Friday, May 31, 2019

What We Pay For

Purchased at Discount,

But it's just so convenient...
“There will come a time when it isn't ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. Eventually, it will be ‘My phone is spying on me.’” ― Philip K. Dick  ​ ​[over 20 years now, already]
Make no mistake: the Internet of Things is just Big Brother in a more appealing disguise.
​ ​Now there are still those who insist that they have nothing to hide from the surveillance state and nothing to fear from the police state because they have done nothing wrong. To those sanctimonious few, secure in their delusions, let this be a warning: the danger posed by the American police state applies equally to all of us, lawbreaker and law-abider alike.
​ ​In an age of too many laws, too many prisons, too many government spies, and too many corporations eager to make a fast buck at the expense of the American taxpayer, there is no safe place and no watertight alibi.
​ ​We are all guilty of some transgression or other.

​Caitlin Johnstone on the news blackout about Julian Assange's profoundly ill condition. (There are ways to do that, right Yasser?)
We have been watching the slow-motion assassination of Julian Assange.They have been choking him to death by tactical psyops, siege tactics, and wilful neglect as surely as if they placed a noose tied around his neck, not just in Belmarsh Prison but in the embassy as well. The only difference between his execution and someone on death row is the same as the difference between covert and overt warfare, which makes sense because the intelligence, judicial and military agencies who are carrying out his death sentence operate within the same power structure which carries out war. First came the smears (propaganda), then came the siege (sanctions), and they staged their coup (dragged him out of the embassy) and now they’ve got him in their clutches and they can do what they want behind closed doors. That’s how you kill a nation while still looking like a nice guy, and that’s how they’re killing Assange.

​ ​Julian Assange is showing all the symptoms associated with prolonged exposure to psychological torture and should not be extradited to the US, according to a senior UN expert who visited him in prison.
​ ​Nils Melzer, UN’s special rapporteur on torture, is expected to make his appeal to the UK government on Friday. It comes after Assange, the co-founder of WikiLeaks, was said by his lawyers to be too ill to appear by video link for the latest court hearing of the case on Thursday.

​ ​Trump has talked rightly about war being the last thing he wants and has broached the idea of a bilateral negotiation with Tehran on issues of concern. Establishing more communication nodes with the Iranians is the correct approach.
 ​More weapons in the hands of the Saudis, however, sends Iran the opposite message—that the United States is only interested in talking if the topic is full surrender. And if Iran remains resistant to the idea, Washington will sell munitions to its adversaries until it‘s ready to sign off like the Japanese in 1945...
​ ​It’s not too late for President Trump to reverse a potentially calamitous decision. For the good of America’s security, one hopes he has second thoughts and recognizes that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia don’t always align.

​Russia won't send Iran S-400 anti-aircraft missiles right now. (I suspect there had to be some price for the US/Israel to pay for this, like promising Vladimir they won't launch massive air attacks.)​

Trump called political financier/fixer, Sheldon Adelson a few days ago about Bolton running his own war policy...
 ​ ​In perhaps the best sign thus far that a potential US war with Iran has been averted (at least for the near term), given the possibility that both heightened saber-rattling and the potential for an "accidental" deadly encounter between IRGC forces and the recent build-up of American deployments could have led to a major conflict, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton himself appears to now be fast climbing down the escalation ladder.
​ ​According to Reuters on Thursday Bolton is singing a different tune compared to the war rhetoric of the past weeks since the crisis began: "The threat from Iran is not over but quick action from the United States has helped deter it."

​Mike Pompeo and Jared Kushner are participating in highly secretive Bilderberg meeting of global power elites this week. (shhh...)

Nixon/Kissinger/Butz weaponized global staple food production against families, nations and farmers.
​ ​Archaeology, history and anthropology have been largely neglected in discussions on climate change and agricultural sustainability. However, our past contains a rich, diverse, and global dataset resulting from the successes and failures of numerous societies and their interactions with the environment.
​ ​This research provides an important source of information on food security and agricultural development over a much longer period than current studies allow and under a range of different challenges.
​ ​The memory of agriculture and food is carried by landscapes, seeds, animals, people, and technologies, as well as by oral traditions, languages, arts, rituals, culinary traditions, and unique forms of social organisation.
​ ​In many regions around the world landscapes and agricultural systems have developed often distinctive, ingenious practices that have stood the test of time in their robustness and resilience...
​ ​Of Earth’s estimated 400,000 plant species, 300,000 are edible, yet humans cultivate only around 150 species globally, and half of our plant-sourced protein and calories come from just three: maize, rice and wheat.  


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rabid Hierarchy

Run Amok,

The United States is no longer supplying its enemies only with conventional weapons – that list now also includes cyberweapons.
 While Baltimore has been struggling with an aggressive cyber-attack over the last three weeks, previously profiled here , it has now been revealed that a key component of the malware used by cyber-criminals was actually developed just a short drive from Baltimore - at the NSA, according to the New York Times.
 The tool used - called EternalBlue – has been used by hackers in North Korea, Russia and China to "cut a path of destruction around the world", and resulted in billions of dollars in damages.
Now, it has come full circle and is back in the US, wreaking havoc just miles from Washington. In fact, security experts say that attacks using EternalBlue have soared and cyber-criminals are honing in on vulnerable towns and cities, using it to paralyze governments. The NSA's connection to the attacks had previously not been reported and the NSA hasn’t commented about it since an unidentified group leaked the weapon online in April 2017.
The NSA and the FBI still don’t know whether or not it was leaked by foreign spies or US insiders.
The leak has been referred to as “the most destructive and costly N.S.A. breach in history,” by Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity expert at Johns Hopkins University. He continued: “The government has refused to take responsibility, or even to answer the most basic questions. Congressional oversight appears to be failing. The American people deserve an answer.”
An answer that we're sure they won't get.
Commenting on the leak in April 2017, Edward Snowden said that the "NSA just lost control of its Top Secret arsenal of digital weapons; hackers leaked it."

