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Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2015

News Who Rules America 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008

Among notable articles for 2015 we would like to recommend Brainwashing as a key component of the US social system. Which contains an illuminating discussion of ZeroHedge readers...

"...Why do Americans believe "official sources" despite the proven fact that "official sources" lie repeatedly and never tell the truth?"
"...The failure of the American character has had tremendous and disastrous consequences for ourselves and for the world. At home Americans have a police state in which all Constitutional protections have vanished. Abroad, Iraq and Libya, two formerly prosperous countries, have been destroyed. Libya no longer exists as a country. One million dead Iraqis, four million displaced abroad, hundreds of thousands of orphans and birth defects from the American ordnance, and continuing ongoing violence from factions fighting over the remains. These facts are incontestable. Yet the United States Government claims to have brought "freedom and democracy" to Iraq. "Mission accomplished," declared one of the mass murderers of the 21st century, George W. Bush."
"...Americans with good character are being maneuvered into a position of helplessness."
"...When Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, was asked if the Clinton's regime's sanctions, which had claimed the lives of 500,000 Iraqi children, were justified, she obviously expected no outrage from the American people when she replied in the affirmative."
"...No, I don't think Americans are intentionally ignorant, any more than other nationalities. What they are tribal. Tribal peoples don't care whether their policies are right or wrong; they are instinctively loyal to them and to those who formulate them."
Jul 25, 2015 | Zero Hedge

Original title: The Eroding Character Of The American People

Paul Craig Roberts

How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool's hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.—Bob Dylan, "Hurricane"

Attorney John W. Whitehead opens a recent posting on his Rutherford Institute website with these words from a song by Bob Dylan. Why don't all of us feel ashamed? Why only Bob Dylan?

I wonder how many of Bob Dylan's fans understand what he is telling them. American justice has nothing to do with innocence or guilt. It only has to do with the prosecutor's conviction rate, which builds his political career. Considering the gullibility of the American people, American jurors are the last people to whom an innocent defendant should trust his fate. The jury will betray the innocent almost every time.

As Lawrence Stratton and I show in our book (2000, 2008) there is no justice in America. We titled our book, "How the Law Was Lost." It is a description of how the protective features in law that made law a shield of the innocent was transformed over time into a weapon in the hands of the government, a weapon used against the people. The loss of law as a shield occurred prior to 9/11, which "our representative government" used to construct a police state.

The marketing department of our publisher did not appreciate our title and instead came up with "The Tyranny of Good Intentions." We asked what this title meant. The marketing department answered that we showed that the war on crime, which gave us the abuses of RICO, the war on child abusers, which gave us show trials of total innocents that bested Joseph Stalin's show trials of the heroes of the Bolshevik Revolution, and the war on drugs, which gave "Freedom and Democracy America" broken families and by far the highest incarceration rate in the world all resulted from good intentions to combat crime, to combat drugs, and to combat child abuse. The publisher's title apparently succeeded, because 15 years later the book is still in print. It has sold enough copies over these years that, had the sales occurred upon publication would have made the book a "best seller." The book, had it been a best seller, would have gained more attention, and perhaps law schools and bar associations could have used it to hold the police state at bay.

Whitehead documents how hard a not guilty verdict is to come by for an innocent defendant. Even if the falsely accused defendant and his attorney survive the prosecutor's pressure to negotiate a plea bargain and arrive at a trial, they are confronted with jurors who are unable to doubt prosecutors, police, or witnesses paid to lie against the innocent defendant. Jurors even convicted the few survivors of the Clinton regime's assault on the Branch Davidians of Waco, the few who were not gassed, shot, or burned to death by US federal forces. This religious sect was demonized by Washington and the presstitute media as child abusers who were manufacturing automatic weapons while they raped children. The charges proved to be false, like Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction," and so forth, but only after all of the innocents were dead or in prison.

The question is: why do Americans not only sit silently while the lives of innocents are destroyed, but also actually support the destruction of the lives of innocents? Why do Americans believe "official sources" despite the proven fact that "official sources" lie repeatedly and never tell the truth?

The only conclusion that one can come to is that the American people have failed. We have failed Justice. We have failed Mercy. We have failed the US Constitution. We have failed Truth. We have failed Democracy and representative government. We have failed ourselves and humanity. We have failed the confidence that our Founding Fathers put in us. We have failed God. If we ever had the character that we are told we had, we have obviously lost it. Little, if anything, remains of the "American character."

Was the American character present in the torture prisons of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and hidden CIA torture dungeons where US military and CIA personnel provided photographic evidence of their delight in torturing and abusing prisoners? Official reports have concluded that along with torture went rape, sodomy, and murder. All of this was presided over by American psychologists with Ph.D. degrees.

We see the same inhumanity in the American police who respond to women children, the elderly, the physically and mentally handicapped, with gratuitous violence. For no reason whatsoever, police murder, taser, beat, and abuse US citizens. Every day there are more reports, and despite the reports the violence goes on and on and on. Clearly, the police enjoy inflicting pain and death on citizens whom the police are supposed to serve and protect. There have always been bullies in the police force, but the wanton police violence of our time indicates a complete collapse of the American character.

The failure of the American character has had tremendous and disastrous consequences for ourselves and for the world. At home Americans have a police state in which all Constitutional protections have vanished. Abroad, Iraq and Libya, two formerly prosperous countries, have been destroyed. Libya no longer exists as a country. One million dead Iraqis, four million displaced abroad, hundreds of thousands of orphans and birth defects from the American ordnance, and continuing ongoing violence from factions fighting over the remains. These facts are incontestable. Yet the United States Government claims to have brought "freedom and democracy" to Iraq. "Mission accomplished," declared one of the mass murderers of the 21st century, George W. Bush.

The question is: how can the US government make such an obviously false outrageous claim without being shouted down by the rest of the world and by its own population? Is the answer that good character has disappeared from the world?

Or is the rest of the world too afraid to protest? Washington can force supposedly sovereign countries to acquiesce to its will or be cut off from the international payments mechanism that Washington controls, and/or be sanctioned, and/or be bombed, droned, or invaded, and/or be assassinated or overthrown in a coup. On the entire planet Earth there are only two countries capable of standing up to Washington, Russia and China, and neither wants to stand up if they can avoid it.

For whatever the reasons, not only Americans but most of the world as well accommodate Washington's evil and are thereby complicit in the evil. Those humans with a moral conscience are gradually being positioned by Washington and London as "domestic extremists" who might have to be rounded up and placed in detention centers. Examine the recent statements by General Wesley Clark and British Prime Minister Cameron and remember Janet Napolitano's statement that the Department of Homeland Security has shifted its focus from terrorists to domestic extremists, an undefined and open-ended term.

Americans with good character are being maneuvered into a position of helplessness. As John Whitehead makes clear, the American people cannot even prevent "their police," paid by their tax payments, from murdering 3 Americans each day, and this is only the officially reported murders. The actual account is likely higher.

What Whitehead describes and what I have noticed for many years is that the American people have lost, in addition to their own sense of truth and falsity, any sense of mercy and justice for other peoples. Americans accept no sense of responsibility for the millions of peoples that Washington has exterminated over the past two decades dating back to the second term of Clinton. Every one of the millions of deaths is based on a Washington lie.

When Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, was asked if the Clinton's regime's sanctions, which had claimed the lives of 500,000 Iraqi children, were justified, she obviously expected no outrage from the American people when she replied in the affirmative.

Americans need to face the facts. The loss of character means the loss of liberty and the transformation of government into a criminal enterprise.

benb

The American people have been scientifically mis-educated, propagandized, and beaten down. A disproportionate number of the under 30's are societal DOAs thanks to ... weaponized TV. But I am being too optimistic...

PrayingMantis

... Americans are "intentionally ignorant" of other countries' rights and sovereignty while other countries had been well-informed of America's malicious intents of destroying other countries' rights and sovereignty ...

BarnacleBill

No, I don't think Americans are intentionally ignorant, any more than other nationalities. What they are tribal. Tribal peoples don't care whether their policies are right or wrong; they are instinctively loyal to them and to those who formulate them.

Also, I have to say that I believe the US empire is a long, long, way from collapse. It is still expanding, for goodness sake. Empires collapse only when the shrinking process is well under way. (The recent Soviet Empire was exceptional, in this regard.) It will take several more generations before the darkness lifts, I'm afraid.

macholatte

The only conclusion that one can come to is that the American people have failed.

It's now official, PCR is a complete dipshit.

Hey Paul, how about you get your head out of the clouds and stop looking down your nose at everyone long enough to read a couple of books about brain washing and then get back to us. Maybe you start with this: http://edward-bernays.soup.io/post/19658768/Edward-Bernays-Propaganda-19...

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind."
-- Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda

OldPhart

"Americans need to face the facts. The loss of character means the loss of liberty and the transformation of government into a criminal enterprise."

I think that happened August 13, 1971, but didn't get fully organized (as in Mafia) until 2000.

PT

The majority have their nose to the grind stone and as such can not see past the grind stone. They rely on "official sources" to put the rest of the world in order for them, but have no time to audit the "official sources". Would public education suffer if mothers and fathers were monitoring what the children were learning? But who has got time for that when both parents are working? How many non-work organizations were your parents and grand-parents involved in (both the wage-earner and the housekeeper)? How many organizations are you involved in?

Do you constantly hassle your local politicians or do you just say, "I'll vote 'em out in four years time"? (Yes, I know, you just don't vote. Fair enough, this question is for the voters.)

Yes, some of us are guilty of not fighting back. We had "Shut up and do as you're told" and "Well, if you're not happy with what you've got then work harder" beaten into us. Some of us are a little awake because, despite all our efforts, the grind stone was removed from us and then we got to see the larger picture of what lies behind the grind stone. Others are still busy, nose to the wheel, and all they see is the wheel.

And that is before we even consider HypnoToad on the Idiot Box. Some "need" the idiot box to help them wind down. Some can no longer enjoy the silence. (Remember Brave New World? It's true. Many people can no longer stand to be around silence, with nothing but their own thoughts.) I tell everyone that TV is crap. Radio is crap. Newspapers are crap. Turn that shit off for six months to a year, then go back to it and see what you really think of it. But they can't handle the thought of being away from "the background noise".

Ever spoken to grandparents who remember wars and depressions? And even amongst the rations and the hardships they still find positive memories? Time to talk to them again. Or not. I guess we'll get first-hand experience soon enough.

AlaricBalth

Allow me for a moment to share a brief anecdote about the new "American Character".

Last Sunday I was at the local supermarket. I was at the bakery counter, when suddenly a nicely dressed, Sunday best, non-Caucasian woman barrels into my cart riding a fat scooter. She rudely demands from the counter person a single cinnamon bun and then wheels off towards the front. Curious, I follow her up the aisle as she scarfs down the pastry in three bites. She then proceeds to stuff the empty bag between some soda bottles and scooters through the checkout without paying for her item. In the parking lot she then disembarks from her scooter, easily lifts it into the trunk of her Cadillac and walks to the drivers side, gets in and speeds off with her kids, who were in the back seat.

Amazed at what I had just witnessed, I went back into the store, retrieved the empty bag, included it in my few items at checkout and then went to the manager to share this story with him. He laughed and said there was nothing he could do.

The new "American Character" is that of a sense of entitlement and apathy.
I weep for the future.

Headbanger

Having character is not politically correct. Plus there's no need to develop character anymore because there's no jobs requiring any!

Consumption is the ONLY value of the inDUHvidual today.

And the less character they have, the more shit they'll consume to feel fulfilled cause they can't get that from themselves.

clymer Sat, 07/25/2015 - 07:34

Macholatte, i don't think PCR is writing from a point of view that is haughty and contemptful of the American people, per se, but rather from a perspective that is hopeless and thoroughly depressed after contemplating what the American people of many generations ago has taken for themselves as natural rights from a tyrranical government, only to see the nation slowly morph into something even worse than what was rejected by the founders.

"A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within...
He rots the soul of a nation; he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city; he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist."

ThroxxOfVron

"The loss of character means the loss of liberty and the transformation of government into a criminal enterprise. "

"I think that happened August 13, 1971 "

The entirety of the Western Hemisphere, not just 'The United States', was seized by invaders from Europe.

It is not an 'American' disease: it is a European disease and always was.

The indiginous populations of the Western Hemisphere were suystemaically and with forethought expropriated, ensalved, and slaughtered. The indiginous persons that dwelled within the geographical domain that presently comprise the USA were still being margialized, forcibly relocated, and murdered, long after the so-called 'American Civil War' had been decided.

...& As much as it is fashionable and/or politically expedient to vilify and blame the 'white' Europeans both for this history and extenuate that history to inform the present state of affairs, the Dutch, the French, the Portuguese, and the Spanish ( most eggregiously IMHO) were brutal and savage.

Look at the demographics of the Western Hemisphere.

If you have a shred of honesty you just can't hang the blame on 'whites', put it on a bumper sticker or a #shittyhashtagmeme and go back to fucking off.

The disgusting fraud of Manifest Destiny was a fig leaf to hide the enormity of these crimes; but, they are most obviously European crimes.

...& has Europe changed since the West was settled? Did Europeans even stop their warring amonsgst themselves?

See for yourself: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_conflicts_in_Europe

That would be: Hell NO.

Neither in Europe itself, nor in the settled West.

The Pacific Ocean wasn't named for calm waters.

It was named thusly because it is the natural geographic boundary where the mayhem and brutality and genocide ceased, if only because the greedy and ruthless Europeans had run out of land in the Western Hemisphere with people upon it to plunder and murder...

El Vaquero

The US will collapse within the next decade if some serious new technology is not developed and the infrastructure to use it is put in. There is too much debt and not enough material resources to continue growing the ponzi scheme that is our monetary system at an exponential rate without something breaking. The question is, will it be at the end of this boom-bust cycle, or the next? And if you look at what is being done on the financial front, which is the backbone of our neo-empire, that is shrinking.

The USD is slowly falling out of favor. There will come a point where that rapidly accelerates. We've been in a state of collapse for 15 years.

Abitdodgie

ignorance is choice these days and Americans love it.

AetosAeros

Not only a choice, but the ONLY choice they are prepared to accept. Cognitive Dissonance at it's finest. And to make matters worse, in only the best American fashion, we've asked if if it can be Supersized to go along with the Freedom Lies we feed ourselves.

I've seen the enemy, and....

But only if I'm willing to look in the mirror. Today's American doesn't look for what's right there in front of him/her, we look for all the new 'Social Norms' that we aren't living up to. This article is completely on target, and I hope Roberts hasn't decided to do any remodeling, cause too many idle nails guns make for a great Evening News sidebar mention.

Damnit all to hell.

Fun Facts

Fun Facts's picture

Rubicon727

We educators began seeing this shift towards "me-ism" around 1995-6. Students from low to middle income families became either apathetic towards "education" or followed their parent's sense of "entitlement." Simultaneously, the tech age captured both population's attention. Respecting "an education" dwindled.

Fast forward to the present: following the 2007-8 crash, we noted clear divisions between low income vs middle/upper class students based on their school behavior. Low to slightly middle income students brought to school family tensions and the turmoil of parents losing their jobs. A rise in non-functioning students increase for teachers while the few well performing students decline significantly.

Significant societal, financial shifts in America can always be observed in the student population.

reader2010

Mission Accomplished.

"When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility."

- Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, 1985

Lea

"The American people have been scientifically mis-educated".

You've got the answer there. The education system is the root cause of the problem. I'm from Europe, but if I've understood correctly, the US education policy is to teach as little as possible to children, and expect them to fill in the gaps in the Universities, past a certain age.

Only, it can't work. Children WILL learn, as childhood is the time when most informations are stored. If the schools don't provide the knowledge, they will get it from the television, movies or games, with the consequences we can see: ignorance, obsession with TV and movies stars, inability to differentiate life from movies, and over-simplistic reasoning (if any).

In Europe, we knew full well children learn fast and a lot, and that was why the schools focused on teaching them as much general knowldge as possible before 18 years old, which is when - it is scientifically proved - the human brain learns best.

Recently, the EU leading countries have understood that having educated masses doesn't pay if you want to lead them like sheep, so they are perfidiously trying to lower the standards... to the dismay of parents.

My advice, if I may presume to give any, would be to you USA people: teach your children what they won't learn at school, history, geography, literature (US, European and even Asian, why not), a foreign language if you can, arts, music, etc; and keep them away from the TV, movies and games.

And please adapt what you teach them to their age.

Refuse-Resist

Bang on! One anecdotal example: insisting that all 3rd graders use calculators "to learn" their multiplication tables. If I didn't do flashcards at home with my kids they wouldn't know them.

As somebody who majored in engineering and took many many advanced math courses, I always felt that knowing your 'times tables' was essential to being successful in math.

What better way to dumb down otherwise intelligent children by creating a situation where the kid can't divide 32 by 4 without a calculator.

Trigonometry? Calculus? Linear Algebra? Fuggedaboudit.

doctor10

The CB's and MIC have Americans right where they want them.

the consequences of 3-4 generations of force feeding Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny

ThroxxOfVron

Some of US were never fucking asleep. Some of us were born with our eyes and minds open.

We were, and are: hated, and reviled, and marginalized, and disowned for it.

The intellectual repression was, and is, fucking insane and brutal.

Words such as ethics and logic exist for what purpose?

What are these expressions of? A bygone time? Abstractions?

Those that have tried to preserve their self awareness, empathy, and rationality have been ruthlessly systematically demeaned and condemed for confronting our families, our culture and institutions.

We all have a right to be angry and disgusted and distrustful of the people and institutions around us.

I am very fucking angry, and disgusted, and distrustful of the people and institutions around me.

But I still have hope.

Nothing lasts forever..

This self-righteous nation called The United States, this twisted fraud of a culture called America, is most dangerously overdue for receipt of chastisment and retribution.

It would be best if the citizenry of the United States taught themselves a lesson in stead of inviting Other nations and cultures to educate them.

A serious self education may be tedious and imperfect; but, it would be far far cheaper than forcing someone to come all the way over those oceans to educate Americans at the price they will be demanding for those lessons...

I do not require representation. I will speak my own mind and act of my own accord.

Every time other so-called Americans take a shit on me for thinking and speaking and acting differently it is a badge of honor and a confirmation of my spiritual and intellectual liberty. They don't know it but they are all gonna run out of shit before I run out of being free.

ThroxxOfVron

"The loss of character means the loss of liberty and the transformation of government into a criminal enterprise. "

"I think that happened August 13, 1971 "

The entirety of the Western Hemisphere, not just 'The United States', was seized by invaders from Europe. It is not an 'American' disease: it is a European disease and always was.

The indigenous populations of the Western Hemisphere were systematically and with forethought expropriated, enslaved, and slaughtered. The indigenous persons that dwelled within the geographical domain that presently comprise the USA were still being marginalized, forcibly relocated, and murdered, long after the so-called 'American Civil War' had been decided.

...& As much as it is fashionable and/or politically expedient to vilify and blame the 'white' Europeans both for this history and extenuate that history to inform the present state of affairs, the Dutch, the French, the Portuguese, and the Spanish ( most eggregiously IMHO) were brutal and savage.

Look at the demographics of the Western Hemisphere.

If you have a shred of honesty you just can't hang the blame on 'whites', put it on a bumper sticker or a #shittyhashtagmeme and go back to fucking off.

The disgusting fraud of Manifest Destiny was a fig leaf to hide the enormity of these crimes; but, they are most obviously European crimes.

...& has Europe changed since the West was settled? Did Europeans even stop their warring amonsgst themselves?

See for yourself: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_conflicts_in_Europe

That would be: Hell NO.

Neither in Europe itself, nor in the settled West.

The Pacific Ocean wasn't named for calm waters.

It was named thusly because it is the natural geographic boundary where the mayhem and brutality and genocide ceased, if only because the greedy and ruthless Europeans had run out of land in the Western Hemisphere with people upon it to plunder and murder...

Mini-Me

"The loss of character means the loss of liberty and the transformation of government into a criminal enterprise."

I agree with the first part. As for the latter, "government," by definition, is a criminal enterprise. It doesn't start out pure as the driven snow and then change into something nefarious over time. Its very essence requires the initiation of violence or its threat. Government without the gun in the ribs is a contradiction.

The fact that those in power got more votes than the losing criminals does not magically morph these people into paragons of virtue. They are almost without exception thoroughly deranged human beings. Lying is second nature to them. Looting is part of the job description. Killing is an end to their means: the acquisition and aggrandizement of power over others, no matter how much death and destruction results.

These people are sick bastards. To expect something virtuous from them after an endless string of wanton slaughter, theft and abuse, is simply wishful thinking.

Jack Burton

I agree with Paul Craig Roberts. He asks "Why" and "How." Well, Paul, here is my answer. Decades of Public Education and over 50 years of mass media monopoly. In an age where FOX is the top rated News station and CNN is considered liberal? Where kids in Public school are offered Chocolate milk and frozen pizza for school breakfast before going to class rooms with 30-40 kids. When Texas political appointees chose school text book content for the nation? A nation where service has ended, replaced with volunteer soldiers signing up for pay and benefits, instead of just serving as service, like we did in the 70's?

Paul Craig Roberts points out the police war against the people. That comes right from the very top, orders filter down to street cops. Street Cops are recruited from groups of young men our fathers generation would have labeled mental! But now they are hired across the board, shaved heads, tatoos, and a code of silence and Cops Above Justice.

The people have allowed the elites to rule in their place, never bothering to question the two fake candidates we are allowed to vote for.

Jtrillian

There is a difference between IGNORANCE and STUPIDITY. As Ron White said, "YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID".

In todays information age, ignorance is a choice.

Part of the problem that no one is talking about or addressing is the population explosion. And it's not linear. Those who are the least educated, fully dependent others for their survival (welfare), the most complacent, and often with violent criminal records are breeding the fastest.

Evolution is not guaranteed. It can be argued that the apathy we experience today is a sign of the human race de-evolving. It takes a certain amount of cognitive ability to observe and question what is going on.

Further, the society we have created where "60 is the new 40" creates very little time to pay attention to what is going on in the world. Many people rely on mainstream media which is not really news any more. When six corporations control more than 90% of the news, it's the message of the corporate elite that we are fed. This becomes painfully obvious when you start turning to other sources for information like social media and independent news. Mainstream media today is full of opinion bias - injecting opinion as though it were fact. They also appeal to the lowest commmon denominator by focusing on emotionally charged topics and words rather than boring facts. Finally, the mainstream media is extremely guilty of propaganda by omission, ignoring important events altogether or only presenting one side of the story as is being done with regard to ISIS, Syria, and Ukraine today. People who watch the mainstream media have no idea that the US played a significant role in arming ISIS and aided in their rise to power. They have no idea that it was likely ISIS that used chemical weapons in Syria. They have no idea that the US has propped up real life neo nazis in high government positions in Ukraine. And they have ignored the continuing Fukushima disaster that is STILL dumping millions of gallons of radioactive water into the ocean every single day.

To sum up, democracies only work when people pay attention and participate. People are either too stupid, too overworked, are are looking to the wrong sources for information.

Until we break up mainstream media, remove incentives for those who cannot even care for themselves to stop breeding, and make fundamental changes to our society that affords people the time to focus on what is happening in the world, it will only get worse.

Much worse.

serotonindumptruck

A dying empire is like a wounded, cornered animal.

It will lash out uncontrollably and without remorse in a futile effort to save itself from certain death.

Enough Already

The problem is that we have no "Constitution." That is a fable. The constitution of the separation of powers has been undermined from almost day one. Witness the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.

In the centuries since then, there has been no "separation of powers." Marbury v Madison (1803) gave the Supreme Court the right to "decide" what the "law" was. Although, only in the 20th century did the "Supreme" court really start "legislating" from the bench.

We're just peons to the Overall Federal Power; the three "separate" parts of the federal government have been in collusion from the first.

But like all empires, this one is in the final stage of collapse; it has just gotten too big.

gswifty

Yes sir. Globalization has failed us. The infinite growth paradigm has failed us, as we knew it would. Castro's Cuba, based in a localized agrarian economy, is looking pretty good about now. Localization is the only way back to sustainability.

napples

Books? Who said books? You mean reading books? Let me throw a couple out there:

I read 'The Image: A Guide To Pseudo-Events In America' last year, it was published 50+ years ago by a very recommended writer and accomplished historian. Boorstin's observations are truer today and even more concerning thanks to our modern, ubiquitous "connectivity".

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/159979.The_Image

Another by Boorstin, The Discoverers was my fav, like Bryson's 'Short History' on steroids:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_J._Boorstin

I'm currently trying to fathom all of the historical implications of the claims Menzies is making in his book '1434', where apparently everything I learned about history is a lie. While he's making a lot of claims(hoping some sticks?) I'm not truly convinced. It is a very good, believable thought experiment. It almost makes perfect sense given the anglo/euro history of deceit & dishonesty, but I digress:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gavin_Menzies

This one took a long time to grok, Dr Mandelbrot tried to warn us:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/665134.The_Mis_Behavior_of_Markets#

Benoit's friend & protege tried to warn us too:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Swan_%282007_book%29

Put them together and you get the financial meltdown's 'Don't say we didn't warn you' manifesto from 2006(not a book, but a compelling read):
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/5372968a-ba82-11da-980d-0000779e2340.html

OK, I'm tired. Time to unplug.

reader2010

Adorno famously pointed out in 1940 that the "Mass culture is psychoanalysis in reverse." It takes 75 years for someone such as PCR to reiterate. He doesn't blame the masses because he simply points out the fact that Americans are completely ignorant and blindly believe anything MSM spoon-fed to them.

George Orwell once remarked that the average person today is about as naive as was the average person in the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages people believed in the authority of their religion, no matter what. Today, we believe in the authority of what Adorno called Culture Industry and MSM, no matter what. Today we are indeed in another Dark Age

PoasterToaster

"Americans" are not one person. Individuals are not fungible. Reasoning from the "average American" leads to false conclusions.

reader2010

Jacques Derrida says, "The individualism of technological civilization relies precisely on a misunderstanding of the unique self. It is the individualism of a role and not of a person. In other words it might be called the individualism of a masque or persona, a character [personnage] and not a person." There are many Americans but they all play the same role in the Pursuit of Happiness, aka wage slaves, career slaves, debt slaves, information junkies, and passive consumers.

Moccasin

Paul Craig Roberts believe that the people are capable of creating a better and more just society. Instead the people have voted against their own best interest and overwhelmingly believe the propaganda.

When do the people or the society take responsibility for its greater good or own the crimes of those they put into power?

Blaming the aristocracy or the oligarchs seems like a scapegoat when the people have never stood up to the corruption in a cohesive or concerted way. imho, After a few generations of abuse and corruption the people need to take responsibility for their future. I expect that most will just buy into the charade and live the lie, on that basis as a society we are doomed to live in a corporatocracy fascist state.

Aldous Huxley called it a scientific dictatorship, Edward Bernays referred to us as a herd.

Moccasin

In the USA being white, monied and having the capacity to afford a good education is privileged. To his credit he speaks to the greater population, the 'average citizen' and not the plutocratic class.

MSorciere

What we have is the result of conditioning and commoditizing a population. The country is filled with consumers, not citizens. Teach the acquisition of money and goods as the main goal and individualism as the only acceptable social unit. We end up with a nation of insatiable sociopaths, ruled by power-hungry psychopaths.

Divisive politics, jackbooted authority from the DC scumpond down to the cop on the beat, the constant preaching of the cult of the individual as a sustitute for true liberty... all of these have served to destroy a sense of community and decentness between Americans.

The ONLY thing that could threaten the ruling class is a banding together of the people - in large numbers. 'They' have purposefully and effectively quashed that.

Chupacabra1977

When you let jews run your society this is what happens. Go Goy go!!!!!

TrulyStupid

Shifting responsibility to the usual suspects is simply a manifestation of the American moral collapse. Man up and do some self evaluation.

T-NUTZ

"what I have noticed for many years is that the American people have lost, in addition to their own sense of truth and falsity, any sense of mercy and justice for other peoples"

Unfortunately, Paul, the American people have lost any sense of mercy and justice for their own people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXRDq9nKJ0U

Phillyguy

Painful as it may be, we need to rationally look at US history/society. The nascent US was formed by stealing land from the native population and using human capital (read African Slaves) to generate wealth (it took a civil war with circa 500K casualties to stop this- one could argue the US "civil war" never ended). More recently, the US has been almost continuously at war since 1940, we dropped atomic bombs on Japan. Currently, the US/NATO war theater extends from the Levant, to Caspian Basin, Persian Gulf, China Sea, Indian Ocean, Horn of Africa (Saudi/US war on Yemen), the Maghreb and E Europe and Russian Border.

Radical Marijuana

"... the transformation of government into a criminal enterprise ..."

Governments were created by the history of warfare, which was always organized crime developing on larger and larger scales. In the context, the greater problem is that people like Paul Craig Roberts are reactionary revolutionaries, who provide relatively good analysis, followed by bogus "solutions" based upon impossible ideals.

The "American People" are the victims of the best scientific brainwashing that money could buy. As Cognitive Dissonance has previously stated on Zero Hedge: "The absolute best controlled opposition is one that doesn't know they are controlled."

It is practically impossible to exaggerate the degree to which that is so, on such profound levels, because of the ways that most people want to continue to believe that false fundamental dichotomies and impossible ideals are valid, and should be applied to their problems, despite that those mistaken ideas cause the opposite to happen in the real world, because those who promote those kinds of false fundamental dichotomies and their related impossible ideals, ARE "controlled opposition."

Rather, the place to begin would be by recognizing that all human beings and civilizations must necessarily operate as entropic pumps of energy flows, which necessarily are systems of organized lies operating robberies. Everyone has some power to rob, and power to kill to back that up. Governments assembled and channeled those powers. There was never a time when governments were not organized crime. There could never be any time when governments were not organized crime. The only things that exist are the dynamic equilibria between different systems of organized lies operating robberies. Those dynamic equilibria have become extremely unbalanced due the degree that the best organized gangs of criminals were able to control their opposition.

Paul Craig Roberts, as well as pretty well all of the rest of the content published on Zero Hedge, are presentations of various kinds of controlled opposition groups, most of which do not recognize that they are being controlled by the language that they use, and the philosophy of science that they take for granted. THAT is the greatest failure of the American People, as well as most of the rest of the people everywhere else. They believe in false fundamental dichotomies, and the related impossible ideals, and therefore, their bogus "solutions" always necessarily backfire badly, and cause the opposite to happen in the real world.

After all, the overwhelming vast majority of the American People operate as the controlled opposition to the best organized gangs of criminals that most control the government of the USA. Therefore, the FAILURES of the American People are far more profound and problematic than what is superficially presented by guys like Paul Craig Roberts, and also, of course, his suggested bogus "solutions" are similarly superficial.

The ONLY things which can actually exist are the dynamic equilibrium between different systems of organized lies operating robberies. The degree to which the American People, as well as most of the rest of the people in the world, FAIL to understand that is the degree to which they enable the best organized gangs of criminals to control them, due to the vast majority of people being members of various controlled opposition groups. Controlled opposition always presents relatively superficial analysis of the political problems, which are superficially correct. However, they then follow that up with similarly superficial "solutions." Therefore, magical words are bandied about, that express their dualities, through false fundamental dichotomies, and the related impossible ideals.

Governments must exist because organized crime must exist. Better governments could be achieved through better organized crime. However, mostly what get presented in the public places are the utter bullshit of the biggest bullies, who dominate the society because they were the best organized gangs of criminals, who were also able to dominate their apparent opposition. Therefore, instead of more realistic, better balancing of the dynamic equilibria between different systems of organized lies operating robberies, we get runaway developments of the best organized gangs of criminals being able to control governments, whose only apparent opposition is controlled to stay within the same bullshit frame of reference regarding everything that was actually happening.

The mainline of the FAILURES of the American People have been the ways that the international bankers were able to recapture control over the American public "money" supply. After that, everything else was leveraged up, through the funding of the political processes, schools, and mass media, etc., being more and more dominated by that fundamentally fraudulent financial accounting system. Of course, that FAILURE has now become more than 99% ... Therefore, no political possible ways appear to exist to pull out of that flaming spiral nose dive, since we have already gone beyond the event horizon into that social black hole.

Most of the content on Zero Hedge which is based upon recognizing that set of problems still acts as controlled opposition in that regard too. Therefore, the bogus "solutions" here continue to deliberately ignore that money is necessarily measurement backed by murder. Instead of accepting that, the controlled opposition groups like to promote various kinds of "monetary reforms." However, meanwhile, we are actually already headed towards the established debt slavery systems having generated debt insanities, which are going to provoke death insanities.

In that context, the only realistic resolutions to the real problems would necessarily have to be monetary revolutions, that may emerge out of the future situations, after the runaway debt insanities have provoked death insanities. Indeed, the only genuine solutions to the problems are to develop different death control systems, to back up different debt control systems, which must necessarily be done within the context that governments are the biggest forms of organized crime, controlled by the best organized gangs of criminals.

The various controlled opposition groups do not want to face those social facts. Rather, they continue to want to believe in the dualities expressed as false fundamental dichotomies and the related impossible ideals, which is their greatest overall FAILURE. In my view, the article above by Roberts contained a lot of nostalgic nonsense. There was never a time when there were any governments which were not based on the applications of the principles and methods of organized crime, and there could never be any time in the future when that could be stopped from being the case.

The greatest FAILURE of the American People, as well as most of the rest of the world's people, has been to become so brainwashed to believe in the biggest bullies' bullshit world view, that there is no significant opposition that is not controlled by thinking inside of the box of that bullshit. The government did NOT transform into a criminal enterprise. The government was necessarily ALWAYS a criminal enterprise. That criminal enterprise has become more and more severely UNBALANCED due to the FAILURE of the people to understand that they were actually members of an organized crime gang, called their country. Instead, they were more and more scientifically brainwashed to believe in bullshit about everything, including their country.

The ONLY connection between human laws and the laws of nature is the ability to back up lies with violence. The development of the government of the USA has been the developed of integrated systems of legalized lies, backed by legalized violence. Those systems of ENFORCED FRAUDS have been able to become more extremely unbalanced because there is almost nothing which is publicly significant surrounding that core of organized crime but various controlled opposition groups.

Of course, it seems politically impossible for my recommendations to actually happen within the foreseeable future, as the current systems of debt slavery drive through debt insanities to become death insanities, but nevertheless, the only theoretically valid ideas to raise to respond to the real problems would have to based upon a series of intellectual scientific revolutions. However, since we have apparently run out of time to go through those sorts of paradigm shifts sufficiently, we are stuck in the deepening ruts of political problems which guys like Roberts correctly present to be the case

... HOWEVER, ROBERTS, LIKE ALMOST EVERYONE ELSE, CONTINUE TO PRESUME UPON DUALITIES, AND THEREFORE, HAVE THEIR MECHANISMS REGARDING "SOLUTIONS" ABSURDLY BACKWARDS.

Rather, we should start with the concept of SUBTRACTION, which then leads to robbery. We should start with the recognition that governments are necessarily, by definition, the biggest forms of organized crime. Governments did NOT transform into being that. Governments were always that. The political problems we have now are due to the best organized gangs of criminals, which currently are primarily the biggest gangsters, which can rightly be referred to as the banksters, having dominated all aspects of the funding of politics, enough to capture control over all sociopolitical institutions, so that the American People would more and more be subjected to the best scientific brainwashing that money could buy, which was built on top of thousands of years of previous history of Neolithic Civilizations being based on backing up lies with violence.

The runaway systems of ENFORCED FRAUDS, or the integrated systems of legalized lies, backed by legalized violence, that more and more dominate the lives of the American People are due to the applications of the methods of organized crime, and could not be effectively counter-balanced in any other ways. However, the standing social situation is that there is no publicly significant opposition that is not controlled to stay within the same frame of reference of the biggest bullies, which is now primarily the frame of reference of the banksters. Indeed, to the degree to which people's lives are controlled by the monetary system, they are debt slaves. Moreover, the degree to which they do not understand, and do not want to understand, that money is necessarily measurement backed by murder, then they think like controlled opposition groups, who have their mechanisms absurdly backwards, when they turn from their superficial analysis of what the political problems, to then promote their superficial solutions of those problems.

I AGREE that "Americans need to face the facts." However, those facts are that citizens are members of an organized crime gang, called their country. "Their" country is currently controlled by the best organized gangs of criminals. However, there are no genuine resolutions for those problems other than to develop better organized crime. Since the controlled opposition groups that are publicly significant do not admit any of the deeper levels of the scientific facts regarding human beings and civilizations operating as entropic pumps of energy flows, but rather, continue to perceive all of that in the most absurdly backward ways possible, the current dynamic equilibria between the different systems of organized lies operating robberies continue to become more and more extremely UNBALANCED.

In the case of the article above, Roberts does NOT "face the facts" that governments were always forms of organized crime, and must necessarily be so, because human beings must live as entropic pumps of energy flows. Rather, Roberts tends to illustrate how the controlled opposition takes for granted certain magical words and phrases, such as "Liberty" or "Constitution," that have no adequate operational definitions to connect them to the material world.

We are living inside of an oxymoronic scientific dictatorship, which has applied the progress in science primarily to become better at backing up lies with violence, while refusing to allow scientific methods to admit and address how and why that has been what has actually happened. Therefore, almost all of the language that we use to communicate, as well as almost all of the philosophy of science that we take for granted, was based on the biggest bullies' bullshit, which is now primarily manifested as the banksters' bullshit, as that bullshit developed in America to become ENFORCED FRAUDS.

ALL of the various churches, corporations, and countries are necessarily various systems of organized lies operating robberies. Those which are the biggest now were historically the ones that were the best at doing that. The INTENSE PARADOXES are due to human systems necessarily being organized lies operating robberies, wherein the greatest social successfulness has been achieved by those who were the best professional liars and immaculate hypocrites. That flows throughout ALL of the established systems, which are a core of organized crime, surrounded by controlled opposition groups.

The degree to which the American People, as well as the rest of the world's people, have been more and more scientifically brainwashed to believe in bullshit about governments in particular, and human beings and civilizations in general, is the degree to which the established systems based upon ENFORCED FRAUDS are headed towards some series of psychotic breakdowns. For all practical purposes, it is politically impossible to get enough people to stop acting like incompetent political idiots, and instead start acting more like competent citizens, because they do not understand, and moreover have been conditioned to not want to understand that governments are necessarily organized crime.

Roberts ironically illustrated the deeper nature of the political problems that he also shares, when he perceives that governments have somehow transformed into being criminal enterprise, when governments were always necessarily criminal enterprises. Similarly, with those who recognize that, but then promote the impossible solutions based upon somehow stopping that from being the case, which is as absurdly backwards as stopping human beings from operating as entropic pumps of energy flows, which then also presumes that it would be possible to stop human civilizations from being entropic pumps of energy flows.

Rather, the deeper sorts of intellectual scientific revolutions that we should go through require becoming much more critical of the language that we use to communicate with, and more critical about the philosophy of science that we presumed was correct. Actually, we were collectively brainwashed to believe in the biggest bullies' bullshit, which is as absurdly backwards as it could possibly be. However, due to the collective FAILURES of people to understand that, as reflected by the ways that the core of organized crime is surrounded by nothing which is publicly significant than layers of controlled opposition, there are no reasonable ways to doubt that the established debt slavery systems will continue to drive even worse debt insanities, which will provoke much worse death insanities. Therefore, to be more realistic about the foreseeable future, the development of new death control systems will emerge out of the context of crazy collapses into chaos, wherein the runaway death insanities provide the possible opportunities for new death controls to emerge out of that situation.

Of course, the about 99% FAILURE of the American People to want to understand anything that I have outlined above indicates that the foreseeable future for subsequent generations shall not too likely be catalyzed transformations towards enough people better understanding their political problems, in order to better resolve those problems. Rather, what I mostly expect is for the psychotic breakdowns of the previous systems of ENFORCED FRAUDS to give opportunities to some possible groups of controlled opposition to take advantage of that, to perhaps emerge as the new version of professional liars and immaculate hypocrites, who will be able to operate some new version of organized lies, operating robberies, who may mostly still get away with being some modified versions of still oxymoronic scientific dictatorship, due to social success still being based upon the best available professional liars and immaculate hypocrites, who were able to survive through those transformations, so that the new systems arise from some of the seeds of the old systems.

At the present time, it is extremely difficult to imagine how the human species could possibly reconcile progress in physical science by surpassing that with progress in political science. Rather, what mostly exists now is the core of organized crime, which gets away with spouting the bullshit about itself, such as how the banksters dominate the mass media, and the lives of everyone else who depend upon the established monetary system (which is dominated by the current ways that governments ENFORCE FRAUDS by privately controlled banks), while that core of organized crime has no publicly significant opposition that is not controlled by the ways that they think, which ways stay within the basic bullshit world view, as promoted by the biggest bullies for thousands of years, and as more and more scientifically promoted to brainwash the vast majority of people to believe in that kind of bullshit so completely that it mostly does not occur to them that they are doing that, and certainly almost never occurs to them that they are doing that in the most profoundly absurd and backward ways possible.

That is how and why it is possible for an author like Roberts to correctly point out the ways in which the government of the USA is transforming into being more blatantly based on organized crime ... HOWEVER, Roberts is not willing and able to go through deeper levels of intellectual scientific revolutions, in order to recognize how and why governments were always necessarily manifestations of organized crime. Therefore, as is typically the case, Roberts does not recognize how ironically he recommends that Americans should "face the facts," while he himself does not fully do so.

The whole history of Neolithic Civilizations was social pyramid systems based on being able to back up lies with violence, becoming more sophisticated systems of legalized lies, backed by legalized violence, which currently manifest as the globalized electronic frauds of the banksters, were are backed up by the governments (that those banksters effectively control) having atomic bombs. Those are the astronomically amplified magnitudes of the currently existing combined money/murder systems. Therefore, it appears to be politically impossible at the present time to develop better governments, due to the degree that almost everyone is either a member of the core groups of organized crime, or members of the surrounding layers of groups of controlled opposition, both of which want to stay within the same overall bullshit frame of reference, because, so far, their lives have been socially successful by being professional liars and immaculate hypocrites.

Ironically, I doubt that someone like Roberts, or pretty well everyone else whose material is published on Zero Hedge is able and willing to recognize the degree to which they are actually controlled opposition. Indeed, even more ironically, as I have repeated before, even Cognitive Dissonance, when he previously stated on Zero Hedge: "The absolute best controlled opposition is one that doesn't know they are controlled." DOES NOT "GET IT" regarding the degree to which he too is controlled opposition, even while superficially attempting to recognize and struggle with that situation. (Indeed, of course, that includes me too, since I am still communicating using the English language, which was the natural language that most developed to express the biggest bullies' bullshit world view.)

Overall, I REPEAT, the deeper problems are due to progress in physical science, NOT being surpassed by progress in political science. Instead, while there EXIST globalized electronic frauds, backed by atomic bombs, practically nothing regarding the ways of thinking that made that science and those technologies possible has found any significant expression through political science, because political science would have to go through even more profound paradigm shifts within itself in order to do that.

The INTENSE PARADOXES continue to be the manifestation of the oxymoronic scientific dictatorship, that deliberately refuses to become any more genuinely scientific about itself. Therefore, the banksters have been able to pay for the best scientific brainwashing that money could buy, for generation after generation, in order to more and more brainwash most of the American People to believe in the banksters' bullshit world view. While there exist electronic frauds, backed by atomic bombs, practically nothing regarding the physical science paradigm shifts that made that possible have even the slightest degree of public appreciation within the realms of politics today, which are almost totally dominated by the biggest bullies' bullshit world view, despite that being as absurdly backwards as possible, while the controlled opposition groups, mostly in the form of old-fashioned religions and ideologies, continue to stay within that same bullshit world view, and adamantly refuse to change their perceptual paradigms regarding political problems.

However, I REPEAT, the issues we face are NOT that governments have transformed to become criminal enterprises, but that governments were always necessarily criminal enterprises, which had the power to legalized their own lies, and then back those lies up with legalized violence. Thereby, the best organized criminals, the international bankers, as the biggest gangsters, or the banksters, were able to apply the methods of organized crime through the political processes. Meanwhile, the only "opposition" that was allowed to be publicly significant was controlled, to basically stay within the same bullshit world view, which is what Roberts has done in his series of articles, as well as what is almost always presented in the content published on Zero Hedge.

The NEXT LEVEL of "the need to face the facts" is to recognize that the political economy is based upon ENFORCED FRAUDS, or systems of debt slavery backed by wars based on deceits. However, the NEXT LEVEL "the need to face the facts" is the that the only possible changes are to change the dynamic equilibria between the different systems of organized lies operating robberies, i.e., change those ENFORCED FRAUDS, in ways which CAN NOT STOP THOSE FROM STILL BEING ENFORCED FRAUDS, because of the degree to which money is necessarily measurement backed by murder.

For the American People, as well as the rest of the world's people, to stop being such dismal FAILURES would require them to become more competent citizens. However, at the present time they appear to be totally unable to do that, because they are unwilling to go through the profound paradigm shifts that it would take them to become more competent citizens inside of world where there exist globalized electronic frauds, backed by atomic bombs. The vast majority of the American People would not like to go through the severe cognitive dissonance that would be required, to not only recognize that "their" government was a criminal enterprise, but that it also must be, and that they too must necessarily be members of that organized crime gang. However, without that degree of perceptual paradigm shifts of the political problems, then enough of the American People could not become more competent citizens.

Somehow, most people continue to count on themselves never having to think about how and why progress was achieved in physical science, by going through series of profound paradigm shifts in the ways that we perceived the world. Most people continue to presume that it is not necessary for their perception of politics to go through profound paradigm shifts, that surpass those which have already been achieved in physical science. We continue to live in an oxymoronic scientific dictatorship, that employs science and technology to become better at being dishonest and violent, but does not apply science and technology to "face the facts" about that scientific dictatorship as a whole.

At the present time, technologies which have become trillions of times more capable and powerful are primarily used as special effects within the context of repeating the same old-fashioned, stupid social stories, such as promoted by the biggest bullies, and their surrounding controlled opposition groups. Ironically, especially when it comes to politics, that tends to manifest the most atavistic throwbacks to old-fashioned religions and ideologies being relied upon to propose bogus "solutions," despite that those kinds of social stories adamantly refuse to change their paradigms in light of the profound paradigms shifts which have been achieved in physical science.

The article above was another illustration of the ways that the typical reactionary revolutionaries, Black Sheeple, or controlled opposition groups, respond to recognizing the more and more blatant degrees to which there has been an accelerating "transformation of government into a criminal enterprise." THE PROBLEM IS THAT THEY CONTINUE TO STAY WITHIN THE SAME OLD-FASHIONED BULLSHIT-BASED FRAME OF REFERENCE, INSTEAD, AROUND AND AROUND WE GO, STUCK IN THE SAME DEEPENING RUTS, since they do NOT more fully "face the facts" regarding how and why the only realistic solutions to the real problems would require developing better organized crime. INSTEAD, they continue to promote the same dualities based upon false fundamental dichotomies, and the associate bogus "solutions" based upon impossible ideals ...

