other things being equal...)
A cataclysmic volcanic eruption in Iceland created a huge cloud that resided over most of the northern hemisphere for 18 months.
The eerie fog caused an unrelenting dusk persevering throughout day and night.
Effects on the climate were so severe that the Irish chronicles tell of 'a failure of bread from the years 536–539'.
Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2,300 years. 
This introduced a period of economic ruin which would steadfastly remain in place until a century later.
In the decades of meteoric economic growth that followed the war, plastic began the inexorable rise that would see it replace cotton, glass and cardboard as the material of choice for consumer products. Thin plastic wrapping was introduced in the early 1950s, displacing the paper and cloth protecting consumer goods and dry cleaning. By the end of the decade, DuPont reported more than a billion plastic sheets sold to retailers. At the same time, plastic entered millions of homes in the form of latex paint and polystyrene insulation, vast improvements over pungent oil paint and expensive rockwool or wood fibre panels. Soon, plastic was everywhere, even outer space. In 1969, the flag that Neil Armstrong planted on the moon was made of nylon. The following year, Coke and Pepsi began replacing their glass bottles with plastic versions manufactured by Monsanto chemical and Standard Oil. “The hierarchy of substances is abolished: a single one replaces them all,” wrote the philosopher Roland Barthes, in 1972...  “Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life,” wrote the economist Victor Lebow in 1955. “We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing pace.” ...
Plastic provided the perfect accelerant for this radical change, simply by being so cheap and easy to throw away. Just a year earlier, in 1954, Lloyd Stouffer, the editor of the trade journal Modern Plastics, was mocked in the press when he told an industry conference that “the future of plastics is in the trash can”. By 1963, he addressed the same conference fully vindicated: “You are filling the trash cans, the rubbish dumps and the incinerators with literally billions of plastics bottles, plastics jugs, plastics tubes, blisters and skin packs, plastics bags and films and sheet packages,” he crowed. “The happy day has arrived when nobody any longer considers the plastic package too good to throw away.”
Plastic meant profit.​...​
If plastic is a microcosm of all of our other environmental problems, then following that logic, so are the solutions. In just a few short years, scientific evidence of the environmental damage done by plastic has spurred people to organise, pressured governments to regulate, and even been noticed by fossil fuel corporations. Customers asked for less packaging at the supermarket, and within a year BP was predicting that, as a result, by 2040 the industry would be producing 2m fewer barrels of oil per day. Our obsession with plastic has registered. In the much larger battle over climate change, the plastic backlash could end up being a small but energising victory, a model for future action.
This means facing up to how interconnected the problems are: to recognise that plastic isn’t just an isolated problem that we can banish from our lives, but simply the most visible product of our past half-century of rampant consumption.

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini just declared himself the leader of the Europe’s future.  He refuses to budge one inch in negotiations with the European Union over Italy’s budget now threatening to take down the government.
And in doing this he not only speaks for Italians, he is now speaking for that growing part of the European population who sees what the EU is morphing into and recoiling in horror.
Protests in France over Emmanuel Macron’s new tax on diesel have turned violent.  The British leadership has completely betrayed the people over Brexit.  They may win this battle but the animosity towards the Britain’s leadership will only grow more virulent over time.
As the core leadership in France and Germany fades in popularity, held in place because of domestic political squabbling, Angela Merkel and Macron are ratcheting up the rhetoric against the rising nationalism Salvini represents and are now pushing hard for their Federation of Europe before both of them leave the scene in the next few years, at best.​..
​Don’t think for one second that Salvini doesn’t know what the real story behind Italy’s debt is and who is hurt worst by exposing it to the vicissitudes of the market.  At this point he’s daring Draghi to stop supporting Italian bond yields.
Let yields rise. Let’s find out who is behind the insolvent Italian banks swimming naked  as the tide rolls out, liquidity dries up and the whole European debt market seizes up.
And if it’s Goldman again then then expect the biggest fight yet for the future of the EU.  If Salvini plays it right, Italeave not Brexit becomes the clarion call for ending the Davos Crowd’s push for global control.

Have the Americans been on the Moon or it’s just a hoax as conspiracy theorists claim? All questions will be answered when the Russian cosmonauts visit the Earth’s satellite, Russia’s space boss, promised.
“We’ve set such a task – to go there and check if they were there or not,” Dmitry Rogozin joked in response to the popular question about the moon exploration. “The Americans say – they’ve been there. We’ll verify that.”

Thanks Wigs (We're used to a lot more varnish on the truth, from both the POTUS and Congress. What about Gabbard's Army Reserve Commission?):  
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has mocked US President Donald Trump’s commitment to remaining allied with Riyadh in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death, calling the president “Saudi Arabia’s b*tch.”...
On Wednesday, Gabbard tweeted that “being Saudi Arabia’s b*tch” is not the kind of “America First” foreign policy that Trump promised during his presidential campaign.
Gabbard, who is an Iraq War veteran herself, opposes the knee-jerk use of the US military in foreign conflicts. She clashed with former president Barack Obama on his Syria policy, suggesting that the US and its allies were pushing for regime change in the country but ignoring the potential consequences. She has also spoken out against the US arming anti-government fighters in Syria, many of whom turned out to be jihadist extremists.

