May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)

Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few

Journalism Vacation from Truth

I think journalists today — elite journalists at least — absorb the biases of the ruling class far more readily than they used to do. The media establishment is populated by yes-men. I do not understand how any skeptical person can, in good conscience, trust a western MSM description of foreign events. You need a second source to compare coverage. The mainstream media gives us no real news. Just the talking points they were given. Seeing how they treat the concept of truth these days, one might think that MSM just don’t care anymore.

Skepticism > Political Skeptic > Media-Military-Industrial Complex > Propaganda

News Anti Trump Hysteria Recommended Links Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism Purple revolution against Trump Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak
Demonization of Putin Hillary Clinton email scandal: Timeline and summary Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17? Obama's Putin-did-it fiasco Media-Military-Industrial Complex Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton
Doublespeak Discrediting the opponent as favorite tactic of neoliberals The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Freedom of speech played by Western MSM as three card monte Patterns of Propaganda The importance of controlling the narrative
MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Cold War II "Fuck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place Neoconservatism as the USA version of Neoliberal ideology  Charlie Hebdo - more questions then answers New American Militarism
Swiftboating: Khan gambit against Trump at Democratic Convention Pussy Riot Provocation and "Deranged Pussy Worship Syndrome" Deception as an art form The Deep State National Security State Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law
Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair US and British media are servants of security apparatus The attempt to secure global hegemony American Exceptionalism Co-opting of the Human Rights to embarrass governments who oppose neoliberalism Manipulation of the term "freedom of press"
Lewis Powell Memo Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Edward Lucas as agent provocateur Groupthink Soft propaganda
Diplomacy by deception Democracy as a universal opener for access to natural resources Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom' The Real War on Reality Nation under attack meme Bullshit as MSM communication method
Neo-fascism Classic Hypocrisy of British Ruling Elite Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? Big Uncle is Watching You What's the Matter with Kansas Media as a weapon of mass deception
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass The Good Soldier Svejk Nineteen Eighty-Four Propaganda Quotes Humor Etc

"The truth is that the newspaper is not a place for information to be given,
rather it is just hollow content, or more than that, a provoker of content.
If it prints lies about atrocities, real atrocities are the result."

Karl Kraus, 1914



We are the world, we are exceptional, we cannot fail. The elite will lie, and the people will pretend to believe them. Heck about 20 percent of the American public will believe almost anything if it is wrapped with the right prejudice and appeal to passion. Have a pleasant evening., Feb 04, 2015

Journalists manipulate us in the interest of the Powerful

Do you also have the feeling, that you are often manipulated by the media and  lied to? Then you're like the majority of Germans. Previously it was considered as a "conspiracy theory". Now it revealed by an Insider, who tells us what is really happening under the hood.

The Journalist Udo Ulfkotte ashamed today that he spent 17 years in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. ...he reveals why opinion leaders produce tendentious reports and serve as the extended Arm of the NATO press office. ...the author also was admitted into the networks of American elite organizations, received in return for positive coverage in the US even a certificate of honorary citizenship.

In this book you will learn about industry lobby organisations. The author calls hundreds of names and looks behind the Scenes of those organizations, which exert bias into media, such as: Atlantic bridge, Trilateral Commission, the German Marshall Fund, American Council on Germany, American Academy, Aspen Institute, and the Institute for European politics. Also revealed are the intelligence backgrounds of those lobby groups, the methods and forms of propaganda and financing used, for example, by the US Embassy. Which funds  projects for the targeted influencing of public opinion in Germany 

...You realize how you are being manipulated - and you know from whom and why. At the end it becomes clear that diversity of opinion will now only be simulated. Because our "messages" are often pure brainwashing.

Gekaufte Journalisten - Medienwelt Enthüllungen Bücher - Kopp Verlag

How does Fake History and Fake News gradually supersede their reality-based version and were enforced ont he society as the only acceptable narrative. My impression is that McCarthyism was not exactly only about Communists. It has elements of a more general witch hunt for "dissidents" who question "official Washington narrative". In other words it was a "cult-style" practice of mind control

"The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an "official narrative" that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between "the truth" as defined by the ruling classes and any other "truth" that contradicts their narrative. "

 Due to the size an introduction was converted to a separate page Neoliberal Propaganda

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Old News ;-)

"It tends to be all accurate, but not in an over-all context."

Donald Rumsfeld

“Citizens must be alert to propaganda and
glittering generalities is a type of propaganda
which often uses words such as freedom and patriotism.”

“Civics in Practice”. Page 274

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[Apr 21, 2017] Tesla burned over one and a half billion in in 2016.

Apr 21, 2017 |
Sally , April 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

In almost all sectors now retail, computing, pharmaceuticals, banks, there is a top heavy model where a small group of companies dominate almost every sector. There are various reasons for this, but it is not helped by well meaning politicians interfering in the market through regulation and tax policy, and wage subsidy for certain firms. Walmart gets govt money to subsides the wages it pays its staff. While this is well meaning to improve the lot of the low paid workers it has a knock on effect.

Why should tax payers subsidy Walmart? The money should be coming out of the Walton families fortune. And if they won't pay their workers more money perhaps that may make it easier for mum and pop stores to compete. After all they don't get the same help paying their staff. Walmart may find it more difficult to retain and keep staff. Endless regulations also don't help small business compete. It's well known inside the belt way and in the EU that the big boys like regulations, and often lobby behind the scenes to help make it hard for their smaller competitors.

And then we come to the biggest interference of all. The federal reserve, and the ECB and the ability to crate endless amounts of free money for the elites. How do you think these companies are able to stay afloat for years as investors throw endless amounts of money at these companies even though they are not making much profit? Amazon has returned very poor amounts back to share holders, and its owner's greatest skill has been to keep convincing his shareholders to keep piling more and more freshly printed fiat into keeping the company going. All this endless free money also encourages endless merges and acquisitions which reduces competition for the customer. No so easy to take over your competitors if you have to actually have the money to buy them out.

A great example of this crazy market is the car company Tesla. The Company burned over $1.5 billion in in 2016. This was provided by cheap credit and equity markets which ponied over a net $2.7 billion to the Company in 2016. In addition Telsa was given huge tax advantages for the first 200,000 vehicles. In effect Telsa's sales are being subsided by the U.S. Tax payer. The company also operates a buyback scheme where it guarantees the resale value on its sales up to 2016. That could be a liability of some $2-3 billion in the future. Comically Wall Street values Telsa at $5 billion more than Ford. Yet Ford sold 2.5million cars last year compared to Telsa's 79 thousand. Now obviously investors are betting on new technology eventually coming good, and replacing the oil fired engine. But without all the smoke and mirrors of funny money this could not continue for very long.

[Apr 21, 2017] The Effect: Retailers Say They're Not Selling, but Consumers Report They Are Buying

Notable quotes:
"... By New Deal Democrat. Originally published at Angry Bear ..."
"... Is Amazon doing something illegal or immoral ..."
Apr 21, 2017 |
Posted on April 21, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. An interesting theory. Readers?

By New Deal Democrat. Originally published at Angry Bear

This was originally one post but I think it works better divided into two parts.

One of the issues I keep reading about recently is the (alleged) divergence between "soft" and "hard" data. For example, consumer sentiment as measured by the University of Michigan (and the Conference Board, and Gallup) has been making new highs since the Presidential election last November (according to Gallup, mainly fueled by a massive gain in optimism among Republicans). while "hard data," chiefly industrial production but also including consumer spending, has failed to follow suit.

One problem with this thesis has been that manufacturing as measured by the industrial production index, turned up for five months in a row. It turned down in March, and one good measure of how intellectually honest the commentator is, is whether they have been using a consistent measure for industrial production:

Production as a whole only fell in January and February because of utility production (warm winter in the eastern half of the US). In March, production only rose because utility production rebounded sharply (March was actually colder than February in much of the East).

So a Doomer who was all over the decline in industrial production for the last two months should be touting its advance in March. If the Doomer backs out utilities this month, take a look to see if they did the same thing last month - almost certainly not.
Another problem with the soft/nard data dichotomy is that online retail appears to have reached a tipping point where it is causing big damage to brick-and-mortar retailers, who are laying off thousands of employees and even shutting down completely.

I am concerned that the official real retail sales numbers might not be adequately picking up online retail:

But here is's sales numbers for 2016 vs. 2015:

And here is the number that really jumps out - Gallup's consumer spending, here measured for the last two years:

Pay attention to that $100 line. Except for Christmas seaon 2015, that line wasn't breached at all in the 14 day average until December 2016. And spending has remained above that $100 line all during February, March, and April so far. Most often for the last 10 weeks, this measure has been up over 10% YoY. Now, before you criticize Gallup's measure, it earned its bones in 2011 at the time of the Debt Ceiling Debacle, when it was the only measure that accurately reported that consumers hadn't stopped spending.

So if retailers are reporting poor sales, but consumers are telling people that they are spending 10% this year vs. last year, then we have to wonder if the official measures aren't catching the full extent of the big secular increase in online sales.

0 0 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Dubious statistics , Economic fundamentals , Guest Post on April 21, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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Subscribe to Post Comments 79 comments Fiery Hunt , April 21, 2017 at 1:24 am

So, online aren't the only "retail" sales that might account for a missing 10% spending Yoy

There's the grey/black market of used/reuse goods not picked up by standard production surveys but seen in spending reports by consumers.

And there's always full black market where sales are for cash and never put on the books. As a small business owner, I can't count the requests for "no receipt" cash discounts.

I have no doubt c-suites has figured out how to hide today's sales in tomorrow's books if it suits their story
Same as inflating expenses for their taxes

different clue , April 21, 2017 at 1:47 am

Unfortunately most people don't read Naked Capitalism or anything else that offers a cautionary view of the long-term "black-hole" effect that an unrestrained Amazon will have on every Brick and Mortar store within its "reach".

Will that small minority of people who DO read such material and who DO think about it be enough to save some Brick and Mortar stores from extinction if they make Amazon their "store of very last resort" and Walmart their "store of very second-to-last resort"? Perhaps that small minority of people may have to start discovering which B&M stores are still somewhat surviving after some more years of Amazon's black-hole suction, and patronize the most nearly survivable ones so as to maximise their survival chances. A sort of retail-triage, if you will, performed by politically motivated and committed customers to focus their B&M customer dollars on those B&M stores which have the greatest chance of being saved.

Doctor Duck , April 21, 2017 at 8:24 am

I do deplore the hollowing out of local downtowns, but that was happening long before Amazon. First it was shopping malls, then Walmart, now Amazon. It really sounds like a classic capitalist progression. Is there a defect in capitalism we can fix to bring back mom & pop? Should that be our goal?

Why should individual consumers be so "woke" as to shun Amazon in favor of brick retailers if Amazon offers superior price, convenience, selection and service? Isn't it the role of the traditional retailer to counter in at least one of those areas? Is Amazon doing something illegal or immoral? If not then the perceived problem is systemic, and asking consumers to give up advantages to save Sears or even Maude's Dress Shop is irrational and doomed to fail in the long run.

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 8:44 am

One of the problems is overpriced real estate.

Another one is that it is much easier to raise money for new builds and new infra than for renovations and maintenance.

financial matters , April 21, 2017 at 8:49 am

It seems like something that would help would be a job guarantee at a living wage. This would help the gig economy overall by giving job seekers a choice and forcing employers to ante up to their workforce instead of corporate salaries and shareholders.

Corbin Dallas , April 21, 2017 at 9:48 am

Are you seriously asking if Amazon does anything illegal or immoral? You must not read NC at all:

TLDR amazon is absolutely horrible and the only way its more convenient and better for you, the customer, is that it externalizes every single risk and danger onto its employees and the public. I wonder if you were just trolling.

Vatch , April 21, 2017 at 11:46 am

Thanks. I saw that comment, and I was going to reply, but first I scrolled down, and saw that you provided more information than I would have. Well Done! is a genuinely evil organization - most of the employees are victims, of course, but the people at the top are sociopaths.

John k , April 21, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Amazon Sales are growing rapidly because so many people, including me, find the experience of clicking on line, particularly with product reviews, much better than searching through stores. I hate shopping and malls.

My cousin travels the country in his Rv as a nomad and loves it. During holiday season he works at amazon, makes enough to supplement retirement.

Taking advantage of the ongoing recession to squeeze workers is what most employers are doing these days, amazon no different. The problem is not what workers do but how little they're paid, this on account of both parties working diligently to suppress wages for half a century.

We need more gov spending, especially infra, better gov stats, better trade deals, uni health care, less foreign wars, etc, all things both parties will never, ever provide because the elite are so well paid to not provide them. And they know if they ever reverse course they will no longer be among the elite.

Vatch , April 21, 2017 at 2:17 pm

No, at Amazon, the problem is worse than low wages, which is a problem at a wide variety of companies. People at Amazon are treated like throwaway trash by the company; the conditions in Amazon warehouses are abysmal. Read the third and fourth links that Corbin Dallas provided, and you'll see what I am referring to. A web search will reveal more articles about this. Use this for your search (with no quote marks):

amazon warehouse working conditions

It doesn't matter how convenient Amazon may be, shopping there, unless done as an absolute last resort, is morally wrong.

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 3:30 pm

It's not like it is easy to compare the ethics of companies when I buy a product. On top of becoming an expert in asset management and health care, I now have to analyze all companies when I buy my tube of toothpaste?

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm

and then Amazon is just a retailer, not even the manufacturer, whose ethics you then need to evaluate. How is the product itself actually made? Some people don't like the retailer Whole Foods for instance for various reasons, but a lot of the products it carries ARE made by fairly ethical companies (maybe less so if it goes for the cheap, we'll see).

If you shop at Amazon and get a product that is more ethically sourced than that which is at the Big Box is it more or less ethical than buying something at the Big Box staffed with employees, but made with slave labor?

The root problem with service jobs is of course is capitalism plus lack of worker bargaining power.

sunny129 , April 21, 2017 at 4:01 pm

The abuse of Workers was/is going on, before Amazon came into existence. It started with globalization, global labor arbitrage and will get after robotics!

Now it is happening right at the door step in 'home town', and all the complaints, NOW!

We are under 'Our State-Corporate Plantation Economy'

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm

it started long before globalization, why there was a labor movement in the first place.

Vatch , April 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Of course we can't take the time to evaluate the ethics of every company from whom we might purchase products or services. But if we know for certain that a company is severely abusive, and there are reasonable alternatives, then we have an obligation to choose one of the alternatives. We know that is an abusive and harmful company, so that should settle it.

Rhondda , April 21, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Well, I'm just gonna say it: my sister works for Amazon as a picker/packer. She sincerely likes it better than anywhere else she has worked since she turned 50 and suddenly lost her 20-year "knowledge worker" job. They work your butt off but she says they listen, they are fair and they pay quite a bit better than anything else she was offered. She also got health insurance from day one.

tegnost , April 21, 2017 at 10:55 am

Is Amazon doing something illegal or immoral
was not most of amazons profit for many years due to not paying sales tax that brick and mortar cannot avoid?

grayslady , April 21, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Not just Amazon. I recently had to order some repair parts for my pressure cooker. I could either order the parts from the manufacturer (probably licensed to do business in all states–ergo sales tax), or I could order the parts from an authorized distributor in Nebraska, a company that is only licensed in Nebraska. I chose the Nebraska company due to no sales tax. The transportation costs would have been the same in either case.

Susan the other , April 21, 2017 at 11:12 am

There was the opposite trend too. Before all those rows of retail stores on Main Street there was the Sears catalog. In most towns the catalog preceded the store. So we are just going back to basics maybe.

Paul Greenwood , April 21, 2017 at 11:34 am

Downtown shopping was supplanted by out-of-town malls. Homogenisation of retail squeezed out diversity and owner-managed outlets. Use of scanners to restrict stock to fast-moving items reduced choice and casual shopping. Once you have to buy what's available you start to focus on availability and it is always better online.

Cost of Search is key. Also, with so much being produced by the same contractor for retail outlets quality has gone downhill. You know they use cheap components in expensive presentation and that clothes are cut cheaply and sewn poorly and wash badly and are bought by container load on the basis that 70% will be junked and the 30% must be over-priced to yield margin

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:09 pm

"Once you have to buy what's available you start to focus on availability and it is always better online."


but it's somewhat offset by inability to see things in person (really more important for clothes but useful for other things as well)

different clue , April 21, 2017 at 3:15 pm

You raise some interesting questions.

The simplest one to answer is that , yes, Amazon is doing many immoral things. I don't know about illegal.

And yes, part of this is capitalist retrogression and de-evolution in action. The problem was solved decades ago with the passage and ferocious enforcement of anti-trust laws. Then the trust-builders 2.0 bought and paid for government personnel who would stand down anti-trust enforcement and set capitalism free to resume its downward de-evolution.

So purging and burning the pro-trust/ pro-monopoly bad-actor facilitators out of government and the restoration of ferocious anti-trust enforcement would solve some of these problems.

Meanwhile, avoiding the Sucking Black Amazon Hole is not a matter of "wokeness". it is a matter of people understanding that if they exterminate enough jobs where they live, that eventually their own jobs will be among the exterminated. And Amazon is a mass jobicide machine. Those people who want to help Amazon put hundreds of thousands of people out of work certainly deserve to lose their own jobs, lose their own money, starve to death, and die. And maybe that is what will happen. Darwin 101. It is not a matter of "wokeness". It is a matter of "non-stupidness". Stupid people buy from Amazon.

sunny129 , April 21, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Same thing can be said about buying products from any where made in abroad! Why point at Amazon only?

Whether morally right or wrong, the American Labor wages NOT competitive enough foreihn companies, went DOWN once the globalization began!

As I have been saying ' The capital is MOBILE and can go anywhere in the World where as the Labo is NOT!' How can you rectify this and by what measures?

Bob B. , April 21, 2017 at 5:03 pm

I only used to shop Amazon when I needed something I could not buy locally. Price was a small issue. But recently, my favorite haunts (HomeDepot, Lowes, Walmart, etc) are no longer selling things I used to routinely buy there. So I am slowly turning to Amazon for more and more things for only one reason, they have it in stock. I recently tried to buy a couple of replacement sunglasses that were originally purchased at BJ's. I wanted the same item because it fit nicely over my prescription lenses. They told me they no longer carried them. When local stores cut back on inventory to save money, and buyers go elsewhere, they have only themselves to blame.

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 8:56 am

Even if I read NC, if the exact same commoditized product is sold at different places, I will usually buy where it is cheapest. Why would I pay more when chances are the top managers or some middlemen get more loot without adding any social value.

I will pay more when the product or service is better or it obviously helps the local economy.

oh , April 21, 2017 at 9:22 am

With most products being made in China, I don't see why one would buy but the cheapest. Big on line retailers make out like bandits and locals are being hung out to dry. I try to buy local as much as possible. On line purchases only help the shipping companies and more shipping worsens the warming of the planet.

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:10 pm

only Amazon is NOT the cheapest anymore, that was a short term plan to get a monopoly and now they have that. So costs and shipping are going up, up, up. But what online retail in general (including but not restricted to Amazon) has that B&M doesn't is wider selection.

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:04 pm

does it require me to buy cheap Chinese junk?

PlutoniumKun , April 21, 2017 at 3:48 am

Just a thought, but could the stronger dollar be leading to people buying more online from outside the US? I know UK online retailers have been reporting booming sales as foreign customers seek to take advantage of the weakening pound sterling.

Paul Greenwood , April 21, 2017 at 11:36 am

Once I bought something Made in China from a US supplier – stupid really – I paid import duties. Had I bought direct from Hong Kong it would have been duty free

Anon , April 21, 2017 at 4:49 pm

but, it would take 3 weeks to get to you.

skippy , April 21, 2017 at 5:04 am

How many match sticks did the girl sell in the market too day . oops orders of magnitude and the books resemble spaghettification

disheveled . what are we measuring again – ????

Carla , April 21, 2017 at 6:47 am

From the post: "This was originally one post but I think it works better divided into two parts."

So, are we going to get the 2nd part?

rjs , April 21, 2017 at 10:31 am


scott , April 21, 2017 at 7:00 am

I always wondered if local swap groups have had an impact – facebook makes it easy to build up a community oriented group and the costs of used, but decent quality stuff is often lower than new crap.

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 7:03 am

In my neck of the woods, Ottawa, I have to say that with the emergence of big box mall strips, older malls lose tenants and become increasingly unattractive. New stores = fast fashion for teens.

The specialty stores seem to be spread out across the 60km city looking for cheap rents typically located in decaying sites . that's what happens when there is a bubble in real estate vs. the real economy.

As for the big box mall strips, the experience is incredibly unpleasant:
-Stores too big with lack of choice (go figure!)
-Dismal landscaping with skimpy shrubs = depressing display of overwhelming amount of cement and asphalt.
-Lack of sidewalks = need to hop in car to get from one store to the other.
-Huge parking with lack of exits = congestion and driver impatience.
-Restaurant terraces with a view of cars, cement, asphalt and traffic noise.

If the whole shopping experience has become commoditized, why not just order on line?

Chauncey Gardiner , April 21, 2017 at 10:52 am

Agree with your observations about shopping in malls and big box retailers, Moneta, and that it is generally an experience to be temporarily tolerated as infrequently as possible. In addition to your suggestions regarding typically sterile retail environments, would only add that casual seating and coffee spaces might help; i.e., places to meet and converse. Given economic trends, perhaps we should also be thinking about converting these retail spaces to alternative uses: schools, apartments, professional offices, light manufacturing, etc.; or simply converting them back to green spaces.

What is so appealing about the pedestrian access, small shops retail environments in other countries?

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 11:21 am

Since physical health depends on moving throughout the entire day, not just for half an hour after supper, my goal is to incorporate movement in my daily life so I don't have to join a gym.

Mental health depends on beauty and quality
interactions. So I try to avoid soulless areas with too much cement and asphalt that lead to empty human contact.

If I must get in a car to get my crap as cheap as possible and look at decrepit infra or too much cement and asphalt, and suffer road rage, this means that dollars gained to get crap as cheap as possible ends up taxing my physical and mental health plus robs me of my time.

I bike a lot and most malls are not cyclist friendly. But I'm stuck in a car centric society where too many are married to their car, thinking it gives them freedom when in reality it is the root source of their misery.

Fiery Hunt , April 21, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Sorry but

I love my truck. 257,000 miles and still going strong!

Susan the other , April 21, 2017 at 11:24 am

I had a neighbor about 10 years ago who developed strip malls in Arizona and Nevada. After the financial crisis modified a little we asked him how business was, anything new? And he replied that they weren't doing malls these days because there weren't enough roofs. Meaning suburbia had stopped building houses. Which, according to some statistics is still the case; most new construction is multi-family construction. Probably fewer cars and less money.

Enquiring Mind , April 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Some lenders I know have cut back on retail CRE lending due to the Amazon and online shopping effects. That will mean more store vacancies, tenant and borrower delinquencies and foreclosures with some eventual re-purposing of former retail sites to other uses. That is often a euphemism for 'who can we get to fog up a mirror and occupy our building' along the lines of store-front churches, karate studios and similar low-investment uses. No need to re-fit the space when they just need open floors to do their thing. That ripples through the construction and other support functions, in a reverse multiplier effect on the local economy. Expect more boarded-up storefronts and vacant malls for a while.

fajensen , April 21, 2017 at 7:45 am

Hmm. Who are these " .. consumers are telling people .. " persons? How many are they? How are they acquired? Are polls even relevant today?

I am not telling anyone anything, I don't know anyone who does – the pollsters, robo-dialers and scammers are only allowed to cold-call people on fixed-line phones here which is partly why the telephone socket is left empty. There is nothing in there that anyone wants or needs. Mobile or IP telephony is where most people are reached today.

The people who get these calls on their mobiles only do so because they (or the person holding the number before) signed up for some scam competition where they "allow to receive partner offers " and how representative is that?

I would not rule out that some polling agencies are cutting corners on the methodologies to still remain in business. Another source of error is that most of the front-line staff are student in call centres where working conditions are "zero fucks given, none taken", they have to complete a certain number of calls to be paid. So, they will do exactly that – get paid – regardless of the intermediate steps that was assumed.

ocop , April 21, 2017 at 8:07 am

If this is the case then in theory the effect could be captured by weighing Amazon differently​ in the sample used to come up with the (apparently not so) "hard data"? I'm not familiar with the measures.

Unskew the polls, so to speak har har har

chris , April 21, 2017 at 8:40 am

One as comment is that amazon is not just a retailer. They derive a large amount of revenue and profits from Web services, which are declining now as competition increases and margins are squeezed.

Paul Greenwood , April 21, 2017 at 11:40 am

Amazon has no real competition and that is ridiculous. How did catalogue companies get sidelined ? How did Amazon become a category-killer ? Were other retail businesses asleep ?

You hear about Rakuten but it goes nowhere. There are so few businesses that can make Websites as fluid as Amazon or operate their own payments system. I prefer Amazon Marketplace to EBay and I know many Sellers do too.

Harris , April 21, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Its amazing how terrible some of the other sites are to navigate.

I've thought that if Jack Ma could hire some decent web designers, he could beat Amazon on price by shipping direct from China.

John k , April 21, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I bought a pair of binoculars, made in china, from amazon for 158. Also was offered same product, on same site, at about 100 direct from china. Wondered if amazon makes the same no matter which I pick? Selected the more expensive option, not really sure why.
Anyway, maybe jack is too late, direct shopping from china already on offer.

BruceNY , April 21, 2017 at 8:42 am

Gallup appears to measure all consumer spending except "household bills" (utilities?) and car and home purchases. If that is the case, I assume my daily rail commuter pass increase is included in "consumer spending", as is: increases in healthcare premiums, recent upswing in gasoline prices, uber fares, airline travel/hotels, mobile phone data plans, guitar lessons for the kids, etc etc. It may even include groceris, where the trend is toward more expensive organic.

Given that real wages are flat, new house construction is flat (and thus related furniture/appliance spending is probably flat), and Millenials supposedly prefer to own less stuff and spend more on "experience", it stands to reason that retail is in such decline. Amazon and other online retailers will inevitably capture that market because of convenience/speed/selection (time has monetary value).

Jim Haygood , April 21, 2017 at 9:52 am

I am concerned that the official real retail sales numbers might not be adequately picking up online retail.

EVEN IF online retail sales are being short counted, the BEA's Retail and Food Services Sales series has advanced a healthy 5.2% in the trailing 12 months. These are nominal values. Chart:

FRED, the economic data service at the St Louis Fed, adjusts the series for inflation using CPI, to produce a derived series titled Real Retail and Food Services Sales (RRSFS). It advanced 2.7% over the past 12 months.

Usually recessions occur when RRSFS falls near or below zero in the trailing 12 months. That's happened only once since the 2008-9 recession ended - in Jan 2014. But RRSFS bounced back in Feb 2014, and remains nowhere near recession levels, whether it's properly picking up online sales or not.

John k , April 21, 2017 at 1:18 pm

But, as mosler reports, total bank loan growth has fallen hard over past three years, looks to be not enough to counter world wide dollar savings given low, albeit growing, fiscal deficit.

debitor serf , April 21, 2017 at 9:38 am

Amazon is my retailer of last resort these days specifically because I dislike Billionaire Bezos and I don't want to give him any money. 99% of the time I will research a product on Amazon and then head over to the brand's website and purchase directly from them. It's nearly always the same price and they usually provide free shipping too. This way Bezos personally doesn't get his few pennies from every online purchase I make.

Vatch , April 21, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Good for you! I've done something similar. I have a family member with two small children, and she posts want lists for them on Amazon. When it's time to buy birthday or Christmas presents, I look at the lists on Amazon, and then I buy the gifts at a brick & mortar store. The B&M is rarely a mom & pop store, but at least it has local employees.

oho , April 21, 2017 at 9:45 am

in addition to above..

(a) Are Goodwill and resale shops sales included in retailer data? Goodwills literally are everywhere in my area (12+ locations)-whereas 10/20 years ago, I never recall seeing a retail Goodwill store.

(b) People are lying (or mis-remembering) to Gallup? Dove-tails nicely w/that article about melancholia from yesterday.

Jim Haygood , April 21, 2017 at 9:58 am

Goodwill charges sales tax, yes? States are quite efficient at monitoring sales tax revenues, since they need the money.

Amazon has started charging sales tax on most orders that it ships itself. An exception is private sellers out-of-state, who usually don't charge sales tax to Amazon buyers.

Possibly Amazon and some other online retailers casting a wider sales tax net has boosted retail sales data recently, as it becomes more comprehensive in scope.

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Yes Goodwill charges sales tax at least in California, I do think some states are more lax about sales tax at thrifts though, but they collect around here.

Anon , April 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Stop the Lies!

Goodwill does NOT charge sales tax in California!!