The 5-Eyes deep-state wants Julian Assange dead-not-alive. He has taken a turn for the worse in solitary confinement in a British prison. He's sick in the prison hospital now. Wonder what happened? This sets the right example for potential leakers and spies/journalists.
“One of the reasons is that Assange's health situation on Friday was such that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him,” Samuelson said. The lawyer said that any hearing should be stalled until Assange could talk the case through with his legal team “in peace and quiet.”  

Just charging Assange and then killing him in custody will work fine and be less complicated.
 “If Assange can be declared guilty of espionage for working with sources to obtain and publish information deemed ‘classified’ by the US government, then there's nothing to stop the criminalization of every other media outlet that routinely does the same,” Greenwald wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday, highlighting what he considers “the greatest threat to press freedom in the Trump era, if not the last several decades.”  

Helen of DesTroy wrote this piece for RT. 'Ratf***er and spy': British academic sues FBI informant & MSM for calling her Russian 'honeypot'Russian-born British historian is suing FBI informant Stefan Halper and several news outlets for defaming her as a "honeypot" working for the Kremlin to seduce Trump aide Michael Flynn. She says the scandal ruined her life.
Former Cambridge University academic Svetlana Lokhova has demanded $25 million from Halper, along with the Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC, and Wall Street Journal, charging their "combined character assassination" over the past three years "injured her business as an academic and author, and propelled her to the epicenter of a massive fraudulent hoax about 'Russian collusion.'"

Keep-killing-for-Jesus, a talk from Rapture-Mike Pence, to West Point grads:
 “Men and women of West Point, no matter where you’re deployed, you will be the vanguard of freedom, and you know that the “soldier does not bear the sword in vain.”The work you do has never been more important. America will always seek peace, but peace comes through strength. And you are now that strength.
 It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life. You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen.
 Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of you will join the fight on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific, where North Korea continues to threaten the peace, and an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence in the region. Some of you will join the fight in Europe, where an aggressive Russia seeks to redraw international boundaries by force. And some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.
 And when that day comes, I know you will move to the sound of the guns and do your duty, and you will fight, and you will win. The American people expect nothing less.”

This military PR blunder made the rounds. Colleen sent it, and I saw it several of my favorite sites.
After posting a video of a young recruit talking to the camera about how service allows him to better himself “as a man and a warrior”, the US Army tweeted, “How has serving impacted you?”
As of this writing, the post has over 5,300 responses. Most of them are heartbreaking.
“My daughter was raped while in the army,” said one responder. “They took her to the hospital where an all male staff tried to convince her to give the guy a break because it would ruin his life. She persisted. Wouldn’t back down. Did a tour in Iraq. Now suffers from PTSD.”
“I’ve had the same nightmare almost every night for the past 15 years,” 
said another.
Tweet after tweet after tweet, people used the opportunity that the Army had inadvertently given them to describe how they or their loved one had been chewed up and spit out by a war machine that never cared about them. This article exists solely to document a few of the things that have been posted in that space, partly to help spread public awareness and partly in case the thread gets deleted in the interests of “national security”. Here’s a sampling in no particular order:
“Someone I loved joined right out of high school even though I begged him not to. Few months after his deployment ended, we reconnected. One night, he told me he loved me and then shot himself in the head. If you’re gonna prey on kids for imperialism, at least treat their PTSD.”...

“my grandpa served in vietnam from when he was 18-25. he’s 70 now and every night he still has nightmares where he stands up tugging at the curtains or banging on the walls screaming at the top of his lungs for someone to help him. he refuses to talk about his time and when you mention anything about the war to him his face goes white and he has a panic attack. he cries almost every day and night and had to spend 10 years in a psychiatric facility for suicidal ideations from what he saw there.”
“My best friend joined the Army straight out of high school because his family was poor & he wanted a college education. He served his time & then some. Just as he was ready to retire he was sent to Iraq. You guys sent him back in a box. It destroyed his children.”

Long-planned big-war is behind schedule, so...
Bolton further said there was "no doubt" that Iran ordered the series of aggressive acts, also echoing prior Pentagon statements. “I think it is clear these (tanker attacks) were naval mines almost certainly from Iran,” Bolton said“There is no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who is responsible for this [Mossad?] and I think it’s important that the leadership in Iran know that we know.” ...
 Not only does the US now have a carrier strike group and B-52 bombers on high alert in the Persian Gulf region, but the White House last week signed off on deployment of 1,500 additional troops in response to the heightened Iran threat. 
The national security advisor further described the additional military build-up this month the “prudent and responsible” approach which signaled Iran that Washington was ready to give a “very strong” response to any continued action.

No other country in the Middle East is as important in countering America’s rush to provide Israel with another war than Iraq. Fortunately for Iran, the winds of change in Iraq and the many other local countries under similar threat, thus, make up an unbroken chain of border to border support. This support is only in part due to sympathy for Iran and its plight against the latest bluster by the Zio-American bully.
In the politics of the Middle East, however, money is at the heart of all matters. As such, this ring of defensive nations is collectively and quickly shifting towards the new Russo/ Sino sphere of economic influence. These countries now form a geo-political defensive perimeter that, with Iraq entering the fold, make a US ground war virtually impossible and an air war very restricted in opportunity.
If Iraq holds, there will be no war in Iran.
In the last two months, Iraq parliamentarians have been exceptionally vocal in their calls for all foreign military forces- particularly US forces- to leave immediately. Politicians from both blocs of Iraq’s divided parliament called for a vote to expel US troops and promised to schedule an extraordinary session to debate the matter.

Hey, Venezuela was supposed to be easy...
For the foreseeable future, the US cannot simply unseat Maduro and seize control of the Venezuelan government. In fact, as recent events in Washington DC have demonstrated, it has considerable difficulty even seizing the Venezuelan embassy, which was occupied by Code Pink activists for over a month until their forcible removal on May 16.
Like a child deprived of its favorite toy, sullen US hawks are now faced with the reality that there is no easy military shortcut to their geopolitical goals in Venezuela. However, advocates of regime change have never been on speaking terms with reality, as the recent increased likelihood of a US war with Iran has made clear...
For anti-imperialists in 2019, the lesson of Venezuela is that, against all odds, erecting obstacles to such intervention is now both demonstrably possible and arguably more effective than it was in the early days of the “war on terror.” But war takes many forms. As Empire Files journalist Abby Martin pointed out in January, current US sanctions against Venezuela “are not an alternative to war. They are war, in every way.”...
This crime against humanity, these means by which a country and a people are bled and starved into submission without a shot being fired, continues even now.  

