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Two Party System as Polyarchy and anti-Democratic mechanisms of "first past the post" elections

Version 2.4 (Nov  21, 2016)

The USA looks more and more like a single party state -- it is governed by  Neoliberal party with two factions
 "soft neoliberals" (Democratic Party) and "hard neoliberals"(Republican Party)

News American Polyarchy is not Democracy Recommended Books Recommended Links Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite Demexit Democratic Party Neoliberals Monday morning quarterbacking The Deep State Donald Trump
The Iron Law of Oligarchy Neocons foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Superdelegates at Democratic National Convention Anti Trump Hysteria Bernie Sanders Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton Did Obama order wiretaps of Trump conversations Do the US intelligence agencies attempt to influence the US Presidential elections ?
Neocons Obama: a yet another Neocon Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on neoliberalism Media-Military-Industrial Complex  New American Militarism Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Protestant church on danger of neoliberalism
Predator state Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak DNC emails leak: switfboating Bernie Sanders and blaming Vladimir Putin National Security State  American Exceptionalism Libertarian Philosophy Nation under attack meme  Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Pluralism as a myth
Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Corporatist Corruption Paleoconservatism Corporatism Ethno-linguistic Nationalism Hillary Clinton email scandal: Timeline and summary "Clinton Cash" Scandal: Hillary Clinton links to foreign donors and financial industry  Hillary role in Syria bloodbath Hillary Clinton and Obama created ISIS
Myth about intelligent voter Electoral College Non-Interventionism US Presidential Elections of 2012  Mayberry Machiavellians Politically Incorrect Humor Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc
"There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man."

-- Gore Vidal

“The Democrats are the foxes, and the Republicans are the wolves – and they both want to devour you.” So what does that make Libertarians? Avian flu viruses?”

-- Leonard Pinkney

The race is no contest when you own both horses. That is why no matter which political party is in power nothing really changes other than the packaging. The puppets who drink at the champagne fountains of the powerful do the bidding of their masters. The people are superfluous to the process.

-- Daniel Estulin

Due to the side an introduction was moved to the separate page Polyarchy, Authoritarianism and Deep State

Summary

I subscribe to Kantian idea of the dignity in human, the idea that everyone is entitled to survival as well as thriving beyond survival. But does everybody is entitled to equal participation in ruling of the state ?  Or  in election of state leaders? Which is what democracy means. Is the democracy possible, if elections use "the first after the post" rule?  Another important question is "democracy for whom". There are always part of society living under the dictatorship and excluded from the democratic process.

My impression is that the Communist Party of the USSR made a grave mistake by not adopting "the first after the post" election system. In reality it would just legitimize the permanent Communist Party rule, as two factions of the CPSU competing for power (let's call them "Democratic Communists" and "Republican Communists") would exclude any real challenge for the one party rule that was practiced in the USSR under so called "one party" system. Which, while providing the same results,  looks more undemocratic then "first after the post" system, and thus  less safe for the rule of oligarchy as it generates resentment of the population.  

The "first after the post" system provides a very effective suppression of any third party, preventing any chance of maturing such a political force.  No less effective the Societ one party rule, but more subtle and more acceptable to the population. Which is all what is needed to continuation of the rule of the oligarchy.  The same is true for the parties themselves. Iron law of olgarchy was actualy discovered by observing the evolution of the party leadership.

Revolutionary situation after 2008 is connected with discreditation of neoliberal ideology

The situation when the current ruling elite (or in less politically correct term oligarchy) experienced difficulties with the continuation of its rule and the existing methods of suppression and indoctrination of the lower part population stop working is called  "revolutionary situation". Some signs of this situation were observable in the USA in 2016 which led to the election of what was essentially an independent candidate -- Donald Trump.  It was clear that there is a widespread feeling that the current system is wrong and unjust. And when the people do not wont to live under the current system, and the ruling oligarchy can't continue to rule using the same methods and its brainwashing/propaganda does not work anymore " a rare moment when "the change we can believe in" becomes possible. Not the con that the king of "bait and switch" maneuver Obama sold to the US lemmings twice, but the "real" change; which can be for the good or bad. Stability of the society has its great value. As Chinese curse state it succinctly "May you live in interesting times".