Nor does my local non-profit, Alpha Thrift Store. I have a thrift store affliction that causes me to visit them irregularly (about once every 10 days or so). There is no county in California, that I know of, that requires non-profit thrift store to charge sales tax.

grayslady , April 21, 2017 at 10:14 am

In addition to Goodwill, what about eBay? If I should need something, I often look first on eBay for a lightly used item or older stock that is still brand new.

HotFlash , April 21, 2017 at 10:38 am

And Craigslist, kijiji and even Freecycle.

SoCal Rhino , April 21, 2017 at 10:56 am

I'm old enough to remember department stores on Main Street and the destruction brought by new highways and malls (the latter required the former). Now there is nostalgia for malls. Makes me pause to consider what is coming that will prompt nostalgia for Amazon and Walmart. What slouching beast will be setting up shop?

Walmart aside (Mrs. Rhino viscerally hates them), I agree it makes sense to shop by cost for products manufactured in China, but always happy to seek out locally crafted products.

Paul Greenwood , April 21, 2017 at 11:42 am

Malls were always soulless compared to department stores with a culture from restaurant to hardware. Much more interesting than a mall.

Enquiring Mind , April 21, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Malls also spawned the caricatured Mall Rat. Kids look for inviting spaces to hang out (free to roam around, maybe some cheap food, semblance of security) and malls filled that purpose as Main Streets declined. As malls decline, there is a void in the lives of kids looking for some human contact when they tire of staring at little screens. Atomization of life continues apace, with the prospects of virtual reality and multi-user domains not filling very well that type of void.

Art Eclectic , April 21, 2017 at 11:58 am

If brick and mortar retail is suffering it's because it's Crap and Amazon offers a functional alternative.

I went shopping yesterday. Stopped at Bed Bath and Beyond to look at a salt and pepper shaker set I had seen online and wanted an in-person look to assess quality. Product not on the
Shelf at the store.

Went to Home Depot with a list of
3 items. Walked out the door with 1 item.

Brick and mortar retail is dying because it's an inefficient business model in a digital world. In order to maximize efficiency the stores only carry the most popular items that they know they can sell. Carrying a comprehensive inventory across a large number of stores is inefficient for them. The model only worked when customers had no alternative warehouse to shop at. Brick and mortar simply cannot compete with the inventory depth of online.

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:27 pm


And that's exactly why people shop online: stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, that's the whole story right there. All cheap Chinese crap all the time (occasionally I get something there, once in a while it's not even Chinese, even made in the U.S.A.! But that is the exception).

Jim Haygood , April 21, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Brick and mortar simply cannot compete with the inventory depth of online.

Exactly. Some online lighting retailers carry over 6,000 different fixtures. No way this many could be stocked locally, even in a large city.

Meanwhile, go into a brick-and-mortar supermarket or drugstore or hardware store, and observe the crapification produced by useless product differentiation. Everything from coffee to vitamins to NSAIDs to thread locking compound now comes in a dozen different flavors, colors, package sizes and grades, forcing the consumer to spend 5 or 10 minutes in front of a retail display sorting out which one to choose.

Often vital specifications are not printed on the external package, whereas they are easily accessible online, along with user reviews and explanations.

Such wasted time in a store is better spent in one's own living room, than in a commercial venue with noxious muzak playing, as they try to scan your face, your irises, your chip card and your phone for psychographic data.

pricklyone , April 21, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Per your last paragraph, Jim. Sure, do it online where they already know your "data" cause you gave it to them,freely.
I pay cash, for as long as it lasts.

pricklyone , April 21, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Art Eclectic, stopping at a retail store to "assess quality", and then shopping price online is one of the major reasons you are not finding what you want at the store. Indeed, brick and mortar cannot stay in business if they are an unpaid showroom for online retailers! So, when they go out of business, and all shopping is online, where will you go to "assess quality"? You will pay to ship one item to you, and try it, and pay again to return it if unsuitable? I would submit that to be the Inefficient business model, not the retailer.
Not to single you out, of course, we all do it. But the alternative isn't really an alternative, it will involve buying everything sight unseen. Just sayin' (as the kids say).

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 3:42 pm

They carry so little inventory that everything becomes special order at a premium price then I prefer spending those extra dollars in the specialized
store or shopping online.

justanotherprogressive , April 21, 2017 at 11:59 am

I too mourn the loss of Main Street and all those small businesses where the clerks knew who you were and were friendly and were most likely your neighbors. But loss of the malls? Shopping in overprices stores with untrained or snotty clerks? No I don't mourn the loss of them. I figure it's just karma .

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Shopping in malls only make sense if you want the whole day shopping experience, well maybe if you are a particularly materialistic 14 year old girl.

But if your not who wants to spend all day going to dozens of stores? Is this anyone's idea of a fun way to spend one's minimal leisure time? What would be nice is to go to a store, find what you need and hopefully it's not junk that will fall apart quickly, buy it and get out.

Harris , April 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm

I still know people who spend the entire week shopping. They have a routine of certain stores they visit on certain days.

They are very much a dying breed.

pricklyone , April 21, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Is there some separate pool of labor used for mall stores? Those "snotty,untrained" clerks are drawn from the ranks of your neighbors, as before, just without any pretense of job security or fair wage.
Overpriced? You bet! Malls are hugely expensive use of real estate, basically climate controlling an entire shopping district, in brand new buildings, purpose-built, on property which becomes more pricey as more retail moves into the area. A self licking cone of a sort. When a company prefers to hire 4 clerks at 10 hrs. per week, rather than 1 clerk at fulltime, how are they to become well trained?
I have family who have bought into the Amazon " sticky button" paradigm, who are paying triple the price I pay for things like laundry detergent, trash bags,paper towels, and such. Not to mention the insanity of all those trucks delivering one or two items at a time. Cheaper? Not from where I sit.
There will never be a scenario in which shipping one or two items at time, all over the world, is cheaper than consolidation of shipments to central locations (retail stores). Somewhere, someone is subsidizing your convenience.

neo-realist , April 21, 2017 at 1:31 pm

As a person of color, I don't miss being watched like a criminal suspect when browsing goods ( and I tend to do it rather deliberately), or being nagged multiple times for help as if they wanted you to desperately buy something rather than steal it.

However, the unobtrusive girl watching wasn't bad.

Jay , April 21, 2017 at 11:59 am

I think online sales are increasing and brick-and-mortar sales are decreasing for a number of reasons. Retailers have adopted many managing mantras, including Just-in-Time inventories tied to global supply chains, resulting in smaller inventories or inventory disruptions. Much of the inventory they do sell has built-in obsolescence (aka "crappification") as compared to older equipment. And retailers have a major handicap in that all real estate was essentially propped up by the Federal Reserve, in order to keep the banks running, which essentially acts as higher overhead to rent or buy retail space, which is reflected in consumer prices. Many retailers also appear to have a less-diverse inventory because they have identified and dropped certain low-selling items.

The advent of the internet has also created a major shift not only in consumer behavior that hurts brick-and-mortar retailers, but in how we gather useful information, which also affects consumer behavior, as I'll describe below.

So how do these trends manifest as a consumer experience? You go to a retailer to buy something, but they don't have it because they just sold the last item because of low inventory. Online retailer to the rescue! Or the model they have is poorly made, and the customer balks at the novelty of inexpensive crap that breaks after one use. Online retailer to the rescue! Or the retailer has overestimated the importance of convenience and has priced their goods (un)accordingly: Witness Radio Shack's $20 RCA stereo hookup wires to connect, say, a CD player to a stereo receiver–probably 99 cents on Amazon or even less from a Hong Kong supplier on eBay. Or the price of the item is substantially higher than what is online because we all have to pay the hidden tax to big banks that the government orchestrated due to inflated real estate prices. Online retailer to the rescue!

Another phenomenon is useful information on the internet. Whereas if your washing machine clunked out in 1990, you could pay a repair person as much to fix it as it would cost to buy a new washing machine. Now you can go on YouTube and find out how to fix it, buy the parts at a local appliance repair part center (alternatively, Online Retailer to the Rescue!) and have it running for $20-$40. There are all sorts of examples of this; a lot of people find or buy good-quality used equipment secondhand, from a thrift shop, or eBay, replace a bearing or a belt, and enjoy a longer-lasting and better-made kitchen mixer/drill press/desk fan/stereo or whatever. I'm not sure this is tracked accurately in any meaningful way; it's not illicit "black market" or even really "gray market," but there's no way to account for this trade other than in parts I suppose. The phenomenon is also related to the "hacker/maker" community. This has not applied yet as much to technology, but given the current processor speeds, I see no reason why it shouldn't.

At any rate most of these instances completely bypass brick-and-mortar retailers.

tongorad , April 21, 2017 at 12:02 pm

How much does a vibrant small business/mom-and-pop environment depend on robust public transportation? At least from an end user/psychological perspective?

I can cross clogged roads that lead to dismal parking lots and grim strip mall/big box stores, or simply shop from my home and avoid the misery that is retail shopping in a sprawling suburban setting.
It doesn't make sense at all from a solidarity perspective, but retail shopping is a major tax on my time and well being.
I would love to live in a walkable city.

JimTan , April 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Retailers losing revenue because they are losing market share, and Amazon ( with Zara & H&M ) increasing revenues because they are gaining market share are opposite sides of the same equation which does not tell you the change in consumer spending. Netting the revenue gains of Amazon, Inditex/Zara, H&M ( and other market share gainers ), against the revenue losses of all the other retailers will give a clearer picture if revenue share is being transferred in a growing or declining retail market.

ChrisAtRU , April 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm

This video from L2Inc's Professor Scott Galloway has been making the rounds. Just short of 25 minutes, but well worth the view IMO.

cnchal , April 21, 2017 at 5:44 pm

A trillion dollar company, because it's the new paradigm. No profits is better than profits.

Agree. He says interesting things about brand destruction and wrecking the relationship between manufacturers and conventional retail. Expecting this continuous erosion of profit to be destructive doesn't make the future very nice, where taken to some kind of endpoint the only guy with any money is Bezos.

I think it will blow before we get to Amazon = a trillion.

sharonsj , April 21, 2017 at 2:00 pm

I go by personal experience. I don't order much on line unless I can't find it locally. And by locally I mean within 40 miles, since I live in a rural area. When I have to order on-line supplies for my business, I am often outraged by the high cost of shipping and handling, which deeply cuts into my profits. So I try to find companies that will ship by regular post office. Also, I have only two friends who do weekly on-line shopping, but they have heavy workloads and higher incomes than I do (and one actually orders her weekly groceries this way, which I refuse to do).

Re all the statistics: I don't think there's any way to factor in the respondents' location, income, and needs, and those variables do matter.

Sally , April 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

In almost all sectors now retail, computing, pharmaceuticals, banks, there is a top heavy model where a small group of companies dominate almost every sector. There are various reasons for this, but it is not helped by well meaning politicians interfering in the market through regulation and tax policy, and wage subsidy for certain firms. Walmart gets govt money to subsides the wages it pays its staff. While this is well meaning to improve the lot of the low paid workers it has a knock on effect.

Why should tax payers subsidy Walmart? The money should be coming out of the Walton families fortune. And if they won't pay their workers more money perhaps that may make it easier for mum and pop stores to compete. After all they don't get the same help paying their staff. Walmart may find it more difficult to retain and keep staff. Endless regulations also don't help small business compete. It's well known inside the belt way and in the EU that the big boys like regulations, and often lobby behind the scenes to help make it hard for their smaller competitors.

And then we come to the biggest interference of all. The federal reserve, and the ECB and the ability to crate endless amounts of free money for the elites. How do you think these companies are able to stay afloat for years as investors throw endless amounts of money at these companies even though they are not making much profit? Amazon has returned very poor amounts back to share holders, and its owner's greatest skill has been to keep convincing his shareholders to keep piling more and more freshly printed fiat into keeping the company going. All this endless free money also encourages endless merges and acquisitions which reduces competition for the customer. No so easy to take over your competitors if you have to actually have the money to buy them out.

A great example of this crazy market is the car company Tesla. The Company burned over $1.5 billion in in 2016. This was provided by cheap credit and equity markets which ponied over a net $2.7 billion to the Company in 2016. In addition Telsa was given huge tax advantages for the first 200,000 vehicles. In effect Telsa's sales are being subsided by the U.S. Tax payer. The company also operates a buyback scheme where it guarantees the resale value on its sales up to 2016. That could be a liability of some $2-3 billion in the future. Comically Wall Street values Telsa at $5 billion more than Ford. Yet Ford sold 2.5million cars last year compared to Telsa's 79 thousand. Now obviously investors are betting on new technology eventually coming good, and replacing the oil fired engine. But without all the smoke and mirrors of funny money this could not continue for very long.

likbez , April 21, 2017 at 5:58 pm
What people do not realize is the Amazon is a surveillance company too. In some way they are even more dangerous than Google: if you are a "Prime" customer you have huge dossier on you.

If you buy "almost everything" on Amazon you provide pretty complete picture of your preferences and your activities in time. Those records are never erased, even formally, like is possible in Google. That's pretty disgusting to be under microscope.

Of cause, you can try to get Amazon "off-track" by browsing items that in no way represent you shopping "preferences" (for a man that might be cookware, woman clothing and jewelry ;-) . Results are pretty interesting if you try.

So using variety of Internet stores is just a common sense. Wal Mart is an obvious alternative (pick-up in stores is pretty convenient). is another.

If you buy electronics amazon prices are never good. You usually can find a better deals either directly (from Dell) or specialized stores (Fry, etc)

[Apr 21, 2017] Elizabeth Warren on Big Banks and Their (Cozy Bedmate) Regulators - The New York Times

Apr 21, 2017 |

Wells Fargo 's board and management are scheduled to meet shareholders at the company's annual meeting Tuesday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. With the phony account-opening scandal still making headlines , and the company's stock underperforming its peers, it's a good bet the bank's brass will have some explaining to do.

How could such pernicious practices at the bank be allowed for so long? Why didn't the board do more to stop the scheme or the incentive programs that encouraged it? And where, oh where, were the regulators?

Wells Fargo's management has conceded making multiple mistakes over many years; it also says it has learned from them. In a meeting this week with reporters at The New York Times, Timothy J. Sloan, Wells Fargo's chief executive, said the bank had made substantive changes to its structure and culture to ensure that dubious practices won't take hold again.

But there's a deeper explanation for why Wells Fargo's corrosive sales practices came about and continued for years. And it has everything to do with the bank-friendly regulatory regime in Washington and the immense sway that institutions like Wells Fargo have there. This poisonous combination contributes to a sense among giant banking institutions that they answer to no one.

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The capture of our regulatory and political system by big and powerful corporations is real. And it is a central and disturbing theme in the new book by Senator Elizabeth Warren , Democrat of Massachusetts.

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"This Fight Is Our Fight" contains juicy but depressing anecdotes about how our most trusted institutions have let us down. It also shows why, years after the financial crisis, big banks are still large, in charge and, basically, unaccountable for their actions.

"In too many of these organizations, there are rewards for cheating and punishments for calling out the cheaters," Ms. Warren said in an interview Wednesday. "As long as that's the case, the biggest financial institutions will continue to put their customers and the economy at risk."

Ms. Warren's no-nonsense views are bracing. But they are also informed by a thorough understanding of how dysfunctional Washington now is. This failure has cost Main Street dearly, she said, but has benefited the powerful.

Wells Fargo got a lot of criticism from Ms. Warren, both in her book and in my interview - and on live television during the Senate Banking Committee hearing on the account-opening mess in September. She was among the harshest cross-examiners encountered by John G. Stumpf, who was Wells Fargo's chief executive at the time. "You should resign," she told him , "and you should be criminally investigated." (Mr. Stumpf retired the next month.)

This week, Ms. Warren called for the ouster of the company's directors and a criminal inquiry into the bank.

"Yes, the board should be removed, but that's not enough," she told me. "There still needs to be a criminal investigation. The expertise is in the regulatory agencies, but the power to prosecute lies mostly with the Justice Department, and if they don't have either the energy or the talent - or the backbone - to go after the big banks, then there will never be any real accountability."

Banks are not the only targets in Ms. Warren's book. Others include Wal-Mart, for its treatment of employees; for-profit education companies, for the way they pile debt on unsuspecting students; the Chamber of Commerce, for battling Main Street; and prestigious think tanks, for their undisclosed conflicts of interest.

My favorite moments in the book involve the phenomenon of regulatory capture: the pernicious condition in which institutions that are supposed to police the nation's financial behemoths actually come to view them as clients or pals.


One telling moment took place in 2005, when Ms. Warren, then a Harvard law professor, was invited to address the staff at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a top regulator charged with monitoring the activities of big banks.

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She was thrilled by the invitation, she recalled in the book. After years of tracking various problems consumers experienced with their banks - predatory lending, sky-high interest rates and dubious fees - Ms. Warren felt that, finally, she'd be able to persuade the regulators to crack down.

Her host for the meeting was Julie L. Williams, then the acting comptroller of the currency. In a conference room filled with economists and bank supervisors, Ms. Warren presented her findings: Banks were tricking and cheating their consumers.


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After the meeting ended and Ms. Williams was escorting her guest to the elevator, she told Ms. Warren that she had made a "compelling case," Ms. Warren writes. When she pushed Ms. Williams to have her agency do something about the dubious practices, the regulator balked.

"No, we just can't do that," Ms. Williams said, according to the book. "The banks wouldn't like it."

Ms. Warren was not invited back.

Ms. Williams left the agency in 2012 and is a managing director at Promontory , a regulatory-compliance consulting firm specializing in the financial services industry. When I asked about her conversation with Ms. Warren, she said she had a different recollection.

"I told her I agreed with her concerns," Ms. Williams wrote in an email, "but when I said, 'We just can't do that,' I explained that was because the Comptroller's office did not have jurisdiction to adopt rules to ban the practice. I told her this was the Federal Reserve Board's purview."

Interestingly, though, Ms. Warren's take on regulatory capture at the agency was substantiated in a damning report on its supervision of Wells Fargo, published by a unit of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Wednesday.

The report cited a raft of agency oversight breakdowns regarding Wells Fargo. Among them was its failure to follow up on a slew of consumer and employee complaints beginning in early 2010. There was no evidence, the report said, that agency examiners "required the bank to provide an analysis of the risks and controls, or investigated these issues further to identify the root cause and the appropriate supervisory actions needed."

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Neither did the agency document the bank's resolution of whistle-blower complaints, the report said, or conduct in-depth reviews and tests of the bank's controls in this area "at least from 2011 through 2014." ( The agency recently removed its top Wells Fargo examiner, Bradley Linskens, from his job running a staff of 60 overseeing the bank.)

"Regulatory failure has been built into the system," Ms. Warren said in our interview. "The regulators routinely hear from the banks. They hear from those who have billions of dollars at stake. But they don't hear from the millions of people across this country who will be deeply affected by the decisions they make."

This is why the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plays such a crucial role, she said. The agency allows consumers to sound off about their financial experiences, and their complaints provide a heat map for regulators to identify and pursue wrongdoing.

But this setup has also made the bureau a target for evisceration by bank-centric politicians.

"There was a time when everything that went through Washington got measured by whether it created more opportunities for the middle class," Ms. Warren said. "Now, the people with money and power have figured out how to invest millions of dollars in Washington and get rules that yield billions of dollars for themselves."

"Government," she added, "increasingly works for those at the top."

[Apr 21, 2017] Despite Sanctions, Russia Finds Buyers for $11 Billion Stake in Rosneft - The New York Times

Apr 21, 2017 |

MOSCOW - The Russian government announced Wednesday that it will sell nearly 20 percent of its state oil company, Rosneft , to the Swiss commodity trading firm Glencore and the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar.

The deal defies expectations that no investor would dare buy a share in the Russian asset, given Western sanctions against the government of President Vladimir V. Putin.

But the emergence of foreign money suggests that investors are reassessing the sanctions after the election of Donald J. Trump, who has advocated warming ties with authorities in Moscow and is considering the chairman of Exxon Mobil, Rex W. Tillerson, as a candidate for secretary of state.

Mr. Tillerson criticized the sanctions as harmful for business after they halted an Exxon joint venture with Rosneft to drill for oil in the Kara Sea, in Russia 's sector of the Arctic Ocean.

The deal will bring Moscow $11.3 billion to help plug a widening budget deficit as Russia fights two wars, in Syria and Ukraine, and has struggled to meet pension payments and public-sector payrolls.

The agreement came as a surprise twist in the privatization of Rosneft. With an end-of-the-year deadline looming, no buyers had come forward for the 19.5 percent share in the world's largest publicly traded oil company, as measured by production and reserves. The apparent lack of bidders was a pessimistic sign for investor interest in Russia.

The Russian government had for most of the year planned to sell shares back to the majority state-owned company itself, which would hardly have qualified as a genuine privatization.

The United States decided in 2014 to impose sanctions on Rosneft and other Russian companies in response to Russia's intervention in the war in eastern Ukraine..

The sanctions limit long-term lending and transfer of American technology for drilling offshore and shale oil deposits.

The deal carries other risks as well. Both Glencore and the Qatari fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, have extensive investments in emerging markets. The Qatar fund is also an investor in Glencore.

The announced price valued Rosneft at $58 billion, slightly less than the company's stock market value at the close of trading in Moscow on Wednesday, of just under $59 billion.

Both the market price of shares and the sale price for the 19.5 percent stake announced Wednesday are a relative bargain, indicating the Russian government's eagerness to cut a deal to shore up its finances.

[Apr 21, 2017] US 'No doubt' That Villain-Of-The-Day Has Banned Weapons

Apr 21, 2017 |

Mattis: ' No doubt ' Syrian regime has chemical weapons , April 21, 2017

"There can be no doubt in the international community's mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all. There is no longer any doubt ," Mattis told reporters.

Full text of Dick Cheney's speech , August 27, 2002

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors ...

"Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it."

― Edmund Burke

Posted by b on April 21, 2017 at 01:04 PM | Permalink

Comments karlof1 | Apr 21, 2017 1:46:09 PM | 1
And there's absolutely No Doubt that the Outlaw US Empire's mouthpieces are lying yet again. Makes me even more curious as to what Putin said to Tillerson, as both Putin's and Lavrov's remarks about the global situation are blunter and more accusatory than ever before. Given the info provided by Lavrov at the press conference following the meeting of their Foreign Ministers Astana, I must assume the SCO nations are on the same page regarding the entire International Situation. In June in Astana, the SCO Summit will admit India and Pakistan as full members and begin the process to enroll Iran. Here, again, is the link to that press release,

WG | Apr 21, 2017 1:47:24 PM | 2
Perhaps the more disturbing alternative is Mattis is fully aware of everything surrounding the run up to the 2003 Iraq war and is thinking to himself:

"Declaring there is no doubt worked last time..."

Harry | Apr 21, 2017 1:56:09 PM | 3
The particular genius of our oppressors has been to erode the public's collective memory. With a dumbed-down educational system, a 24-hour propaganda, and an utterly vacuous popular culture, we are deprived of precisely that faculty on which following Burke's admonition depends. With our "post-literate" reliance on the Internet, it's a wonder any of us can remember what happened last week.

Mark Thomason | Apr 21, 2017 1:58:45 PM | 4
If the Syrians used them, then clearly they have them.

Did the Syrians use them? The US does not recognize that as a valid question. That is where Mattis goes astray. It is a valid question.

We were fooled by false flag use before. There are signs it may have happened again. It is not clear enough to be sure, but it is not clear enough to be sure the other way either.

Therefore, Mattis is wrong to conclude anything either way. However, given the official position of the US, he can hardly say anything different in public.

We ought to be looking at this very closely, but we vetoed such a close look by the international body that would do it. That would put into question the missile strikes we launched based on assumptions.

karlof1 | Apr 21, 2017 2:09:35 PM | 5
Pepe Escobar evokes T.S. Eliot's Hollow Men in his latest enumeration of Russia & China's strategic relationship. Oh, and I forgot to mention in #1 that BRICS also stands with Russia regarding all events Syria and Ukraine; and despite many efforts to destabilize it, BRICS still stands in solidarity and continues its work to economically counter the Outlaw US Empire, which Pepe also reminds us about,

SmoothieX12 | Apr 21, 2017 2:10:55 PM | 6
@2, WG

Perhaps the more disturbing alternative is Mattis is fully aware of everything surrounding the run up to the 2003 Iraq war and is thinking to himself:

"Declaring there is no doubt worked last time..."

Mattis' motivation is completely different.
De Mistura admits that someone lured the children with some sweets,-including-Qatari-royals.aspx
Does he admit it may have something to do with Qataris in iraq?

Posted by: Mina | Apr 21, 2017 2:11:30 PM | 7
De Mistura admits that someone lured the children with some sweets,-including-Qatari-royals.aspx
Does he admit it may have something to do with Qataris in iraq?

Posted by: Mina | Apr 21, 2017 2:11:30 PM | 7

laserlurk | Apr 21, 2017 2:16:33 PM | 8
Why would insignificant village be intentionally "gassed by Assad" while he has an absolute upper hand on the field? - is the question nobody in the Western media asks, nor has an answer to it.

Bio-chem weapons would be last resort to use on the battlefield in a desperate situation - was an original thought of making and having them.

Me and probably all of us here have no doubt that it is just a false flag perpetrated, oversaturated and pathetically served to us to validate continuation to oust Assad for Saudi's concessions, oil and money. Pure con and a rather amateurish one.
As expected, no doubt. :)

chet380 | Apr 21, 2017 2:20:39 PM | 9
Which state is Iran's greatest enemy? - Israel .. Where was the statement made? .. Who are the greatest financial political contributors in America? Res Ipsa Loquitur.

ruralito | Apr 21, 2017 2:21:37 PM | 10
Their lies are pitched to induce psychosis.

Mike Maloney | Apr 21, 2017 2:21:38 PM | 11
The importance of Mattis's pronouncement, as well as some " tilling of the soil " in the prestige press, is that another false flag attack is coming. The Hillary-McCain directive to take out Syrian airfields is going to be implemented.

MadMax2 | Apr 21, 2017 2:27:09 PM | 12
@1 karlof1
Talking Lavrov, talking history... The comprehensive history lesson Lavrov delivers to Tillerson is worth watching a number of times. It is an absolute shut down, in Tillersons face...rolling straight off the tongue.
Tillerson: 'trust us, we are sure, beyond doubt, Assad has chemical weapons'
Lavrov: 'here have this 5 minute history lesson you cabbage. '

The Mattis/Cheney comparison reminds me of the statements of the Canadian & Australian Prime Ministers prior to the Iraq 2003.

Eugene | Apr 21, 2017 2:30:06 PM | 13
And then when Mattis is dumped, he'll do the same as Colin Powell did. Welcome to the show. Bring your own popcorn.

Marko | Apr 21, 2017 2:36:44 PM | 14

"Their lies are pitched to induce psychosis."

Speaking for myself , I think it's working.

harrylaw | Apr 21, 2017 2:38:55 PM | 15
SmoothieX12 Difference this time is Syria has Russian backing and the BRICS [almost half the population of the World].Russia knows Syria is the key to the Middle East, if Syria fell, Hezbollah could not resist the head choppers from the North and East and attacks from the aparthied state from the South. Iran would then be exposed and attacked financially and militarily. Of course its a huge gamble, will those nutcases in Washington take it? These are existential stakes for many states in the region.

Perimetr | Apr 21, 2017 2:46:14 PM | 16
Israeli aviation launched a missile attack on Syrian army's positions in the province of Quneitra bordering Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, a Syrian military source told Sputnik.

wwinsti | Apr 21, 2017 3:05:38 PM | 17
@harrylaw #15

Assad's recent announcement about wanting to buy more Russian air defense systems comes close to addmiting that the Russians will not be defending Syrian airspace.

To paraphrase tRump:

...the submarines, even more powerful than the carriers...

So, all the assets are in place. We're starting to see the accusation swarm against Assad occur at a rate that's too fast to refute individual charges against the Syrian president.

Don't be surprised if the decapitation strikes against Syria and N.Korea happen simultaneously.

Mina | Apr 21, 2017 3:30:35 PM | 18
Macron gave a martial speech explaining that he would defend France from more terror and that would imply out of the borders...

dh | Apr 21, 2017 4:05:30 PM | 19
@18 This probably won't appear in the MSM so I'll post it here...

"Emmanuel Macron fears this as well. The 39-year-old presidential candidate – an unknown quantity here just two years ago– is campaigning for the Jewish vote, keenly aware of the threat. But when France goes to the polls on Sunday, its Jews will face a unique choice: To vote in the spirit of Jewish Americans, prioritizing principles of welfare and liberal democratic values, or in the Israeli posture, with security first in mind.