This is the proper role for cryptocurrency, large international transactions. 1:1 gold-backing would be a very strong statement.
According to Russian news agency, TASS, Russia’s central bank, the Bank of Russia will consider issuing gold-backed cryptocurrencies—a rather strange move considering how cryptocurrencies are generally anathema to central banks.
...the head of the Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina, has revealed that the cryptocurrencies are not meant for retail use but rather for conducting big mutual settlements for entities with global jurisdictions.
In other words, only the heavyweights will get to lay their hands on them. Further, she says that she still believes that it’s better for countries to develop international settlement systems such as the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) framework that use their own national currencies noting the said framework has demonstrated good dynamics.

Yves Smith on the "multipolar world". Look, Ma, it's CORPORATIONS!
  Another important dimension to recognize is that what we understand to be global or international is, for the most part, owned and controlled by industrialized countries: 93 percent of foreign-owned production is controlled by Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) economies. Even the historic tendency to focus on state power should be questioned in this moment. In 2016, 69 of the world’s largest 100 economies were corporations, with their own range of interests and methods of functioning.
 One of the (self-serving) fears governing the end of American hegemony is that in its absence, the world will inevitably revert to some sort of brutal Hobbesian “state of nature” characterized by a balance of power clashes, in which the strong dictate to the weak.
 Is that a reasonable assumption? The reality of the 21st-century world is that neither the United States nor China can readily force third-party countries to join their respective competing blocs as the United States and Soviet Union were once able to do. Of course, they both have leverage, but these are often overstated. China can periodically raise the specter of a rare earths cutoff (used in everything from lithium batteries, cell phones, wind turbines, or electric cars), or threaten to liquidate its stockpile of U.S. Treasuries to cause a collapse in the dollar and bond market in order to flex its muscles. But rare earth production can ultimately be established elsewhere, and the “nuclear option” of selling U.S. bonds is a fantasy (see here for the reasons). Likewise, the United States can deploy trade sanctions, or military muscle. But this kind of aggressive unilateralism is ultimately self-defeating, as it drives away potential allies in the process.  

Eleni sends EU Parliament elections update. It's a mess. Everybody claims some kind of victory, except UK Tories and Labour. Farage's Brexit Party cleaned up there. The Yellow Vests refuse to field candidates on principle...
In what may be the biggest shock from today’s European parliamentary elections, President Emmanuel Macron suffered a major blow with French voters set to hand a victory to Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, picking the vocal Eurosceptic and nationalist over the former Rothschild banker.
Macron’s En Marche (Republic on The Move) will have just 22.5% of the vote compared with 24% for Le Pen, according to pollsters Ifop. With Macron and Le Pen neck and neck ahead of the elections, the outcome will be a humiliation for the liberal politician who said before the elections that everything less than 1st place would be a defeat.

Macron freezes Yellow Vests out of Facebook on EU Election Day. 
TOUCHE! Macron wins BIGLY!  
On Sunday, polling day in the European elections, the largest Facebook group associated with the “yellow vest” protests in France, with more than 350,000 members, was frozen so that members could not publish or share information in it.  

Joe forgot to act presidential again. What came over him?
Despite his promise to be more "mindful and respectful" of others' (especially womens') personal space, the former vice president oozed sleaze during an interaction with a 10-year-old girl during an American Federation of Teachers Town Hall in Houston.
After the young girl asked Biden a question, he exclaimed "I'll bet you're as bright as you are good-looking" before leading her over to meet the reporters in the room, which produced the following photo. During the impromptu meet-and-greet, Biden was photographed whispering something in the young girls' ear.

This Intercept article looks at how the 2016 campaign to elect Bernie Sanders could not get any experienced campaign workers, who knew they would be blackballed for taking those jobs. They did get some talent, though, and that talent went to work with the multitudes of volunteers, and ended up with a lot of self-organizing groups, with lots of direct human contact and initiative. 
The writer says this "accidentally built a radical movement". This is a mainstream-politics view of some peculiar-events, which have allowed the self-formation of an alternative political organization. Efforts to harness this effectively, without killing it, appear to be underway. 
People have to FEEL like they are connected, like they make a real difference, right?  

Not sure who wrote this RT article. The US is choking and starving Venezuelans, regular people, families...
Ships carrying food and fuel intended for Venezuela have been sabotaged to prevent them from reaching their destination, President Nicolas Maduro has said, labeling the acts “torture to the economic body of the country.”
Vessels carrying food “were sabotaged and did not leave the ports where they were going to leave,” said Maduro during Monday’s meeting with party leaders in Caracas. He added that ten boats carrying fuel were also sabotaged.
At a meeting of the United Socialist Party which leads, Maduro also drew a link between the alleged acts of sabotage at sea and the international sanctions against Venezuela, spearheaded by US administration.

Charles Hugh Smith:
Forget "Money": What Will Matter Are Water, Energy, Soil and Food--and a Shared National Purpose
If you want to identify tomorrow's superpowers, overlay maps of fresh water, energy, grain/cereal surpluses and arable land.
The status quo measures wealth with "money," but "money" is not what's valuable. "Money" (in quotes because the global economy operates on intrinsically valueless fiat currencies being "money") is wealth only if it can purchase what's actually valuable.
As the world slides into an era of scarcities, what will matter more than "money" are the essentials of survival: fresh water, energy, soil and the output of those three, food. The ability to secure these resources will separate nations that fail and those that survive.
In a world of abundance, it's assumed every essential resource can be bought on the open market. Surpluses are placed on the market and anyone with "money" can buy the surplus.
Things work differently in scarcity: "money" buys zip, zero, nada because nobody with what's scarce can afford to give it away for "money" which can no longer secure what's scarce.