This article says Trump wants $450 billion of Saudi money in deals to look the other way until next time. (Pricey bitch...)

Saudi Arabia pumps a record amount of oil in November, even as prices of oil fall, and OPEC is supposedly cutting back production to keep prices up. (Point goes to team Trump.)

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News said on Thursday the CIA has a recording of a phone call in which the crown prince gave instructions to "silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible." The possible existence of such a tape could put Trump in an awkward position if its contents are leaked given his consistent defense of MbS amidst the scandal and growing calls for accountability.  

​I​t was packaged as a stark, graphic message, echoing across Eurasia: Presidents Erdogan and Putin, in a packed hall in Istanbul on Monday, surrounded by notables, celebrating completion of the 930 kilometer-long offshore section of the TurkStream gas pipeline across the bottom of the Black Sea.
This is no less than a key landmark in that fraught terrain I named ‘Pipelineistan’ in the early 2000s. It was built by Gazprom in only two and a half years despite facing massive pressure from Washington, which had already managed to derail TurkStream’s predecessor, South Stream....
Now juxtapose this develo
ping entente cordiale between the Bear and the (aspiring) Sultan with the gripping drama in Istanbul...
The consensus among the AKP leadership – confirmed by independent Left academics – is that the US-Israel-House of Saud-UAE axis is deep in negotiations to extricate MBS from any culpability.
That includes key items in the hefty Erdogan “package” dangled to the axis to essentially buy Ankara’s silence – an end of the Saudi blockade on Qatar and the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, described across the Turkish political spectrum as the leader of FETO (the Fetullah Terrorist Organization).
The big prize is no less than the leadership of the Islamic world.​..​
The Erdogan machine has sensed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to simultaneously bury the House of Saud’s shaky Islamic credibility while solidifying Turkish neo-Ottomanism, but with an Ikhwan framework.  

​Sister Caitlin in Oz points out that we accept horrors and genocide as normal, which is the big problem.​ Whoever did 9/11, WE are doing this as a result...
And amid all the fist-shaking and rending of garments about the killing of one man by the Saudi government, a far less magnetic story has been published saying that about 84,701 Yemeni children under the age of five were starved to death between April 2015 and October 2018. And I say “were starved to death” instead of “have starved to death” because their starvation is the direct result of a blockade and relentless violence by Saudi Arabia.​..​ 
I mean, take 9/11. Pretty bad, right? 2,996 dead human beings. If that were engineered or permitted to happen by any faction of the US government or any of its allies, that would be pretty diabolical. But would it be worse than a million Iraqis killed in a war based on lies? Even if you only care about American lives, just the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq already far exceeds the death toll of 9/11. This was a war engineered by secretive government agencies and DC insiders, justified and sold to the public with government lies, lies which were advanced as objective and unquestionable fact by the mass media. The war was rammed through without any public accountability, a million human lives were snuffed out, and when they were done nobody was tried for war crimes. Nobody was even fired. No changes were ever made to prevent such horrors from being inflicted upon our world again.
On paper, I’d say that’s far worse than 9/11. Yes, I know the two are related, but just looking at the objective facts of those two occurrences, one is clearly more egregious an offense than the other, regardless of what specifically happened on that September morning.

Zionist Supremacism – The Right to Kill for any Reason Chosen​  (That's the same right America and allies claimed since WW-2. Thanks Eleni.)
Israel admits its submarine sank Lebanese refugee boat during 1982 war

​The US can use white phosphorous to burn eyes, mouths, flesh and lungs because we didn't sign that ban. See? OK. Thanks Eleni.
Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons prohibits the use of the chemical weapon in areas populated by civilians. However, the United States is not a signatory of Protocol III.
The recent alleged bombing of a Syrian town with white phosphorus by munitions is the fourth time the U.S.-led coalition has been accused of using the banned substance in the village of Hajin just since September. On Oct. 29, and a few weeks prior on Oct. 13, local sources reported the use of white phosphorus by coalition jets in Hajin.​..​
Unfortunately, the U.S.-led coalition has been using white phosphorus in combat operations long before September. In fact, the use of white phosphorus had become so commonplace that a New Zealand general that worked with the coalition openly admitted to its use in Iraq’s Mosul in an interview with NPR. The coalition also used the banned munitions in its efforts to take the Syrian city of Raqqa from Daesh in June of last year.  

​These guys only get the right to do anything to anybody if they blame it on Assad. They missed that fine point this time...
Over 100 civilians were hospitalized, including dozens of women and children, after anti-Assad militants unleashed a wave of mortars filled with poison gas on government controlled Aleppo Saturday evening.
Syrian state-run SANA published multiple photos and video of victims in the city's hospitals being treated for what's reported to be chlorine gas exposure. Though it's not the first time that 'rebels' seeking to topple the Assad government have conducted a chemical attack on pro-government areas according to United Nations findings, it is the first time that mainstream American outlets like CNN and Reuters have featured coverage of such events.

NATO-wannabe, Ukraine tries to put military vessels in the Sea of Azov, after being warned in September not to do so. Vessels are impounded. NATO "is monitoring events closely".