Macron is betting on the former, appealing to Jewish community values shared with the French Republic of liberty, equality and fraternity.

"He knows there is a real danger from a double extremism – from the far-Right with Marine Le Pen, and from the far-Left," said Gilles Taieb, a prominent member of the French Jewish community who joined Macron's En Marche! campaign in August. "He understands the specific needs of the Jewish community.""

Yul | Apr 21, 2017 4:11:51 PM | 20
@ dh #19

He does not have to worry - he used to work for the Edmond de Rothschild Bank (Jewish family -closed ties to Israel)

SmoothieX12 | Apr 21, 2017 4:15:37 PM | 21

Assad's recent announcement about wanting to buy more Russian air defense systems comes close to addmiting that the Russians will not be defending Syrian airspace.

This is rather a confusing (in BBC's or NYT vein) statement, since Russia, through a number of her high ranking representatives openly stated that she will upgrade Syria's AD. Syria IS NOT going to buy them, since has very little precious money, but what Syria is doing already is letting a truck load of Russia's extracting and construction companies on her market. Google Translate will do the job (link is in Russian)

SmoothieX12 | Apr 21, 2017 4:22:12 PM | 22
@15, Harrylaw

Iran would then be exposed and attacked financially and militarily.

I have a different opinion about this dynamics and I will not be surprised if Iran "suddenly" will become a full member of ODKB. At least for a little while.

wwinsti | Apr 21, 2017 4:28:15 PM | 23

Fog of war warning and all, but Assad definitely mentioned price as a factor in getting New AD systems in a sputniknews interview.

SmoothieX12 | Apr 21, 2017 4:49:15 PM | 24

Fog of war warning and all, but Assad definitely mentioned price as a factor in getting New AD systems in a sputniknews interview.

Of course, mechanism of what in Russian is called vzaimoraschety (mutual "payments" or "coverage") is always established. The price of military technology may be compensated through other means, such as contractual preferences or any other privileges. I think Russia's oil companies will be quite happy and so will be weapons' manufacturers. Come to think about it--they already are.

harrylaw | Apr 21, 2017 5:17:08 PM | 25
The question of Russian air defence missiles to Syria should not even be asked, Israel has nuclear weapons, the US don't care, the US supplies Israel with the latest OFFENSIVE weaponry and aircraft [f35, f16 ect]plus Iron Dome. It would be the height of folly for Russia not to give Syria the means to defend themselves.

harrylaw | Apr 21, 2017 5:31:08 PM | 26
I forgot nuclear capable submarines from Germany [with a discount thrown in].

Alaric | Apr 21, 2017 5:37:17 PM | 27
The Russians and Iranians need to end this already. The US clearly wants to try regime change again.

Information_Agent | Apr 21, 2017 5:38:24 PM | 28
Just as an FYI, I'm unable to access this site when I use a VPN server based in Canada, however VPN servers located elsewhere connect without issue. Anyone else experience this?

jfl | Apr 21, 2017 5:55:59 PM | 29
what's the sound of one mad dog jarhead barking? if it sounds off in the media echo-chamber, does it make a noise? it only echoes in the tnc msm. every american knows he's howling at the moon. it may well be that there's plenty of energy among those clipping coupons on american war bonds for more war, and no energy among those who fruitlessly opposed empire in the face of those same coupon-clippers.

its all-war, all-the-time with tee-rump just as it was with obama, bush, and clinton before him. people who are surprised at this are no more acute than those who might salute the flag the mad dogs have again run up the flag pole.

speaking of russia 'extracting' and 'constructing' in syria, the us of a is doing same in iraq : US approves nearly $300 million weapons deal to Kurdish Peshmerga . hi ho, you owe.

it would be exceptionally keen if all those cruise missiles unleashed on syria and/or north korea not only turned around, but struck their origin. wouldn't that be the end?

ben | Apr 21, 2017 5:56:34 PM | 30
The American public has to be the most ignorant and gullible group of ass-hats on the planet, if they fall for this BS being shoveled at them again. God-almighty this crap gets old!!!

All for the sake of global hegemony, and more wealth for the Trumps of the world.

peter | Apr 21, 2017 6:16:39 PM | 31
@12 madmax

First of all, I don't know how you can tell those speeches are the same though I heard them both mention WMDs. But here's the kicker, that's not the Canadian PM, not on that date, he was the Leader of the Opposition at that time. Harper became PM later.

Jean Chretien was the PM and he kept Canada out of Iraq. End of story.

likklemore | Apr 21, 2017 6:19:02 PM | 32
b cites Edmund Burke "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it."

There is also this little ditty:

"If at first you don't succeed try and try and try again. Never stop trying."

It works very well for TPTB who hold the sheeples are too dumbed down and will never recall moving lips.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

@ Perimetr 16

Israel needs to take the other side of the Golan - that's where the oil bubbles bigly. Ask Genie HQ NJ and while at it check out their Board of Directors, Strategic Advisory Board.
Hint, it's the gang and No One dares to spank
[Alert: page may load slowly but a worthy wait].

So forget about it. The op word is Strategic

Israel can strike Syria with 10 MOABs per second 24hr/7 and lips will be festiviously sealed tighter than a crabs rear-end.

A long essay by Robert Kennedy Jr Feb 2016:

"[W]e may want to look beyond the convenient explanations of religion and ideology and focus on the more complex rationales of history and oil, which mostly point the finger of blame for terrorism back at the champions of militarism, imperialism and petroleum here on our own shores," Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., intoned in an April editorial for Ecowatch

Peter AU | Apr 21, 2017 6:26:21 PM | 33
US Embassey Syria twitter acount is worth a read through. Reality has ceased to exist for the US admin.

woogs | Apr 21, 2017 7:24:19 PM | 34
Also from Edmund Burke:

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

Not from Edmund Burke, but a favorite if mine:

The mightiest oak is just a little nut that wouldn't give up.

james | Apr 21, 2017 7:37:56 PM | 35
thanks b... waiting for the exceptional empire to collapse.. not holding my breathe here.. the same game is being played and the same folks are hoping for the same results.. they are already getting them when it comes to money thrown into war and prep for war.. they are winning regardless if they can convince everyone to go deeper..

@17 wwinsti.. could be a head fake... no one knows for sure other then assad and russia.. welcome to the world of endless speculation..

@28 ia... this canuck is not having any issues accessing moa.. who nose.. maybe trudeau and freeland have set up a firewall to protect us from a different perspective then the 'rah, rah, rah - war 24/7 we support twitter mans agenda'..

@34 woogs.. good quote on the bottom. thanks.

MadMax2 | Apr 21, 2017 8:06:30 PM | 36
@31 peter
Indeed you're correct re: Chretien - and fair play to him. Though, the transcripts are fairly damning, as is the resignation of the plagiarist:

ALberto | Apr 21, 2017 8:19:17 PM | 37
When WWIII commences I wonder which side Switzerland will throw their lot in with?

iegee | Apr 21, 2017 9:23:52 PM | 38
The verdict on the chemical attack was swift and certain. When it comes to the recent bus bombing, somehow it is so different:
We are investigating, but I don't have any specific ... But we think it's exaggerated .
Inqury on Syria. Security Council Stakeout, 21 April, 2017

Those people have no shame. They are not going to investigate the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack. All the want is the flight plans from the Syrian government to finish their "work".

x | Apr 21, 2017 10:10:23 PM | 39
"No doubt" is not a statement about an objective reality out there (in country x); it is a statement about the subjective reality in the mind of the speaker (observer). A cunning ploy to speak a non-falsehood (about the mental conditioning of speaker and audience) that is merely opinion implying it is fact about a situation lacking empirical evidence.

[Apr 21, 2017] U.S. Rejects Exxon Mobil Bid for Waiver on Russia Sanctions - The New York Times

Apr 21, 2017 |

HOUSTON - The Trump administration delivered a setback to Exxon Mobil on Friday, announcing that it would not grant the oil giant a waiver from sanctions against Russia that would allow drilling in the Black Sea.

The decision, reinforcing barriers erected by the United States over Russia's intervention in Ukraine, was another sign that President Trump has been unwilling or unable to improve relations with the Kremlin early in his term, after pledging as a candidate that he would seek a thaw.

"In consultation with President Donald J. Trump," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a terse, prepared statement, "the Treasury Department will not be issuing waivers to U.S. companies, including Exxon, authorizing drilling prohibited by current Russian sanctions."

The prospect of a waiver had drawn denunciations from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. When news of Exxon Mobil's proposal emerged this week , Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, wrote in a Twitter post , "Are they crazy?"

The matter was complicated by the continuing congressional scrutiny of reports of Russian intervention in support of Mr. Trump in last year's election, and by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson's role as Exxon Mobil's chief executive until the president nominated him for his current position.

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Exxon Mobil applied for the waiver in 2015, arguing that it could lose its exploration rights in the Black Sea if it did not begin drilling operations by the end of 2017 under its contract with the Russian state oil company Rosneft.

The Obama administration did not act on the application, but Exxon Mobil hoped that the Trump administration would take a favorable view.

The company released a brief statement on Friday that did not express regret but explained its argument in favor of the waiver.

"We understand the statement today by Secretary Mnuchin in consultation with President Trump," the statement said. "Our 2015 application for a license under the provisions outlined in the U.S. sanctions was made to enable our company to meet its contractual obligations under a joint venture agreement in Russia, where competitor companies are authorized to undertake such work under European sanctions."


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United States and European sanctions were first imposed on Russia in March 2014 in response to Moscow's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Exxon Mobil signed an expansion of its joint venture projects anyway, even after Igor I. Sechin, Rosneft's chief executive, was personally blacklisted in connection with the sanctions.

The deal was legal, but Exxon Mobil was more fully constrained when tighter sanctions were imposed after Russia was implicated that summer in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine.

It has become increasingly clear in recent days that relations between the United States and Russia are unlikely to improve any time soon. Mr. Tillerson has used increasingly tough talk to highlight the Trump administration's differences with Russia over its alliance with the Syrian government. He has not suggested that any sanctions be lifted, and the administration has affirmed its commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European security.

Exxon Mobil's hopes to produce new oil in Arctic waters and in Siberian shale fields were delayed indefinitely by the toughened sanctions, which prohibited transfers of drilling technology capable of reaching oil in fields that previously had been virtually inaccessible. The company received a few exceptions to the sanctions, including a waiver in late 2014 that allowed it complete drilling of one exploration well in the frigid Kara Sea that it said would be unsafe to leave half finished. A big oil field was confirmed, but no new oil was produced and exported.

Exxon Mobil has long argued that it was being put at a disadvantage against some of its European competitors operating in Russia. ENI, the Italian oil giant, plans to drill this year in the Black Sea, a largely untapped area with enormous oil reserve potential.

European sanctions are somewhat weaker than those imposed by the United States since they exempted some contracts signed before the sanctions were put in place. The American sanctions drew a harder line.

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Exxon Mobil's drilling rights in the Black Sea were part of a sweeping strategic partnership Exxon Mobil developed with Rosneft in 2011 while Mr. Tillerson was in charge of the American company. The agreement came at a time when the Obama administration was seeking to improve relations with Russia, and several Western oil companies expanded their operations.

[Apr 21, 2017] Donald Trump Ruling Class President

Notable quotes:
"... One of the many irritating things about the dominant United States corporate media is the way it repeatedly discovers anew things that are not remotely novel. Take its recent discovery that Donald Trump isn't really the swamp-draining populist working class champion he pretended to be on the campaign trail. ..."
"... Christopher Hitchens usefully described the "essence of American politics" as "the manipulation of populism by elitism. That elite is most successful," Hitchens noted: ..."
"... "which can claim the heartiest allegiance of the fickle crowd; can present itself as most 'in touch' with popular concerns; can anticipate the tides and pulses of public opinion; can, in short, be the least apparently 'elitist.' It is no great distance from Huey Long's robust cry of 'Every man a king' to the insipid 'inclusiveness' of [Bill Clinton's slogan] 'Putting People First,' but the smarter elite managers have learned in the interlude that solid, measurable pledges have to be distinguished by a reserve' tag that earmarks them for the bankrollers and backers." ..."
"... Dressing elite class and economic interests in popular garb has always been a core function of the U.S. electoral and party system in its various iterations. Its first assignment was to rally ordinary citizens as voters for different factions of the developing nation's bourgeois class in its recurrent intra-capitalist policy struggles. ..."
"... American capitalism has an equally evil Siamese twin called imperialism , progenitor of the giant "national security" and "foreign apparatus" that eats up the lion's share of U.S. federal discretionary spending – at no small cost to social and environmental health even as it provides s rich revenue stream for the nation's unelected dictatorship of money. "The costs of empire," Chomsky wrote nearly half a century ago , "are in general distributed over the whole of society, white its profits revert to a few within." ..."
"... stop giving the American capitalist ruling class a free pass on Donald Trump, hoping for the neoliberal deep state" to bring about his demise from the top down ..."
"... Trump was never really an anti-establishment candidate beyond the deceptive rhetoric he cynically employed – consistent with the longstanding fake-populist "essence of American [and bourgeois] politics" – to win enough white working class and rural votes to prevail over dismal, dollar-drenched Hillary Clinton. And you don't have to join the right-wing conspiracy mongers at Zero Hedge to agree with them that " Trump is where the elites want him" and "serves the establishment." ..."
"... teleSur English ..."
"... "Here there is a convergence around the system's political need for social control and its economic need to perpetuate accumulation. Unprecedented global inequalities can only be sustained by ever more repressive and ubiquitous systems of social control and repression. Yet quite apart from political considerations, the TCC has acquired a vested interest in war, conflict, and repression as a means of accumulation. CIT has revolutionized warfare and the modalities of state-organized militarized accumulation, including the military application of vast new technologies and the further fusion of private accumulation with state militarization ." ..."
"... Trump, his team of politicized generals, and his call for a 10 percent increase in the already hyper-bloated Pentagon budget are a perfect match for the militarized accumulation strategy, with its "built-in war drive." ..."
"... Waiting for supposedly enlightened and decent elites atop the "deep state" to dump Trump is a fool's game. As Robinson says, "Only a worldwide push back from below, and ultimately a program to redistribute wealth and power downward, can counter the upward spiral of international conflagration." Join the debate on Facebook ..."
Apr 21, 2017 |
The Ruling Class Reserve Tag

One of the many irritating things about the dominant United States corporate media is the way it repeatedly discovers anew things that are not remotely novel. Take its recent discovery that Donald Trump isn't really the swamp-draining populist working class champion he pretended to be on the campaign trail.

The evidence for this "news" is solid enough. His cabinet and top advisor circle has been chock full of ruling class swamp creatures like former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn (top economic adviser), longtime top Goldman Sachs partner and top executive Steve Mnuchin (Secretary of the Treasury), and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross (Secretary of Commerce). Trump has surrounded himself with super-opulent and planetarily invested financial gatekeepers – the very club he criticized Hillary Clinton for representing.

Trump meets regularly with top corporate and financial CEOs, who have been assured that he will govern in accord with their wishes. He receives applause from business elites for his agenda of significant large scale tax cuts and deregulation for wealthy individuals and for the giant, hyper-parasitic, and largely transnational corporations they milk for obscene profits

Trump's political strategist Steve Bannon is by numerous reports being pushed aside by Cohn and by Trump's hedge-fund financier son-in-law Jared Kushner – a longtime neoliberal Democrat – when it comes to holding the president's ear. Bannon has been reduced to bitterly cursing Kushner as a "globalist cuckservative."

Bannon's white-nationalist "populist" bluster was of great electoral use to Trump on his path to the White House. In the real world of world capitalist power, however, the Beast of Breitbart is a liability. His self-declared nationalism does not jibe with the deeply rooted Open Door policy preferences of an American corporate and financial ruling class that has long been deeply invested across national boundaries in the world capitalist system.

Trump, it turns out, is not the worker-friendly populist he posed as while running for president. He's not the great anti-establishment outsider determined to return "power to the people" he claimed to be in his Inauguration Address. His economic program amounts to neo-liberalism on steroids.

You don't say! Gee, who knew? Anyone who's paid serious attention to American electoral politics and policy over the course of history, that's who. Seventeen years ago, the then still left Christopher Hitchens usefully described the "essence of American politics" as "the manipulation of populism by elitism. That elite is most successful," Hitchens noted:

"which can claim the heartiest allegiance of the fickle crowd; can present itself as most 'in touch' with popular concerns; can anticipate the tides and pulses of public opinion; can, in short, be the least apparently 'elitist.' It is no great distance from Huey Long's robust cry of 'Every man a king' to the insipid 'inclusiveness' of [Bill Clinton's slogan] 'Putting People First,' but the smarter elite managers have learned in the interlude that solid, measurable pledges have to be distinguished by a reserve' tag that earmarks them for the bankrollers and backers."

Democracy Imprisoned by Capitalism

In a recent New York Times Magazine reflection on the chilling extent to which Trump's rise is consistent with dodgy, fascist-like tendencies in the long history of the American right, the prolific liberal historian Rick Perlstein notes that the irony of a "populist" president who has "placed so many bankers and billionaires in his cabinet, and has relentlessly pursued so many 1-percent-friendly policies" is "far from unique." The Orange-Tinted Beast is the latest version of what Perlstein calls "The often-cynical negotiation between populist electioneering and plutocratic governance on the right."

Perlstein is right to note the unoriginality of the phenomenon. But why does Perlstein seem to think the "cynical negotiation" is just a Republican phenomenon? It was no less evident in the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama than it was during the Reagan and Bush presidencies and under Trump today. That is no small part of how and why the ugly Republican right that Perlstein understandably fears gets its recurrent trips into national and state-level power.

And just how mysterious is the tension between "populist electioneering and plutocratic governance"? From Karl Marx's time and before to the present day, bourgeois "constitutional" states practicing a strictly limited and deceptive form of "democracy" have been torn by a fundamental contradiction. On one hand, victorious candidates have to win enough popular votes to prevail in elections. They can hardly do that by proclaiming their commitment to the rule of the wealthy capitalist Few. On the other hand, they cannot garner the resources to win elections and govern effectively without the backing and cooperation of the investor/capitalist class, whose control of money and the means of production is critical to political power and policymaking.

Thirty-three years ago, the left political scientist Charles Lindblom penned a convincing take on American power, likening the capitalist marketplace to a prison. Lindblom's analysis is aptly summarized in a recent critique of "deep state" discourse by Anthony DiMaggio :

"U.S. corporations exercised power over communities, much like Kings do over feudal serfs, by exercising ownership over the means of production in the U.S. economy. They command worker loyalty due to their ability to hire and fire Americans and provide basic benefits such as health care or 401k and pension benefits. But corporations also possess the power to destroy people's lives via capital flight. Simply by threatening to leave a community and move factories abroad in pursuit of higher profits and weaker environmental regulations, corporations hold citizens hostage The marketplace is a prison, Lindblom warned, because these corporations ultimately control the levers of the U.S. economy, and control the life outcomes of American workers."

Beyond the ownership and investment/disinvestment levers, concentrated capital achieves policy, cultural, and societal outcomes it prefers in numerous other ways : the buying of candidates and election through campaign donations; the flooding of government with armies of well-heeled lobbyists; the drafting and dissemination of Big Business-friendly legislation; massive investment in public relations and propaganda to influence the beliefs and values of citizens, politicians, and other "opinion-shapers"; direct "revolving door" capture of key government positions; the offer of private sector positions to public officials who reasonably expect significantly increased compensation once they exit government; the "cognitive [ideological] capture" (every bit as corrupting as bribery) of state officials, politicians, media personnel, educators, nonprofit managers, and other "influential;" the destruction and undermining of organizations (i.e., labor unions) that might offer some countervailing power to that of big business; the granting of jobs, corporate board memberships, internships, and other perks and payments to public officials' family members; the control of education and publishing; the ownership, management, and monitoring of mass media (including "entertainment" as well as public affairs news and commentary).

The American philosopher John Dewey put things very well in 1931. He wrote that "politics is the shadow cast on society by big business" and rightly prophesized that U.S. politics would stay that way as long as power resided in "business for private profit through private control of banking, land, industry, reinforced by command of the press, press agents, and other means of publicity and propaganda."

Ten years later, the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis made the elementary Aristotelian observation that Americans "must make our choice. We may have democracy," Brandeis wrote, "or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." That was an unwitting call for the abolition of capitalism, which is marked among other things by an inherent tendency towards the upward concentration of wealth and power.

Let the People Be Taught

The fundamental contradiction between bottom-up democratic pretense and top-down class-rule reality is nothing new in American history. The New England clergyman Jeremy Belknap captured the fundamental idea behind the U.S. Founders' curious notion of what they liked to call "popular government." "Let it stand as a principle," Belknap wrote to an associate in the late 1780s, "that government originates from the people, but let the people be taught that they are unable to govern themselves."

Consistent with Belknap's advice, the U.S. Constitution was structured precisely and quite brilliantly to encode and enforce the impossibility of the Founders' ultimate nightmare: popular sovereignty . American history remains haunted by the darkly democidal enshrinement of the "first new nation's" crippling charter. The document invokes "We the people" and "the general welfare" only to set up a government dedicated to the hegemony of the propertied Few .

A Common Masquerade

Dressing elite class and economic interests in popular garb has always been a core function of the U.S. electoral and party system in its various iterations. Its first assignment was to rally ordinary citizens as voters for different factions of the developing nation's bourgeois class in its recurrent intra-capitalist policy struggles. Across much of the 19th century, some leading U.S. investors sought to advance their interests in the development of the domestic U.S. market and a manufacturing economy by pushing through an "American System" of government-subsidized internal improvements (transportation infrastructure above all), government central banks, and tariffs on imports. These capitalists tended to align with and fund the Whig Party and its anti-slavery successor the Republican Party. More export-, agricultural-, and free trade-oriented investors aligned with the Democratic Party.

These not insignificant differences aside, all these bourgeois parties made feverish electoral appeals to mass constituencies in the name of "the common man" to win votes in a republic with comparatively wide (universal white male across most of the nation by the eve of the Civil War) suffrage. The competing parties needed to "masquerade as commoners" (in the words of the late and great U.S. historian Alfred F. Young ) to elected politicians pledged to the "bankrollers and backers" preferred path of capitalist development. The Hitchensian game – the "manipulation of populism by elitism" – first came into own not during the time of Huey Long but a century before in the Andrew Jacksonian so-called "age of the common man."

"No Way to Vote Against Goldman Sachs" .

Policy specifics and party alignments have since shifted more than once in accord with underlying political-economic and demographic factors. Still, the basic manipulative reality captured in Left political scientist Thomas Ferguson's "investment theory of [U.S. two-] party competition" has continued throughout. During the 1930s and 1940s, Ferguson has shown, the labor-allied New Deal (Franklin Roosevelt) Democratic Party rose to power with critical support from highly capital intensive multinational corporations and internationally oriented investment banks who were less concerned about wage bills than the more nationally oriented, anti-union, and protectionist industrial firms that dominated the reigning (Teddy Roosevelt, William McKinley and Howard Taft) Republican Party at the turn of the 20th century.

The end of rapid growth and of the United States' short-lived and near-absolute post-World War II global economic hegemony during the late 1960s produced inflation and growing fiscal and trade deficits, leading to sharply raised interest rates, a strengthened dollar, and an unprecedented flow of surplus capital from industry to finance. The resulting new finance capital explosion transformed the American party system, which stabilized around 1980 with high finance atop the "hegemonic bloc" of political (as well as economic) investors. With the arch-neoliberal Clinton presidency of the 1990s , big finance capital had clearly taken over the Democratic Party as well as the Republicans, along with most of the nation's nonfinancial corporations.

There have been differences in the investor class profiles of the two dominant parties through this century. "Defense" (military) and oil and other Big Carbon firms have tended to tilt towards the Republicans. Silicon Valley and Hollywood lean Democratic. Beneath such differences, the 1% is united in neoliberal consensus across both parties around Wall Street-led globalization and a huge Pentagon System to expand and protect global finance capitalism. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are committed to the neoliberal world-capitalist and imperial order, with big finance calling the shots while unions, the working class, and the poor are relegated to the margins.

The two major parties have different historical, demographic, ethno-cultural, religious, and geographic profiles that matter. Still, they are united at the end of the day in their shared manipulations of carefully calibrated populist rhetoric and voter and partisan identity on behalf of the bipartisan super-rich and their global empire. As the Left author Chris Hedges noted four years ago :

"Both sides of the political spectrum are manipulated by the same forces. If you're some right-wing Christian zealot in Georgia, then it's homosexuals and abortion and all these, you know, wedge issues that are used to whip you up emotionally. If you are a liberal in Manhattan, it's – you know, they'll be teaching creationism in your schools or whatever Yet in fact it's just a game, because whether it's Bush or whether it's Obama, Goldman Sachs always wins. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs."

or (Earlier) J.P. Morgan

The Machiavellian ruling class exploitation of what is today called "identity politics" is also less than novel in the American historical experience. Fierce class conflict fueled by intense class consciousness roiled the industrializing United States across the late 19th and early 20th centuries, creating the most violent labor history in the world during those years. But great working class and farmer rebellions against the emergent new corporate plutocracy never translated into national politics thanks to the prior existence of a constitutionally mandated winner-take-all two party and elections system that channeled ballots into one of two reigning capitalist parties – aptly described by Upton Sinclair in 1904 as "two wings of the same bird of prey" – and in accord with differences of race, ethnicity, religion, and region. State and national politics and "voting behavior" were structured around ethnocultural and related geographic (sectional) factors. It's not for nothing that the Marxist American historian Alan Dawley once referred to the American ballot box as "the coffin of class consciousness." With all due respect to Eugene Debs' high water mark returns in 1912 (a mere 6% of the popular vote), there was little way to meaningfully vote against the interests of J.P. Morgan, Averill Harriman, and John Rockefeller.

No Free Pass

It's become fashionable on both left and right in recent years to think of Wall Street's untouchable power (along with that of Silicon Valley and the military industrial complex) as a reflection of the rule of the permanent "deep state." In its more measured and workable (non-conspiratorial) usage, the term refers to the embedded corporate and financial profit and power sectors that co-exist and merge with entrenched government institutions prominently including but not restricted to the ever-mushrooming national security state (we should include the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve alongside the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI) to govern the nation behind the electoral and parliamentary "marionette theater" (Mike Lofgren) of the visible state and its pseudo-democratic election rituals.

But, with all due respect for the chilling expansion of the intertwined military, police, and surveillance states, it is hard not to sense behind the notion of the "deep state" the simple and less-than-secretive persistence of the class rule regime called capitalism. The harsh authoritarian reality of what Noam Chomsky has wryly called "really existing capitalist democracy or RECD, pronounced as 'wrecked'" lives on today as long before. .

American capitalism has an equally evil Siamese twin called imperialism , progenitor of the giant "national security" and "foreign apparatus" that eats up the lion's share of U.S. federal discretionary spending – at no small cost to social and environmental health even as it provides s rich revenue stream for the nation's unelected dictatorship of money. "The costs of empire," Chomsky wrote nearly half a century ago , "are in general distributed over the whole of society, white its profits revert to a few within."

It is long past time for left thinkers to stop giving the American capitalist ruling class a free pass on Donald Trump, hoping for the neoliberal deep state" to bring about his demise from the top down . Yes, the elite financial campaign finance and speech royalty data suggest that Hillary Clinton was Wall Street's preferred candidate last year. Still, Trump was never really an anti-establishment candidate beyond the deceptive rhetoric he cynically employed – consistent with the longstanding fake-populist "essence of American [and bourgeois] politics" – to win enough white working class and rural votes to prevail over dismal, dollar-drenched Hillary Clinton. And you don't have to join the right-wing conspiracy mongers at Zero Hedge to agree with them that " Trump is where the elites want him" and "serves the establishment."

Militarized Accumulation

A recent teleSur English reflection by the brilliant Marxian sociologist William I. Robinson notes that the transnational capitalist class (TCC) has turned to military investment as a solution to its drastic over-accumulation of capital in an increasingly unequal and poverty-ridden world. As Robinson notes :

"Here there is a convergence around the system's political need for social control and its economic need to perpetuate accumulation. Unprecedented global inequalities can only be sustained by ever more repressive and ubiquitous systems of social control and repression. Yet quite apart from political considerations, the TCC has acquired a vested interest in war, conflict, and repression as a means of accumulation. CIT has revolutionized warfare and the modalities of state-organized militarized accumulation, including the military application of vast new technologies and the further fusion of private accumulation with state militarization ."