 Hey, this is just like what's happening in Africa...
American Soil Is Being Globalized: Nearly 30 Million Acres Of U.S. Farmland Is Now Owned By Foreigners

​Bright and Good Looking​

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Financial Asphyxiation

Externalizing Losses,

Jim Hightower was Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, an elected office, from 1983 to 1991. He presents here, the past and current American history of choking farmers to death and suicide.
The current result of the average farm losing money for the past 5 years happens due to political and market arrangements, which give farmers no say in what they are paid for what they produce, but large financial firms, trading commodities, can rig prices every day. Seed and pesticide companies have ramped up their prices, and put farms out of business if they don't cooperate. US farm policy since Nixon/Kissinger/Earl Butz has been to "get big or get out", and to only support massive corporate players like Monsanto and Cargill. This puts all the farmers in the world at the "mercy" of these weaponized multinational corporations. Their interests are to dominate as part of the financial-capitalism-war-machine.
Thanks for the link, Ray. (God bless me, I've got the "black dirt" in Yoakum!)
In Democratic Promise, Larry Goodwyn’s definitive history of America’s 19th century Populist Movement, he describes the migration of hundreds of thousands of abjectly poor Southern farmers into Texas in the 1870s and ’80s. They were escaping the scurrilous “company-store” system of crop lending that predatory financiers had imposed on the rural South, trapping farmers in perpetual peonage. The people’s only way out of oppressive debt was literally to abandon their farms and flee the state. Family after family loaded their meager belongings onto horse-drawn wagons, nailed a “Gone to Texas” note to their cabin doors, and headed west, seeking land and some sort of positive future.  
But the rich blackland prairie of East Texas was out of their financial reach, so their caravans pushed into the sparsely populated west-central region, ending up on the thin dirt of the Edwards Plateau.  

How to Thrive in the Next Economy, John Thackara's preface to the upcoming Chinese Edition
​ ​A cultural disconnection between the man-made world and the biosphere lies behind the grave challenges we face today. We either don’t think about rivers, soils, and biodiversity at all – or we treat them as resources whose only purpose is to feed the economy. This ‘metabolic rift’ – between the living world, and the economic one – leaves us starved of meaning and purpose. We have to heal this damaging gap.  
​ ​This book is about the design of connections between places, communities, and nature. Drawing on a lifetime of travel in search of real-world alternatives that work, I describe the practical ways in which living economies thrive in myriad local contexts. When connected together, I argue, these projects tell a new ‘leave things better’ story of value, and therefore of growth. Growth, in this new story, means soils, biodiversity and watersheds getting healthier, and communities more resilient.  

​The chlorofluorocarbon-cheat emitters have been located!​
After much speculation, the whereabouts and magnitude of these harmful emissions has been confirmed in scientific research. As earlier reporting in The New York Times had already suggested, they seem to be coming from the northeast coast of mainland China...
 These violations are likely going unreported because even though CFC-11 is illegal, it is also one of the cheapest ways to produce new foam insulation in refrigerators and buildings.
After tracking down documents and international sources, journalists at The New York Times and independent investigators discovered that in some factories in China, illegal CFC use has been slipping through the cracks for years...
 Gathering atmospheric observations from locations in South Korea and Japan, the researchers compared global monitoring data and atmospheric chemical movements to figure out whether these emissions came from eastern Asia - the area most suspected as the source of CFC-11...
China currently produces about one-third of the world's polyurethane foam, and the emissions so far may only represent a fraction of what has already been manufactured. The rest of the CFC-11 may still be trapped inside a slowly-emitting foam bank, and the only way to know for sure is to find the ones responsible.  

​Internalizing Profits​

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Transparent Lies

Don't miss the important point that up to 3 "Putin apologists"​ donated to the presidential campaign of anti-war-soldier, Tulsi Gabbard (shudder...)
​...psst, Bernie Sanders loves commies, too...​
“This is how they control self-serving politicians whose only concern is their career,” Gabbard says. “Unfortunately for them, I am a soldier — not a career politician.”  

​Paul Craig Roberts:
​ ​Everyone who is aware of the US government’s extraordinary criminal actions at home and abroad bears a heavy weight.  The millions of peoples murdered, maimed, orphaned, widowed, and displaced by gratuitous American military aggression comprise a Holocaust of deaths based entirely on lies and false accusations in order to advance secret American and Israeli agendas.​..
​ This storyline converts the illegal brutal war crimes of the US government against women, children, defenseless citizens, schools, wedding parties, funerals, and farmers in their fields into glorious and brave defenses of our liberty and virtue. If you want the truth watch the video leaked by Manning of US troops enjoying themselves while from the air they machine-gun reporters and innocent civilians walking along a street and follow up by machine-gunning a father and his two young children, babies, who stopped to help the wounded bleeding in the street.  The leak of the video that showed the true picture of Washington’s wars is the reason Manning was tortured and imprisoned.  It is the person who told the truth, not the criminals who committed the murders, who was punished.

​Eleni sends this real journalism from Craig Murray, former UK Ambassador.
​ ​In Sweden, prosecutors have applied to the Swedish courts to issue a warrant for Julian’s arrest. There is a tremendous back story to that simple statement...
​ ​Assange’s initial appeal up to the UK Supreme Court was in large part based on the fact that the warrant did not come from a judge but from a prosecutor, and that was not a judicial authority. I have no doubt that, if any other person in the UK had been the accused, the British courts would not have accepted the warrant from a prosecutor. The incredible and open bias of the courts against Assange has been evident since day 1. My contention is borne out by the fact that, immediately after Assange lost his case against the warrant in the Supreme Court, the British government changed the law to specify that future warrants must be from a judge and not a prosecutor. That is just one of the incredible facts about the Assange case that the mainstream media has hidden from the general public...
 The law having been changed, this time the Swedes have to do it properly and actually go to a court to issue a warrant. That is what is now happening...
​ ​When it comes to Assange, he is simply to be reviled. He is provably treated differently by both state and MSM at all points. It does not matter to them that his arrest warrant was not from a judge, or that the media apply entirely different rules to investigating his case, enforced by a feminist mantra they do not believe or uphold in other cases. He is simply to be hated without question.
​ ​Why has there never been a documentary in the UK like the brilliant “Sex, Lies and Julian Assange” from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s flagship Four Corners programme? Please do watch if you have not done so already:
​ ​Julian Assange revolutionised publishing by bringing the public direct access to massive amounts of raw material showing secrets the government wished to hide. By giving the public this direct access he cut out the filtering and mediating role of the journalistic and political classes.​..
  There is an interesting parallel with the reaction to the work of Reformation scholars in translating the Bible into vernacular languages and giving the populace direct access to its contents, without the mediating filters of the priestly class. Such developments will always provoke extraordinary venom from those whose position is threatened.​..