Given that overall situation, that there there almost nothing which is publicly significant than the core of organized crime, surrounded by controlled opposition groups, I see no reasonable hopes for the foreseeable material future of a civilization controlled by ENFORCED FRAUDS, since there is no publicly possible ways to develop better dynamic equilibria between the different systems of organized lies operating robberies, since the biggest forms of doing that were most able to get away with pretending that they are not doing that, which was facilitated by their controlled opposition promoting the opinions that nobody should do that, while actually everyone must be doing that.

Roberts' article above, to me, was another typical example of superficially correct analysis, which implies some bogus "solutions" because those are based upon the same superficiality. It is NOT good enough to recognize "transformation of government into a criminal enterprise," unless one goes through deeper levels of analysis regarding how and why that is what actually exists, and then, one should continue to be consistent with that deeper analysis when one turns to proposing genuine solutions to those problems, namely, I REPEAT THAT the only realistic resolutions to the real political problems requires the transformation of government into a better organized criminal enterprise, which ideally should be based upon enough citizens who are competent enough to understand that they are members of an organized crime gang, which should assert themselves to make sure that their country becomes better organized crime. 


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[Dec 05, 2016] The Trans-Pacific Partnership Permanent Lock In The Obama Agenda For 40% Of The Global Economy

Oct 06, 2015 | Zero Hedge
We have just witnessed one of the most significant steps toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen. Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been completed, and if approved it will create the largest trading bloc on the planet. But this is not just a trade agreement. In this treaty, Barack Obama has thrown in all sorts of things that he never would have been able to get through Congress otherwise. And once this treaty is approved, it will be exceedingly difficult to ever make changes to it. So essentially what is happening is that the Obama agenda is being permanently locked in for 40 percent of the global economy.

The United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam all intend to sign on to this insidious plan. Collectively, these nations have a total population of about 800 million people and a combined GDP of approximately 28 trillion dollars.

Of course Barack Obama is assuring all of us that this treaty is going to be wonderful for everyone

In hailing the agreement, Obama said, "Congress and the American people will have months to read every word" before he signs the deal that he described as a win for all sides.

"If we can get this agreement to my desk, then we can help our businesses sell more Made in America goods and services around the world, and we can help more American workers compete and win," Obama said.

Sadly, just like with every other "free trade" agreement that the U.S. has entered into since World War II, the exact opposite is what will actually happen. Our trade deficit will get even larger, and we will see even more jobs and even more businesses go overseas.

But the mainstream media will never tell you this. Instead, they are just falling all over themselves as they heap praise on this new trade pact. Just check out a couple of the headlines that we saw on Monday…

Overseas it is a different story. Many journalists over there fully recognize that this treaty greatly benefits many of the big corporations that played a key role in drafting it. For example, the following comes from a newspaper in Thailand

You will hear much about the importance of the TPP for "free trade".

The reality is that this is an agreement to manage its members' trade and investment relations - and to do so on behalf of each country's most powerful business lobbies.

These sentiments were echoed in a piece that Zero Hedge posted on Monday

Packaged as a gift to the American people that will renew industry and make us more competitive, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a Trojan horse. It's a coup by multinational corporations who want global subservience to their agenda. Buyer beware. Citizens beware.

The gigantic corporations that dominate our economy don't care about the little guy. If they can save a few cents on the manufacturing of an item by moving production to Timbuktu they will do it.

Over the past couple of decades, the United States has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities and millions of good paying jobs due to these "free trade agreements". As we merge our economy with the economies of nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, it is inevitable that corporations will shift jobs to places where labor is much cheaper. Our economic infrastructure is being absolutely eviscerated in the process, and very few of our politicians seem to care.

Once upon a time, the city of Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city on the planet and it had the highest per capita income in the entire nation. But today it is a rotting, decaying hellhole that the rest of the world laughs at. What has happened to the city of Detroit is happening to the entire nation as a whole, but our politicians just keep pushing us even farther down the road to oblivion.

Just consider what has happened since NAFTA was implemented. In the year before NAFTA was approved, the United States actually had a trade surplus with Mexico and our trade deficit with Canada was only 29.6 billion dollars. But now things are very different. In one recent year, the U.S. had a combined trade deficit with Mexico and Canada of 177 billion dollars.

And these trade deficits are not just numbers. They represent real jobs that are being lost. It has been estimated that the U.S. economy loses approximately 9,000 jobs for every 1 billion dollars of goods that are imported from overseas, and one professor has estimated that cutting our trade deficit in half would create 5 million more jobs in the United States.

Just yesterday, I wrote about how there are 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now. Once upon a time, if you were honest, dependable and hard working it was easy to get a good paying job in this country. But now things are completely different.

Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, only about 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

Why aren't more people alarmed by numbers like this?

And of course the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not just about "free trade". In one of my previous articles, I explained that Obama is using this as an opportunity to permanently impose much of his agenda on a large portion of the globe…

It is basically a gigantic end run around Congress. Thanks to leaks, we have learned that so many of the things that Obama has deeply wanted for years are in this treaty. If adopted, this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, healthcare, copyright and patent protection, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. This treaty includes many of the rules that alarmed Internet activists so much when SOPA was being debated, it would essentially ban all "Buy American" laws, it would give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and it would force even more domestic manufacturing offshore.

The Republicans in Congress foolishly gave Obama fast track negotiating authority, and so Congress will not be able to change this treaty in any way. They will only have the opportunity for an up or down vote.

I would love to see Congress reject this deal, but we all know that is extremely unlikely to happen. When big votes like this come up, immense pressure is put on key politicians. Yes, there are a few members of Congress that still have backbones, but most of them are absolutely spineless. When push comes to shove, the globalist agenda always seems to advance.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media will be telling the American people about all of the wonderful things that this new treaty will do for them. You would think that after how badly past "free trade" treaties have turned out that we would learn something, but somehow that never seems to happen.

The agenda of the globalists is moving forward, and very few Americans seem to care.

HedgeAccordingly

CIA Insider: China is About to End the Dollar

two hoots

Bill Clinton on signing NAFTA:

First of all, because NAFTA means jobs. American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't support this agreement.

Freddie

Many of those NeoCon Bibi lovers and Jonathan Pollard conservatives love TPP and H1B Ted Cruz. Ted is also a Goldman Sachs boy.

Squids_In

That giant sucking sound just got gianter.

MrTouchdown

Probably, but here's a thought:

It might be a blowing sound of all things USA deflating down (in USD terms) to what they are actually worth when compared to the rest of the world. For example, a GM assembly line worker will make what an assembly line worker in Vietnam makes.

This will, of course, panic Old Yellen, who will promptly fill her diaper and begin subsidizing wages with Quantitative Pleasing (QP1).

Buckaroo Banzai

If this gets through congress, the Republican Party better not bother asking for my vote ever again.

Chupacabra-322

Vote? You seem to think "voting" will actually influence actions / Globalists plans which have been decades in the making amoungst thse Criminal Pure Evil Lucerferian Psychopaths hell bent on Total Complete Full Spectrum World Domination.

Yea, keep voting. I'll be out hunting down these Evil doers like the dogs that they are.

Buckaroo Banzai

I have no illusions regarding the efficacy of voting. It is indeed a waste of time.

What I said was, they better not dare even ASK for my vote.

Ignatius

Doesn't matter. Diebold is so good at counting that you don't even need to show up at the polls anymore. It's like a miracle of modern technology.

Peter Pan

Did the article say 40%?

I imagine they meant 40% of whatever is left after we all go to hell in a hand basket.

Great day for the multinationals and in particular the pharmaceutical companies.

[Sep 21, 2016] There are still a lot of "handshakable" (created by kreacks for kreakls) mass media outlets in Russia despite cries of neoliberal MSM about absence of "free press" in Russia

"Handshakable" is Soviet dissidents times term meaning a person not too in bed with "despicable" regime. Now used mainly in satical sense with the meaning almost identical to kreakls" -- useless person with strong opinions about everything and very active on the Internet.
Lyttenburgh, July 21, 2015 at 2:39 am

I've found this little gem 2 days ago and I'm still… "overjoyed" by it.

Despite Manichean claims of the Free and Independent ™ Western Media that in Russia "there are no free press", that everything is controlled by Kremlin and Putin, and only [Radio] Ekho Moskvy, Novaya Gazeta [Newspaper] and Dozhd [TV] are the few remaining honest sources of truth and independent journalism ™, there are still a lot of "handshakable" outlets created for kreakls by kreakls.

In one such handshakeble paper, the "Snob" [well, at least they are honest with themselves and their readers] recently was published this interview with another extremely handshakable, ah, "person", who used to be the Chief Editor of the "KommmersantЪ" paper in it's [even more] handshakable heyday. This particular excerpt seems especially "meaty" (translation is mine):

Snob: And when do you think the era of the "rich cooperators'" of the 90s came to an end?

AV: I think it happened when they arrested Khodorkovsky. Then not only the era of cooperators came to an end, the society in this country was finished also.

Snob: Why is society so easily reconciled with this and it's own end?

AV: And because it could not be otherwise! Because there are no such country – Russia! This is a huge geopolitical mistake … I do not know whose, Lord God's or Darwin's. This country never existed, don't exist now and never will be. This country is bad.

Snob: Even if it is so bad, it does not mean that it doesn't exist.

AV: Well, fuck with it! Here's my answer. Fuck with it, that it exists! I wish it to be healthy! But this is not interesting for me. It is a cancer on the body of the world! What, should I fight with it? I'm not a professor Pirogov, I will not cut out this tumor, I just do not know how. Honestly, I don't know how.

Snob: What are the symptoms of this cancer?

AV: There are two evidences of this cancer. Never in my life Russia and its people had any other national ideas then "we are surrounded by enemies" and "Russia for the Russians!". With such two fundamental attributes there can't be country. This is just savagery. Can you give me somw other Russian national ideas?

Snob: Empire from sea to sea.

AV: This is just "We are surrounded by enemies" and "Russia for the Russians!" in other words. It's just combined in a beautiful word "empire". Nothing else! And with such fundamental principles country of course, some country might even exist, but who needs it? I do not! It is necessary to those inside.

Needless to say, Andrey Vasiliev now is a proud and free emigre.

So, after reading this little interview I got a proverbial train of thoughts going in my head at a top speed,finally arriving to it's destination. Now I can say that I "understand" (as in "understand what makes them tic") all of them – liberasts, Byelarussian zmagars, Ukrainian svidomites, pint-sized Baltic patriots, sausage emigrants forming Brighton Beach Bitching Brigade etc.

But that's the topic for another post

ThatJ, July 21, 2015 at 2:50 am

Does Andrey Vasiliev live in Brighton Beach now?

yalensis, July 21, 2015 at 3:24 am

No, Vasiliev lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

And, no, he is not Jewish, in case that's what you are trying to get at.

He is of Russian ethnicity.

yalensis, July 21, 2015 at 3:27 am

Dear Lyttenburgh:

Thanks for this find.

These Fifth Columnists are all the same, aren't they?

For them, the true litmus test was, and always has been, Khodorkovsky.

They longed for a world in which Khodorkovsky owned every single thing in Russia that wasn't nailed down; and everybody else, including these kreakls, just getting crumbs from his table.

But the kreakls receiving bigger crumbs, plus an honored place at the master's side.

Moscow Exile, July 21, 2015 at 3:35 am
I regularly ask Russians – ordinary work-a-day Russians, be they of the working or the professional classes – if they could imagine leaving Russia forever, if they could consider emigrating, never intending to return. They all say they couldn't. They say they'd like to travel, but they always feel they would want to come "home".

I have never yet met one Russian person who speaks as does Vasiliev, no one who says "I hate this place and my fellow countrymen so much: it's a shithole; it's a dump; it's full of morons etc., etc….", though I often hear them speaking loudly and clearly in that way from afar through the bullhorn of the Western mass media.

I ask my children regularly if they would like to live in England. I get a resounding "No!" off them. They speak English fluently now (except the youngest) and say they like visiting the place, that it's "cool" and, curiously enough, all their pals think it's "cool" that they are "half-English". My children do as well, not least because I suspect they can already sense the great advantage that their bilingualism has given them – but they categorically state they are Russian and that Russia is their Motherland, their rodina, the land that "bore" them, their "Mother Russia".

My wife is the same.

None of them are nationalistic, but they are very, very patriotic.

People such as Vasiliev are a small yet vociferous minority that, I suspect, suffers from some psychological aberration.

I am so glad that many of them leap at the first opportunity to fuck off away from here.

Pavlo Svolochenko, July 21, 2015 at 3:46 am
The type is not unique to Russia.

America has a whole university set aside for people who hate America. A sort of open-air loonybin.

Your Russian anti-patriots can be corralled and stowed out of sight in the same way, if you wish. Market it right, and they'll do it entirely of their own accord.

yalensis, July 21, 2015 at 3:55 am
Dear Pavlo: Which open-air university is that? Berkeley?? :)
Pavlo Svolochenko, July 21, 2015 at 4:11 am
Naturally.
Moscow Exile, July 21, 2015 at 4:19 am
Why is Berkeley "open-air"?
Pavlo Svolochenko, July 21, 2015 at 4:23 am
In that nothing prevents the inmates from escaping but fear of employment.
Moscow Exile , July 21, 2015 at 4:28 am
I should add that I know many who have chosen to leave Russia in search of fame and fortune, education, a better standard of living etc., but none of them left because they loathe the land and its people.

I also have over the years come across a few who have returned: some because, having achieved success, they preferred to live out the rest of their lives in their Mother Russia; others because they could not adapt to an alien culture ("No 'soul' in the USA!" I have often heard such folk say; and others simply because they were homesick.

Interestingly, and unbeknownst to me, my sister emailed my wife last week when I was in the UK and told her that I was clearly "homesick".

I was: for Russia and my wife and children

Home is where the heart is.

[Dec 31, 2015] Vladimir Putin Fights the War Party on All Fronts

readersupportednews.org

Ket's talk about "Russian aggression."

The fight to the death in Moscow's inner circles is really between the Eurasianists and the so-called Atlantic integrationists, a.k.a. the Western fifth column. The crux of the battle is arguably the Russian Central Bank and the Finance Ministry – where some key liberalcon monetarist players are remote-controlled by the usual suspects, the Masters of the Universe.

The same mechanism applies, geopolitically, to any side, in any latitude, which has linked its own fiat money to Western central banks. The Masters of the Universe always seek to exercise hegemony by manipulating usury and fiat money control.

So why President Putin does not fire the head of the Russian Central Bank, Elvira Nabiulina, and a great deal of his financial team - as they keep buying U.S. bonds and propping up the U.S. dollar instead of the ruble? What's really being aggressed here if not Russian interests?

It's clear by now which party profited from the downing of the Russian Su-24 by the Turkish Air Force – a graphic act of war. The immediate result was the suspension – which could lead to the cancelling – of a crucial Pipelineistan plank: Turkish Stream, which is a bête noire for the Masters of the Universe as Turkey was about to become the key alternative bypassing failed state Ukraine for supplying natural gas to southern Europe.

On top if it the EU paid Ankara 3 billion euros for its "indirect" services (the official excuse is to allow Turkey to control Syrian immigration to the EU.) And EU sanctions to Russia were extended for another six months.

... ... ...

Putin – and Russian intel – didn't see it coming: Sultan Erdogan's "stab in the back." So a case can be made that Russian intel seriously underestimated Erdogan's massive investment on regime change in Syria.

Whatever happens on the ground – much more than in the Vienna-Geneva charade now passing for a "peace process" – the future of Syria bears two stark options; a neo-Ottoman colony, but essentially subordinated to the whims of the Masters of the Universe; or a unitary sovereign nation, not partitioned, with a strong relationship to both Russia and Iran.

The question, though, remains; how does Turkey get away with such a provocation, with Russia imposing just a few sanctions?

lorenbliss 2015-12-30 03:36

I fear that is indeed what we are watching, not so much in terms of Orwellian geopolitics as in terms of the One Percenters' tyranny literally surpassing human conception.

Picture not so much Orwell's world, which retained at least some small pretense of kindness, but rather the (fictional?) Borg hybrid with Nazi Germany, a ruthless global empire run by a capitalist Ruling Class whose bottomless Ayn Rand moral imbecility would make even a Ted Bundy flinch.

No doubt there will be scattered pockets of resistance, but in those realms, the unspeakable depredations of the Empire will eventually turn death into the ultimate synonym for freedom.

Which is why, as I said on another RSN thread, I am so very glad I have no living children -- no descendants to dwell in a world so inconceivably and irremediably malevolent toward the 99 Percent, the living will envy the dead.

That is the future that looms -- unless we the people of this planet somehow manage to overthrow capitalism, which is by far the most malignant evil we have ever unleashed upon ourselves.

cmp 2015-12-30 03:07

The 20th century, saw war, like none other before.

This century, the "War Party" (sadly, this sounds like a pun), but, their folly continues:
~" That follows a "tradition" Bill Blum, for instance, ... and the list goes on. "~

And:
~" .. About 75 per cent of the world's people live in "Eurasia", and most of the world's physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. "Eurasia" accounts for about three-fourths of the world's known energy resources. "~
~ Brzezinski, Zbigniew (2006). The grand chessboard : American primacy and its geostrategic imperatives ([Repr.] ed.). New York, NY: Basic Books. p. 31. ~

[Dec 31, 2015] The World According to Russia

Notable quotes:
"... "I believe," Putin tells Solovyov, "that no one should ever impose any sort of values he considers correct on anyone. We have our own values, our own conceptions of justice." ..."
"... Putin doesn't name names here, but the implication is clear throughout: World Order endeavors to incriminate American foreign policy and place the blame for the current chaos in the Middle East on the United States. The film's anti-Americanism is subtle but relentless ..."
"... some of its criticisms of wrongheaded U.S. policies and blundering interventions in the Middle East since September 11, 2001, would give American liberals, centrists, and even a few conservatives little cause for dispute ..."
"... Russia comes off as unjustly demonized and Russians themselves forced to suffer economically as a result ..."
www.theatlantic.com

"Do you realize what you have done?" Vladimir Putin demanded at the United Nations in September. The question was a rebuke to the American-led bloc of countries that initially viewed with optimism the Arab Spring, which began five years ago this month, but has since given way to chaos and Islamist violence across once-stable parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Those events, and much else, look different when viewed from Russia than they do from the United States, and a documentary that aired recently on Russian state television helps explain the worldview behind Putin's question.

The two-hour-plus film, Miroporyadok (World Order), explores, in the words of its narrator Vladimir Solovyov, "what is happening with us [Russians], what sort of world we have inherited from our parents, and what sort of world we will leave to our children." Partly through interviews with the Russian president himself, it also offers a window on Putin's own realpolitik perspective, one that I've found to be widely shared throughout Russia over many years of living in the country-a worldview according to which international relations consist of competing blocs of nations pursuing their interests, and the violation of sovereignty is a recipe for instability. This stands in contrast to Obama's own position, which he stated at the UN two years ago, that "sovereignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit wanton murder, or an excuse for the international community to turn a blind eye to slaughter."

"I believe," Putin tells Solovyov, "that no one should ever impose any sort of values he considers correct on anyone. We have our own values, our own conceptions of justice."

Putin doesn't name names here, but the implication is clear throughout: World Order endeavors to incriminate American foreign policy and place the blame for the current chaos in the Middle East on the United States. The film's anti-Americanism is subtle but relentless, and the spin comes mostly from omission of relevant facts.

And though it originated within the Russian state propaganda machine, some of its criticisms of wrongheaded U.S. policies and blundering interventions in the Middle East since September 11, 2001, would give American liberals, centrists, and even a few conservatives little cause for dispute. Yet the documentary goes further, leaving the strong impression that greedy, bungling, incorrigibly myopic conspirators "from across the ocean" (a phrase Putin uses repeatedly in the film to describe the U.S. leadership) bent on world domination are to blame; Russia comes off as unjustly demonized and Russians themselves forced to suffer economically as a result. "

[Dec 31, 2015] Where to celebrate New year: the most interesting places to visit in Moscow

December 30, 2015 | ru-an-info.livejournal.com

A Kingdom of Light and Ice – New Year in Moscow. The city decoration this year has a record 100 kilometres of lights and dozens of tons of ice for sculptures. New Year's Eve Muscovites and guests of the capital will see grandiose first-class performances of the festival "Journey to the New Year", a colourful platform for festivals with fireworks and more fireworks, giant ice rinks and ice slides.

These days it seems that Moscow is the capital of not only the country but of the whole world. It is a way to become acquainted with the Russians' favourite holiday and perhaps to try some champagne. On New Year's Eve, you can also easily take part in something sportive. Health and fun is guaranteed on the home rink of the country of the Soviet era. Here you will be able see off the Old and welcome the New as many as five times: in China, in Siberia, in traditional Moscow, in Finland and and in France. [Albeit that the last two despise Russia! – ME]

In Gorky Park guests will be invited to dance. You will not get bored by the popular DJs. This December 31 Dyed Moroz will arrive from space. In the Museon every hour you can watch as the country celebrates the New year. The festival "Circle of light" is going to give a great show. Ice and light music will create the atmosphere. Here you can race around on an ice slide. Another track for skiing has arisen on Poklonnaya Hill. Here is the capital in miniature. Moscow in ice looks fabulous.

The warm weather has helped craftsmen create real masterpieces. All the sculptures are crystal clear. All this has happened just before the New year. After this has happened, who can no longer believe in miracles and the magic of the season! [Refers to the unseasonably warm weather of the past 2 weeks, which suddenly changed to real winter only a few days ago – ME] "A thousand tons of ice: here Ostankino tower, there – the Pushkin monument; over there – the Bolshoi Theatre and the Moscow state University building, and a collective farm. And, of course, the Kremlin", - says the President of the national programme "In the Family Circle", Aleksandr Kovtunets.

The peculiarity of this year is that celebrating the first few minutes of the New Year on Red Square will be impossible: it will be closed off this morning. [31 December – ME] An ice Kremlin shall serve as a replacement and whose chimes are frozen at twenty to midnight. The feeling is that here the New Year will arrive. And underfoot are real cobbles, too, and a Victory Park. On Nicholas Street you will be offered forged horseshoes for good luck. To warm up there will be sweets and hot drinks in booths. And should you wish to stock up on memories with hundreds of pictures there are luxurious lighting installations.

The entire centre – Tverskaya, Kuznetsky Most, Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street, Tverskoi Boulevard – are one big New Year fantasy. The sky, streets and buildings will be emblazed by hundreds of thousands of coloured lights. At midnight there are to be 12 firework displays in different parts of the capital: at Babushkinsky - a retromancer, actors on stilts, an interactive performance about a ballerina that has been imprisoned in a transparent ball; at Kuzminki and Sadovniki - jazz music; at Severnoye Tushino and Goncharovsky Park - a carnival night; at Izmailovo - a party in rockabilly style; at. In Sokolniki - hits of the 90s; at Bauman Garden – Soviet smash hits.

A New Year show will be in every metropolitan park. You will be able to plunge headlong into the festival from outside the Garden Ring. Public transport on New Year's Eve will be open longer than usual: the metro until 2 a.m. and buses until three o'clock. And here's wishing you all the best for the whole night!

[Dec 30, 2015] Ukrainian economy in depression: exports fall by about a third in 2015

Recession in Russia was the last nail on the coffin...
izvestia.ru

Exports of goods and services of Ukrainian production in 2015 will fall by about a third. And this is not surprising: as a result of "reforms" in the country almost died the industry lost its main Russian market, where Ukraine has supplied products with high added value. The cumulative figure of industrial production YTD is approximately -15%. The main export product of Ukraine for the first time since the pre-industrial era were products of agriculture. In the first place - corn.

[Dec 30, 2015] Syrian troops backed by Russian jets enters rebel-held southern town army

Notable quotes:
"... Rebels still control large parts of the region, that also borders Israel, but have been largely on the defensive since their failed offensive in June to take the government-controlled part of Deraa city. ..."
"... In the course of actions aimed to cut terrorists' sources of income, the Russian aircraft eliminate large number of oil production, storing and transportation facilities on the ISIS-controlled territories in Syria. ..."
"... Russian Su-34 bomber performed a strike on the target and eliminated more than 20 oil trucks, which had been used by the ISIS for illegal oil transportation, two off-roaders equipped with ZU-23 AD systems. ..."
"... It is necessary to pay attention to the statement made by representative of the US State Department. Time is changed. Situation is changed. Representatives of the State Department are changed. However, speech writers are not. ..."
"... All these impersonal claims without evidences about performing strikes on civilian objects by allegedly Russian aviation in Syria close resemble performances held by hypnotists or chapiteau. ..."
"... It is about absurd: there are serious accusations referring to some "reputable non-governmental organizations". However, there is no information about the exact name of these organizations and who they are reputable for. ..."
"... All this is happening while actions and, the most important, results of the US air bombardment in this region are keeping absolute silent. ..."
"... If this continue the Syrian military will regain control of all Syrian cities and all these terrorist islamic groups supported by foreign countries will be defeated and expelled from Syria. ..."
"... Well thats interesting. A "mainstream anti Assa armed group", yet they go through all that without actually revealing the name. ..."
"... Is there any question now that the WH was simply letting Syria get demolished in the hopes Assad would fall? ..."
"... Theres a lot of people that support Assad. The WH knows this. The WH stated that Assad hasent a chance in hell of getting re elected. Well if thats the case, why does the WH refuse to see his name on a ballot. ..."
"... They are "Islamist" and the Christian genocide would continue on and on and on. Dont forget, not one of these guys came to power without holding on to a gun. Does that sound like someone you would vote for? ..."
"... hilarious, while this silly article says the syrin army is making gains only after the Russian bombing. They slipped an wrote that the terrorists lost in June against the syrian army!! The russians only got involved in october!! propaganda always has its draw back....the truth!! ..."
"... Until DC provides the list of Moderate Rebels that don't have any Islamic reference they ALL will be viewed as Islamic Terrorists Organizations. And until that list is provided let the Russians bomb the Hell out of them. ..."
"... Let's get this straight... IS militants are all TERRORISTS. Any rebel groups that are fighting alongside with the IS group are also part of the terrorist group. And if those so-called rebel groups are supported by the US or NATO or Turkey, it means that those nations are directly or indirectly supporting the ISIS or TERRORISTS. ..."
"... Sheikh Meskeen is vital and strategic due to its location along the second most important highway in the Dara'a province; it is also the key to the cities of Nawa and Jassim. ..."
"... The Russians are doing this right, get rid of all terrorist groups including the one Israel and the U.S. are supporting, funding and arming. ..."
"... Terrorists are no longer terrorists but are now called rebels? That would mean the Paris slaughter was done by rebels. ..."
"... Somebody please tell to these so called moderate rebels and their brothers in ISIS that their heydays are over. Run while you can. ..."
"... Wonder what the US response would be to Russian airdropping thousands of RPG's and millions of rifles and ammunition to the #$%$, Aryan Nation, Nation of Islam and various militia group in the US who feel they are being oppressed? ..."
"... Since there wasn't a single mention of ISIS in this article, then the emphasis should have been Obama's Syrian "rebel" allies are getting the krap kicked out of them by the Russians. ..."
"... But Reuters, being an Obama support group would only mention them as "backed by Western Powers". ..."
"... Does anyone see the connection between the terrorists, who are backed by the West, and the outright Lies the media tries to pass off as the truth. One other note here, they keep recycling parts of this article which appear almost verbatim in several other reports on Yahoo about Syria. ..."
"... The US is guilty of arming rebels against a government with representation at the United Nations. That is a crime. ..."
"... All the US resources are wasted on misguided and ill-convince military adventures that support corporations than its own citizens. ..."
"... Just like in the north of Syria....ALL the "rebel" groups in the south fight under Al-Nusra's umbrella and command structure. Al-Nusra plans ALL of their offensives, as well as ALL of their defense. You can call them moderate if you want. but ALL the "rebel" groups in Syria work hand-in-hand with the Salafist and Takfiri. ..."
"... Personally I think it's heartwarming the way Western governments and the 'free' press has lined up behind the radical Islamists against Russia and the secular regime in Syria where women can do such evil things as go outside without a sheet over their heads and men can drink beer and etc! This is madness! Russia is evil! ..."
"... stop this nonsense, no one believes it ny more... moderate rebels, barrel bombs ...they are all islamic terorrists, and very well funded and equipped by saudi arabia and qater and trained and supplied by turkey and the u.s. clear as day light ,they are all sunni muslim terrorists! ..."
"... I seriously doubt the "moderate" rebels would approve of anything Christmas-related. Assad looks a lot more moderate to me than the US-backed "moderates". ..."
news.yahoo.com
Rebels still control large parts of the region, that also borders Israel, but have been largely on the defensive since their failed offensive in June to take the government-controlled part of Deraa city.

Vladimir

Here's the latest from Russia's General Staff, with some interesting info about the US Air Force activities.

In the course of last two days, since December 28, aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the Syrian Arab Republic have performed 121 combat sorties engaging 424 terrorists' objects

In the course of last two days, since December 28, aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the Syrian Arab Republic have performed 121 combat sorties engaging 424 terrorists' objects in the Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hama, Homs, Damascus, Daraa, Raqqah and Deir ez-Zor provinces.

Near Mahin (Homs province), Russian Su-34 performed a strike on a large terrorists' base of the ISIS. A hangar with military hardware, depots with weapons, materiel and munitions of terrorists were destroyed. Five off-road vehicles equipped with large-caliber machine guns, an infantry fighting vehicle, and four trucks loaded with munitions were eliminated.

Near Shawarighat al-Arz (Aleppo province), Russian Su-25 destroyed a terrorists' strong point. Direct hits caused elimination of a tank and three off-road vehicles equipped with large-caliber machine guns.

Near Lahaya (Hama province), a Su-25 of the Russian Aerospace Forces eliminated two artillery guns and an ammunition depot.

In suburbs of al-Khadr (Latakia province), Su-25 carried out a strike on a large strong point of terrorists and eliminated 2 pieces of hardware.

Command staff of the Russian aviation group continues receiving information about objects of the ISIS and other terrorist groups active in Syria from representatives of patriotic opposition forces.

Therefore, on Monday, Russian party received information from representatives of one of the Syrian opposition detachments active in northeastern Syria concerning a planned meeting of the ISIS field commanders in the suburbs of Raqqah.

The Russian Defence Ministry organized a day-and-night air observation of the object. After receiving confirmation on arriving of militants' leaders to the assigned point, Russian Su-34 bomber performed a strike on the building, where the meeting was taking place. As a result of direct hit with guided missile, the building was destroyed with all its contents.

Several days ago, representatives of a patriotic opposition formation active in the Idlib province presented information to the Russian Defence Ministry about location of a large ammunition depot of the Jabhat al-Nusra near al-Zerba.

After making research on the aerial photographs of the region and checking reconnaissance data, Russian Su-24M hit the target. Objective monitoring data confirmed elimination of the object.

Means of intelligence detected a hidden reinforced concrete shelter of the AD complex Osa. A Su-34 bomber received an order to liquidate the target. Direct hits of BETAB-500 air bombs caused destruction of the building with all its contents.

In the course of actions aimed to cut terrorists' sources of income, the Russian aircraft eliminate large number of oil production, storing and transportation facilities on the ISIS-controlled territories in Syria.

In the course of last two days, the Russian aviation group destroyed six objects of oil trafficking in the Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo provinces.

In the course of the aerial intelligence operation near Kafr Nabl (Idlib province), the Russian aircraft detected concentration of oil tankers moving to the Syrian-Turkish borders. They were escorted by off-roaders equipped with anti-aircraft systems.

Russian Su-34 bomber performed a strike on the target and eliminated more than 20 oil trucks, which had been used by the ISIS for illegal oil transportation, two off-roaders equipped with ZU-23 AD systems.

***

It is necessary to pay attention to the statement made by representative of the US State Department. Time is changed. Situation is changed. Representatives of the State Department are changed. However, speech writers are not.

All these impersonal claims without evidences about performing strikes on civilian objects by allegedly Russian aviation in Syria close resemble performances held by hypnotists or chapiteau.

It is about absurd: there are serious accusations referring to some "reputable non-governmental organizations". However, there is no information about the exact name of these organizations and who they are reputable for.

All this is happening while actions and, the most important, results of the US air bombardment in this region are keeping absolute silent.

However, every day aircraft and strike UAV's of the US Air Force carry out from six to twenty combat sorties with performing missile and bomb strikes on ground targets.

Therefore, all the public community learns information about effectiveness of operations held by the US Air Force, when their "flights" had caused mass killing. It is impossible to be hide or shift responsibility to any party.


kingn500

Russia carpet bombing is winning the war for the Syrian military that is a strong army that was losing due to lack of air force power and lack of cities war fare experience needed during the attack and defense of Syrian cities, Syrian military was not trained for guerrilla warfare inside the cities but with Russia carpet bombing and Russia retraining the Syrian military in cities warfare they begin to regain Syrian cities and defeating these terrorist rebels If this continue the Syrian military will regain control of all Syrian cities and all these terrorist islamic groups supported by foreign countries will be defeated and expelled from Syria. Good for the Syrian people that most of them don't want an islamic state in Syria. Go Russia go .

smlslk

Rebels from another mainstream anti-Assad armed opposition alongside some Islamist groups"

Well thats interesting. A "mainstream anti Assa armed group", yet they go through all that without actually revealing the name.

Is there any question now that the WH was simply letting Syria get demolished in the hopes Assad would fall?

Theres a lot of people that support Assad. The WH knows this. The WH stated that Assad hasent a chance in hell of getting re elected. Well if thats the case, why does the WH refuse to see his name on a ballot.

So lets get this strait. All the people that now back Assad including all the people that would now vote for him would then become the terrorist if the WH appointed one of these nameless "armed mainstream anti Assad terrorist groups". They are "Islamist" and the Christian genocide would continue on and on and on. Dont forget, not one of these guys came to power without holding on to a gun. Does that sound like someone you would vote for?

Ramsis

hilarious, while this silly article says the syrin army is making gains only after the Russian bombing. They slipped an wrote that the terrorists lost in June against the syrian army!! The russians only got involved in october!! propaganda always has its draw back....the truth!!

stefan

Until DC provides the list of Moderate Rebels that don't have any Islamic reference they ALL will be viewed as Islamic Terrorists Organizations. And until that list is provided let the Russians bomb the Hell out of them.

J M

Let's get this straight... IS militants are all TERRORISTS. Any rebel groups that are fighting alongside with the IS group are also part of the terrorist group. And if those so-called rebel groups are supported by the US or NATO or Turkey, it means that those nations are directly or indirectly supporting the ISIS or TERRORISTS.

DAVID

The Syrian Army announced minutes ago that its troops alongside the popular forces drove the militant groups back from the entire districts of the key town of Sheikh Meskeen North of Dara'a after killing, wounding and capturing a large number of the terrorists. "Sheikh Meskeen is now under the full control of the Syrian government forces," the army said.

"The militant groups have suffered a heavy death toll. Most of the militants in the town have been killed or wounded. In addition, a large number of the militants have surrendered, while the rest preferred to flee the war zone," the army added.

"The Syrian army is fortifying its positions in the town now," it went on to say.

"Pro-government troops are patrolling the town to find the rest of the militants," the army added.

"The Syrian soldiers are transferring the captured and injured militants to safer areas behind the frontline," the army went on to say.

"The engineering units of the army are defusing the Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) planted by the terrorists groups across the government buildings," the army said.

Reports said earlier that the Syrian government forces' rapid advances in the town of Sheikh Meskeen have forced the militant groups to start pulling back forces and fleeing the battlefield to evade more casualties.

"The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have continued to push back the militant groups from different districts of the town, including the residential area of the military forces and one of the main roundabouts of the strategic town," the army said.

"The militant groups, who have witnessed the heavy attacks of the Syria forces and the collapse of their defense lines in the Northeastern, Northern and Eastern parts of the city, have started to withdraw from more districts," the sources said.

"In the meantime, large groups of militants are fleeing the town in order to evade more casualties," the sources added.

"The militant groups have sustained a heavy death toll and are hopeless. The terrorists' commanders have called for fresh militants but have received no response from their comrades in other parts of the province thus far," the sources said.

"The government forces have completed their control over the Eastern part of the town, Pharmacy Street, al-Ra'esi Roundabout in the middle of the town, and Jame'a al-Omari and are advancing against the militants' strongholds," the sources said.

"The Syria forces also have surrounded the militant group of al-Wila Seif al-Sham in the city and are hunting them one by one," the sources said.

Reports said that the Russian and Syrian Air Forces' joint combat sorties over the militant groups' positions in Sheikh Meskeen North of Dara'a claimed the lives of large groups of terrorists and destroyed their military grid.

"The Russian and Syrian fighter jets, in over 25 sorties, massively bombed the militant positions in Sheikh Meskeen, which left many terrorists dead or wounded," the army sources said.

"The aerial coverage created by the Russian and Syrian fighter jets in Sheikh Meskeen battlefield was one the most important causes of the Syrian ground forces' advances against the militant groups on Tuesday," the army added.

The Syrian army and its allies have been significantly advancing against the militant groups in the province in the recent weeks, particularly in Sheikh Meskeen.

Army announced on Tuesday that its troops and their popular allies advanced in the Northern battlefronts of Sheikh Meskeen rapidly and pushed the militants back from more positions.

"Following the capture of Battalion 82 base and Tal al-Hish, the Syrian government forces captured the Sheikh Meskeen's Pool Facility, killing over 15 enemy combatants from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the army said.

"The Syrian army, the National Defense Forces and other popular fighters are on a roll in the Dara'a province after launching a massive assault on the strategic town of Sheikh Meskeen over 72 hours ago," the army added.

Sheikh Meskeen is vital and strategic due to its location along the second most important highway in the Dara'a province; it is also the key to the cities of Nawa and Jassim.

Bill

MY FELLOW AMERICANS, the first "War on Terror" was during Jefferson's presidency. For nearly fifteen centuries the world has faced the disease of Islam, but our nation faced it head on when Thomas Jefferson, serving as the ambassador to France, and John Adams, servicing as the ambassador to Britain, went to London to meet with Ambassador Abdrahaman, the Dey of Tripoli's ambassador to Britain. Of course they met with Abdrahaman to negotiate a peace treaty, but keep in mind that in Islam, the only peace is submission to Islam.

After independence, however, pirates often captured U.S. merchant ships, pillaged cargoes and enslaved or held crew members for ransom. Jefferson had opposed paying tribute to the Barbary States since as far back as 1785, and in 1801, he authorized a U.S. Navy fleet under Commodore Richard Dale to make a show of force in the Mediterranean, the first American naval squadron to cross the Atlantic ...this lead to the "First Barbary Wars".

America, though this victory proved only temporary, according to Wood, "many Americans celebrated it as a vindication of their policy of spreading free trade around the world and as a great victory for liberty over tyranny." My fellow Americans, I am a veteran, I have fought against terror for over a decade (2001 to 2011). These radicalists have been like this from generation to generation to as far back as the 7th century. I'm concerned on what we will leave behind for our next generation and the future of this great nation! So I say onto you, my fellow Americans, LET NO ONE -AND I MEAN NO ONE- COME INTO OUR HOUSE AND PUSH US AROUND!

Paul

The Russians are doing this right, get rid of all terrorist groups including the one Israel and the U.S. are supporting, funding and arming.


The

Terrorists are no longer terrorists but are now called rebels? That would mean the Paris slaughter was done by rebels.

Kevin

Somebody please tell to these so called moderate rebels and their brothers in ISIS that their heydays are over. Run while you can.

Detritus of Sloth

Wonder what the US response would be to Russian airdropping thousands of RPG's and millions of rifles and ammunition to the #$%$, Aryan Nation, Nation of Islam and various militia group in the US who feel they are being oppressed?

Vicious

Since there wasn't a single mention of ISIS in this article, then the emphasis should have been Obama's Syrian "rebel" allies are getting the krap kicked out of them by the Russians.

But Reuters, being an Obama support group would only mention them as "backed by Western Powers".

RT

insurgents on the ground told Reuters........you mean Terrorists don't you? This is a constant source of the media information, the terrorists themselves. We know what color pajamas the Jihadists wear to bed at night, and every move they make, and why, but our military seems to have missed this.......

Does anyone see the connection between the terrorists, who are backed by the West, and the outright Lies the media tries to pass off as the truth. One other note here, they keep recycling parts of this article which appear almost verbatim in several other reports on Yahoo about Syria.

jane

Who know, maybe in 2016 all "Sunni moderate rebels" and ISIS will be expelled. Then Syria will see peace and its refugees can return home. But I bet the blood-thirsty US Snake Department and the CIA probably will prefer continued bloodshed.

Peetie

The US is guilty of arming rebels against a government with representation at the United Nations. That is a crime.

Hezbollah:

Let's look at so-called "moderate rebels" supported by American taxpayers. Example: Jeysh Al-Islam:

- It means "Army of Islam"
- Its leader called for extermination of all minorities in Damascus
- Its leader called Alawites "more infidel than Jews and Christians"
- Is directly financed by Saudis
- Has clearly shown its support for Islamic Caliphate and vehemently opposes democracy
- Been involved in series of tortures, beheadings, murders and disappearances

Yep, "moderate rebels" all right.

J. de Molay

The two super powers, China and Russia, maneuvered on the global stage for supremacy while the US citizens politically in-fight with no clear future oriented goals or plans. Sadly, the US is slowly dissolving away from what is was supposed to be that was framed by the founders a mere 235+ years ago. All the US resources are wasted on misguided and ill-convince military adventures that support corporations than its own citizens.

Davin

Just like in the north of Syria....ALL the "rebel" groups in the south fight under Al-Nusra's umbrella and command structure. Al-Nusra plans ALL of their offensives, as well as ALL of their defense. You can call them moderate if you want. but ALL the "rebel" groups in Syria work hand-in-hand with the Salafist and Takfiri.

Relja

Seems 'the rebels' are regular troops from jordan and turkey. President Asad lost large teritorry because of turkish, joprdan and saudi 'rebels' loved by west/Us.

Reyter

Personally I think it's heartwarming the way Western governments and the 'free' press has lined up behind the radical Islamists against Russia and the secular regime in Syria where women can do such evil things as go outside without a sheet over their heads and men can drink beer and etc! This is madness! Russia is evil!

CRL

"Rebels from another mainstream anti-Assad armed opposition alongside some Islamist groups said they shelled the city of Izraa, a main government held town"

How many innocent civilians were killed? Did not see the number in the press.

Ramsis

stop this nonsense, no one believes it ny more... moderate rebels, barrel bombs ...they are all islamic terorrists, and very well funded and equipped by saudi arabia and qater and trained and supplied by turkey and the u.s. clear as day light ,they are all sunni muslim terrorists!

Mark

There is a news report "Christmas and New Year carnival in Damascus- Video" on SANA news website. I seriously doubt the "moderate" rebels would approve of anything Christmas-related. Assad looks a lot more moderate to me than the US-backed "moderates".

TruthMonger

Why our media is viewing Syrian events from the terrorists' perspective, never from the legitimate government's??

Scott

That GGAADDAAMMMM IDIOT BUSH & The AFFLUENZA Party (Republican Party) are 100% to Blame......for Creating ISIS....and The Whole Mess in Middle East.......Says RAND PAUL & TED CRUZ........92% of Americans Agree

analogy

I keep on reading "rebels , freedom fighters, moderates" that this means the Paris attackers and the ones that brought down the towers are one of the above?

[Dec 30, 2015] Putin rules out reconciliation with Turkey

Notable quotes:
"... On Thursday, Putin went as far as to say that the Islamic State group was a "secondary issue" in Syria as it was created as "cannon fodder under Islamist slogans" to protect economic interests of other players, although he did not name Turkey. ..."
news.yahoo.com

Moscow (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin fired off an angry tirade against Turkey on Thursday, ruling out any reconciliation with its leaders and accusing Ankara of shooting down a Russian warplane to impress the United States.

In comments littered with crude language, Putin dismissed the possibility that the downing of the warplane over the Turkey-Syria border last month was an accident, calling it a "hostile act".

"We find it difficult if not impossible to come to an agreement with the current leadership of Turkey," the Kremlin strongman said at his annual news conference.

"On the state level, I don't see any prospects of improving relations with the Turkish leadership," he said of Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ties between Russia and the NATO member have hit rock bottom since the November 24 incident, which led to deaths of two Russian military officers.

Turkey has said the Russian jet strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings, but Moscow insists it never left Syrian territory.

Putin said he did not rule out that Ankara was acting with tacit approval from Washington, possibly so that the United States would look the other way to let Turkey "go onto Iraqi territory and occupy part of it".

"I don't know if there was such a trade-off, maybe there was," Putin said.

"If somebody in the Turkish leadership decided to lick the Americans in one place... I don't know, if they did the right thing," he added.

"Did they think we would run away now? Russia is not that kind of country," Putin said, speaking of Moscow's increased military presence in Syria.

"If Turkey flew there all the time before, breaching Syrian airspace, well, let's see how they fly now."

Turkey has voiced concern about Russian air raids in northern Syria because of the Turkmen minority in the area, a Turkic-speaking people who have had an uneasy relationship with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

But Putin declared: "I've never heard anything about these so-called Turkmen.

"I know that there are our Turkmen, living in Turkmenistan," he said, referring to the ex-Soviet Central Asian country.

Putin also accused Turkey's leaders of overseeing a "creeping Islamisation" of the country "which would probably cause (modern Turkey's founding father Mustafa Kemal) Ataturk to turn in his grave."

- Not an 'enemy state' -

Putin and Erdogan have been locked in a war of words since the plane downing, and Moscow has even accused Erdogan's family of engaging in oil smuggling operations with Islamic State jihadists.

On Thursday, Putin went as far as to say that the Islamic State group was a "secondary issue" in Syria as it was created as "cannon fodder under Islamist slogans" to protect economic interests of other players, although he did not name Turkey.

However, he said he does not consider Turkey an enemy state. "They committed an enemy act against our aviation, but to say that we view Turkey as enemy state -- that is not the case."

Russia has imposed a number of sanctions on Turkey but Putin brushed aside questions from journalists about raids against Turkish firms and expulsions of Turkish students from Russian universities.

Putin said that had the downing of the plane been an accident, Turkish leaders should have tried to "pick up the phone and explain themselves".

Erdogan attempted to call Putin on the day of the incident, but the Kremlin ignored his request to speak to the Russian leader.