 In such cases, often the ruling elite decides to unleash a foreign war and use "rally around the flag" effect  to suppress dissent and to restore the control (that's the real meaning of Samuel Johnson quote "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"). The pitch level of anti-Russian propaganda in 2016 in neoliberal MSM suggest that some part of the US elite is not totally hostile to this solution even in nuclear age. As John Kenneth Galbraith noted “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.”

In 2016 we saw an attempt by oligarchy to rig the elections despite growing populism, at all cost. Even by promoting a deeply criminal and candidate with serious health problems. The level of propaganda displayed in 2015-2016 election cycle by neoliberal MSM might well outdo the level achieved by communist propagandists in best days of the USSR.  And that happened because this time there is a slight chance that the election are not about choosing "soft neoliberal" vs. "hard neoliberal" but "soft neoliberal"  vs. (at least partially) "paleoconservative", who rejects the idea of neoliberal globalization and by extension the necessity of fighting constant wars for the expansion of the US led global neoliberal empire.   This heresy is not acceptable in the corridors of Washington deep state, and the hissy fit in neoliberal media and the just of intelligence agencies on an "avanscena" of political process (hackingate") were to be expected.

There is also an interesting question what kind of democracy the competition  of "Democratic Neoliberals" ("soft neoliberal/closet neocons) and "Republican Neoliberals: ("hard core" neoliberal/open neocons) in the USA demonstrates. And not only "democratcy for who" -- it is clera tha thtis is democracy for the top 1% or at best top 20% of population.

Also interesting were the methods of indoctrination of population which were borrowed by the USA neoliberals from the Soviet experience. They use university course in economics in the same (or more correctly slightly more subtle; using mathematics as smoke screen for indoctrination into neoliberal ideology)  way Soviet universities use the course of philosophy. In the USSR the courses of philosophy and political economy were obligatory for all university students and people did read both Marx and Lenin; but there were problem here -- as Marx famously said he was not a Marxist.  The same to a certain extent is true for Lenin, who was essentially a bridge between Marxism and national socialism.  This problem was solved by carefully pre-selecting "classics" works to only a subset that felt in like with Bolshevism.

But deteriorating economy and stagnation make this propaganda less effective, much like happened with neoliberal propganda in the USA in 2016. And people were listening to BBC and Voice of America at night, despite jamming.  Similar things happened inthe USA after 2008. Eventhoroughly brainwashed the USA population, who like member of high demand cult now internalized postulates of neoliberalism like dogmas of some civil religion, started to have doubts.  And like Soviet population resorted to the alternative sources of information (for example Guardian, RT, Asia Times, to name a few).

But still the general level  political education of US votes leave much to be desired and is much lower then it was in the USSR (due to obsessive emphasis on the works of Marxs and Lenin much like modern incarnations of Jesus Christ in Soviet state). Let's honestly ask yourselves  what percentage of US voters can list key proposition of paleoconservative political platform vs neoliberal platform. Or define what the term "neoliberal" means. It is difficult also because the terms "neoliberalism" and "Paleoconservatism" are expunged from MSM. Like Trotsky writings were in the USSR. Assuming that this might well be the key difference between two frontrunner in the last Presidential race, this is really unfortunate.