​ ​Ecuador has begun giving the US some of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange's possessions left behind following his stay in its London embassy.
​ ​The country's foreign minister José Valencia authorised the seizure of equipment earlier this month.
​ ​The material includes manuscripts, legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment.
​ ​Mr Assange's lawyer said the move was "completely unprecedented in the history of asylum".   

​ ​I am writing you from Montpellier, France, where I am a participant-observer in the Yellow Vest movement, which is still going strong after six months, despite a dearth of information in the international media.
​ ​But why should you take the time to learn more about the Yellow Vests?  The answer is that France has for more than two centuries been the classic model for social innovation, and this unique, original social movement has enormous international significance. The Yellow Vests have already succeeded in shattering the capitalist myth of “representative democracy” in the age of neo-liberalism. Their uprising has unmasked the lies and violence of republican government, as well as the duplicity of representative institutions like political parties, bureaucratic unions and the mainstream media.
​ ​Moreover, the Yellow Vests represent the first time in history that a spontaneous, self-organized social movement has ever held out for half a year in spite of repression while retaining its autonomy, resisting cooptation, bureaucratization and sectarian splits. All the while, standing up to full-scale government repression and targeted propaganda, it poses a real, human alternative to the dehumanization of society under the rule of the capitalist “market.”

​Theresa May is still keeping the Brexit, which Britons voted for, impossible within the terms she has set. (Probably her job...)​
EU despairs at emptiness of May's latest Brexit offer
Brussels no longer interested in negotiating with May, says former official
Theresa May’s “bold offer” to MPs ahead of a final vote on the Brexit deal consisted of a series of platitudes and the restatement of negotiating objectives that have already been rejected, EU officials said in response to the prime minister’s appeal to the Commons.​..
 Hours before May’s speech, the Irish deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney had warned the cabinet in Dublin that a no-deal Brexit was more likely than ever before.

​EU Parliamentary elections begin 5/23/19 in the UK and will be completed in all EU member states on 5/26/19.

People everywhere have become completely dispossessed politically, with their votes failing to have any real power where the financial decisions about their lives are made. They want their countries back. That was the last arrangement, within which they were afforded any political say.
Have the nationalists of Europe caught the wave of the future?
Or will the future see the revival of the idea of One Europe, a political and economic union that inspired the dreamers of yesteryear?
From here it looks like Matteo, not Macron.

​Charles Hugh Smith:​
 The two dynamics transforming the economy--technology and financialization--are intertwined yet widely viewed as unrelated. Critics and proponents of each largely ignore the other dynamic: critics of institutionalized fraud and other manifestations of financialization implicitly assume the economy will return to some golden age if we get rid of financialization's skims and scams...
 In reality, both dynamics reinforce the disruptive effects of the other on non-elites. Financialization concentrates wealth and political power in the hands of those closest to the sources of cheap credit--central banks and private-sector banks. ..
 In effect, the negative network effect generated by America's pay-to-play political structure creates a winner take most economy in the tech sector that mirrors the the winner take most dynamic of financialization.
 Non-elites already live in a winner take most economy--a reflection of asymmetrical concentrations of wealth and power in tech and financial corporations. The commoditization of credit and institutionalized fraud such as corporate buybacks have served to strengthen the negative network effect that arise from the unholy alliance of Big Tech and the central state.

 Superficial financial analysis of the possibility of a Chinese ban on export of rare-earth metals, such as neodymium needed for Prius and Tesla motors, misses important strategic points. 
 Firstly, this process is vastly degrading to the environment where these are mined, then extracted via massive acid pits, to get just a little to sell overseas. China accepted environmental degradation that other countries rejected, and did it cheaply. Now the other countries are hooked. America used to mine this stuff, and could do so again, and it would take a minimum of 5 years, would cost a LOT more, and Trump's EPA would have to cancel some laws.
 Secondly, the world is hooked on the things made from rare-earths, all of which can be made in China, in fact, many versions already are. Why export a raw material, when you can export a finished product or twenty, with a near monopoly? That's better business.
​...​China watchers expected Beijing to respond to Trump's tariff hikes by blocking the exports of one or more rare-earths, although fast forwarding one year later this still hasn't happened. But that doesn't mean it won't happen, and overnight President Xi Jinping’s visit to a rare earths facility fueled speculation that the strategic materials will soon be weaponized in China’s tit-for-tat war the US.
​ ​As Bloomberg reported overnight, shares in JL MAG Rare-Earth surged by the daily limit on Monday after Xinhua said the Chinese president had stopped by the company in Jiangxi, a scripted move designed to telegraph what China could do next...
 ​Why does China have a clear advantage in this area? Simple: the U.S. relies on China, the dominant global supplier, for about 80% of its rare earths imports.
​ ​The visit “sends a warning signal to the U.S. that China may use rare earths as a retaliation measure as the trade war heats up,” said Pacific Securities analyst Yang Kunhe. That could include curbs on rare earth exports to the U.S., he said.

The U.S. Has a Fleet of 300 Electric Buses. China Has 421,000  

​ ​Here we go again with a claim that seems to surface every Spring: the US says it is looking into allegations the Syrian government has used chemical weapons as it continues an offensive against jihadists in northwest Syria.
​ ​Just as in prior incidents, it appears the sole originator of the claim is al-Qaeda in Syria, currently battling it out with pro-Assad forces near Idlib. And like with prior chemical attack allegations, it comes at a moment the jihadists are fast losing ground in the area.​..
 However, ironically these new allegations have surfaced just after a leaked report produced by the international watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), paints a very different picturecontracting the US version of events on Douma last April 2018.