[Dec 30, 2015] Moscow demands arrest of rebel for 'murder' of Russian warplane pilot

Please note the AFP does not mentions that killing parachuted pilot is a war crime.
Notable quotes:
"... Zakharova said that the publication of Celik's comments in a major Turkish newspaper had angered and surprised Moscow, and accused the media outlet of being a "platform where terrorists and murderers brag about their crimes and spread hate of Russia and the Russian people through nationalist ideology." ..."
"... She added that Celik's comments constituted an admission of his "direct involvement in the murder of the Russian pilot". ..."
news.yahoo.com

Moscow (AFP) - Moscow on Wednesday called for Ankara to arrest a rebel it claims killed the pilot of the Russian jet downed by Turkey last month on the Syrian border.

"We demand that the Turkish authorities take immediate steps to apprehend Alparslan Celik and his accomplices and bring them to justice for the murder of the Russian pilot," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

In an interview published Sunday in Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, Celik -- a Turkmen rebel and citizen of Turkey -- said that his "conscience cannot be bothered by a person who threw bombs at Turkmen civilians every day," referring to the slain Russian pilot.

Both pilots aboard the downed Su-24 jet ejected and parachuted to the ground on the Syrian side of the border, one of whom was killed by gun fire from the ground.

"Revenge is the most natural right," Celik said in the interview, while refraining from claiming the pilot's death.

Moscow and Ankara have been locked in a bitter spat over the downing of the Su-24 jet on November 24, with the Kremlin imposing a raft of economic sanctions against Turkey.

Zakharova said that the publication of Celik's comments in a major Turkish newspaper had angered and surprised Moscow, and accused the media outlet of being a "platform where terrorists and murderers brag about their crimes and spread hate of Russia and the Russian people through nationalist ideology."

She added that Celik's comments constituted an admission of his "direct involvement in the murder of the Russian pilot".

Turkish authorities have accused Russia of "ethnic cleansing" in Syria, targeting Turkmen and Sunni population that oppose the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow's long-time ally.

Turkey says the Russian jet strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings, while Moscow insisted it did not cross over from Syria and accused Ankara of a planned provocation.

[Dec 29, 2015] The Fed and Financial Reform – Reflections on Sen. Sanders op-Ed

Notable quotes:
"... The obvious candidate for this dark force [correlation between (rising) inequality and (low) growth] is crony capitalism. When a country succumbs to cronyism, friends of the rulers are able to appropriate large amounts of wealth for themselves -- for example, by being awarded government-protected monopolies over certain markets, as in Russia after the fall of communism. That will obviously lead to inequality of income and wealth. It will also make the economy inefficient, since money is flowing to unproductive cronies. Cronyism may also reduce growth by allowing the wealthy to exert greater influence on political policy, creating inefficient subsidies for themselves and unfair penalties for their rivals. ..."
"... The real problem is that money does not go to where it should go, as we see for example in the United States. The money does not flow into the real economy, because the transmission mechanism is broken. That is why we have a bubble in the financial system. The answer is not to tighten monetary policy, but to reform monetary policy so as to ensure that the money gets to the right place... ..."
"... As Stiglitz notes, the transmission mechanisms are broken. Economists trickle down monetary policy might work in theory, but not in practice, as we have seen for the last seven years, when low rates dont trickle down and were wasted instead on asset speculation by the 1%. ..."
"... Reform of the Fed, and the end of cronyism are essential to making sure that the stimulus of low rates gets to Main Street, to ordinary people, and not primarily to asset speculators. ..."
"... The recent decision by the Fed to raise interest rates is the latest example of the rigged economic system. Big bankers and their supporters in Congress have been telling us for years that runaway inflation is just around the corner. They have been dead wrong each time. Raising interest rates now is a disaster for small business owners who need loans to hire more workers and Americans who need more jobs and higher wages. As a rule, the Fed should not raise interest rates until unemployment is lower than 4 percent. Raising rates must be done only as a last resort - not to fight phantom inflation. ..."
"... And in one sentence Summers illustrates exactly why we dodged a bullet in not appointing Summers to be Fed Chair. Preserving the power of the Fed is not the most important policy. Changing the Fed composition so that it is more consumer friendly and not dominated by Wall Street interests is the most important policy change needed. ..."
"... the Balkanized character of US banking regulation is indefensible and would be ended. The worst regulatory idea of the 20th century-the dual banking system-persists into the 21st. The idea is that we have two systems one regulated by the States and the Fed and the other regulated by the OCC so banks have choice. With ambitious regulators eager to expand their reach, the inevitable result is a race to the bottom. ..."
"... Summers is also calling for higher capital requirements. Excellent stuff! ..."
Dec 29, 2015 | Economist's View

'The Fed and Financial Reform – Reflections on Sen. Sanders op-Ed'

This is the beginning of a long response from Larry Summers to an op-ed by Bernie Sanders:
The Fed and Financial Reform – Reflections on Sen. Sanders op-Ed : Bernie Sanders had an op Ed in the New York Times on Fed reform last week that provides an opportunity to reflect on the Fed and financial reform more generally. I think that Sanders is right in his central point that financial policy is overly influenced by financial interests to its detriment and that it is essential that this be repaired.

At the same time, reform requires careful reflection if it is not to be counterproductive. And it is important in approaching issues of reform not to give ammunition to right wing critics of the Fed who would deny it the capacity to engage in the kind of crisis responses that have judged in their totality been successful in responding to the financial crisis.

The most important policy priority with respect to the Fed is protecting it from stone age monetary ideas like a return to the gold standard, or turning policymaking over to a formula, or removing the dual mandate commanding the Fed to worry about unemployment as well as inflation. ...

JohnH said...
Disagree!!! There is more to this than just interest rates. There is the matter of how the policy gets implemented--who gets low rates. Currently the low rates serve mostly the 1%, who profit enormously from them. Case in point: Mort Zuckerberg's 1% mortgage!

"The obvious candidate for this dark force [correlation between (rising) inequality and (low) growth] is crony capitalism. When a country succumbs to cronyism, friends of the rulers are able to appropriate large amounts of wealth for themselves -- for example, by being awarded government-protected monopolies over certain markets, as in Russia after the fall of communism. That will obviously lead to inequality of income and wealth. It will also make the economy inefficient, since money is flowing to unproductive cronies. Cronyism may also reduce growth by allowing the wealthy to exert greater influence on political policy, creating inefficient subsidies for themselves and unfair penalties for their rivals."

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-12-24/cronyism-causes-the-worst-kind-of-inequality

As we know (although most here steadfastly ignore it) the Fed is rife with crony capitalism. As Bernie pointed out, 4 of the regional governors are from Goldman Sachs. Other examples are abundant. Quite simply, the system is rigged to benefit the few, minimizing any potential trickle down.

If a broad economic recovery is the goal, ending cronyism at the Fed is likely to be far more effective that low interest rates channeled only to the 1%.

JohnH said in reply to JohnH...
Stiglitz:

The real problem is that money does not go to where it should go, as we see for example in the United States. The money does not flow into the real economy, because the transmission mechanism is broken. That is why we have a bubble in the financial system. The answer is not to tighten monetary policy, but to reform monetary policy so as to ensure that the money gets to the right place...

Small and medium enterprises cannot borrow money at zero interest rates - not even a private person, I wish I could do that (laughs). I'm more worried about the loan interest rates, which are still too high. Access for small and medium enterprises to credit is too expensive. That's why it is so important that the transmission mechanism work..."
http://www.cash.ch/news/alle/stiglitz-billiggeld-lost-kein-problem-3393853-448

And let's not forget consumer credit rates, which barely dropped during the Great Recession and are still well above 10%. Even mortgage lending, which primarily benefits the affluent, have been stagnant for years despite historically low rates.

As Stiglitz notes, the transmission mechanisms are broken. Economists' trickle down monetary policy might work in theory, but not in practice, as we have seen for the last seven years, when low rates don't trickle down and were wasted instead on asset speculation by the 1%.

Reform of the Fed, and the end of cronyism are essential to making sure that the stimulus of low rates gets to Main Street, to ordinary people, and not primarily to asset speculators.

Peter K. said in reply to JohnH...

Bernie Sanders:

"The recent decision by the Fed to raise interest rates is the latest example of the rigged economic system. Big bankers and their supporters in Congress have been telling us for years that runaway inflation is just around the corner. They have been dead wrong each time. Raising interest rates now is a disaster for small business owners who need loans to hire more workers and Americans who need more jobs and higher wages. As a rule, the Fed should not raise interest rates until unemployment is lower than 4 percent. Raising rates must be done only as a last resort - not to fight phantom inflation. "

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/23/opinion/bernie-sanders-to-rein-in-wall-street-fix-the-fed.html

EMichael said in reply to Peter K....

It is hilarious.

"He's right! But his policies are wrong!"

You couldn't make this up......

JF said...
The financial system reform legislation in 2017 will also need to include these matters:

1. Licensure fees and higher and more differential income taxation rates based on the type of financial trading ratios the entities have (in order to direct more emphasis to real-economy lending and away from speculative and leveraged positions used in the financial asset trading marketplaces, so hedge funds probably would face the highest rates in income taxation). For a certain period after enactment these added taxes would be payable by the banks using their excess reserves, which will simply be eliminated until the reserve accounts return to the historically normal period when excess reserves were very small (there would no longer be a need for IOER, as the excess would be eliminated by operation of the taxation statutes). Attaching added ways & means statutes to all the financial service entities also serves to 'cover' some more of huge financial risk held by society and produced by them while the success of this huge sector actually contributes to the financing of self-government - which is also an indirect way to attach high Net Worth being used).

2. New statutory provisions need to reach any and all entities in the financial community regardless of definitions based on the functions they serve or provide (or the way they are named - so yes, the prior separation for deposit-management banking from investing activities can still happen, but this only helps to define which of the differential provisions apply, not help the entity escape them). Perhaps as a result Bank Holding Companies and other large entities won't use a complex network of hundreds of subsidiaries as these would not then serve as a way to avoid taxation, regulatory standards on what are prudent expectations, or supervision; or be used simply to obfuscate -- so investors and regulators can't see the truth of matters.

3. The newly named central bank needs to hold the discretion to buy Treasury bonds directly from the Treasury. This would discipline these fundamental asset-trading marketplaces and the huge primary dealer group of entities, and weaken the fox-and-hen-house influence on public finance.

4. New accounting approaches for the central bank would clarify what happens should the Congress direct redemption amounts or asset sales for the public's purposes. A good portion of the current FRB's book of owned assets can be redeemed or sold without affecting the 'power' of the central bank, and the proceeds used then, for example, to lower payroll taxes via a direct transfer to the social security trust fund's set of accounts).

Senator Sanders, good stuff. Bring out the vote, let us get others in Congress with whom you can work.

BillB said...
Summers: "The most important policy priority with respect to the Fed is protecting it from stone age monetary ideas like a return to the gold standard, or turning policymaking over to a formula, or removing the dual mandate commanding the Fed to worry about unemployment as well as inflation."

And in one sentence Summers illustrates exactly why we dodged a bullet in not appointing Summers to be Fed Chair. Preserving the power of the Fed is not the most important policy. Changing the Fed composition so that it is more consumer friendly and not dominated by Wall Street interests is the most important policy change needed.

Summers argument is the same we always hear from so-called "centrists." "You hippies should shut up because you are helping the opposition."

You hear the same sort of argument with respect to Black Lives Matter.

pgl said in reply to pgl...

On financial regulation - Summers is spot on here:

"the Balkanized character of US banking regulation is indefensible and would be ended. The worst regulatory idea of the 20th century-the dual banking system-persists into the 21st. The idea is that we have two systems one regulated by the States and the Fed and the other regulated by the OCC so banks have choice. With ambitious regulators eager to expand their reach, the inevitable result is a race to the bottom."

It is called regulatory capture.

Summers is also calling for higher capital requirements. Excellent stuff!

[Dec 29, 2015] The military strategy to defeat the Islamic State can be summed up as "isolate and eradicate"

Notable quotes:
"... "Our toothpaste will degrade and ultimately destroy cavities." ..."
"... D'oooooooooh! ..."
"... I suggest you read about the Boer War, where Roberts lost, and Kitchener, who replaced Roberts, won. Focus on the mechanism Kitchener employed to win – depopulation the countryside and gathering all the civilian (Afrikaans) population in camps, where a significant percentage died of diphtheria. ..."
"... "ISIS…ISIL..IS..(ok I prefer Daesh.. but whateva whateva)… is stockpiling RedBull for "The Long March" ..."
"... "I get the impression they are more a Wahhabi brand of ME Organized Crime in a religious jihadist wrapper than a bona-fide organizer of worldwide Caliphate." ..."
"... "Unlike, say the Taliban which has pursued a more modest goal of converting Afghanistan into a retro-fantasy barbaric Islamic fundamentalist State, IS has more ambitiously declared Jihad against the entire World. Now that's anyone and everyone including other Muslim sects that are not Wahhabis, or more precisely ANYONE including other Wahhabis not with the program!" ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com
Andrew Watts

RE: A Fearful Congress Sits Out the War Against ISIS

I have no idea what they're talking about. There aren't any American troops fighting the Islamic State in Northern Syria or Iraq. Only advisers and volunteers who do not see much frontline action… right?

The problem with the Obama Administration is that they seem to believe that every issue is a matter of public relations. I mean take the "degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State" statement for example. One of those words doesn't mean what they think it means. It makes a great marketing line from a toothpaste salesman though. "Our toothpaste will degrade and ultimately destroy cavities." F- yeah! In any case it's probably asking too much of Congress to give their vote of confidence in a war that lacks a coherent plan from the administration and when the US military may have exceeded it's military prerogative.

As for the British/German response there are potential consequences at stake that need to be considered. Fallout… eh? That's an interesting choice of words. D'oooooooooh!

Andrew Watts

…and because Congress shouldn't get off that easy and the fact it's the holiday season I offer the Obama administration the plan and media spin they desire in the spirit of the season. The military strategy to defeat the Islamic State can be summed up as "isolate and eradicate". By attacking and cutting major supply lines to and from the Islamic State's centers of gravity, with the co-operation of local and other opposition forces, IS forces will find themselves in increasingly dire straits. This is the strategy being followed by the Syrian Democratic Forces and was previously pursued by the Kurdish YPG/J. ("Just in case anybody didn't get the memo the first time around…") The successful result that this strategy has produced is self-evident thus far.

With the capture of Tishrin Dam and the ongoing advance from that area west of the Euphrates River and the forthcoming SDF campaign for the remaining IS territory in Hasakah province the Islamic State will find itself isolated in Aleppo province and cut off one of the last major supply lines from Turkey to the rest of the alleged Caliphate. By securing the remaining IS territory located in Hasaka province SDF will have effectively closed the most direct path from Mosul to Raqqa leaving it vulnerable. Raqqa will fall.

Ultimately, facing isolation and eradication in Mosul and cut off from it's remaining city strongholds in Anbar the Islamic State will face two incredibly bad choices; a guerrilla war of attrition that it will eventually lose or a high risk "Long March" maneuver into Saudi Arabia. We should all know which choice Mao successfully made.

God, this is gonna be an exciting year!

Synoia

Ultimately, facing isolation and eradication in Mosul and cut off from it's remaining city strongholds in Anbar the Islamic State will face two incredibly bad choices; a guerrilla war of attrition that it will eventually lose

And how pray, will ISIS, with legions of faithful supporters and new converts, a process fueled by US policy, US Military actions, and unwavering US support for Israel's bashing fellow Muslims on a daily basis, lead to a loss of a guerrilla war?

One cannot "win" a guerrilla war by attrition, because the actions of attrition generate supporters for the war at a greater rate than the loss from so called attrition.

I suggest you read about the Boer War, where Roberts lost, and Kitchener, who replaced Roberts, won. Focus on the mechanism Kitchener employed to win – depopulation the countryside and gathering all the civilian (Afrikaans) population in camps, where a significant percentage died of diphtheria.

Then explain how the lessons learned from the Boer War, an insurgency, from1899 to 1902, apply to ISIS today.

Those who do not know their history, etc…

Andrew Watts

For all it's pretense the Islamic State doesn't come close to representing every Sunni Muslim in the world. Although the idea of the re-emergence of the Caliphate must be an appealing ideal. As for blaming the US for everything wrong in the region, why do you think that the Shia and other minorities are targeted for annihilation by Sunni jihadists is solely the fault of Uncle Sam?

There are quite a few ways to win a guerrilla war. The Boer War was won by the British through the eradication of the guerrilla's base of support. Similarly the America crushed the Filipino insurgency through similar methods. Their loss was almost destined from the beginning though. The Filipinos were already divided by class, ethnicity, and geography and it's the latter I am focused on in the context of the former.

As other historical examples will prove there are less gruesome ways of accomplishing that goal. The Chinese Civil War will furnish many lessons to the students of history. The Chinese Nationalists tried and failed to wage a insurgency after they fled to Taiwan. In no small part due to the repeated defeats that were inflicted upon their forces by both foreign and domestic enemies and the subsequential humiliation that resulted.

Nobody wants to fight and die for a losing cause. Only for glorious victory.

Synoia

Answer the question: How will the ISIS insurgency collapse when there appears to be a large supply of the disaffected?

You made the assertion, state the means.

Banana Breakfast

US/Western/capitalist imperial boondoggles will continue to create disaffected youths, who will continue to become guerillas, but if IS, having talked some big talk and taken the big step of capturing territory and making the pretense of being a state level actor, loses their territory, IS will not be such an attractive name to associate with. Al Qaeda shrank because they became associated with losing, and only the serious, long game playing, professional revolutionaries have the patience to stick that out. When IS becomes associated with losing, they'll be replaced as well.

Andrew Watts

Somebody gets it. Furthermore IS fighters can be divided by their status as conscripts, mercenaries, and even fewer who are true believers that'll stick out the jihadist revolution to the end. Plus more than a few infiltrators from foreign intelligence agencies. It's the Levant after all.

Everybody thinks they can manipulate jihadist sentiment and it's gotta be one of the reasons why there's a glass ceiling for the advancement of non-Iraqis in the Islamic State.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef

That's human nature.

And you see that towards the end of any war, with generals defecting, leading to a swift defeat of the losing side. 'Saving lives,' they tell themselves and anyone will listen.

Going with the winner is how the rich will always have followers and supporters.

optimader

ISIS…ISIL..IS..(ok I prefer Daesh.. but whateva whateva)… is stockpiling RedBull for "The Long March"
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2015/07/19/Western-products-showcased-in-ISIS-shopping-mall-.html

I get the impression they are more a Wahhabi brand of ME Organized Crime in a religious jihadist wrapper than a bona-fide organizer of worldwide Caliphate. I mean, let's be generous and say the "organization" is good for what 40k dingdongs,, against the world?.. Really? How many times in History has that not worked?, (or as the Military would ultimately frame such an operation: "… it has been less than a complete success…)

Unlike, say the Taliban which has pursued a more modest goal of converting Afghanistan into a retro-fantasy barbaric Islamic fundamentalist State, IS has more ambitiously declared Jihad against the entire World. Now that's anyone and everyone including other Muslim sects that are not Wahhabis, or more precisely ANYONE including other Wahhabis not with the program!

I think of them more along the lines of the overly ambitious but ultimately doomed to fail Virus strain that kills it's hosts. Maybe they'll be the cause of a lot of death and destruction directly and indirectly as sovereign countries are used as fullscale weapons proving grounds, but ultimately IS will be hoisted by it's own Petard.
In the long play, targeting the least critical thinking disaffected youth in the West and ME with stale packages of M&Ms, Cadbury Chocolates and an opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie of shooting an AK (or being summarily married off to a GoldStar member if you're female) until you're aerosolized is not a solid longterm plan IMO.

Andrew Watts

"ISIS…ISIL..IS..(ok I prefer Daesh.. but whateva whateva)… is stockpiling RedBull for "The Long March"

They call themselves Islamic State so that's what I call them. It's been tough over the years trying to keep up with their constant name changes. I forget what came before ISI > ISIS > ISIL > IS. And hey when you can't drink alcohol because your religion forbids it you need other stimulants.


"I get the impression they are more a Wahhabi brand of ME Organized Crime in a religious jihadist wrapper than a bona-fide organizer of worldwide Caliphate."

Who knows. I still haven't made up my mind if the revanchist Baathists are using the jihadists for their own self-interest or the other way around. Before the inception of Al Qaeda in Iraq it was some motley crew of jihadists trying to destabilize Jordan and overthrow the government which sounds like something the Iraqi intelligence apparatus would want. After the Iraqi invasion they relocated to Anbar to wage an insurgency against the American occupation… who just so happen to link up with Saddam regime loyalists drawn from the intelligence services?

If the Iraqis who comprise the leadership positions in the Islamic State are only in it for the money the whole Caliphate could collapse as the leaders abandon the cause when the prospects turn sour. That seems like wishful thinking though.


"Unlike, say the Taliban which has pursued a more modest goal of converting Afghanistan into a retro-fantasy barbaric Islamic fundamentalist State, IS has more ambitiously declared Jihad against the entire World. Now that's anyone and everyone including other Muslim sects that are not Wahhabis, or more precisely ANYONE including other Wahhabis not with the program!"

Undoubtedly the Islamic State will target other Wahhabis as their jihad is aimed at other Sunni Muslims. That's why I think of them as Wahhabi revolutionaries. They're trying to overthrow not just the state, secular or otherwise, but eradicate other sects of Islam.

Reply

john

I hear the Israeli Secret Inteligence Service isn't so happy about the "ISIS"-branding issue.

The elites tell us the truth right to our faces, but it is so terrible and offensive to our humanity we can only turn away.

The same narciscists who see us as animals, and cast themselves as gods are mere beasts.

Reply

different clue

Probably each thinks it is using the other. But because the Old Baathists are smarter, and they have the institutional memory of decades of conspiratorial activity, and then secret police activity, etc.; the Old Baathists will outlive ISIS in the end. The Old Baathists will not disappear on their own. They will either have to be invited to Come In From The Cold, or they will have to be separately and specially hunted down and killed.

Reply

Jim Haygood

'There aren't any American troops fighting the Islamic State in Northern Syria or Iraq.'

Things have changed, comrade. Jim Dandy Special Ops to the rescue:

WASHINGTON - They are taking on a larger combat role in Afghanistan, where the war was supposed to be over. They are headed to Syria to help fight the Islamic State in its stronghold. And President Obama recently ordered nearly 300 of them to Cameroon to assist African troops in their battle against a militant group that has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State.

Even as Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that he opposes American "boots on the ground" in far-flung parts of the world, his administration continues to carve out exceptions for Special Operations forces - with American officials often resorting to linguistic contortions to mask the forces' combat role.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/28/world/middleeast/more-and-more-special-forces-become-obamas-military-answer.html

This is how empires die: $58 billion for "overseas contingency operations" in the omnibus spending bill.

It would just as productive (and create more jobs) to build a giant marble sphinx on the Capitol Mall, featuring the fatuous mug of Obamamandias, King of Kings. Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair.

Reply

MyLessThanPrimeBeef

When the legions retreated from Britain (or, was it Dacia), the empire was over.

Perhaps the lesson is, never retreat.

Reply

Andrew Watts

The Romans didn't exactly go out with a whimper. So the potential lesson to be learned is that even when the empire is collapsing you can still annihilate some barbarians on the way out.

It's not a perfect world.

Reply

Synoia

Don't be ridiculous. Rome fell in 410 AD, well after Constantine moved the Roman Empire to Constantinople, where it continued for about another 1,000 years.

It was the western roman empire which crumbled in 410 ad.

Rome at that time was governed by the Church.

Reply

efschumacher

Lest We Forget: the Romans retreated from Britain because they needed to protect the 'heartland' that had already been sacked by Attila and his running dogs. The Romans retreated because the Germans were in the process of winning. That led to the 1500 year Reich that we are still enjoying.

Reply

Andrew Watts

I can still pretend that they're just advisers and volunteers even though the Obama administration is making it impossible to do so. That'd be the smart move as opposed to the other option.

…and where's your holiday spirit?!

Reply

Jim Haygood

Holiday spirit? I donated to Médecins Sans Frontières to help offset the damage that the Kunduz Killa did when he bombed their hospital.

Reply

Andrew Watts

Well, you know sure know how to poop in the punch bowl.

Reply

Carolinian

Reaganmandias. Oh wait, they already named the airport after him.

Reply

Katniss Everdeen

No surprise to most here, but the "affordable" care act is not so "affordable" after all.

"I love my family, and I'm not going to let them go without health insurance," said Kevin Broyles, a 63-year-old insurance broker from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Broyles, who had been paying $629 per month for coverage from a long-standing Blue Cross plan for himself, his wife and their three children, recently got an an "eye-opener" when Blue Cross canceled his plan because it was not compliant with ACA standards. He learned the lowest-priced "bronze" plan in his area would cost $1,161 per month, or $13,932 annually to cover himself, his wife, and their two teenage children who will remain on the family's plan.

"This is almost 14 percent of our pretax income," said Broyles. "If we could afford the [second least-expensive] 'silver plan' in our area, that would cost $1,568 per month, or $18,816 per year. That would be almost 19 percent of our pretax income."

Broyles makes about $100,000 per year. I can remember when that kind of income was considered "wealthy."

Gee, I wonder where all the "savings" from lower gas prices went.

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/24/obamacare-plans-put-big-dent-in-customers-wallets.html

Reply

edmondo

See, under ObamaCare, he can get insurance, he just can't afford it!

And the clowns over at the DNC will sit there in wonderment why these "stupid people" continue to "vote against their own interests".

Reply

MyLessThanPrimeBeef

It sounds like they are in the infamous 1% circle.

Too bad they don't belong to the 0.01%.

Reply

allan

But as with a glass of red wine with dinner, too much of a good thing creates new problems. If people have insurance that pays for too much, they don't have enough skin in the game. They may be too quick to seek professional medical care.


(Mankiw&Summers, 2015).
The problem with the family in the story is that
they don't have enough skin to get in the game.
Which should incentivize them to get another job or two. Or vote GOP. I wonder which will happen.

Reply

Vatch

Huh. I wonder what kind of health insurance policies Summers and Mankiw have; pretty good, I would imagine. They're both tenured full professors (not adjunct professors) at Harvard. I suspect they're doing rather well financially, and will continue to do so whether or not they have the proper amount of skin in the game. It's easy for people like that to demand that others should pay more.

Reply

Katniss Everdeen

Always love that "skin in the game" bit. If they wanted "healthcare consumers" to have "skin in the game," they'd have put price tags on everything. That "shoppers" could see PRIOR to "purchasing."

Interesting concept those price tags. And pretty hilarious watching people try to "shop" without 'em.

Reply

flora

"Always love that "skin in the game" bit."
heh. It always comes out sounding like "pound of flesh."

Reply

ambrit

Or, as Obamas' "Uncle Shylock" would put it:
"My debtor! Oh my ducats! Oh my debtor,
Fled with an Austerian! Oh my Austerian ducats!
Justice, the Law, my ducats and my debtor!
A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats,
Oh double ducats, stolen from me by my debtor!
And jewels–two stones, two rich and precious stones–
Stolen by my debtor. Justice, find the churl!"

Reply

Katniss Everdeen

Always reminds me of the movie "Silence of the Lambs." The serial killer kidnapped his victims and starved them for a few days to loosen up their skin. Then he killed them and cut pieces of skin off to make a dress.

Sounds about right.

Reply

Pat

I always feel the need to point out the various things the insurance industry and Private Medical jettisoned when adapting the Swiss system for the Heritage/Dole/Romney/Obama health insurance plan.

In this case, the government also regulates all medical costs. In Switzerland if you get an appendectomy it costs X. There might be some differences of price based on Canton, but otherwise if you get it at one hospital it costs X, if you get it at another it costs X. If you have insurance it costs X, any insurance, if you don't it costs X, Same with drugs, medical tests and doctors visits. You may not chose not to have the appendectomy, but you know what it costs.

That and everything else they jettisoned is why the Swiss system still works. It may be the most expensive version of universal health care out there, but it still works. But we had to butcher it to have it because even though it was the most 'market friendly' it was highly regulated and controlled and so not market friendly. So we have the most expensive health care in the world and still do not have universal care – even with our piece of crap version of 'reform'.

Reply

Jagger

They may be too quick to seek professional medical care.

I don't know about everyone else but I don't want to go to the doctor. I suspect most people have other things to do and only go if they absolutely have to. The percentage of people who go to the doctor just because they have an urge has got to be pretty small.

Reply

cwaltz

I have co pay insurance for doctor's visits and I still can think of at least a half a dozen things I'd rather do with the $25 than sit in an office with other sick people waiting on a doctor that may or may not tell me what's wrong and how to fix it.

$25 buys flowers for my garden, it pays for the movies for the family, it pays for the indoor pool for the family in our burg, it could pay for a new book from the bookstore, etc, etc

All things I'd rather do with the money than visit with the doctor. I think it's absurd that the insurance community is selling this idea that people are visiting doctors too quickly for no reason whatsoever(which just so happens to cost them in profits.) When individuals go to the doctor they're going because something is wrong and they want help(whether the medical community can provide it or not is in my mind a different argument.)

[Dec 28, 2015] 2015 – The year Russia exposed Western barbarism

From Countervailing power - Wikipedia.
Countervailing Power, or countervailence, is the idea in political theory of institutionalized mechanisms that the wielding of power within a polity having two or more centers can, and often does, provide counter-forces that usefully oppose each other. This political organization stands in contrast to polities such as principalities where "various princes were absolute rulers in their domain"[1] or in modern examples of totalitarian governments.
In the 20th century, "Countervailing Power" is a theory of political modification of markets, formulated by American economist John Kenneth Galbraith in his 1952 book American Capitalism. In the classic liberal economy, goods and services are provided and prices set by free bargaining. According to Galbraith, modern economies give massive powers to large business corporations to bias this process, and there arise 'countervailing' powers in the form of trade unions, citizens' organizations and so on, to offset business's excessive advantage.[2]
Seventeenth century England was an active time for the development of countervailance theory. Although much political discourse during the period was focused on the matter of sovereignty, or absolutism for the sovereign as, for example, we observe in the writings of Thomas Hobbes, the principle "significance of seventeenth-century England for constitutional theory was that during this period the concept of sovereignty was replaced by the concept of checks and balances."[."[3] The evolution of political practice in England paralleled the evolution in theory, for it was during this period that "the operational dynamics of the system developed in accordance with the countervailance model of government."[3] While the trend reversed somewhat under the power of Oliver Cromwell and the era of the later Stuarts, and was therefore rather uneven over the flow of the 17th century, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 "firmly established the principles of dispersed power and checks and balances as the central pillars of English constitutionalism."[3]
Notable quotes:
"... The US, Britain and France have reportedly supplied weapons to so-called "moderate rebels" only for these weapons and indeed fighters to end up with the known extremist brigades of IS and Al Nusra. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have also funded Islamist networks, such as Jaish al Fatah and Ahrar al Shams, which are known to be involved with IS and Al Nusra. ..."
"... A central part of the charade is how NATO member and EU aspirant Turkey has been involved in smuggling oil and weapons across the Syrian border. Russia's concerted airstrikes have exposed the Turkish connection to the Western-backed illegal regime-change operation in Syria, and no doubt that was a factor in why Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane on November 24. ..."
"... The deterioration of legal standards, sovereignty and explosion of conflicts and terrorism in many parts of the world can be directly attributed to the machinations of the United States and its European partners. "Do you see now what you have done?" asked Putin before the UN. ..."
Dec 28, 2015 | RT Op-Edge

... ... ...

Russia's military intervention in the Syrian conflict in support of its long-time ally beginning on September 30 has transformed the dynamic. Russia's intervention, along with that of Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement, is the only lawful foreign contingency in the five-year-old war, because it has been requested and approved by the Syrian government.

All other foreign interventions in Syria from the United States and EU members, Britain, France and Germany, are in violation of international law. Russia's intense aerial bombardment against all illegally armed militants, including the IS and Al Nusra Front, is not encumbered with the false dichotomy articulated by the US-led military coalition, which disingenuously divides militants into extremists and moderates. In three months of Russian aerial operations, the losses suffered by anti-government militants in Syria have been much greater than during 16 months of bombing by the US-led coalition. That is because Russia is working in close liaison with the Syrian Arab Army, which is now making sweeping ground advances. Also, the US and its allies are accused of not being fully committed to combating terrorist groups in Syria, because these militants are at the same time being used by Washington and its partners as proxy forces to illegally achieve regime change in Syria.

The US, Britain and France have reportedly supplied weapons to so-called "moderate rebels" only for these weapons and indeed fighters to end up with the known extremist brigades of IS and Al Nusra. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have also funded Islamist networks, such as Jaish al Fatah and Ahrar al Shams, which are known to be involved with IS and Al Nusra.

Oil smugglers are us

Russia's dramatic intervention in Syria has exposed what can only be described as a charade in which the US, European powers and their regional allies have been involved in trying to destroy a sovereign country through covertly supporting an array of illegally armed mercenary networks.

A central part of the charade is how NATO member and EU aspirant Turkey has been involved in smuggling oil and weapons across the Syrian border. Russia's concerted airstrikes have exposed the Turkish connection to the Western-backed illegal regime-change operation in Syria, and no doubt that was a factor in why Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane on November 24.

... ... ...

Putin made a seminal speech at the UN General Assembly in September when he clearly called out rogue powers who have trashed international law with illegal military, political and economic interventions overseas. The deterioration of legal standards, sovereignty and explosion of conflicts and terrorism in many parts of the world can be directly attributed to the machinations of the United States and its European partners. "Do you see now what you have done?" asked Putin before the UN.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

READ MORE:

[Dec 28, 2015] Wars Past and Wars to Come

Notable quotes:
"... With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, elements within the U.S. ruling class came to believe that their country was militarily invincible. ..."
"... A long-heralded Revolution in Military Affairs was taking place, enabling the United States to reshape the world. New smart technologies would disperse the "fog of war," making it possible for the United States to kill its enemies without their being able to strike back, and the "Vietnam syndrome" could be overcome once and for all.… Even so, at this point in time, the U.S. government proceeded with considerable caution. ..."
"... Ten years later such caution had been replaced by an overweening self-confidence, by a belief that the United States could completely reshape the Middle East, starting with Iraq, and then moving on to Syria and Iran. And, moreover, this could all be achieved with a comparatively small invading and occupying army. ..."
monthlyreview.org

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, elements within the U.S. ruling class came to believe that their country was militarily invincible. Indeed, they believed this newfound military superiority over any potential rival was something new in human history. So great was its technological advantage, the United States could destroy its enemies with complete impunity.

A long-heralded Revolution in Military Affairs was taking place, enabling the United States to reshape the world. New smart technologies would disperse the "fog of war," making it possible for the United States to kill its enemies without their being able to strike back, and the "Vietnam syndrome" could be overcome once and for all.… Even so, at this point in time, the U.S. government proceeded with considerable caution.

The then-secretary of defense, Dick Cheney no less, made clear that the United States did not invade and occupy Iraq at this time because of the danger of finding itself in a "quagmire" where it would be taking casualties while the Kurds, the Shia, and the Sunnis fought it out. The administration decided not to involve itself in "that civil war."

Such a commitment would have had to involve the use of "overwhelming force" for an extended period if it was to have any chance of success. This was in 1991.

Ten years later such caution had been replaced by an overweening self-confidence, by a belief that the United States could completely reshape the Middle East, starting with Iraq, and then moving on to Syria and Iran. And, moreover, this could all be achieved with a comparatively small invading and occupying army.

[Dec 28, 2015] Collection of Vladimir Putins most notable speeches published

Walker, as usual, is just doing his paid job ;-). Bots have no Christmas vacations by definition: MTavernier, Metronome151, psygone, Alderbaran, MentalToo, Hektor Uranga, and one interesting new one Chukuriuk are all on duty. A deep observation by one of the commenters: "Interesting how all the trolling comments, such as yours, seem to be against Putin..."
What some people doe not understand is that Putin represents a countervailing force to the US imperial expansionism (and neoliberal expansionism in general). As there is an inherent value in existence of countervailing force (neocons thing otherwise ;-) Putin deserve some level of support even if one does not agree with everything he is doing. In a way Putin is more valuable to the USA then to Russia as he prevents the USA elite from doing extremely stupid thing which were done during Yeltsin rule which led to overstretching of the US empire and contains seeds its subsequent decline.
Notable quotes:
"... For all his sins you have to admire Putin. He is a man of conviction that actually believes in something that is worth saving, and will stop at nothing to achieve it. ..."
"... Battling against hostility from the West Putin has reformed the nations economy, and continues to work on behalf of his peoples interests. Its hard to imagine how Russia could ever replace Putin, or indeed what the new Russia would even look like without Putin at the helm. But for now the people are clearly grateful to have a strong decisive leader, as indeed are many other leaders across the globe who find Putins honesty and conviction a breath of fresh air in a world of deception and double dealing. I guess with Putin you get what it says on the tin. ..."
"... Russian military requested by Assad to assist him in protecting his government. All others including America, British, French, Australian,Canadian, etc are there in contravention of International law ..."
"... Murdoch and Thatcher as a model of the free press? ..."
"... The Guardian and its puppet-masters hate the Russian people dont they? But they cant bring themselves to say that, so its Putin they attempt to ridicule. ..."
"... Give me one Putin over a hundred Camerons any day of the week. Ive listened to a couple of those speeches, they are excellent, I dont bother listening to Mr Cameron. ..."
"... I know a few Russians who have lived in the west for 15/20 years. They had no illusions about their soviet upbringing, but knew the qualities of life - health care, education, housing - that it brought. They are generally agreed that the wonderland that was supposed to exist beyond their borders was an illusion. But theyre hard working people, and they do OK. ..."
"... Russia has been able, in just 20 years, without wars and other troubles, to go from a semi-colony up to a world stage recognized leader. All Putins risk-taking decisions have been successes or are still playing out and have good potential for ending in success. ..."
"... All this, quietly and imperceptibly, without tanks or strategic aviation, has been achieved by the Russian diplomacy, directed in a difficult confrontation with the block of the most powerful militarily and economically countries, while starting from a much lower position. ..."
"... Crimea would never have happened without the illegal coup backed by the west. We could choose to believe the western medias opinion on the state of Russia, or we could listen to the people who live there. ..."
"... Whats that Shaun?.. Someones publishing a book of Putin quotes?.. Ive got a similar book by that other respected world leader and statesman.. You know.. Short, fat, speech impediment, drunk most of the time ... whats his name?..oh yeah, Churchill. ..."
"... This is what many in the west said too. Putin is just one of the few people with serious power to publically state the same. Western officials including Tony Blair admit that IS arose out of the chaos in Iraq. Its not even up for debate. The abomination that is IS is the chaos he warned us of. ..."
"... However, in the USA, Presidents tend to have Library Centers to archive their words of wisdom. Bush Juniors is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in University Park, Texas, opened on April 25, 2013. ..."
"... Interesting how all the trolling comments, such as yours, seem to be against Putin... ..."
"... The MSM has brainwashed the western world and they dont know anything else but what they are fed. ..."
"... If you understand that the leaders image is so important for the well-being of the population you wouldnt be criticizing him. After the drunken years of Yeltsin the Russians needed a different role model. There is a reason for Obama (a heavy smoker) not to do it ( at least not in front of the cameras) ..."
"... They might have added his habit of speaking the truth. Best chance of finding out whats actually going on in Syria + the Middle East generally is to listen to Putin. ..."
The Guardian

Words That Change the World is a 400-page compilation of Vladimir Putin's most notable speeches, and has been sent out to all Russian MPs and other political figures as a gift from the presidential administration ahead of the country's new year holiday.

Anton Volodin of the pro-Kremlin youth group Network, which published the book, told the Guardian: "A year ago we noticed when reading one of his early speeches that it was exactly right in its predictions, so we decided to check all of his other speeches. And it turns out basically everything he said has either already come true or is in the process of coming true at this very moment."

There are 19 articles and speeches collected in the book, starting from 2003 and ending with Putin's speech to the UN general assembly earlier this year. Volodin said: "If you read through them all, you can see a clear pattern in his rhetoric and thoughts. A lot of people say he's unpredictable or untruthful, but actually everything he says is transparent, clear and fully formed."

Alderbaran -> Popeyes 28 Dec 2015 16:21

China's GDP is roughly five times that of Russia and China is already leasing land in Russia's east. I'm also assuming it is getting a pretty good deal on oil at the moment too - Don't expect an equal partnership

Russia needs the West, just as the West needs Russia. Do you agree?

Laurence Johnson 28 Dec 2015 16:19

For all his sins you have to admire Putin. He is a man of conviction that actually believes in something that is worth saving, and will stop at nothing to achieve it.

Battling against hostility from the West Putin has reformed the nations economy, and continues to work on behalf of his peoples interests. Its hard to imagine how Russia could ever replace Putin, or indeed what the new Russia would even look like without Putin at the helm. But for now the people are clearly grateful to have a strong decisive leader, as indeed are many other leaders across the globe who find Putin's honesty and conviction a breath of fresh air in a world of deception and double dealing. I guess with Putin you get what it says on the tin.

KoreyD -> dyst1111 28 Dec 2015 16:19

Russian military requested by Assad to assist him in protecting his government. All others including America, British, French, Australian,Canadian, etc are there in contravention of International law

Popeyes 28 Dec 2015 16:18

"If those who had been present at the UN general assembly had listened to Putin's words, the world would be a very different place. Hundreds of thousands of people would still be alive and Europe would not be full of refugees from the middle east."
Of course he was right but of course he wasn't the only one saying these things at the time. Such a shame our witless leaders didn't listen and perhaps we wouldn't be in the mess we are now.

Popeyes 28 Dec 2015 15:54

Russia is slowly moving out of the dollar system and Western sanctions will eventually have little impact on the Russian economy. Russia and China can easily survive and prosper without the dollar. Unfortunately Europe will lose out massively due to Russia's response to the sanctions and will continue banning imports from the EU, agricultural produce, as well as manufactured goods, leaving hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk. Just think what Putin has done even before he started bombing ISIS. He protects his country, his management of Russia's economy despite international sanctions are feats that are to be admired. Is it any wonder he is hated and feared by the West.

Fallowfield -> MTavernier 28 Dec 2015 16:16

I'm trying to work this out. Come on, you're not really saying that we have a free press in the west are you?

I believe it happened once, Watergate and all that. Murdoch and Thatcher as a model of the free press?

No, you're taking the piss. I'll stop there.

Fallowfield -> Alderbaran 28 Dec 2015 16:10

The people I know were 'the younger generation'. Their illusions about the west were quickly shattered. Different mafias, you see.
Putin's message? How very unlike our own dear Queen's Speech.

Alderbaran -> SHappens 28 Dec 2015 16:03

A very fair point but you have to admit that a forum saturated with meaningless posts is frustrating for those who actually want to discuss the article. I feel compelled to challenge a number of these posters.

Personally I feel that Russia started on a very different track following Putin's return as president in 2012 and following the Bolotnaya square demonstrations - He was shaken by this!

I see a cult of personality blinding many Russians, including many of the commentators on this forum and it seems that in Russia what is important is not the facts but nationalism and a shared identity. This helps to protect Putin from criticism ans shores up his position but it is worrying when a government relies so much on one man and that there is nothing to indicate that Putin intends to change this. The publication of a book of speeches by "Network" is yet another indication of the reliance on this personality cult and to be very frank, it disturbs and saddens me.

Does any of this concern you too, or do you think that this is the best that Russia should hope for at the moment?

Equidom 28 Dec 2015 16:02

The Guardian and its puppet-masters hate the Russian people don't they? But they can't bring themselves to say that, so it's Putin they attempt to ridicule.

Rantalot 28 Dec 2015 15:42

Give me one Putin over a hundred Cameron's any day of the week. I've listened to a couple of those speeches, they are excellent, I don't bother listening to Mr Cameron.

Fallowfield 28 Dec 2015 15:29

I know a few 'Russians' who have lived in the 'west' for 15/20 years. They had no illusions about their soviet upbringing, but knew the qualities of life - health care, education, housing - that it brought. They are generally agreed that the wonderland that was supposed to exist beyond their borders was an illusion. But they're hard working people, and they do OK.

They support Putin. Why? KGB indoctrination? Far from it, these are the people who wanted to get away. And they - just like you - love their homeland. And who protects their homeland? The President of the USA? The PM of the UK? You must be joking.
Putin. Nobody else.

SHappens -> apacheman 28 Dec 2015 15:26

Russia has been able, in just 20 years, without wars and other troubles, to go from a semi-colony up to a world stage recognized leader. All Putin's risk-taking decisions have been successes or are still playing out and have good potential for ending in success.

All this, quietly and imperceptibly, without tanks or strategic aviation, has been achieved by the Russian diplomacy, directed in a difficult confrontation with the block of the most powerful militarily and economically countries, while starting from a much lower position.

This is part of Putin, and Lavrov's great achievements. Might be worth for you to read this book after all, you might be learning something.


Alderbaran -> WalterCronkiteBot 28 Dec 2015 15:20

Who said you were Russian and why did you suggest that you might be if Putin has a lot of support outside the country?

What surprised me is your apparently unsupportable notion that Putin is trying to make Russia look amicable. Your post also brought up topics far from the bounds of this article, yet you state that you don't know what to believe in.

If you are sincere in wanting to understand Russia better, David Remnick's excellent book on Russia is a great start - see Lenin's Tomb. Chrystia freeland's 'Sale of the Century' brilliantly describes the Yeltsin years and the power struggles taking place following the fall of the wall. I'd also recommend listing to Mark Galeotti on the sublect of Russia, and he is a regular conrtibutor to both RT and RFERL.

Peter Evans -> Alderbaran 28 Dec 2015 15:10

Crimea would never have happened without the illegal coup backed by the west. We could choose to believe the western media's opinion on the state of Russia, or we could listen to the people who live there.

Fallowfield -> CoinBiter 28 Dec 2015 15:09

After the USA, UK and other allied countries had invaded Russia in 1919 the eventual Soviet Republic did what it could to protect itself I suppose. And Russia still does. Ask where the USA bases are, and compare their distribution to those of Russia.

The USA didn't fancy one in Cuba, did they? A perfectly lawful international agreement. They threatened nuclear destruction as an ultimatum.

WalterCronkiteBot -> Alderbaran 28 Dec 2015 15:04

Yes I'm an evil Russian. I can't possibly be from the west.

To answer your question though, I don't know what to believe hence me stating "What I don't get with Putin is...". I don't understand the actual situation because I don't have inside knowledge.

I'm saying on the face of it he appears to speak for those in the west against war in the ME, which is good, but we shouldnt trust him entirely.

If that makes me a Kremlin shill so be it.

Not4TheFaintOfHeart 28 Dec 2015 14:59

Can somebody please tell Shaun to come in from the cold... It's over Shaun: Syria saved from a Libya/Iraq fate x2, ISIS degraded very nicely, thank you, Crimea voted to be part of the RF, Mistrals now sold to Egept, BRICS bank created, colour revolution in Georgia thwarted...