The myth about intelligent voters

That means the hypothesis that majority of voters under "popular democracy" regime (where all citizens have a right to vote) understand what they are voting for ("informed voters" hypothesis)  is open to review (see Myth about intelligent voter).  Otherwise identity politics would not be so successful in the USA, despite being a primitive variation of classic "divide and conquer" strategy. In any democracy, how can voters make an important decision unless they are well informed?  But what percentage of US votes can be considered well informed?  And taking into account popularity of Fox News what percentage is brainwashed or do not what to think about the issues involved and operate based on emotions and prejudices? And when serious discussion of issues that nation faces are deliberately and systematically replaced by "infotainment" voters became just pawns in the game of factions of elite, which sometimes leaks information to sway public opinion, but do it very selectively. All MSM represent the views of large corporations which own them. No exception are allowed. Important information is suppressed or swiped under the carpet to fifth page in NYT to prevent any meaningful discussion. For example, ask several of your friends if they ever heard about Damascus, AR.

In any case one amazing fact happened during this election: republican voters abandoned Republican brass and flocked to Trump, while Democratic voters abandoned Democratic neoliberals and flocked to Sanders (although DNC managed to fix primaries, and then engaged in anti-Russian hysteria to hide this criminal fact).  See Trump vs. The REAL Nuts for an informed discussion of this phenomenon.

Mr. Trump’s great historical role was to reveal to the Republican Party what half of its own base really thinks about the big issues. The party’s leaders didn’t know! They were shocked, so much that they indulged in sheer denial and made believe it wasn’t happening.

The party’s leaders accept more or less open borders and like big trade deals. Half the base does not! It is longtime GOP doctrine to cut entitlement spending. Half the base doesn’t want to, not right now! Republican leaders have what might be called assertive foreign-policy impulses. When Mr. Trump insulted George W. Bush and nation-building and said he’d opposed the Iraq invasion, the crowds, taking him at his word, cheered. He was, as they say, declaring that he didn’t want to invade the world and invite the world. Not only did half the base cheer him, at least half the remaining half joined in when the primaries ended.

But at the same time the struggle for political equality which is often associative with the word "democracy" is a vital human struggle, even if democracy itself is an unachievable and unrealistic ideal (see The Iron Law of Oligarchy).  In some sense too much talk about Democracy is very suspect and just characterize the speaker as a hypocrite with probably evil intentions, who probably is trying to mask some pretty insidious plans with "democracy promotion" smokescreen.

The same is true for countries.  Especially for those which use  "export of democracy" efforts to mask their imperial ambitions. As in the efforts to expand and sustain the global neoliberal empire led by the USA.  See color revolutions for details.  Actually that makes the USA very similar the USSR with its leaders dream about global Communist empire led from Moscow. Both in the USA and the USSR there was too much talk about democracy, while actually practice was decidedly undemocratic. It was oligarchic rule in both cases. In the USA the situation is further complicated by amazing level of brainwashing of population via MSM, which definitely exceed the level achieved by nomenklatura in Soviet Union outside of "Stalinism" period.  Can you imagine the situation in the USSR when members of the ruling communist party were prohibited to show their affiliation and the words "communist" and "communism" was "discouraged" and their usage is suppressed  in MSM including leading newspapers Pravda and Izvestia (roughly analogical to WaPo and NYT).   That's the situation we have in the USA now.

The term "neoliberalism" is effectively prohibited from usage in major US MSM and all political discussion is forcefully turned into "infotainment" -- the clash of  personalizes. In other words discussion of key issues facing the country (politics in real sense of this word)  was replaced under neoliberal regime by "infotainment" with slick and often psychically beautiful "presstitutes" instead of olitical analysts.   But like was the case in the USSR neoliberal brainwashing gradually lost its effectiveness because it contradicts the reality. and neoliberalism failed to deliver promises of "rising tide lifting all board", or trickle down economy which justified tremendous enrichment of top 0.1%. 