Rubber Ducky 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Deer Buddha

Deerly Beloved,

I was able to join a yearly meditation retreat with my Sangha and teacher, Anam Thubten  again this past weekend. 
This one was silent, and in the same place that we have had prior silent retreats, a Hindu temple Radha Madhav Dham . This temple was made around 1990, and looks like it was built on a small national guard facility, by a guru later convicted of 20 cases of child molestation, and still on the run. They changed to the current name after that. 
It's on a nice 200 acres with good hiking trails for walking meditation, a hill, a creek and lots of deer. 
I did about 3 hours of walking meditation per day for three days, and an hour the fourth day. I did personal walking meditation for one or two of the sitting meditation sessions per day. All my sitting stuff and knees and back were uncomfortable a lot, starting early and staying late.
I spent a lot of time around groups of does, at least two, and often three groups per hour walk. A large, strong buck crossed the trail about 20 feet in front of me, mostly interested in a doe in the bushes on the other side.
I whistle to deer to be nice. I start whistling a tune when I notice them, and keep whistling until I am well past them. I'm saying that I mean them no harm. The deer show a lot of curiosity about me. Sometimes they start and run, or a couple out of a group of twelve might move to the back of the group. Sometimes small groups of three to four will move back twenty or thirty feet behind some bushes and watch me quietly. They like to have their bodies facing away, and heads craned to look at me, probably to flee quickly if needed.
Sometimes deer emotionally connect with me. I can feel it. You might have felt it, or felt something like it from other non-human beings. Lots of people feel love from pets, or irritation from pet cats. I feel two things from deer. Most often I feel sort of a tingly excitement, with little sparklies dusted all over the top of it. Often I feel that when a deer seems to notice me, looking up to make eye contact. It doesn't last long. 
Sunday afternoon I got totally immersed in a big warm, funky wave of deer love, which I've felt a few times before, but this wave was really engulfing. There was a group of about a dozen does of various ages about 150 yards ahead of me when I started whistling, and a large doe was watching me as long as I was looking at them. I started whistling, maybe "This Land Is Your Land" or the Dr Who theme, or my usual theme song from "Bridge On The River Kwai" ("Winners, fill up with Malt-O-Meal..."). This wave was really a total immersion experience, a flood of full, funky, earthy, warm deer love with all the exciting little sparklies dusted on and through it, too, and it lasted a good ten or twelve seconds. It felt like a welcome-home love.
A female deer reached out over 100 yards to completely engulf me with emotional and visceral love groove experience. That's really a remarkable feat, and I'm remarking on it. I had a chance to reflect and meditate on it, because I was at a silent meditation retreat for four days. This doe may well have recognized me, the whistling human, from my previous two retreats there. I'm about the same. I open up my personal space bubble a lot at meditation retreats, sometimes pretty big. I can't measure it, but it feels like it gets big out in the open spaces, and completely gets around in the meditation room.
I'm pretty sure I can't do what that deer did. In February 1991, when my friend, Guy took me to hear the Dalai Lama, under a tent top in Santa Fe, and he looked in my eyes and smiled as he walked in, I felt an explosion of light and energy from within myself. WOW! I had no reality framework in which to integrate that experience. I was flabbergasted. I have never experienced it before or since, but it was clearly from His Holiness looking into my eyes and smiling from about 15 feet away. I tried really hard to understand his talk about the non-existence of the self. I couldn't. I really could not grok it at all.
Many people consider His Holiness to be a Living Buddha. Where are the goal lines on that? Beats me.
Deer do this thing in a deer way from over 100 yards, or at least one does, to me, once. It was a different thing from the Dalai Lama, but it was almost as total of an experience, and from a much longer distance. 
You don't have to believe this. I'm not asking that. You might or might not ever experience anything like this. It did get me thinking that the first and probably hardest thing humans do with meditation is getting past the "monkey mind" chatter and story-telling and craving and hating and stuff. My understanding is that deer don't have those impediments to deal with at all. Unfettered. Completely unfettered by ego and concepts. As far as I know...
I can't escape the conclusion that it must be vastly easier for deer to be their spiritual nature than it is for humans, like falling off a log easier. 
Human Buddhas are rare and wondrous. 
I think we may really be missing the big picture here.
We humans talk to each other about how we are the whole party. It's our world to ruin and save. It's all up to us. 
We need to become enlightened and save all the other animals. This is how we think things are.
We may actually be the lame latecomers to this enlightenment party.

Deer Abbie

Friday, November 16, 2018

Last Rites

Looking Twice,

Cat sent this story of an Israeli soldier giving a visually impaired 74 year old Palestinian woman water to drink during Israel's summer 2014 invasion.
Another soldier took this picture of the humanitarian gesture.
Ghalya was born in 1941. She lived by herself in a room near her brothers’ house in the Abu-Rida neighbourhood of Khuza’a. She had no children. Her neighbourhood was one of the first places invaded by the Israeli army during the aggression...  Ghalya, with her weak body and white hair, refused to leave her house after the Israeli army ordered the residents of Khuza’a to evacuate. She thought her old age would protect her from being a target so she stayed in her home and refused to join the majority of the residents who left the area as the invasion began...  “During the aggression, an Israeli soldier approached the old woman and took a photo for another soldier while giving her water. They then executed her by shooting her in the head from a distance of one metre and let her bleed until she died.”