" The so-called wars on drugs, terrorism, and immigrants; the construction of border walls, immigrant detention centers, and ever-growing prisons; the installation of mass surveillance systems, and the spread of private security guard and mercenary companies, have all become major sources of profit-making The class interests of the TCC, geo-politics, and economics come together around militarized accumulation. The more the global economy comes to depend on militarization and conflict the greater the drive to war and the higher the stakes for humanity after Trump's .victory, the stock price of Corrections Corporation of America soared 40 percent, given Trump's promise to deport millions Raytheon and Lockheed Martin reports spikes each time there is a new flare up in the Middle East Within an hour of the April 6 th Tomahawk missile bombardment of Syria, Raytheon's stock increased by $1 billion. Hundreds of private firms from around the world have put in bids to construct Trump's infamous border wall."

Trump, his team of politicized generals, and his call for a 10 percent increase in the already hyper-bloated Pentagon budget are a perfect match for the militarized accumulation strategy, with its "built-in war drive."

Waiting for supposedly enlightened and decent elites atop the "deep state" to dump Trump is a fool's game. As Robinson says, "Only a worldwide push back from below, and ultimately a program to redistribute wealth and power downward, can counter the upward spiral of international conflagration." Join the debate on Facebook

Paul Street's latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014)

[Apr 21, 2017] Americans got Republican Obama -- another master of bait and switch.

Apr 21, 2017 |
Fred C. Dobbs -> jonny bakho... , April 20, 2017 at 05:58 AM
In some ironic way, 2016 was highly
reminiscent of LBJ's decision to quit,
Gene McCarthy's obstreperousness, and
Hubert Humphrey's ill-fated anointment
as LBJ's designated successor.

Politically, LBJ was hugely unpopular,
whereas Obama was at his peak.

Obama approval hits 60% as end of term
approaches @CNNPolitics

pgl -> Fred C. Dobbs... , April 20, 2017 at 06:26 AM
Interesting way to think of it. In 1968 - we got Nixon. I thought we could never do worse but we did in 2016.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:39 AM
Interesting peculiar maybe, but way to think of it - not.
Fred C. Dobbs -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , April 20, 2017 at 07:40 AM
Well, history repeats,

sometimes as tragedy, sometimes as farce.

And then, in 2016, we get Tom Dewey's Revenge.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Fred C. Dobbs... , April 20, 2017 at 06:38 AM
So, in your vernacular does reminiscent mean the same thing as opposite?
libezkova -> Fred C. Dobbs... , April 21, 2017 at 05:44 AM

"Obama approval hits 60% as end of term
approaches @CNNPolitics "

With 50+ approval ratings according to some polls Trump is not far. Raining Tomahawks on some ME country is "slam dunk" for approval ratings in the USA. Notwithstanding the fact that this is a war crime.

You got what you wanted: "Republican Obama" -- another master of "bait and switch." Hell-bent of the preservation of the US neoliberal empire at the expense of American people. But who cares about American people. Let them eat cakes.

At least in foreign policy you now actually got Hillary. all campaign promises are firmly forgotten. War drums beat is deafening. It's her policies that Trump is implementing. Why are you complaining ?

Here is a nice touch on the recent Trump gender transformation:


[Apr 21, 2017] Trump has lost control over the Pentagon

On April 17th, Scott Humor, the Research Director at the geostrategic site "The Saker," headlined "Trump has lost control over the Pentagon", and he listed (and linked-to) the following signs that Trump is following through with his promise to allow the Pentagon to control U.S. international relations:

  1. March 14th, the US National Nuclear Security Administration field tested the modernized B61-12 gravity nuclear bomb in Nevada.
  2. April 7, Liberty Passion, loaded with US military vehicles, moored at Aqaba Main Port, Jordan
  3. On April 7th the Pentagon US bombed Syria's main command center in fight against terrorists
  4. April 10, United States Deploying Forces At Syrian-Jordanian Border
  5. April 11, The US Air Force might start forcing pilots to stay in the service against their will, according to the chief of the military unit's Air Mobility Command.
  6. April 12, President Donald Trump has signed the US approval for Montenegro to join NATO
  7. April 13, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced the alliance's increased deployment in Eastern Europe
  8. On April 13th, the Pentagon bombed Afghanistan. The US military has bombed Afghanistan with its GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB)
  9. April 13, the US-led coalition bombed the IS munitions and chemical weapons depot in Deir ez-Zor killing hundreds of people
  10. April 14, The Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) has been deployed to the South China Sea
  11. April 14, the US sent F-35 jets to Europe
  12. April 14, Washington failed to attend the latest international conference hosted by Moscow, where 11 nations discussed ways of bringing peace to Afghanistan. The US branded it a "unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region".
  13. April14, the US has positioned two destroyers armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles close enough to the North Korean nuclear test site to act preemptively
  14. April 16th, the US army makes largest deployment of troops to Somalia since the 90s.

[Apr 21, 2017] President Trump dropped the biggest bomb

Apr 21, 2017 |

Fred C. Dobbs , April 20, 2017 at 04:30 AM

Mother of All Bombs

A journey to the Afghan village where
President Trump dropped the biggest bomb.

ACHIN, AFGHANISTAN - I spent the evening of April 13 with a cousin and two aunts in the upscale Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in Kabul, Afghanistan. My aunts mostly talked about their relaxed, liberal early youth in the 1960s among the Kabul elite. As we waited in the driveway for our car, my cousin told me about an explosion in Nangarhar, the eastern province of Afghanistan, where our family comes from. We scrolled through our phones. As we drove out, it became clear it wasn't the beginning of the Taliban's so-called Spring Offensive.

Around 8 p.m. Afghan time, the United States had dropped a 21,600-pound, $16 million bomb on Asadkhel, a tiny village nestled between two forested hills, to attack a decades-old tunnel system that was being used by fighters claiming allegiance to the Iraq- and Syria-based Islamic State.

Afghanistan has been at war for almost four decades now. Our people lived through the Soviet occupation and the war the mujahedeen fought against the Soviets with the support of the United States; freedom from the Soviet occupation was stained by a brutal civil war between mujahedeen factions (warlords had ruled large parts of the country and exacted a terrible human cost).

The Taliban rule followed. We watched them being bombed into submission and escape after Sept. 11, celebrated a few years of relative calm, and saw the Taliban return to strength and wage a long, bloody insurgency that continues to this day. We watched the world tire of our forever war and forget us.

Throughout the years of war, we had come to make lists of many firsts in Afghanistan - horrors, military victories, defeats, weapons used, atrocities committed, improbable lives saved. The explosion of the "mother of all bombs" on April 13 was a striking addition to the list of "firsts."


I set out for Nangarhar. Leaving Kabul can be a dangerous affair. If you travel south of the city, every mile on the road is living with the prospect of an encounter with the Taliban, the possibility of a tire rolling over a lethal roadside bomb.

I was, fortunately, driving east to Jalalabad, one of the largest Afghan cities. I drove for three hours through tunnels carved into the mountainside, past streams flowing beside forested mountains, and arrived in Jalalabad in the afternoon. The bombing site was two hours away. The city did not betray any anxiety. Rickshaws whizzed from roundabout to roundabout; kebab stands on sidewalks did brisk business; men and women filled the bazaars, shopping before the Friday prayer.

Some Afghan officials from Jalalabad took a group of journalists to Achin district, about 40 miles south. We drove through Bati Kot and Shinwar, two districts in between, where the Islamic State had established a significant presence in 2014. Thousands of residents had fled and sought refuge in Jalalabad and Kabul, among other places. Most of them were yet to return, but people carried on with their lives in village bazaars.

We passed an unfinished luxury-housing complex named for Amanullah Khan, the beloved former king of Afghanistan. We passed the site of a proposed university. As we approached Achin, white and purple poppy plants popped up in the green grass fields.

A few miles before Asadkhel, the bombed village, the road turned into a mountainous stretch of rock, dirt and gravel. A market of about 200 stores lay abandoned; the stores had been destroyed in weekslong military operations against the Islamic State fighters. Crumbling foundations, caved-in roofs and some tattered pieces of cloth were all that remained.

Not far from the ruined market, I met two boys: 11-year-old Safiullah and 13-year-old Wajed. They described the explosion as "very loud" but insisted that it did not scare them. Safiullah held on to his unruly goat that he was walking home. "I am used to it," he said. "I have heard so many bombings."

Wajed, who had come to bring water to the police, agreed. They said they were glad that the Islamic State fighters were gone. Safiullah had interacted a little with Islamic State fighters as he took his goat for grazing. They told him, "Don't grow poppy and don't shave your beard."

We finally reached a hilltop overlooking a green valley besides Asadkhel. A small cluster of mud houses stood along the hill. Every now and then a child would pass by. We saw no adults.

Two hills obstructed view of the bombed area. American helicopters flew overhead. Three hours passed but we weren't allowed to proceed further. Officials spoke cheerfully of resounding success and precision of the operation.

Yet every time we sought permission to visit the bombed area, they found excuses to keep us away: "The operation is ongoing!" "There are still Daesh" - Islamic State - "fighters on the loose!" "There are land mines!" and finally, "The area is being cleared!" "No civilians were hurt!"

We weren't allowed anywhere near the bombed village. We were simply told that about 94 Islamic State fighters had been killed.

In the end, "Madar-e Bamb-Ha" became the star of a grotesque reality television show. We know how much it weighs, what it costs, its impact, its model number and its code name. We know nothing about the people it killed except they are supposed to be nameless, faceless, cave-dwelling Islamic State fighters. It was a loud blast, followed by a loud silence. It is yet another bomb to fall on Afghan soil, and the future of my homeland remains as uncertain as ever.

Related: The 'Mother of All Bombs' blast site is still
off-limits, but here's who it may have killed via @Business Insider

... In a move reminiscent of Vietnam-era body-count assessments, Afghan officials have released estimates of the number of ISIS fighters killed in the MOAB strike, upping the total from 36 to 96 over the last six days. ...

ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , April 20, 2017 at 03:18 PM
body count worked so well in Vietnam and for the Russians in Kabul.........

Imagine if the winds were not compensated for.....

Let no one in, like Idbil, then the story is safe.

[Apr 21, 2017] West does not want to investigate incident in Idlib, Russian diplomat says

Apr 21, 2017 |
RGC , April 20, 2017 at 05:36 AM
West does not want to investigate incident in Idlib, Russian diplomat says

Russian Politics & Diplomacy April 20, 8:28 UTC+3

"We guess that Americans probably have something to hide, since they persistently want to take the Shayrat airport out of the investigation," the diplomat said

THE HAGUE, April 20. /TASS/ Western countries do not want to properly investigate the incident with the possible use of chemical weapons in the Syrian province of Idlib, Alexander Shulgin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told TASS.

On Wednesday, the meeting of the OPCW Executive Council took place. During that meeting Russia and Iran submitted a revised draft proposal for the investigation of the incident in the Syrian province of Idlib.

However, the United States opposed the visit of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Detection Mission to the Shayrat airfield, since it "has nothing to do with the situation," the diplomat said.

The US delegation "spoke out against the involvement of any national experts in the work of the mission, they accused Russia of trying to "mix tracks and lead the investigation to a dead end."

"But the connection between the incident in Idlib and the airfield of Shayrat was established by the Americans themselves, who stated that the Syrian planes had flown from this airfield," the Permanent Representative stressed. "Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to determine if sarin or other chemical munitions were stored there or not," he stressed.

"Our view is that the Western countries are acting extremely inconsistently," the Russian diplomat said.

"We guess that Americans probably have something to hide, since they persistently want to take the Shayrat airport out of the investigation. Maybe they knew from the start there was no chemical weapons there, and all this was used only as an excuse?" he added.

On April 7, US President Donald Trump ordered a strike on Syria's Shayrat military air base located in the Homs Governorate. The attack, involving 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM), came as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Idlib Governorate on April 4. The US authorities believe that the airstrike on Idlib was launched from the Shayrat air base.

pgl -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 05:51 AM
TASS is the Russian News Agency. Somehow I do not find them all that credible.
RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:01 AM
When the New York Times and Washington Post offer you fake news or no news, you might want to see what other sources say.

It might be wise to check one against the other and then decide which is the more credible.

pgl -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 06:08 AM
Does other news sources include Faux News and Billo? Oh wait - Billo just got canned.

BTW - we know sarin gas was used on the citizens of Syria. I guess you want to blame the French or something.

RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:24 AM
People other than Russians have questioned the story.

Like a prof at MIT:

The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur:

Analysis of the Times and Locations of Critical Events in the Alleged Nerve Agent Attack at 7 AM on April 4, 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria

By Theodore A. Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT.

pgl -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 06:32 AM
Read more carefully:

"The conclusion of this summary of data is obvious – the nerve agent attack described in the WHR did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR."

He is not saying attack did not occur. He is only saying the way the White House reported it was not entirely accurate. Yuuuge difference. Like Sean Spicer gets the details right every time - not.

RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:42 AM
"This means that the allegedly "high confidence" White House intelligence assessment issued on April 11 that led to the conclusion that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack is not correct.

For such a report to be so egregiously in error, it could not possibly have followed the most simple and proven intelligence methodologies to determine the veracity of its findings.

Since the United States justified attacking a Syrian airfield on April 7, four days before the flawed National Security Council intelligence report was released to the Congress and the public, the conclusion that follows is that the United States took military actions without the intelligence to support its decision."

RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:27 AM
NYT Mocks Skepticism on Syria-Sarin Claims
April 18, 2017

Exclusive: The New York Times and other major media have ruled out any further skepticism toward the U.S. government's claim that Syrian President Assad dropped a sarin bomb on a town in Idlib province, reports Robert Parry.
Today, however, particularly on foreign policy issues, the major U.S. news outlets, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, apparently believe there is only one side to a story, the one espoused by the U.S. government or more generically the Establishment.

pgl -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 06:35 AM
Facts on the ground in Assad's brutal regime are confusing? Stop the presses. I blame Assad. And no - I still do not trust the Russians.
RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:44 AM
And I would never trust your judgement.
pgl -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 06:48 AM
Likewise! BTW it is judgment (only 1 e).
RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 07:02 AM
This source says G_d is on my side:

"judgement is the form sanctioned in the Revised Version of the Bible, & the OED prefers the older & more reasonable spelling. Judgement is therefore here recommended –Fowler p. 310."

RGC -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 02:29 PM
And of course, that means the devil is on your side.

Just as I suspected.

JohnH -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 07:02 AM
What facts on the ground? There has been no investigation...only assertions made by the usual suspects.

A nice summary of the story:

As in economics, pgl is a staunch supporter of the dominant narrative and the conventional of those who believed that Saddam had WMDs.

pgl -> JohnH... , April 20, 2017 at 07:29 AM
The dominant narrative in Moscow is TASS. I guess you work for them now. BTW - I was doubting the Saddam WMD tale back in 2002. So take your usual lies somewhere else troll.
JohnH -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 08:08 AM
The dominant narrative among NY elites is the NY Times, whose reporting they swallow hook, line and sinker.

Yet you won't see any mention Theodore Postol's critique of Trump's allegations about the Syrian chemical attack. When it comes to foreign affairs, the NY Times salutes and follows the party do virtually all American news outlets.

pgl is happy to join into the groupthink no questions asked...

pgl -> JohnH... , April 20, 2017 at 07:35 AM
Did you check your source here? The James Corbett Report? Featured here at American Loons:

Even The Onion would not go here.

JohnH -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 08:10 AM
Question is, what facts in the Corbett Report were wrong? Seems to me that they pretty much nailed the contradictions and hypocrisy of the trumped up charges against Syria.
pgl -> JohnH... , April 20, 2017 at 08:36 AM
See below. The news today sort of debunks your apologist attitude toward Assad the Butcher.
JohnH -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 12:26 PM
Well, now we have the room and may have the weapon. But who done it? Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, or Miss Scarlet?

It is well known that the Syrian rebels also use chemical weapons.

But that doesn't dissuade pgl from believing everything that Trump the compulsive liar says! Until Trump bombed Syria, libruls like pgl didn't believe a word Trump said. Now they'll believe anything!!!

After a lifetime of watching the US start pointless and futile wars under false pretenses (Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, etc.), pgl has no hesitation about gulping down the kool aid as fast as he can! In fact, libruls like pgl seem absolutely delighted when money that could be used for socially useful purposes like education and healthcare get diverted to fight phantom enemies abroad.

anne -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:33 AM

April 19, 2017

"Bernie Sanders was of course a civil rights activist in the 1960s..."

A couple of marches does not make on Martin Luther King or John Lewis. I spent more time in the trenches than Sanders did back then...

April 20, 2017

I guess you want to blame the French or something....

ilsm -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 03:24 PM
Like VOA which had a long agitprop piece today.

Do you think the Sarin was stored near the planes that could get to Idlib? Or maybe those cruise missiles damaged a Sarin site?

Why not find the igloo that help the Sarin?

Or do you want to believe the staged vids and pix?

OPCW said to was Sarin...... or such!

And French are selling the US' tale like they sold killing Qaddafi and that unneeded involvement in Europe 100 years ago.

[Apr 21, 2017] Petty bourgeois class is not the same thing as middle income: source of income matters hugely

Notable quotes:
"... Petty rentiers live off others above the compensation for inflation and retireds are not earning wages anymore. Even if they live on social security and pensions ..."
"... Income ranking regardless of source is a muddle ..."
"... Most people are in the job class, not the asset owning / one percent class. "High taxes and redistribution do the job nicely, just ask Norway." Not a sufficient answer to issues Marxism raises, just a facile one. ..."
"... I don't have a problem with class warfare. I don't have a problem with Democrats either. I have a problem with losing. ..."
"... I agree with above on workers now retired. However their solidarity with the still active workers is not a sure thing ..."
"... Yep. Further proof that the rich are parasites killing their host. ..."
"... Torturing, not killing is how they get their satisfaction. ..."
"... Yes, but their lack of restraint is killing the host. ..."
Apr 21, 2017 |
paine -> paine... April 20, 2017 at 06:09 AM
Bourgeois (petty) class is not the same thing as middle income: source of income matters hugely

Petty rentiers live off others above the compensation for inflation and retireds are not earning wages anymore. Even if they live on social security and pensions

Income ranking regardless of source is a muddle

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> paine... , April 20, 2017 at 06:44 AM

Easy on those retireds. Prefer to think of them as former wage class living off their social dividend for past services rendered. In any case, retirement is still the best job that I have ever had. Got to go cut the grass now, first time this season and way too tall. We were in a drought for a time, but it broke last weekend.
reason -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , April 20, 2017 at 08:33 AM
Good thanks. I just think that paine's world view is dated. I don't like class war of either type (down or up) it is too costly for the bystanders (just like any war). Today most people don't fit cleanly into one class (workers) or the other (capitalists) -- actually they never did women and children are a majority not to mention the increasing ranks of the retired. We live in a world where most people are both workers and owners - that is almost the definition of a middle class society. And many rely on "rents" from their hard won qualifications. Marxism is just too simple a view of world, and as it turns out unnecessary. High taxes and redistribution do the job nicely, just ask Norway.
Peter K. -> reason ... , April 20, 2017 at 08:49 AM
Most people are in the job class, not the asset owning / one percent class. "High taxes and redistribution do the job nicely, just ask Norway." Not a sufficient answer to issues Marxism raises, just a facile one.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> reason ... , April 21, 2017 at 03:49 AM
I don't have a problem with class warfare. I don't have a problem with Democrats either. I have a problem with losing.

I also have a problem with winning and then just flubbing the replacement. I am mostly for just letting future generations work this out however they can once given the tools of a more democratic political system.

paine -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , April 20, 2017 at 09:00 AM
I agree with above on workers now retired. However their solidarity with the still active workers is not a sure thing
ilsm -> paine... , April 20, 2017 at 03:13 PM
instead of make it easier poor make it frequent to escape poor
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> ilsm... , April 21, 2017 at 03:50 AM
DrDick -> reason ... , April 20, 2017 at 06:45 AM
Yep. Further proof that the rich are parasites killing their host.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> DrDick... , April 20, 2017 at 07:21 AM
Torturing, not killing is how they get their satisfaction.
DrDick -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , April 20, 2017 at 08:34 AM
Yes, but their lack of restraint is killing the host.

[Apr 21, 2017] Since Obama appointed Derugulating Larry , Tax-evading Timmy and Too-big-to-jail Eric , maybe those appointments were not that good

Apr 21, 2017 |
reason , April 20, 2017 at 02:31 AM
It seems Paul Krugman isn't the economist who doesn't necessarily agree with Sanders all the time.

Still, all this really shows is how incredibly dysfunctional the ancient US system is. Time for a constitutional renewal process.

Fred C. Dobbs -> reason ... , April 20, 2017 at 03:54 AM
(Shocking stuff, no?)

'For example, late in the Obama administration the board that is supposed to oversee the US Postal Service had zero members out of the nine possible appointments. The reported reason is that Senator Bernie Sanders put a hold on all possible appointees, as a show of solidarity with postal workers. If it isn't obvious to you how Sanders preventing President Obama from appointing new board members would influence the US Postal Service in the directions that Sanders would prefer, given that President Trump could presumably appoint all nine members of the board, you are not alone.'

Timothy Taylor

RGC -> Fred C. Dobbs... , April 20, 2017 at 07:25 AM
Since Obama appointed "Derugulatin' Larry", "Tax-evadin' Timmy" and "Too-big-to-jail Eric", maybe those appointments weren't very good.

[Apr 21, 2017] The Reason Behind The Sales-Surge For Nuclear-Proof Bunkers Zero Hedge

Notable quotes:
"... On April 17 th , Scott Humor, the Research Director at the geostrategic site "The Saker," headlined "Trump has lost control over the Pentagon" , and he listed (and linked-to) the following signs that Trump is following through with his promise to allow the Pentagon to control U.S. international relations: ..."
"... March 14 th , the US National Nuclear Security Administration field tested the modernized B61-12 gravity nuclear bomb in Nevada . ..."
"... April 7, Liberty Passion, loaded with US military vehicles, moored at Aqaba Main Port, Jordan ..."
"... On April 7 th the Pentagon US bombed Syria's main command center in fight against terrorists ..."
"... April 10, United States Deploying Forces At Syrian-Jordanian Border ..."
"... April 11, The US Air Force might start forcing pilots to stay in the service against their will, according to the chief of the military unit's Air Mobility Command. ..."
"... April 12, President Donald Trump has signed the US approval for Montenegro to join NATO ..."
"... April 13, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced the alliance's increased deployment in Eastern Europe ..."
"... On April 13 th , the Pentagon bombed Afghanistan. The US military has bombed Afghanistan with its GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) ..."
"... April 13, the US-led coalition bombed the IS munitions and chemical weapons depot in Deir ez-Zo r killing hundreds of people ..."
"... April 14, The Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) has been deployed to the South China Sea ..."
"... April 14, the US sent F-35 jets to Europe ..."
"... April 14, Washington failed to attend the latest international conference hosted by Moscow, where 11 nations discussed ways of bringing peace to Afghanistan . The US branded it a "unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region". ..."
"... April14, the US has positioned two destroyers armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles close enough to the North Korean nuclear test site to act preemptively ..."
"... On April 16 th , the US army makes largest deployment of troops to Somalia since the 90s. ..."
"... or there will be WW III. ..."
Apr 15, 2017 |
> Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

On April 15th, Zero Hedge bannered "Doomsday Bunker Sales Soar After Trump's Military Strikes", but this growth in the market for nuclear-proof bunkers is hardly new; it started during the Obama Administration, in Obama's second term, specifically after the Russia-friendly government of Ukraine, next-door to Russia, got taken over in 2014 by a rabidly anti-Russian government that's backed by the U.S. government.

This boom in nuclear-bunker sales is only increasing now, as the new U.S. President, Donald Trump, tries to out-do his predecessor in demonstrating his hostility toward the other nuclear superpower, Russia, and displaying his determination to overthrow the leader of any nation (such as Syria and Iran) that is at all friendly toward Russia. For earlier examples of feature-articles on this booming market for homes that allegedly would enable buyers to survive the first blast effects, and the most immediate nuclear contaminations, of a Third World War, see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

This surging demand for nuclear bunkers started right after the U.S. government arranged a coup in Ukraine that replaced the existing Moscow-friendly democratically elected President by installing a rabidly anti-Russian Prime Minister and national-security appointees from Ukraine's two nazi Parties, the Right Sector Party, and the former Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine (which the CIA renamed "Svoboda" meaning "Freedom" so as to enable it to be acceptable to the American public). Then, the intensifying U.S. effort to replace the secular pro-Russian Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad by a sectarian jihadist government that would be dependent upon the Saudi-Qatari-UAE-Turkish-U.S. alliance, has only intensified further the demand for these types of "second homes".

Whereas all of the purchasers of these bunkers are being kept secret, the U.S. federal government provides, free-of-charge, to top officials, nuclear bunkers, so as to allow the then-dictatorship (continuation of America's current dictatorship) to function, in order, supposedly, to serve their country, which they'd already have destroyed (along with destroying the rest of the world) by their determination to conquer Russia. No one knows what the reality would actually be in such a post-WW-III world, except that there would be no functioning electrical grid, nights would be totally dark for anyone whose sole reliance is on the grid, and all rivers and other water-sources would be intensely radioactive from the fallout, so that groundwater soon would also be unusable - and, of course, the air itself would also be toxic; so, lifespans would be enormously shortened, and excruciating, not to say extremely depressing.

No one has published a computer-model of a U.S.-Russia nuclear war, because doing that would be unacceptable to the "military-industrial complex" including the U.S. government, but in 2014 a "limited, regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan" was computer-modeled and projected to produce global ozone-depletion and "the coldest average surface temperatures in the last 1000 years", which "could trigger a global nuclear famine". But such a war would be only 50 bombs instead of the 10,000+ that would be used in a WW III scenario; and, so, everyone who is paying money in order to survive WW III is simply wasting money.

But, somehow, there are people who either want a Russia-U.S. war, or else whose preparations for it are directed at surviving in such a world, instead of at ending the current grip on political power in the United States, on the part of the people who are working to bring about this type of (end to the) world. At least the owners of the major U.S. armaments-firms, such as Raytheon Corporation, would have an explosive financial boost during the build-up toward that war, but buying bunkers in order to survive it, would seem to be a dubious follow-up to such an investment-plan. On the other hand, it might appeal to some thrill-seekers who don't even feel the need for a good computer-simulation of a post-WW-III world; maybe they've got money to burn and a craving to experience 'the ultimate thrill', and don't want unpleasant knowledge to spoil the thrill.

After President Trump threw out his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and replaced him with the rabidly anti-Russian H.R. McMaster, and then lobbed 59 cruise missiles against the Syrian government (which is protected by the Russian government), the cacophony of press that had been calling for President Trump to be impeached and replaced by his rabidly anti-Russian Vice President Mike Pence, considerably quieted down; and, so, the Obama-Trump market for nuclear bunkers seems now to be established on very sound foundations, for the foreseeable immediate future. And, if anyone in the U.S. federal government has been planning to prepare the U.S. for a post-WW-III world, that has not been publicly announced, and no newsmedia have even been inquiring about it - so, nothing can yet be said about it.

The general message, thus far, is that, after World War III, everyone will be on his or her own, but that the dictators will (supposedly) be in a far better position than will anyone outside that ruling group. However, if the survivors end up merely envying the dead, it will be no laughing matter, regardless of how silly those nuclear bunkers are. It would be nothing funny at all.

On April 17th, Scott Humor, the Research Director at the geostrategic site "The Saker," headlined "Trump has lost control over the Pentagon", and he listed (and linked-to) the following signs that Trump is following through with his promise to allow the Pentagon to control U.S. international relations:

March 14th, the US National Nuclear Security Administration field tested the modernized B61-12 gravity nuclear bomb in Nevada.

April 7, Liberty Passion, loaded with US military vehicles, moored at Aqaba Main Port, Jordan

On April 7th the Pentagon US bombed Syria's main command center in fight against terrorists

April 10, United States Deploying Forces At Syrian-Jordanian Border

April 11, The US Air Force might start forcing pilots to stay in the service against their will, according to the chief of the military unit's Air Mobility Command.

April 12, President Donald Trump has signed the US approval for Montenegro to join NATO

April 13, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced the alliance's increased deployment in Eastern Europe

On April 13th, the Pentagon bombed Afghanistan. The US military has bombed Afghanistan with its GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB)

April 13, the US-led coalition bombed the IS munitions and chemical weapons depot in Deir ez-Zor killing hundreds of people

April 14, The Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) has been deployed to the South China Sea

April 14, the US sent F-35 jets to Europe

April 14, Washington failed to attend the latest international conference hosted by Moscow, where 11 nations discussed ways of bringing peace to Afghanistan. The US branded it a "unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region".

April14, the US has positioned two destroyers armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles close enough to the North Korean nuclear test site to act preemptively

On April 16th, the US army makes largest deployment of troops to Somalia since the 90s.