Neoliberalism divides the society in  two classes like in old, good Marxism

Politically neoliberalism. like Marxism in the past, operates with the same two classes: "entrepreneurs" (modern name for capitalists and financial oligarchy) and debt slaves (proletarians under Marxism) who work for them. Under neoliberalism only former considered first class citizens ("one dollar -- one vote"). Debt slaves are second class of citizens and are prevented from political self-organization, which by-and-large deprives them of any form of political participation. In best Roman tradition it is substituted with the participation in political shows ("Bread and circuses") See Empire of Illusion The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges.  In this sense the role of the election is not election of the candidate of people want but legitimizing the candidate the oligarchy pre-selected. . They  helps to provide legitimacy for the ruling elite. 

The two party system invented by the elite of Great Britain proved to be perfect for neoliberal regimes, which practice what Sheldon Wolin called inverted totalitarism. The latter is the regime in which all political power belongs to the financial oligarchy which rules via the deep state mechanisms, and where traditional political institutions including POTUS are downgraded to instruments of providing political legitimacy of the ruling elite. Population is discouraged from political activity. "Go shopping" as famously recommended Bush II to US citizens after 9/11.

But at the same time the struggle for political equality which is often associative with the word "democracy" is a vital human struggle, even if democracy itself is an unachievable and unrealistic ideal (see The Iron Law of Oligarchy).  In some sense too much talk about Democracy is very suspect and just characterize the speaker as a hypocrite with probably evil intentions, who probably is trying to mask some pretty insidious plans with "democracy promotion" smokescreen. The same is true for countries.  Especially for those which use  "export of democracy" efforts to mask their pretty much imperial ambitions. The efforts to expand and sustain the global neoliberal empire led by the USA.  See color revolutions for details.  Actually that makes the USA very similar the USSR with its leaders dream about global Communist empire led from Moscow. Both in the USA and the USSR there was too much talk about democracy, while actually practice was decidedly undemocratic. It was oligarchic rule in both cases. In the USA the situation is further complicated by amazing level of brainwashing of population via MSM, which definitely exceed the level achieve by nomenklatura in Soviet Union. Can you imagine the situation in the USSR when members of the ruling communist party were prohibited to show their affiliation and the words "communist" and "communism" was "discouraged" and their usage is suppressed  in MSM including leading newspapers Pravda and Izvestia (roughly analogical to WaPo and NYT).   That's the situation we have in the USA now.

Corporation as the role model for government under neoliberalism excludes the possibility of democracy

Everything should be organized like corporation under neoliberalism, including government, medicine, education, even military. And everybody is not a citizen but a shareholder  (or more correctly stakeholder), so any conflict should be resolved via discussion of the main stakeholders. Naturally lower 99% are not among them.

The great propaganda mantra of neoliberal governance is "wealth maximization". Which proved to be very seductive for society as a whole in reality is applied very selectively and never to the bottom 60% or 80%, or eve 99% of population.  In essence, it means a form of welfare economics for financial oligarchy while at the same time a useful smokescreen for keeping debt-slaves obedient by removing any remnants of job security mechanisms that were instituted during the New Deal. As the great American jurist and Supreme Court associate justice Louis Brandeis once said: “We can have huge wealth in the hands of a relatively few people or we can have a democracy. But we can’t have both.”

As under neoliberalism extreme wealth is the goal of the social system, there can be no democracy under neoliberalism. And this mean that pretentions of the USA elite that the USA is a bastion of democracy is plain vanilla British ruling elite style hypocrisy.  Brutal suppression of any move to challenge dominance of financial oligarchy (even such feeble as Occupy movement)  shows that all too well.

Like in case of communist regimes before, under neoliberalism we now face a regime completely opposite to democracy: we have complete, forceful atomization of public, acute suppression of any countervailing political forces (similar to the suppression of dissidents in the USSR in its effectiveness and brutality, but done in "velvet gloves" without resort to physical violence). That includes decimation of  labor unions and other forms of self-organization for the lower 80%, or even 99% of population.  Neoliberalism tries to present any individual, any citizen, as a market actor within some abstract market (everything is the market under neoliberalism). Instead of fight for political  and economic equality neoliberalism provides a slick slogan of "wealth maximization" which is in essence a "bait and switch" for redistribution of wealth up to the top 1% (which is the stated goal of neoliberalism aka "casino capitalism"). It was working in tandem with "shareholder value" mantra which is a disguise of looting of the corporations to enrich its top brass via outsize bonuses (IBM is a nice example where such an approach leads) and sending thousands of white-collar workers to the street. Previously it was mainly blue-collar workers that were affected. Times changed. 