The US has spent $5.9 Trillion on wars since 2001. I can say it, but I cannot begin to comprehend this number: $5,933,000,000,000. "Exceptional"

After previously on Thursday the Senate killed a proposal by Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) to block $300 million in US arms sales to Bahrain — a key Saudi coalition ally in the Yemen war — Senators proposed another bill that would suspend all US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and block the refueling of Saudi warplanes bombing Yemen.
Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, led by Bob Menendez (R-New Jersey) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) introduced the “Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2018” — also with the sponsorship of three Democrats — to hold the Saudis accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.​..
One of Sen. Paul's supporters,  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), argued that “It is long overdue that we end U.S. complicity in Saudi Arabia’s atrocities,” and said, “We must end all U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen now.” Paul's resolution failed 77-21 as it faced a veto threat from the White House and as its opposition argued Bahrain is the wrong target and needed US missile and anti-tank systems to curtail the threat from Iran.
Menendez said the just announced sanctions against 17 Saudi nationals introduced by the White House were “not enough” in response to Khashoggi's death to ensure Riyadh properly investigates and ends its criminal behavior. Menendez described his bill as "putting teeth behind these demands with regular oversight, sanctions and suspension of weapons sales and refueling support.”

Menthol cigarettes are not just "menthol flavored". Menthol kills faster.
The menthol is a topical anesthetic, numbing the airways as the smoke is inhaled much deeper without discomfort, for a much bigger initial nicotine hit to the welcoming brain. Ahhh!
Menthol cigarettes are much more damaging and much more addictive. Almost nobody can quite from menthol. they almost always have to step down to a stinky, cough-inducing regular cigarette, and let the disgust help them wean off.
The FDA is looking at banning menthol, since it is very attractive to teens. This was originally marketed to (targeted at) African Americans, and still is. 
Most menthol smokers I see as a doctor are black. 
Some voices are presenting the menthol ban as racist AGAINST Blacks. 
I say "follow the money".

Solar Minimum has arrived earlier than predicted, with snow in Houston this week, and my tomatoes all dead. 
These minima are of different severity and duration. Will record cold in Texas be any indicator? 
Beats me... I'm planting some "cold tolerant" Mexican avocado trees in Yoakum.

I will be attending a silent meditation retreat for 5 days. Watch the world for me, will ya?

Silent Observer

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Changing Landscapes

Bidding Good Riddance,

Thanks Eleni. Lots in motion in Israel/Palestine.
In shock move, Avigdor Lieberman has resigned from his position as Israel’s defence minister following a disagreement over the recently-signed ceasefire with Gaza.
Speaking at a press conference in Israel today, Lieberman began by saying that “I assume everyone has tried to guess and I think you guessed correctly – I am indeed here in order to resign from my position as defence minister”.
Lieberman explained: “Why now? – From my perspective, what happened yesterday in terms of the ceasefire, in combination with the arrangements with Hamas, is submission to terror. What we are in effect doing is buying short term quiet [in Gaza] and the price will be difficult for [Israel’s] security in the long term.”  

​A plea from Syria, thanks Eleni:
The illegitimate “international coalition” led by the United States of America continues to commit crimes against innocent Syrian civilians. Over the past few days, coalition warplanes continued bombarding homes in the city of Hajin, Dayr al-Zawr Governorate, with internationally prohibited white phosphorus bombs. On 24 and 28 October 2018, the coalition fired missiles at homes in the village of Susah, Dayr al-Zawr Governorate. Dozens of civilians, the majority of whom were women and children, including an entire family (father, mother and two children), were killed and injured as a result of the above-mentioned crimes.
The coalition continues to commit crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people, employ internationally prohibited weapons, such as white phosphorus bombs, against Syrian civilians and violate the norms of international law, international humanitarian law and human rights instruments. Those actions confirm beyond any doubt that this illegitimate coalition is committing such crimes, which pose a serious threat to regional and international peace and security, in a deliberate and systematic manner.
The Syrian Arab Republic once again calls upon the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.

An explosive New York Times story citing multiple unnamed sources familiar with the matter details how top Saudi intelligence officials conspired to assassinate Iranian leaders — including Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) Quds force commander Qassim Suleimani — in a plot wherein the Saudis mulled using private contractors, and even approached Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater and at the time adviser to the Trump transition team.  

​At the talks in France, Putin and Trump got to talk about the new missile Russia has. MAD is BAAACK!
Vast sectors of the US Deep State are in denial, but Putin may have been able to impress on Trump the necessity of serious dialogue due to an absolutely key vector: the Avangard.
The Avangard is a Russian hypersonic glide vehicle capable of flying over Mach 20 –  24,700km/h, or 4 miles per second – and one of the game-changing Russian weapons Putin announced at his ground-breaking March 1 speech.
The Avangard has been in the production assembly line since the summer of 2018, and is due to become operational in the southern Urals by the end of next year or early 2019.
In the near future, the Avangard may be launched by the formidable  Sarmat RS-28 intercontinental ballistic missile and reach Washington in a mere 15 minutes, flying in a cloud of plasma “like a meteorite” – even if the launch is from Russian territory. Serial production of Sarmat ICBMs starts in 2021.
The Avangard simply cannot be intercepted by any existing system on the planet – and the US knows it. Here is General John Hyten, head of US Strategic Command:  “We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us.”