Mr. Humor drew attention to an article that had been published in "The Daily Beast" a year ago, on 8 April 2016, "CALL OF DUTY: The Secret Movement to Draft General James Mattis for President. Gen. James Mattis doesn't necessarily want to be president-but that's not stopping a group of billionaire donors from hatching a plan to get him there". Though none of the alleged "billionaires" were named there, one prominent voice backing Mattis for the Presidency, in that article, was Bill Kristol, the Rupert Murdoch agent who co-founded the Project for a New American Century, which was the first influential group pushing the "regime-change in Iraq" idea during the late 1990s, and which also advocated for the foreign policies that George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump, have since been pursuing, each in his own way. It seems that whomever those "billionaires" were, they've now gotten their wish, with a figurehead Donald Trump as President, and James Mattis actually running foreign policy. Humor also noted that Mattis wants to boost the budget of the Pentagon by far more than the 9% that Trump has proposed. Perhaps Trump knew that even to get a 9% Pentagon increase passed this year would be almost impossible to achieve. First, the unleashed Pentagon needs to place the military into an 'emergency' situation, so as to persuade the public to clamor for a major invasion. That 'emergency' might be the immediate goal, toward which the March-April timeline of events that Humor documented is aiming.

As regards the military comparisons of the personnel and equipment on both sides of a U.S.-Russia war, the key consideration would actually be not the 7,000 nuclear warheads that Russia has versus the 6,800 nuclear warheads that the U.S. has, but the chief motivation on each of the respective sides: conquest on the part of the U.S. aristocracy, defense on the part of the Russian aristocracy. (Obviously, the U.S. having continued its NATO military alliance after the Soviet Union's Warsaw Pact military alliance ended in 1991, indicates America's aggressive intent against Russia. That became a hyper-aggressive intent when NATO absorbed Russia's former Warsaw Pact allies. NATO even brought in some parts of the former USSR itself, when in 2004, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, entered NATO, and in 2014 U.S. President Obama tried to get Ukraine into NATO, and these five countries hadn't even been Warsaw Pacters, but had instead been parts of the USSR itself. It was as if Russia had grabbed not only America's allies, but some states in the U.S. itself. This constituted extreme aggression, and shows the U.S. aristocracy's obsessive intent for global empire - to include Russia.)

Any limited war between the two powers would become a nuclear war once the side that's losing this limited war becomes faced with the choice of either surrendering that limited territory (now likely Syria) or else going nuclear. On Russia's side, allowing such military conquest of an ally would be unacceptable; the war would then expand with the U.S. and its allies invading Russian territory for Russia's continuing refusal to accept the U.S.-Saudi and other allies' grabbing of Syria (on 'humanitarian grounds', of course - as if, for example, the Sauds aren't far more brutal than Assad). After the traditional-forces' invasion of Russia, Russia's yielding its sovereignty over its own land has never been part of Russia's culture: If Russia were to be invaded by allies of the U.S., then launching all of Russia's nuclear weapons against the U.S. and America's invasion-allies, would be a reasonably expected result. Here's how it would develop: On America's side, which (very unlike Russia) has no record of any foreign invasion against its own mainland (other than the Sauds' own 9/11 'false flag' attacks), the likely response in the event of Russia's crushing its invaders would be for the U.S. President to seek to negotiate a face-saving end to that limited war, just as the American President Richard Nixon did regarding America's invasion and occupation of Vietnam.

However, a reasonable question can be raised as to whether, in such a situation, Russia would accept anything less than America's total surrender, much as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in WW II was determined to accept nothing less than Germany's total surrender, at the end of that war. If Trump wants to play Hitler, then Putin (acting in accord with Russian tradition) would probably play both FDR and Stalin, even if it meant the end of the world. For Russia to be conquered, especially by such intense evil as those invaders would be representing, would probably be viewed by Russians as being even worse than ending everything, and this would probably be Putin's view as well. If America did not simply capitulate, Putin would probably nuclear-blitz-attack the U.S. and its allies, rather than give Trump (or Pence) the opportunity to blitz-attack Russia and to sacrifice all of the U.S. side's invading troops in Russia so as to 'win' the overall war and finally conquer Russia. It would be like WW II, except with nuclear weapons - and thus an entirely different type of historical outcome after the war.

Consequently, either the U.S. will cease its designs on Russia, or there will be WW III. Russia's sovereignty will never be yielded, especially not to the thuggish gang who have come to rule the U.S. (both as "Republicans" and as "Democrats"). The bipartisan neoconservative dream of America's aristocrats (world-conquest) will never be achieved. Russia will never accept it. If America's rulers continue to press it, the result will be even worse than when the Nazis tried. It's just an ugly pipe-dream, but any attempt to make it real would be even uglier. And nobody who buys a 'nuclear-proof bunker' will get what he or she thinks is being bought - safety in such a world as that. It won't exist.

Shemp 4 Victory -> Crash Overide , Apr 20, 2017 10:56 PM

Fred Reed knocks one out of the park:

First Transgender President: Trump Becomes Hillary

Luc X. Ifer -> Shemp 4 Victory , Apr 20, 2017 11:24 PM

False. We have a simulation, and it is far worse than people can even imagine.


  • Even humans living in shelters equipped with many years worth of food, water, energy, and medical supplies would probably not survive in the hostile post-war environment.


  • Luc X. Ifer -> Luc X. Ifer , Apr 20, 2017 11:41 PM

    Another reason why USSA is in hurry to have the war with Russia ASAP is that they know that very soon - if not even now in the present, USSA ICBM defense is outdated and 100% ineficient against the newest Russian ICBMs, if by any bad chance Russia launches the 1st strike Disney Land USSA is Bye Felicia without even a chance to retaliate.

    winged -> Luc X. Ifer , Apr 20, 2017 11:41 PM

    If that time truly comes, make sure you know who's really responsible.

    [Apr 21, 2017] First Transgender President Trump Becomes Hillary

    Apr 20, 2017 |

    Oh Lord, it's happening–the remanufacture of Trump by the Establishment. During the campaign, Trump and the Basilisk had nothing in common but their hair dye. Now, almost daily, he looks more like her.

    He gets embarrassing. Regarding the alleged gassing in Syria, quoth Donald:

    "When you kill innocent children, innocent babies - babies, little babies - with a chemical gas that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much."

    God almighty. Who wrote this–a middle school girl with C's in English, or the President of the United States? Did he retire to his bedroom for a good cry?

    Apparently he ordered his missile strike without bothering to find out what happened. The usual suspects are driving him like a sports car.

    The election was a choice between fetor and a lunatic. We chose the lunatic. Whether this was better than the alternative, we will never know, but Trump is going from bad to worse, or as the Mexicans say, de Guatemala a Guatepeor.

    Does he believe this stuff? Is he naive enough to think that there was something unusually horrible about the attack? Horrible, yes, but not in the least unusual. Do you know what everyday, boring artillery does to children? Five-hundred-pound bombs? Hellfire rockets? Daily Mr. Trump's military and his allies daily drop shrapnel-producing explosives on people, cities, towns, adults, children, weddings and goatherds in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Good draft-dodger that he was, he probably has never seen any of this. Good psychopath that he may be, he may not care.

    This whole gas-attack business smells to high heaven. It looks nicely calculated to force him to attack Assad. Gas was important: Killing babies, little babies with explosives is so routine that no one cares, but we have been programmed to shudder at the thought of Gas!

    Actually artillery has killed several orders of magnitude more people, but never mind.

    Targeting children was a nice touch. Definitely a PR bonus. So Donald goes into his Poor-widdle-fings weep, while Americans weekly kill more children in three to seven countries, depending on the date.

    Is the man consciously a liar? Hasn't got sense enough to think before operating his mouth? Actually believes what he says when he says it?

    Glance at a small part of the record and focus on his changing his tune, not on whether you agree with a particular policy. Erratic, erratic, erratic. He was going to run out the illegals within two years, absurd but he said it. Going to put high tariffs on Mexican goods. Didn't. On Chinese goods. Isn't. Tear up the Iran treaty. Didn't. Declare China a currency-manipulator. Isn't. Ban Muslims. Hasn't. Promote good relations with Russia. Isn't. Get the US out of Syria. Ha. Make NATO pay for itself. Isn't. The man has the steely determination one associates with bean curd. You cannot trust anything the man says.

    Having been reprogrammed as a good neocon, bombing places he promised to get out of, looking for a fight with Russia, he is now butting heads with Fat Thing in North Korea. He his said things closely resembling, "We have run out of strategic patience with the North. If nobody else will take care of it, we will." Grrrr. Bowwow. Woof.

    The problem with growly ultimata made for television is that somebody has to back down–that is, lose face and credibility. If Trump had quietly told Fat Thing, "If you crazy bastards scrap your nuke program, we will drop the sanctions," it might have worked. But no. Negotiations would imply weakness. Thus an ultimatum.

    So now either (a) Fat Thing knuckles under, humiliating himself and possibly endangering his grasp on power or (b) Trump blinks in a humiliating display of the Empire's impotence, possibly endangering his grasp on power.

    Kim Jong Il, or Il Sung Jong, or whatever the the hell the latest one of them is called, shows not the slightest sign of backing down. So does the Donald start an utterly unpredictable war, as usual in somebody else's country, or does he weasel off, muttering, and hope nobody notices?

    Fred's Third Law of International Relations: Never butt heads with a country that has a missile named the No Dong.

    Many of us favored Trump, slightly daft though he was, because he wasn't yet Hillary, wasn't yet a neocon robot, and didn't want war with every country he had heard of, apparently meaning a good half dozen. At least he said he didn't, not yet having been told that he did. In particular, he didn't want war with Russia. But when the neocons control the media and Congress, they can convince a naive public of anything and, apparently, the President.

    Why is the Hillarification of Trump important? The necessary prior question: What is the greatest threat to the neocons' American Empire? Answer: The ongoing integration of Eurasia under Chinese hegemony. The key countries in this are China, Iran, and Russia. (Isn't it curious that, apart from the momentary distraction of North Korea, these countries have been the focus of New York's hostility?) In particular if Russia and, through it, China develop large and very profitable trade with Europe, there goes NATO and with it the Empire.


    Thus the eeeeeeeeeeek! furor about Russia as existential threat and so on. Thus sending a few troops to Baltic countries to "deter" Russia. This was theater. The idea that a thousand garrison troops can stop the Russian army, which hasn't gone silly as ours has, on its doorstep is loony.

    Hillary was on board with the Russia hysteria and the globalization and the immigration and so on. Trump could have screwed the whole pooch by getting along with Russia, so he had to be reconfigured. And was. A work in progress, but going well.


    Too much is being asked of him. One man cannot overcome the combined hostility of the media, the political establishment, the neocons, the myriad other special interests that he has threatened. Mass immigration is a done deal. China develops and America, already developed, cannot keep up. The country disintegrates socially. Washington, always depending on war and its threat, faces a new world in which trade is the weapon, and doesn't know what to do. The culture courses. The world changes.

    Yet if only Trump showed some sign of knowing what he is doing, and could remember from day to day, if only he realized that wars are more easily started than predicted, if only he were not becoming an unbalanced Hillary.

    Yet, apparently, he is.

    (Reprinted from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)

    [Apr 21, 2017] Americas Cyberwar Hypocrisy

    Apr 21, 2017 |

    Today's cyberbattles could almost make one nostalgic for the Cold War . The nuclear arms race created a sense of existential threat, but at least it was clear who had the weapons. In contrast, a cyberattack could be the work of almost anyone. After hackers broke into the U.S. Democratic National Committee's servers in 2016 and released e-mails embarrassing to the DNC's leadership, the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said the attacker could be China, Russia, or "somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds."

    U.S. intelligence officials have said that the attack did indeed come from Russia , which Trump later acknowledged . But Trump's comment underscored a larger problem with cyberwarfare: uncertainty. How does a government respond to an invisible attacker, especially without clear rules of engagement? How can officials convince other governments and the public that they have fingered the right suspects? How can a state prevent cyberattacks when without attribution, the logic of deterrence-if you hit me, I'll hit you back-no longer applies? Two recent books delve into these questions. Dark Territory , by Fred Kaplan, and The Hacked World Order , by Adam Segal, lay out the history of cybersecurity in the United States and explain the dangers that future digital conflicts might pose. Both authors also make clear that although Americans and U.S. institutions increasingly feel themselves to be in the cross hairs of hackers and other cybercriminals, the United States is itself a powerful aggressor in cyberspace.

    In 2014 alone, the United States suffered more than 80,000 cybersecurity breaches.

    In the future, the United States must use its cyberpower judiciously. Every conflict poses the risk that one party will make a mistake or overreact, causing things to veer out of control. When it comes to cyberwar, however, the stakes are particularly high for the United States, as the country's technological sophistication makes it uniquely vulnerable to attack.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, April 2008.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, April 2008.


    The dramatic headlines surrounding Russia's alleged hacking of the DNC and attempts to spread misinformation online during the U.S. election may have reinforced the perception among Americans that the United States is primarily a victim of cyber-intrusions. It's not. In Dark Territory , Kaplan details the United States' long history of aggression in cyberspace. It's not easy to write an engaging book on cyberwar, and Kaplan, a national security columnist at Slate , has done an admirable job. He presents a clear account of the United States' evolution into a formidable cyberpower, guiding the reader through a thicket of technical details and government acronyms.

    It turns out that the U.S. govern ment has been an aggressor for over a quarter century. Kaplan describes "counter command-control warfare"-attempts to disrupt an enemy's ability to control its forces-that goes back to the Gulf War in 1990–91. At a time when U.S. President George H. W. Bush had never used a computer, the National Security Agency (NSA) was employing a secret satellite to monitor the conversations of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his generals, which sometimes revealed the positions of Iraqi soldiers.

    The United States flexed its digital muscles again in the late 1990s, when Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina were protesting the presence of NATO soldiers enforcing the 1995 Dayton peace agreement, which had ended the Bosnian war. U.S. officials learned that local newscasters were telling protesters when and where to gather and even instructing them to throw rocks at NATO soldiers. It turned out that 85 percent of Serbs got their television broadcasts from just five transmission towers. U.S. officials, working with the NATO-led stabilization force, or SFOR, installed devices on those five transmitters that allowed SFOR engineers to turn them on and off remotely. Whenever a newscaster began urging people to protest, the engineers shut off the transmitters.

    American officials also enlisted the help of Hollywood producers, persuading them to supply programming to a U.S. -aligned Serbian station. During major anti-NATO protests, Serbians would turn on the television to find the channel playing episodes of Baywatch . Kaplan asserts, "Many Serbs, who might otherwise have hit the streets to make trouble , stayed in to watch young women cavorting in bikinis."

    Around a decade later, the United States set up what Kaplan calls a "mini -NSA" in Iraq. Kaplan describes how NSA teams in the Middle East intercepted insurgents' e-mails and shut down many of their servers with malware. In other cases, they sent insurgents deceptive e-mails directing them to places where U.S. Special Forces would be waiting to kill them. "In 2007 alone, these sorts of operations . . . killed nearly four thousand Iraqi insurgents," Kaplan writes.

    The United States will likely not win social media wars against countries such as China or Russia.

    The United States' most ambitious cyberattack began in 2006, when it teamed up with Israel to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program. The collab oration, dubbed Operation Olympic Games, targeted Iran's Natanz reactor, which relied on remote computer controls . Malware designed by American pro grammers took over the reactor's valve pumps, allowing NSA operatives to remotely increase the flow of uranium gas into the centrifuges, which eventually burst. By early 2010, the operation had destroyed almost a quarter of Iran's 8,700 centrifuges.

    For years, the Iranians failed to detect the intrusion and must have wondered if the malfunctions were their own fault. In that sense, Kaplan writes, "Operation Olympic Games was a classic campaign of information warfare : the target wasn't just the Iranians' nuclear program but also the Iranians' confidence-in their sensors, their equipment, and themselves." The Iranians and the wider public might never have learned about the virus, now widely known as Stuxnet, if it had not accidentally spread from the computers in Natanz to machines in other parts of the world, where private-sector security researchers ultimately discovered it.

    With Olympic Games, the United States "crossed the Rubicon," in the words of the former CIA director Michael Hayden. Stuxnet was the first major piece of malware to do more than harm other computers and actually cause physical destruction. The irony was rich, as Kaplan notes: "For more than a decade, dozens of panels and commissions had warned that America's critical infrastructure was vulnerable to a cyber attack-and now America was launching the first cyber attack on another nation's critical infrastructure."

    Of course, cyberattackers have often targeted the United States. In 2014 alone, Kaplan reports, the country suffered more than 80,000 cybersecurity breaches, more than 2,000 of which led to data losses. He also points out that until recently, U.S. policymakers worried less about Russia than China, which was "engaging not just in espionage and battlefield preparation, but also in the theft of trade secrets, intellectual property, and cash."

    China and Russia are not the only players. Iran and North Korea have also attacked the United States. In 2014, the businessman Sheldon Adelson criticized Iran, which responded by hacking into the servers of Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corporation, doing $40 million worth of damage. That same year, hackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace broke into Sony's network. They destroyed thousands of computers and hundreds of servers, exposed tens of thousands of Social Security numbers, and released embarrassing personal e-mails pilfered from the accounts of Sony executives. U.S. government officials blamed the North Korean government for the attack . Sony Pictures was about to release The Interview , a silly comedy about a plot to assassinate the North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un. As opening day neared, the hackers threatened theaters with retaliation if they screened the movie. When Sony canceled the release, the threats stopped.


    The Hacked World Order covers some of the same ground as Dark Territory , although with a slightly wider lens. In addition to discussing cyberattacks and surveillance, Segal, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, details how the United States and other countries use social media for political ends. Russia, for example, tries to shape online discourse by spreading false news and deploying trolls to post offensive or distracting comments. The Russian government has reportedly hired English speakers to praise President Vladimir Putin on the websites of foreign news outlets. The goal is not necessarily to endear Americans to Putin, Segal explains . Rather, it sows confusion online to "make reasonable, rational conversation impossible." Chinese Internet commenters also try to muddy the waters of online discussion. Segal claims that the Chinese government pays an estimated 250,000–300,000 people to support the official Communist Party agenda online.

    The public understands cyberthreats far less well than it does the threat of nuclear weapons.

    Segal suggests that the United States will likely not win social media wars against countries such as China or Russia . U.S. State Department officials identify themselves on Facebook and Twitter, react slowly to news, and offer factual, rule-based commentary. Unfortunately, as Segal notes, "content that is shocking , conspiratorial, or false often crowds out the reasonable, rational, and measured."

    Social media battles also play out in the Middle East. In 2012, the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas fought a war for public opinion using Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, and Tumblr at the same time as the two were exchanging physical fire. The Islamic State (also known as ISIS) has launched digital campaigns that incorporate, in Segal's words, "brutality and barbarism, packaged with sophisticated production techniques ." The United States has tried to fight back by sharing negative stories about ISIS and, in 2014, even created a video, using footage released by the group , that featured severed heads and cruci fixions. The video went viral, but analysts inside and outside the U.S. government criticized it for embracing extremist tactics similar to ISIS' own. Moreover, as Segal notes, it seems to have failed to deter ISIS' supporters.

    Part of what makes the cyber-era so challenging for governments is that conflict isn't limited to states. Many actors, including individuals and small groups, can carry out attacks. In 2011, for example, the hacker collective Anon ymous took down Sony's PlayStation Network, costing the company $171 million in repairs. Individuals can also disrupt traditional diplomacy, as when WikiLeaks released thousands of State Department cables in 2010, revealing U.S. diplomats' candid and sometimes embarrassing assessments of their foreign counterparts.

    Segal is at his best in his discussion of China's cyberstrategy, on which he has considerable expertise. Americans tend to see themselves as a target of Chinese hackers-and indeed they are. The problem is that China also sees itself as a victim and the United States as hypocritical. In June 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama warned Chinese President Xi Jinping that Chinese hacking could damage the U.S.-Chinese relationship. Later that month, journalists published documents provided by Edward Snowden, an NSA contractor, showing that the NSA had hacked Chinese universities and telecommunications companies. It didn't take long for Chinese state media to brand the United States as "the real hacking empire."

    The U.S.-Chinese relationship also suffers from a more fundamental disagreement. U.S. policymakers seem to believe that it's acceptable to spy for political and military purposes but that China's theft of intellectual property crosses a line. The United States might spy on companies and trade negotiators all over the world, but it does so to protect its national interests, not to benefit specific U.S. companies. The Chinese don't see this distinction. As Segal explains:

    Many states, especially those like China that have developed a form of state capitalism at home, do not see a difference between public and private actors. Chinese firms are part of an effort to modernize the country and build comprehensive power, no matter whether they are private or state owned. Stealing for their benefit is for the benefit of the nation.

    The intense secrecy surrounding cyberwarfare makes deciding what kinds of hacking are acceptable and what behavior crosses the line even harder. The Snowden revelations may have alerted Americans to the extent of U.S. government surveillance, but the public still remains largely in the dark about digital conflict. Yet Americans have a lot at stake. The United States may be the world's strongest cyberpower, but it is also the most vulnerable. Segal writes:

    The United States is . . . more exposed than any other country. Smart cities, the Internet of Things, and self-driving cars may open up vast new economic opportunities as well as new targets for destructive attacks. Cyberattacks could disrupt and degrade the American way of war, heavily dependent as it is on sensors, computers, command and control, and information dominance.

    Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov visit the new GRU military intelligence headquarters building in Moscow, November 2006.

    Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov visit the new GRU military intelligence headquarters building in Moscow, November 2006.


    Neither Kaplan nor Segal offers easy solutions to these challenges. Kaplan argues that the cyber-era is much murkier than the era of the Cold War. Officials find it difficult to trace attack ers quickly and reliably, increasing the chances that the targeted country will make an error. The U.S. government and U.S. firms face cyberattacks every day, and there is no clear line between those that are merely a nuisance and those that pose a serious threat. The public also understands cyberthreats far less well than it does the threat of nuclear weapons. Much of the informa tion is classified, inhibiting public discus sion, Kaplan notes. He concludes that "we are all wandering in dark territory."

    The public understands cyberthreats far less well than it does the threat of nuclear weapons.

    Segal's conclusions are somewhat more prescriptive. The United States must support research and technological innovation, for example, and not just by providing more federal funding. Segal recommends that the United States replace its federal research plan with a public-private partnership to bring in academic and commercial expertise. Government and private companies need to share more information, and companies need to talk more openly with one another about digital threats. The United States should also "develop a code of conduct that draws a clear line between its friends and allies and its potential adversaries." This would include limiting cyberattacks to military actions and narrowly targeted covert operations, following international law, rarely spying on friends, and working to strengthen international norms against economic espionage. If the United States is attacked, it should not necessarily launch a counterattack, Segal argues; rather, it should explore using sanctions or other tools. This was apparently the path that Obama took after the attack on the DNC, when the United States punished Moscow by imposing fresh sanctions and expelling 35 suspected Russian spies.

    It's likely only a matter of time before the Trump administration faces a major cyberattack. When that happens, the government will need to react calmly, without jumping to conclusions. Failure to do so could have dire consequences. "The United States, Russia, and China are unlikely to launch destructive attacks against each other unless they are already engaged in military conflict or perceive core interests as being threatened," Segal writes. "The greatest risks are misperception, miscalculation, and escalation."

    Those risks now seem greater than ever. Some experts have argued that Obama's response to the Russian cyberattacks in 2016 did not do enough to deter future attackers. But if Obama underreacted, the United States may now face the opposite problem. Trump has proved willing to make bold, some times unsubstantiated accusations. This behavior is dangerous in any conflict, but in the fog of cyberwar, it could spell catastrophe.

    Is there anything the American public can do to prevent this? All over the country, people have been trying to check Trump's worst impulses by protesting, appealing to members of Congress, or simply demanding more information. Policy about cyberspace generally doesn't draw the same level of public engagement, in part due to a lack of knowledge. Cyberbattles can seem confusing, technical, and shrouded in secrecy, perhaps better left to the experts. But cybersecurity is everyone's problem now. The American public should inform itself, and these two books are a good place to start. If Washington inadvertently led the United States into a major cyberwar, Americans would have the most to lose.

    [Apr 21, 2017] How to Lose the Next War in the Middle East

    Notable quotes:
    "... persona non grata ..."
    Apr 21, 2017 |

    Make no mistake: after 15 years of losing wars, spreading terror movements, and multiplying failed states across the Greater Middle East, America will fight the next versions of our ongoing wars. Not that we ever really stopped. Sure, Washington traded in George W. Bush's expansive, almost messianic attitude toward his Global War on Terror for Barack Obama's more precise, deliberate, even cautious approach to an unnamed version of the same war for hegemony in the Greater Middle East. Sure, in the process kitted-up 19 year-olds from Iowa became less ubiquitous features on Baghdad's and Kabul's busy boulevards, even if that distinction was lost on the real-life targets of America's wars - and the bystanders (call them "collateral damage") scurrying across digital drone display screens.

    It's hardly a brilliant observation to point out that, more than 15 years later, the entire region is a remarkable mess. So much worse off than Washington found it, even if all of that mess can't simply be blamed on the United States - at least not directly. It's too late now, as the Trump administration is discovering, to retreat behind two oceans and cover our collective eyes. And yet, acts that might still do some modest amount of good (resettling refugees, sending aid, brokering truces, anything within reason to limit suffering) don't seem to be on any American agenda.

    So, after 16 years of inconclusive or catastrophic regional campaigns, maybe it's time to stop dreaming about how to make things better in the Greater Middle East and try instead to imagine how to make things worse (since that's the path we often seem to take anyway). Here, then, is a little thought experiment for you: what if Washington actually wanted to lose? How might the U.S. government go about accomplishing that? Let me offer a quick (and inevitably incomplete) to-do list on the subject:

    As a start, you would drop an enlarged, conventional army into Iraq and/or Syria. This would offer a giant red, white, and blue target for all those angry, young radicalized men just dying (pardon the pun) to extinguish some new "crusader" force. It would serve as an effective religious-nationalist rallying cry (and target) throughout the region.

    Then you would create a news-magnet of a ban (or at least the appearance of one) on immigrants and visitors of every sort from predominantly Muslim countries coming to the United States. It's hardly an accident that ISIS has taken to calling the president's proposed executive order to do just that " the blessed ban " and praising Donald Trump as the "best caller to Islam." Such actions only confirm the extremist narrative: that Muslims are unwelcome in and incompatible with the West, that liberal plurality is a neo-imperial scam.

    Finally, you would feed the common perception in the region that Washington's support for Israel and assorted Arab autocrats is unconditional. To do so, you would go out of your way to hold fawning public meetings with military strongmen like Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and suggest that, when it came to Israel, you were considering changing American policy when it comes to a two-state solution and the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine. Such policies would feed another ISIS narrative: U.S. support for illiberal despots and the failure of the Arab Spring is proof that practicing Muslims and peaceful Islamists will never successfully gain power through the democratic process.

    Key to such a losing strategy would be doing anything you could to reinforce ISIS's twisted narrative of an end-of-days battle between Islam and Christendom, a virtuous East versus a depraved West, an authentic Caliphate against hypocritical democracies. In what amounts to a war of ideas, pursuing such policies would all but hand victory to ISIS and other jihadi extremist groups. And so you would have successfully created a strategy for losing eternally in the Greater Middle East. And if that was the desired outcome in Washington, well, congratulations all around, but of course we all know that it wasn't.

    Let's take these three points in such a losing strategy one by one. (Of course "losing" is itself a contested term, but for our purposes, consider the U.S. to have lost as long as its military spins its wheels in a never-ending quagmire, while gradually empowering various local "adversaries.")

    Just a Few Thousand More Troops Will Get It Done

    There are already thousands of American soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Syria, to say nothing of the even more numerous troops and sailors stationed on bases in Kuwait , Bahrain, Turkey, and other states ringing America's Middle Eastern battlefields. Still, if you want to mainline into the fastest way to lose the next phase of the war on terror, just blindly acquiesce in the inevitable requests of your commanders for yet more troops and planes needed to finish the job in Syria ( and Iraq, and Afghanistan , and Yemen, and so on).

    Let's play this out. First, the worst (and most plausible) case: U.S. ground forces get sucked into an ever more complex, multi-faceted civil war - deeper and deeper still, until one day they wake up in a world that looks like Baghdad, 2007 , all over again.

    Or, lest we be accused of defeatism, consider the best case: those endlessly fortified and reinforced American forces wipe the floor with ISIS and just maybe manage to engineer the toppling of Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime as well. It's V-Day in the Middle East! And then what? What happens the day after? When and to whom do American troops turn over power?

    * The Kurds? That's a nonstarter for Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, all countries with significant Kurdish minorities.