The difference between democrats and republicans as (at least partially) the difference in the level of authoritarianism of two factions of the same "Grand neoliberal Party of the USA"

Both Democratic Party and Republican arty in the USA are neoliberal parties. So effectively we have one-party system skillfully masked as duopoly ;-). Communists could use the same trick, by having the part Socialist internationalists worker-peasants party of the USSR and Democratic internationalists peasant-worker party of the USSR, with leaders wet kissing each other behind the curtain as is the case in the USA. In the USA we have Cola/Pepsi duopoly that is sold as the shining example of democracy, although just the rule "the first after the post" prevents democracy from functioning as it eliminates minorities from governance. 

Political atmosphere at the USA since Reagan, when Republican drifted right and Democrats were bought by Wall Street really reminds me the USSR.  But still those parties reflect two different strata of the US population, which according to Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics in the level of authoritarianism (for example, as measured by F-scale.). Many Republican politicians can be classified as Double High Authoritarians.

If we assume that this is true, the the large part of "verge issues" that so skillfully played in each election, and using which allow the elite to avoid addressing any fundamental issues facing the nation, such as race, gay marriage, illegal immigration, and the use of force to resolve security problems -- reflect differences in individuals' levels of authoritarianism. This makes authoritarianism an especially compelling explanation of contemporary American politics.

Events and strategic political decisions have conspired to make all these considerations more salient. While the authors acknowledge that authoritarianism is not the only factor determining how people vote, it does offer a an important perspective : a large part (at least white Americans) flock to the particular party based on proximity to their own level authoritarianism and corresponding worldview of the party.  In other words  the percentage of authoritarian/non-authoritarian personality in the population allow to predict, at least in part,  voting behavior of the the USA "white block" electorate.


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

Apr 21, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
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 Amazon.com 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 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
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 Amazon.com'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:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/10/matt-stoller-need-break-amazon.html

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/03/will-amazon-destroy-us-jobs-china.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/brutal-conditions-in-amazons-warehouses-2013-8

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/11/amazon-accused-of-intolerable-conditions-at-scottish-warehouse

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! Amazon.com 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'

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogapr17/corp-plantation4-17.html

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 Amazon.com 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."

+1

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

here: http://angrybearblog.com/2017/04/real-wages-and-spending-i-dont-think-consumers-will-roll-over-that-easily-part-2.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=real-wages-and-spending-i-dont-think-consumers-will-roll-over-that-easily-part-2

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:

http://tinyurl.com/kk53tqo

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.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/RRSFS

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

+1000

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). Buy.com 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 | www.nytimes.com

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.

Photo

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 | www.nytimes.com

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 | www.moonofalabama.org

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, http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2734712

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, https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201704211052866086-washington-terrified-of-russia-china/

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.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/265369/World/Region/Syria-evacuees-on-move-again-after-hour-delay.aspx
De Mistura admits that someone lured the children with some sweets
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/265361/World/Region/Iraqi-officials--hostages,-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

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/265369/World/Region/Syria-evacuees-on-move-again-after-hour-delay.aspx
De Mistura admits that someone lured the children with some sweets
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/265361/World/Region/Iraqi-officials--hostages,-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
@10

"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
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201704211052869570-israel-warplanes-syria-army/
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.""


http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Macron-fights-for-Frances-Jewish-vote-488269

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
@17

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)

https://vz.ru/news/2017/4/21/867336.html

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_Security_Treaty_Organization

wwinsti | Apr 21, 2017 4:28:15 PM | 23
@SmoothieX12

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

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201704211052845528-russia-syria-assad-air-defense/

SmoothieX12 | Apr 21, 2017 4:49:15 PM | 24
@23

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.
https://twitter.com/USEmbassySyria

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:
http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/harper-staffer-quits-over-plagiarized-2003-speech-on-iraq-1.756590

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 | www.nytimes.com

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.