​Also from Eleni, the E-11 European defense alliance is not NATO and not EU. European alliances are getting fluid again, like "the good old days". Anything could happen. This need not be anti-Russian.
​Ilargi, at The Automatic Earth, talks about Macron's speech:
If and when a former Rothschild banker starts telling us what the words in our respective languages actually mean, beware. Even if he has dozens of professional speech writers and spin doctors to do it for him. And even if the meaning and interpretation of words, though they may seem easily translatable, differ between English, French, German, Russian, Chinese to such an extent that Lost in Translation may appear to be an understatement.
But if you’re that Rothschild banker who became president of France through a process that nobody will ever understand, and you host the 100th commemoration of perhaps the worst war ever in history, to be ‘celebrated’ with ‘leaders’ none of whom have exhibited any memory through their actions of the ‘This must never happen again’ that the war ended with, you can expect to get away with bending both history and language.
Macron’s entire audience was ready for, and willing to absorb, a message that seemed so benevolent and sincere and loving, and that perhaps most of all was yet another jab at one of his guests, the American president. They were eating it up. As long as they can appear to stand together against Trump, they can make their people, their voters, and perhaps even each other forget how divided they themselves are.

​Fracking like crazy, the US now makes as much oil as it uses. This is short term, but an important accomplishment for an isolationist fortress-America option.

C​rude Enough​

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Back To The Future

Rhyming Historically,

Jenny and I just bought a nice house in Yoakum, Texas, which is in the coastal plains, down the San Marcos/Guadalupe River, with lovely alluvial soil, and inland enough to be sheltered from the worst of hurricanes. We anticipate edging back in time, and the south central Texas area seems to be "10 years behind" to start with. Some regular people do not have cellphones or internet. There's all kinds of folks in Yoakum...
Jenny's cousin in Victoria, Freddy, gave us two avocado trees he grew from seeds, which we picked up at the signing Monday. We took them to Yoakum in the back of a 1993 Nissan pick-up, which is an adventure to drive. We drove them back to Yoakum slowly. 
The family that sold the house to us grew up in it. Their Dad and Mom built it. We are very respectful of that.
Places that were built before air conditioning appeal to me, but they generally need repairs, as this house had in the past year, and will get more of this winter. I need to put in a garden and fruit trees, after taking out a few sick and older trees, and maybe a couple that would shade the garden. 
My thesis is that the end of growth, which I think has already happened, must soon lead to a financial reset, which will be a collapse of the debt-at-interest paradigm of money and finance. 
We, in the fortunate countries are feeling deeply uneasy. This is it. 
Beginning a parallel existence while it is possible, and on the cheap, as finance permits, is what we are doing here. I'll keep y'all up on the progress from time to time. 

Meet 202 Hefferman Street!

Here is the Yoakum climate data. Notice that the July and August nightly lows average 72-73, which is low enough for tomatoes to happily produce. Notice the steady rainfall and mild winters.

Yoakum has a tomato festival every June. 
Yoakum had a prominent tomato industry in the 1920s and 1930s, back when they used to grow tomatoes outside in Texas. 
Nobody does that anymore. How quaint!

Wikipedia on Yoakum

Tomato Plotter

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Living Systems

Ecosystem Members,
​Jenny and I have had a lot to consider recently with the death of her Mom. Life and death and love and ​change in the world, which we have seen, and which we anticipate going forward.​ We are traveling tonight to Yoakum, where we are signing on a nice house on 0.6 acre of lovely soil. We will keep living in Austin, and working, and fixing up the house, and getting fruit trees in, and a bigger garden. This is an engagement with life, not techno-fantasy. We pray for wisdom and guidance going forward.

Gail Tverberg on Why we get bad diagnoses for the world's energy economy problems. (Affirmation and expansion of Limits To Growth thesis.)​
In the time since the 1972 Limits to Growth analysis was prepared, there has been a major discovery relating the importance of energy to the economy. Ilya Prigogine tackled the problem of the physics of thermodynamically dynamic open systems, earning a Nobel prize for his efforts in 1977. When energy flows are available, many structures, called dissipative structures, can grow and change over time. Examples include plants and animals, hurricanes, stars (they expand in size, then collapse at the end of their lives), ecosystems, and economies. These structures are utterly dependent on energy flows. The economy needs energy in almost the same way that humans need food. Without sufficient energy flows, the world economy will collapse.

t is because of the laws of physics and energy flows that markets are able to set price levels. Indirectly, physics sets the maximum affordable price for energy products based upon the total quantity of goods and services individual workers can afford. These maximum affordable prices may be invisible, but they are very real. Economists may talk about “demand” for energy products, but the real issue is affordability: “Will the laws of physics allow prices to stay high enough to provide the commodities the world economy needs?”
It is because of the laws of physics that debt can play a major role in the economy. Debt can provide time-shifting services if an economy does not have sufficient energy supplies to permit the equivalent of bartering of finished goods and services for new capital goods. Debt can allow future goods and services (manufactured with energy products) to serve as payment for capital goods and other goods purchased using debt. Thus, debt acts as a promise of future energy supplies. These future energy supplies may not, in fact, actually be available at prices that consumers can afford. This is why debt bubbles so often collapse and have a devastating impact on economies.