​ ​There's fresh hope that unrest in Donbass raging since 2014 could find resolution as Ukraine's new president, comedian and presidential impersonator turned overnight real political leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was just sworn in on Monday, and immediately he is dissolving parliament and urging peaceful settlement in the country's east.
​ ​The 41-year old Zelenskiy said in translated comments via The Moscow Times: “Our first task is to end the conflict in the Donbass.” With a clear mandate from Ukrainian voters who overwhelmingly want to see an easing of tensions with Russia, and the exit of oligarchs from power to halt mass political corruption, he announced during the inauguration ceremony from Kiev he wants to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, even if it means losing his post.

​Helen has this breaking/broken story:
​ ​It's almost as if Mossad agents have psychic powers. After exciting the bloodlust of the Trump regime’s hawk-in-chief John Bolton with an impossibly vague yet somehow “credible” tip that Iran (or its proxies) was plotting to attack US interests (or allies) somewhere in the Middle East, they have delivered the promised attack, right on time, with a “rocket strike” on Iraq that landed a mile outside the US embassy in Baghdad’s American-occupied Green Zone.
​ ​The plucky little rocket injured no one, and the launcher that fired it was immediately found in a canal in East Baghdad, which Israeli media breathlessly report is “home to Iran-backed Shiite militias.” "Non-emergency" US government personnel had already been safely bundled out of the Iraqi embassy by the State Department last Wednesday, supposedly due to an "imminent threat" from Iran, and even Exxon-Mobil interrupted its plunder of Iraq’s resources, pulling 30 engineers off a Basra oil field as a "temporary precautionary measure." But despite its apparent futility, the lonely rocket fulfills the deliberately broad criteria set forth by “Rapture Mike” Pompeo earlier this month when he warned that any attacks on “US interests or citizens” by “Iran or its proxies” would be met with a “swift and decisive” response.

​Later the same yesterday:
HAJJAH, YEMEN — Saudi Arabia has claimed that its air defenses shot down two ballistic missiles over the city of Taif, just 65 kilometers east of Mecca, in the early hours of Monday morning. Saudi officials claim that another missile was intercepted over the Haddah in western Saudi Arabia.
 Saudi newspaper Okaz reported that the missiles were intercepted as residents were breaking their day-long Ramadan fast. The paper claimed that the attempted attack was evidence that the Houthis had no regard for the safety and security of Muslim pilgrims visiting Mecca during the nights of Ramadan. The Houthis have unequivocally denied any involvement in the attacks.

Thanks for this link, Cat:
 For nearly two decades, one of the most overlooked and little known arrests​ ​made in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks was that of the so-called “High Fivers,” or the “Dancing Israelis.” However, new information released by the FBI on May 7 has brought fresh scrutiny to the possibility that the “Dancing Israelis,” at least two of whom were known Mossad operatives, had prior knowledge of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
​ ​Shortly after 8:46 a.m. on the day of the attacks, just minutes after the first plane struck the World Trade Center, five men — later revealed to be Israeli nationals — had positioned themselves in the parking lot of the Doric Apartment Complex in Union City, New Jersey, where they were seen taking pictures and filming the attacks while also celebrating the destruction of the towers and “high fiving” each other. At least one eyewitness interviewed by the FBI had seen the Israelis’ van in the parking lot as early as 8:00 a.m. that day, more than 40 minutes prior to the attack.​...
 The men — Sivan Kurzberg, Paul Kurzberg, Oded Ellner, Yaron Shimuel and Omar Marmari — were subsequently apprehended by law enforcement and claimed to be Israeli tourists on a “working holiday” in the United States where they were employed by a moving company, Urban Moving Systems. Upon his arrest, Sivan Kurzberg told the arresting officer, “We are Israeli; we are not your problem. Your problems are our problems, The Palestinians are the problem.”

​This is Helen's story for RT. She says all these chips are manufactured in Israel. Go figure...
​ ​Researchers have found another security flaw in the Intel processor chips that power most of the world’s computers, one that can compromise users’ private data – and that can’t be fixed without a major performance drop.
​ ​The exploit, dubbed ZombieLoad, is embedded in Intel’s processor chips themselves, meaning even the best-designed software patches can only go part of the way toward plugging the hole without reducing the chips’ performance. The vulnerability may allow attackers to ‘resurrect’ critical data processed by the chip – from browser history and passwords to disk encryption keys and other system-level sensitive data.
​ ​Its reach isn’t even limited to the end-user’s computer, according to researchers Michael Schwarz, Moritz Lipp, and Daniel Gruss from Graz University of Technology and Jo Van Bulck from KU Leuven: it “can also be exploited in the cloud.” 

F​inally, a well designed crossover study comparing a processed food diet, to an unprocessed food diet, then vice-versa with each group.
​ The team’s final results were striking. On the ultra-processed diet, the volunteers ate an average of 500 extra calories a day, gained body fat and about a pound of weight by the two-week mark; on the unprocessed diet, they lost body fat and dropped that same pound.
​ ​The results were published Thursday in Cell Metabolism.
​ ​While the findings may seem obvious on the surface, Hall said that it’s not clear why people overate on the ultra-processed diet. In recent years, many experts have gravitated to the simple, intuitive idea that since ultra-processed foods tend to be richer in fat, sugar, and salt, it’s these three nutrients that are largely to blame for the rise in weight, obesity, and metabolic disorders. But given the design of this study, that explanation seems to fall short.
​ ​“I was kind of suspecting that once you matched for these nutrients—for the fat, sugar, and salt—there wouldn’t be much difference, but I was wrong,” Hall said.