Advertisement Continue reading the main story

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.

Advertisement Continue reading the main story

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] Putins Warning Full Speech 2017

Apr 21, 2017 | www.youtube.com
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] Putin crushes CNN smartass Fareed Zakaria on Donald Trump and US elections

Apr 20, 2017 | www.youtube.com
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 | www.moonofalabama.org

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!


bigger

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: http://passjasta.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/FARA-COMPLAINT-20170329.pdf

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
http://international.minbarlibya.com/2016/11/06/french-emirati-airbase-in-libya-supporting-khalifa-haftar-operations/
http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2016/07/21/u-n-sanctioned-libyan-military-helicopter-containing-french-troops-crashes-in-libya/
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.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/aug/25/libya-oil-deals-transparent-scrutiny

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/15/libya-national-army-oil-ports-sidra-ras-lanuf-russia-us

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.
#Crymeariver.
Tudaloo!

[Apr 20, 2017] Only Chlorine, Not Sarin, Involved In The Khan Sheikhun Incident

Apr 20, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

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 the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), which is "to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine , for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic".

The UN Security Council convened on April 6 to discuss the incident. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported :

Turkey sent a report to the United Nations just before a U.N. Security Council meeting to address accusations that the Syrian government staged a chemical weapons attack on April 4, stating that the gas used in the attack was chlorine gas .

Turkey's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear teams (KBRN) prepared an initial report over the possible material of the alleged chemical attack, relying on the symptoms of and tests conducted on the victims and their testimonies.

The report stated that the initial findings of the tests conducted on around 30 victims brought to Turkey for treatment pointed to a chlorine gas attack .

Thirty victims were immediately brought to Turkey after the incident. But the Turkish doctors and CBRN specialist did not consider sarin, but chlorine gas -a much less potent chemical- to be involved. (Chlorine is not designated a chemical weapon under the various chemical warfare regulations. This fact is often obfuscated for pure propaganda reasons. ) The symptoms of chlorine ingestion and the effects of sarin exposure are quite different. It is extremely unlikely that the emergency doctors and chemical weapon specialists have misdiagnosed the issue when the patients arrived and were taken care of. The 30 casualties arriving in Turkey were not the casualties of a sarin incident.

But the Turkish Health Ministry told a different story:

The poison used in the deadly chemical bomb attack in a rebel-held part of northern Syria this week was the banned nerve agent sarin, the Turkish Health Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
...
"According to the results of preliminary tests," the statement said, "patients were exposed to chemical material (Sarin)."
...
The Turkish statement did not elaborate on how the sarin had been identified in the assault on Tuesday, but it said some of the telling symptoms seen in the victims included " lung edema , increase in lung weight and bleeding in lungs."

From the CDC Emergency Response Database:

At high exposure levels, irritation of the upper respiratory tract and accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) contribute to a sensation of choking.

But that is from the CDC entry for Chlorine .

The CDC entry for Sarin mentions "fluid accumulation in the airways" as one symptom among many more conspicuous ones. It does not mention an edema of the lungs.

Contradicting the first Turkish reports the Turkish Health Ministry claimed "sarin" (in parenthesis?!). But the symptom it described as proof was not of sarin but of chlorine exposure.

The Turkish Justice Minister also made a statement but that did not mention sarin at all

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters that "Autopsies were carried out on three of the bodies after they were brought from Idlib. The results of the autopsy confirms that chemical weapons were used," quoted by state-run Anadolu news agency.