    * The Saudis? Don't count on it. They're busy bombing Houthi Shias in Yemen (with U.S.-supplied ordnance) and grappling with the diversification of their oil-based economy in a world in which fossil fuels are struggling.

    * Russia? Fat chance. Bombing "terrorists"? Yes. Propping up an autocratic client to secure basing rights? Sure. Temporary transactional alliances of convenience in the region? Absolutely. But long-term nation-building in the heart of the Middle East? It's just not the style of Vladimir Putin's Russia, a country with its own shaky petro-economy.

    * So maybe leave Assad in power and turn the country back over to what's left of his minority, Alawite-dominated regime? That, undoubtedly, is the road to hell. After all, it was his murderous, barrel-bombing, child-gassing acts that all but caused the civil war in the first place. You can be sure that, sooner or later, Syria's majority Sunni population and its separatist Kurds would simply rebel again, while (as the last 15 years should have taught us) an even uglier set of extremists rose to the surface.

    Keep in mind as well that, when it comes to the U.S. military, the Iraqi and Afghan "surges" of 2007 and 2009 offered proof positive that more ground troops aren't a cure-all in such situations. They are a formula for expending prodigious amounts of money and significant amounts of blood, while only further alienating local populations. Meanwhile, unleashing manned and drone aircraft strikes, which occasionally kill large numbers of civilians, only add to the ISIS narrative.

    Every mass casualty civilian bombing or drone strike incident just detracts further from American regional credibility. While both air strikes and artillery barrages may hasten the offensive progress of America's Kurdish, Iraqi, and Syrian allies, that benefit needs to be weighed against the moral and propaganda costs of those dead women and children. For proof, see the errant bombing strike on an apartment building in Mosul last month. After all, those hundred-plus civilians are just as dead as Assad's recent victims and just as many angry, grieving family members and friends have been left behind.

    In other words, any of the familiar U.S. strategies, including focusing all efforts on ISIS or toppling Assad, or a bit of both, won't add up to a real policy for the region. No matter how the Syrian civil war shakes out, Washington will need a genuine "what next" plan. Unfortunately, if the chosen course predictably relies heavily on the military lever to shape Syria's shattered society, America's presence and actions will only (as in the past) aggravate the crisis and help rejuvenate its many adversaries.

    "The Blessed Ban"

    The Trump administration's proposed "travel ban" quickly became fodder for left-versus-right vitriol in the U.S. Here's a rundown on what it's likely to mean when it comes to foreign policy and the "next" war. First, soaring domestic fears over jihadi terror attacks in this country and the possible role of migrants and refugees in stoking them represent a potentially catastrophic over-reaction to a modest threat. Annually, from 2005 to 2015, terrorists killed an average of just seven Americans on U.S. soil. You are approximately 18,000 times more likely to die in some sort of accident than from such an attack. In addition, according to a study by the conservative Cato Institute, from 1975 to 2015 citizens of the countries included in Trump's first ban (including Iraq and Syria) killed precisely zero people in the United States. Nor has any refugee conducted a fatal domestic attack here. Finally, despite candidate and President Trump's calls for "extreme vetting" of Muslim refugees, the government already has a complex, two-year vetting process for such refugees which is remarkably "extreme."

    Those are the facts. What truly matters, however, is the effect of such a ban on the war of ideas in the Middle East. In short, it's manna from heaven for ISIS's storyline in which Americans are alleged to hate all Muslims. It tells you everything you need to know that, within days of the administration's announcement of its first ban, ISIS had taken to labeling it "blessed," just as al-Qaeda once extolled George W. Bush's 2003 "blessed invasion" of Iraq. Even Senator John McCain, a well-known hawk, worried that Trump's executive order would "probably give ISIS some more propaganda."

    Remember, while ISIS loves to claim responsibility for every attack in the West perpetrated by lost, disenfranchised, identity-seeking extremist youths, that doesn't mean the organization actually directs them. The vast majority of these killers are self-radicalized citizens, not refugees or immigrants. One of the most effective - and tragic - ways to lose this war is to prove the jihadis right.

    The Hypocrisy Trap

    Another way to feed the ISIS narrative is to bolster perceptions of diplomatic insincerity. Americans tend to be some of the least self-aware citizens on the planet. (Is it a coincidence that ours is about the only population left still questioning the existence of climate change?) Among the rare things that Democrats and Republicans agree on, however, is that America is a perennial force for good, in fact the force for good on Earth. As it happens, the rest of the world begs to differ. In Gallup global polls , the United States has, in fact, been identified as the number one threat to world peace! However uncomfortable that may be, it matters.

    One reason many Middle Easterners, in particular, believe this to be so stems from Washington's longstanding support for regional autocrats. In fiscal year 2017, Egypt's military dictator and Jordan's king will receive $1.46 and $1 billion respectively in U.S. foreign aid - nearly 7% of its total assistance budget. After leading a coup to overturn Egypt's elected government, General Sisi was officially persona non grata in the White House (though President Obama reinstated $1.3 billion in military aid in 2015). Sisi's recent visit to the Trump White House changed all that as, in a joint press conference , the president swore that he was "very much behind" Egypt and that Sisi himself had "done a fantastic job." In another indicator of future policy, the State Department dropped existing human rights conditions for the multibillion-dollar sale of F-16s to Bahrain's monarchy. All of this might be of mild interest, if it weren't for the way it bolstered ISIS claims that democracy is just an " idol ," and the democratic process a fraud that American presidents simply ignore.

    Then there's Israel, already the object of deep hatred in the region, and now clearly about to receive a blank check of support from the Trump administration. The role that Israeli leaders already play in American domestic politics is certainly striking to Arab audiences. Consider how unprecedented it was in 2015 to see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticize a sitting president before a joint session of Congress in an Israeli election year and receive multiple, bipartisan standing ovations. Even so, none of this prevented the Obama administration, domestically labeled "weak on Israel," from negotiating a record $38 billion military aid deal with that country.

    While violent Palestinian fighters are far from blameless, for 40 years Israel has increasingly created facts on the ground meant to preclude a viable Palestinian state. Netanyahu and his predecessors increased illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories, built an exclusion wall, and further divided the West Bank by constructing a network of roads meant only for the Israeli military and Jewish settlers.

    Although most world leaders, publics, and the United Nations see the Jewish settlements on the West Bank as a major impediment to peace, the current U.S. ambassador to Israel was once the president of a fundraising group supporting just such an Israeli settlement. The notion that he could be an honest broker in peace talks borders on the farcical.

    All of this, of course, matters when it comes to Washington's unending wars in the region. Even Secretary of Defense James Mattis, soon after leaving the helm of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), recognized that he "paid a military security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel." So, you want to lose? Keep feeding the ISIS narrative on democracy and Israel just as the Trump administration is doing, even as it sends more troops into the region and heightens bombing and drone raids from Syria to Yemen.

    Send in the Cavalry

    If the next phase of the generational struggle for the Middle East is once again to be essentially a military one, while the Trump administration feeds every negative American stereotype in the region, then it's hard to see a future of anything but defeat. A combination of widespread American ignorance and the intellectual solace of simplistic models lead many here to ascribe jihadist terrorism to some grand, ethereal hatred of "Christendom."

    The reality is far more discomfiting. Consider, for instance, a document from "ancient" history: Osama bin Laden's 1998 fatwa against the United States. At that time, he described three tangible motives for jihad: U.S. occupation of Islam's holiest lands in the Middle East, U.S. attacks on and sanctions against Iraq, and American support for Israel's "occupation" of Jerusalem. If ISIS and al-Qaeda's center of gravity is not their fighting force but their ideology (as I believe it is), then the last thing Washington should want to do is substantiate any of these three visions of American motivation - unless, of course, the goal is to lose the war on terror across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa.

    In that case, the solution is obvious: Washington should indeed insert more troops and set up yet more bases in the region, maintain unqualified support for right-wing Israeli governments and assorted Arab autocrats, and do its best to ban Muslim refugees from America. That, after all, represents the royal road to affirming al-Qaeda's, and now ISIS's, overarching narratives. It's a formula - already well used in the last 15 years - for playing directly into the enemy's hands and adhering to its playbook, for creating yet more failed states and terror groups throughout the region.

    When it comes to Syria in particular, there are some shockingly unexamined contradictions at the heart of Washington's reactions to its war there. President Trump, for instance, recently spoke emotionally about the "beautiful babies cruelly murdered" in Idlib, Syria. Yet, the administration's executive order on travel bans any Syrian refugees - including beautiful babies - from entering this country. If few Americans recognize the incongruity or hypocrisy of this, you can bet that isn't true in the Arab world.

    For ISIS, today's struggle in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere is part of an unremitting, apocalyptic holy war between Islam and the West. That narrative is demonstrably false. The current generation of jihadis sprang from tangible grievances and perceived humiliations perpetrated by recent Western policies. There was nothing "eternal" about it. The first recorded suicide bombings in the Middle East didn't erupt until the early 1980s. So forget the thousand-year struggle or even, in Western terms, the " clash of civilizations ." It took America's military-first policies in the region to generate what has now become perpetual war with spreading terror insurgencies.

    Want a formula for forever war? Send in the cavalry again.

    Major Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular , is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . He lives with his wife and four sons near Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

    [ Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

    [Apr 21, 2017] The Candidate Our Foreign Policy Deserves

    Notable quotes:
    "... U.S. foreign policy, basically, is a set of brutal statements about the nature of power in the world: where it resides, how it is maintained. The American people have never elected anyone who has challenged American power projection in any significant way - only presidents who've preferred to focus U.S. military attention on one part of the world over another. ..."
    Apr 21, 2017 |

    The Candidate Our Foreign Policy Deserves

    Our foreign policy is aggressive, parochial, and hard-hearted. Unless voters finally demand differently, our next president will be the same.

    By John Feffer , February 3, 2016 .

    PrintFriendly and PDF Print democrats-republicans-foreign-policy-militarism

    (Image: AK Rockefeller / Flickr)

    It's often said that, in democracies, we get the leaders that we deserve. In the current slugfest masquerading as a presidential race, it looks as though we're getting the leader that our foreign policy deserves. The results of the first round of the 2016 presidential election in Iowa, with narrow victories by Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton, only underscore this point.

    Let me explain.

    The Obama administration has engaged in several successful ventures in diplomacy, from negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran and reestablishing relations with Cuba to working with the international community to address climate change. As presidents go, Obama has acted with aplomb as the diplomat-in-chief.

    But still, U.S. foreign policy is predicated on violence. We can measure this violence in a variety of ways:

    Obama's nuclear disarmament speech is emblematic of U.S. policy. The United States often talks a good game when it comes to peace, but it is very reluctant in the end to put down its weapons. Even when the United States engages in peaceful negotiations, it makes sure that all the participants in the process understand that "all options" remain on the table.

    You've heard of shotgun weddings. The United States specializes in shotgun diplomacy.

    Moreover, U.S. foreign policy has proceeded in this fashion for many decades, at least since our entry into World War II (though our military mindset can be traced back to the decision in the late 18 th century to establish a blue-water navy to fight the Barbary pirates). It would be extraordinarily difficult for any one person, even with executive powers, to transform such a system. The major political parties - and, by extension, the voters - have shown no interest in nominating anyone who challenges these central precepts of American power.

    In 2016, the prospects of transforming U.S. foreign policy look particularly bleak. In this election cycle, the candidates are not simply embracing violence as a motivating force behind U.S. foreign policy. They are demonstrating, in almost simian fashion, their qualifications for being an alpha male (and female). In other words, they are signaling that only a "strong" leader can project U.S. strength in an uncertain world.

    Put more bluntly, the United States is a country on steroids when it comes to national security. It's no surprise, then, that our leading candidates - and quite a few second-tier ones as well - have made headlines with their 'roid rages.

    Republican Ugly

    Foreign policy is never the leading edge in a presidential campaign, which generally revolves around domestic issues, particularly the economy. When talking about the economy, the current candidates often take combative stances - toward the IRS (a rogue agency), Wall Street (blood-sucking leeches), and sometimes even corporations (unpatriotic outsourcers).

    But the economy is also a topic that allows successful candidates to show their empathetic side. They must somehow link arms with struggling Americans - and all but a tiny percentage of Americans are struggling with economic challenges - in a bid to appear as "one of us." Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were able to connect with voters in this way. By contrast, Mitt Romney had a notorious empathy problem in 2012, as did John McCain four years earlier.

    This year, the empathy gap is startling. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Cruz all received negative evaluations in the December Quinnipiac poll . That is, a plurality of respondents felt that these candidates didn't care about the needs and problems of "people like me." The gap was astonishing with Trump (23 percentage points) but it was there for Clinton (5 points) and Cruz (1 point) as well. Bernie Sanders, not surprisingly, did well on this metric (plus 18 points), and perhaps more unusually so did Marco Rubio (plus 7).

    On domestic policy, then, the current favorites are not projecting warm, fuzzy feelings. Even the two candidates with positive numbers come with asterisks. Sanders has more of a hectoring, Old Testament prophet vibe to him, and Rubio is becoming considerably more hard-edged to woo the far right.

    If the candidates have difficulty mustering a modicum of empathy on domestic issues, it's no surprise that they fail to show compassion on foreign policy issues. Particularly when it comes to the Republicans, international affairs is an opportunity for the presidential candidates to release their inner Neanderthal. Out come the clubs, the grunts, the threats, and the posturing to prove that they are not so much "one of us" as "one of the guys."

    Every Republican candidate has promised, on seizing the Oval Office, to tear up the nuclear agreement with Iran. They have engaged in an informal contest to see who can use the most apocalyptic rhetoric for dealing with the Islamic State (winner: Ted Cruz for promising to bomb the would-be caliphate until the sand glows in the dark). They've competed in the category of most hateful Islamophobic comment (winner: Ben Carson for opposing the very idea of a Muslim becoming U.S. president). They've waxed heartless about immigrants, with Trump leading the way. They've engaged in the usual China-bashing, with Carson criticizing Beijing's imaginary intervention in Syria. And, now that Lindsey Graham is out of the race, they have all rejected the overwhelming scientific consensus that the planet is heating up.

    The Republicans have indulged in behavior so unbecoming and rhetoric so ugly that, if you somehow found yourself trapped next to one of the candidates in a confined space for a long time, you might very well decide to chew off your leg to escape. That's the definition of Republican ugly.

    And the Democrats?

    It would be refreshing - and strategically wise - if the Democrats offered a distinct alternative on international affairs. On the face of it, of course, they do. Both Clinton and Sanders support the Iran agreement, refrain from Islamophobic comments, generally support accepting Syrian refugees into the country, and have no doubts about the reality of climate change.

    But dig a little deeper and you'll find that they embrace the same underlying militarism that informs the Obama administration's national security policy. Clinton and Sanders offer something different from the Republicans, but not from the current status quo.

    Clinton, for instance, has prided herself on taking more aggressive positions on foreign policy than Obama the candidate (in the 2008 election) and Obama the president (when she was secretary of state). The first time around as a candidate, she considered Obama's proposed diplomatic overtures to willing adversaries to be dangerously naïve. This time around as well, Clinton has tried to present herself as the more hawkish candidate on Iran, even as she has supported the nuclear deal.

    Clinton has also been an advocate of "smart power." She has used this concept to put diplomacy at "the vanguard of foreign policy." In reality, however, "smart power" has offered the Pentagon an opportunity to expand its reach beyond hard power. As I wrote during the last presidential election cycle in 2012:

    Always in search of a mission, the Pentagon now has its fingers in just about every pie in the bakery. The Marines are doing drug interdiction in Guatemala. Special Operations forces are constructing cyclone shelters in Bangladesh. The U.S. Navy provided post-disaster relief in Japan after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, while the U.S. Army did the same in Haiti. In 2011, the Africa Command budgeted $150 million for development and health care.

    The Pentagon, in other words, has turned itself into an all-purpose agency, even attempting "reconstruction" along with State and various crony corporations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is preparing for the impact of climate change, pouring R & D dollars into alternative energy, and running operations in cyberspace. The Pentagon has been smart about its power by spreading it everywhere.

    As president, Clinton would likely apply her notions of "smart power" across government, making the military the touchstone for how the United States engages the world.

    Bernie Sanders, as a self-avowed democratic socialist and lifelong progressive, might be expected to take a different position. And indeed, he opposed the Iraq War and has used that example to distinguish his foreign policy acumen from Clinton's purported experience (which didn't prevent her from supporting the invasion). He is also skeptical of the United States assuming the role of the world's policeman.

    But Sanders, like Obama, does not challenge the notion that the United States should have the strongest military in the world and use force when necessary. Like Obama, who recommended ending the "dumb war" in Iraq in order to focus on the "good war" in Afghanistan, Sanders urges Washington to refocus away from the fight against Bashar al-Assad in Syria and toward the Islamic State. He has already altered his position on Israel, moving "from heterodox support for an independent Palestinian state to a far more politically mainstream, generally pro-Israel stance," as Derek Davison writes in LobeLog .

    As president, Sanders might tweak the Pentagon budget by eliminating a few billion dollars of waste. He might scale back on U.S. interventions. But he would more likely continue in the direction in which he has started moving as candidate: demonstrating that he can wield power just like the big boys.

    The Price of Power

    U.S. foreign policy, basically, is a set of brutal statements about the nature of power in the world: where it resides, how it is maintained. The American people have never elected anyone who has challenged American power projection in any significant way - only presidents who've preferred to focus U.S. military attention on one part of the world over another.

    Is it realistic to expect any candidate for president to challenge the foreign policy status quo? Obama shifted U.S. positions on Iran, Cuba, and climate change with public opinion on his side. No American executive will think of challenging the national security state without a comparable shift in public opinion. Such a shift would require a sea change in the way Americans think of themselves: a change in culture before a change in policy.

    In the meantime, we'll be stuck with the president we deserve, and more importantly, the one our foreign policy deserves. Our foreign policy is aggressive, parochial, and hard-hearted. Don't be surprised, then, if our next president is the same.

    John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus.

    [Apr 21, 2017] Putins Warning Full Speech 2017

    Apr 21, 2017 |
    Bretislav Stejskal 3 weeks ago Gerry Lamb you don't really know much now, do you. You are a little Alice in wonderland when it comes to geopolitics. Russia never ever seeked war. If you knew enough about Russia, you'd know this first. the entire western greed cannot accept the ownership of the subhuman Russians of a vast and rich land. To the Anglo-Saxons all slavs will always be lesser people. It's in them. They sponsored the fascism, comunism and pretty much every evil on this planet. Even Stalin did what he did for all patriotic reasons, while the west does it all out of a simple and pure greed.

    [Apr 20, 2017] Wonderful Job Of Throwing America Into Chaos

    Apr 20, 2017 |
    In March of last year, Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone warned the world :

    "we're going to war - either hybrid in nature...or a hot war (which will destroy our country). Our citizens should know this, but they don't because our media is dumbed down in its 'Pravda'-like support for our 'respectable', highly aggressive government."

    And strongly rejected the establishment's "the Russians are coming" narrative shortly after the election and correctly forecast that it wouldn't be long before the deep state pushed Trump into an anti-Kremlin position...

    "As much as we may disagree with Donald Trump (and I do) he's right now target number one of the MSM propaganda -- until, that is, he changes to the anti-Kremlin track over, God knows, some kind of petty dispute cooked up by CIA, and in his hot-headed way starts fighting with the Russians ...

    I never thought I'd find myself at this point in time praying for the level-headedness of a Donald Trump . "

    Stone was correct and in a Facebook post tonight expresses his disappointment at Trump and disgust for The Deep State (and America's wilful ignorance).

    "So It Goes"

    I confess I really had hopes for some conscience from Trump about America's wars, but I was wrong -- fooled again! -- as I had been by the early Reagan, and less so by Bush 43. Reagan found his mantra with the "evil empire" rhetoric against Russia, which almost kicked off a nuclear war in 1983 -- and Bush found his 'us against the world' crusade at 9/11, in which of course we're still mired.

    It seems that Trump really has no 'there' there, far less a conscience, as he's taken off the handcuffs on our war machine and turned it over to his glorified Generals -- and he's being praised for it by our 'liberal' media who continue to play at war so recklessly. What a tortured bind we're in. There are intelligent people in Washington/New York, but they've lost their minds as they've been stampeded into a Syrian-Russian groupthink, a consensus without asking -- 'Who benefits from this latest gas attack?' Certainly neither Assad nor Putin. The only benefits go to the terrorists who initiated the action to stave off their military defeat.

    It was a desperate gamble, but it worked because the Western media immediately got behind it with crude propagandizing about murdered babies , etc. No real investigation or time for a UN chemical unit to establish what happened, much less find a motive. Why would Assad do something so stupid when he's clearly winning the civil war?

    No, I believe America has decided somewhere, in the crises of the Trump administration, that we will get into this war at any cost, under any circumstances -- to, once again, change the secular regime in Syria, which has been, from the Bush era on, one of the top goals -- next to Iran -- of the neoconservatives. At the very least, we will cut out a chunk of northeastern Syria and call it a State.

    Abetted by the Clintonites, they've done a wonderful job throwing America into chaos with probes into Russia's alleged hacking of our election and Trump being their proxy candidate (now clearly disproved by his bombing attack) -- and sadly, worst of all in some ways, admitting no memory of the same false flag incident in 2013, for which again Assad was blamed (see Seymour Hersh's fascinating deconstruction of this US propaganda, 'London Review of Books' December 19, 2013, "Whose sarin?"). No memory, no history, no rules -- or rather 'American rules.'

    No, this isn't an accident or a one-off affair. This is the State deliberately misinforming the public through its corporate media and leads us to believe, as Mike Whitney points out in his brilliant analyses, "Will Washington Risk WW3" and "Syria: Where the Rubber Meets the Road," that something far more sinister waits in the background .

    Mike Whitney, Robert Parry, and former intelligence officer Phil Giraldi all comment below. It's well worth 30 minutes of your time to read. Lastly, below is a link to Bruce Cumings's "Nation" analysis of North Korea, as he again reminds us of the purposes of studying history.

    Mike Whitney, "Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block and Emerging EU-Russia Superstate," Counterpunch,

    Mike Whitney, "Where the Rubber Meets the Road," Counterpunch,

    Phil Giraldi, "A World in Turmoil, Thank You Mr. Trump!" Information Clearing House,

    Robert Parry, "Did Al Qaeda Fool the White House Again?" Consortiumnews,

    Robert Parry, "Neocons Have Trump on His Knees," Consortiumnews,

    Robert Parry, "Trump's Wag the Dog Moment," Consortiumnews,

    Robert Parry, "Mainstream Media as Arbiters of Truth," Consortiumnews,

    Mike Whitney, "Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper," Counterpunch,

    Bruce Cumings, "This is What's Really Behind North Korea's Nuclear Provocations," The Nation,

    Can we wake up before it's too late? I for one feel like the John Wayne veteran (of war) character in "Fort Apache," riding with the arrogant Custer-like General (Henry Fonda) to his doom. My country, my country, my heart aches for thee.

    * * *

  • White House
  • Donald Trump
  • Iran
  • BigFatUglyBubble , Apr 19, 2017 7:31 PM

    (((deep state))) NoDecaf -> BigFatUglyBubble , Apr 19, 2017 7:37 PM

    Checking out the Berkely riots on youtube...

    I give a fuck about Trump now, but fighting with Antifa looks like a new sport.

    anyone know where the next event is going to be? Pinto Currency -> NoDecaf , Apr 19, 2017 7:47 PM

    Kushner: A Suspected Gangster Within the Whitehouse BLOTTO -> Pinto Currency , Apr 19, 2017 8:06 PM

    They wont stop until the 3rd Temple is built and their 'Messiah ' sits on the throne. . Oliver Stone should make a movie about that. Donald Trump -> BLOTTO , Apr 19, 2017 10:10 PM

    The Deep State will get deeper and the Swamp will get swampier, now that a true hero will retire:

    Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz Will Retire from Politics

    stubb -> Donald Trump , Apr 19, 2017 10:22 PM

    Damn. He was one of the good guys. nunyabidnez -> Donald Trump , Apr 19, 2017 11:01 PM

    Hero? Tell me again...what did he accomplish? Theatrics One of We -> Donald Trump , Apr 19, 2017 11:10 PM

    "I have the full support of Speaker Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee." And a congressman since 2009.....heard lots of nice soundbites lately but not much oversight or reform.... BLOTTO -> Pinto Currency , Apr 19, 2017 8:07 PM baked 4:20 tomorrow joego1 -> NoDecaf , Apr 19, 2017 8:16 PM

    Check the Purple network on the Soros Channel. I think the next episode is "Give a snowflake a lickin" or "Bash a geek", not sure which but should both be fun. knukles -> BigFatUglyBubble , Apr 19, 2017 7:38 PM

    My slow progressive bud went to the palm reader who looked at his hand and said "You've been masturbating". He asked her how she knew and if she could tell him anything about his future. She looked at his face and sid; "You will be masturbating for a long time" Kinda like what looks like we gonna be doing.

    Laddie -> BigFatUglyBubble , Apr 19, 2017 7:38 PM

    Yep, and Oliver is, at least PART Tribe. Ollie if you are really OK then learn: (((THE DEEP STATE))) FreeShitter -> BigFatUglyBubble , Apr 19, 2017 7:39 PM

    Balls deep... SallySnyd , Apr 19, 2017 7:33 PM

    Here is an article that looks at how Congress is begging for war with Iran:

    One has to wonder how many fronts Congress thinks that the American military complex can fight and win wars?

    knukles -> SallySnyd , Apr 19, 2017 7:39 PM

    In a world of infinite money, everything is possible.

    Those people are possessed. new game -> knukles , Apr 19, 2017 7:54 PM

    i've run a white flag up the pole. right under it is a skull and bones, then the the confererate and so on.

    but no stars and stripes; does that help? FIAT CON -> knukles , Apr 19, 2017 8:22 PM

    Everything is finite on this planet except the US$, I can't see how believing this will cause any trouble. /s gregga777 -> SallySnyd , Apr 19, 2017 7:44 PM

    "One has to wonder how many fronts Congress thinks that the American military complex can fight and win wars?"

    The truth is that America, as a deliberate policy, does not win wars. Dragging out wars (e.g., Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc.) produces far greater revenues and profits for the War Profiteers and Merchants of Death that control United States foreign policy. They all deserve bullets to the back of the neck for their evil takeover of the United States and their willingness to sacrifice the lives of millions of people to their evil, illegal and Unconstitutional Wars of Aggression.

    VIS MAIOR -> gregga777 , Apr 19, 2017 7:53 PM

    135 000 ... 1000 years ban for usa on OL games and other + forever ban on all !

    they kill own 135 000 + thousand more after in usa from depresions,alchdrugs.. + 4 milions !!!! asians what fuckretard nations cancer is usa ..

    please delete usa from this planet ..PLEASE

    FIAT CON -> VIS MAIOR , Apr 19, 2017 8:25 PM

    I can't see for the life of me why the rest of the world dislikes Muricans! Sonny Brakes -> SallySnyd , Apr 19, 2017 7:55 PM

    It'll be easier to renegotiate those unfunded liabilities once those liabilities are vapourised. francis_the_won... -> SallySnyd , Apr 19, 2017 8:13 PM

    "One has to wonder how many fronts Congress thinks that the American military complex can fight and win wars?"

    Win wars? Oh no, they don't want to win wars. That implies the war ends and that would end the gravy train for the MIC.

    Mustafa Kemal -> SallySnyd , Apr 19, 2017 8:14 PM

    "One has to wonder how many fronts Congress thinks that the American military complex can fight and win wars?"

    I suspect that consistent with the Art of the Deal, they may make it so that we are relieved that we are only going to war with one.

    Whewww, I was a fraid we were going to war with both NK and and Russia. Thank God we are only going against NK! xrxs -> SallySnyd , Apr 19, 2017 8:20 PM

    Not sure winning is the goal. More and longer wars keep the MIC coffers filled, and then there are lots of contracts on the backend for the cleanup and administration of natural resources. GRDguy , Apr 19, 2017 7:38 PM

    When they can't make good their promises, they break them by going to war.

    Force majeure clauses are in ALL major contracts. serotonindumptruck -> GRDguy , Apr 19, 2017 7:45 PM

    "When all else fails, they take you to war." -- Gerald Celente Dude-dude , Apr 19, 2017 7:40 PM

    Oh well.. turnball the banker , Apr 19, 2017 7:45 PM

    This cunt is pretty dumb if he thinks Syria is a civil war VIS MAIOR , Apr 19, 2017 7:47 PM

    Excellent )). This exactly matches my analysis and forecast. but "democrats" dont want change him (impch) becouse he do only dirty job for neocons nazis and nwo... sad but true ))) me or you , Apr 19, 2017 7:48 PM

    Israel is pulling the strings of US Government.