​Surprising Reality​

Sunday, May 19, 2019



​ ​A billionaire philanthropist and technology investor told the graduating class of Morehouse College that he would wipe out the student debt of the entire graduating class, estimated to be around $40 million, according to Time.
 Robert F. Smith, this year’s commencement speaker, made the announcement Sunday morning while addressing nearly 400 graduating seniors of the all-male historically black college in Atlanta. Smith is the Founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in software, data, and technology-driven companies.
​ ​"On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus," said Smith, adding "This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans." 
​ ​Stunned students looked around in disbelief upon the announcement, before breaking into wild applause. Morehouse said it is the single largest give to the university.
​ ​Smith - who received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse as part of the ceremony, had already announced a gift of $1.5 million to the college. He said he expected the graduates to "pay it forward," and said he hoped that "every class has the same opportunity going forward."
​ ​In the weeks before graduating from Morehouse on Sunday, 22-year-old finance major Aaron Mitchum drew up a spreadsheet to calculate how long it would take him to pay back his $200,000 in student loans — 25 years at half his monthly salary, per his calculations.
​ ​In an instant, that number vanished. Mitchum, sitting in the crowd, wept.

 Speaking to ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Gabbard said that deteriorating relationships with nuclear-armed countries such as Russia and China "has brought us to a very dangerous point," reports The Hill. She added that, if elected, she would "end these counterproductive and wasteful regime change wars," and would "work to end this new Cold War and nuclear arms race." 
On Friday, the Daily Beast published a story claiming that Gabbard "is quickly becoming the top candidate for Democrats who think the Russian leader is misunderstood," based on people who had donated to her campaign. (We somehow missed the Daily Beast article on Hillary's alleged Saudi donors in 2016, but we digress).
 On Sunday, Stephanopoulos asked Gabbard about the Beast article, and noted that she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as her defense of Russia's military presence in Syria, and her comments suggesting that Russian election interference was on par with American election meddling around the world. 
​ ​"Is Putin a threat to national security?" he asked.
 ​"You now it's unfortunately you're citing that article, George, because it's a whole lot of fake news. What I'm focused on is what's in the best interest of the American people​.​ What's in the best interest of national security? Keeping American people safe," said Gabbard. "And what I'm pointing out consistently, time and time again, is our continued wasteful regime change wars have been counterproductive to the interests of the American people and the approach this administration has taken in essentially choosing conflict ... has been counterproductive to national security."  

​ Iraq has spent the better share of the last 16 years under US military occupation. Despite this, time and again US-Iraqi relations have come to be defined by US hostility toward neighboring Iran, and Iraq’s desire to not get mixed up in that.
​ ​So while Iraq’s parliament was already bristling under Pentagon talk of staying in Iraq, and Trump saying that the US was staying in Iraq to “keep an eye on Iran,” the recent escalation of US rhetoric about a war against Iran has sparked action within parliament.
​ ​It has been said for awhile that Iraq will be voting on a bill that would aim to expel all foreign troops from Iraqi soil, and singles out US troops in particular as needing to leave. The bill is endorsed by Iraq’s top two Shi’ite blocs, and is expected to pass fairly easily.

​Former UK Ambassador, Craig Murray:​
​ ​The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engaged in the mechanics of the transactions.
​ ​It was a rotten system, bound to collapse. But unfortunately, it was a system in which the political elite were so financially bound that the consequences of collapse threatened their place in the social order. So collapse was prevented, by the use of the systems of government to effect the largest ever single event transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the course of human history. Politicians bailed out the bankers by using the bankers’ own systems, and even permitted the bankers to charge the public for administering their own bailout, and charge massive interest on the money they were giving to themselves. This method meant that the ordinary people did not immediately feel all the pain, but they certainly felt it over the following decade of austerity as the massive burden of public debt that had been loaded on the populace and simply handed to the bankers, crippled the public finances.
​ ​The mechanisms of state and corporate propaganda kicked in to ensure that the ordinary people were told that rather than having been robbed, they had been saved. In the ensuing decade the wealth disparity between rich and poor has ever widened, to the extent that this week the BBC announced the UK now has 151 billionaires, in a land where working people resort to foodbanks and millions of children are growing up in poverty.
​ ​With the mainstream media employed entirely in diverting them from the true causes of their difficult lives, it is hardly surprising that ordinary people do not necessarily understand why a society has arisen where working hard does not enable them to eat and stay warm, and why the economic prospects of their children look so bleak.

​A Brief History of Doom, Reviewed by Economista, Steve Keen
​ ​This brief book (196 pages, excluding endnotes) on the history and causes of financial crises usurps Kindleberger's Manias, Panics, and Crashes (Kindleberger 1978) and Mackay's Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (Mackay 1852) as the definitive work on this vital topic. It surpasses both these works for several reasons, not the least of which is the career and experience of the author.
​ ​Mackay was a journalist and gifted writer; Kindleberger, an economist with an impressive record in both public service and academia. Both of them observed financial manias and crashes from their respective professional perches, outside the financial system itself.
​ ​Vague is an ex-banker, whose fortune was carved in the financial crisis emanating from the bursting of the 1979 oil shock bubble, whose hands-on management established two of America's biggest consumer credit card companies (First USA, which he sold Bank One in 1997, and Juniper Financial, which he sold to Barclays PLC in 2004), and whose professional access to the voluminous data he saw on the explosion in mortgage debt - from $6 trillion in 2002 to $9 trillion in 2005 - led him to anticipate the Subprime Crisis and exit banking altogether. Vague has seen financial crises from the inside - and not merely survived but prospered.
​ ​In the hands of most Americans, this experience would lead to a "How to Get Rich" book. Vague's ambition with this book is very different: to make society richer by understanding what causes financial crises, and thereby preventing them in the first place.​..
​ ​The book concludes with a short chapter on the prospects for crises in the immediate future - unlikely for the USA, ameliorated for China by its uniquely powerful government (but if there is no credit crisis, there is and will still be massive overcapacity) - and a brief discussion of remedies. Vague is (pardon the pun Richard!) a bit vague here. Like me, he recommends that the aggregate level of private debt and the rate of growth of that debt - otherwise known as credit - should be made a key economic indicator, every bit as important as the unemployment rate or the rate of inflation:
​ ​The surest method to detect these dangers ... is to measure aggregate lending totals in the whole and by sector. Where loan growth is extraordinary in relation to GDP, it is almost certain that lending standards have been relaxed. It should then be a straightforward matter for regulators to intervene as needed. (p. 194)
​ ​He also notes that, from the historical record, the recommendation that countries with high private debt to GDP levels should grow their way out of it appears impossible:
​ ​Instead, private deleveraging in a given country has almost always occurred through one of three means: offsetting very high growth in public debt, which brings its own concerns; very high and sustained inflation, which is painful; or a very large net export position, which is hard to sustain without trade repercussions. Private debt deleveraging, absent any of these three things, reduces asset values and has a contracting impact on GDP, bringing duress. (p. 195)
 ​He recommends instead "a broader strategy of debt restructuring or forgiveness" (p. 195), but without going into details of how this might be done.