​David Stockman comes at the debt from a more partisan angle, with lots of experience, and gets to the same destination as Gail.
Trump and the GOP deserve everlasting ignominy for literally shit-canning fiscal rectitude. So doing, they have completely abandoned the GOP's fundamental reason for being--- watch-dogging the US Treasury---in favor of immigrant-bashing, border hysteria and what boils down to crude nativism by any other name...
So what has actually transpired through it all is that the Donald has dropped the equivalent of a neutron bomb on the GOP. Its edifice is still standing but what used to be inside is dead to the world.
Worse still, those now departed legions of budget hawks have been replaced by an unseemly coalition of militant border patrollers, neocon blood-lusters and military pork barrel servitors of the Warfare State. That is to say, a predatory gang of self-serving swamp-dwellers who couldn't defend the taxpayers or the nation's solvency if their lives depended upon it.  

​Citizen Ray sends this article about an accidentally slipped brag about kicking ass with internet censorship in the war against fringe-ideas. (I got wounded.)
In comments published here for the first time, a neoconservative Washington insider has apparently claimed a degree of credit for the recent purge — and promised more takedowns in the near future.
“Russia, China, and other foreign states take advantage of our open political system,” remarked Jamie Fly, a senior fellow and director of the Asia program at the influential think tank the German Marshall Fund, which is funded by the U.S. government and NATO. “They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. So we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning.”
Fly went on to complain that “all you need is an email” to set up a Facebook or Twitter account, lamenting the sites’ accessibility to members of the general public. He predicted a long struggle on a global scale to fix the situation, and pointed out that to do so would require constant vigilance.
Fly made these stunning comments to Jeb Sprague, who is a visiting faculty in sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara and co-author of this article. The two spoke during a lunch break at a conference on Asian security organized by the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin, Germany on Oct. 15 and 16.

Professor Paul Craig Roberts:
If America had an independent media, the election would be about the American police state that, based on the 9/11 lie, the weapons of mass destruction lie, the use of chemical weapons lie, the Iranian nukes lie, the Russian invasion of Ukraine lie, was accepted by the insouciant Americans. Those responsible for these lies, which have caused massive war crimes, for which US administrations should be indicted, are feted and rich. The rest of us have experienced the loss of civil liberty and privacy. Any individual in the way of the police state is mowed down.
If America had an independent media, the election would be about the de-industrialization of the United States. Today, as this article makes clear— —the offshoring of American manufacturing and industry has reduced the US military to dependence on Chinese suppliers.

In the system of national defense of the US a gaping vulnerability was found that is very difficult to close. The reaction of the Pentagon is reminiscent of badly hidden panic, and journalists who examined the results of the research of American experts, who thoroughly studied the condition of the American army and defensive industry, admit that there is iron logic in the recent “strange” actions of president Trump — he wants to save America from transforming into a cardboard tiger with paper claws.
The essence of the problem, according to the retelling of the columnist of the Reuters agency Andy Home, who obtained a copy of the September report of the US Department of Defence on the situation concerning key deliveries necessary for the American army, is reduced to one important figure. More than 300 (!) key elements necessary for the normal functioning of the US Armed Forces and defensive industry are under threat: American producers are either on the verge of bankruptcy or were already replaced by suppliers from China or other countries because of the deindustrialisation of national economy and the relocation of production to the countries of Southeast Asia.

​Apparently everybody in Washington, Riyadh, Berlin, Paris and London has heard the gruesome Khashoggi murder-dismemberment tapes now. Erdogan said he gave them all copies. The US is ceasing refueling Saudi warplanes over Yemen.
In a significant development, the White House is preparing to halt the U.S. refueling of Saudi coalition jets engaged in operations over Yemen. It's been among the more controversial measures of assistance the Pentagon has provided the Saudis and Emirates during three years of aerial operations over Yemen, which has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, including a massive number of civilian casualties. 
The New York Times reports that the "limited punishment" is to be accompanied by proposed sanctions on Riyadh over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi:
The Trump administration is ending air refueling flights for the Saudi military campaign in Yemen and preparing sanctions against Saudis linked to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, current and former American officials said on Friday. The moves would impose a limited punishment on the kingdom.
​Bass Ackwards​

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Talking About Power

Threatening the Narrative,

The notification I sent out this morning  to the 188 people on the regular bcc news list went through. 
Everything I sent to that list got uniformly blocked since before Halloween, including yesterday, 11/7/18. 
This is a form of information filtering of anything which might not agree with the approved (by Google?) narrative. 
The filter has been lifted from my communications again for the moment. 
This same filtering happened to me in 2016, leading up to the elections, and was lifted after that vote. It is why I started the blog. 
We have been seeing information about shadow-banning. This is a form of shadow banning. 
There is a lot of complex and variable filtering of information by Google. Just look at the personalized ads you get fed. 
For now, look at , Consider getting the blog notification via email, which you can now enter in a line at the top of the page. 
I hope that works, but it can be inactivated easily enough...
Consider the near future, when even the appearance of free communication will go away. I'll be gardening, and providing medical care, I hope.