What's that Shaun?.. Someone's publishing a book of Putin quotes?.. I've got a similar book by that other respected world leader and statesman.. You know.. Short, fat, speech impediment, drunk most of the time ... what's his name?..oh yeah, Churchill.


Fallowfield -> Metronome151 28 Dec 2015 14:49

Well we certainly jailed members of the WSPU for wanting to vote. 14 Northern Irish civil rights protest marchers, legal and unarmed, were shot dead on the street by British troops in 1972, as I remember. Striking workers have been jailed, and many more have had cases against them dropped in court for 'lack of evidence', ie when the police evidence presented was so obviously falsified. I wonder where the KGB got their ideas from?

apacheman -> Fallowfield 28 Dec 2015 14:48

And the Soviet people could thank the West for the Lend-Lease supplies that allowed them to withstand the Nazi juggernaut, without which they would have collapsed.

WalterCronkiteBot 28 Dec 2015 14:46

"Putin was correct to predict chaos in international affairs if the UN and other institutions of international law are ignored."

This is what many in the west said too. Putin is just one of the few people with serious power to publically state the same. Western officials including Tony Blair admit that IS arose out of the chaos in Iraq. Its not even up for debate. The abomination that is IS is the chaos he warned us of.

In 2013 Putin accused Kerry of lying when he told a senate hearing that AQ are not in Syria and as such pose no threat in that region. He warned us but noone listened. Now we have Syria overran by AQ affiliated groups toting US made weaponry.

What I don't get with Putin is the apparent naivety. As his speeches show he is well aware of the machinations of the western powers, yet puts faith in them time and time again. Hes either very naive or just wants to ensure that Russia look as amicable as possible in the history books.


Peter Evans 28 Dec 2015 14:34

The US loved Yeltsin, a weak leader, they do not like a strong Russian leader who does the best for his country.


mgeary -> rcil2003 28 Dec 2015 14:33

Oh, the results in the USA are the same as in Russia, the only difference being that they have a ruling elite there, who promote different faces every election for the Presidency.

This and the fact that, in contrast to Russia, they are being subtle about it...


Chuckman 28 Dec 2015 14:25

The most able leader of our generation. Simply a remarkable man.

Readers may enjoy:

https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/vladimir-putin-the-worlds-last-true-statesman/

presstheredbutton 28 Dec 2015 14:14

This got me pondering on what an equivalent publication for George W Bush would contain. Chapter One - reading "My Pet Goat".

However, in the USA, Presidents tend to have Library Centers to archive their words of wisdom. Bush Junior's is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in University Park, Texas, opened on April 25, 2013. The janitor wasn't best pleased; he had to find a new broom cupboard...

rcil2003 -> euphoniumbrioche 28 Dec 2015 14:16

western leaders are nothing but interchangeable game show hosts. Behind them is the real power, wielded in secret by utterly evil characters like Dick Cheney, who would have been right at home in the Third Reich.

presstheredbutton -> nonanon1 28 Dec 2015 14:15

Interesting how all the trolling comments, such as yours, seem to be against Putin...

Parangaricurimicuaro -> Metronome151 28 Dec 2015 14:20

Now you are giving me the reason. The MSM has brainwashed the western world and they don't know anything else but what they are fed.

Parangaricurimicuaro -> hermionegingold 28 Dec 2015 14:01

If you understand that the leader's image is so important for the well-being of the population you wouldn't be criticizing him. After the drunken years of Yeltsin the Russians needed a different role model. There is a reason for Obama (a heavy smoker) not to do it ( at least not in front of the cameras)

greatapedescendant -> Strummered 28 Dec 2015 13:46

They might have added his habit of speaking the truth. Best chance of finding out what's actually going on in Syria + the Middle East generally is to listen to Putin.

ID7586903 28 Dec 2015 13:45

Putin is the savior of Europe, and its culture

[Dec 24, 2015] Israeli-made air-to-air missile may have downed MH17

Notable quotes:
"... "fragments of the pilots' cockpit have suffered specific damages in the form of localized puncture holes and surface dents typical for hypervelocity impacts with compact and hard objects," ..."
"... "intricate shape" ..."
"... "most probably incorrect." ..."
Dec 24, 2015 | RT News

A report on Malaysian Airlines MH17 air disaster in Ukraine last year by a group of old-hand aviation security experts maintains that the Boeing might have been downed by an Israeli Python air-to-air missile.

Trends: Malaysia MH17 plane crash, Ukraine turmoil

The report was leaked via the private LiveJournal account of Albert Naryshkin (aka albert_lex) late on Tuesday and has already been widely discussed by social media communities in Russia.

The authors of the investigative report have calculated the possible detonation initiation point of the missile that hit the passenger aircraft and approximate number and weight of strike elements, which in turn designated the type and presumed manufacturer of the weapon.

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

Malaysian Airline Boeing 777-200 performing flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, crashed on the territory of Ukraine near the village of Grabovo, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers aboard.

The aircraft disintegrated in the air and the debris of MH17 were scattered across an area of about 50 sq. km.

The external view of MH17 hull pieces indicates that "fragments of the pilots' cockpit have suffered specific damages in the form of localized puncture holes and surface dents typical for hypervelocity impacts with compact and hard objects," the report says, stressing that similar damage could be found on the inner side of the cockpit.

The report specifically points out that chips of the body coat around the holes in the fragment are typical of wave effects created by hypervelocity impacts.

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

Some damage, though larger and less clustered, could be found near the air-scoop of the left-wing engine of the aircraft.

The nature of the damage allows for the identification of the source as a high-explosive fragmentation warhead from a modern anti-aircraft weapon, claims the report.

Apart from the large puncture holes, the debris of the nose and the cockpit of the aircraft bear a large number of scattered micro-craters resulting from the impact of high-velocity dust and tiny debris, such as an unburnt blasting agent and elements of the ordnance that accompany a shock wave from a blast that occurred very close to the target. In the case of MH17, the pilots' cockpit.

The report says that as a rule, the initial speed of the striking elements of modern anti-aircraft weapons vary between 1,500 and 2,500 meters per second.

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

Altogether, the experts considered photos of five fragments of the cockpit and left port of the flight MH17, on which they counted some 230 "battle-damage" holes and punctures.

All this considered, the experts claim that the exact zone of the blast impact could be established with a fair degree of accuracy.

The warhead of the missile exploded very close to the cockpit, to its left side at a distance of 0.8-1.6 meters from the cockpit windows, exactly opposite the sliding window of the aircraft commander.

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

The dimensions and character of the puncture holes left by the strike elements allegedly allow their size and form factor to be established, which in its turn makes it possible to identify the type of weapon used in a particular case.

The cross dimension of absolute majority, 86 percent, of the 186 hull holes studied by experts measure between 6 and 13mm, with explicit maximum of them having cross dimension of 8mm.

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

This fact brought the expert group to a conclusion about the size of the strike elements of the warhead. If the warhead had been armed with two types of strike elements, the majority of the holes would have been of two types, the reports notes.

The strike element has been established of being a rectangular block measured 8mm x 8mm x 6mm, with margin of error of 0.5 mm, a high probability it was made of steel and an estimated weight of 3 grams each. The total number of such elements should have varied between 2,000 and 4,000.

The bulk of the strike elements are estimated between 4.88 – 14.8 kilograms.

@ http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

@ http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

The report confutes the argument of Russia's Almaz-Antey military concern that early claimed that "intricate shape" double-t steel fragments, similar to those used in warheads of surface-to-air Buk missile systems, have been extracted from the debris of MH17 flight.

Howwever, the double-t strike elements of a Buk missile weigh 8.1 grams, more than twice as much as a single damage fragment among those that pierced MH17's hull. Thus, according to the report, the hypothesis about a Buk missile system being involved in the crash is "most probably incorrect."

With 95 percent probability, the group of experts estimates the weight of the missile's warhead (explosives plus strike elements) that shot down MH17 of being between 10 and 40kg.

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

This led the experts to determine the exact type of the weapon used against Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

The report says that that Soviet- and Russian-made surface-to-air missile systems use more powerful warheads than the established maximum 40kg, as is the case with MH17.

Moreover, Soviet- and Russian-made air-to-air missiles which have a similar 10-40kg warhead capability use other types of strike elements within one warhead - obviously not the case with MH17.

A whole range of existing foreign air-to-air missiles have corresponding warhead characteristics, yet lack of physical elements of the missile used against MH17 prevented experts from establishing the exact type of the weapon used.

Still, the circumstances and conditions of the assault allowed experts to make certain assumptions.

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

©http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

The missile that attacked MH17 had a passive radar homing head, which explains why the missile exploded so close to the cockpit. Under the radar-transparent nosecone of a Boeing 777-200 there is a surveillance radar station operable during the flight, so most likely the missile homed on to this radar as the target.

Apart from a radar homing head, the missile could also be equipped with an advanced, matrix type, imaging IR seeker, which enables the missile to determine the size and the type of the target and choose for attack its most vital element. For a huge Boeing aircraft, that's the cockpit.

A simulation of the missile attack has proved that missiles with that type of guidance choose to attack a big passenger plane from the front hemisphere.

There are four air-to-air missiles that fit the description established by the experts, namely: French Magis-2, Israeli Shafrir, American AIM-9 and Israeli Python – all short-range.

The first three have been struck off the list for various reasons, including type of warhead or guidance system specifications. The Python deserved a closer look.

The Python is equipped with a matrix-imaging IR seeker. It enables a relatively moderate power warhead to effectively engage big aircrafts. The warhead is armed with a set of ready strike elements. Even more importantly, some open military sources suggest that in early 2000s a number of Sukhoi Su-25 assault fighter jets we refurbished to use fourth and fifth generation Python missiles, which look very similar to the Su-25's standard air-to-air R-60 missile.

@ http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

@ http://albert-lex.livejournal.com

The unofficial report leaked in LiveJournal has become yet another one among many other unofficial versions presented over the year that has passed since the catastrophe occurred on July 17, 2014.

The Dutch Safety Board that has been heading an international investigation into the cause of the crash is due to release its official report in October.

[Dec 24, 2015] Is The Russian-Turkish Standoff An Opportunity For The West

Notable quotes:
"... apparently, two USAF F-15C Eagle air superiority fighters (which had been deployed to Incirlik Air Force Base, Turkey, in November 2015) were in the air as back-up to the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force: THK) F-16s, one of which shot down the Su-24. ..."
"... At best, Russia may now move to cover its tactical operations in northern Syria more effectively by offering its own deterrence of top cover by advanced fighters while the ground attack aircraft, such as the Su-24s, do their job. It is also clear that any further Turkish incursions into Syrian airspace were now at-risk, but the Turks already knew that. ..."
Dec 14, 2015 | OilPrice.com

It was, in this latest incident, Turkey, working with the U.S. Government of President Barack Obama, which planned and executed the November 24, 2015, interception of the Russian Air Force Su-24. The event was not a spontaneous occurrence, and, apparently, two USAF F-15C Eagle air superiority fighters (which had been deployed to Incirlik Air Force Base, Turkey, in November 2015) were in the air as back-up to the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force: THK) F-16s, one of which shot down the Su-24. USAF sources subsequently said that the U.S. was taken by surprise when the THK shot down the Sukhoi, but that hardly squares with the historical Turkish practice of coordinating such actions with Washington. Moreover, the Turkish narrative that it "warned" the Russian aircraft several times over a period of five minutes before the THK F-16 shot it down also does not square with reality.

And in this particular ground attack operation, the two Su-24s - including the one which was destroyed - were engaged on missions which did not require them to enter Turkish airspace, even though an acci-dental entry into it was conceivable. Their targets were in the area of northern Syria: pro-Ankara Turkmen militia engaged in supporting the massive cross-border operations of ISIS (asad- Dawlah al-Islamiyah fi al-'Iraq wash-Sham, or Islamic State) moving oil, fighters, and weapons across the Syria-Turkish border.

Dave Majumdar, Defense Editor at the U.S. blogsite, The National Interest, on December 7, 2015, noted: "The United States and Turkey are working on an agreement that would allow the US Air Force F-15Cs to defend Turkish airspace. However, the precise rules of engagement and procedures have yet to be ironed out." It is possible that Turkey wanted to illustrate to the US that its airspace was, in fact, threatened. But what has been clear is that no credible Russian military threat to Turkey existed.

At best, Russia may now move to cover its tactical operations in northern Syria more effectively by offering its own deterrence of top cover by advanced fighters while the ground attack aircraft, such as the Su-24s, do their job. It is also clear that any further Turkish incursions into Syrian airspace were now at-risk, but the Turks already knew that.

Recently-retired U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt.-Gen. Michael Flynn publicly said in Moscow on December 10, 2015, that there was no possibility that the Turkish shootdown was undertaken without the express permission and direction of "the highest authority" in Turkey.

Indeed, Turkey has traditionally played the role of aggressor in terms of airspace violation. Not only did the THK lose an RF-4E Phantom II reconnaissance aircraft well into Syrian airspace on June 22, 2012, as a result of surface-to-air missile fire, it continues to consistently invade the airspace of fellow NATO member and neighbor Greece in a manner far more hostile than the penetration of Turkish airspace it alleged Russia undertook (for 17 seconds). THK F-16s entered Greek airspace some 2,200 times in 2014 alone. Moreover, Turkey consistently has violated Cypriot air-, sea, and land-space since its 1974 invasion and occupation of the northern 37 percent of Cyprus.1

So Turkey is hardly the victim. [Indeed, by deliberately starting the "civil war" to remove Pres. Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria, Turkey only incurred a "refugee problem" as a result of its own actions, and has subsequently sought to push those refugees onward into Europe as quickly as possible, seeking political rewards from Europe as the only power capable of stopping the refugee flows.]

In any event, Pres. Erdogan, three years ago said that "a short- term border violation can never be a pre-text for an attack". But that, of course, was when a THK aircraft was shot down by Syria when the THK F-4E deliberately and for some time penetrated Syrian airspace on a mission against Syria.

... .... ....

Turkey, too, will not remain inactive. It will resume its support for anti-Russian terrorism, including support for jihadist movements in the Caucasus. These have included such groups as Kvadrat (Quadrant), a Bos-nia-based Wahhabist unit, which had "laundered" its operations through Turkish-occupied Northern Cy-prus, thence into Turkey and on into the Russian Caucasus.4 But the reactivation of Turkish-backed terror-ism in the Russian Caucasus will be far wider than just Kvadrat: Turkey works extensively, even now, with Chechen and other Caucasus groups inside ISIS and in the jihadi operations in Syria.

Significantly, by early December 2015, President Erdogan assumed that the crisis had passed sufficiently for Turkey to expand its activities in the area. There was no indication that Turkey and ISIS had diminished their extensive and integrated operations in terms of oil transactions, the supply of weapons to ISIS via Turkey, and the use of Turkey as a medical support arena for ISIS wounded. But Turkey went further and deployed Turkish Army troops into northern Iraq near the ISIS-held city of Mosul in early December 2015. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi led calls for Turkish troops to be withdrawn immediately; they had not been withdrawn by the time this report went to press.

... ... ...

The path, however, is open for a great Russian cooperation with the Kurdish forces, as well as with other regional allies which are concerned about Turkey's strategic adventurism. The Kurds, particularly those led by the majority Kurdish force (under the PKK: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, the Kurdish Workers' Par-ty), are now well underway in responding to Ankara. The civil war is underway inside Turkey, and it re-mains literally out-of-bounds to the international media. What is significant is that the Kurds have thus far not agreed to cooperate with Russia, but are awaiting a nod from their principal ally, Israel, before trust-ing Russia.

Thus Israel's position becomes critical in this debate.

Much of the Israeli leadership still hopes that a rapprochement might be achievable with Turkey, but that hope is fading. On the other hand, Israeli planners have to consider whether a broken Turkey - perhaps replaced by a patchwork of states, and with no non-Arab player other than Iran to monitor the region - is worse than a troublesome Turkey. There is also the question of whether unqualified Israeli support for the Kurdish "big push" against Turkey would then jeopardize Israeli strategic relations with Saudi Arabia, which is apparently undecided on whether, or how much, it favors a continuation of the Turkish state.

Without Turkey, according to the Saudi rationale, who would be the counterweight to Iran?

Israel is also not immune to this argument, although for Israel the prospect exists for an eventual reunion with Tehran, after the clerical leadership goes, or modifies.

So Russia is left with three potential regional allies - apart from Syria, Iraq, and Iran - against Ankara: Greece, Egypt, and Jordan. And Cyprus and Armenia to the limited extent that they can assist.

... ... ...

Articles 10 to 18 are the articles which allow for various states, including Russia, to transit military ships through the straits. In short, if Turkey invoked either Article 20 or Article 21, Russia would be legally blocked from moving any naval vessel through the Straits.

Moscow has clearly long gamed out this scenario, which accounts for President Putin's commitment to a measured response to Ankara. Thus it must be a proxy response, for the most part, as well as an economic one. But while it demonstrates the delicacy needed by Moscow, it also demonstrates the reality that Russia cannot continue to be strategically constrained by an increasingly hostile and ambitious Turkey.

So where Turkey is vulnerable is in its economy.

The effects of Russian economic embargoes against Turkey are far more significant than would seem to be the case because the Turkish economy is more vulnerable than it has been portrayed. It is far more leveraged with borrowings than at any time in the recent past. It has a discreet outflow of domestic capital and is heavily reliant on discreet financial injections, probably coming from Qatar, and possible Saudi Arabia. But Saudi Arabia's ability to prop up Turkey is becoming limited.

...while Turkey may not be regarded as an entirely stable partner for the PRC in the region, Beijing would be wary of acting precipitously against it.

...Iran - like Russia - is constrained to act cautiously and indirectly against Turkey. Moreover, Iran cannot risk that its own Kurdish population could join with Syrian, Iraqi, and Turkish Kurds to form a new Kurdish state.

...And in the short-term, this all has hardened Ankara's position on remaining in control of the northern 37 percent of Cyprus, which it has occupied militarily since 1974.

...There is no doubt that Pres. Erdogan believes that continued brinkmanship will be possible, although he is not perhaps aware that he is losing the information war, or the psychological war.

Amvet on December 15 2015 said:

Thank you Mr. Copley for a well researched, honest, and very interesting article. Any chance of getting this published in any US mainstream
newspaper or magazine ?? .

Jim on December 15 2015 said:

...Nice information actually, most mainstream media doesn't even come close. Thanks. definitely a deliberate and pre-approved escalation of the conflict, pointing fingers back to Washington, D.C.

Chris on December 15 2015 said:

A great article that brings together much of what has been reported and provides a coherent framework for understanding it. This piece should be in a general interest publication such as the NY Times so that more Americans could understand what is really going on in the Middle East.

[Dec 23, 2015] How America Lost the Rest of the World

Notable quotes:
"... I'm still trying to think through the implications but they are certainly disquieting. Without trying to hard I'd summarize that "the masks are coming off." ..."
"... The question then is, what happens after "the masks come off?" ..."
"... Short-sighted western pundits will still be penning deadline copy headlined "How Putin lost Ukraine" while those with real vision will be putting the finishing touches on "How America Lost the Rest of the World" ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com
Cortes, December 18, 2015 at 3:38 am
Michael Hudson on IMF manoeuvres

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/18/the-imf-changes-its-rules-to-isolate-china-and-russia/

Tim Owen, December 18, 2015 at 6:24 am
Hard to overstate the importance of this article. Thanks for spotting it.

There's a lot here but this passage is kind of free-standing in its value by simply condensing how the IMF has contorted itself:

"The IMF thus is breaking four rules:

  1. Not lending to a country that has no visible means to pay back the loan breaks the "No More Argentinas" rule adopted after the IMF's disastrous 2001 loan.
  2. Not lending to countries that refuse in good faith to negotiate with their official creditors goes against the IMF's role as the major tool of the global creditors' cartel.
  3. And the IMF is now lending to a borrower at war, indeed one that is destroying its export capacity and hence its balance-of-payments ability to pay back the loan.
  4. Finally, the IMF is lending to a country that has little likelihood of refuse carrying out the IMF's notorious austerity "conditionalities" on its population – without putting down democratic opposition in a totalitarian manner. Instead of being treated as an outcast from the international financial system, Ukraine is being welcomed and financed."

I'm still trying to think through the implications but they are certainly disquieting. Without trying to hard I'd summarize that "the masks are coming off."

The question then is, what happens after "the masks come off?"

… war.

(Sometimes it's best just to blurt out what's worrying you.)

marknesop, December 18, 2015 at 10:36 am
Short-sighted western pundits will still be penning deadline copy headlined "How Putin lost Ukraine" while those with real vision will be putting the finishing touches on "How America Lost the Rest of the World".

[Dec 23, 2015] Sensational government session in a European country. A historic precedent

You probably need to read the whole transcribed dialog to understand that the current situation in Ukrainian government. Here are just small except.
southfront.org

AVAKOV: You said that the cabinet of ministers itself was heading the corruption

SAAKASHVILI: …what do you mean I'm softer? Yes, your Martinenko is a criminal

... ... ...

00:46 AVAKOV: Then get the damn out of here if you don't give a damn

00:48 Poroshenko: Arsen Borisovich, I'm…

00:50 SAAKASHVILI: I'm calling you to politeness

00:53 AVAKOV: Shut up

... ... ...

1:13 AVAKOV: Shut up, you corrupt governor

... ... ....

1:39 AVAKOV: When we are speaking about the whole list of things that have been said

1:42 AVAKOV: Of course privatization

1:44 AVAKOV: Of course a total privatization

1:46 AVAKOV: including OPZ [Odessa Port Plant]

... ... ...

2:32 SAAKASHVILI: And I'm not going… not going to tolerate some corrupt minister

2:36 SAAKASHVILI: who, the entire country knows he's a thief

... ... ...

2:46 AVAKOV: I need to punch him or something?

2:47 POROSHENKO: I'm… I'm adjourning the meeting

2:51 AVAKOV: F4cking faggot!

2:52 POROSHENKO: Arsen… AVAKOV: Damn bastard!

2:55 SAAKASHVILI: Thief!

2:57 AVAKOV: Yes, a thief [irony]

2:58 SAAKASHVILI: So, you will be in a jail, or just because you are…

3:01 AVAKOV: Piss off!

3:02 SAAKASHVILI: We are going to restore the country and you'll be in a jail

... ... ...

OneFrame
This is incredible that that the functioning of the state cabinet behaves like this. Incredible the results the US delivers to the world. Very sad. I feel for the people of Ukraine and their suffering. This would not be happening if the coup had not happened. Sakashvilli is a wanted man in his own country and should not be in Ukraine. He should have been sent back to Georgia to face the charges. Unbelievable.

aprescoup

Afghanistan a basket case; Iraq a basket case; Libya a basket full of jihadi terrorists; Syria, if not for the Russian aid, would be ISIS central and a basket case, and then this example of American values playing out in the basket case of Ukraine...

WTF?!

[Dec 23, 2015] NATO in damage control mode.

marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al, December 19, 2015 at 3:51 am

Neuters: NATO agrees Turkey air defence package, seeks 'predictability'
http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-turkey-nato-exclusive-idUKKBN0U123D20151218?

NATO allies agreed on Friday to send aircraft and ships to Turkey to strengthen Ankara's air defences on its border with Syria, the alliance's chief said.

Diplomats said the package is partly designed to avoid more shoot-downs of Russian planes…

…"We have agreed on a package of assurance measures for Turkey in view of the volatile situation in the region," Stoltenberg said, although he avoided any reference to Russia's military involvement in Syria and its air incursions…..

…Due to be assembled in the coming weeks, the package will include NATO's AWACS surveillance planes and what Stoltenberg described as "enhanced air policing, and increased naval presence including maritime patrol aircraft."

The ships will be provided by Germany and Denmark, which are exercising in the eastern Mediterranean.

AWACS monitor airspace within a radius of more than 400 km (250 miles) and exchange information via digital data links, with ground-based, sea-based and airborne commanders.

Asked if this was about managing Turkey's airspace with more caution than Ankara has shown in the past, Stoltenberg said: "This will give us a better situational awareness … more transparency, more predictability and that will contribute to stabilising the situation in the region and also calm tensions," Stoltenberg said.

AWKWARD POSITION

Spain has also agreed to extend its Patriot surface-to-air missiles along Turkey's border to shoot down any missiles from Syria's conflict fired into Turkish territory. Germany and the United States recently removed their batteries from the area….
####

NATO yet again in damage control mode. This is all about NATO's credibility. On the one hand it could be seen as a golden cage, that by having more NATO assets there that it would stop Turkey from future rash decisions, but on the other hand Erd & Dav would see it as NATO having their back whatever they do and will probably only encourage them further, much like the EU capitulating to Ankara over refugees. The government behaves badly, it gets presents from the West.

It smacks of 'do something', however stupid to show that NATO is relevant.

This is also a bad strategic situation and will without doubt be seen as upping the Ante against Russia, however much Stollenberg & the Pork Pie News Networks try to sell this as 'defensive' which they may well believe.

And what do we know from history about big countries pushing their militaries up against each other? A small spark sets of a conflagration.

marknesop , December 19, 2015 at 6:51 am
Why cannot Bashar al-Assad now complain stridently that NATO is "massing forces on his border" and is preparing an invasion? It worked just fine for Ukraine, and the western press was happy to report it every time Kiev mentioned it. Well, we all know why not – Assad has no ear in western media and nobody would print anything from him unless he threatened someone.

As someone else here discussed earlier, it is probable that NATO is merely taking over policing the border from the Turks because it fears another escalation by loose-cannon Erdogan or his nutty PM. NATO aircraft would have strict rules of engagement and would stay well away from the border themselves, knowing that if a Turkish aircraft penetrated Syrian airspace now it would be smacked out of the sky moments later. The S-400 provides local Russian forces with a capability they did not previously have in Syria, and Russia is likely keen for an opportunity to punish the Turks, although they would have to be in the wrong. NATO aircraft in this case are there to provide a more professional component and with a view to preventing another incident. Still, the more aircraft are flying around, the more likely an incident becomes.

I don't know why they are bothering to send AWACS; we learned from the shootdown of MH17 that AWACS has huge holes in its coverage, as it apparently didn't see a thing. Oh, except for an SA-11 being launched by Russian-backed separatists, which makes them technically not Ukrainians.

Patient Observer, December 19, 2015 at 9:04 am
There was an article a few weeks ago linked in Yahoo describing what it would take to overcome the S-400 system. AWACS, F-18G Growlers and an array of other electronic warfare equipment (some ground based) combined with drone decoys, cruise missiles, etc. to be successful in degrading the system. Hence, the reason for AWACS is to help challenge the S-400. The F-18s are carrier-based and the other stuff can be moved into Turkey

It defies rationality to package the deployment described by NATO as a way to ensure stability and to minimize accidental engagements. The claims have the same stink as the claims that the ABM systems in Eastern Europe were intended against Iran and North Korea. Pleeeassssseee

[Dec 23, 2015] The Ukraine declaration of bankruptcy today is a double victory for Putin

marknesop.wordpress.com
Moscow Exile, December 18, 2015 at 10:49 am

See: Die Welt

The Ukraine declaration of bankruptcy today is a double victory for Putin

According to the financial market today, the Ukraine is bankrupt. The country has not settled a debt that amounts to $3 billion, thereby making possible a double victory for its greatest enemy.

Not with weapons has Vladimir Putin won this greatest of victories in the Ukraine crisis – not with tanks or soldiers or militiamen. The battlefield where this victory has been won was not the streets of Donetsk, the embattled provinces of East Ukraine: it was on the financial market. The state, ripped asunder by an almost year-long conflict, failed on Friday to settle a $3 billion dollar loan – a loan that it owes Russia, and that means bankruptcy…

and so on and so forth.

The newspaper "Die Welt" is very much to the right of the German political spectrum, but it does not attempt to hide the enormity of the situation; it pulls no punches: this is an out and out victory for Russia.

Strange how there is no comment from our Finnish Russophile, expressing his pleasure over this apparent wonderful success for Russian policies as regards the Ukraine crisis.

Then again, all this would not have happened if a year ago the Russian army had made a Blitzkrieg lunge against Kiev…

[Dec 23, 2015] Turkey won't respond to Putin's insulting comments

nation.com.pk

On Thursday, Putin escalated the rhetoric by saying that Turks had decided to "lick the Americans in a certain place" as he accused of a "creeping Islamisation of Turkey that would have Ataturk rolling in his grave".

... ... ...

...He has been shown that if you poke Turkey and NATO in the eye, bad things happen," said Bryza, who is also former deputy assistant of the US secretary of state for the South Caucasus.

"I think this [combative rhetoric] is going to fade away. It already has on the Turkish side, they have been more restrained."

He added that it was likely that the Syrian conflict and Turkey's ties with Israel will take centre stage in the weeks ahead.

Israel and Turkey reached a preliminary agreement to normalise relations, including the return of one another's ambassadors to both countries, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

The deal came five years after relations reached a low point for the two countries over a deadly Israeli raid on a ship carrying Turkish activists attempting to break Israel's blockade on Gaza.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that negotiations with Israel are "ongoing at the expert level", while in New York attending international and UN talks on Syria.

harry

Putin does not have to answer his parliament. He will show his teeth when the situation demands it. Turkey cannot afford to be on the wrong side of Putin.

[Dec 23, 2015] Russia Khodorkovsky: Court orders exiled tycoon's arrest

BBC News

Mr Khodorkovsky has been living in exile in Europe since he was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin in 2013 after 10 years in jail for fraud. He told the BBC he was considering applying for political asylum in Britain as one of several options.

... ... ....

Mr Khodorkovsky is accused of ordering several of his employees to kill both the mayor and a businessman, who survived.

Investigators allege Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk, was killed on 26 June 1998 for demanding Mr Khodorkovsky's oil firm, Yukos, pay taxes that the company had been avoiding.

Local businessman Yevgeny Rybin was allegedly targeted because his activities "clashed with Yukos's interests", Russia's powerful Investigative Committee (SK) said in a statement (in Russian) as it announced his arrest in absentia.

Mr Rybin survived a gun attack in November 1998 and a second attack on his car in March 1999, when another man in the vehicle was killed and several people were injured.

[Dec 23, 2015] The antipathy the Russian kreakly bear toward Matthew Lee

Notable quotes:
"... the antipathy the Russian kreakly ..."
"... the Russian intelligentsia ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com
Moscow Exile, December 20, 2015 at 3:09 am
Russian "oppositionist" tweets – don't you just love 'em?

Colonel Matt Lee receiving instructions from his superiors

No doubt the person who posted the above tweet thinks Psaki, Harf, Trudeau, Rear-Admiral Kirby et al. have all been unfairly tested by this Russian FSB colonel Matt Lee and he should not have been allowed to take part in the Dept. of State press briefings because he is an agent of the Dark Lord, whilst the above mentioned Dept. of State spokespersons are all on the side of righteousness.

marknesop , December 20, 2015 at 11:38 am
I do love them, actually. For anyone who is not stupid, the antipathy the Russian kreakly bear toward Matthew Lee and anyone like him who questions the pat and Manichean State Department narrative bespeaks an admiration for the way the United States government operates. Quite apart for an unhealthy devotion to 'Murkan nationalism and a clear belief that when America seizes something, it should be grateful because it is a compliment if America wants it, it is a preview of how they would govern if they had power. Russia's 'intellectuals' are great admirers of the disinformation and manipulation of the public consciousness with which the State Department gets about its daily work.

It is noteworthy that Matt Lee has never at any time expressed any gratuitous admiration for Russia or Putin or the way Russia conducts global affairs. He merely questions the State Department when its lies get too big or when it purports something as incontestable fact which it has gleaned from social media and Syrian activists. But the Russian intelligentsia view him as an impediment to a unipolar world ruled by America The Great And Good.

[Dec 22, 2015] Destruction of the financial system of Ukraine is complete

Essentially it got "below junk" rating...
Notable quotes:
"... How could Ukraine's government deficit only be 4.1% when its currency has crashed, it has lost most of its sources of income and it has just defaulted on its debt? What the fuck are they talking about? ..."
"... First, there is no way on God's green earth that there is a negative difference of only 4.1% between Ukraine's annual revenues and its annual expenditures, especially since it has almost no revenues except from taxation. ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com

marknesop, December 19, 2015 at 6:43 pm

According to Madame Jaresko, their decision not to pay the $3 Billion bond to Russia has set Ukraine free, free as a bird, and allowed it to now be in full compliance with the financing requirements of the IMF program.

Start shovelin' in the money, IMF, because Ukraine has the magic formula – just refuse to pay what you owe, call it a 'temporary suspension of payments' instead of 'a default', and reap the reward for your display of responsibility.

I foresee the mileage Russia is going to get out of this will far exceed the value of the $3 Billion.

marknesop, December 19, 2015 at 8:47 pm

How could Ukraine's government deficit only be 4.1% when its currency has crashed, it has lost most of its sources of income and it has just defaulted on its debt? What the fuck are they talking about?

"The proposed budget would work to reduce the government's deficit from 4.1% to 3.7%, with measures including an increase in revenue by widening the tax base."

First, there is no way on God's green earth that there is a negative difference of only 4.1% between Ukraine's annual revenues and its annual expenditures, especially since it has almost no revenues except from taxation.

And now the IMF expects to realize more revenue from widening the tax base – yes, I can imagine what a popular initiative that is. Now you know how Yushchenko felt, Yatsie, when the IMF denied him a second big loan because he refused to eliminate the gas subsidies to residents.

Now the IMF has finally realized that triumph through a different leader, and it wants to see even more tax revenue. You are about to be as popular as a turd in the punch bowl; have fun with that.

kirill, December 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm

I would not trust any GDP numbers from the Kiev regime either. They lost 25% of the economy in the Donbas alone not counting Crimea. This has knock on effects to the rest of Banderastan. Yet they are yapping about some 12% contraction in 2015 after a 7% contraction in 2014. I see no clear indication that they are counting the GDP only for regime controlled Banderastan.

As for the budget, according to regime officials, Banderastan lost 30% of its hard currency revenues with the loss of the Donbass. I estimate the tax loss to Kiev to be about 30% as well.

The Donbass was the industrialized part of the country while western Banderastan is primarily agrarian. So talk about 4% shortfalls in revenue is utter rubbish. In most countries the money making parts of the economy subsidize the rest and sure as hell it was not western Banderastan that was subsidizing the Donbass. That was just virulent blood libel such as the claim that Russians settled eastern Ukraine only after the Holodomor.

marknesop, December 20, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Europe deserves Ukraine. Let them have it, the quicker the better. It's fine when Yats is selling that stinking mess to his simple-minded constituents, but European policymakers will see through it right away. Unfortunately, Brussels knows better than to bring Ukraine any closer into the fold, because if they get a visa-free regime, the place will empty out in a week as Ukrainians flee throughout Europe (which is already, everyone must know, full of refugees) looking for jobs.

[Dec 22, 2015] Seymour M. Hersh · Military to Military · LRB 7 January 2016

lrb.co.uk

Barack Obama's repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are 'moderate' rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon's Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration's fixation on Assad's primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn't adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington's anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped.


The military's resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria's takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya. A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs told me that the document was an 'all-source' appraisal, drawing on information from signals, satellite and human intelligence, and took a dim view of the Obama administration's insistence on continuing to finance and arm the so-called moderate rebel groups. By then, the CIA had been conspiring for more than a year with allies in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to ship guns and goods – to be used for the overthrow of Assad – from Libya, via Turkey, into Syria. The new intelligence estimate singled out Turkey as a major impediment to Obama's Syria policy. The document showed, the adviser said, 'that what was started as a covert US programme to arm and support the moderate rebels fighting Assad had been co-opted by Turkey, and had morphed into an across-the-board technical, arms and logistical programme for all of the opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State. The so-called moderates had evaporated and the Free Syrian Army was a rump group stationed at an airbase in Turkey.' The assessment was bleak: there was no viable 'moderate' opposition to Assad, and the US was arming extremists.

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn't doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. 'If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,' Flynn told me. 'We understood Isis's long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.' The DIA's reporting, he said, 'got enormous pushback' from the Obama administration. 'I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.'

'Our policy of arming the opposition to Assad was unsuccessful and actually having a negative impact,' the former JCS adviser said. 'The Joint Chiefs believed that Assad should not be replaced by fundamentalists. The administration's policy was contradictory. They wanted Assad to go but the opposition was dominated by extremists. So who was going to replace him? To say Assad's got to go is fine, but if you follow that through – therefore anyone is better. It's the "anybody else is better" issue that the JCS had with Obama's policy.' The Joint Chiefs felt that a direct challenge to Obama's policy would have 'had a zero chance of success'. So in the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing US intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State.

[Dec 22, 2015] Americas Double Standard on Trade

Dec 22, 2015 | naked capitalism
Yves here. If you followed the TransPacific Partnership negotiations closely, you may recall that Japan looked like it was going along only to placate Washington, and then it signed up only because the US allowed it to drop its "defense only" posture (remember that Japan is a military protectorate of the US) and gave major concession on agriculture (Japan's farmers are a famously powerful voting block). But even then, Japan is not firmly in the US fold. It has made clear that the US needs to get a deal done pronto.

By contrast, this post describes the US foot-dragging and gamesmanship to protect US agricultural interests from competition from developing economies.

Yesterday, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman delivered his plenary statement to the trade ministers gathered in Nairobi for the World Trade Organization's tenth ministerial conference. His statement, which calls for the abandonment of the Doha Development Round in favor of negotiations on new issues of more strategic interest to the United States, deserve a response from a countryman.

Mr. Froman calls on trade representatives "to move beyond the cynical repetition of positions designed to produce deadlock." Yet this is precisely what Mr. Froman has come to Nairobi to repeat: U.S. positions designed to produce deadlock.

He decries the lack of progress in the last 15 years of Doha negotiations, yet he fails to acknowledge that the United States has been, and remains, the principal reason for that failure. Since 2008, when negotiations broke down, the U.S. has refused to continue negotiating on the key issues central to the development agenda – reducing agricultural subsidies, allowing developing countries special protection measures for agriculture, eliminating export subsidies and credits, and a host of other issues.

Those issues remain critical to developing countries, and U.S. intransigence in addressing those concerns is the main reason Doha has stagnated. In addition, the U.S. has introduced new issues to create further obstacles to progress, such as its objection to India's ambitious and laudable public stockholding program to provide food security to fully two-thirds of its people.

The draft declaration on agriculture in Nairobi offers no progress on resolving this issue, despite the explicit commitment in Bali and later in Geneva to find a permanent solution that can allow India and other countries to pursue such programs.

That is not the only developing country issue left unaddressed. The declaration offers nothing to developing countries to allow them to protect sensitive sectors from unfair or sudden import surges, the Special Safeguard Mechanism. It offers no meaningful cuts in U.S. export credits, which have favored U.S. exporters to Africa with some $1.25 billion in credits over the last six years.

Perhaps most notably, the declaration makes no mention of the key issue in the Doha Round: reductions in rich country agricultural subsidies and supports. With crop prices low and a new Farm Bill authorizing rising levels of support to U.S. farmers and exporters, this omission is a direct blow to those developing countries which see their farmers and export prospects harmed by underpriced U.S. exports.

Nor does Mr. Froman mention cotton subsidies, an issue which the United States and the WTO membership committed to address "expeditiously" ten long years ago in Hong Kong. The issue remains unresolved, and the draft agriculture text fails to offer anything to Africa's C-4 cotton producing countries, which have millions of poor farmers desperately in need of relief.

Instead, the U.S. Farm Bill promises further price suppression. According to a recent study, cotton subsidies could total $1.5 billion, increasing U.S. exports 29% and suppressing prices by 7%. All cotton producers in the rest of the world will suffer an estimated $3.3 billion in annual losses, with India projected to lose $800 million per year.

The C-4 countries as a group stand to lose $80 million a year in reduced income, a huge blow to struggling farmers in low-income countries.

Mr. Froman touts the ways U.S. policy has moved forward beyond Doha. He says the United States extended the African Growth and Opportunity Act by a decade, "the longest extension in that program's history." That limited extension of trade preferences to African countries last year provided a paltry $264,000 in benefits to the C-4 countries. The projected losses from U.S. cotton dumping are 300 times greater.

Mr. Froman concludes that with a new approach that abandons the development round while taking up issues of investment, procurement, and other matters of priority to the United States, "we can ensure that global trade will drive development and prosperity as strongly this century as it did in the last."

The U.S. Trade Representative seems to have conveniently forgotten that the Doha Development Round he wants to sweep aside was a direct response to the fact that global trade rules in the last century failed to drive development and prosperity, at least for many developing countries.

As a U.S. researcher long engaged with the issues of concern to developing countries, I find Mr. Froman's approach shameful. Multilateralism demands engagement and compromise, particularly in a "development round" designed to address past inequities. Mr. Froman is unfortunately offering nothing more than "the cynical repetition of positions designed to produce deadlock." The latest in a steady stream of U.S. hypocrisy.

By Timothy Wise, Director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University. Originally published in The Standard (Nairobi, Kenya)

[Dec 22, 2015] Orwells Nightmare Is Here - China Just Gamified Obedience To The State (And Soon Itll Be Mandatory)

That's something new and pretty Orwelian : computerized score of "political correctness" made similar for FICO score and based on data about you in social media.
Notable quotes:
"... Among the things that will hurt a citizen's score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse. ..."
"... "Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create." ..."
"... "very ambitious in scope, including scrutinizing individual behavior and what books people read. It's Amazon's consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist." ..."
"... "Coming soon to a New World Order near you: social credit! Earn points by behaving like the government wants you to behave! Get penalized if you don't act like a doubleplusgood citizen! What could be more fun?" ..."
"... Applying for a passport? Buy my book and learn how to boost your patriotism score by 400 points in 6 months! We can even give you a spambot to do the work for you! ..."
"... At this point, any good developer can write a program that reads Twitter/Facebook/Renren/WeChat feeds, gives the posts to IBM's Watson (or some simpler algorithm), and have the program spit out a score. And this program would take at most a month to make. I know, I write similar stuff ;) ..."
"... What scares me is how the initial assumptions that go into querying data can give you radically different results at the end, and these intelligence agencies do not exactly explain what methods they are using to determine who is a 'bad guy.' ..."
"... Patriot Points. ..."
"... The article has taken some real, some proposed and some imaginary credit tracking programs and smushed them into one 'terrifying', freedom-destroying blob. In other words, it's irresponsible b.s. intended to make the Chinese government look even more diabolical and oppressive than our own. ..."
"... The underlying cultural truth, though, is that Chinese are willing to cooperate with – and trust – their government much more than we are. They've always respected and looked up to their national leaders and expected those leaders to actually lead – morally and practically. It works for them, as we see. ..."
"... Digital will end up being our worse nightmare and our undoing. It is the Perfect tool for the crazed sociopaths around us and the insane psychopaths that want to control our every breath (literally). ..."
"... The social networks are piped right into governments security complex. ..."
Dec 22, 2015 | Zero Hedge

As if further proof were needed Orwell's dystopia is now upon us, China has now gamified obedience to the State. Though that is every bit as creepily terrifying as it sounds, citizens may still choose whether or not they wish to opt-in - that is, until the program becomes compulsory in 2020. "Going under the innocuous name of 'Sesame Credit,' China has created a score for how good a citizen you are," explains Extra Credits' video about the program. "The owners of China's largest social networks have partnered with the government to create something akin to the U.S. credit score - but, instead of measuring how regularly you pay your bills, it measures how obediently you follow the party line."

Zheping Huang, a reporter for Quartz, chronicled his own experience with the social control tool in October, saying that

"in the past few weeks I began to notice a mysterious new trend. Numbers were popping up on my social media feeds as my friends and strangers on Weibo [the Chinese equivalent to Twitter] and WeChat began to share their 'Sesame Credit scores.' The score is created by Ant Financial, an Alibaba-affiliated company that also runs Alipay, China's popular third-party payment app with over 350 million users. Ant Financial claims that it evaluates one's purchasing and spending habits in order to derive a figure that shows how creditworthy someone is."

However, according to a translation of the "Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System," posted online by Oxford University's China expert, Rogier Creemers, it's nightmarishly clear the program is far more than just a credit-tracking method. As he described it,

"The government wants to build a platform that leverages things like big data, mobile internet, and cloud computing to measure and evaluate different levels of people's lives in order to create a gamified nudging for people to behave better."

While Sesame Credit's roll-out in January has been downplayed by many, the American Civil Liberties Union, among others, urges caution, saying:

"The system is run by two companies, Alibaba and Tencent, which run all the social networks in China and therefore have access to a vast amount of data about people's social ties and activities and what they say. In addition to measuring your ability to pay, as in the United States, the scores serve as a measure of political compliance.

Among the things that will hurt a citizen's score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse. It will hurt your score not only if you do these things, but if any of your friends do them."

And, in what appears likely the goal of the entire program, added, "Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create."

Social pressure, of course, can be highly effective given the right circumstances. China seems to have found exactly that in the intricate linking of people's scores to their contacts, which can be seen publicly by anyone - and then upping the ante through score-based incentives and rewards. Rick Falkvinge pointed out a startling comparison:

"The KGB and the Stasi's method of preventing dissent from taking hold was to plant so-called agents provocateurs in the general population, people who tried to make people agree with dissent, but who actually were arresting them as soon as they agreed with such dissent. As a result, nobody would dare agree that the government did anything bad, and this was very effective in preventing any large-scale resistance from taking hold. The Chinese way here is much more subtle, but probably more effective still."

As Creemers described to Dutch news outlet, de Volkskrant,

"With the help of the latest internet technologies, the government wants to exercise individual surveillance. The Chinese aim […] is clearly an attempt to create a new citizen."

Chinese internet specialist at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Johan Lagerkvist, said the system is

"very ambitious in scope, including scrutinizing individual behavior and what books people read. It's Amazon's consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist."

James Corbett has been tracking the implementation of Sesame Credit for some time. Introducing the ubiquitous tracking system for a recent episode of the Corbett Report, he mused:

"Coming soon to a New World Order near you: social credit! Earn points by behaving like the government wants you to behave! Get penalized if you don't act like a doubleplusgood citizen! What could be more fun?"

Indeed, because mandatory enrollment in Sesame Credit is still a few years away, its true effectiveness won't be measurable for some time. But even a reporter's usual wariness appears knocked off-kilter, as Zheping Huang summarized his personal experience,

"Even if my crappy credit score doesn't mean much now, it's in my best interest I suppose to make sure it doesn't go too low."

And that, of course, is precisely why gamifying State obedience is so terrifying.

Cornfedbloodstool

We just have FICO scores in the US, that measures how obidient you are to the banks, the true rulers of the country.

ToSoft4Truth

And Facebook 'Likes'. Can't get laid without the Likes, man.