    Time for the American people rise up and fight to liberate the country from the evil Jews. Sonny Brakes -> me or you , Apr 19, 2017 7:56 PM

    Crickets serotonindumptruck -> Sonny Brakes , Apr 19, 2017 8:12 PM

    Good point.

    How about we all wait until the supply chain completely breaks down and we're all ready to kill each other over a rusty, dented, Botulism-laden can of dog food. TradingTroll -> serotonindumptruck , Apr 19, 2017 9:40 PM

    There is always cannibalism to look forward to. Ots the new white meat! /sarc scaleindependent -> serotonindumptruck , Apr 19, 2017 11:06 PM

    At least I'll die without wrinkles. Reaper , Apr 19, 2017 7:52 PM

    TR paraphrased: With neo-con planning, in 9 out of 10 cases we'll and/or others will be dead and in the tenth case don't ask too many questions. Consuelo , Apr 19, 2017 7:52 PM

    26+ years since the fall & subsequent $plundering of the old Soviet Union. 26+ years of Cock-O-the-Walk, Big-Dog-on-the-Block.

    A span of time that long without a humbling has a tendency to twist the mind... iamerican4 , Apr 19, 2017 8:04 PM

    Apparently Bush's and Cheney's having done 9/11 with Vatican banker Rothschilds' tribal racist "State of Israel," Faux Zion, "escaped" Mr. Stone's analysis; just as the CIA's guilt in their adjudicated assassination of President Kennedy had been made 'settled law' in 'Hunt v. Marchetti' years before the motion picture "JFK" was produced.

    "Curious" how this other "limited hangout" ZioTalmud Hollywood Babylon (((agent of disinformation))), another movie critic also in the context of "Fort Apache" leaves out the essence of true and Godly analysis of what has befallen Isaiah's actual prophesied "Zion," America: the traitorous unadjudicated satanic perfidy of 9/11 for false-war as "golem" for False Zion and the Saudi "royal" buggers by the same Vatican banker-intermediary Deep State/Organized Crime FedScam faction all know funded Hitler, staged the Holohoax, killed John and Martin to send us as papal catspaw to Indochina, and promotes illegal and Muslim immigration. Savyindallas -> iamerican4 , Apr 19, 2017 8:43 PM

    Stone is a 911 Truther -but can't admit it. He's a coward. He was willing to jump on board the 911 truther train, but the train never left the station so he missed his chance. He wasn't willing to take a lead role on this -probably a smart decision as all 911 celebrity Truthers have been marginalized. iamerican4 -> Savyindallas , Apr 19, 2017 8:50 PM

    God Almighty, the Author of all Truth and Justice, America's Sovereign, is all a true American fears.

    None of us gets out of here alive; but those who serve and love God, ruled only by Truth and Justice, have life eternal.

    Fact. Have been "dead" - bad car wreck - and seen It. Tothguy1948 -> Savyindallas , Apr 19, 2017 11:43 PM

    well, he got my generation started/up to speed with JFK truth, and took a beating for it. in the eyes of the entertainment media, he was a patriotic steven spielberg before jfk, he was conspiracy theorist with a good director of photography and editing team after.

    yeah, i've come to see him as a bit of fatuous idiot in some interviews, he sure has got his own achille's heel and hasn't offered every last truth on the subject, but who has done more to popularize critical thinking and research on it than him? i'm forever grateful for that

    his general analysis for 9/11 and who benefited from it, (<<cui bono, project for new American century>>) was pointing in the right direction. he might have done more harm than good if he started speaking about thermite or whatever, or would have been dismissed as a nut out of hand. Kefeer , Apr 19, 2017 8:09 PM

    That is one ugly bunch! Let it Go , Apr 19, 2017 8:12 PM

    Stone is right enough is enough. Anyone who doesn't believe that countries use psychological warfare and propaganda to sway the opinions of people both in and outside of their country should be considered naive. To many people America is more than a little hypocritical when they criticize other countries for trying to gain influence considering our history of meddling in the affairs of other countries.

    Americans have every reason to be concerned and worried considering revelations of just how big the government intelligent agencies have grown since 9-11 and how unlimited their spying and surveillance operations have become. The article below explores this growth and questions whether we have lost control. gdpetti -> Let it Go , Apr 19, 2017 8:33 PM

    And it's all connected, as all you have to do is watch the money flows in our finance based empire, such as Rolad Bernard spoke of in his interview on 'High Finance': stubb -> Let it Go , Apr 19, 2017 10:18 PM

    Oliver Stone is a fatuous lunatic who is very rarely right about anything. His powers of analysis and sense of perspective are only marginally better than Noam Chomsky's, an individual who should be immediately confined to a secured psychiatric facility under heavy physical and chemical restraint. In this case, however, Stone is correct. iamerican4 , Apr 19, 2017 8:16 PM

    Anyone "leaving out" Bush, Cheney, Mossad, the CIA, FBI, and NSA's having committed 9/11 while pretending to "analyze" what's going on in Syria is neither an American nor God-fearing. Savyindallas -> iamerican4 , Apr 19, 2017 8:39 PM

    There are other possibilities -they may be mentally retarded, thoroughly morally corrupt and evil - or simply a pod person sheeple -totally oblivious to realty and the truth as they are hopelessly intoxicated with the sweet smell of methane from having their head buried up their ass. peterk , Apr 19, 2017 8:50 PM

    trump is prehaps the best president for the deep state...... a president who doesnt really care about anything too much.

    hes been a carefree billionaire playboy all his life, never gets to involved in any fight, as he isnt all that bright, so he just

    moves along when things get tough.

    he betrayed the USA Angry Populi , Apr 19, 2017 8:53 PM

    Wonder what it is Mr. Oliver Stone finds so off-putting about Trump generally? Lawful borders? How would Stone like being a rancher along those borders? Not so much one guesses. order66 , Apr 19, 2017 9:32 PM

    The Deep State has Trump in a Balls Deep state. Anonymous IX , Apr 19, 2017 9:46 PM

    A very simple question.

    Why has Trump completely reneged on his promise to stay out of foreign wars and regime change? Not only Syria but Yemen. Why has Trump placed the U.S. in a needless confrontation with Russia? Before the election, he spoke about establishing strong economic relations with other countries in favor of the U.S.

    Part of making "American Great Again" involves staying out of foreign wars which do not concern us and using our monies to re-educate and protect the diminishing American worker.

    Mr. Stone is right.

    [Apr 20, 2017] Trump's New Foreign Policy Is the Worst of Both Worlds

    Notable quotes:
    "... The neocons, who have rarely met a slippery military slope they weren't tempted to roll down, embraced wholeheartedly both the strike and its justification. They view it as a first - but absolutely necessary - step toward a new phase of U.S. interventionism of precisely the kind that Bannon and his "nationalist" and Islamophobic allies abhor. ..."
    "... During President Obama's two terms in office, he approved 542 such targeted strikes in 2,920 days - one every 5.4 days. From his inauguration through today, President Trump had approved at least 75 drone strikes or raids in 74 days - about one every day. ..."
    "... John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus. ..."
    Apr 20, 2017 |
    It didn't take long for Donald Trump to discover that U.S. foreign policy is about as easy to turn around as a warship in dry dock. Despite any number of promises to shake things up - during the election and even in his first days as president - Trump is falling back on some very conventional approaches to the world.

    In the last week, for instance, Trump suddenly discovered that firing a few missiles at a much-hated target - in this case, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces - can gain him plaudits from across the political spectrum. Earlier, he said he'd focus American firepower on the Islamic State, not Assad. He was cautious about intervening in the Syrian civil war.

    Now the greenhorn president is heading down a well-worn path: see a problem, fire a missile at it.

    In so doing, Trump has scotched whatever remaining hopes his administration might have had about negotiating some quick deals with Moscow. The relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin had already been heading south - as I detailed a couple weeks back in Shortest Reset Ever - but now Trump has bloodied one of Russia's most important allies. Bye bye, bromance.

    Also this week, after bashing China left and right during his campaign, Trump met with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and discovered that, hey, maybe the two countries can get along after all. Virtually every president in recent memory has gone through a similar transformation. There are no political costs in criticizing Beijing during an election campaign. But presidents soon discover the considerable costs of not doing business with China once they occupy the Oval Office.

    So much for Trump's promise to proclaim China a currency manipulator extraordinaire.

    Meanwhile, some of the more ideological voices in the administration appear to be heading to the sidelines. Strategic adviser Steve Bannon, reportedly as a result of his clashes with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, has lost his seat at the National Security Council and, it seems, even the trust of the president . K.T. McFarland, once the number two under the disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, is also out, and probably on her way to Singapore. The generals and the Wall Street execs seem now to have the upper hand.

    But Bannon hasn't given up, and the war at the top is far from over. Bannon loves a good fight, and he's the master of fighting dirty.

    The remaking of Donald Trump into a more conventional - and thus, predictable - president is good news in some quarters. No doubt the foreign policy establishment in Washington, which former president Barack Obama and his advisers called The Blob, is rejoicing that the new president can be weaned off his more fanatical delusions (and pumped full of The Blob's own fanatical delusions).

    But the New Donald Trump, just like the much-hyped New Coke so many years ago, is just as bad for our collective health as the old version. Don't be fooled by the ongoing Trump rebrand. The president is just finding new ways to be toxic.

    Striking Syria

    Bombardiers have a tradition of writing slogans on the bombs they drop on their enemies. Donald Trump might as well have scrawled "I'm Not Obama" on the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles U.S. forces directed at a Syrian airbase on Friday. The bombardment came in response to a chemical attack the Assad government allegedly launched a few days earlier against a town in rebel-held Idlib province that left 69 people dead.

    Trump's desire for big wins has previously kept him out of the Syrian conflict and focused instead on the Islamic State, which has been losing its grip over territory in recent months.

    But Trump also wants to demonstrate that he's bigger and better than Barack Obama: He's more popular, attracted more people to his inauguration, proposed a better health-care plan, has bigger hands, and so on. Obama failed to attack Syria after a high-profile chemical attack in 2013. Here was an opportunity for Trump to show his resolve. After sustaining non-stop attacks against his character, his policies, and his advisers over the last several months, Trump has finally hit back with the tools that, unfortunately, are now at his disposal.

    Yet it was not much of a show of force. The airbase was not damaged enough to prevent the Syrian government from restoring it to full operational status within a couple days. And Syrian forces subsequently re-bombed the very same town that had suffered the chemical attack. The Trump administration has not followed up with any other demonstrations of power, nor does it seem likely to do so.

    The problem isn't so much geopolitical, though the United States risks an outright confrontation with Russia if it escalates. Rather, the problem for Trump is domestic.

    Standard-issue hawks, like John McCain (R-AZ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), are urging Trump to go the next step toward regime change. So are the neocons, as Jim Lobe points out :

    The neocons, who have rarely met a slippery military slope they weren't tempted to roll down, embraced wholeheartedly both the strike and its justification. They view it as a first - but absolutely necessary - step toward a new phase of U.S. interventionism of precisely the kind that Bannon and his "nationalist" and Islamophobic allies abhor.

    The nationalists and the libertarians have indeed reacted in horror. Richard Spencer, the darling of the far-right, not only condemned the attack but even suggested that he would support Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) in 2020 (presumably because she's sat down with both Assad and Trump, a tyrannical twofer). Ron Paul wrote that Trump's assertion that the missile attack was vital to U.S. national interests was "nonsense."

    Good luck trying to preserve such a fickle coalition. To do so, Trump will probably refocus his military attention, as Rex Tillerson has suggested , on the Islamic State. The limited missile strike accomplished its goal, which wasn't to cripple Syrian forces in any serious way. Rather, the attack put distance between Trump and Obama, reminded both Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un that Trump is trigger-happy when necessary, regained some credit with European allies (France, Germany, and the president of the European Council all pledged their support ), and did the minimum of damage to warn the Russians not to take Trump for granted.

    In this way, Trump is proving just as reluctant to engage in large-scale military adventures as his predecessor. Before you rejoice that the wolf has revealed his inner fleece, however, remember that the Trump administration has been in some ways more willing to use military force than the Obama administration. As Micah Zenko wrote at the CFR blog earlier this month:

    During President Obama's two terms in office, he approved 542 such targeted strikes in 2,920 days - one every 5.4 days. From his inauguration through today, President Trump had approved at least 75 drone strikes or raids in 74 days - about one every day.

    Moreover, as Michael Klare points out at The Nation , Trump has "stepped up the delegation of decision-making authority to senior military officers, making it easier for them to initiate combat operations in a half-dozen countries."

    It's all a question of targets. Until he attacked Syria, Trump was "bombing the shit" out of non-state actors, as he promised he would. Syria aside, he's not so interested in challenging actual states. So far, at least.

    Trump: What's Next?

    As the 100-day mark approaches for the administration, Trump's staff is reportedly desperate for a rebrand. The first months have been disastrous in so many different ways. RussiaGate remains a dark cloud over the administration. The travel ban and the health-care substitute were both high-profile disasters. The mainstream media has savaged Trump on a nearly daily basis.

    "One hundred days is the marker, and we've got essentially 2 1/2 weeks to turn everything around," one White House official told Politico . "This is going to be a monumental task."

    According to the same article, the administration is divided between those who believe that the Trump doctrine is "America First" and those who, like Communications Director Mike Dubke, argue that there is no Trump doctrine.

    When it comes to foreign policy, they're both right. The ostensible Trump doctrine is "America First," but it's not a doctrine. It's an empty slogan. At one level, every administration has adhered to some version of American exceptionalism and some effort at focusing on the U.S. economy. So, Trump's special sauce is nothing new.

    At another level, Trump has demonstrated that he will make the same concessions to international realities as his predecessors. He'll negotiate with the Chinese. He'll poke the Russian bear. He'll engage in showy military attacks. Maximum flexibility equals no doctrine.

    The new Trump, then, is the worst of both worlds: blustery nationalism plus the conventional pieties of the foreign policy establishment. It's certainly a relief that the United States won't go to war with China any time soon and the U.S. president cares about the deaths of (some) children.

    But as tensions escalate with North Korea and Trump's crude counter-terrorism campaign continues, Mr. America First seems conceptually ill equipped and all-too-committed to business as usual to push US foreign policy in a peaceful direction and make anyone sleep easy at night. John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus.

    [Apr 20, 2017] Graham's Deranged Idea for Attacking North Korea

    Apr 20, 2017 |
    By Daniel Larison April 20, 2017, 3:33 PM Lindsey Graham/Flickr Lindsey Graham outdoes himself in warmongering with a new call for attacking North Korea:

    "Would you be for a preemptive strike?" Today Show host Willie Geist asked the South Carolina Republican. "If that's what it would take," Graham replied resolutely.

    "It would be terrible but the war would be over here (there), wouldn't be here," Graham continued. " It would be bad for the Korean Peninsula. It would be bad for China. It would be bad for Japan, be bad for South Korea. It would be the end of North Korea. But what it would not do is hit America [bold mine-DL] and the only way it could ever come to America is with a missile."

    Graham routinely supports the most irresponsible, dangerous, and immoral policies, so it is not surprising that he is in favor of doing this. The striking thing about his answer is how cavalier he is about calling for starting a war that he admits would be disastrous for everyone in the region. Leave aside that he completely forgets about the tens of thousands of Americans stationed in South Korea that would come under immediate attack in retaliation for the so-called "preemptive strike" he wants. Note that the action he's talking about wouldn't actually be "preemptive," but would be an unprovoked attack and the start of a major war. Leave it to Graham to find a way to find a North Korea policy so horrible that it puts the U.S. in the wrong.

    The senator casually contemplates a course of action that would likely lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and destabilize the region for years to come and he shrugs it off by saying the war "wouldn't be here." It doesn't shock me that a professional warmonger doesn't care about the effects of this preferred policies, but it is a bit of a surprise that he is so open about his callous disregard for the lives of civilians and soldiers in South Korea and Japan who would pay the price for the act of aggression he supports. The next time you hear Graham feign concern for lives lost in some foreign conflict or pretend to be on the side of our allies, remember this answer and realize that his only desire is to get the U.S. into more unnecessary wars regardless of the consequences. Posted in foreign policy , politics . Tagged North Korea , Lindsey Graham , Japan , South Korea .

    [Apr 20, 2017] North Korea sees Trumps sabre-rattling as propaganda come true -

    Apr 20, 2017 |
    North Korea is a country prepared for conflict.

    Still technically at war with its southern neighbor, ordinary North Koreans are warned to be in a state of constant vigilance to threats from the outside, particularly from the US. Those fears seemed to be confirmed this month, after US President Donald Trump launched a surprise strike on a Syrian airfield and dispatched a naval battle group -- which he described as " an armada " -- to northern Asia.

    Trump's saber-rattling -- he has accused Pyongyang of "looking for trouble" -- is familiar to consumers of North Korean state media, who have been warned for decades by their leaders of imminent US attack and attempted regime change. "The aggressive acts of war on the part of the United States are getting increasingly reckless," a North Korean official told CNN in Pyongyang this week. Read More "In response, we will continue to strengthen our self-defense capability." Tragic history Looking at the country's history, paranoia over a potential US attack is understandable. It's estimated that during the Korean War, American planes dropped some 625,000 tons of bombs on North Korea -- more than during the entire Pacific theater of World War II -- including 32,000 tons of napalm. Around 600,000 North Korean and 1 million South Korean civilians were killed , along with hundreds of thousands of troops. Curtis LeMay, an air force commander at the time, estimated in 1988 that US planes killed 20% of the population "over a period of three years or so." According to Blaine Harden , author of "The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot," Kim Jong Un, like his father and grandfather before him, "(has) kept memories of the war and the bombing terrifyingly fresh. State media warn that, sooner or later, the Americans will strike again." To this end, North Korea maintains a massive standing army of more than 1.2 million soldiers, with millions more paramilitary troops and reservists, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). South Korea also maintains a high state of alert, with more than 500,000 people in its armed forces, IISS says, plus the thousands of US troops deployed in the country. The North Korean constitution states that "national defense is the supreme duty and honor of citizens," and the country is governed by the "songun" -- or military-first -- policy, which places the armed forces above all else. In recent years that has meant huge investment in the development and deployment of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles. Paranoia Intense focus on the military in a cripplingly poor country like North Korea can cause much hardship, but Pyongyang justifies its policies based on a narrative of imminent threat from foreign forces. That narrative was on clear display this week, with North Korean state media -- which usually tightly controls information about the outside world -- going big on the deployment of the USS Carl Vinson and Trump's surprise strike in Syria. USS Carl Vinson heads to Korean Peninsula

    One Pyongyang resident told CNN, "we're at the brink of war, but if that happens, we'll all go to the front lines to fight the Americans."

    The regime has held up Trump's actions in Syria, as well as those of his predecessors in Iraq and Afghanistan, as justification for seeking to further the North Korean nuclear weapons program, which it claims is vital for defense. "Previous US administrations have been attacking those countries who haven't gotten nuclear weapons, and the Trump administration is no different from previous US governments in pinpointing those non-nuclear states," a North Korean official told CNN. Pyongyang fears that if it was not nuclear armed, it would suffer the same fate as Syria and plunge into chaos and civil war. Relative calm South of the border, the situation is much different. On Tuesday, officials sought to reassure South Koreans that the US would not take unilateral action against North Korea without consulting Seoul. "The United States makes it clear that it will not take a new policy or measure without consultations with us," South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck told reporters. Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun warned people against being "blinded by exaggerated assessments on the security situation of the Korean Peninsula." Moon Jae-in, leader of the opposition Democratic Party and frontrunner to be the country's next President, said on Facebook that there "should never be a pre-emptive strike without South Korean consent." "Neighboring countries are taking advantage of the absence of a president in South Korea to try to exclude us and handle issues on the Korean Peninsula according to their own understanding," Moon said. The country's former President, Park Geun-hye, was impeached after a corruption scandal. On the streets of Seoul, South Koreans who spoke to CNN were far less worried about a potential of war than their northern neighbors. "I do feel uneasy about North Korea provoking war," said Jeon Hyung-min, 26. "But I don't think a US strike would happen and if North Korea can judge the situation, they will not continue any armed provocation for now." Seo Deok-il, in his 70s, said he was "not anxious" about the news. "I don't think war will break out," he said. "If I was scared, I would have immigrated to another country."

    CNN's Paula Hancocks and Jeung-un Kim contributed reporting from Seoul, South Korea. Will Ripley reported from Pyongyang, North Korea. James Griffiths reported and wrote from Hong Kong.

    [Apr 20, 2017] The Problem is Washington, Not North Korea - The Unz Review

    Apr 20, 2017 |
    Washington has never made any effort to conceal its contempt for North Korea. In the 64 years since the war ended, the US has done everything in its power to punish, humiliate and inflict pain on the Communist country. Washington has subjected the DPRK to starvation, prevented its government from accessing foreign capital and markets, strangled its economy with crippling economic sanctions, and installed lethal missile systems and military bases on their doorstep.

    Negotiations aren't possible because Washington refuses to sit down with a country which it sees as its inferior. Instead, the US has strong-armed China to do its bidding by using their diplomats as interlocutors who are expected to convey Washington's ultimatums as threateningly as possible. The hope, of course, is that Pyongyang will cave in to Uncle Sam's bullying and do what they are told.

    But the North has never succumbed to US intimidation and there's no sign that it will. Instead, they have developed a small arsenal of nuclear weapons to defend themselves in the event that the US tries to assert its dominance by launching another war.
    There's no country in the world that needs nuclear weapons more than North Korea. Brainwashed Americans, who get their news from FOX or CNN, may differ on this point, but if a hostile nation deployed carrier strike-groups off the coast of California while conducting massive war games on the Mexican border (with the express intention of scaring the shit of people) then they might see things differently. They might see the value of having a few nuclear weapons to deter that hostile nation from doing something really stupid.

    And let's be honest, the only reason Kim Jong Un hasn't joined Saddam and Gadhafi in the great hereafter, is because (a)– The North does not sit on an ocean of oil, and (b)– The North has the capacity to reduce Seoul, Okinawa and Tokyo into smoldering debris-fields. Absent Kim's WMDs, Pyongyang would have faced a preemptive attack long ago and Kim would have faced a fate similar to Gadhafi's. Nuclear weapons are the only known antidote to US adventurism.

    The American people –whose grasp of history does not extend beyond the events of 9-11 - have no idea of the way the US fights its wars or the horrific carnage and destruction it unleashed on the North. Here's a short refresher that helps clarify why the North is still wary of the US more than 60 years after the armistice was signed. The excerpt is from an article titled "Americans have forgotten what we did to North Korea", at Vox World:

    "In the early 1950s, during the Korean War, the US dropped more bombs on North Korea than it had dropped in the entire Pacific theater during World War II. This carpet bombing, which included 32,000 tons of napalm, often deliberately targeted civilian as well as military targets, devastating the country far beyond what was necessary to fight the war. Whole cities were destroyed, with many thousands of innocent civilians killed and many more left homeless and hungry .

    According to US journalist Blaine Harden: "Over a period of three years or so, we killed off - what - 20 percent of the population," Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, told the Office of Air Force History in 1984. Dean Rusk, a supporter of the war and later secretary of state, said the United States bombed "everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another." After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops

    "On January 3 at 10:30 AM an armada of 82 flying fortresses loosed their death-dealing load on the city of Pyongyang Hundreds of tons of bombs and incendiary compound were simultaneously dropped throughout the city, causing annihilating fires, the transatlantic barbarians bombed the city with delayed-action high-explosive bombs which exploded at intervals for a whole day making it impossible for the people to come out onto the streets. The entire city has now been burning, enveloped in flames, for two days. By the second day, 7,812 civilians houses had been burnt down. The Americans were well aware that there were no military targets left in Pyongyang

    The number of inhabitants of Pyongyang killed by bomb splinters, burnt alive and suffocated by smoke is incalculable Some 50,000 inhabitants remain in the city which before the war had a population of 500,000." ("Americans have forgotten what we did to North Korea", Vox World)

    The United States killed over 2 million people in a country that posed no threat to US national security. Like Vietnam, the Korean War was just another muscle-flexing exercise the US periodically engages in whenever it gets bored or needs some far-flung location to try out its new weapons systems. The US had nothing to gain in its aggression on the Korean peninsula, it was mix of imperial overreach and pure unalloyed viciousness the likes of which we've seen many times in the past. According to the Asia-Pacific Journal:

    "By the fall of 1952, there were no effective targets left for US planes to hit. Every significant town, city and industrial area in North Korea had already been bombed. In the spring of 1953, the Air Force targeted irrigation dams on the Yalu River, both to destroy the North Korean rice crop and to pressure the Chinese, who would have to supply more food aid to the North. Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans.10 Only emergency assistance from China, the USSR, and other socialist countries prevented widespread famine." ("The Destruction and Reconstruction of North Korea, 1950 – 1960", The Asia-Pacific Journal, Japan Focus)


    Repeat: "Reservoirs, irrigation dams, rice crops, hydroelectric dams, population centers" all napalmed, all carpet bombed, all razed to the ground. Nothing was spared. If it moved it was shot, if it didn't move, it was bombed. The US couldn't win, so they turned the country into an uninhabitable wastelands. "Let them starve. Let them freeze.. Let them eat weeds and roots and rodents to survive. Let them sleep in the ditches and find shelter in the rubble. What do we care? We're the greatest country on earth. God bless America."

    This is how Washington does business, and it hasn't changed since the Seventh Cavalry wiped out 150 men, women and children at Wounded Knee more than century ago. The Lakota Sioux at Pine Ridge got the same basic treatment as the North Koreans, or the Vietnamese, or the Nicaraguans, or the Iraqis and on and on and on and on. Anyone else who gets in Uncle Sam's way, winds up in a world of hurt. End of story.

    The savagery of America's war against the North left an indelible mark on the psyche of the people. Whatever the cost, the North cannot allow a similar scenario to take place in the future. Whatever the cost, they must be prepared to defend themselves. If that means nukes, then so be it. Self preservation is the top priority.

    Is there a way to end this pointless standoff between Pyongyang and Washington, a way to mend fences and build trust?

    Of course there is. The US just needs to start treating the DPRK with respect and follow through on their promises. What promises?

    The promise to built the North two light-water reactors to provide heat and light to their people in exchange for an end to its nuclear weapons program. You won't read about this deal in the media because the media is just the propaganda wing of the Pentagon. They have no interest in promoting peaceful solutions. Their stock-in-trade is war, war and more war.

    The North wants the US to honor its obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework. That's it. Just keep up your end of the goddamn deal. How hard can that be? Here's how Jimmy Carter summed it up in a Washington Post op-ed (November 24, 2010):

    " in September 2005, an agreement reaffirmed the basic premises of the 1994 accord. (The Agreed Framework) Its text included denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a pledge of non-aggression by the United States and steps to evolve a permanent peace agreement to replace the U.S.-North Korean-Chinese cease-fire that has been in effect since July 1953 . Unfortunately, no substantive progress has been made since 2005

    "This past July I was invited to return to Pyongyang to secure the release of an American, Aijalon Gomes, with the proviso that my visit would last long enough for substantive talks with top North Korean officials. They spelled out in detail their desire to develop a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and a permanent cease-fire, based on the 1994 agreements and the terms adopted by the six powers in September 2005 .

    "North Korean officials have given the same message to other recent American visitors and have permitted access by nuclear experts to an advanced facility for purifying uranium. The same officials had made it clear to me that this array of centrifuges would be 'on the table' for discussions with the United States, although uranium purification – a very slow process – was not covered in the 1994 agreements.

    " Pyongyang has sent a consistent message that during direct talks with the United States, it is ready to conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty to replace the 'temporary' cease-fire of 1953 . We should consider responding to this offer. The unfortunate alternative is for North Koreans to take whatever actions they consider necessary to defend themselves from what they claim to fear most: a military attack supported by the United States, along with efforts to change the political regime."

    ("North Korea's consistent message to the U.S.", President Jimmy Carter, Washington Post)

    Most people think the problem lies with North Korea, but it doesn't. The problem lies with the United States; it's unwillingness to negotiate an end to the war, its unwillingness to provide basic security guarantees to the North, its unwillingness to even sit down with the people who –through Washington's own stubborn ignorance– are now developing long-range ballistic missiles that will be capable of hitting American cities.

    How dumb is that?

    The Trump team is sticking with a policy that has failed for 63 years and which clearly undermines US national security by putting American citizens directly at risk. AND FOR WHAT?

    To preserve the image of "tough guy", to convince people that the US doesn't negotiate with weaker countries, to prove to the world that "whatever the US says, goes"? Is that it? Is image more important than a potential nuclear disaster?