Is this from Helen Buyniski? I can't keep up.​
 ​Facebook has uncovered an extensive Israeli-run political influence campaign that has been ‘changing reality according to clients' wishes’ targeting elections in African, Latin America and Asian nations for years.
​ ​The social media platform has shut down 65 Facebook accounts, 161 pages, 23 groups, 12 events, and four Instagram accounts run out of Israel, citing its policy on “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”...
​ ​The fake accounts masqueraded as locals and local news outlets, pumping out glowing stories and smear jobs on candidates in local elections, including allegedly leaked information. The campaign primarily targeted Nigeria, Tunisia, Angola, Senegal, Togo, and Niger, though “some activity” focused on Southeast Asia and Latin America, according to a Facebook post by Nathaniel Gleicher, the company’s head of cybersecurity policy, on Thursday.
​ ​The Israelis had invested considerable time and money into the deception, dropping about $812,000 on ads over the past seven years in dollars, shekels, and Brazilian reals. This is compared to roughly $100,000 mainstream media claims was spent on ‘Russian bots’ to allegedly sway the 2016 US presidential election.
​ ​Facebook has been much less forthcoming about this particular campaign than some previous mass takedowns, perhaps because the culprits aren’t linked to Russia or Iran, while Facebook regularly cooperates with the Israeli government to have politically inconvenient accounts deleted.

​Fake Local​

Friday, May 17, 2019

Different Angles

Seeing the Forest,

​ ​There is a lot happening in the world all at once right now. The entire planet is rapidly reconfiguring itself. The world is begging for a new, post-capitalist, post-industrial order to be born, but the overabundance of natural resources that have made previous such revolutions possible (coal for the age of steam, oil for the current oil age) simply no longer exist. All that remains is optimizations, enhancements and reconfigurations of the existing order of things, cutting out that which is most harmful and most dysfunctional. To this end, Western European nations are attempting to reclaim the sovereignty they ceded to the United States and the European Union while Eurasia is coming together to form a massive economic and security conglomerate centered on China and Russia. Both are playing for time, because redirecting trade and financial flows away from the US is quite a process.
​ ​The world’s central banks are doing their best to get rid of their US dollar reserves and to buy gold, which, as of this April, they are allowed to consider a risk-free financial asset. Many people now expect gold to go up as a result, but that expectation is based on an illusion. Think of gold as a lighthouse and of fiat currencies as sinking ships: those aboard them may look around and decide that the lighthouse is going up, but that’s just an optical illusion. The purchasing power of fiat currencies is sure to fall (some more than others). The purchasing power of gold will seem to increase, but that will also be an illusion: it will appear to rise against the backdrop of crashing markets, in real estate and physical plant especially. But overall the purchasing power of gold will drop too, because the future purchasing power of any financial asset is determined by just one thing: energy, fossil fuel energy in particular, and energy from crude oil above all. Without energy, nothing within an economy moves, unless it is an agrarian economy based on fodder and animal muscle power.  

​ ​With Trump shutting down Huawei and China's entire telecom industry, it was only logical that China would at least try to retaliate, which it has done by formally breaching the US embargo on Iran oil exports. According to ship tracking data on Refinitiv Eikon (i.e. the old Reuters terminal), a tanker carrying Iranian fuel oil in violation of U.S. sanctions has unloaded the cargo into storage tanks near the Chinese city of Zhoushan.
​ ​A representative of the oil storage terminal confirmed that the tanker, Marshal Z, discharged nearly 130,000 tonnes of Iranian fuel oil; that marked the end of an odyssey for the cargo that began four months ago.
​ ​As Reuters reported on March 20, some Iranian fuel oil had managed to evade the United States’ sanctions on petroleum exports "by using ship-to-ship transfers involving four different ships, including the Marshal Z, and by using forged documents that masked the cargoes as originating from Iraq."
 ​Amusingly, a second representative from the terminal operator, Zhoushan Jinrun Petroleum Transfer Co, said the cargo could not be Iranian oil, "as the terminal had not received official shipments from Iran in at least the past four years. Both Jinrun representatives declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter." 

​ ​In the latest provocation against Tehran by the US, two Navy destroyers have entered the Persian Gulf as the American military continues to add to its assets in the region to head off any planned 'aggression', USNI reports.
​ ​The USS McFaul and USS Gonzalez traveled through the Strait of Hormuz Thursday afternoon without being challenged by IRGC forces in the are. They join the USS Abraham Lincoln, which is stationed in the Gulf of Oman, as well as a strike force that includes several B-52 bombers, as the US continues to build up its military presence in the region. Another Aircraft Carrier, the USS Kearsarge, is anchored off the coast of the UAE. 

​The Saker gives this tidbit:
​ Diplomatic sources – from Russia and Iran – confirm, off the record, there have been secret talks among the three pillars of Eurasian integration – Russia, China and Iran – about Chinese and Russian guarantees in the event the Trump administration’s drive to strangle Tehran to death takes an ominous turn.
 This is being discussed at the highest levels in Moscow and Beijing. The bottom line: Russia-China won’t allow Iran to be destroyed.  

So if you poll ALL likely voters, Bernie Sanders is still in the ​Democratic ​lead. Does this remind you of last time, with Joe playing Hillary? 
CNN rigged a poll to censor out nearly everyone under 45 years of age. Based on this nonsensical false sampling they claim Biden is now in the lead.

​The actual, deep crimes, including the murder of leaker Seth Rich, and certainly deep state criminality, are already being investigated. The heat is on this crowd.​ The rats are scattering.
A dispute has erupted over whether former FBI Director James Comey or his CIA counterpart, John Brennan, promoted the unverified Steele dossier as the Obama-era intelligence community targeted the Trump campaign.