CAPT DRAKE

It is already here. There is a thing called an "NSA Score", based on your habits, contacts, and email/posts. Fortunately, porn surfing, even addiction, is not a negative. Only anti state stuff counts, and no, most of the posts on ZH don't count as they are seen as venting and not actionable intel.

knukles

I love Big Brother...

Miffed Microbiologist

"The children and adults, including his own parents, tiptoe nervously around him, constantly telling him how everything he does is "good," since displeasing him can get them wished away into a mystical "cornfield", an unknown place, from which there is no return. At one point, a dog is heard barking angrily. Anthony thinks the dog is "bad" and doesn't "like [him] at all," and wishes it into the cornfield. His father and mother are horrified, but they dare not show it."

Welcome to the Twilight Zone.

Miffed

Old Poor Richard

You beat me to it on FICO score. If you're off the grid, out of the electronic money system or not paying sufficient fealty to banksters, you are NOT being obedient to the state.

NoDebt

I'm as off the grid as you can get and still live a middle class lifestyle with electricity and a cell phone. I assure you they still score me and I'm usually over 800. I don't use credit much these days but what I use says nothing but "pays as agreed".

Now, if you start to factor in the "slightly to the right of the John Burke Society" shit I post on ZH I'd be down around -500.

Uchtdorf

http://qz.com/519737/all-chinese-citizens-now-have-a-score-based-on-how-...

Dated October 9th of this year.

savagegoose

thats it, in the communist version of facebook you can vote on gov post's, ie you can like them.

Government needs you to pay taxes

Cmon its China, where numbers are faked everyday. Ya think this number will be any different? And even if its effective in China, when the US .govbots roll this out, how effective can it be when US .gov employees 'at the wheel'?

The US .gov can fuck ANYTHING up.

roisaber

It will be funny to see who gets a low citizen loyalty oath score for unpredictable reasons, or from hacks, and their increasing radicalization as their honest efforts to try to get themselves back into good standing only makes them register as more anti-social.

techpriest

The other question is, how many services are going to pop up to help you boost your score, just like there are books, guides, and services for your credit score currently?

"Applying for a passport? Buy my book and learn how to boost your patriotism score by 400 points in 6 months! We can even give you a spambot to do the work for you!"

SgtShaftoe

China doesn't have enough enforcers to control the population. They will lose control. That is only a matter of time. They may be able to delay the inevitable for a while but eventually reality will arrive. Keep pushing that volatility into the tail and see what happens. When it goes, it will blow your fucking socks off.

Tick tock motherfuckers, and that goes for the US as well...

tarabel

That is the (evil) genius of this scheme. It is collectively enforced by the proletarians themselves. If you do anti-social things, that will reflect badly on your friends and family so they will excoriate you and, if necessary, shun you until you get with the program. Really, it's just a crowd-sourced Communist Block Warden program gone digital.

I don't worry about the Chinese. They're fooked any which way you slice it. But China invents nothing, merely imitates. So where did they get this idea from, hmmm?

techpriest

At this point, any good developer can write a program that reads Twitter/Facebook/Renren/WeChat feeds, gives the posts to IBM's Watson (or some simpler algorithm), and have the program spit out a score. And this program would take at most a month to make. I know, I write similar stuff ;)

With that in mind, what would you be able to accomplish with a team of 40-50 developers and several months? What scares me is how the initial assumptions that go into querying data can give you radically different results at the end, and these intelligence agencies do not exactly explain what methods they are using to determine who is a 'bad guy.'


cherry picker

"I have nothing to hide"

Well, the bozos who coined the above term, have fun. You think keeping up with mortgage, car payments, Obama Care, taxes, raising kids and keeping a spouse happy is stressful, wait til .gov does a 'test' on you.

Me, I'm not worried. I'm a non conformist, live in the boonies and am too old. I tell my children and grandchildren they need to get rid of this 'evil eye' government encroachment.

They think I am crazy now, but I think they may be coming around.

techpriest

I would love to turn that "You shouldn't be afraid if you have nothing to hide" around by pointing out that the Fed shouldn't be afraid of an audit if they have nothing to hide.

Amish Hacker

Patriot Points.

Bopper09

Is this not what assface is? (facebook for people plugged in). I admit I went on it for the simple fact I couldn't find anything better for talking to my Russian fiance. But even a year before she got here, I said fuck it. Tried cancelling, but if you click a link that has something to do with facebook, your profile becomes active again. Fucking criminals. I left a computer for 3 weeks (not that I haven't done that before. TRY IT, no cell phone or computer for ONE WEEK. Take vacation days and see what's important in your life. Seriously, I've never owned a cell phone. Where I work I don't need one. Cell phones do not 'save your life'.

Consuelo

Interesting the references to FB, especially when one considers who's at the head and his position on censorship. Then again, what happened in Mao's China descended from the likes of Trotsky, so it kinda sorta follows...

Gantal

The article has taken some real, some proposed and some imaginary credit tracking programs and smushed them into one 'terrifying', freedom-destroying blob. In other words, it's irresponsible b.s. intended to make the Chinese government look even more diabolical and oppressive than our own.

The underlying cultural truth, though, is that Chinese are willing to cooperate with – and trust – their government much more than we are. They've always respected and looked up to their national leaders and expected those leaders to actually lead – morally and practically. It works for them, as we see.

The underlying lie is that the Chinese government needs to repress its people. It doesn't. Anyone purporting to be China 'experts' like Messrs. Lagerkvist and Creemers, should know that China's government is the most popular, most trusted government on earth.

By why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Fuku Ben

The score is created by Ant Financial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lcUHQYhPTE#t=36s

FedFunnyMoney

Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer...Chinese style.

rejected

Digital will end up being our worse nightmare and our undoing. It is the "Perfect" tool for the crazed sociopaths around us and the insane psychopaths that want to control our every breath (literally).

Sure, it's cool, you can play games and other useless crap but even a blind man could see how governments are going to be useing it. The social networks are piped right into governments security complex. Wouldn't surprise me if everything we post even here on ZH is stored on some digital crap machine somewhere.

For sure it's on ZH servers and thus available to any Tom, Dick or Harry LEO. I myself am very close to going dark. This stuff isn't laughable anymore. It's getting DEADLY serious.

[Dec 22, 2015] US imposes financial restrictions to reinforce Ukraine sanctions

www.theguardian.com

The new sanctions match those put in place by America's allies and demonstrate Washington's "unwavering resolve to pressure Russia to respect the security and sovereignty of Ukraine", Smith added.

Russia quickly decried the announcement.

"This is a continuation of the unfriendly line against Russia that runs counter to logic," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. His government would review the US decisions "and then gather proposals on possible countermeasures", he said.

HollyOldDog -> HHeLiBe 22 Dec 2015 16:45

There are no separatists in Ukraine. The East Ukrainians were upset with the American sponsored take over of the Kiev government and the brutal actions of the Right Sector firing on the Ukrainian Police and demonstrators. But instead of trying to calm down the rival fractions once the previous president who had to run for his life - the 'revised' Kiev administration decided to bomb and shell East Ukraine - they could have only learned such incompetence from their 'masters' in the USA.

Leondeinos 22 Dec 2015 16:28

The US has a number of requests of Russia. The "sanctions" won't help get the needed assistance, some of which might be important. Those sanctions also are causing far more damage to Ukraine. For example, since the beginning of 2015 the exchange rate for the Ukrainian Hryvnia is now such that $1 US costs 45% more than on 1 January (this has often been much higher during the year); for the Russian Ruble, the increase is 23%. How can that help people in Ukraine who need imports? (particularly since the country has lost its eastern industrial regions)

If Uncle Sam really wanted Russian cooperation (this is highly uncertain), he might just realize that, to them, NATO expansion is the most serious issue of all (as they have said all along). Useful agreement could be reached on this topic in various ways. How about combining dropping the proposed Ukrainian entry into NATO with an agreement to end foreign support, financial and with armament, for Ukrainian political factions [by all sides]? There are other possibilities for agreement. That's a big order given the history of US and Russian meddling in Ukraine, but it offers better prospects than more sanctions which are splitting the country apart-- forever-- and driving corruption in Ukraine to an intense level.

MurkyFogsFutureLogs 22 Dec 2015 16:24

"The US has been trying to find the right balance of carrots and sticks to push Russia into making a full withdrawal from eastern Ukraine, while securing its cooperation on ending Syria's civil war,"

So in one paragraph the Guardian states the U.S wants to push Russia into withdrawing forces it couldn't prove invaded in the first place and then touches upon the U.S's desire to co-operate with Russia in Syria even though the U.S is flying over Syria ILLEGALLY...

The Guardian along with the rest of the MSM really are becoming different departments within the "Ministry of Truth".

laticsfanfromeurope 22 Dec 2015 16:21

What a bunch of hypocrites...why no sanction against Saudi Arabia, guilty of genocide in Yemen, and guilty of syupporting extremism in the region and in the whole world?
Why nobody sanction the US and the other countries that support the islamist rebels in Syria?
So why not sanctions against Turkey, Qatar, England, France etc....

However the sanctions are not working at all, only the oil low price give problems to Russia...

[Dec 21, 2015] Ignorance is Strength

Notable quotes:
"... " it's also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries" ..."
"... It's okay to bullshit if the Culturally Superior Westerner ™ is dissing with libelious claims Inferior Non-Westerner. See, who needs any proof that "Putin kills journalists"? No one! Not even trump or their auditory – They Know It For Fact ™. ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com
et Al, December 19, 2015 at 11:02 am
Butnits Insider: Donald Trump left Joe Scarborough stunned after being asked about Vladimir Putin killing journalists
https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/donald-trump-praises-vladimir-putin-125622048.html

…Scarborough pointed to Putin's status as a notorious strongman.

"Well, I mean, it's also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries. Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?" Scarborough asked.

"He's running his country, and at least he's a leader," Trump replied. "Unlike what we have in this country."

"But again: He kills journalists that don't agree with him," Scarborough said.

The Republican presidential front-runner said there was "a lot of killing going on" around the world and then suggested that Scarborough had asked him a different question.

"I think our country does plenty of killing, also, Joe, so, you know," Trump replied. "There's a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on. A lot of stupidity. And that's the way it is. But you didn't ask me [that] question, you asked me a different question. So that's fine."

Scarborough was left visibly stunned.

"I'm confused," the MSNBC host said. "So I mean, you obviously condemn Vladimir Putin killing journalists and political opponents, right?"

"Oh sure, absolutely," Trump said…

…But Friday during his "Morning Joe" interview, Trump said he always "felt fine" about Putin and touted the Russian president's poll numbers. Putin's position in his country is bolstered by the Russian government's control over much of the Russian news media.

"I always felt fine about Putin," Trump said. "I think that he's a strong leader. He's a powerful leader … He's actually got a popularity within his country. They respect him as a leader."

Trump contrasted Putin's numbers with President Obama's.

"I think he's up in the 80s. You see where Obama's in the 30s and low 40s. And he's up in the 80s," Trump said. "And I don't know who does the polls. Maybe he does the polls, but I think they're done by American companies, actually."
####

When I read stuff like this, I'm so glad the US is so far away. Damn modern technology.

Lyttenburgh, December 19, 2015 at 11:50 am
" it's also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries"

It's okay to bullshit if the Culturally Superior Westerner ™ is dissing with libelious claims Inferior Non-Westerner. See, who needs any proof that "Putin kills journalists"? No one! Not even trump or their auditory – They Know It For Fact ™.

P.S. "Ignorance is Strength"

[Dec 21, 2015] Journalists are really mouthpieces for political factions within their own government power structure but the best journalists choose faction that actually embraces reality

"... Regarding Patrick Lang, I noticed that he posted a quite vehement attack against conspiracy theorists postings on his blog who were – if I recall correctly – claiming that the military were involved in the subterfuge to arm extremists in Syria. (Probably cocked up the details but too tired to check.) It struck me as noteworthy as it suggested an internecine intra-Washington struggle between Military / CIA who was going to "own" the debacle in Syria at the very least. It is utterly reminiscent of the struggle between Dulles / CIA power structure (think: institutional group think) and the incoming JFK administration / New Frontiersman during and after the Cuban Missile Crisis. ..."
"... Of course it's worth noting that Hersh had to revert to publishing this "intimate" conversation between American power structures in a foreign publication. What does that tell you about the "freedom index"? Samizdat here we come! ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com

Tim Owen, December 20, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Sy Hersh's latest via M of A:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n01/seymour-m-hersh/military-to-military

marknesop, December 20, 2015 at 7:58 pm
Washington does not care who assumes power in Syria – whether it be feuding warlords or an Islamic mullah or Assad's cat. Washington knows that Islamic State needs money to survive and keep power, as does any individual or group who will rule, and that to remain in power, it will sell oil. Good enough, as far as Washington is concerned. If the place remains a seething cauldron of destabilizing hatreds, so much the better.
Tim Owen, December 20, 2015 at 8:50 pm
I read this carefully earlier today and wish I had made some notes.

It's an interesting article just in what it says about the politics of American journalism at this point in time almost regardless of the subject matter in a kind of Kremlinology vein. It almost reads like a ransom note. My impression is that Hersh is pulling punches at some key points in order not to overplay his hand.

My suggestion: don't get bogged down in the details. From my recollection of the piece from earlier today Hersh is basically championing a few figures and – most importantly – their perspectives here:

It's worth remembering that Hersh's articles on the Ghoutta attack immediately predated the great stand-down by Obama from all out air-war to destroy Syria.

Given that it's axiomatic that journalists are really mouthpieces for political factions within their own government power structure and that the BEST journalists – like Hersh – actually embrace this reality, what does the appearance of this article augur?

I especially like the sign off:

"The Joint Chiefs and the DIA were constantly telling Washington's leadership of the jihadist threat in Syria, and of Turkey's support for it. The message was never listened to. Why not?"

That sounds kind of threatening. In a good way.

* Regarding Patrick Lang, I noticed that he posted a quite vehement attack against conspiracy theorists postings on his blog who were – if I recall correctly – claiming that the military were involved in the subterfuge to arm extremists in Syria. (Probably cocked up the details but too tired to check.) It struck me as noteworthy as it suggested an internecine intra-Washington struggle between Military / CIA who was going to "own" the debacle in Syria at the very least. It is utterly reminiscent of the struggle between Dulles / CIA power structure (think: institutional group think) and the incoming JFK administration / New Frontiersman during and after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In other words: we, the west, have basically made no progress fighting for reform of our leadership and political structures. Meanwhile the Russians seem to have gone "right round the horn" – as the dinosaur in Toy Story might put it.

Tim Owen, December 20, 2015 at 9:08 pm
Of course it's worth noting that Hersh had to revert to publishing this "intimate" conversation between American power structures in a foreign publication. What does that tell you about the "freedom index"? Samizdat here we come!

[Dec 21, 2015] Australians has doubts about Dutch safety board conclusion about the type of monitions that destroyed the aircraft

Notable quotes:
"... "initial information that the aircraft was shot down by a [Buk] surface to air missile" did not meet the Australian or international standard of evidence …." ..."
"... What will happen to the resolve of the holdouts if the narrative on MH17 begins to veer away from rock-solid Russian ownership of the tragedy? Because that was the whole backbone of the sanctions – Crimea was not enough to get Germany and France on board, and they still needed the little push that MH17 provided. If that rationale vanished, or even if serious doubt was introduced, the whole EU position on sanctions could fall apart. ..."
"... It's bigger than I thought – there is some sort of internal power struggle going on, and West refuses to change his findings – which still point to Russia for responsibility – in spite of Donoghoe's testimony. ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com
Jen, December 19, 2015 at 7:12 pm
Wooooh, this news is a doozy:

http://johnhelmer.net/?p=14787
http://investmentwatchblog.com/mh17-australia-say-russia-not-to-blame-evidence-tampered-with/

First two paragraphs:
"The Australian Federal Police and Dutch police and prosecutors investigating the cause of the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17 believe the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) has failed to provide "conclusive evidence" of what type of munition destroyed the aircraft, causing the deaths of 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

Testifying for the first time in an international court, Detective Superintendent Andrew Donoghoe, the senior Australian policeman in the international MH17 investigation, said a "tougher standard than the DSB report" is required before the criminal investigation can identify the weapon which brought the aircraft down, or pinpoint the perpetrators.

Their criminal investigation will continue into 2016, Donoghoe told the Victorian Coroners Court (lead image) on Tuesday morning. He and other international investigators are unconvinced by reports from the US and Ukrainian governments, and by the DSB, of a Buk missile firing. "Dutch prosecutors require conclusive evidence on other types of missile," Donoghoe said, intimating that "initial information that the aircraft was shot down by a [Buk] surface to air missile" did not meet the Australian or international standard of evidence …."

marknesop, December 19, 2015 at 7:31 pm
Great catch, Jen!! Wow, you're right – this is big, especially in view of the wavering by some EU members on sanctions. I wonder what Merkel has up her sleeve; she says Germany – while going ahead with Nord Stream II, which is "first and foremost a business proposition" – is "seeking ways to ensure that Ukraine is not completely excluded as a transit country".

Ummm…what role would that be? Because if, in exchange for pushing ahead on Nord Stream, Russia is maneuvered into still sending gas through Ukraine so that Ukraine can collect transit fees, the project would be self-defeating. I trust the business minds in Russia are sharp enough to stay ahead of that one. Ukraine will still receive gas from Russia, if it wants it and can pay in advance for it, but it will be for domestic supplies only and consequently not subject to transit fees. Russia must not weaken on this, because the EU still hopes to rebuild Ukraine using Russian money, and it cannot do it without Russian help and support. If that is withheld, Russia only needs to wait them out.

Needless to say, Tusk supports Renzi's position, not because he is an Italiophile but because he supports Ukraine and would like to see it remain a transit country, and pocketing $2 Billion a year in Russian cash.

What will happen to the resolve of the holdouts if the narrative on MH17 begins to veer away from rock-solid Russian ownership of the tragedy? Because that was the whole backbone of the sanctions – Crimea was not enough to get Germany and France on board, and they still needed the little push that MH17 provided. If that rationale vanished, or even if serious doubt was introduced, the whole EU position on sanctions could fall apart.

marknesop, December 19, 2015 at 8:37 pm

It's bigger than I thought – there is some sort of internal power struggle going on, and West refuses to change his findings – which still point to Russia for responsibility – in spite of Donoghoe's testimony. There were revelations in the original post such as that Australia had sought permission from the Novorossiyan authorities to collect evidence and artifacts, as well as Kiev – thereby implicitly recognizing Novorossiya – and that when it solicited witnesses to testify, some agreed only on the condition their names would not be revealed, that the Ukrainian authorities would not be involved and that the investigators would protect them. Sure sounds like they want to say something they know the Ukrainian government will punish them for saying, if it can identify them. This whole inquiry just got interesting again.

At the moment it looks like a faction of the Australian investigation disagrees with the pat finding of the Dutch, but the Victorian state coroner is totally on board with the "Russia did it" scenario and is determined to have his way no matter how foolish it makes him look. This one could go anywhere from here.

Moscow Exile, December 19, 2015 at 11:28 pm

Clearly that Aussie cop is in the pocket of the Evil One!

Isn't he the one who said earlier that the Russian-backed terrorists at the MH-17 crash site behaved like decent human beings and treated the crash victims' remains with dignity and did not loot their belongings?

I mean, what a ludicrous thing to say!

Everyone knows that these Russian beasts are ….blah, blah, blah ...

davidt, December 20, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Donoghue is not the only AFP cop speaking up for the crash site locals. Their sensitivity and humanity is a rather at odds with a disparaging comment about the AFP on these pages over a year ago (and which I objected to at the time). I noticed last week that Patrick Armstrong is now reconsidering the Sukhoi did it scenario because of an apparent lack of fragments from a Buk warhead.

This has always been a serious concern to the Russian investigators, see
http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/10/russians-angered-dutch-probe


[Dec 20, 2015] Michael Hudson The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia

Notable quotes:
"... By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is ..."
"... KILLING THE HOST: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy ..."
"... What especially annoys U.S. financial strategists is that this loan by Russia's sovereign debt fund was protected by IMF lending practice, which at that time ensured collectability by withholding new credit from countries in default of foreign official debts (or at least, not bargaining in good faith to pay). To cap matters, the bonds are registered under London's creditor-oriented rules and courts. ..."
"... After the rules change, Aslund later noted, "the IMF can continue to give Ukraine loans regardless of what Ukraine does about its credit from Russia, which falls due on December 20. [8] ..."
"... The post-2010 loan packages to Greece are a notorious case in point. The IMF staff calculated that Greece could not possibly pay the balance that was set to bail out foreign banks and bondholders. Many Board members agreed (and subsequently have gone public with their whistle-blowing). Their protests didn't matter. Dominique Strauss-Kahn backed the US-ECB position (after President Barack Obama and Treasury secretary Tim Geithner pointed out that U.S. banks had written credit default swaps betting that Greece could pay, and would lose money if there were a debt writedown). In 2015, Christine Lagarde also backed the U.S.-European Central Bank hard line, against staff protests. [10] ..."
"... China and Russia harbored the fantasy that would be allowed redress in the Western Courts where international law is metered out. They are now no longer under that delusion. ..."
"... It's not Hudson but the US that has simplified the entire world situation into "good guys vs. bad guys", a policy enshrined in Rumsfeld's statement "you're either with us or you're against us". ..."
"... what is left unsaid is the choices Russia then faces once their legal options play out and the uneven playing field is fully exposed. Do they not then have a historically justifiable basis for declaring war? ..."
December 18, 2015 | naked capitalism

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is KILLING THE HOST: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy

The nightmare scenario of U.S. geopolitical strategists seems to be coming true: foreign economic independence from U.S. control. Instead of privatizing and neoliberalizing the world under U.S.-centered financial planning and ownership, the Russian and Chinese governments are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian economic integration on the basis of Russian oil and tax exports and Chinese financing. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) threatens to replace the IMF and World Bank programs that favor U.S. suppliers, banks and bondholders (with the United States holding unique veto power).

Russia's 2013 loan to Ukraine, made at the request of Ukraine's elected pro-Russian government, demonstrated the benefits of mutual trade and investment relations between the two countries. As Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov points out, Ukraine's "international reserves were barely enough to cover three months' imports, and no other creditor was prepared to lend on terms acceptable to Kiev. Yet Russia provided $3 billion of much-needed funding at a 5 per cent interest rate, when Ukraine's bonds were yielding nearly 12 per cent."[1]

What especially annoys U.S. financial strategists is that this loan by Russia's sovereign debt fund was protected by IMF lending practice, which at that time ensured collectability by withholding new credit from countries in default of foreign official debts (or at least, not bargaining in good faith to pay). To cap matters, the bonds are registered under London's creditor-oriented rules and courts.

On December 3 (one week before the IMF changed its rules so as to hurt Russia), Prime Minister Putin proposed that Russia "and other Eurasian Economic Union countries should kick-off consultations with members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a possible economic partnership."[2] Russia also is seeking to build pipelines to Europe through friendly instead of U.S.-backed countries.

Moving to denominate their trade and investment in their own currencies instead of dollars, China and Russia are creating a geopolitical system free from U.S. control. After U.S. officials threatened to derange Russia's banking linkages by cutting it off from the SWIFT interbank clearing system, China accelerated its creation of the alternative China International Payments System (CIPS), with its own credit card system to protect Eurasian economies from the shrill threats made by U.S. unilateralists.

Russia and China are simply doing what the United States has long done: using trade and credit linkages to cement their geopolitical diplomacy. This tectonic geopolitical shift is a Copernican threat to New Cold War ideology: Instead of the world economy revolving around the United States (the Ptolemaic idea of America as "the indispensible nation"), it may revolve around Eurasia. As long as the global financial papacy remains grounded in Washington at the offices of the IMF and World Bank, such a shift in the center of gravity will be fought with all the power of the American Century (indeed, American Millennium) inquisition.

Imagine the following scenario five years from now. China will have spent half a decade building high-speed railroads, ports power systems and other construction for Asian and African countries, enabling them to grow and export more. These exports will be coming on line to repay the infrastructure loans. Also, suppose that Russia has been supplying the oil and gas energy needed for these projects.

To U.S. neocons this specter of AIIB government-to-government lending and investment creates fear of a world independent of U.S. control. Nations would mint their own money and hold each other's debt in their international reserves instead of borrowing or holding dollars and subordinating their financial planning to the IMF and U.S. Treasury with their demands for monetary bloodletting and austerity for debtor countries. There would be less need for foreign government to finance budget shortfalls by selling off their key public infrastructure privatizing their economies. Instead of dismantling public spending, the AIIB and a broader Eurasian economic union would do what the United States itself practices, and seek self-sufficiency in basic needs such as food, technology, banking, credit creation and monetary policy.

With this prospect in mind, suppose an American diplomat meets with the leaders of debtors to China, Russia and the AIIB and makes the following proposal: "Now that you've got your increased production in place, why repay? We'll make you rich if you stiff our New Cold War adversaries and turn to the West. We and our European allies will help you assign the infrastructure to yourselves and your supporters, and give these assets market value by selling shares in New York and London. Then, you can spend your surpluses in the West."

How can China or Russia collect in such a situation? They can sue. But what court will recognize their claim – that is, what court that the West would pay attention to?

That is the kind of scenario U.S. State Department and Treasury officials have been discussing for more than a year. The looming conflict was made immediate by Ukraine's $3 billion debt to Russia falling due by December 20, 2015. Ukraine's U.S.-backed regime has announced its intention to default. U.S. lobbyists have just changed the IMF rules to remove a critical lever on which Russia and other governments have long relied to enforce payment of their loans.

The IMF's Role as Enforcer of Inter-Government Debts

When it comes down to enforcing nations to pay inter-government debts, the International Monetary Fund and Paris Club hold the main leverage. As coordinator of central bank "stabilization" loans (the neoliberal euphemism for imposing austerity and destabilizing debtor economies, Greece-style), the IMF is able to withhold not only its own credit but also that of governments and global banks participating when debtor countries need refinancing. Countries that do not agree to privatize their infrastructure and sell it to Western buyers are threatened with sanctions, backed by U.S.-sponsored "regime change" and "democracy promotion" Maidan-style.

This was the setting on December 8, when Chief IMF Spokesman Gerry Rice announced: "The IMF's Executive Board met today and agreed to change the current policy on non-toleration of arrears to official creditors." The creditor leverage that the IMF has used is that if a nation is in financial arrears to any government, it cannot qualify for an IMF loan – and hence, for packages involving other governments. This has been the system by which the dollarized global financial system has worked for half a century. The beneficiaries have been creditors in US dollars.

In this U.S.-centered worldview, China and Russia loom as the great potential adversaries – defined as independent power centers from the United States as they create the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an alternative to NATO, and the AIIB as an alternative to the IMF and World Bank tandem. The very name, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, implies that transportation systems and other infrastructure will be financed by governments, not relinquished into private hands to become rent-extracting opportunities financed by U.S.-centered bank credit to turn the rent into a flow of interest payments.

The focus on a mixed public/private economy sets the AIIB at odds with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its aim of relinquishing government planning power to the financial and corporate sector for their own short-term gains, and above all the aim of blocking government's money-creating power and financial regulation. Chief Nomura economist Richard Koo, explained the logic of viewing the AIIB as a threat to the US-controlled IMF: "If the IMF's rival is heavily under China's influence, countries receiving its support will rebuild their economies under what is effectively Chinese guidance, increasing the likelihood they will fall directly or indirectly under that country's influence."[3]

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov accused the IMF decision of being "hasty and biased."[4] But it had been discussed all year long, calculating a range of scenarios for a long-term sea change in international law. The aim of this change is to isolate not only Russia, but even more China in its role as creditor to African countries and prospective AIIB borrowers. U.S. officials walked into the IMF headquarters in Washington with the legal equivalent of financial suicide vests, having decided that the time had come to derail Russia's ability to collect on its sovereign loan to Ukraine, and of even larger import, China's plan for a New Silk Road integrating a Eurasian economy independent of U.S. financial and trade control. Anders Aslund, senior fellow at the NATO-oriented Atlantic Council, points out:

The IMF staff started contemplating a rule change in the spring of 2013 because nontraditional creditors, such as China, had started providing developing countries with large loans. One issue was that these loans were issued on conditions out of line with IMF practice. China wasn't a member of the Paris Club, where loan restructuring is usually discussed, so it was time to update the rules.

The IMF intended to adopt a new policy in the spring of 2016, but the dispute over Russia's $3 billion loan to Ukraine has accelerated an otherwise slow decision-making process.[5]

The Wall Street Journal concurred that the underlying motivation for changing the IMF's rules was the threat that Chinese lending would provide an alternative to IMF loans and its demands for austerity. "IMF-watchers said the fund was originally thinking of ensuring China wouldn't be able to foil IMF lending to member countries seeking bailouts as Beijing ramped up loans to developing economies around the world."[6] In short, U.S. strategists have designed a policy to block trade and financial agreements organized outside of U.S. control and that of the IMF and World Bank in which it holds unique veto power.

The plan is simple enough. Trade follows finance, and the creditor usually calls the tune. That is how the United States has used the Dollar Standard to steer Third World trade and investment since World War II along lines benefiting the U.S. economy.

The cement of trade credit and bank lending is the ability of creditors to collect on the international debts being negotiated. That is why the United States and other creditor nations have used the IMF as an intermediary to act as "honest broker" for loan consortia. ("Honest broker" means in practice being subject to U.S. veto power.) To enforce its financial leverage, the IMF has long followed the rule that it will not sponsor any loan agreement or refinancing for governments that are in default of debts owed to other governments. However, as the afore-mentioned Aslund explains, the IMF could easily

change its practice of not lending into [countries in official] arrears … because it is not incorporated into the IMF Articles of Agreement, that is, the IMF statutes. The IMF Executive Board can decide to change this policy with a simple board majority. The IMF has lent to Afghanistan, Georgia, and Iraq in the midst of war, and Russia has no veto right, holding only 2.39 percent of the votes in the IMF. When the IMF has lent to Georgia and Ukraine, the other members of its Executive Board have overruled Russia.[7]

After the rules change, Aslund later noted, "the IMF can continue to give Ukraine loans regardless of what Ukraine does about its credit from Russia, which falls due on December 20.[8]

Inasmuch as Ukraine's official debt to Russia's sovereign debt fund was not to the U.S. Government, the IMF announced its rules change as a "clarification." Its rule that no country can borrow if it is in default to (or not seriously negotiating with) a foreign government was created in the post-1945 world, and has governed the past seventy years in which the United States Government, Treasury officials and/or U.S. bank consortia have been party to nearly every international bailout or major loan agreement. What the IMF rule really meant was that it would not provide credit to countries in arrears specifically to the U.S. Government, not those of Russia or China.

Mikhail Delyagin, Director of the Institute of Globalization Problems, understood the IMF's double standard clearly enough: "The Fund will give Kiev a new loan tranche on one condition that Ukraine should not pay Russia a dollar under its $3 billion debt. Legally, everything will be formalized correctly but they will oblige Ukraine to pay only to western creditors for political reasons."[9] It remains up to the IMF board – and in the end, its managing director – whether or not to deem a country creditworthy. The U.S. representative naturally has always blocked any leaders not beholden to the United States.

The post-2010 loan packages to Greece are a notorious case in point. The IMF staff calculated that Greece could not possibly pay the balance that was set to bail out foreign banks and bondholders. Many Board members agreed (and subsequently have gone public with their whistle-blowing). Their protests didn't matter. Dominique Strauss-Kahn backed the US-ECB position (after President Barack Obama and Treasury secretary Tim Geithner pointed out that U.S. banks had written credit default swaps betting that Greece could pay, and would lose money if there were a debt writedown). In 2015, Christine Lagarde also backed the U.S.-European Central Bank hard line, against staff protests.[10]

IMF executive board member Otaviano Canuto, representing Brazil, noted that the logic that "conditions on IMF lending to a country that fell behind on payments [was to] make sure it kept negotiating in good faith to reach agreement with creditors."[11] Dropping this condition, he said, would open the door for other countries to insist on a similar waiver and avoid making serious and sincere efforts to reach payment agreement with creditor governments.

A more binding IMF rule is that it cannot lend to countries at war or use IMF credit to engage in warfare. Article I of its 1944-45 founding charter ban the fund from lending to a member state engaged in civil war or at war with another member state, or for military purposes in general. But when IMF head Lagarde made the last IMF loan to Ukraine, in spring 2015, she made a token gesture of stating that she hoped there would be peace. But President Porochenko immediately announced that he would step up the civil war with the Russian-speaking population in the eastern Donbass region.

The problem is that the Donbass is where most Ukrainian exports were made, mainly to Russia. That market is being lost by the junta's belligerence toward Russia. This should have blocked Ukraine from receiving IMF aid. Withholding IMF credit could have been a lever to force peace and adherence to the Minsk agreements, but U.S. diplomatic pressure led that opportunity to be rejected.

The most important IMF condition being violated is that continued warfare with the East prevents a realistic prospect of Ukraine paying back new loans. Aslund himself points to the internal contradictions at work: Ukraine has achieved budget balance because the inflation and steep currency depreciation has drastically eroded its pension costs. The resulting lower value of pension benefits has led to growing opposition to Ukraine's post-Maidan junta. "Leading representatives from President Petro Poroshenko's Bloc are insisting on massive tax cuts, but no more expenditure cuts; that would cause a vast budget deficit that the IMF assesses at 9-10 percent of GDP, that could not possibly be financed."[12] So how can the IMF's austerity budget be followed without a political backlash?

The IMF thus is breaking four rules: Not lending to a country that has no visible means to pay back the loan breaks the "No More Argentinas" rule adopted after the IMF's disastrous 2001 loan. Not lending to countries that refuse in good faith to negotiate with their official creditors goes against the IMF's role as the major tool of the global creditors' cartel. And the IMF is now lending to a borrower at war, indeed one that is destroying its export capacity and hence its balance-of-payments ability to pay back the loan. Finally, the IMF is lending to a country that has little likelihood of refuse carrying out the IMF's notorious austerity "conditionalities" on its population – without putting down democratic opposition in a totalitarian manner. Instead of being treated as an outcast from the international financial system, Ukraine is being welcomed and financed.

The upshot – and new basic guideline for IMF lending – is to create a new Iron Curtain splitting the world into pro-U.S. economies going neoliberal, and all other economies, including those seeking to maintain public investment in infrastructure, progressive taxation and what used to be viewed as progressive capitalism. Russia and China may lend as much as they want to other governments, but there is no international vehicle to help secure their ability to be paid back under what until now has passed for international law. Having refused to roll back its own or ECB financial claims on Greece, the IMF is quite willing to see repudiation of official debts owed to Russia, China or other countries not on the list approved by the U.S. neocons who wield veto power in the IMF, World Bank and similar global economic institutions now drawn into the U.S. orbit. Changing its rules to clear the path for the IMF to make loans to Ukraine and other governments in default of debts owed to official lenders is rightly seen as an escalation of America's New Cold War against Russia and also its anti-China strategy.

Timing is everything in such ploys. Georgetown University Law professor and Treasury consultant Anna Gelpern warned that before the "IMF staff and executive board [had] enough time to change the policy on arrears to official creditors," Russia might use "its notorious debt/GDP clause to accelerate the bonds at any time before December, or simply gum up the process of reforming the IMF's arrears policy."[13] According to this clause, if Ukraine's foreign debt rose above 60 percent of GDP, Russia's government would have the right to demand immediate payment. But no doubt anticipating the bitter fight to come over its attempts to collect on its loan, President Putin patiently refrained from exercising this option. He is playing the long game, bending over backward to accommodate Ukraine rather than behaving "odiously."

A more pressing reason deterring the United States from pressing earlier to change IMF rules was that a waiver for Ukraine would have opened the legal floodgates for Greece to ask for a similar waiver on having to pay the "troika" – the European Central Bank (ECB), EU commission and the IMF itself – for the post-2010 loans that have pushed it into a worse depression than the 1930s. "Imagine the Greek government had insisted that EU institutions accept the same haircut as the country's private creditors," Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov asked. "The reaction in European capitals would have been frosty. Yet this is the position now taken by Kiev with respect to Ukraine's $3 billion eurobond held by Russia."[14]

Only after Greece capitulated to eurozone austerity was the path clear for U.S. officials to change the IMF rules in their fight to isolate Russia. But their tactical victory has come at the cost of changing the IMF's rules and those of the global financial system irreversibly. Other countries henceforth may reject conditionalities, as Ukraine has done, and ask for write-downs on foreign official debts.

That was the great fear of neoliberal U.S. and Eurozone strategists last summer, after all. The reason for smashing Greece's economy was to deter Podemos in Spain and similar movements in Italy and Portugal from pursuing national prosperity instead of eurozone austerity. Opening the door to such resistance by Ukraine is the blowback of America's tactic to make a short-term financial hit on Russia while its balance of payments is down as a result of collapsing oil and gas prices.

The consequences go far beyond just the IMF. The fabric of international law itself is being torn apart. Every action has a reaction in the Newtonian world of geopolitics. It may not be a bad thing, to be sure, for the post-1945 global order to be broken apart by U.S. tactics against Russia, if that is the catalyst driving other countries to defend their own economies in the legal and political spheres. It has been U.S. neoliberals themselves who have catalyzed the emerging independent Eurasian bloc.

Countering Russia's Ability to Collect in Britain's Law Courts

Over the past year the U.S. Treasury and State Departments have discussed ploys to block Russia from collecting under British law, where its loans to Ukraine are registered. Reviewing the repertory of legal excuses Ukraine might use to avoid paying Russia, Prof. Gelpern noted that it might declare the debt "odious," made under duress or corruptly. In a paper for the Peterson Institute of International Economics (the banking lobby in Washington) she suggested that Britain should deny Russia the use of its courts as an additional sanction reinforcing the financial, energy, and trade sanctions to those passed against Russia after Crimea voted to join it as protection against the ethnic cleansing from the Right Sector, Azov Battalion and other paramilitary groups descending on the region.[15]

A kindred ploy might be for Ukraine to countersue Russia for reparations for "invading" it, for saving Crimea and the Donbass region from the Right Sector's attempt to take over the country. Such a ploy would seem to have little chance of success in international courts (without showing them to be simply arms of NATO New Cold War politics), but it might delay Russia' ability to collect by tying the loan up in a long nuisance lawsuit.

To claim that Ukraine's debt to Russia was "odious" or otherwise illegitimate, "President Petro Poroshenko said the money was intended to ensure Yanukovych's loyalty to Moscow, and called the payment a 'bribe,' according to an interview with Bloomberg in June this year."[16] The legal and moral problem with such arguments is that they would apply equally to IMF and US loans. Claiming that Russia's loan is "odious" is that this would open the floodgates for other countries to repudiate debts taken on by dictatorships supported by IMF and U.S. lenders, headed by the many dictatorships supported by U.S. diplomacy.

The blowback from the U.S. multi-front attempt to nullify Ukraine's debt may be used to annul or at least write down the destructive IMF loans made on the condition that borrowers accept privatizations favoring U.S., German and other NATO-country investors, undertake austerity programs, and buy weapons systems such as the German submarines that Greece borrowed to pay for. As Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted: "This reform, which they are now trying to implement, designed to suit Ukraine only, could plant a time bomb under all other IMF programs." It certainly showed the extent to which the IMF is subordinate to U.S. aggressive New Cold Warriors: "Essentially, this reform boils down to the following: since Ukraine is politically important – and it is only important because it is opposed to Russia – the IMF is ready to do for Ukraine everything it has not done for anyone else, and the situation that should 100 percent mean a default will be seen as a situation enabling the IMF to finance Ukraine."[17]

Andrei Klimov, deputy chairman of the Committee for International Affairs at the Federation Council (the upper house of Russia's parliament) accused the United States of playing "the role of the main violin in the IMF while the role of the second violin is played by the European Union. These are two basic sponsors of the Maidan – the symbol of a coup d'état in Ukraine in 2014."[18]

Putin's Counter-Strategy and the Blowback on U.S.-European and Global Relations

As noted above, having anticipated that Ukraine would seek reasons to not pay the Russian loan, President Putin carefully refrained from exercising Russia's right to demand immediate payment when Ukraine's foreign debt rose above 60 percent of GDP. In November he offered to defer payment if the United States, Europe and international banks underwrote the obligation. Indeed, he even "proposed better conditions for this restructuring than those the International Monetary Fund requested of us." He offered "to accept a deeper restructuring with no payment this year – a payment of $1 billion next year, $1 billion in 2017, and $1 billion in 2018." If the IMF, the United States and European Union "are sure that Ukraine's solvency will grow," then they should "see no risk in providing guarantees for this credit." Accordingly, he concluded "We have asked for such guarantees either from the United States government, the European Union, or one of the big international financial institutions." [19]

The implication, Putin pointed out, was that "If they cannot provide guarantees, this means that they do not believe in the Ukrainian economy's future." One professor pointed out that this proposal was in line with the fact that, "Ukraine has already received a sovereign loan guarantee from the United States for a previous bond issue." Why couldn't the United States, Eurozone or leading commercial banks provide a similar guarantee of Ukraine's debt to Russia – or better yet, simply lend it the money to turn it into a loan to the IMF or US lenders?[20]

But the IMF, European Union and the United States refused to back up their happy (but nonsensical) forecasts of Ukrainian solvency with actual guarantees. Foreign Minister Lavrov made clear just what that rejection meant: "By having refused to guarantee Ukraine's debt as part of Russia's proposal to restructure it, the United States effectively admitted the absence of prospects of restoring its solvency. … By officially rejecting the proposed scheme, the United States thereby subscribed to not seeing any prospects of Ukraine restoring its solvency."[21]

In an even more exasperated tone, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev explained to Russia's television audience: "I have a feeling that they won't give us the money back because they are crooks. They refuse to return our money and our Western partners not only refuse to help, but they also make it difficult for us."[22] Adding that "the international financial system is unjustly structured," he promised to "go to court. We'll push for default on the loan and we'll push for default on all Ukrainian debts."

The basis for Russia's legal claim, he explained was that the loan

was a request from the Ukrainian Government to the Russian Government. If two governments reach an agreement this is obviously a sovereign loan…. Surprisingly, however, international financial organisations started saying that this is not exactly a sovereign loan. This is utter bull. Evidently, it's just an absolutely brazen, cynical lie. … This seriously erodes trust in IMF decisions. I believe that now there will be a lot of pleas from different borrower states to the IMF to grant them the same terms as Ukraine. How will the IMF possibly refuse them?

And there the matter stands. As President Putin remarked regarding America's support of Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and other ISIS allies in Syria, "Do you have any idea of what you have done?"

The Blowback

Few have calculated the degree to which America's New Cold War with Russia is creating a reaction that is tearing up the world's linkages put in place since World War II. Beyond pulling the IMF and World Bank tightly into U.S. unilateralist geopolitics, how long will Western Europe be willing to forego its trade and investment interest with Russia? Germany, Italy and France already are feeling the strains. If and when a break comes, it will not be marginal but a seismic geopolitical shift.

The oil and pipeline war designed to bypass Russian energy exports has engulfed the Near East in anarchy for over a decade. It is flooding Europe with refugees, and also spreading terrorism to America. In the Republican presidential debate on December 15, 2015, the leading issue was safety from Islamic jihadists. Yet no candidate thought to explain the source of this terrorism in America's alliance with Wahabist Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and hence with Al Qaeda and ISIS/Daish as a means of destabilizing secular regimes seeking independence from U.S. control.

As its allies in this New Cold War, the United States has chosen fundamentalist jihadist religion against secular regimes in Libya, Iraq, Syria, and earlier in Afghanistan and Turkey. Going back to the original sin of CIA hubris – overthrowing the secular Iranian Prime Minister leader Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 – American foreign policy has been based on the assumption that secular regimes tend to be nationalist and resist privatization and neoliberal austerity.

Based on this fatal long-term assumption, U.S. Cold Warriors have aligned themselves not only against secular regimes, but against democratic regimes where these seek to promote their own prosperity and economic independence, and to resist neoliberalism in favor of maintaining their traditional mixed public/private economy.

This is the back story of the U.S. fight to control the rest of the world. Tearing apart the IMF's rules is only the most recent chapter. The broad drive against Russia, China and their prospective Eurasian allies has deteriorated into tactics without a realistic understanding of how they are bringing about precisely the kind of world they are seeking to prevent – a multilateral world.

Arena by arena, the core values of what used to be American and European social democratic ideology are being uprooted. The Enlightenment's ideals of secular democracy and the rule of international law applied equally to all nations, classical free market theory (of markets free from unearned income and rent extraction by special vested interests), and public investment in infrastructure to hold down the cost of living and doing business are to be sacrificed to a militant U.S. unilateralism as "the indispensible nation." Standing above the rule of law and national interests, American neocons proclaim that their nation's destiny is to wage war to prevent foreign secular democracy from acting in ways other than submission to U.S. diplomacy. In practice, this means favoring special U.S. financial and corporate interests that control American foreign policy.

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to turn out. Classical industrial capitalism a century ago was expected to evolve into an economy of abundance. Instead, we have Pentagon capitalism, finance capitalism deteriorating into a polarized rentier economy, and old-fashioned imperialism.

The Dollar Bloc's Financial Iron Curtain

By treating Ukraine's nullification of its official debt to Russia's Sovereign Wealth Fund as the new norm, the IMF has blessed its default on its bond payment to Russia. President Putin and foreign minister Lavrov have said that they will sue in British courts. But does any court exist in the West not under the thumb of U.S. veto?

What are China and Russia to do, faced with the IMF serving as a kangaroo court whose judgments are subject to U.S. veto power? To protect their autonomy and self-determination, they have created alternatives to the IMF and World Bank, NATO and behind it, the dollar standard.

America's recent New Cold War maneuvering has shown that the two Bretton Woods institutions are unreformable. It is easier to create new institutions such as the A.I.I.B. than to retrofit old and ill-designed ones burdened with the legacy of their vested founding interests. It is easier to expand the Shanghai Cooperation Organization than to surrender to threats from NATO.

U.S. geostrategists seem to have imagined that if they exclude Russia, China and other SCO and Eurasian countries from the U.S.-based financial and trade system, these countries will find themselves in the same economic box as Cuba, Iran and other countries have been isolated by sanctions. The aim is to make countries choose between impoverishment from such exclusion, or acquiescing in U.S. neoliberal drives to financialize their economies and impose austerity on their government sector and labor.

What is lacking from such calculations is the idea of critical mass. The United States may use the IMF and World Bank as levers to exclude countries not in the U.S. orbit from participating in the global trade and financial system, and it may arm-twist Europe to impose trade and financial sanctions on Russia. But this action produces an equal and opposite reaction. That is the eternal Newtonian law of geopolitics. The indicated countermeasure is simply for other countries to create their own international financial organization as an alternative to the IMF, their own "aid" lending institution to juxtapose to the U.S.-centered World Bank.