    Relations with the North can be normalized, economic ties can be strengthened, trust can be restored, and the nuclear threat can be defused. The situation with the North does not have to be a crisis, it can be fixed. It just takes a change in policy, a bit of give-and-take, and leaders that genuinely want peace more than war.

    MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition . He can be reached at .

    [Apr 20, 2017] Vladimir Putin humiliates BBC Reporter John Simpson

    Apr 20, 2017 |
    Published on Oct 12, 2016

    The Russian Narrative of the Post Cold War era in less than six minutes..

    The video below contains an answer from Vladimir Putin to a question from veteran BBC "journalist" John Simpson.. In less than six minutes the President of the Russian Federation explains their point of view on the post cold war era in a most devastating manner.

    It is a calm and skillful demolition of the Western narrative regarding Russia in all it's infantile and morally bankrupt depravity. Even those who disagree have the opportunity at least to hear the Russian viewpoint expressed in a succinct yet powerful way.

    The core of it is that when the USSR was dismantled the West continued with the tactics of the Cold war and continued to treat Russia as an adversary despite the end of the defining ideological difference.

    From their point of view the acquiescence of Russia to the Wests demands in terms of economic policy were met with encirclement, missile shields aimed at achieving Nuclear first strike capability and colour revolutions on their borders to replace their allies with the stooges of the West.

    The Russian narrative has two central virtues, it is simple and it is largely true although some less "helpful" facts tend to be edited from the narrative as you would expect. plemax 2 months ago (edited)

    I would say that translation is not very accurate. It's close but sounds direct. When Putin talks in Russian he doesn't sound direct. He sounds firm but rather balanced. Also, he doesn't use "I am" statements, he uses "we are" statements. English subtitles keep showing "I am". Or "listen to me" instead of "look". Putin is saying "look, we did this and that". Translation showing "listen to me, we did this and that". Things like that make a huge difference in the way people receiving an information.
    Andre Vz 2 hours ago
    Good point. I am a native Russian speaker with an English interpreter experience spawning for former military service (russian) and over a decade of first hand experience of living in US. The subtitles were quite inadequate. Smothering the actual strong points of Vladimir Putin while unnecessarily escalating the other to the point of almost sounding aggressive. I attribute it to the usual bias of western media that is bent on presenting Russia as an aggressive nation and use it as a smoke screen for all of those despicable crimes that US commits globally
    ME UK 3 months ago
    Jesus I'm a proud nationalist Brit who loves his country but hearing Putin here I'm inclined to agree with what he says. The Russians do not threaten our borders in the way NATO threatens Russian borders by placing troops within a stone's throw of their border. Then consider the might of NATO compared to Russia. I'm left siding with Putin which is quite remarkable. More and more people are beginning to question the version of the West. Why the hell can't the West team up with Russia to rid the world of terrorists wherever they rear their ugly heads. Instead we are fed the same old crap by our failed self serving liberal traitor masters. Stop voting for the same THREE failed political parties in the UK and start thinking outside the box. Together the Labour / Lib Dem and Conservative parties have engineered the whole problem and sold us all out with mass immigration and 1.8 Trillion of crippling public debt. It's utter madness. I wish we had a PM like Putin.
    Gordon Eatman 3 months ago
    Putin expresses a lot of truth. Only US can be so blind and arrogant.


    what a condescending CUNT THAT REPORTER IS ?

    paul h3 months ago

    Alot of what he says makes sense.


    Listen to his United Nation speech! That will open your eyes for all time!

    yaara513 months ago

    I´m from Germany and I love you Putin ! Although German media portrays you as the devil in person I admire you, sir.

    Imran Armani 1 month ago

    Russian defense Budget 50 Million US 575 Millions --------- Proves who is aggressor

    Clar Wikk 2 months ago

    BBC globalist cucks are traitors to the west

    Ateo forever 2 months ago

    I had reservations when Putin came to power, but i since changed my mind, i have more respect for him, than any of the US presidents past and present.


    Putin is on offer the better leaders in modern politics , smart guy with no BS attitude..

    Tony G

    Whilst Putin is no saint and Russia's history is less than perfect. Their resolve is absolute. If they say they are going to do something, they do it. If they say that they will stand up to ISIS with the same aggression, they do it! This is not what most other EU countries do. What EU countries do is talk then talk some more and ultimately achieve nothing. You cannot turn the tide on ISIS unless you step away from political correctness!

    꿈을어둠 5 months ago

    I've always seen Putin as rational even if he isn't flawless. Let's face it, 90% of his bad reputation comes from american propaganda, unfortunately the US controls or has major influence on media even here in europe.

    Space oriented 5 months ago

    The US's media influence is even worse than the influence of nuclear weaponry. It seriously aggravates me.

    dinan5iver 5 months ago

    Invaded Georgia you say? If you're referring to their response to the slaughter of Russian peacekeepers and citizens carrying Russian passports in South Ossetia by the western backed sociopath Mikheil Saakashvili, then go ahead and call it an "invasion".

    Crimeans who are overwhelmingly ethnic Russians, voted in a referendum to secede from the illegitimate coup-installed Nazi regime in Kiev. There was no "invasion". By treaty agreement Russia had 24K troops stationed on the peninsula to secure their Black Sea Fleet. How'd you think that was going to go?

    He's aiding Assad you say? Why WOULD'NT Russia defend a nation to which it has been formally allied since the 1950's from US/Saudi/NATO backed crazed jihadists?

    NATO is an armed alliance that should have died with the USSR and, contrary to the first Bush administration's promise to Gorbachev not to move the alliance "one inch" toward Russia's borders in exchange for their agreement not to oppose the reunification of Germany, encircled the Russian Federation with NATO bases. And you have the nerve to call Putin an aggressor?

    Mr. Mark 4 months ago (edited)

    Simpson assumes Americans still feel threatened by Putin and the Russian Federation. In fact, we have stopped believing the lies of most of our own journalists and politicians because real data is being supplied by WikiLeaks and other honest news sources so we are more afraid of our own government than those abroad. Putin is our ally, he will get along well with Trump and I expect we will all benefit by this relationship built on mutual trust than the lies we normally expect. Simpson looks the idiot here...assuming we will think he is strong. The real strength here is Putin, his communication skills, articulate manner impress us.

    [Apr 20, 2017] Putin crushes CNN smartass Fareed Zakaria on Donald Trump and US elections

    Apr 20, 2017 |
    a really interesting, impressive reply at Zakaria provocation...

    MJ Augusto 4 months ago (edited)

    I am a true patriot. I'm America first all the way. But we've been giving Russia the short end of the stick since the end of WWII. Harry Truman started it with nuclear blackmail after we bombed Japan. Even though (yes it's true folks) the Soviets are the ones who really took the guts out of the Nazi war machine. We would have won anyway, but Russia accelerated the process in a huge way. They also invaded Japan forcing the emperors hand after we dropped the second atom bomb. During the Cuban missle crisis we really didn't have a leg to stand on in negotions. We had tactical nukes in Siberia armed and ready long before Russia put missiles in Cuba. I'm not a sympathizer, Stalin was an oppressor of human rights, and I feel communism is fundamentally flawed. But Putin is right, we've tried to force our ideas on the rest of the world and alienated most of it through out the process. Vietnam, El Salvador, Korea, Cuba, and Iran during the cold war.

    [Apr 20, 2017] Libya - More War And Reconciliation

    Notable quotes:
    "... A Libyan military solution to the civil war is fast becoming the only option however a Mandela type Truth and Reconciliation Commission following straight after such military victory is also a top priority. ..."
    Apr 19, 2017 |

    The West retains it's out of touch Libyan policies when in Luca, Italy last week the G7 'warned and commanded' that the fractious warring Libyan parties 'must' work with the dying UN appointed and recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), situated only in a small naval base in Tripoli and its so called Presidency Council (PC). And further ordered Libyans to work together to fix the economic crisis by recognising that the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) need to only collaborate with the GNA/PC, so out of touch with the real issues on the ground in Libya are the G7 Countries. Their language almost expressed in colonial terms!

    Other global interference in Libya continues. Most recently also the GNA and Presidency Council (PC) leader Fayez Serraj was seeing the head, at his HQ in Stuttgart, of the United Stated Africa Command (AFRICOM) General Thomas Waldhauser. I didn't know Stuttgart was in Africa?

    Other pronouncements of one kind or another backing the phantom GNA appear almost weekly.

    All a waste of time, as UN and EU efforts have proven these past years. As far as Serraj is concerned he is unelected by Libyans but chosen by the foreigners. That's never going to achieve forward progress for Libya's future.

    The one year anniversary of the General National Accord (GNA) created by the UN and headed by Serraj was on the 30th March just two weeks ago. But the GNA doesn't function. To compound the GNA's inability to govern, an acute emergency has emerged in the last 7 days revolving around further direct sales by Cyrenaica (East Libya) of oil bypassing Tripoli and the West. If this issue remains unresolved the country may split into two or three pieces. There is now tremendous in-fighting between National Oil Company (NOC) and a variety of diverse interests. The West's reactions to these realities remain puzzling and totally unrealistic to say the least.

    A Libyan military solution to the civil war is fast becoming the only option however a Mandela type Truth and Reconciliation Commission following straight after such military victory is also a top priority.

    These developments are part of a new dynamic that is entering the Libyan Civil War that is another trend that may satisfy weary Libyans themselves. The re-entry of two of Gaddafis children who are seeking a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, similar to South Africa's, in order to bring unity to the country. Specific Libyan tribes are starting to back the Gaddafi clan a new and hopefully peaceful attempt at country unification may appear that ousts the GNA and other Tripoli militias and extremists for good from the political scene. This is becoming a realistic proposition.

    It is to this point that national reconciliation must be addressed. South Africa's process helped to unify the country after decades of apartheid.

    The LNA's Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar is close to Elders of Warfalla tribe that give him their support in the war against terrorism. Warfalla tribe is the biggest tribe in Libya located in Bani Walid and Sirte area, the Warshfana tribe is second located to the South West of Tripoli. Both tribes are from the west of Libya and both are against extremists and very sympathetic to the Gaddafis. Importantly, the tribes believe that the Gaddafis can reach an accommodation with Libyan parties to one another forgive crimes committed before and after the revolt of 2011. Already, evidence can be seen of this trend: In the past week, Libyan authorities have released some Gaddafi era nobles from prison. The involvement of the former AQ-LIFG fighters to take credit for these releases is a vain attempt to try to align themselves with Gaddifites which will never succeed.

    While the limelight is on Saif, who still is believed to suffer from physical and mental injuries sustained during his capture, his sister Aisha Gaddafi is fast becoming the most important member of the family. She is generating a good deal of attention and she may well be very influential in future. Aisha is a pragmatic and sensible Libyan with acute political acumen and a sharp wit and intellect. She has a dynamic personality and is the most well educated of the Colonel's siblings. There is an argument that she needs to return to the political scene. Whether she wants to, no one knows due to her low profile so far.

    However with Aisha's victory last week in the European Court of Justice against the UN Security Council-sponsored sanctions this may very well be the first indicator. She has also had her travel ban lifted. A major achievement. Together with her brother, when he achieves 100 percent fitness, both Gaddafi's can begin to work together with all Libyans to rescue the country from its dreadful plight as part of a team never a return to dictatorship.

    This tandem approach -Gaddafi siblings and the Tribes- is the possible solution to Libya's civil war. Haftar recognizes the values of tribes and the Libyan Field Marshall is now using all his might to solidify and unify all Libyans whilst continuing to fight terrorists. As stated earlier, South Africa's dismantling of decades of apartheid serves as the example, the model for Libya.

    The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up to help deal with what awful things happened under apartheid, much worse than Gaddafi's crimes ever were. The remnants of conflict during this post-apartheid period resulted in still some limited violence and human rights abuses from all sides but no section of society escaped exposure or punishment.

    Libya is suffering under a system of constant outside international interference in a Libyan decision about their own future. Self-reflection is an important part of reconciliation and it is thought that if the Gaddafis assistance in such an effort will help in a "cleansing" to build a new Libyan future, this would be a good thing. Of course, Libya is not South Africa, and the issues completely different, yet it is the process of reconciliation and forgiveness itself which has its primordial roots in today's modern Libyan tribes.

    Russia involvement with Egypt is essential. Also African countries must unite to help Libya through this process, not US's AFRICOM, UN or even the EU. The only other country that appears to be a true friend to Libya is the UAE who also have the advantage of being anti-Muslim Brotherhood, a dangerous sect that has influence in the West of Libya.

    If body language is anything to go by, this picture (of Mohamed bin Zayed, the powerful Crown Prince of the UAE with Haftar) taken last week in Abu Dhabi speaks volumes!


    Let us hope finally for a peaceful conclusion to the tragedy that has been Libya for these past six years.

    Thomas Bargatzky | Apr 19, 2017 5:38:53 AM | 2
    AFRICOM headquarters are in Stuttgart, because Gaddafi was adamantly against its location on Africa's soil. One of the reasons for NATO's war against Libya and the killing of Gaddafi.
    Jeff | Apr 19, 2017 5:40:38 AM | 3
    If only we could get a similar update for Yemen, where only continued famine and bombing seem on the agenda.
    And Somalia is such a black hole that not even its despair and deaths reach the MSM or social networks.
    guidoamm | Apr 19, 2017 7:02:37 AM | 4
    Only tangentially relevant to this post, but Libya is a good example of the power we have allowed our politicians to confer to central banks.

    Few will remember that whilst the war in Libya was raging, somehow, some faction found it both relevant and a priority to announce the creation of the central bank of Libya. This piece of news was reported far and wide by the international press too.

    jfl | Apr 19, 2017 7:49:10 AM | 5
    i hope the libyans can rally round aisha gaddafi and put their country back together. they need to keep the us/eu out of the country. sue for damages - at least, and bigtime - in international court if they are unable to prosecute the war criminals themselves. show the iraqis and the syrians and the afghans and the ukrainians and everyone else how war criminals must be treated.
    Alieu | Apr 19, 2017 7:51:35 AM | 6
    Libya deserves far more attention than it gets. The war is still going on there but receives no attention because the deaths there are not politically useful anymore. That's why after 2011 all the media coverage shifted to Syria. If the Israel/Nato alliance had their way, Syria would now be in the same situation Libya is - a failed state. This is what they mean when they refer to "bringing democracy" to the Middle East.

    Only Russia's intervention in August 2013 prevented that, which explains why they decided to punish Russia by organising the "regime change" in Ukraine and spreading the chaos to Russia's doorstep. Ukraine is now also a failed state with two different governments embroiled in a civil war. Funny how that always seems to be the result of the Israel/Nato alliance bringing "freedom and democracy" to countries - it's almost as if that was their plan all along...

    Mina | Apr 19, 2017 8:05:48 AM | 7
    The colonial language used by the EU and others is precisely what fuels people to join Djihadists movements. Is it on purpose?
    Eugene | Apr 19, 2017 8:52:29 AM | 8
    Perhaps Libya will be brought together again, the world can hope. Will that old saying: "what goes around, comes around" ring true on this? Colonialism is alive still, but there are those who just don't see the light. One fact is certain, the "war on terror" birthing after 9-11, if anything, created the mother of all C-F's to date. One might get the impression that the end game is to destroy the U.S./western ways?
    Curtis | Apr 19, 2017 9:53:15 AM | 9
    Alieu 6

    We don't hear much of US (Hillary, Obama, etc) "successes" in Libya from the US MSM. It's shameful that the UN tries to force govt from above (with outsiders) on these people like the US does in places like Iraq. What happened to the other two govts in Tripoli and Tobruk? I doubt any govt in the east will go along due to extremist influences and greed to dominate oil in that area. I wish Gaddhafis all the luck and success in fixing the wrong done to them and bringing this to the world. It's bad enough the US and especially western media participation in the death, destruction, pain, and suffering.

    Curtis | Apr 19, 2017 9:56:08 AM | 10
    Re: the photo
    Haftar had better hope Zayed's left hand does not contain a knife. The emirates and saudis are not known to be trustworthy fans of others in the ME neighborhood who do not conform.
    Greenbean950 | Apr 19, 2017 10:20:02 AM | 11
    AFRICOM is in Stuttgart because it was created out of the staff from US EUCOM (European Command). At first, the staff sections did both areas of operations (Europe & Africa). Once additional staff officers and NCOs were sent to EUCOM, AFRICOM was separated from EUCOM, but stayed in Stuttgart. AFRICOM was moved to another base in Stuttgart, Kelly Barracks. EUCOM is on Patch Barracks - a few miles away. The German government was quite displeased at the addition of a major US headquarters in their country, but had little power or courage to do anything except grumble. The US DoD wanted to put AFRICOM in Africa, but there were no countries willing to accept it that were in any way safe for families. When no options in Africa were viable, the US simply created the new headquarters in Stuttgart.

    I am a retired US Army officer that was assigned to US EUCOM from 2008-2009.

    jawbone | Apr 19, 2017 10:26:49 AM | 12
    How to understand the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) and its love of lies.

    The MCM will report factual truths, but usually buried somewhere in a long article, bracketed by the acceptable lies. Or, if the inconvenient truths do get an article of their own, those facts are subsequently ignored by the MCM with the lies being repeated over and over.

    And, then, even the lies become the conventional wisdom.

    Such as has happened with the lies about the August 2013 chemical attack in Syria. The MCM did note that the proof was not there to accuse the Syrian government, BUT it was buried and ignored and now, in 2017, it is accepted history that the Assad government did attack their own supporters with sarin.

    It's enough to make one never trust anything the MCM puts out.

    Which is probably the whole point.

    canuck | Apr 19, 2017 11:12:43 AM | 13
    Again b is mistakenly describing the attack on Libya as a civil war. A civil war is a war between different factions of a country; the war against Libya was carried out al most entirely external forces, by NATO and mercenaries. This constant reference to the attack on Libya, and indeed the attack on Syria, as civil wars, is the language of propaganda.

    Massive bombing by NATO led to the death and wounding of at least many tens of thousands of Libyans, and the destruction of much infrastructure, followed by hell on earth via head choppers and mass murdering and raping mercenaries.

    Libya in 2010 was leading the UN human development index for Africa, with a high standard of living, high literacy rate, largely happy and healthy people, with free education and health care, and generous financial presents for marriage and birth, and wonderful development projects. Blacks were doing well there. When Gaddafi took over, Libya was a colonized, wretchedly poor basket case.

    Libya had built up large gold reserves on the basis of its high quality oil and was attempting to implement a pan African alternative to the parasitic and criminal western banking system and its debt enslavement of much of Africa.

    Lurid lies were used to 'justify' a 'no fly zone' via the UNSC and this was then used to commit the ultimate crime according to Nuremberg trials, a war of aggression, by NATO and their useful mercenary monsters.

    The Stephen Miller Band | Apr 19, 2017 11:24:58 AM | 14
    What's interesting is the lack of interest in JASTA. I brought it up yesterday and there was nothing but silence. Hmmmm. One would think it would be ripe for critical dissection at this venue considering the revelatory implications that could possibly emanate from it. Unless. That's it. I think it's the unless. I'll let you guess what the unless is. Let me just say, it's what I've always known to be true.

    Where do Trump & Sessions stand on JASTA? If Trump truly is a patriot and believes his jingoistic "America First" rhetoric, then he has to support the integrity of this legislation and direct his DOJ and all the alphabet agencies to comply and let the chips fall where they may and act accordingly to the facts. Or he can be a Saudi chump and continue to bomb Yemen and Syria for the Saudi pricks.

    Needless to say, this is getting hardly any coverage in the press. Gee, I wonder why? But I expected different at this venue. Not really.

    9/11 Families File Complaint with Department of Justice

    On March 29, 2016, the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism organization filed a letter with the Department of Justice to request the DOJ commence an immediate national security investigation into potential widespread criminal violations of the Foreign Regisration Act ("FARA"), by foreign agents retained to conduct what we view as an unprecedented foreign influence campaign on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    The apparent goal of the massive Saudi-funded foreign agent offensive is to delude Congress into passing unprincipled and unwarranted amendments to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrrorism Act ("JASTA").

    In service of this dangerous effort to influence Congress into passing legislative text promoted by a foreign power, the Kingdom and its foreign agents have targeted U.S. veterans nationwide through a campaign that deeply mischaracterizes JASTA, and even more importantly has been conducted in ways that conceal the fact that the influence and propaganda onslaught has been and continues to be orchestrated and financed by the Saudi government and foreign agents working on its behalf. Read full complaint here:

    james | Apr 19, 2017 11:57:08 AM | 17
    thanks richard for these periodic updates..

    i 2nd @5 jfls comments and hope they can move forward with the children of gaddaffi in forming a gov't and coalition.

    @7 mina.. i think you have the answer - yes.. every time the usa state dept mention libya it is in the context of everyone working with the gna.. i guess that will give the required structure for continued abuse from the west - bend over and take this..

    Curtis | Apr 19, 2017 12:05:54 PM | 18
    Among the west's successes in Libya is the return of slavery. That's not in the US MSM news even though it has made it to DW/Guardian.
    Mike Maloney | Apr 19, 2017 12:11:21 PM | 19
    Libya is hard to read. France, Russia, Egypt, and UAE are supposed to be supporting Haftar. Then France issues a statement yesterday supporting Serraj and the GNA in the wake of Haftar's Libyan National Army attack on Tamenhant air base in the south. Italian troops were reported to be stationed at Tamenhant working with the pro-GNA militias there.
    AtaBrit | Apr 19, 2017 2:34:51 PM | 20
    Fascinating article.
    Inspiring in that the T&R process allows the Libyans to take their future into their own hands - A fundemental right!
    But that the Gadaffis might actually be the key to the future of Libya is a resoundingly damning indictment of the West's actions!
    It also occurs to me how very imbalanced is the media coverage of the ME conflicts.
    Thanks, b, for providing the forum for such writing. And look forward to more articles, Richard.

    ProPeace | Apr 19, 2017 6:54:49 PM | 21

    Good news! Yemenis shoot down Saudi Black Hawk, at least 12 Saudi troops killed
    smuks | Apr 19, 2017 7:07:54 PM | 22
    Looks like they got rid of ISIS for good, even if some of its former fighters are probably still in the country. Good. Without major external assistance (as in 'massive air strikes and special forces'), no side is strong enough to conquer the entire country. This being obvious, there should be a good chance that they'll come to some sort of national unity agreement.

    Which is pretty much what I predicted in an article in early 2016.

    telescope | Apr 19, 2017 8:17:58 PM | 24
    Why would anyone even care about what the West thinks or wants? Clearly, it's a troubled, fast-declining polity that is desperately trying to cling to the glory days that are long gone, and will never return. It'll be getting weaker with every passing year.

    As soon as Trump becomes serious about tackling the US trade deficit, the globalization will stop and then kick into ferocious reverse, as the whole thing is sustained solely by the US' willingness to endure the unrelenting economic punishment for purely ideological reasons. Globalization in its present form is devastating America's core, and its patience is nearly exhausted. Give it a year, or two at the most, then lashing out begins.

    Once it's over, everything that globalization had birthed - the EU, the Singapores and Dubais of the world, the Israel - the end of globalization will bring to an inevitable denouement.

    Libya will be taken over by a neighboring country that is becoming hideously overpopulated and is in a dire need of additional living space and inexpensive energy. Egypt simply has no other options, other than a national implosion.

    jfl | Apr 19, 2017 9:18:47 PM | 25
    @24 telescope, '... the whole thing is sustained solely by the US' willingness to endure the unrelenting economic punishment for purely ideological reasons ...'

    the whole thing is sustained by the globalized 1%'s willingness to inflict unrelenting economic punishment purely for their own economic 'well-being' ... 'profit', at any rate. they've made a joke of money as 'a store of value' and - i agree - 'Globalization in its present form is devastating America's (all the west's) core, and its patience is nearly exhausted. Give it a year, or two at the most, then lashing out begins.'

    as for egypt - overpopulated - taking over libya - 'underpopulated' ... they'll certainly have to do that without russia's help ... think of the precedent that would set vis-à-vis russia-china! or do you envision a takeover of russia by china as being in the cards ... that china, too, simply has no other options, other than a national implosion.

    ProPeace | Apr 19, 2017 9:32:45 PM | 26
    Any news on the Great Man Made River?
    Pft | Apr 20, 2017 12:06:57 AM | 27
    Libya has a central bank now and no longer exports as much oil to China as it once did. The people no longer get free health care and education. Why does anyone believe that the powers that be care much about anything else.
    jfl | Apr 20, 2017 12:27:05 AM | 28
    @26 pp

    no news. i have these links if anyone is unfamiliar ...

    Libya's "Water Wars" and Gaddafi's Great Man-Made River Project
    War Crime: NATO Deliberately Destroyed Libya's Water Infrastructure

    Mina | Apr 20, 2017 2:11:57 AM | 29
    #27: they DO care a lot. you see the positive results of their military campaign, when people have none of these. like in Egypt, KSA, Jordan and all the major allies.

    As of today, 40 mass graves have been discovered in Kassai (Congo Kinshasa=DRC) and 2 UN inspectors sent to enquire there were killed ten days ago. But who cares?

    Mina | Apr 20, 2017 2:18:23 AM | 30
    Mike, in Libya France has had a hand in two camps: with Haftar when in relation with some military deals with the Gulf but from the start, when it comes to their MB business plan, with the Benghazi militias
    claudio | Apr 20, 2017 2:50:12 PM | 31
    b, the name of the italian city is LUCCA
    Curtis | Apr 20, 2017 2:53:09 PM | 32
    Mina 30
    I believe the initial oil deals the NTC signed were with France. But according to this, Qatar played a part, too.

    In that article, it's funny to think of the NTC wanting to bring back foreign oil workers after how they treated them especially the blacks from neighboring countries. Foreigners like that couple who sold Libya cleaning products had to face al Qaeda so they might not be eager to return. But that was 2011. The current status sounds mixed.

    In one of the books I read, there was a Libyan plan with the Chinese (and Russians?) to build a railway connecting Tripoli, Sirte, and Tobruk. But that ended with Gaddhafi gone.

    Sabotage | Apr 20, 2017 3:03:51 PM | 33
    It seems WWIII has just started. Sorry boys, no Pax Germana for you. Again.

    [Apr 20, 2017] Only Chlorine, Not Sarin, Involved In The Khan Sheikhun Incident

    Apr 20, 2017 |

    Those who blame the Syrian government for the allegedly chemical incident in Khan Sheikhun are now pushing the analysis of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to the front. But the results of the OPCW tests are inconsistent with the observed technical and medical facts of the incident.

    The OPCW Director General Ambassador Üzümcü, a Turk, yesterday released its first results of his organization:

    The bio-medical samples collected from three victims during their autopsy were analysed at two OPCW designated laboratories. The results of the analysis indicate that the victims were exposed to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance . Bio-medical samples from seven individuals undergoing treatment at hospitals were also analysed in two other OPCW designated laboratories. Similarly, the results of these analyses indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance .

    Director-General Üzümcü stated clearly: "The results of these analyses from four OPCW designated laboratories indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance .

    That's "Sarin or Sarin- like substance" three times a row. Sarin is also mentioned in the headline. Someone is pushing that meme hard.

    But the OPCW did not conclude that a chemical attack occurred in Khan Sheikhun. It suggested nothing about the incident itself. Instead it talked about bio-medical samples - nothing more, nothing less.

    A "Sarin like substances" could be a different chemical weapon than sarin - soman is possible. But many general insecticides belong to the same chemical class as sarin and soman. They are organophosphorus compounds. (Sarin was originally developed as insecticide). All of such compounds could be a source of the exposure found by by the OPCW. These chemicals tend to degrade within hours or days. A forensic analysis will not find the original substance but only decomposition products of some organophosporus compound. That is the reason why the OPCW result is not fixed on sarin but also mentions "sarin like substances".

    The question is now where those samples come from? And what is the chain of evidence that connects the samples to the incident in question. The OPCW has not send an investigation team to Khan Sheikhun. No samples were taken by its own inspectors. While Russia and Syria have asked for OPCW inspections on the ground, Tahrir al-Sham, the renamed al-Qaeda in Syria which controls the area, has not asked for inspectors. Without its agreement any investigation mission is simply too dangerous. None of the OPCW inspectors are interested in literally losing their heads to those terrorists.

    Immediately after the incident bodies of dead and wounded were brought to Turkey where they were taken into hospital. Al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda aligned personal must have transported these. It is a three hour trip from Khan Sheikhun to the Turkish border. Unless we trust the words of al-Qaeda operatives we can not be sure that the corpses delivered were indeed from Khan Sheikhun.

    The incident happened on April 4. An immediate OPCW statement on April 4 referred to chlorine, not sarin or similar:

    The OPCW is investigating the incident in southern Idlib under the on-going mandate of