Gilad Atzmon, who is really in a position to know what he is talking about...​
For the last four decades, the West has been subjected to an intense cultural and social revolution. The cause of ‘social justice’ has made some fundamental changes in western society.  Elementary rights, such as the freedom to think openly, have been eradicated and replaced by a strict regime of correctness. In retrospect, it was reasonable to believe that there was little significant resistance to these social justice heroes. During that time, it seemed that their agenda had prevailed. Just five years ago it looked as if the Tyranny of Correctness was here to stay. But then, unexpectedly, the tide changed.
First the Scottish referendum let us know that every other Scot wanted to separate from the Kingdom. Soon after, half of the Brits voted to split from the EU, and then, totally unexpectedly, Trump won the presidential election.
It was Trump’s victory that really brought the identity war to the fore. For whatever reason, it was Trump and his combative rhetoric that most clearly exposed the demarcation line that divides the West.
America, like the rest of the West, is split into  ‘Identitarians’ and ‘Nationalists:’ Identitarians identify politically with their symptoms. These symptoms may be ethnic or cultural but most often are biological (skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, race, etc.). Nationalists, on the other hand, are people who identify politically with a piece of geography that is defined by their national borders.

This really presents a best-case scenario.
T​rump is making offers the world can refuse – by reshaping trade deals, dispensing with American sops and forcing powerful corporations to return home, the US is regaining economic wealth but relinquishing global power.  As the last leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika (restructuring) led to the breakup of its vast territory(22 million square kilometers). Gorbachev’s failed policies led to the dissolution of the USSR into Russia and independent countries, and the end of a superpower... This diminishing influence was highlighted when India and seven other countries geared up to defy Washington’s re-imposition of its unilateral, illegal sanctions against Iran, starting Monday. The US State Department granting “permission” on the weekend to the eight countries to buy Iranian oil was akin to waving the green flag at a train that has already left the station.

​Moon of Alabama summarizes election 2017:​
Trump's domestic agenda will be hindered by the new House majority. He may well compensate for that with a more aggressive foreign policy.
With more than $5 billion spent on midterm election campaigns the elected people are more indebted to their rich donors than ever before.
Florida passed an amendment that will restore the voting rights of some 1.4 million people with past felony convictions. This will change the political landscape. Most of the felons are people of color, often convicted for very minor crimes. In 2016 Trump carried the state by 100,000 votes.​..​
The campaign for the 2020 election has begun.

​The winds of propaganda war in Washington may be shifting, but I'll never be approved.​ (The rumor is that Lindsay Graham will be nominated for Attorney General, now that he has changed to Trump's side, and Nikki Haley may take his South Carolina Senate seat. Yucky political bedfellows, those two...)
Just one day after Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate, President Trump revealed in a tweet that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned. Matthew G. Whitaker, Sessions' chief of staff, will become acting Attorney General until Trump can win a confirmation for Sessions' replacement from the Senate. Whitaker is expected to be sworn in by end of day Wednesday. Session confirmed that he is resigning at the president's request.
Since Whitaker hasn't recused himself from the probe, he will become the senior DOJ official overseeing the Mueller, whose investigation is said to be winding down after a handful of departures from his team of prosecutors. This could be a problem for the veteran prosecutor, because Whitaker, a former US attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, said during a stint as a conservative commentator that the Mueller probe was a "witch hunt" and that he believes Mueller has violated the law by looking into Trump's finances and venturing beyond the original scope of the investigation. 

​Robert Mueller has gotten the memo about how to save his own deeply corrupt bacon...​
Rumors over Mueller's final report comes as Democrats go into full panic mode over the appointment of Matt Whitaker - Sessions' former right-hand man, as interim Attorney General. Whitaker will take over the Russia investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who signed off on a FISA surveillance warrant application and subsequent renewals for former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.  

The whole EU is doing worse than advertised since 2008, certainly including Germany, and is in no condition to withstand any economic shocks or displacements.

Mish Shedlock points out 4 paths for resolution of the Brexit problem, and says there is no movement, because there is no majority consensus. That is not necessarily bad. Certain regions of France and Germany will be hit very hard by a no-deal Brexit, and their national governments really need to protect those interests. The tough guy bluffing all around is not helping anybody. How long will it last?

The Bank of England will keep 14 tons of Venezuelan gold. "It's safer here. Y'all might steal it from yourselves, or something."

Following The Money

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Back Up Plans

Feeding the Army,

Consider it beyond ironic that some of the same experts and organizations now suggesting that we bet America’s future on pumping up the most inefficient sector of our economy -- no, no, I didn’t mean the coal industry, I meant the military-industrial complex -- are conservative experts who criticized the Soviet Union for the very same thing.  They still claim that it imploded largely because Washington cleverly lured its leaders into devoting ever more of their resources to the military sector.  That, they insist, reinforced a rigidity in the Soviet system which made it virtually impossible for them to adapt to a rapidly changing global economic landscape.
Our military buildup, they still fervently believe, bankrupted the Soviet Union. Other analysts, like the historian Lawrence Wittner, have questioned such a view. But for the sake of consistency, shouldn’t conservatives who claimed that excessive military spending did in the Soviets be worried that President Trump’s policy of massive tax cuts for the rich, increased Pentagon spending, and trade wars with adversaries and allies alike might do something similar to the United States?