All this requires an international court to handle disputes that is free from U.S. arm-twisting to turn international law into a kangaroo court following the dictates of Washington. The Eurasian Economic Union now has its own court to adjudicate disputes. It may provide an alternative Judge Griesa's New York federal court ruling in favor of vulture funds derailing Argentina's debt negotiations and excluding it from foreign financial markets. If the London Court of International Arbitration (under whose rules Russia's bonds issued to Ukraine are registered) permits frivolous legal claims (called barratry in English) such as President Poroshenko has threatened in Ukrainian Parliament, it too will become a victim of geopolitical obsolescence.

The more nakedly self-serving and geopolitical U.S. policy is – in backing radical Islamic fundamentalist outgrowths of Al Qaeda throughout the Near East, right-wing nationalist governments in Ukraine and the Baltics – the greater the catalytic pressure is growing for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, AIIB and related Eurasian institutions to break free of the post-1945 Bretton Woods system run by the U.S. State, Defense and Treasury Departments and NATO superstructure.

The question now is whether Russia and China can hold onto the BRICS and India. So as Paul Craig Roberts recently summarized my ideas along these lines, we are back with George Orwell's 1984 global fracture between Oceanea (the United States, Britain and its northern European NATO allies) vs. Eurasia.

... .... ....

RabidGandhi December 18, 2015 at 9:16 am

My issue with Hudson is that he tends to paint things in a "good guys/bad guys" dichotomy viz. the IMF vs. the AIIB. Personally, I think it's quite positive that the international sovereign finance institutions will now be more international and less unipolar, but his scenario where

Nations would mint their own money and hold each other's debt in their international reserves instead of borrowing or holding dollars and subordinating their financial planning to the IMF and U.S. Treasury with their demands for monetary bloodletting and austerity for debtor countries.

is rather pie-in-the sky. What reason do we have to believe that concentrated Chinese capital would somehow be more benevolent than our current overlords? Oh because AIIB has the word "infrastructure" in its title (just as the Interamerican Development Bank is all about development) /sarc.

Furthermore, if US planners had half a clue about economics, they would be jumping for joy that the AIIB and the CIPS will finally help release them (eventually) from the burden of having the USD as the global reserve currency, thus relieving the US of the albatross of having to ship its internal demand to China and other net exporters.

All in all, yes AIIB should be positive, but as Hudson himself points out, this is not so much about economics as it is geopolitics. The world should tread with the utmost caution.

Dino Reno December 18, 2015 at 9:48 am

I think his main point is not so much about economics or geopolitics, it's about the rule of law, specifically international law and how it applies to the debt collection brokered between counties.

China and Russia harbored the fantasy that would be allowed redress in the Western Courts where international law is metered out. They are now no longer under that delusion.

Even if they come up with a lending facility, the West will thwart their ability to collect on those debts at every turn by simply declaring those debts null and void and extending new funds using the infrastructure build by the bad (Russian/Chinese) debt as collateral. The thirst for power and profit will always be with us, but now it will not be tempered by any international order under the rule of law.

Nick December 18, 2015 at 10:15 am

China is learning the hard way how the game is played. For example, they're discovering that much of the tens of billions in no-strings attached loans given to Africa will not provide the returns initially thought (even accounting for massive corruption on all sides), which is why they have been reduced for the first time in a decade this past year.

Alejandro December 18, 2015 at 10:41 am

Don't see how "economics" and "social" can be de-linked from "politics"…understanding the limits of "local" may provide an awareness of the "quid pro quo" of extending, direction of extension, and what defines (in/inter) "dependency"…how sacrifice is "shared" or imposed, and how "prosperity" is concentrated or distributed…

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL December 18, 2015 at 2:50 pm

It's not Hudson but the US that has simplified the entire world situation into "good guys vs. bad guys", a policy enshrined in Rumsfeld's statement "you're either with us or you're against us".

It's like a playground with one big bully and lots of kids running scared, now a second bully appears and they all have to ask themselves whether Bully #2 will be nicer to them, in this case it appears Bully #2 is saying he won't tell them how to run their lives or steal their lunch money.

Post-comet in 2000 when everything started going to hell the worst casualty has been the rule of law, from hanging chads through to the Patriot Act, death by a thousand cuts of the Constitution, unprosecuted war crimes, unprosecuted financial crimes, and now the very fabric of international law being rent apart. I'm reminded of the Hunter Thompson scene where he has an expired driver's license and a cop pulls him over, he has two choices, hand over the license and get busted, or drive away and get busted… so he comes up with a third choice: he blows his nose all over the license and hands it over to the cop. The equivalent of Bully #1 taking the only soccer ball on the playground and kicking it over the fence so the game is screwed up for everybody, Pepe's "Empire of Chaos" indeed.

global123 December 18, 2015 at 9:47 am

stellar article michael hudson

1)Western economies depend on ocean transport…if chinese or ruskies destroy it, USA-EU will be bankrupt in weeks..USA-EU are consumers and not producers..their exports to rest of world are tiny..So,their position is very weak at this point
2)The asian countries like china-india will be forced to join hands under joint attack by US financial system and islamic jihadists..Russia and china,former enemies,are now friends…who could have imagines it?
Russo-chinese-iranian alliance is huge failure of US foreign policies
3)Using islamic terrorists and islamic countries like turkey-saudi arabia-pakistan-indonesia-egypt is not going to work for USA because muslims think USA as enemy no.1…
4)A military superiority can not guarantee permanent -everlasting victory against too many opponents
What i see here is USA has made entire islamic world their enemy,alongwith china and russia
In case of real war,USA position will be very weak

camelotkidd December 18, 2015 at 9:49 am

This is an amazing article. Bravo!
Now it's becoming clear just what Margaret Thatcher meant when she told everyone that there was no alternative to neoliberalism.

Steve H. December 18, 2015 at 10:00 am

Thank you for continuing to mark the historical specifics of the finance/legal wing of geopolitical conflict, and the perverse failings of Full Spectrum Dominance.

The Oceana/Eurasia dichotomy is a dangerous frame of reference. It essentially contrasts the transport efficiencies of water to the solid defensive capacity of the frozen steppes. But when things get bloody, they usually crack along language lines. Not only as a proxy for migrations of the gene, but also world-views. How horse-people see things, what metaphors they use, are very different than how cow-people categorize the world.

This highlights that Russia is continuing to operate within the language and legal framework of the Indo-European languages. In other words (!), it is a fight between the U.S. and Russia for European alliances. If this is the case, then the alliance of NATO with Turkic and Arabic lines is of convenience, in that they are not partners but proxies. Europe is faced with the habit of the U.S. in saying, Let's you and him fight. But there's an oceans difference between the U.S. and European interests.

It also means that Russia and China are being pushed together by western exclusion, like drops of oil on the water. I maintain that Russia has doubled down on global warming, to open up northern sea routes and make the steppes arable. China is already a sea-power, but its massive population will need lebensraum as the fossil-fuel support for the energy needs of megapoli decay. The mountains are a formidable barrier for them to take the steppes by force.

The question for the rest of the world then becomes, who do you want to have as a friend in a hundred years. Do you bet on the Wizards of Wall Street, with their Magic Money Wand of Fiat? Or do you think Russia will ground-n-pound the fairy dust into the mud?

SocietalIllusions December 18, 2015 at 11:17 am

what is left unsaid is the choices Russia then faces once their legal options play out and the uneven playing field is fully exposed. Do they not then have a historically justifiable basis for declaring war?

The game of brinksmanship continues…

Jim Haygood December 18, 2015 at 11:18 am

'The Russian and Chinese governments are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian economic integration.'

Whereas the U.S. is 'investing' in new military bases to cement U.S. global domination.

Guess which model actually benefits local living standards, and 'wins hearts and minds'?

Global domination as a policy goal bankrupted the USSR. It's not working for the USSA either, as the U.S. middle class (once the envy of the world) visibly sinks into pauperization.

Thus the veracity of Michael Hudson's conclusion that 'when a break comes, it will not be marginal but a seismic geopolitical shift.'

Steven December 18, 2015 at 1:56 pm

I get the same thrill reading Hudson the religiously devout must experience reading their bibles or Korans – a glimpse of 'truth' as best it can be known. My first encounter was this interview in Counterpunch: An Interview with Michael Hudson, author of Super Imperialism That led directly to "Super Imperialism" (and just about every book since its publication). After reading it, I was left with the uneasy feeling that no good would come from an international monetary system that allowed any one nation to pay its way in the world by creating money 'out of thin air' i.e. as sovereign and private debt or, almost the same thing, Federal Reserve Notes.

The race to the bottom of off-shored jobs and industries freed from all environmental restrictions, AKA 'globalization', had started to really kick in but it was just before Operation Iraqi Liberation (get it?). Fundamentally, it wasn't war for oil, of course, but a war to preserve the Dollar Standard. Recycling petrodollars bought a little time after the 1971 collapse of Bretton Woods. But with the world's treasuries filling up with US dollars and debt, the product of the Congressional-military-industrial-complex running wild and more recently the U.S. 0.01% successfully evading almost all forms of taxation, some kind of control more basic than controlling the world's access to money (which basically means credit) was required.

When people like Alan Greenspan (pretend to) come clean, you really want to look twice:

THOUGH it was not understood a century ago, and though as yet the applications of the knowledge to the economics of life are not generally realized, life in its physical aspect is fundamentally a struggle for energy, in which discovery after discovery brings life into new relations with the original source.

Frederick Soddy, WEALTH, VIRTUAL WEALTH AND DEBT, 2nd edition, p. 49
The world can live without American dollars, especially these days when the U.S. no longer makes much the world needs or can afford but most obviously because it already possesses more of them than can ever be redeemed ('debt that can't be repaid and won't be') What it can't live without is ENERGY.

So long as most of that energy needs to be pumped out of the ground, the nation that ultimately controls access to the pumps – or to the distribution networks required to deliver it to the ultimate user – controls the world. This is most likely why Reagan promptly dismantled Jimmy Carter's White House solar panels. It is why the US and its European vassals have been dragging their feet for a half-century on the development of renewable energy sources and the electrification of transportation. It is why the banks and Wall Street will stand solidly behind the various electrical utilities efforts to discourage the development of any alternative energy sources from which their executives and shareholders can not extract the last pint of blood or has Hudson more politely calls it 'economic rent'.

P.S. Hudson seems to have a dangerous monopoly on economic truth these days. Is there anyone else who even comes close?

[Dec 19, 2015] Russia opens black box of jet downed by Turkey

Notable quotes:
"... I believe it was not there on patrol, but specifically to shoot the Russian plane down and come back ..."
"... Although I believe the Turkish map, I still think the Turks proved themselves on the side of the terrorists. ..."
"... Crossing that strip of Turkish territory by a friendly plane should not have been reason for shooting it down, only a PRETEXT. That may be the reason why the plane was shot down, because the Russians were not expecting the Turks to shoot at them. ..."
news.yahoo.com

Mister 2 hours ago 0

[The air force commander said 14 countries had been invited to monitor the (Russian) investigation but only China and Britain had accepted the official offer]

Shameful.

Shelly Winters 1 day ago 5

Not sure what information this "black box" contains, but CVR's and FDR's in most all aircraft (especially commercial jetliners) records only what the flight crew says in the cockpit and what operational parameters the aircraft experienced i.e. throttle settings, aileron positions, pitch, etc. It's questionable if the downed fighter aircraft's actual flight path would be stored internally in any such device, especially a fighter aircraft operating in hostile airspace. This data the Russians claim to have, if it really exists, could be certainly manipulated. The only true data for flight path would be a ground radar tape pulled from two different locations in the area.

James

I said it before, I believe the radar map the Turks showed with the paths was correct. And here are the military, but also their Religious reasons.

"War of the maps: Turkey released a map showing where Russia violated its airspace, and Russia countered"

/finance[dot]yahoo[dot]com/news/war-maps-turkey-released-map-210422386.html

You can see there is a very narrow strip of Turkish territory, about a mile wide, protruding deep into the Syrian territory. I don't know exactly the frequency of the sweep of the Turkish radar, but still, looking at the distances between dots, you can figure out the speed. The time to cross the Turkish strip must have been no longer than 20seconds, my initial estimate was 8, the Turks later said 17, but that's not important. The Russian plane is seen to make a wide circle near the Syrian border, flying much below it's maximum speed, probably looking for terrorist bases and convoys, and which circles crossed that limb. It was flying slow and probably low, and in circles, to get a good look. During the next cycle, I do believe the Turks warned it while flying over Syria, 10 times during 5' not to cross that 1 mile strip again. The Russian Su-24 bomber is seen heading for the strip the second time. Notice the Su-24 is a bomber not a dog-fighter like the F-16 and it's older. And there were two F-16's. The Turkish map shows only one path though. But the Russian maps shows only one too! On the Turkish map though, the F-16 is seen lurking in the air, and at some point accelerated sharply, approaching very close and very fast, probably in full afterburner, which is specifically reserved for attack.

I believe it was not there on patrol, but specifically to shoot the Russian plane down and come back. At (probably) the same time, the Russian path is seen with a very sharp small quirk. A sort of a mini-loop. I am sure they were trying to avoid incoming missiles. Their plane got hit, and it is seen trying to accelerate, probably to flee, and then the record ends.

HOWEVER ----------------- Although I believe the Turkish map, I still think the Turks proved themselves on the side of the terrorists.

After all, if the Russian plane was trying to get rid of the terrorists at the Turkish border, and no HONEST state wants terrorists at it's border, and the Russians were trying to do the "dirty job" of getting rid of them, Turkey should have been glad the Russians are helping them. But the fact they shot the Russian plane down, proves Turkey is harboring and abetting terrorists, if not recruits and send them itself.

Crossing that strip of Turkish territory by a friendly plane should not have been reason for shooting it down, only a PRETEXT. That may be the reason why the plane was shot down, because the Russians were not expecting the Turks to shoot at them.

So the Turks are not technically lying, but they ARE! The Russians probably did go through that miserable strip, and that's the technical truth. But Turkey is defending terrorists, and claiming it is not, that's the lie!

There are very sharp Religious reasons why they should do that, and still show the correct map. INTERESTING.. Ever heard of Tawriyya? Let me explain it for you in short. The Koran forbids a Muslim to lie, under penalty of the white-hot fires of Hell. But.. We already know if he becomes a Martyr, all his sins including lies will be forgotten.

But.. for a lie, you will be forgotten, if it's technically, a truth. What does that mean? Say, a Muslim has a $100 bill in his pocket. Somebody comes and asks him for a nickel. He will say: I don't have a nickel in my pockets! That's Tawriya, and Allah will have no reason to send him to Hell, because indeed he does not have a nickel in his pockets! That's a technical truth.

Erdogan, if he were asked "Are the terrorists working for you"? He could answer "Not a single terrorist is working for me". Indeed. Not one, but thousands. Allah won't punish him for that.

He could be asked: "Why did you shoot the plane down"? and he could answer "It was flying over our territory". He will not mention the reason was to protect his terrorists and their oil convoys. That's "Kitman". Saying half the truth. Allah won't punish him for that either.

As for lying to the Infidels, Allah won't punish him if he does it out of fear of the Infidels. Yes, but Islam is at perpetual war with the Infidels, until they either convert or disappear from the face of the Earth by any means, so orders Allah. So being at war with ANY infidel, a Muslim can lie to an Infidel all day and all night long! BUT THEY ARE ALWAYS AT WAR WITH ALL INFIDELS, UNTIL THERE ARE NO MORE INFIDELS! SO ORDERS ALLAH! DO YOU REALIZE WHAT THAT MEANS?

BUT THE TOUGHEST OF ALL IS THE "MURUNA" DOCTRINE. That literally explains terrorism. If you get to understand, you will be very surprised, of how you didn't know it.

If you want to find what terrorism is, and why Erdogan himself, said "There is no moderate and extremist Islam. There is only Islam". And he knew what he was talking about, learn more. So find the MURUNA concept or doctrine. You can find a better explanation here:

You can look on Google for this: "Knowing Four Arabic Words May Save Our Civilization from Islamic Takeover"

And save it before it disappears.

Remember, you won't win any battle not knowing your enemy first.

BTW, did you know where the expression "the writing is on the wall" comes from? I's origin is also explained there.

[Dec 19, 2015] Ukraine still committed to good faith debt talks with Russia Finance Ministry

Notable quotes:
"... Ukraine remains committed ... to negotiating in good faith a consensual restructuring of the December 2015 Eurobonds, Nonsense, they are nothing but thieves in suits; Fascist politicians stealing from the taxpayers in the USA, EU, Russia and the Ukraine. You supporters of modern Fascism are disgusting little NeoCon trolls, yes you are! ..."
"... Under this IMF restructuring deal with the Ukraine, the oligarchs mandated that Monsanto GMO comes in. Now the once fertile farms will grow poisoned food. ... They also mandated hydraulic fracking rights to Exxon and BP. Now the aquifers will be poisoned. ... Moreover, the IMF social chapter destroys family values and requires that corrosive gay propaganda be thrust into the children's minds. ... Welcome to the new Globalist Business Model. ..."
"... The Ukraine is like a dying carcass. ... The EU jackals are howling, the IMF vultures are circling, and the NATO hyenas are picking the flesh off of the bones. ..."
"... Ukraine's Finance Minister, who promised in the above Reuters article today Dec 18, 2015, to talk in good faith with the Russian Federation about their $3 Billion Loan due and payable on Dec 15, as of today is in Default on that $3 Billion Loan , and therefore isn't eligible to receive any Loan from the IMF, headed by Chief Lagarde who must now stand trial for an improper loan of $434 Million . ..."
"... Good faith? They actually mean bait and switch ..."
"... The deadbeat American lackeys in Kiev have no intention of paying their debts to Russia because Washington DC is run by thieves and immoral people. You know this is true. ..."
"... Meanwhile Ukraine has restricted air travel, cutoff Crimea, and fought efforts to grant autonomy to Russian-speaking regions. With unpaid debt, the country still stokes war with Russia after being warned by Mr. Kerry to stop. ..."
news.yahoo.com

Algis

"Ukraine remains committed ... to negotiating in good faith a consensual restructuring of the December 2015 Eurobonds," Nonsense, they are nothing but thieves in suits; Fascist politicians stealing from the taxpayers in the USA, EU, Russia and the Ukraine. You supporters of modern Fascism are disgusting little NeoCon trolls, yes you are!

Robert

This is the new Globalist Business Model.

  1. Overthrow a sovereign country by revolution or outright bombing campaign.
  2. Appoint oligarchs to run it and fascists to rule the streets.
  3. Rack the country with unpardonable debt.
  4. Bring in the IMF and other global banks to 'restructure' the economy.
  5. Loot the country's resources by selling off the infrastructure for pennies on the dollar.
  6. Impose huge austerity programs. ... Cuts pensions in half and double basic living costs.
  7. Finally, colonialize the citizens under multi-national corporate rule where the people have little or no say.

Under this IMF restructuring deal with the Ukraine, the oligarchs mandated that Monsanto GMO comes in. Now the once fertile farms will grow poisoned food. ... They also mandated hydraulic fracking rights to Exxon and BP. Now the aquifers will be poisoned. ... Moreover, the IMF social chapter destroys family values and requires that corrosive gay propaganda be thrust into the children's minds. ... Welcome to the new Globalist Business Model.

The Ukraine is like a dying carcass. ... The EU jackals are howling, the IMF vultures are circling, and the NATO hyenas are picking the flesh off of the bones.

Algis

Russia needs to take payment out of their proverbial hides. No one consider it unjustified except a few brainwashed Americans and of course the immoral and corrupt ruling class of the Empire!

new_federali...

Ukraine's Finance Minister, who promised in the above Reuters article today Dec 18, 2015, to talk in good faith with the Russian Federation about their $3 Billion Loan due and payable on Dec 15, as of today is in Default on that $3 Billion Loan , and therefore isn't eligible to receive any Loan from the IMF, headed by Chief Lagarde who must now stand trial for an improper loan of $434 Million .

Therefore, Gold did achieve an all-important triple bottom at $1,050 per ounce this week, and is now in a furious rally up $15 to $1,065 per ounce as DXY (U.S. Dollar Index) falls sharply today due to utter failure of U.S.- led IMF to rescue Ukraine from Financial Collapse today -- Thus Gold will now rally sharply through at least Feb 2016 when Gold will be at $1,500 per ounce, and ultimately going to new all-time highs above $2,000 per ounce -- Dec 18, 2015 at 11:53 a.m. PST.

Commenter

Good faith? They actually mean bait and switch

Algis

The deadbeat American lackeys in Kiev have no intention of paying their debts to Russia because Washington DC is run by thieves and immoral people. You know this is true.

RonP

Meanwhile Ukraine has restricted air travel, cutoff Crimea, and fought efforts to grant autonomy to Russian-speaking regions. With unpaid debt, the country still stokes war with Russia after being warned by Mr. Kerry to stop.

[Dec 19, 2015] Turkey Blasts Breakthrough UN Resolution On Syria It Lacks Perspective. Assad Must Go!

Notable quotes:
"... "Now, is there a way of us constructing a bridge, creating a political transition, that allows those who are allied with Assad right now, allows the Russians, allows the Iranians to ensure that their equities are respected, that minorities like the Alawites are not crushed or retribution is not the order of the day? I think that's going to be very important as well." ..."
"... Seymour Hersh Links Turkey to Benghazi, Syria and Sarin ..."
"... The assessment of the Defense Intelligence Agency is that the sarin was supplied by Turkey to elements in Ghouta with the intent of "push[ing] Obama over the red line. " Intercepted transmissions from Turkish operators in the aftermath of the attack are jubilant, and the success of their covert mission must have seemed well in hand. Obama's implicit call to war in the coming month was proof of that. ..."
Dec 19, 2015 | Zero Hedge
Following June elections in which AKP lost its absolute parliamentary majority thanks in part to a stronger than expected showing at the polls by the pro-Kurdish HDP, Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan began to lose his mind.

The vote put in jeopardy Erdogan's bid to effectively rewrite the country's constitution on the way to consolidating his power in an executive presidency. That decisively undesirable outcome could not stand and so Erdogan did what any respectable autocrat would do: he nullified the election. First, the President undermined the coalition building process so he could call for new elections. Next, he fanned the flames of civil war and reignited a long-simmering conflict with the PKK. The idea was to scare the electorate into believing that a "strong" AKP government was the only antidote to domestic and international terror. Finally, Erdogan cracked down on the press and anyone else critical of his rule. AKP was also suspected of covertly backing attacks on HDP offices and newspapers. Some (i.e. the PKK) went so far as to suggest that Erdogan secretly worked with Sunni extremists to orchestrate suicide bombings - in other words, there's speculation Erdogan terrorized his own people.

Sure enough, AKP had a better showing at re-do elections last month, but by that point, Erdogan was on the fast track to dictatorial delirium. On November 24, he shot down a Russian fighter jet near the border with Syria in the first such direct military confrontation between Russia and a NATO member in at least six decades. And the madness didn't stop there. After Putin and the Russian MoD laid out their case against Ankara's role in financing Islamic State via Turkey's complicity in the group's lucrative oil trafficking business, Turkey sent hundreds of troops and around two dozen tanks to Bashiqa in Iraq which is right on the crude smuggling route. The deployment infuriated Baghdad and after Turkey refused to pull the troops out, Iraq went to the UN Security Council. Subsequently, Turkish troops were "attacked" by Islamic State.

The Turks claim that Iraq invited them in the past, a contention Baghdad vehemently denies. Thanks to Barzani and the Kurds, Ankara gets to claim that at least someone welcomes the Turkish troop presence (remember, despite Erdogan's hatred of the PKK and the YPG, Turkey is friendly with Erbil, which relies on Turkey to get some 630,000 b/d of what is technically illegal crude to market).

Well, for anyone who thought Turkey might be set to bow to international pressure by moving its troops north and thus back towards the Turkey-Iraq border, think again because on Saturday, Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu was out with a series of declarations that seem to suggest Turkey is going full-belligerent-retard as Erdogan scrambles to preserve the "Assad must go" narrative on the way to securing whatever Ankara's interests are in both Iraq and Syria.

First, Davutoglu said that the provision of training to the Peshmerga and Mosul militiamen is "in line with a request from Iraq authorities and as such, the mission in Iraq will continue "until Mosul is freed" from ISIS.

Ok, so two things there. The deployment is not "in line with a request from Iraq." At this point, Turkey's position has moved from comically absurd to maddeningly obstinate. How many times does Baghdad have to say that Turkey isn't invited before NATO forces Turkey to drop the "they told us we could be here" line? Further, the idea that Turkey will stay until Mosul "is liberated" from ISIS, means Erdogan plans to remain in Iraq indefinitely. As we've documented on several occasions, an operation to retake Mosul is for all intents and purposes a pipe dream and if Turkey intends to wait it out, the troops and tanks could be there for years.

Next, Davutoglu claims that the Islamic State attacks on Turkish positions in Bashiqa prove Turkey "is right." "Right" about what, it's not clear, but what's interesting is that the attacks came just as ISIS launched its first major offensive in northern Iraq since July in a move that US officials say was likely designed to disrupt preparations for an assault on Mosul. The point: all of this is rather conveniently timed.

Davutoglu then slammed a UN Security Council resolution agreed in New York on Friday. The meeting of foreign ministers was tipped by John Kerry in Moscow on Tuesday and when discussions ended, diplomats adopted a resolution which purports to draw a road map for ending the war in Syria. As WSJ notes, the resolution "left unresolved divisions among world powers on key issues in the conflict."

Which "key issues", you ask? Well, the only ones that matter - namely, i) the fate of Bashar al-Assad and ii) which groups should be recognized as "terrorists" and which should be awarded the "moderate opposition" badge.

"Both issues were left out of the resolution after an hourslong meeting of foreign ministers in New York on Friday failed to reach a compromise and at one point verged on collapse," WSJ goes on the recount, adding that "Russian and Iranian diplomats said the question of Mr. Assad wasn't discussed on Friday because neither of their countries would accept a deal that calls for Mr. Assad's exit, even at the end of a political transition period."

As we've said on too many occasions to count, Syria is absolutely critical for Tehran when it comes to preserving Iranian influence and ensuring that the so-called "Shiite crescent" doesn't wane. For Russia, this is a chance to supplant the US as Mid-East superpower puppet master and Moscow isn't about to see it slip away by agreeing to a resolution that makes Assad's ouster a foregone conclusion.

For Turkey, the absence of a decision on Assad's future is maddening. The Security Council resolution "lacks realistic perspective," Davutoglu said on Saturday, before adding that the "Syria crisis can only be solved if Bashar al-Assad leaves power."

Consider that, and consider the fact that, as we reported yesterday, Ankara is now establishing a military base in Qatar in order that the two country's might work more closely on tackling "common enemies."

What we're beginning to see here is the formation of three alliances in the Mid-East: 1) Russia, Iran, Syria, and Iraq; 2) Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar; 3) Britain, France, and Germany. The first alliance is pro-Assad, anti-terror. The second is anti-Assad, pro-Sunni extremist. The third is anti-Assad (although less vehemently so), anti-terror (conspiracy theories aside). Note that we've left the US out. Why? Because Washington is now stuck. The US wants desperately to maintain coordination with Ankara, Riyadh, and Doha, but between stepped up media coverage of Saudi Arabia's role in underwriting extremism (via the promotion of Wahhabism) and hightened scrutiny on Erdogan's role in financing terrorists, the position is becoming increasingly untenable. But aligning solely with the UK, France, and Germany entails adopting a more conciliatory approach to Assad - just ask Berlin which, as we reported on Friday, is now working with Assad's intelligence police and may soon establish a base in Damascus.

With that in mind, we'll close with the following from Obama, which underscores the extent to which the US is now thoroughly confused as to what to do next:

"Now, is there a way of us constructing a bridge, creating a political transition, that allows those who are allied with Assad right now, allows the Russians, allows the Iranians to ensure that their equities are respected, that minorities like the Alawites are not crushed or retribution is not the order of the day? I think that's going to be very important as well."

JustObserving

First try the sarin gas supplying war criminal, Erdogan

Turkey supplied the sarin that killed over 1300 Syrians in Ghouta to try to get the Nobel Prize Winner to bomb Assad into oblivion

Seymour Hersh Links Turkey to Benghazi, Syria and Sarin

The assessment of the Defense Intelligence Agency is that the sarin was supplied by Turkey to elements in Ghouta with the intent of "push[ing] Obama over the red line." Intercepted transmissions from Turkish operators in the aftermath of the attack are jubilant, and the success of their covert mission must have seemed well in hand. Obama's implicit call to war in the coming month was proof of that.

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2014/05/06/seymour-hersh-links-turke...

WTFRLY

White House, Media Silent One Year After Murder of US Reporter Who Exposed Western Links to ISIS October 20, 2015

Turkey killed and American reporter to protect the lies. British reporter Jackie Sutton was found dead a year to the day in Istanbul airport...

DeadFred
There aren't that many Turkish troops in Iraq, they can be removed with Iraqi Army and Shiite militia ground troops. The Russian can fly CAP but they shouldn't be involved beyond that. The purpose of Erdogan's insanities is to goad Putin into doing something that will bring NATO against him. He's been wise enough to avoid that so far. The Western economies are a gnats eyelash from collapse so all he needs to so is wait. Maybe selling a few shares of SPY at the right time would help or giving a few billion to some untracable players who call for delivery on their gold futures. I hope he's patient, the end-game is upon us but the fewer nukes that get used the better.
two hoots

Israel, where are you in all of this? Oh, see below:

Forget Qatar/Russia pipelines.

Israel/Turkey/US/NATO connection found here: "That would allow Turkey to reduce its energy dependence on Russia and open up a new market for Israeli and U.S. developers of a new natural gas project off the Israeli coast." (WSJ)

http://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-turkey-poised-to-renew-diplomatic-relations-1450438539

Nat Gas in Israel waters: "Israel has proposed that EU countries invest in a multi-billion euro pipeline to carry its natural gas to the continent, noting that the supply from Israel would reduce Europe's current dependence on natural gas from Russia." (Start Up-Israel)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-pitches-massive-natural-gas-pipeline-plan-to-europe/

It could be a whole new NG game? And what thinks Russia/Qatar in all of this?

[Dec 18, 2015] The Upward Redistribution of Income: Are Rents the Story?

Looks like growth of financial sector represents direct threat to the society
Notable quotes:
"... Perhaps the financialization of the economy and rising inequality leads to a corruption of the political process which leads to monetary, currency and fiscal policy such that labor markets are loose and inflation is low. ..."
"... Growth of the non-financial-sector == growth in productivity ..."
"... In complex subject matters, even the most competent person joining a company has to become familiar with the details of the products, the industry niche, the processes and professional/personal relationships in the company or industry, etc. All these are not really teachable and require between months and years in the job. This represents a significant sunk cost. Sometimes (actually rather often) experience within the niche/industry is in a degree portable between companies, but some company still had to employ enough people to build this experience, and it cannot be readily bought by bringing in however competent freshers. ..."
December 18, 2015 | cepr.netDean Baker:
Working Paper: : In the years since 1980, there has been a well-documented upward redistribution of income. While there are some differences by methodology and the precise years chosen, the top one percent of households have seen their income share roughly double from 10 percent in 1980 to 20 percent in the second decade of the 21st century. As a result of this upward redistribution, most workers have seen little improvement in living standards from the productivity gains over this period.

This paper argues that the bulk of this upward redistribution comes from the growth of rents in the economy in four major areas: patent and copyright protection, the financial sector, the pay of CEOs and other top executives, and protectionist measures that have boosted the pay of doctors and other highly educated professionals. The argument on rents is important because, if correct, it means that there is nothing intrinsic to capitalism that led to this rapid rise in inequality, as for example argued by Thomas Piketty.

Flash | PDF

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Fair Economist, December 18, 2015 at 11:34 AM

"...the growth of finance capitalism was what would kill capitalism off..."

"Financialization" is a short-cut terminology that in full is term either "financialization of non-financial firms" or "financialization of the means of production." In either case it leads to consolidation of firms, outsourcing, downsizing, and offshoring to reduce work force and wages and increase rents.

Consolidation, the alpha and omega of financialization can only be executed with very liquid financial markets, big investment banks to back necessary leverage to make the proffers, and an acute capital gains tax preference relative to dividends and interest earnings, the grease to liquidity.

It takes big finance to do "financialization" and it takes "financialization" to extract big rents while maintaining low wages.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron, December 18, 2015 at 11:42 AM
[THANKS to djb just down thread who supplied this link:]

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021305040

Finance sector as percent of US GDP, 1860-present: the growth of the rentier economy

[graph]

Financialization is a term sometimes used in discussions of financial capitalism which developed over recent decades, in which financial leverage tended to override capital (equity) and financial markets tended to dominate over the traditional industrial economy and agricultural economics.

Financialization is a term that describes an economic system or process that attempts to reduce all value that is exchanged (whether tangible, intangible, future or present promises, etc.) either into a financial instrument or a derivative of a financial instrument. The original intent of financialization is to be able to reduce any work-product or service to an exchangeable financial instrument... Financialization also makes economic rents possible...financial leverage tended to override capital (equity) and financial markets tended to dominate over the traditional industrial economy and agricultural economics...

Companies are not able to invest in new physical capital equipment or buildings because they are obliged to use their operating revenue to pay their bankers and bondholders, as well as junk-bond holders. This is what I mean when I say that the economy is becoming financialized. Its aim is not to provide tangible capital formation or rising living standards, but to generate interest, financial fees for underwriting mergers and acquisitions, and capital gains that accrue mainly to insiders, headed by upper management and large financial institutions. The upshot is that the traditional business cycle has been overshadowed by a secular increase in debt.

Instead of labor earning more, hourly earnings have declined in real terms. There has been a drop in net disposable income after paying taxes and withholding "forced saving" for social Security and medical insurance, pension-fund contributions and–most serious of all–debt service on credit cards, bank loans, mortgage loans, student loans, auto loans, home insurance premiums, life insurance, private medical insurance and other FIRE-sector charges. ... This diverts spending away from goods and services.

In the United States, probably more money has been made through the appreciation of real estate than in any other way. What are the long-term consequences if an increasing percentage of savings and wealth, as it now seems, is used to inflate the prices of already existing assets - real estate and stocks - instead of to create new production and innovation?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financialization

pgl said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron, December 18, 2015 at 03:25 PM
Your graph shows something I've been meaning to suggest for a while. Take a look at the last time that the financial sector share of GDP rose. The late 1920's. Which was followed by the Great Depression which has similar causes as our Great Recession. Here is my observation.

Give that Wall Street clowns a huge increase in our national income and we don't get more services from them. What we get is screwed on the grandest of scales.

BTW - there is a simple causal relationship that explains both the rise in the share of financial sector income/GDP and the massive collapses of the economy (1929 and 2007). It is called stupid financial deregulation. First we see the megabanks and Wall Street milking the system for all its worth and when their unhanded and often secretive risk taking falls apart - the rest of bear the brunt of the damage.

Which is why this election is crucial. Elect a Republican and we repeat this mistake again. Elect a real progressive and we can put in place the types of financial reforms FDR was known for.

Peter K. said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron, December 18, 2015 at 11:50 AM

" and it takes "financialization" to extract big rents while maintaining low wages."

It takes governmental macro policy to maintain loose labor markets and low wages. Perhaps the financialization of the economy and rising inequality leads to a corruption of the political process which leads to monetary, currency and fiscal policy such that labor markets are loose and inflation is low.

djb said...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021305040

I don't know about the last couple years but this chart indicates a large growth in financials as a share of gdp over the years since the 40's

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to djb, December 18, 2015 at 12:03 PM
[Anne gave you FIRE sector profits as a share of GDP while this gives FIRE sector profits as a share of total corporate profits.]

*

[Smoking gun excerpt:]

"...The financial system has grown rapidly since the early 1980s. In the 1950s, the financial sector accounted for about 3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Today, that figure has more than doubled, to 6.5 percent. The sector's yearly rate of growth doubled after 1980, rising to a peak of 7.5 percent of GDP in 2006. As finance has grown in relative size it has also grown disproportionately more profitable. In 1950, financial-sector profits were about 8 percent of overall U.S. profits-meaning all the profit earned by any kind of business enterprise in the country. By the 2000s, they ranged between 20 and 40 percent...

[Ouch!]

[Now the whole enchilada:]

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/novemberdecember_2014/features/frenzied_financialization052714.php?page=all

If you want to know what happened to economic equality in this country, one word will explain a lot of it: financialization. That term refers to an increase in the size, scope, and power of the financial sector-the people and firms that manage money and underwrite stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other securities-relative to the rest of the economy.

The financialization revolution over the past thirty-five years has moved us toward greater inequality in three distinct ways. The first involves moving a larger share of the total national wealth into the hands of the financial sector. The second involves concentrating on activities that are of questionable value, or even detrimental to the economy as a whole. And finally, finance has increased inequality by convincing corporate executives and asset managers that corporations must be judged not by the quality of their products and workforce but by one thing only: immediate income paid to shareholders.

The financial system has grown rapidly since the early 1980s. In the 1950s, the financial sector accounted for about 3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Today, that figure has more than doubled, to 6.5 percent. The sector's yearly rate of growth doubled after 1980, rising to a peak of 7.5 percent of GDP in 2006. As finance has grown in relative size it has also grown disproportionately more profitable. In 1950, financial-sector profits were about 8 percent of overall U.S. profits-meaning all the profit earned by any kind of business enterprise in the country. By the 2000s, they ranged between 20 and 40 percent. This isn't just the decline of profits in other industries, either. Between 1980 and 2006, while GDP increased five times, financial-sector profits increased sixteen times over. While financial and nonfinancial profits grew at roughly the same rate before 1980, between 1980 and 2006 nonfinancial profits grew seven times while financial profits grew sixteen times.

This trend has continued even after the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent financial reforms, including the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Financial profits in 2012 were 24 percent of total profits, while the financial sector's share of GDP was 6.8 percent. These numbers are lower than the high points of the mid-2000s; but, compared to the years before 1980, they are remarkably high.

This explosion of finance has generated greater inequality. To begin with, the share of the total workforce employed in the financial sector has barely budged, much less grown at a rate equivalent to the size and profitability of the sector as a whole. That means that these swollen profits are flowing to a small sliver of the population: those employed in finance. And financiers, in turn, have become substantially more prominent among the top 1 percent. Recent work by the economists Jon Bakija, Adam Cole, and Bradley T. Heim found that the percentage of those in the top 1 percent of income working in finance nearly doubled between 1979 and 2005, from 7.7 percent to 13.9 percent.

If the economy had become far more productive as a result of these changes, they could have been worthwhile. But the evidence shows it did not. Economist Thomas Philippon found that financial services themselves have become less, not more, efficient over this time period. The unit cost of financial services, or the percentage of assets it costs to produce all financial issuances, was relatively high at the dawn of the twentieth century, but declined to below 2 percent between 1901 and 1960. However, it has increased since the 1960s, and is back to levels seen at the early twentieth century. Whatever finance is doing, it isn't doing it more cheaply.

In fact, the second damaging trend is that financial institutions began to concentrate more and more on activities that are worrisome at best and destructive at worst. Harvard Business School professors Robin Greenwood and David Scharfstein argue that between 1980 and 2007 the growth in financial-industry revenues came from two things: asset management and loan origination. Fees associated either with asset management or with household credit in particular were responsible for 74 percent of the growth in financial-sector output over that period.

The asset management portion reflects the explosion of mutual funds, which increased from $134 billion in assets in 1980 to $12 trillion in 2007. Much of it also comes from "alternative investment vehicles" like hedge funds and private equity. Over this time, the fee rate for mutual funds fell, but fees associated with alternative investment vehicles exploded. This is, in essence, money for nothing-there is little evidence that hedge funds actually perform better than the market over time. And, unlike mutual funds, alternative investment funds do not fully disclose their practices and fees publicly.

Beginning in 1980 and continuing today, banks generate less and less of their income from interest on loans. Instead, they rely on fees, from either consumers or borrowers. Fees associated with household credit grew from 1.1 percent of GDP in 1980 to 3.4 percent in 2007. As part of the unregulated shadow banking sector that took over the financial sector, banks are less and less in the business of holding loans and more and more concerned with packaging them and selling them off. Instead of holding loans on their books, banks originate loans to sell off and distribute into this new type of banking sector.

Again, if this "originate-to-distribute" model created value for society, it could be a worthwhile practice. But, in fact, this model introduced huge opportunities for fraud throughout the lending process. Loans-such as "securitized mortgages" made up of pledges of the income stream from subprime mortgage loans-were passed along a chain of buyers until someone far away held the ultimate risk. Bankers who originated the mortgages received significant commissions, with virtually no accountability or oversight. The incentive, in fact, was perverse: find the worst loans with the biggest fees instead of properly screening for whether the loans would be any good for investors.

The same model made it difficult, if not impossible, to renegotiate bad mortgages when the system collapsed. Those tasked with tackling bad mortgages on behalf of investors had their own conflicts of interests, and found themselves profiting while loans struggled. This process created bad debts that could never be paid, and blocked attempts to try and rework them after the fact. The resulting pool of bad debt has been a drag on the economy ever since, giving us the fall in median wages of the Great Recession and the sluggish recovery we still live with.

And of course it's been an epic disaster for the borrowers themselves. Many of them, we now know, were moderate- and lower-income families who were in no financial position to borrow as much as they did, especially under such predatory terms and with such high fees. Collapsing home prices and the inability to renegotiate their underwater mortgages stripped these folks of whatever savings they had and left them in deep debt, widening even further the gulf of inequality in this country.

Moreover, financialization isn't just confined to the financial sector itself. It's also ultimately about who controls, guides, and benefits from our economy as a whole. And here's the last big change: the "shareholder revolution," started in the 1980s and continuing to this very day, has fundamentally transformed the way our economy functions in favor of wealth owners.

To understand this change, compare two eras at General Electric. This is how business professor Gerald Davis describes the perspective of Owen Young, who was CEO of GE almost straight through from 1922 to 1945: "[S]tockholders are confined to a maximum return equivalent to a risk premium. The remaining profit stays in the enterprise, is paid out in higher wages, or is passed on to the customer." Davis contrasts that ethos with that of Jack Welch, CEO from 1981 to 2001; Welch, Davis says, believed in "the shareholder as king-the residual claimant, entitled to the [whole] pot of earnings."

This change had dramatic consequences. Economist J. W. Mason found that, before the 1980s, firms tended to borrow funds in order to fuel investment. Since 1980, that link has been broken. Now when firms borrow, they tend to use the money to fund dividends or buy back stocks. Indeed, even during the height of the housing boom, Mason notes, "corporations were paying out more than 100 percent of their cash flow to shareholders."

This lack of investment is obviously holding back our recovery. Productive investment remains low, and even extraordinary action by the Federal Reserve to make investments more profitable by keeping interest rates low has not been able to counteract the general corporate presumption that this money should go to shareholders. There is thus less innovation, less risk taking, and ultimately less growth. One of the reasons this revolution was engineered in the 1980s was to put a check on what kinds of investments CEOs could make, and one of those investments was wage growth. Finance has now won the battle against wage earners: corporations today are reluctant to raise wages even as the economy slowly starts to recover. This keeps the economy perpetually sluggish by retarding consumer demand, while also increasing inequality.

How can these changes be challenged? The first thing we must understand is the scope of the change. As Mason writes, the changes have been intellectual, legal, and institutional. At the intellectual level, academic research and conventional wisdom among economists and policymakers coalesced around the ideas that maximizing returns to shareholders is the only goal of a corporation, and that the financial markets were always right. At the legal level, laws regulating finance at the state level were overturned by the Supreme Court or preempted by federal regulators, and antitrust regulations were gutted by the Reagan administration and not taken up again.

At the institutional level, deregulation over several administrations led to a massive concentration of the financial sector into fewer, richer firms. As financial expertise became more prestigious than industry-specific knowledge, CEOs no longer came from within the firms they represented but instead from other firms or from Wall Street; their pay was aligned through stock options, which naturally turned their focus toward maximizing stock prices. The intellectual and institutional transformation was part of an overwhelming ideological change: the health and strength of the economy became identified solely with the profitability of the financial markets.

This was a bold revolution, and any program that seeks to change it has to be just as bold intellectually. Such a program will also require legal and institutional changes, ones that go beyond making sure that financial firms can fail without destroying the economy. Dodd-Frank can be thought of as a reaction against the worst excesses of the financial sector at the height of the housing bubble, and as a line of defense against future financial panics. Many parts of it are doing yeoman's work in curtailing the financial sector's abuses, especially in terms of protecting consumers from fraud and bringing some transparency to the Wild West of the derivatives markets. But the scope of the law is too limited to roll back these larger changes.

One provision of Dodd-Frank, however, suggests a way forward. At the urging of the AFL-CIO, Dodd-Frank empowered the Securities and Exchange Commission to examine the activities of private equity firms on behalf of their investors. At around $3.5 trillion, private equity is a massive market with serious consequences for the economy as a whole. On its first pass, the SEC found extensive abuses. Andrew Bowden, the director of the SEC's examinations office, stated that the agency found "what we believe are violations of law or material weaknesses in controls over 50 percent of the time."

Lawmakers could require private equity and hedge funds to standardize their disclosures of fees and holdings, as is currently the case for mutual funds. The decline in fees for mutual funds noted above didn't just happen by itself; it happened because the law structured the market for actual transparency and price competition. This will need to happen again for the broader financial sector.

But the most important change will be intellectual: we must come to understand our economy not as simply a vehicle for capital owners, but rather as the creation of all of us, a common endeavor that creates space for innovation, risk taking, and a stronger workforce. This change will be difficult, as we will have to alter how we approach the economy as a whole. Our wealth and companies can't just be strip-mined for a small sliver of capital holders; we'll need to bring the corporation back to the public realm. But without it, we will remain trapped inside an economy that only works for a select few.

[Whew!]

Puerto Barato said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron,
"3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Today, that figure has more than doubled, to 6.5"
~~RC AKA Darryl, Ron ~

Growth of the non-financial-sector == growth in productivity

Growth of the financial-sector == growth in upward transfer of wealth

Ostensibly financial-sector is there to protect your money from being eaten up by inflation. Closer inspection shows that the prevention of *eaten up* is by the method of rent collection.

Accountants handle this analysis poorly, but you can see what is happening. Boiling it down to the bottom line you can easily see that wiping out the financial sector is the remedy to the Piketty.

Hell! Financial sector wiped itself out in 008. Problem was that the GSE and administration brought the zombie back to life then put the vampire back at our throats. What was the precipitating factor that snagged the financial sector without warning?

Unexpected
deflation
!

Gimme some
of that

pgl said in reply to djb...

People like Brad DeLong have noted this for a while. Twice as many people making twice as much money per person. And their true value to us - not a bit more than it was back in the 1940's.

Rock O Sock O Choco said in reply to djb... December 18, 2015 at 06:26 PM

JEC - MeanSquaredErrors said...