Maybe you once thought the CIA wasn’t supposed to spy on Americans here in the United States.
That concept is so yesteryear.
Over time, the CIA upper echelon has secretly developed all kinds of policy statements and legal rationales to justify routine, widespread surveillance on U.S. soil of citizens who aren’t suspected of terrorism or being a spy.
The latest outrage is found in newly declassified documents from 2014. They reveal the CIA not only intercepted emails of U.S. citizens but they were emails of the most sensitive kind — written to Congress and involving whistleblowers reporting alleged wrongdoing within the Intelligence Community...
The March 2014 intercepts, conducted under the leadership of CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, happened amid what’s widely referred to as the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers and mass surveillance scandals...
It turns out the CIA claims it must engage in “routine counterintelligence monitoring of government computers” to make sure certain employees aren’t doing bad things. Poof! Now, all kinds of U.S. citizens and their communications can be swept into the dragnet — and it’s deemed perfectly legal. It’s just an accident or “incidental,” after all, if the CIA happens to pick up whistleblower communications with the legislative branch.

The F-35 finally has some competition for costliest boondoggle in American military history.
According to Bloomberg, the most expensive Navy warship to date, the $13 billion Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, was delivered last year without the elevators it needed to lift bombs from below deck for loading on to fighter jets. The "advanced weapons" elevators were supposed to have been installed by the ship's delivery date of May 2017. However, technical problems have caused repeated delays to the installation. While answering questions from reporters, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer described the elevator system as "our Achilles heel."

The Untouchable US-Saudi Relation is a Core Element of US Imperialism (Can't take the petro out of the petro-dollar at this point. It's already become a bludgeon to beat the rest of the world. Gotta' keep some carrot with that stick.)

Deeply overdrawn Pakistan close-dances with China and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan is critical to the new silk road, and Saudi relations with the rest of the Islamic world, notably Turkey and Iran. (Much of this debt could be satisfied without resorting to $US, I notice.) Pepe Escobar paints in bright colors...

Turkey will not recognize US sanctions against Iran, and will (again) have to work around the dollar...

In anticipation of the US sanctions against Iranian oil exports, which were reimposed by the Trump Administration on Monday (along with additional sanctions on everything from Iranian shipping to banking and insurance), oil tankers bearing the Iranian flag have embraced a stealthy approach to keeping the oil flowing: They're 'ghosting' international trackers by turning off their transponders, rendering the ships impossible to track by anything aside from visual cues...​ ​Already, the ghosting method is proving surprisingly effective: In an interview with Sputnik, the founders of one of the most popular oil-tanker tracking services,, have been "utterly exhausted" trying to track Iranian ships... Meanwhile, the "special purpose vehicle" - a kind of SWIFT alternative designed explicitly to help European companies avoid detection by the US - is helping to facilitate clandestine payments for Iranian crude, eliminating another methodology for tracking who, exactly, is buying Iranian crude. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has said Iran will defy US sanctions, though both sides have insisted that they remain "open" to negotiations surrounding a new deal.  

OK, we will "grant waivers" to all the countries that have enough leverage to call our bluff. Oil prices won't go up, they say...
Pompeo defended the decision to provide waivers to several U.S. allies, arguing that those countries were working with the administration to reduce their Iranian oil imports.
In addition to Japan, China, and India, Pompeo said the U.S. also would exempt these five countries: ItalyGreeceSouth KoreaTaiwan and Turkey. China is Iran's largest oil customer, followed by India, South Korea, Turkey, and then Italy​.​

Midterm elections produce gridlock pattern, with Democratic majority in the House being more modest than a mandate, and Republicans getting more solid control of the Senate. Some things that big banks and corporations, Israel, and the military-industrial-security-complex want will pass easily...

Golem XIV points out where the bad-debt-sausage sits in the American financial landscape today, compared to 2008. 
Pension Funds. Insurance Companies. (Whew! I'm Glad bankers are gonna' be ok.)
Corporates are floundering in a river of debt of their own creation. They are the ones who have taken on loans they will not be able to pay if interest rates increase even a little. The banks have packaged up and sold on that leveraged loan debt and those junk bonds and they have been gobbled up by pensions and insurance companies desperate for yield after a decade of ‘temporary’ low interest rates.
In place of zombie banks we now have zombie corporations kept alive by low interest rates and bond buying QE. Those low interest rates have created a dysfunctional market. Zombie corporations are kept alive because they can sell their sub-prime bonds and get sub prime loans in a market where the buyers of those bonds and securitised loans, the insurers and pension funds and fund managers, are so desperate for yield that they gobble up ‘high yield’ which is just a euphemism for sub prime.
This time it will not be the banks that trigger another financial collapse. Not HSBC or Countrywide this time but GE or Caterpillar. The companies who have been propping up their share prices with endless buy backs funded by… low interest rate loans and junk bond issues. Or perhaps it will be the corporates who are merging and acquiring.