Wait, what?

Piketty looks at centuries of data from all over the world and concludes that capitalism has a long-run bias towards income concentration. Baker looks at 35 years of data in one country and concludes that Piketty is wrong. Um...?

A little more generously, what Baker actually writes is:

"The argument on rents is important because, if correct, it means that there is nothing intrinsic to capitalism that led to **this** rapid rise in inequality, as for example argued by Thomas Piketty." (emphasis added)

But Piketty has always been very explicit that the recent rise in US income inequality is anomalous -- driven primarily by rising inequality in the distribution of labor income, and only secondarily by any shift from labor to capital income.

So perhaps Baker is "correctly" refuting Straw Thomas Piketty. Which I suppose is better than just being obviously wrong. Maybe.

tew said...

Some simple math shows that this assertion is false "As a result of this upward redistribution, most workers have seen little improvement in living standards" unless you think an apprx. 60% in per-capita real income (expressed as GDP) among the 99% is "little improvement".

Real GDP 2015 / Real GDP 1980 = 2.57 (Source: FRED)
If the income share of the 1% shifted from 10% to 20% then The 1%' real GDP component went up 410% while that of The 99% went up 130%. Accounting for a population increase of about 41% brings those numbers to a 265% increase and a 62% increase.

Certainly a very unequal distribution of the productivity gains but hard to call "little".

I believe the truth of the statement is revealed when you look at the Top 5% vs. the other 95%.

cm said in reply to tew...

For most "working people", their raises are quickly eaten up by increases in housing/rental, food, local services, and other nondiscretionary costs. Sure, you can buy more and better imported consumer electronics per dollar, but you have to pay the rent/mortgage every months, how often do you buy a new flat screen TV? In a high-cost metro, a big ass TV will easily cost less than a single monthly rent (and probably less than your annual cable bill that you need to actually watch TV).

pgl said in reply to tew...

Are you trying to be the champion of the 1%? Sorry dude but Greg Mankiw beat you to this.

anne said...

In the years since 1980, there has been a well-documented upward redistribution of income. While there are some differences by methodology and the precise years chosen, the top one percent of households have seen their income share roughly double from 10 percent in 1980 to 20 percent in the second decade of the 21st century. As a result of this upward redistribution, most workers have seen little improvement in living standards from the productivity gains over this period....

-- Dean Baker

anne said in reply to anne...

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/

September 16, 2015

Real Median Household Income, 1980 & 2014


1980 ( 48,462)

2014 ( 53,657)


53,657 - 48,462 = 5,195

5,195 / 48,462 = 10.7%


Between 1980 and 2014 real median household income increased by a mere 10.7%.

anne said in reply to don...

I would be curious to know what has happened to the number of members per household....

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/

September 16, 2015

Household Size

2014 ( 2.54)
1980 ( 2.73)

[ The difference in household size to real median household incomes is not statistically significant. ]

anne said in reply to anne...

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/families/index.html

September 16, 2015

Real Median Family Income, 1948-1980-2014


1948 ( 27,369)

1980 ( 57,528)

2014 ( 66,632)


57,528 - 27,369 = 30,159

30,159 / 27,369 = 110.2%


66,632 - 57,528 = 9,104

9,104 / 57,528 = 15.8%


Between 1948 and 1980, real median family income increased by 110.2%, while between 1980 and 2014 real median family income increased by a mere 15.8%.

cm said...

"protectionist measures that have boosted the pay of doctors and other highly educated professionals"

Protectionist measures (largely of the variety that foreign credentials are not recognized) apply to doctors and similar accredited occupations considered to be of some importance, but certainly much less so to "highly educated professionals" in tech, where the protectionism is limited to annual quotas for some categories of new workers imported into the country and requiring companies to pay above a certain wage rate for work visa holders in jobs claimed to have high skills requirements.

A little mentioned but significant factor for growing wages in "highly skilled" jobs is that the level of foundational and generic domain skills is a necessity, but is not all the value the individual brings to the company. In complex subject matters, even the most competent person joining a company has to become familiar with the details of the products, the industry niche, the processes and professional/personal relationships in the company or industry, etc. All these are not really teachable and require between months and years in the job. This represents a significant sunk cost. Sometimes (actually rather often) experience within the niche/industry is in a degree portable between companies, but some company still had to employ enough people to build this experience, and it cannot be readily bought by bringing in however competent freshers.

This applies less so e.g. in medicine. There are of course many heavily specialized disciplines, but a top flight brain or internal organ surgeon can essentially work on any person. The variation in the subject matter is large and complex, but much more static than in technology.

That's not to knock down the skill of medical staff in any way (or anybody else who does a job that is not trivial, and that's true for many jobs). But specialization vs. genericity follow a different pattern than in tech.

Another example, the legal profession. There are similar principles that carry across, with a lot of the specialization happening along different legislation, case law, etc., specific to the jurisdiction and/or domain being litigated.

[Dec 18, 2015] How low can oil prices go? Opec and El Niño take a bite out of crudes cost

Oil is a valuable chemical resource that is now wasted because of low prices... "The obvious follow-up question is, how long will the sane people of the world continue to allow so much fossil-fuel combustion to continue? An exercise for readers."
Notable quotes:
"... Iran wont flood the market in 2016. Right now Iran is losing production. It takes time to reverse decline and make a difference. ..."
"... Those who predict very low prices dont understand the industry (I do). The low price environment reduces capital investment, which has to be there just to keep production flat (the decline is 3 to 5 million barrels of oil per day per year). At this time capacity is dropping everywhere except for a few select countries. The USA is losing capacity, and will never again reach this years peak unless prices double. Other countries are hopeless. From Norway to Indonesia to Colombia to Nigeria and Azerbaijan, peak oil has already taken place. ..."
"... If oil prices remain very low until 2025 itll either be because you are right or because the world went to hell. ..."
"... But Im with Carambaman - prices will go up again. Demand is and will still be there. The excess output will eventually end, and the prices stabilises. And then move up again. ..."
"... Time to examine the real question: how long can the Saudis maintain their current production rates? Theyre currently producing more than 10 Mbarrels/day, but lets take the latter figure as a lower bound. They apparently have (per US consulate via WikiLeaks--time for a followup?) at least 260 Gbarrels (though it seems no one outside Saudi really knows). You do the math: 260 Gbarrels / (10 Mbarrels/day) = 26 kdays ~= 70 years. @ 15 Mbarrels/day - 47.5 years. @ 20 Mbarrels/day - 35 years. ..."
"... The obvious follow-up question is, how long will the sane people of the world continue to allow so much fossil-fuel combustion to continue? An exercise for readers. ..."
"... Saudi Arabia, a US ally, using oil production and pricing to crush US oil shale industry? Did I read that correctly? ..."
"... Yeah, but I suspect it was *written* incorrectly. Im betting the Saudis real target is the Russians. ..."
"... In 1975 dollars, thats $8.31 / bbl (with a cumulative inflation factor of 342% over 40 years), or $.45 / gal for gas (assuming a current price of $2.00 / gal). ..."
"... I spent 30 years in the oil industry and experienced many cycles. When it is up people cannot believe it will go down and when it is down people cannot believe it will go up. It is all a matter of time ..."
Dec 16, 2015 | The Guardian

Fernando Leza -> jah5446 15 Dec 2015 06:12

Iran won't flood the market in 2016. Right now Iran is losing production. It takes time to reverse decline and make a difference.

Those who predict very low prices don't understand the industry (I do). The low price environment reduces capital investment, which has to be there just to keep production flat (the decline is 3 to 5 million barrels of oil per day per year). At this time capacity is dropping everywhere except for a few select countries. The USA is losing capacity, and will never again reach this year's peak unless prices double. Other countries are hopeless. From Norway to Indonesia to Colombia to Nigeria and Azerbaijan, peak oil has already taken place.

Fernando Leza -> SonOfFredTheBadman 15 Dec 2015 06:05

If oil prices remain very low until 2025 it'll either be because you are right or because the world went to hell. I prefer your vision, of course. But I'm afraid most of your talk is wishful thinking. Those of us who do know how to put watts on the table can't figure out any viable solutions. Hopefully something like cheap fusion power will rise. Otherwise you may be eating human flesh in 2060.

Fernando Leza -> p26677 15 Dec 2015 06:00

Keep assuming. I'll keep buying Shell stock.

MatCendana -> UnevenSurface 14 Dec 2015 03:36

Regardless of the breakeven price, producers with the wells already running or about to will keep pumping. Better to have some income, even if the operation is at a loss, than no income. This will go on and on right until the end, which is either prices eventually go up or they run out of oil and can't drill new wells.

But I'm with Carambaman - prices will go up again. Demand is and will still be there. The excess output will eventually end, and the prices stabilises. And then move up again.

Billy Carnes 13 Dec 2015 19:52

Also this hurts the states...Louisiana is now in the hole over 1.5 Billion or more

TomRoche 13 Dec 2015 12:31

@Guardian: Time to examine the real question: how long can the Saudis maintain their current production rates? They're currently producing more than 10 Mbarrels/day, but let's take the latter figure as a lower bound. They apparently have (per US consulate via WikiLeaks--time for a followup?) at least 260 Gbarrels (though it seems no one outside Saudi really knows). You do the math: 260 Gbarrels / (10 Mbarrels/day) = 26 kdays ~= 70 years. @ 15 Mbarrels/day -> 47.5 years. @ 20 Mbarrels/day -> 35 years.

That's just Saudi (allegedly) proven reserves. But it's plenty long enough to push atmospheric GHG levels, and associated radiative forcing, to ridiculously destructive excess.

The obvious follow-up question is, how long will the sane people of the world continue to allow so much fossil-fuel combustion to continue? An exercise for readers.

TomRoche -> GueroElEnfermero 13 Dec 2015 12:14

@GueroElEnfermero: 'Saudi Arabia, a US ally, using oil production and pricing to crush US oil shale industry? Did I read that correctly?'

Yeah, but I suspect it was *written* incorrectly. I'm betting the Saudis' real target is the Russians.

Sieggy 13 Dec 2015 11:49

In 1975 dollars, that's $8.31 / bbl (with a cumulative inflation factor of 342% over 40 years), or $.45 / gal for gas (assuming a current price of $2.00 / gal).

Carambaman 13 Dec 2015 10:25

I spent 30 years in the oil industry and experienced many cycles. When it is up people cannot believe it will go down and when it is down people cannot believe it will go up. It is all a matter of time

[Dec 17, 2015] Please Don't Shut Down the Internet, Donald Trump

The New Yorker

Still, two interesting-and vexing-issues for the technology industry, and for the politicians who regulate it, emerged in the debate. The first came up in John Kasich's response to Trump's proposal. "Wolf, there is a big problem-it's called encryption," he said. "We need to be able to penetrate these people when they are involved in these plots and these plans. And we have to give the local authorities the ability to penetrate, to disrupt. That's what we need to do. Encryption is a major problem, and Congress has got to deal with this, and so does the President, to keep us safe."

The central question is whether American technology companies should offer the U.S. government, whether the N.S.A. or the F.B.I., backdoor access to their devices or servers. The most important companies here are Apple and Google, which, in the fall of 2014, began offering strong encryption on the newer versions of Android and iOS phones. If you keep your passcode secret, the government will be unable to, for instance, scroll through your contacts list, even if it has a warrant. This has, naturally, made the government angry. The most thorough report on the subject is a position paper put out last month by Cyrus Vance, Jr., Manhattan's district attorney. In the previous year, Vance wrote, his office had been "unable to execute approximately 111 search warrants for smartphones because those devices were running iOS 8. The cases to which those devices related include homicide, attempted murder, sexual abuse of a child, sex trafficking, assault, and robbery."

The solution isn't easy. Apple and Google implemented their new encryption standards after Edward Snowden revealed how the government had compromised their systems. They want to protect their customers-a government back door could become a hacker's back door, too-and they also want to protect their business models. If the N.S.A. can comb through iPhones, how many do you think Apple will be able to sell in China? In the debate, Carly Fiorina bragged about how, when she ran Hewlett-Packard, she stopped a truckload of equipment and had it "escorted into N.S.A. headquarters." Does that make you more or less eager to buy an OfficeJet Pro?

The second hard issue that came up indirectly in the debate-and, more specifically, in recent comments by Hillary Clinton-is how aggressive American companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google (with YouTube) should be in combatting the use of their platforms by ISIS. Again, there's no simple answer. You can't ban, say, everyone who tweets the hashtag #ISIS, because then you'd have to ban this guy. The algorithms are difficult to write, and the issues are difficult to balance. Companies have to consider their business interests, their legal obligations to and cultural affinities for free speech, and their moral obligations to oppose an organization that seeks to destroy the country in which they were built-and also kill their C.E.O.s.

[Dec 17, 2015] Ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert legal issues

economistsview.typepad.com
In October, Hastert, 73, entered a guilty plea to a single felony count of evading bank reporting laws by withdrawing about $950,000 in cash in increments of less than $10,000. Prosecutors contend he used the money to conceal his "misconduct" with a longtime associate. Court filings are silent on the nature of the relationship, but sources say it involved sexual contact with a former student at the high school where Hastert served as a wrestling coach and teacher before entering politics. He has not responded publicly to those allegations.

Hastert is set to be sentenced on the banking charge on February 29, but that could be delayed if his health woes continue. Prosecutors and defense lawyers have agreed that sentencing guidelines call for him to receive between zero and six months in prison.

im1dc, December 17, 2015 at 01:23 PM

Ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert legal issues - 1h ago

"Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert suffered stroke, has been hospitalized for about 6 weeks, his lawyer says - @politico"

Read more on politico.com

im1dc -> im1dc...

Ya gotta ask yourself this: If Jared Fogle of Subway infamy is going away to Prison for his fiddling with the underage why has Dennis Hastert escaped felony conviction for his diddling with at least one underaged teen boy and probably three of them and getting caught paying the guy for years to cover it up?

Something is clearly wrong with the US Justice when the high and mighty, current D.C. Lobbyist, formerly 3rd most powerful politician in America, and still well connected politically his connections in the government stay out of prison when prison is where America wants criminals like him and Jared Fogle.

[Dec 17, 2015] A symbol of defiant greed arrested for security fraud

Notable quotes:
"... Martin Shkreli, the boyish drug company entrepreneur, who rocketed to infamy by jacking up the price of a life-saving pill from $13.50 to $750, was arrested by federal agents at his Manhattan home early Thursday morning on securities fraud related to a firm he founded. ..."
"... Shkreli, 32, ignited a firestorm over drug prices in September and became a symbol of defiant greed. ..."
"... His arrest, witnessed by Reuters, comes amid a continuing separate controversy that has turned Shkreli into a lightning rod for growing outrage over the soaring prices of prescription drugs. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs said... December 17, 2015 at 07:57 AM
Pharma CEO Martin Shkreli arrested on charges of securities
fraud http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-martin-shkreli-securities-fraud/
Bloomberg - Christie Smythe and Keri Geiger - December 17

32-year-old suspected of plundering Retrophin to pay debts

Martin Shkreli, the boyish drug company entrepreneur, who rocketed to infamy by jacking up the price of a life-saving pill from $13.50 to $750, was arrested by federal agents at his Manhattan home early Thursday morning on securities fraud related to a firm he founded.

Shkreli, 32, ignited a firestorm over drug prices in September and became a symbol of defiant greed. The federal case against him has nothing to do with pharmaceutical costs, however. Prosecutors in Brooklyn charged him with illegally taking stock from Retrophin Inc., a biotechnology firm he started in 2011, and using it to pay off debts from unrelated business dealings. He was later ousted from the company, where he'd been chief executive officer, and sued by its board.

In the case that closely tracks that suit, federal prosecutors accused Shkreli of engaging in a complicated shell game after his defunct hedge fund, MSMB Capital Management, lost millions. He is alleged to have made secret payoffs and set up sham consulting arrangements. A New York lawyer, Evan Greebel, was also arrested early Thursday. He's accused of conspiring with Shkreli in part of the scheme.

Retrophin replaced Shkreli as CEO "because of serious concerns about his conduct," the company said in a statement. The company, which hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing, has "fully cooperated with the government investigations into Mr. Shkreli." ...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
Turing Pharma CEO Martin Shkreli arrested
http://www.trust.org/item/20151217115340-g99u8

Dec 17 (Reuters) - Pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli was arrested by the FBI on Thursday, amid a federal investigation related to his former hedge fund and a drug company he previously headed.

The previously disclosed investigation of Shkreli, 32, who is now chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, stemmed from his time as manager of hedge fund MSMB Capital Management and chief executive of biopharmaceutical company Retrophin Inc .

His arrest, witnessed by Reuters, comes amid a continuing separate controversy that has turned Shkreli into a lightning rod for growing outrage over the soaring prices of prescription drugs.

[Dec 17, 2015] Putin hails Donald Trump as bright and talented

economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs said... December 17, 2015 at 11:26 AM
Putin hails Donald Trump as 'bright and talented'
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2015/12/17/putin-hails-donald-trump-bright-and-talented/CCIktxBPs0ax3bGNMz7yqO/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Vladimir Isachenkov - Associated Press - December 17, 2015

MOSCOW - Russia and the US agree on a general approach to settling the Syrian crisis, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, saying that Moscow stands ready to improve ties with Washington.

Putin also said that Russia will continue its air campaign in Syria until a political process starts, and lashed out at Turkey for trying to ''lick the Americans in some of their private parts'' by downing a Russian warplane. ...

Commenting on relations with Washington, Putin said that Russia supports a US-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution on settling the Syrian crisis, presented by US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Moscow earlier this week.

''In general, we like it,'' Putin said. ''I believe that the Syrian authorities should be OK with it too, although they may not like something in it.''

He added that ''concessions must be made by both sides'' to end the conflict that has killed more than 250,000 and turned millions into refugees since 2011.

He said the Russian approach, ''strangely as it may seem, coincides with the US vision: joint work on a constitution, creation of instruments of control over future early elections, holding the vote and recognizing its results on the basis of that political process.''

''We will help settle this crisis in every possible way,'' Putin said. At the same time, he reaffirmed Russia's stance on the key issue that divided Russia and the West, the fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying the Syrians themselves must determine who rules them. ...

Already on his way out of the hall, he was asked about US presidential candidate Donald Trump and praised him as a ''very bright and talented man,'' adding that he welcomes the Republican's pledges to establish closer ties with Russia. ...

[Dec 17, 2015] US militarism is Alice in Wonderland

economistsview.typepad.com
anne, December 17, 2015 at 11:50 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/17/world/asia/navy-seal-team-2-afghanistan-beating-death.html

December 16, 2015

Navy SEALs, a Beating Death and Complaints of a Cover-Up
By NICHOLAS KULISH, CHRISTOPHER DREW and MATTHEW ROSENBERG

U.S. soldiers accused Afghan police and Navy SEALs of abusing detainees. But the SEAL command opted against a court-martial and cleared its men of wrongdoing.

ilsm said in reply to anne...

Too much training to send to jail.

While E-4 Bergdahl does in captivity what several hundred officers did in Hanoi and gets life!

US militarism is Alice's Wonderland!

[Dec 17, 2015] A Blind Eye Toward Turkey's Crimes

Notable quotes:
"... The Official Story of the sarin attack – as presented by Secretary of State John Kerry, Human Rights Watch and other "respectable" sources – firmly laid the blame for the Aug. 21, 2013 atrocity killing hundreds of civilians outside Damascus on Assad. That became a powerful "group think" across Official Washington. ..."
December 16, 2015 | consortiumnews.com

A Blind Eye Toward Turkey's Crimes

To make the story even more compelling, an opposition leader braves the wrath of the autocrat by seeking to expose these intelligence schemes, including the cover-up of key evidence. The autocrat's government then seeks to prosecute the critic for "treason."

But the problem with this story, as far as the American government and press are concerned, is that the autocratic leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is in charge of Turkey, a NATO ally and his hated neighbor is the much demonized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Major U.S. news outlets and political leaders also bought into the sarin deception and simply can't afford to admit that they once again misled the American people on a matter of war.

The Official Story of the sarin attack – as presented by Secretary of State John Kerry, Human Rights Watch and other "respectable" sources – firmly laid the blame for the Aug. 21, 2013 atrocity killing hundreds of civilians outside Damascus on Assad. That became a powerful "group think" across Official Washington.

Though a few independent media outlets, including Consortiumnews.com, challenged the rush to judgment and noted the lack of evidence regarding Assad's guilt, those doubts were brushed aside. (In an article on Aug. 30, 2013, I described the administration's "Government Assessment" blaming Assad as a "dodgy dossier," which offered not a single piece of verifiable proof.)

However, as with the "certainty" about Iraq's WMD a decade earlier, Every Important Person shared the Assad-did-it "group think." That meant - as far as Official Washington was concerned - that Assad had crossed President Barack Obama's "red line" against using chemical weapons. A massive U.S. retaliatory bombing strike was considered just days away.

... ... ...

But the "group think" was resistant to all empirical evidence. It was so powerful that even when the Turkish plot was uncovered by legendary investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh, his usual publication, The New Yorker, refused to print it. Rebuffed in the United States – the land of freedom of the press – Hersh had to take the story to the London Review of Books to get it out in April 2014. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Was Turkey Behind Syria Sarin Attack?"]

... ... ...

In statements before parliament and to journalists, Erdem cited a derailed indictment that was begun by the General Prosecutor's Office in the southern Turkish city of Adana, with the criminal case number 2013/120.

Erdem said the prosecutor's office, using technical surveillance, discovered that an Al Qaeda jihadist named Hayyam Kasap acquired the sarin.

At the press conference, Erdem said, "Wiretapped phone conversations reveal the process of procuring the gas at specific addresses as well as the process of procuring the rockets that would fire the capsules containing the toxic gas. However, despite such solid evidence there has been no arrest in the case. Thirteen individuals were arrested during the first stage of the investigation but were later released, refuting government claims that it is fighting terrorism."

Erdem said the released operatives were allowed to cross the border into Syria and the criminal investigation was halted.

Another CHP deputy, Ali Şeker, added that the Turkish government misled the public by claiming Russia provided the sarin and that "Assad killed his people with sarin and that requires a U.S. military intervention in Syria."

Erdem's disclosures, which he repeated in a recent interview with RT, the Russian network, prompted the Ankara Prosecutor's Office to open an investigation into Erdem for treason. Erdem defended himself, saying the government's actions regarding the sarin case besmirched Turkey's international reputation. He added that he also has been receiving death threats.

"The paramilitary organization Ottoman Hearths is sharing my address [on Twitter] and plans a raid [on my house]. I am being targeted with death threats because I am patriotically opposed to something that tramples on my country's prestige," Erdem said.

[Dec 16, 2015] Donald Trump's Divisiveness Is Bad for the Economy

Notable quotes:
"... A divided society cannot function optimally, especially when the divisions erect walls between groups that are difficult to cross. There are all sorts of attempts to divide us right now, but I want to focus on something other than the bigotry that has been on display in the Republican race for the presidential nomination, the division into winners and losers. ..."
"... To some extent that's correct, but competitive capitalism is not divisive. In fact, it is just the opposite. Competition is a great leveling force. ..."
"... For example, when a firm discovers something new, other firms, if they can, will copy it and duplicate the innovation. If a firm finds a highly profitable strategy, other firms will mimic it and take some of those profits for themselves. A firm might temporarily separate itself from other firms in an industry, but competition will bring them back together. Sometimes there are impediments to this leveling process such as patents, monopoly power, and talent that is difficult to duplicate, but competition is always there, waiting and watching. ..."
"... Competition also drives us forward individually and as a nation. It is a source of new innovation and new technology as people and firms try to find ways to do better than others, to earn higher incomes, gain more popularity, to escape from the pack. People pursue education and other ways to improve themselves not just as a source of knowledge, but also as a way to distinguish themselves. ..."
"... There are differences in talents and abilities, of course, that prevent a full leveling, but to the extent possible people will copy anything that leads to success. ..."
"... Inequality erects those barriers as those who have been fortunate try to protect themselves from capitalism's inherent tendency to erode away their superior position. They feel threatened by competition and do all they can to avoid it once they have found success. ..."
"... When those barriers exist, talent is wasted and we are worse off as a nation. How many great ideas will never be known simply because some people never had the education or opportunity needed to draw the ideas out? ..."
"... Separating the winners from the losers is okay if it is based on merit. If we start equally, and have the same chance to get ahead, then unequal outcomes are less of a concern. The problem is that some people are born "winners" even though they have done nothing to earn it, and others have little chance to win due to our unwillingness to truly embrace what equal opportunity means. ..."
Dec 15, 2015 | The Fiscal Times

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest described Donald Trump as "offensive and toxic," though that only begins to describe the corrosive effect his bigotry, divisiveness, and xenophobia have on our society. It is at odds with our values as a nation.

It's also bad for the economy.

A divided society cannot function optimally, especially when the divisions erect walls between groups that are difficult to cross. There are all sorts of attempts to divide us right now, but I want to focus on something other than the bigotry that has been on display in the Republican race for the presidential nomination, the division into winners and losers.

It might seem at first that this is exactly what capitalism does. It uses competition to separate people into various income classes, decide who gets the best jobs, who gets to live in desirable locations – it decides who wins and who loses. Some people, hopefully those who have earned it, do well and others fall behind. This drive to be a winner, it is argued, is the driving force behind capitalism.

To some extent that's correct, but competitive capitalism is not divisive. In fact, it is just the opposite. Competition is a great leveling force.

For example, when a firm discovers something new, other firms, if they can, will copy it and duplicate the innovation. If a firm finds a highly profitable strategy, other firms will mimic it and take some of those profits for themselves. A firm might temporarily separate itself from other firms in an industry, but competition will bring them back together. Sometimes there are impediments to this leveling process such as patents, monopoly power, and talent that is difficult to duplicate, but competition is always there, waiting and watching.

Competition also drives us forward individually and as a nation. It is a source of new innovation and new technology as people and firms try to find ways to do better than others, to earn higher incomes, gain more popularity, to escape from the pack. People pursue education and other ways to improve themselves not just as a source of knowledge, but also as a way to distinguish themselves.

However, any successful strategy will be followed. There are differences in talents and abilities, of course, that prevent a full leveling, but to the extent possible people will copy anything that leads to success. The fact that this is true – that capitalism will take away gains and differences if it can – is what drives people to continue to try to get ahead. If you rest on your laurels, they will be taken away.

But there is an essential feature in the system that makes it work, and this takes us back to the attempt by Trump and the Republican Party more generally to erect walls between groups of people. The system works best when people have the freedom to enter a new business (if they have the means and are willing to take the risk). It works best when people compete for jobs on equal footing, have access to the same opportunities, when there are no artificial barriers in society that prevent people from reaching their full potential.

Inequality erects those barriers as those who have been fortunate try to protect themselves from capitalism's inherent tendency to erode away their superior position. They feel threatened by competition and do all they can to avoid it once they have found success. And it's not just the wealthy. Even the middle class will attempt to erect roadblocks – social, legal, whatever it takes – if it feels threatened from competition from traditionally disadvantaged groups.

When those barriers exist, talent is wasted and we are worse off as a nation. How many great ideas will never be known simply because some people never had the education or opportunity needed to draw the ideas out?

But it's not just the children of poorer households that are disadvantaged by inequality. The children of the wealthy have no incentive, in many cases, to reach their full potential. Why struggle, take risks, do the hard work that is needed to come up with a new and useful idea when your needs are already taken care of? How much talent is wasted because of this?

It is not inequality that drives innovation and economic growth--it is the attempt to escape the leveling forces of capitalism. If we truly wanted to produce the most economic growth, everyone should start off equal to the extent possible. That way, everyone would have the incentive to differentiate themselves from others, and the means to do so. Inheritance taxes would be 100 percent; schools would be assigned randomly to ensure there's an incentive to equalize resources, and so on, and so on.

Of course, that will never happen. As we're seeing in the presidential election, those with means are trying to make the divisions larger rather than break them down. They tell us inequality drives our economy, when in fact inequality is an outcome, the driving force behind it is the desire to escape the equalizing forces of competition. Inequality as a starting point takes away opportunity from the children of the poor, and it dulls incentives for the children of the rich. It's not hard to understand why recent research has found that high and persistent inequality is associated with lower economic growth.

Separating the winners from the losers is okay if it is based on merit. If we start equally, and have the same chance to get ahead, then unequal outcomes are less of a concern. The problem is that some people are born "winners" even though they have done nothing to earn it, and others have little chance to win due to our unwillingness to truly embrace what equal opportunity means.

And, as Republican campaigns for the presidential nomination are making abundantly clear, that's just the way some people want it.

[Dec 16, 2015] Cornering Russia, Risking World War III

Notable quotes:
"... "The chance for a durable Washington-Moscow strategic partnership was lost in the 1990 after the Soviet Union ended. Actually it began to be lost earlier, because it was [President Ronald] Reagan and [Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev who gave us the opportunity for a strategic partnership between 1985-89. ..."
"... "And it certainly ended under the Clinton Administration, and it didn't end in Moscow. It ended in Washington - it was squandered and lost in Washington. And it was lost so badly that today, and for at least the last several years (and I would argue since the Georgian war in 2008), we have literally been in a new Cold War with Russia. ..."
"... "TODAY THERE ARE NO RED LINES. One of the things that Putin and his predecessor President Medvedev keep saying to Washington is: You are crossing our Red Lines! And Washington said, and continues to say, 'You don't have any red lines. We have red lines and we can have all the bases we want around your borders, but you can't have bases in Canada or Mexico. Your red lines don't exist.' This clearly illustrates that today there are no mutual rules of conduct. ..."
"... "Another important point: Today there is absolutely no organized anti-Cold War or Pro-Detente political force or movement in the United States at all –– not in our political parties, not in the White House, not in the State Department, not in the mainstream media, not in the universities or the think tanks. … None of this exists today. … ..."
"... In practice, President Assad's imposed ouster precisely will empower ISIS, rather than implode it, and the consequences will ripple across the Middle East – and beyond. ..."
"... Indeed, ISIS and the other Caliphate forces have very clear human motivations and clearly articulated political objectives, and none of these is in any way consistent with the type of Syrian State that America says it wants for Syria. This precisely reflects the danger of becoming hostage to a certain narrative, rather than being willing to examine the prevailing conceptual framework more critically. ..."
"... unfortunately, today's reports seem to indicate that the White House and State Department are thinking primarily how to counter Russia's actions in Syria. They are worried, it was reported, that Russia is diminishing America's leadership in the world. ..."
"... Washington's disinclination to permit Russia any enhancement to its standing in Europe, or in the non-West, through its initiative strategically to defeat Wahhabist jihadism in Syria, is not only to play with fire in the Middle East. It is playing with a fire of even greater danger: to do both at the same time seems extraordinarily reckless. ..."
"... As Europe becomes accomplice in raising the various pressures on Russia in Syria – economically through sanctions and other financial measures , in Ukraine and Crimea, and in beckoning Montenegro, Georgia and the Baltic towards NATO – we should perhaps contemplate the paradox that Russia's determination to try to avoid war is leading to war. ..."
"... Russia's call to co-operate with Western states against the scourge of ISIS; its low-key and carefully crafted responses to such provocations as the ambush of its SU-24 bomber in Syria; and President Putin's calm rhetoric, are all being used by Washington and London to paint Russia as a "paper tiger," whom no one needs fear. ..."
"... In short, Russia is being offered only the binary choice: to acquiesce to the "benevolent" hegemon, or to prepare for war. ..."
Consortiumnews
Official Washington is awash with tough talk about Russia and the need to punish President Putin for his role in Ukraine and Syria. But this bravado ignores Russia's genuine national interests, its "red lines," and the risk that "tough-guy-ism" can lead to nuclear war, as Alastair Crooke explains.

We all know the narrative in which we (the West) are seized. It is the narrative of the Cold War: America versus the "Evil Empire." And, as Professor Ira Chernus has written, since we are "human" and somehow they (the USSR or, now, ISIS) plainly are not, we must be their polar opposite in every way.

"If they are absolute evil, we must be the absolute opposite. It's the old apocalyptic tale: God's people versus Satan's. It ensures that we never have to admit to any meaningful connection with the enemy." It is the basis to America's and Europe's claim to exceptionalism and leadership.

And "buried in the assumption that the enemy is not in any sense human like us, is [an] absolution for whatever hand we may have had in sparking or contributing to evil's rise and spread. How could we have fertilized the soil of absolute evil or bear any responsibility for its successes? It's a basic postulate of wars against evil: God's people must be innocent," (and that the evil cannot be mediated, for how can one mediate with evil).

Westerners may generally think ourselves to be rationalist and (mostly) secular, but Christian modes of conceptualizing the world still permeate contemporary foreign policy.

It is this Cold War narrative of the Reagan era, with its correlates that America simply stared down the Soviet Empire through military and – as importantly – financial "pressures," whilst making no concessions to the enemy.

What is sometimes forgotten, is how the Bush neo-cons gave their "spin" to this narrative for the Middle East by casting Arab national secularists and Ba'athists as the offspring of "Satan": David Wurmser was advocating in 1996, "expediting the chaotic collapse" of secular-Arab nationalism in general, and Baathism in particular. He concurred with King Hussein of Jordan that "the phenomenon of Baathism" was, from the very beginning, "an agent of foreign, namely Soviet policy."

Moreover, apart from being agents of socialism, these states opposed Israel, too. So, on the principle that if these were the enemy, then my enemy's enemy (the kings, Emirs and monarchs of the Middle East) became the Bush neo-cons friends. And they remain such today – however much their interests now diverge from those of the U.S.

The problem, as Professor Steve Cohen, the foremost Russia scholar in the U.S., laments, is that it is this narrative which has precluded America from ever concluding any real ability to find a mutually acceptable modus vivendi with Russia – which it sorely needs, if it is ever seriously to tackle the phenomenon of Wahhabist jihadism (or resolve the Syrian conflict).

What is more, the "Cold War narrative" simply does not reflect history, but rather the narrative effaces history: It looses for us the ability to really understand the demonized "calous tyrant" – be it (Russian) President Vladimir Putin or (Ba'athist) President Bashar al-Assad – because we simply ignore the actual history of how that state came to be what it is, and, our part in it becoming what it is.

Indeed the state, or its leaders, often are not what we think they are – at all. Cohen explains: "The chance for a durable Washington-Moscow strategic partnership was lost in the 1990 after the Soviet Union ended. Actually it began to be lost earlier, because it was [President Ronald] Reagan and [Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev who gave us the opportunity for a strategic partnership between 1985-89.

"And it certainly ended under the Clinton Administration, and it didn't end in Moscow. It ended in Washington - it was squandered and lost in Washington. And it was lost so badly that today, and for at least the last several years (and I would argue since the Georgian war in 2008), we have literally been in a new Cold War with Russia.

"Many people in politics and in the media don't want to call it this, because if they admit, 'Yes, we are in a Cold War,' they would have to explain what they were doing during the past 20 years. So they instead say, 'No, it is not a Cold War.'

"Here is my next point. This new Cold War has all of the potential to be even more dangerous than the preceding 40-year Cold War, for several reasons. First of all, think about it. The epicentre of the earlier Cold War was in Berlin, not close to Russia. There was a vast buffer zone between Russia and the West in Eastern Europe.

"Today, the epicentre is in Ukraine, literally on Russia's borders. It was the Ukrainian conflict that set this off, and politically Ukraine remains a ticking time bomb. Today's confrontation is not only on Russia's borders, but it's in the heart of Russian-Ukrainian 'Slavic civilization.' This is a civil war as profound in some ways as was America's Civil War."

Cohen continued: "My next point: and still worse – You will remember that after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Washington and Moscow developed certain rules-of-mutual conduct. They saw how dangerously close they had come to a nuclear war, so they adopted "No-Nos,' whether they were encoded in treaties or in unofficial understandings. Each side knew where the other's red line was. Both sides tripped over them on occasion but immediately pulled back because there was a mutual understanding that there were red lines.

"TODAY THERE ARE NO RED LINES. One of the things that Putin and his predecessor President Medvedev keep saying to Washington is: You are crossing our Red Lines! And Washington said, and continues to say, 'You don't have any red lines. We have red lines and we can have all the bases we want around your borders, but you can't have bases in Canada or Mexico. Your red lines don't exist.' This clearly illustrates that today there are no mutual rules of conduct.

"Another important point: Today there is absolutely no organized anti-Cold War or Pro-Detente political force or movement in the United States at all –– not in our political parties, not in the White House, not in the State Department, not in the mainstream media, not in the universities or the think tanks. … None of this exists today. …

"My next point is a question: Who is responsible for this new Cold War? I don't ask this question because I want to point a finger at anyone. The position of the current American political media establishment is that this new Cold War is all Putin's fault – all of it, everything. We in America didn't do anything wrong. At every stage, we were virtuous and wise and Putin was aggressive and a bad man. And therefore, what's to rethink? Putin has to do all of the rethinking, not us."

These two narratives, the Cold War narrative, and the neocons' subsequent "spin" on it: i.e. Bill Kristol's formulation (in 2002) that precisely because of its Cold War "victory," America could, and must, become the "benevolent global hegemon," guaranteeing and sustaining the new American-authored global order – an "omelette that cannot be made without breaking eggs" – converge and conflate in Syria, in the persons of President Assad and President Putin.

President Obama is no neocon, but he is constrained by the global hegemon legacy, which he must either sustain, or be labeled as the arch facilitator of America's decline. And the President is also surrounded by R2P ("responsibility-to-protect") proselytizers, such as Samantha Power, who seem to have convinced the President that "the tyrant" Assad's ouster would puncture and collapse the Wahhabist jihadist balloon, allowing "moderate" jihadists such as Ahrar al-Sham to finish off the deflated fragments of the punctured ISIS balloon.

In practice, President Assad's imposed ouster precisely will empower ISIS, rather than implode it, and the consequences will ripple across the Middle East – and beyond. President Obama privately may understand the nature and dangers of the Wahhabist cultural revolution, but seems to adhere to the conviction that everything will change if only President Assad steps down. The Gulf States said the same about Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. He has gone (for now), but what changed? ISIS got stronger.

Of course if we think of ISIS as evil, for evil's sake, bent on mindless, whimsical slaughter, "what a foolish task it obviously [would be] to think about the enemy's actual motives. After all, to do so would be to treat them as humans, with human purposes arising out of history. It would smack of sympathy for the devil. Of course," Professor Chernus continues, "this means that, whatever we might think of their actions, we generally ignore a wealth of evidence that the Islamic State's fighters couldn't be more human or have more comprehensible motivations."

Indeed, ISIS and the other Caliphate forces have very clear human motivations and clearly articulated political objectives, and none of these is in any way consistent with the type of Syrian State that America says it wants for Syria. This precisely reflects the danger of becoming hostage to a certain narrative, rather than being willing to examine the prevailing conceptual framework more critically.

America lies far away from Syria and the Middle East, and as Professor Stephen Cohen notes, "unfortunately, today's reports seem to indicate that the White House and State Department are thinking primarily how to counter Russia's actions in Syria. They are worried, it was reported, that Russia is diminishing America's leadership in the world."

It is a meme of perpetual national insecurity, of perpetual fears about America's standing and of challenges to its standing, Professor Chernus suggests.

But Europe is not "far away"; it lies on Syria's doorstep. It is also neighbor to Russia. And in this connection, it is worth pondering Professor Cohen's last point: Washington's disinclination to permit Russia any enhancement to its standing in Europe, or in the non-West, through its initiative strategically to defeat Wahhabist jihadism in Syria, is not only to play with fire in the Middle East. It is playing with a fire of even greater danger: to do both at the same time seems extraordinarily reckless.

Cohen again:

"The false idea [has taken root] that the nuclear threat ended with the Soviet Union: In fact, the threat became more diverse and difficult. This is something the political elite forgot. It was another disservice of the Clinton Administration (and to a certain extent the first President Bush in his re-election campaign) saying that the nuclear dangers of the preceding Cold War era no longer existed after 1991. The reality is that the threat grew, whether by inattention or accident, and is now more dangerous than ever."

As Europe becomes accomplice in raising the various pressures on Russia in Syria – economically through sanctions and other financial measures, in Ukraine and Crimea, and in beckoning Montenegro, Georgia and the Baltic towards NATO – we should perhaps contemplate the paradox that Russia's determination to try to avoid war is leading to war.

Russia's call to co-operate with Western states against the scourge of ISIS; its low-key and carefully crafted responses to such provocations as the ambush of its SU-24 bomber in Syria; and President Putin's calm rhetoric, are all being used by Washington and London to paint Russia as a "paper tiger," whom no one needs fear.

In short, Russia is being offered only the binary choice: to acquiesce to the "benevolent" hegemon, or to prepare for war.

Alastair Crooke is a British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum, which advocates for engagement between political Islam and the West. [This article also appeared at the Conflicts Forum's Web site and is republished with permission.]

[Dec 16, 2015] Congress just revived the surveillance state in the name of cybersecurity

Notable quotes:
"... Whistleblower: "Every Time There Is a Terrorist Attack, What We Really Need to Do Is Demand that They CUT the Budgets of All the Intelligence Agencies" - William Binney ..."
Dec 16, 2015 | The Guardian
Stumphole 16 Dec 2015 17:44

Use a VPN and Start Page as a search engine. Nothing is saved from your search.

Fgt 4URIGHTS -> lefthalfback2 16 Dec 2015 19:44

Only the brain dead idiots who are deceived and under collective Stockholm syndrome are fine with it. Yeah, all the illegal surveillance in the world didn't stop the San Bernadinos attack. Also, let's not forget the treason and terrorism being conducted against innocent Americans (Cointelpro/Gangstalking) and hidden from the American people while their asleep to the crimes happening in secret all around them. Yeah for a fascist, totalitarian police state, isn't it cool?? I feel so safe knowing my criminal government is there to protect me because they love me so much.

Whistleblower: "Every Time There Is a Terrorist Attack, What We Really Need to Do Is Demand that They CUT the Budgets of All the Intelligence Agencies" - William Binney

sand44 16 Dec 2015 18:26

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
-Benjamin Franklin 1755

How far has the standard of American politicians managed to fall?

AvZweeden 16 Dec 2015 14:53

Edward Snowden might as well not have blown any whistle, and saved himself a lot of trouble.
Most Americans think America is a democracy, but it is really an oligarchy in disguise. Probably always was. I read this earlier this year:
https://theintercept.com/2015/07/30/jimmy-carter-u-s-oligarchy-unlimited-political-bribery/

[Dec 16, 2015] Big Banks Caught Using Credit Default Swaps To Destroy Nations

Notable quotes:
"... when the Big Banks were caught and convicted of conspiring to manipulate the $500 trillion, LIBOR debt market ..."
"... when the Big Banks were caught and convicted of conspiring to launder trillions for the global drug cartels and "terrorist" entities, despite the supposed "wars" the U.S. claims to be fighting against drugs and terrorism ..."
"... The Vampire Squid Firmly Attached To The Face Of Humanity ..."
"... As far as I can gather, the World Bank and the IMF are apart of the very same Cartel that own/control the Central Banks. ..."
Dec 16, 2015 | Zero Hedge

Then we have the confessions of the criminals. A full one-quarter of Wall Street's and London's senior banking executives freely admit that crime is a way of life in their industry -- organized crime. Even in our justice system (or what remains of it), once armed with confessions, the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" no longer applies – the guilt is conceded.

The Big Banks manipulate credit default swaps to perpetrate economic terrorism against other nations in the world, where they literally destroy the economies of those victim-nations. It used to be a theory, but now the proof is finally emerging. You heard it here first.

LawsofPhysics

So what? Has any of the bank management/leaders gone to prison and lost all their wealth?

Ghordius

good article

"when the Big Banks were caught and convicted of conspiring to manipulate the $500 trillion, LIBOR debt market"

(Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Plc agreed to plead guilty to felony charges of conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros)

"when the Big Banks were caught and convicted of conspiring to launder trillions for the global drug cartels and "terrorist" entities, despite the supposed "wars" the U.S. claims to be fighting against drugs and terrorism"

(Wells Fargo and JPMorgan)

and of course, The Vampire Squid Firmly Attached To The Face Of Humanity, Goldman Sachs, The Great Destroyer

commoncourtesy

Fancy-free please will you explain further.

As far as I can gather, the World Bank and the IMF are apart of the very same Cartel that own/control the Central Banks. All are controlled by the BIS who is run/controlled by pretty much all the same criminals on a merry-go-round. Throw in the Vatican, The Crown (BAR) Temple - The City of London, Washington DC, the Rothschild's et al, puppet Governments (and their military) on the same payroll and the world is pretty much screwed.

Who are the Board of Governors you are talking about?

Who is this coalition?

Please name names.

Can you vouch for their credibility or are they part of the corrupt cartel?

There is far TOO MUCH SECRECY going on.

If everything was more transparent, out of the shadows and open the world would not be in the state is in today.

Closed dealings, complexity and behind the curtain negotiations promote corruption.

How can justice be served when most public jurors would not be able to understand the fraudulent accounting practices being utilised?

What is the TRUTH?

andrewp111

A big load of bullshit. The US has its own currency and that currency is backed by military power. Greece is a subordinate vassal state of the EU. There is no comparison between the two.

[Dec 15, 2015] Noahpinion Academic B.S. as artificial barriers to entry

Notable quotes:
"... And of course, some folks accuse the economics profession of being a front for laissez-faire ideology. ..."
"... Or an entire field, which labored mightily to understand why they missed the second worse crisis in 80 years, only to discover it was for the same reason they missed the worst crisis 80 years ago. ..."
"... It is that economics matter and the nonsense that dominates the discourse, and therefore policy, affects everyone's life. ..."
"... So console yourself that as bad of writers most economist are, their obscurantism is couched in equations so it's harder for the unschooled to ridicule heir papers. ..."
"... A cynical advantage to the increased use or mathematics and mathiness is that the economics field gets to use university math departments to thin the herd just like the engineering field does. Better still, the filter imposed by requiring calculus, statistics and differential equations is not always anticipated: while prospective engineers take AP Calculus and end up in a class where they already know half the material, prospective economists enter Calculus I and flunk out. ..."
"... General Equilibrium, Rational Expectations, Microfoundations, The parculiar definitions of "Rationality" and "Efficiency", Utility Optimization, etc. are all very ideologically driven, and if you do not conform to these standards, you are not accepted within the discipline. I've been told just how completely unreadable Econ papers are, not even talking about the math component, thanks to all of the Jargon. ..."
noahpinionblog.blogspot.com

Paul Romer complains of "mathiness" in macroeconomics. Paul Pfleiderer talks about "chameleon" models. Ricardo Caballero says macroeconomists encourage the "pretense of knowledge". Everywhere, people complain about economists' fetish for pointless model-making.

And of course, some folks accuse the economics profession of being a front for laissez-faire ideology.

...A commenter points out that, as usual, Feynman did this snark way before I did.

Jammer812 10:00 PM

Does it really matter if its obscurantism or tendentious cant that a certain type of of economist engages in (cough, neo Fisherism, cough), and then declare victory, when another prominent economist spend 70 pages to find out that if everyone can do algebra in their heads, it might, just might possibly be true. So lets assume a can opener.. sorry I mean that people can, when experience teaches us that most people can't calculate a 20% tip.

Or on the other side, we have the economist who knows that because they are now accounting for the financial sector their DSGE model is just going to nail it.

Or how about a Noble committee that gives a prize to one economist, whose work is disproved by another economist who shared the prize.

Or an entire field, which labored mightily to understand why they missed the second worse crisis in 80 years, only to discover it was for the same reason they missed the worst crisis 80 years ago.

The difference between critical urban theory, or litcrit, or pomo philosophy or popomo art theory and economics isn't that it is easier for people to make fun . It is that economics matter and the nonsense that dominates the discourse, and therefore policy, affects everyone's life.

So console yourself that as bad of writers most economist are, their obscurantism is couched in equations so it's harder for the unschooled to ridicule heir papers.

Anonymous 1:56 PM

Presumably, no one here would expect a humanities PhD to determine whether an economic theory paper is accurate or useful. Why should the reverse be true?

There may well be advantages to this "obscure" language, in the same way that Bourbaki-esque notation and abstraction is useful in economics. This is communication between experts; the notion that you should be able to understand it most likely reflects a disrespect for the given field itself.

I don't envy any theorist whose primary tool of communication is verbal, but if I were put in that position, you may well expect a complex vocabulary to accompany complex ideas (or even simple ideas, rigorously stated). There may well be problems in the humanities, but we're not qualified to recognize them.

Graham Peterson 4:52 PM

Agree about cartels, but I don't think they're that schematic or conspiratorial. Professors across disciplines really do believe they are contributing to something beyond themselves, to knowledge or truth, and grabbing territory and raising salaries is just a means toward those altruistic ends.

Raising (or guaranteeing) salaries looks to me like an unintended consequence of what is proudly and loudly intended by economists and professors of humanities -- increasing the rigor of analysis. There is just about nobody who disagrees that increasing the rigor of analysis is a bad thing. But how do we do that? By opening up intellectual competition among disciplines, political ideologies, etc., or by constructing evermore elaborate apprentice programs designed to hone already-existing intellectual traditions *within* disciplines, ideologies, etc.?

I can't really see any qualitative difference between increasing the complexity of grammar using any symbolic system, bourbakian notation in mathematics or latinate phrases in English. What's most dangerous for economics is its disregard for empirical observation outside of econometrics. Econometrics, just like theory itself, becomes a theoretical exercise and is subject to all of the same self referential signaling games as high theory is.

Admiring each other's screw drivers isn't any more empirical than admiring each other's theories of how screws secure materials. The point is to turn some screws.

Yamaneko 11:37 PM

A cynical advantage to the increased use or mathematics and mathiness is that the economics field gets to use university math departments to thin the herd just like the engineering field does. Better still, the filter imposed by requiring calculus, statistics and differential equations is not always anticipated: while prospective engineers take AP Calculus and end up in a class where they already know half the material, prospective economists enter Calculus I and flunk out.

... ... ...

Øystein 6:07 PM

You might be interested to learn that the philosopher Jon Elster has drawn an analogy between "hard and soft obscurantism" (econ and critical theory).

Anonymous 9:38 AM

He devotes the last chapter of his book Explaining Social Behavior to this distinction. The whole book is very much worth a read: http://www.amazon.com/Explaining-Social-Behavior-Bolts-Sciences/dp/0521777445

Kain 7:12 PM

I generally agree with your point, except the part where you don't think of Economics as ideologically driven.

http://blog.supplysideliberal.com/post/128894764282/what-is-indoctrination-and-how-is-it-different

"What is indoctrination and how is it different from regular instruction? Indoctrination, suggests Christina Hoff Summers, is characterized by three features, the major conclusions are assumed beforehand, rather than being open to question in the classroom; the conclusions are presented as part of a "unified set of beliefs" that form a comprehensive worldview; and the system is "closed," committed to interpreting all new data in the light of the theory being affirmed.
Whether this account gives us sufficient conditions for indoctrination, and whether, so defined, all indoctrination is bad college pedagogy, may certainly be debated. According to these criteria, for example, all but the most philosophical and adventurous courses in neoclassical economics will count as indoctrination, since undergraduate students certainly are taught the major conclusions of that field as established truths which they are not to criticize from the perspective of any other theory or worldview; they are taught that these truths form a unitary way of seeing the world; and, especially where microeconomics is concerned, the data of human behavior are presented as seen through the lens of that theory. It is probably good that these conditions obtain at the undergraduate level, where one cannot simultaneously learn the ropes and criticize them–although one might hope that the undergraduate will pick up in other courses, for example courses in moral philosophy, the theoretical apparatus needed to raise critical questions about these foundations."

General Equilibrium, Rational Expectations, Microfoundations, The parculiar definitions of "Rationality" and "Efficiency", Utility Optimization, etc. are all very ideologically driven, and if you do not conform to these standards, you are not accepted within the discipline. I've been told just how completely unreadable Econ papers are, not even talking about the math component, thanks to all of the Jargon.

Might be less politically-motivated, but it doesn't necessarily require a particular political viewpoint to be ideologically-motivated.

Dulimbai 7:48 PM

Yo do understand that this is exactly the point? Thomas Kuhn, which knew something about science, basically said that science requires barriers to entry to get amateurs out.

A good explanation can be found here http://lesswrong.com/lw/lr/evaporative_cooling_of_group_beliefs/

Ghyl Tarvoke 8:29 PM

I think here you are giving too much importance to the gatekeeping/economic aspect of the most vacuous outpourings of Critical Theory. My experience as a history MA is that such academics give so little thought to economics and their economic situation that such thoughts rarely enter their minds. However, it probably has had the effect of reducing the intellectual diversity of many subjects, which in the humanities at least is a major shame and a problem.

My theory is more straightforward and it's simple. Don't underestimate people's, even academics (perhaps especially academics), intellectual laziness and the desire to dress up their priors in language that looks 'intellectual' thus making your priors look smart and those who don't share your priors not so smart. In short the popularity of most of Critical Theory is due to the lazy man's guide to enlightenment, making something look intellectually difficult while not really challenging people at all. After all, it is not as if many of the core beliefs of large parts of critical theory once you remove the verbiage are not widespread among certain elements of society. And those elements are massively over represented among people liking to do a BA in literature or anthropology. Why are such beliefs so popular? Well, that's a different and difficult question.

However, I do feel liking pointing out, as others have already alluded to, critical theory and postmodernism have had their day. It peaked in the 90s and belongs to the era of Seinfeld, Grunge, and Triangulation. Now there is a trend towards another ideology, bland progressivism and the fear of giving anything that looks like a controversial opinion. This, at least, is notable in History (I can't speak for literature, in Anthropology pomo is more prevalent but is certainly declining). Some have justified this as 'empiricism', and perhaps it is a needed reaction to what went before, but it is frequently driven by the same intellectual forces I've described above. The difference between Generation Y and the Boomers perhaps. Either way, the gatekeeping aspect is barely part of it.

Tom Warner 2:00 PM

Seems to me anon you are agreeing with the complaint about academic obscurantism: it's the use of an artificial dialect, which only practitioners would invest in learning how to read, to create a false impression of sophistication. The only oddity is you seem inexplicably proud of your fluency in said dialect.

Anonymous 7:55 PM

"Mathematical theory, of the type economists do, is hard to do..."

Such barriers to entry should be erected so as to keep out the math and physics nerds that have destroyed economics.

[Dec 14, 2015] The long-cherished neocon dream of "regime change" in Syria is blocking a possible route out of the crisis

consortiumnews.com
anne,
https://consortiumnews.com/2015/12/12/blocking-democracy-as-syrias-solution/

December 12, 2015

Blocking Democracy as Syria's Solution By Robert Parry

The long-cherished neocon dream of "regime change" in Syria is blocking a possible route out of the crisis – a ceasefire followed by elections in which President Assad could compete. The problem is there's no guarantee that Assad would lose and thus the dream might go unfulfilled.
By Robert Parry

The solution to the crisis in Syria could be democracy – letting the people of Syria decide who they want as their leaders – but it is the Obama administration and its regional Sunni "allies," including U.S.-armed militants and jihadists, that don't want to risk a democratic solution because it might not achieve the long-held goal of "regime change."

Some Syrian opposition forces, which were brought together under the auspices of the Saudi monarchy in Riyadh this past week, didn't even want the word "democracy" included in their joint statement. The New York Times reported on Friday, "Islamist delegates objected to using the word 'democracy' in the final statement, so the term 'democratic mechanism' was used instead, according to a member of one such group who attended the meeting."

Even that was too much for Ahrar al-Sham, one of the principal jihadist groups fighting side-by-side with Al Qaeda's Nusra Front, the two key elements inside the Saudi-created Army of Conquest, which uses sophisticated U.S.-supplied TOW missiles to kill Syrian government troops.

Ahrar al-Sham announced its withdrawal from the Riyadh conference because the meeting didn't "confirm the Muslim identity of our people." Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sought to maintain a secular government that protects the rights of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities, but Sunni militants have been fighting to overthrow him since 2011.

Despite Ahrar al-Sham's rejection of the Saudi-organized conference, all the opposition participants, including one from Ahrar al-Sham who apparently wasn't aware of his group's announcement, signed the agreement, the Times reported.

"All parties signed a final statement that called for maintaining the unity of Syria and building a civil, representative government that would take charge after a transitional period, at the start of which Mr. Assad and his associates would step down," wrote Times' correspondent Ben Hubbard.

But the prospects of Assad and his government just agreeing to cede power to the opposition remains highly unlikely. An obvious alternative – favored by Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin – is to achieve a ceasefire and then have internationally supervised elections in which the Syrian people could choose their own leaders.

Although President Barack Obama insists Assad is hated by most Syrians – and if that's true, he would presumably lose any fair election – the U.S. position is to bar Assad from the ballot, thus ensuring "regime change" in Syria, a long-held goal of Official Washington's neoconservatives.

In other words, to fulfill the neocons' dream of Syrian "regime change," the Obama administration is continuing the bloody Syrian conflict which has killed a quarter million people, has created an opening for Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists, and has driven millions of refugees into and through nearby countries, now destabilizing Europe and feeding xenophobia in the United States.

For his part, Assad called participants in the Saudi conference "terrorists" and rejected the idea of negotiating with them. "They want the Syrian government to negotiate with the terrorists, something I don't think anyone would accept in any country," Assad told Spanish journalists, as he repeated his position that many of the terrorists were backed by foreign governments and that he would only "deal with the real, patriotic national opposition."

Kinks in the Process

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Friday that he was in contact with senior Saudi officials and noted, "there are some questions and obviously a couple of – in our judgment – kinks to be worked out" though expressing confidence that the problems could be resolved.

A key problem appears to be that the Obama administration has so demonized Assad and so bought into the neocon goal of "regime change" that Obama doesn't feel that he can back down on his "Assad must go!" mantra. Yet, to force Assad out and bar him from running in an election means escalating the war by either further arming the Sunni jihadists or mounting a larger-scale invasion of Syria with the U.S. military confronting Syrian and now Russian forces to establish what is euphemistically called "a safe zone" inside Syria. A related "no-fly zone" would require destroying Syrian air defenses, now supplied by the Russians.

Obama has largely followed the first course of action, allowing Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other Sunni "allies" to funnel U.S. weapons to jihadists, including Ahrar al-Sham which fights alongside Al Qaeda's Nusra Front as the two seek to transform Syria into a Islamic fundamentalist state, a goal shared by Al Qaeda's spinoff (and now rival), the Islamic State.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has termed Obama's choice of aiding the jihadists a "willful decision," even in the face of DIA warnings about the likely rise of the Islamic State and other extremists.

In August 2012, DIA described the danger in a classified report, which noted that "The salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISI or ISIS and then the Islamic State] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria." The report also said that "If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared salafist principality in eastern Syria" and that "ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria."

Despite these risks, Obama continued to insist that "Assad must go!" and let his administration whip up a propaganda campaign around claims that Assad's forces launched a sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. Though many of the U.S. claims about that attack have since been discredited – and later evidence implicated radical jihadists (possibly collaborating with Turkish intelligence) trying to trick the U.S. military into intervening on their side – the Obama administration did not retract or clarify its initial claims.

By demonizing Assad – much like the demonization of Russian President Putin – Obama may feel that he is deploying "soft power" propaganda to put foreign adversaries on the defensive while also solidifying his political support inside hawkish U.S. opinion circles, but false narratives can take on a life of their own and make rational settlements difficult if not impossible....

ilsm -> anne...
The Syria terror consortium was in Riyadh checking in with their bankers. To the Sunni democracy is apostate anathema.
anne -> ilsm...
I understand the frustration and beyond, after all I read about Yemen being bombed with American bombs and target sightings and I cannot imagine the policy incentives driving us.

Nonetheless, the Yemen bombings go on day on day on day.

anne -> ilsm...
Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen? Who could possibly ever understand, but our policy makers act as though they do.

[Dec 14, 2015] Offshoring and Unskilled Labor Demand Evidence That Trade Matters

Notable quotes:
"... I actually think that the bigger effect is not just offshoring, but a vicious circle relating to increasing inequality. After all, most of the economy today is services, but if normal people cant afford the services anymore, then that will of course stagnate, forcing down wages decreasing the affordability even more (or causing substitution of inferior automated or remote services). ..."
"... That is why the one employment bright spot is medical services which are subsidised (one way or the other) almost everywhere. We really have to investigate more the distribution of the circulation of money, how the concentration of money in a few hands means that money circulates through relatively hands. I dont know of anybody who actually investigates this. You could say, it is the disaggregation-is-important problem. ..."
"... One thing that really annoys with political discussion today is the dominance of money illusion. This is particularly extreme in the Euro area today where Germans keep complaining that so and so will be taking our tax money . No one ever seems to stop and think, where does the money come from in the first place , and yet, in macro-economics, this is absolutely the most important question. Nobody even seems to notice that both deleveraging and bankruptcy actively destroy money and that money needs to be replaced. ..."
"... Foreign companies like Toyota and Honda solidified their dominance in family and economy cars, gained market share in high-margin luxury cars, and, in an ironic twist, soon stormed in with their own sophisticatedly engineered and marketed SUVs, pickups and minivans. Detroit, suffering from a "good enough" syndrome and wedded to ineffective marketing gimmicks like rebates and zero-percent financing, failed to give consumers what they really wanted - reliability, the latest technology and good design at a reasonable cost. ..."
"... Yes, I see offshoring as a transitional stage while foreign workers are cheaper than machines. ..."
"... The plot was about automation, but the moral was about humanity. :) ..."
"... "The main business of humanity is to do a good job of being human beings, said Paul, not to serve as appendages to machines, institutions, and systems." ..."
"... It is not the PRODUCERS who have a huge incentive to make sure it never happens. Au contraire, they want their consumers to have more money. It is the OWNERS who want to make sure it never happens because that would dilute their power. ..."
Dec 14, 2015 | Economist's View

Syaloch said in reply to cm...

So you think that offshoring does not eventually increase living standards in the destination countries? That's odd. What's your evidence?

Automation may not be the first response, but it's always in the equation:

CEO: "Those pesky foreign workers are asking for more again! Machines are so much easier to work with. Can we replace them with machines yet?"

CTO: "Let me check... No, not yet, but a lot of smart people are working on it."

CEO: "OK, then let's look for another offshoring partner with more complacent workers for now and revisit this later."

The answer to this automation question only has to be yes once to permanently change the playing field.

reason said...

I actually think that the bigger effect is not just offshoring, but a vicious circle relating to increasing inequality. After all, most of the economy today is services, but if normal people can't afford the services anymore, then that will of course stagnate, forcing down wages decreasing the affordability even more (or causing substitution of inferior automated or remote services).

That is why the one employment bright spot is medical services which are subsidised (one way or the other) almost everywhere. We really have to investigate more the distribution of the circulation of money, how the concentration of money in a few hands means that money circulates through relatively hands. I don't know of anybody who actually investigates this. You could say, it is the disaggregation-is-important problem.

reason said...

One thing that really annoys with political discussion today is the dominance of money illusion. This is particularly extreme in the Euro area today where Germans keep complaining that so and so will be taking "our tax money". No one ever seems to stop and think, "where does the money come from in the first place", and yet, in macro-economics, this is absolutely the most important question. Nobody even seems to notice that both deleveraging and bankruptcy actively destroy money and that money needs to be replaced.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to pgl...

"...the empty suits running GM and Ford were both greedy and incompetent..."

[Yep!]

http://www.amazon.com/The-United-States-Toyota-Squandered/dp/1592993028

The United States of Toyota: How Detroit Squandered Its Legacy and Enabled Toyota to Become America's Car Company

September 11, 2007

by Peter M. DeLorenzo

The United States of Toyota is many stories in one. First and foremost, it is a business story, detailing the decline of the American automobile industry - and the simultaneous rise of an Asian manufacturer to take its place. It is also a history book, providing an intimate portrait of the larger-than-life personalities and cars that led the American auto industry through its glory days and down the path toward extinction. It is a political/current affairs piece, presenting the rise of a Japanese company - Toyota - not just in terms of its sales success but also in terms of its cultural success, as it works to assimilate into American society. And finally, it is a never-before-seen primer on Detroit - The Motor City - a town and a region dominated by the auto companies, their suppliers and their ad agencies - and by a mindset and culture all its own. In commentary that is as accurate as it is blunt, Peter De Lorenzo presents the players and the action in the auto business in a way not seen before in print. His voice is unique and refreshingly candid. His provocative analyses and assessments - grounded in personal experience and a lifelong immersion in all things automotive - present a compelling picture of the state of the auto business - how it used to be, what it has become and where it is headed. From the arrogance and short-sightedness of the Detroit manufacturers to the acumen and relentlessness of Toyota, The United States of Toyota paints an insightful portrait of an iconic American industry as it struggles for survival in the early years of the 21st century.

http://www.amazon.com/The-End-Detroit-American-Market/dp/0385507704

The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market


September 21, 2004
by Micheline Maynard

An in-depth, hard-hitting account of the mistakes, miscalculations and myopia that have doomed America's automobile industry.

In the 1990s, Detroit's Big Three automobile companies were riding high. The introduction of the minivan and the SUV had revitalized the industry, and it was widely believed that Detroit had miraculously overcome the threat of foreign imports and regained its ascendant position. As Micheline Maynard makes brilliantly clear in THE END OF DETROIT, however, the traditional American car industry was, in fact, headed for disaster. Maynard argues that by focusing on high-profit trucks and SUVs, the Big Three missed a golden opportunity to win back the American car-buyer.

Foreign companies like Toyota and Honda solidified their dominance in family and economy cars, gained market share in high-margin luxury cars, and, in an ironic twist, soon stormed in with their own sophisticatedly engineered and marketed SUVs, pickups and minivans. Detroit, suffering from a "good enough" syndrome and wedded to ineffective marketing gimmicks like rebates and zero-percent financing, failed to give consumers what they really wanted - reliability, the latest technology and good design at a reasonable cost. Drawing on a wide range of interviews with industry leaders, including Toyota's Fujio Cho, Nissan's Carlos Ghosn, Chrysler's Dieter Zetsche, BMW's Helmut Panke, and GM's Robert Lutz, as well as car designers, engineers, test drivers and owners, Maynard presents a stark picture of the culture of arrogance and insularity that led American car manufacturers astray. Maynard predicts that, by the end of the decade, one of the American car makers will no longer exist in its present form.

*

[Like the executives of the US steel industry before them, the management of the big three (plus one) US automakers possessed legendary inabilities when it came to product development and production quality control. One can only imagine that their golf games must have been better than their understanding of auto making.]

pgl said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

Exactly - products designs that were better than our. Lean production which we were slow to adapt. And there are those Jan commercials. Toyotas are selling like crazy. But at least Ford and GM is finally under new management.

sanjait said in reply to pgl...

A few decades later ... Ford and GM do indeed look to be getting their act together. I'd buy a car from either one of those companies today.

lower middle class said...

Paging Dr. Proteus... Dr. Paul Proteus!

cm said in reply to lower middle class...

That was automation, not offshoring.

Syaloch said in reply to cm...

In the end that's a distinction without a difference.

Julio said in reply to Syaloch...

Yes, I see offshoring as a transitional stage while foreign workers are cheaper than machines.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Julio...

Machines could not open up SE Asian markets to US firms in the way that offshoring could.

Syaloch said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

Suppose we visited those factories from Player Piano and discovered that the few highly educated workers remaining were not overseeing automated machines, but rather shipping raw materials over to a foreign country where goods were produced by low-wage laborers. In terms of the domestic economy, would that make any difference?

Large-scale offshoring was enabled by machines that made the exchange of goods and information between remote locations possible. Whatever residual labor component is involved is merely an automation problem that hasn't been solved... yet.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Syaloch...

MNCs wanted their capital investment to have access to the markets with the most growth potential. Regulatory and FOREX arbitrage helped. Labor costs were low on the totem pole.

Syaloch said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

That's more true with offshored manufacturing than with services. US companies aren't sending call center jobs to India because they hope to serve the Indian market.

But even with regard to manufacturing labor costs are obviously a major consideration. Just watch any episode of "Shark Tank" and listen to the sharks explain how stupid anyone is for trying to manufacture anything here in the US. Are t-shirts sewn in Bangladesh because of the huge growth potential in apparel sales there? Were the Mexican maquiladoras set up to have better access to the Mexican market?

lower middle class said in reply to cm...

The plot was about automation, but the moral was about humanity. :)

"The main business of humanity is to do a good job of being human beings," said Paul, "not to serve as appendages to machines, institutions, and systems."
― Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano

Syaloch said in reply to lower middle class...

Toward the end of Player Piano the Shah of Bratpuhr asks a very good question: What are people for?

When I first read Player Piano I also happened by pure chance to be reading a collection of essays by Wendell Berry titled "What Are People For?"

The eponymous essay from Berry's collection was a great complement to Vonnegut's book.

lower middle class said in reply to Syaloch...

Time for me to visit the library, thanks Syaloch!

reason said...

New Deal democrat
Yes, it is part of your name (and was copied then throughout the Western world). Then of course there was the Russian and Chinese revolutions, which at least initially were very egalitarian.

New Deal democrat said in reply to reason...

I think you misunderstood my point, which was about liberalizing international trade. I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think that was a really high priority of the Russian and Chinese revolutions. :)

pgl said in reply to New Deal democrat...

I studied Russian history. Free trade was not exactly what drove Lenin. And it is certainly not what drives Putin.

PPaine said in reply to New Deal democrat...

There was a significant debate about trade early on with bukharin advocating. Two way openness. And Lenin a two way state monopoly. Lenin anticipated what happened to russia after the wall fell ....70 or so years later.

He had a keen insight into MNCs free for all tactics. Unfortunately state concessions which he supported faced a tacit constriction.

Despite notable exceptions including Pater Koch

reason said...

P.S. New Deal democrat

It is not the PRODUCERS who have a huge incentive to make sure it never happens. Au contraire, they want their consumers to have more money. It is the OWNERS who want to make sure it never happens because that would dilute their power.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to reason...

Yep. Capital gains... and gains... and gains, until there is little left for labor gains.

pgl said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

Nike makes obscene profits. And for what? Designing new shoes? They don't make anything - their third party Chinese manufacturers do the hard work at low wages. BTW - the US does not get to tax those Nike profits as they end up in Bermuda.

[Dec 14, 2015] Barack Obama warns leaders of Islamic State in speech: 'you are next'

Notable quotes:
"... There is no far left in Europe any more. Since the Merkels, Hollandes, Blairs and Rasmussens of this world were planted in prominent positions because of their excruciatingly statusquo orientation, even the moderate left has practically ceased to exist. We now have rabid right or moderately rabid right to choose from, except for a few notable exceptions. ..."
"... Obama does not have a clue, he has lost the plot. He is backing Saudi Arabia who are the biggest instigators of terrorism in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is announcing a 34-state military alliance to fight terrorism. ..."
"... Seems to me that IS was created, either accidentally or deliberately, by the US and its success has gone beyond the US administrations worst nightmare? When the US refuses slam Turkey for it's recent shoot-down of the Russian plane, and do anything to support Iraq in getting rid of unwanted Turkish military near Mosul, within Iraq and near the IS capital, nor wanting to know about Turkish involvement supplying Sarin gas agents to IS, or stopping Turkey supplying food and arms to IS, and receiving stolen Syrian and Iraqi oil as payment, nor preventing Turkey from being the transit centre and R R centre for IS recruits, then maybe its time to assume that IS is the deliberate brainchild of the US, and that Turkey is playing to the US tune and protection, for promises of territory in a future carve up of Iraq and or Syria. ..."
"... Seems that ISIL, ISIS, IS and Daesh are all names invented by the US to spread the narrative through the media. They all mean US proxy army to me. Just my opinion. ..."
"... Perhaps that is because ISIS doesn't actually occupy territory as such. As Mr. Knight says, they are an ideology, an idea. An idea, unfortunately in this case, doesn't live in houses in prescribed areas any more than Republicanism lives in Chicago. The way forward has to involve NOT creating another 10,000 new mortal enemies in the Middle East every day. Even if only twelve innocent people had died in Iraq in 2003, instead of the hundreds of thousands who actually did, one could understand very large groups of people related to the victims cursing the US for its irresponsible meddling. ..."
"... Incredibly ignorant of the president. The US lives in sin with the Saudis. As long as the Saudis keep importing Wahhabism out of their country to others, the problem will exist. ..."
"... We bombed the Taliban. We bombed Al Qaeda. Neither lead to anything more than establishing the rise of ISIS in the destabilised areas we had bombed. ..."
"... The biggest contribution America can make to getting rid of Isis is to persuade its friends and allies - Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey mainly - to turn off the tap of finance, munitions and logistics to Isis, Al Qaeda in Syria (Al Nusra) and its allies like Ahrar Al Sham. No American ground troops needed; they would be counter-productive. ..."
"... The secular Syrian government, with women in its ranks, is fighting for its life against a most ruthless and abominable enemy: fanatical jihadist mercenaries financed by an execrable mediaeval tyranny, Saudi Barbaria. This is the enemy of all we stand for, the enemy that perpetrated 9/11 and 7/7 and their latest clone that bombed Paris concert-goers and Russian holiday-makers. They are paid and trained by Riyadh. And armed to the teeth with modern American weapons, passed to them by the newest demagogue, Turkey's Erdo an. ..."
"... The sworn enemy of all these head-chopping bigots is Assad's secular republic of Syria because it challenges the ideological dogmatism of Sharia Law. This law is as rigid as Hitler's Nazism or Stalin's communism. ..."
"... I wonder if because 'a few weeks' was finally taken to supposedly destroy this critical infrastructure - if the 'evasive' ISIL oil business - along with revenues - will suffer? I also wonder why the air campaign hasn't been extended to include the purchasers of ISIL's oil supplies - at sea and in their home countries. ..."
"... Isis must ultimately be defeated by Muslim forces, or we'll be manufacturing radical faster than we can kill them. ..."
"... The Muslims seem to be manufacturing radicals quickly enough without any help from us. ..."
"... What have they been doing for the last two years then? No attacks on ISIS trucks transporting oil, no sanctions on countries that have been buying that oil. We only get some action now that Russia has been attacking ISIS in Syria and of course there is minimal reporting of the successes of the Russians in Western media. As far as Libya is concerned, there are very ominous signs that ISIS is moving to set up headquarters in that country, a country a lot closer to Europe than Syria or Iraq are. There is also the problem that the Russians will not be involved in Libya, unlike Syria, they do not have a functioning government to ask them in. Libya is the nightmare created by NATO and the US, they will have to take full responsibility for their dreadful actions there and fight the barbarians they created, no sitting back and allowing them to flourish this time. ..."
"... What a farce, who does Obama think he's kidding? If the US was serious about ISIS it would have been finished off a year ago, now that Russia has called the US's bluff they now have to pretend to step up to the plate. Pathetic. ..."
"... More drivel from the counterfeit president. His allies in the middle east are disgusting butchers. Take Turkey: it is a great shame for Turkey that 32 journalists are imprisoned in the 21st century. Some were arrested on Nov. 26 after being charged in May with espionage, revealing confidential documents and membership in a terrorist organization. The charges are related to a report published by a leading newspaper claiming weapons-loaded trucks that were discovered in January 2014 en route to Syria actually belonged to the National Intelligence Organization (M T) and had been sent to provide support to rebel groups. ..."
The Guardian


ricohflex 14 Dec 2015 22:26

Talk big but no action. Hot air. Everybody knows now.
After the Syria red line fiasco, the whole world knows US president makes empty promises.
In the next TV broadcast, he will give excuses why he cannot do it. Then he will repeat "No Boots On The Ground". Then the US president will blame Congress for not giving him permission to do the most basic things.
...
Now in end-2015 Obama has only ONE thing on his mind.
He wants to preserve the legacy of his presidency.
He does not want to do anything to risk the presidency being blamed.
He does not want to take any mis-step.
It is a Zero Risk environment in the White House now.
He dares not even reveal the truth on what country's air space the SU-24 was flying in, when it was shot down.
It will just be TALK from now on until the next president takes over in 2016.


wardropper -> LupusCanis 14 Dec 2015 22:21

There is no "far left" in Europe any more. Since the Merkels, Hollandes, Blairs and Rasmussens of this world were planted in prominent positions because of their excruciatingly statusquo orientation, even the moderate "left" has practically ceased to exist. We now have rabid right or moderately rabid right to choose from, except for a few notable exceptions.


GerdT 14 Dec 2015 22:21

Looking out the window I can see the hills that mark the border to Cambodia and not far away Vietnam. I still remember the speeches given during the Vietnam War and how close victory was. The bombs dropped on these countries including North Vietnam during the war exceeded what was dropped during WWII in the Atlantic/European and the Pacific theater of war. Still, it was a US helicopter that left from the American Embassy in Saigon that concluded that war, with the US going home and into denial about the outcome of that war.

The apocalypse foreseen by the prophets of doomsday painting a picture of an Asian continent that would turn into a communist infested threat to human kind didn't happen.

I have been recently in Vietnam and Cambodia and seen that people get on with their lives and economies that try to improve for the coming ASEAN community. Without help from western countries they have started to rebuild what was left of their countries after the champion of democracy had left. As the peanut farmer and former President Jimmy Carter said, the destruction was mutual and hence Vietnam didn't deserve any compensation for the unbelievable collateral damage caused by US intervention in this country. If the US was really trying to protect democracy or as Bill Clinton described it protecting National Security, which he defined as US business interests and given the US a right to interfere in any country that tries to threaten them, is a debatable point.

During the following decades the US again would raise terror and war in countries to ensure that the branding of democracy they preferred would be exported. South Vietnam hadn't been a democracy when the US decided to send troops across and the political leaders of that country came from the military, granting themselves the titles of president and minister, but holding the country in the same grip as in the North the communist did. From South America to the Middle East the US supported groups and leaders that were favorable to US business interests. The Taliban were a useful tool to drive out the Soviet Union only to become a haven for Bin Laden and his followers. Iraq has turned into a political and humanitarian nightmare and ISIL that was as a startup supplied with weapons and training by the US to drive out Assad from Syria is now the greatest threat to world peace according to the US.

We only have to take a look at the close friends and allies of the US in the Middle East and South America to understand how they spell democracy and human rights. Maybe it is time to listen to the millions of people with families that want to live in peace and are tired of foreign interference in their countries. Instead of supplying arms and support to people that favor the western or eastern political view, we should start to invest and rebuild these countries to ensure they can become equal and respected partners within the global community.

Phil Atkinson 14 Dec 2015 22:18

What a joke! Ashton Carter to visit the Middle East to jockey along the Arab states - the same people that the USA supplies weapons to, that end up with terrorists. Or Turkey, that erstwhile NATO member which has been stealing Syrian oil and selling it to Israel and speaking of Israel, that country still illegally occupying the Golan Heights in Syria and aiding and abetting Al-Nusra Front fighters and bombing inside Syria.

Ashton Carter is a dangerous fool, who believes his own government's propaganda. He should be kept at home.

SomersetApples 14 Dec 2015 22:08

Obama does not have a clue, he has lost the plot. He is backing Saudi Arabia who are the biggest instigators of terrorism in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is announcing a 34-state military alliance to fight terrorism.

Informed17 14 Dec 2015 22:08

If ISIS does not do what Obama says, US-led coalition of 60+ countries will destroy another pair of Islamist excavators. I am sure ISIS leaders are scared shitless.

RocketSurgeon 14 Dec 2015 22:03

Seems to me that IS was created, either accidentally or deliberately, by the US and its success has gone beyond the US administrations worst nightmare?
When the US refuses slam Turkey for it's recent shoot-down of the Russian plane, and do anything to support Iraq in getting rid of unwanted Turkish military near Mosul, within Iraq and near the IS capital, nor wanting to know about Turkish involvement supplying Sarin gas agents to IS, or stopping Turkey supplying food and arms to IS, and receiving stolen Syrian and Iraqi oil as payment, nor preventing Turkey from being the transit centre and R & R centre for IS recruits, then maybe its time to assume that IS is the deliberate brainchild of the US, and that Turkey is playing to the US tune and protection, for promises of territory in a future carve up of Iraq and or Syria.

Seems that ISIL, ISIS, IS and Daesh are all names invented by the US to spread the narrative through the media. They all mean US proxy army to me.
Just my opinion.

readerofgrauniad -> Stephen_Sean 14 Dec 2015 22:01

But who are the good boys in this? To end the war, Asad is probably the best option, and compared to IS he looks like a saint.


wardropper -> Lech1980 14 Dec 2015 21:59

Perhaps that is because ISIS doesn't actually occupy "territory" as such. As Mr. Knight says, they are an ideology, an idea. An idea, unfortunately in this case, doesn't live in houses in prescribed areas any more than Republicanism lives in Chicago. The way forward has to involve NOT creating another 10,000 new mortal enemies in the Middle East every day. Even if only twelve innocent people had died in Iraq in 2003, instead of the hundreds of thousands who actually did, one could understand very large groups of people related to the victims cursing the US for its irresponsible meddling. I would imagine our enemies over there number about 50 million by now, and nobody in human history has been able to survive having that many enemies...

Thomas Hancock 14 Dec 2015 21:55

Incredibly ignorant of the president. The US lives in sin with the Saudis. As long as the Saudis keep importing Wahhabism out of their country to others, the problem will exist. The thing you learn from history is that no one learns anything from history. Maybe someone can get a time machine and go back to kill Ho Chi Minh, and Vietnam will be a capitalist paradise. This is the same strategy that helped create ISIS in the first place.

Bernard Knight 14 Dec 2015 21:55

We bombed the Taliban. We bombed Al Qaeda. Neither lead to anything more than establishing the rise of ISIS in the destabilised areas we had bombed. What is the point?

1ClearSense -> Stephen_Sean 14 Dec 2015 21:48

Is that right? You mean when they hit 1050 oil tanker trucks, that's nothing? US followed up hitting 300. They stopped oil revenues for ISIS, and reduced their revenues by 50 %. The number of sorties they have run on ISIS has been considerably more than US. They have also hit other terrorists to secure the rear, so Syrian troops can move on ISIS. You guys are brainwashed.


Budovski Ximples -> AaronClausen 14 Dec 2015 21:42

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-crisis-turkey-and-saudi-arabia-shock-western-countries-by-supporting-anti-assad-jihadists-10242747.html


pierotg LupusCanis 14 Dec 2015 21:42

"the US has killed 23,000 ISIL members in airstrikes"

Who told you? Disney Channel? Anyone can lie to you as long as you are behind a TV screen. It's quite an easy task (having sufficient intelligence resources and money of course)... It's incredibly obvious it would be sufficient hitting the financing of those mercenaries or not to buy the oil they are selling. You know all that "intelligence resources, analysts, linguists, SIGINT experts...". If only the US government wanted really. And yet what is ISIS? Quite a volatile entity... looks like franchising terror... IS/ISIS/ISIL/Daesh will "desappear" when it won't be useful anymore. And they will only find a new name whenever a new proxy ground army should be required.

"Kremlinbot"? The cold war revamping has seduced you. Let me rimand you this facts:

You'll find the facts... Not on Disnet Channel though.

After the dissolution of USSR it was clear that it was not "the enemy" anymore. Yet the Ministry of Defence (and its industry) need powerful and fearsome enemies!
Et voilà, despite what the Ministry fo Truth says, after 20 years of tranquillity it's Russia getting sourranded by military bases along its borders, losing Ukraine (and possibly its strategic Crimea) and now directly challenged in Syria (where they have military bases). Doesn't Russia have the right to "defend" itself and have allies? They have a Ministry of Defense too...

What if Russia had intervened to topple king Salman of Suadi Arabia because of him being a fearsome dictator? Yet no one did nothing when the "arab spring" was brutally repressed in the region (with the help of the USA).

It's quite hard not to admit the USA has been quite agressive and active ... So whose to blame for this warfare and new cold war tensions? You might be more biased and less Whitehousebot.

PS
Of course I'm not russian.

Bernard Knight 14 Dec 2015 21:40

At it's core ISIS, ISL, DEASH, call them what you will, are a murderous death cult using jihad and the establishment of a califate as their raison d'etre. They are an ideology, an idea. No amounts of bombing or taking territory will annihilate that idea. Perhaps it should be the Islamic world that tackles this threat, starting with first and foremost, our foremost arms purchasers, Saudi Arabia.

Shatford Shatford 14 Dec 2015 21:34

Asked if Obama had consciously chosen to make his rhetoric more aggressive for public benefit, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said when the president meets the national security council, "he is not looking at public opinion polls".

Obvious bullshit. It's this kind of Hilary Clinton-like waffling rhetoric and pandering to opinion polls is what is driving the popularity of Donald Trump's campaign.

Nolan Harding 14 Dec 2015 21:25

The Islamic state is surrounded by hostile forces, they are under siege so how are they getting ammunition, refined gasoline, food, internet service and all thier Toyota trucks. Obviously the forces surrounding them are not that hostile. A real siege would have seen them starving to death years ago. Like in Leningrad...now THAT was a siege and REAL war, not this strategic game the deluded masses think is a ' war'.


JMWong 14 Dec 2015 21:24

Obama has missed the opportunity to announce that hw would the bunch of criminals consisting of Bush, Cheney, Blair, Rumsfeld, Allbright, McCain, Cameron, Hollande, etc. to the International Tribunal for trial for their crimes against humanity. They have murdered millions of people.


bunkusmystic -> burnel 14 Dec 2015 21:18

Have a look at the latest Isis videos they have all the latest American weapons ... How do you think they get them? Is it private citizens in Saudi who buy them or the government ... The Saudis want the Iraqi and Syrian oil fields and they are using this Isis fabrication to get them. If the coalition is so serious about fighting Isis how is it that thousands of oil tankers pass through turkey each day? With no one noticing??? It's only Russia who is taking real action


tjmars 14 Dec 2015 21:17

This is to draw the heat-seeker foreign press away from the Mad Turk Erdogan who is fake-begging the Russians to prove the accusations that Erdogan Jr is running "red-stained oil" to major buyers on the Turkish black market...
Ooops!...don't want to know who those 'terrorist supporting capitalists" are!...
Is this an example of 'laissez-faire" in Late Capitalism...a "bubble" for risk-taking investors?
Whew! Its a good thing "Soylent Green" was a fictional commodity in movies or the funeral homes would be void of any "dead meat" for ritual burials..
Thanlks to Capitalism, we will one day see the mythical "dog-eat-dog" aphorism come to light with "god-damned" good profits...
The western central bankers weren't 'standing behind the curtain" pulling the levers of power again were they?
Do a litmus test on their 'red tooth and claw' mentality...
Hey where did they go?
Obama made them disappear with his speech!


clashcr 14 Dec 2015 21:14

Hmm, not a word about Assad. Well US policy about radical Islam - take your pick there are nearly 20 groups in Syria - is about it being overt and not covert. So, they are pleased when radicals show their faces and establish territory because it attracts more radicals to leave the west to go there to be killed. The other result may be that the moderates like the Muslim Brotherhood who may seriously have been talking about a pan-Islamic Caliphate and Sharia law have seen their cause put back by decades.


JMWong -> sage10 14 Dec 2015 21:12


If the USA wants to fight ISIS, it must attack ISIS at its source, that is, the countries where the ISIS fighters originate. This means Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the USA itself, UK, France, etc. Bomb these countries and the sources of ISIS fighters will dry up.

sashasmirnoff 14 Dec 2015 21:09

I apologize for deviating slightly from this story, but I have a link to share concerning what would usually be considered a sensational story, but this paper has neglected to cover it. A Turkish Parliamentarian has come forward with documented proof that in 2013 Turkey supplied IS with the components to manufacture Sarin gas and facilitated their transport to the IS in Syria. I have no idea why the Guardian doesn't consider this to be newsworthy.

https://www.rt.com/news/325825-sarin-gas-syria-turkey/

sage10 14 Dec 2015 20:59

I still see nothing but a PR blitz here. The strategy has not changed. The claims of success are over-rated. ISIS still controls large swathes of territory; and more importantly, it has shown it can project power internationally...all the way to the US...through sleeper cells and lone wolf attacks. The only way to deal with such a pernicious organization is a full on-the-ground massive combined arms assault: armor, air power, and heavy infantry. It won't take a Desert Storm type campaign, as ISIS is no where near as large as Saddam's army; but it will take a real coordinated military campaign with boots-on-the-ground to seize and hold territory. No question about that. Obama won't commit to that type strategy, so it will be up to the next President to do so, as ISIS will still be around by then, given Obama's reliance solely on air power.


giorgio16 14 Dec 2015 20:59

...is Obama aware that Russia is already fighting isis,...and from the right side?... or he is pretending he is in charge now?
...Saudis are fighting shias in Yemen on one side, creating a humanitarian disaster no one wants to acknowledge, and Assad in Sirya on the other creating another disaster convenniently blamed on Assad by Obama and co...interesting times ahead...


TomGray 14 Dec 2015 20:43

Obama used the same decapitation tactic against Al Queda. Al Queda destabilized because of it and morphed into ISIS. There is no shortage of people who want to become leaders in any organization. Obama's tactics may hinder ISIS but they will not cause the organized violence that it currently represents to disappear. The players may change but the game remains the same.

Decapitation can only be part of an effective strategy and so far Obama has not demonstrated that he has the capability to draw together the other essential elements


ID4352889 -> DogsLivesMatter 14 Dec 2015 20:41

Saudi flew thousands of Jihadists out of Syria a while ago and sent them to Libya. It is well documented. The West did not interfere. Presumably for the same reasons they didn't interfere with the Turkey/Daesh oil scam.


DelOrtoyVerga 14 Dec 2015 20:35

Hurry up Obama before the Ruskies steal your thunder! or the few sparks that are left by now that is...
Mwahahaha...

I'm sure these special forces, these token "boots on the ground" you are sending will be exclusively focusing on ISIL and are not being sent to undermine the Syrian government or their allies, I repeat the special forces ARE NOT BEING SENT TO UNDERMINE THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT OR THEIR ALLIES.

HowSicklySeemAll 14 Dec 2015 20:26

Why did the US wait until now to 'drop more bombs than ever before'?

Russian foreign minister recently stated that:

"We have noticed that the US-led coalition stepped up its fight against IS only after Russia dispatched a combat air group…to Syria. The coalition efforts undertaken in Syria earlier could be described as odd, to say the least… This brings to mind NATO's operations in Afghanistan… We don't want the fight…to be feigned."

DomesticExtremist 14 Dec 2015 20:13

Can we assume from this that the fix is in: Kilary has been selected for Pres and Obomber has to roll the pitch on her behalf so that she can hit the ground running?

"We came, we saw, they died. (insane cackle)."

Look out for some killer blow to be landed on the Donald soon.

Sualdam -> meewaan 14 Dec 2015 20:10

The biggest contribution America can make to getting rid of Isis is to "persuade" its friends and allies - Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey mainly - to turn off the tap of finance, munitions and logistics to Isis, Al Qaeda in Syria (Al Nusra) and its allies like Ahrar Al Sham. No American ground troops needed; they would be counter-productive.

MrJanuary 14 Dec 2015 19:55

Well done Russia for mobilizing the worlds second largest military force, the USA, in Syria against ISIS.


robertthebruce2014 -> MasonInNY 14 Dec 2015 19:48

We love Putin here in Europe, at least he defends European interests. The USA is only defending Saudi and Israeli interest. We are currently in the process of breaking up the NATO coalition. The USA can stick with Turkey, Israel, and the Saudis.


pierotg 14 Dec 2015 19:43

December 2015: "We are hitting Isil harder than ever" .

July 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2NkjNvwuaU

!!! Look at the eys of that general behind, please! He was falling almost asleep and then ... frozen! Is it just my impression? That would be really hilarious if we weren't talking about war and crimes against humanity.

Please, stop lying this way.
This is far too much. This is alienating.

The USA and UK governments are loosing all that was left of their credibility and reliability in the last decade and the only strategy left seems to make the big lie bigger than ever. This is like shouting at the world "I can do whatever suits me and f**k the rest!"
Even their relationships with their EU partners have proved slick.

I've been listening to politicians speeches and interviews lately and found myself thinking: "That autocrat and ex KGB agent ruling Russia sounds much less hypocrite and far more competent". What if you could choose between Putin or Trump to represent your country (just as if they were sport pros you could hire for your team)?

This is far too much. This won't do any good and nuclear weapons can still destroy our planet in 30 minutes. Whoever is behind this mess what's going to profit then? This is obscene incompetence and fearsome irresponsibility.

In my teens Steve Stevens's Top Gun Theme got me goosebumps... On my Strat guitar there has been a Union Jack pickguard for 25 years... What shall I tell my son when he will ask me why I removed the original white one? I'm getting quite embarrassed.

Is it the End of the World as We know it? Yet I don't feel fine.


1ClearSense 14 Dec 2015 19:40

Yemen is the poorest Arab country with limited resources. The Saudis, along with a slew of other Arab regimes have been bombing the Yemeni military and Houthi militia who were clearing up Al Qaeda out of Yemen pretty good, for 9 months.

In the summer the Saudis and UAE sheiks decided to send ground forces to "liberate" Yemen. Other than taking some part of southern Yemen with the help of separatists and jihadis of all sort, they failed in their mission. A single attack on Saudi military caused dozens of Saudi and Emarati dead. The Emaratis decided on Colombian mercenaries, the Saudi paid Sudanese military to send troops. Yesterday the Yemenis killed a large number of these mercenaries (anywhere between 80 to 150) including the Saudi commander and another high official a