"This scientific investigation also confirms that Assad used chemical weapons," Bozdag added, without giving further details.
...
Bozdag said autopsies were conducted with the "participation" of officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) in the southern province of Adana together with officials from Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

But WHO immediately countered Bozdag's claims that it was involved in the postmortem, saying the organisation did not conduct autopsies, adding: "It is not our mandate."
...
[It] also stressed that no samples or swabs had been taken by WHO despite claims by the Adana prosecutor that "examples" had been sent to the organisation and the OPCW.

The Justice Minister claimed that samples had been given to the WHO and OPCW from the very first autopsies. But the WHO clearly denies that. I find no OPCW statement on this.

In 2013 a Turkish court, under Justice Minister Bozdag, set one suspected Ahrar al Sham member free after he was caught with sarin precursors. The person was later sentenced in absentia as he had fled back to Syria. Ahrar al Sham, while not in charge, has a presence in Khan Sheikhun.

The neuroscientist and neuro-pharmacologist Denis O'Brien, a Ph.D. with a research and teaching career in that field, analyzed the symtoms of the casualties that were depicted in the various videos coming out of Khan Sheikhun. His diagnostics and chemical-biological explanations are humorously titled Top Ten Ways to Tell When You're Being Spoofed by a False-Flag Sarin Attack .

O'Brian notes the total absence of feces, urine, vomit and cyanosis (turning blue) in the videos. Sarin exposure causes, according to the CDC database "Nausea, vomiting (emesis), diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramping." Sarin effected patients would spontaneously shit, peed and vomited all over. But the casualties in the videos, even the "dead" ones, have clean undies. The "clinic" in the videos has clean floors. The patients show red skin color, not oxygen deprived blue. The patients in the videos were not effected by sarin.

Medical personal and rescue workers in the videos ( example ) and pictures also show none of the typical sarin symptoms. Sarin degrades relatively fast. Half of the potency will be gone within five hours after release (depending on environmental factors). But these rescue workers and medical personal were immediately involved with the casualties. They do not wear any reasonable protection. They would have been dead or at least effected if sarin would have been involved in any relevant concentration.

The Turkish doctors and chemical weapon specialists who received the first patients diagnosed chlorine exposure, not sarin. The first Turkish reports to the UN speak of chlorine, not sarin. It is only the Turkish Health Minister who mentions sarin - in parentheses, but then lists a symptom of severe chlorine exposure as one of sarin. Neither the casualties nor the unprotected medical personal involved in the incident show any effect of sarin exposure.

Fifteen days after the incident the OPCW say that samples it was given(!) "indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance".

Turkey has been the supply and support lifeline for Ahrar al Sham as well as for al-Qaeda in Syria. The samples given to the OPCW were taken by Turkish personal in Turkey. The current head of the OPCW is a Turkish citizen. It is in the interest of Turkey and its terrorist clients in Syria to blame the Syrian government for chemical weapon use.

The medical and technical evidence is not consistent with a sarin attack by the Syrian government. All of the videos and pictures of the incident were taken in al-Qaeda controlled territory. All witnesses were under al-Qaeda control. How much of the incident was staged for videos (see al-Qaeda doctor video linked above) or how many of the witnesses were told to lie is not testable under current circumstance. The Syrian government insist that it has given up all its chemical weapons. The Russian government also asserts that no chemical weapon attack took place.

The OPCW analysis may well have found that samples it received indicated organophosphorus exposure. But the chain of evidence for these samples is very dubious.

The observable facts of the incident on the ground do not support the conclusion that sarin was present in the Khan Sheikhun incident.

Note: Part of the above is based on the work and tweets of Ali Ornek

Posted by b on April 20, 2017 at 03:26 PM | Permalink

Comments Sneed | Apr 20, 2017 3:59:29 PM | 1
What in the world do facts have to do with it?

xor | Apr 20, 2017 4:21:49 PM | 2
Nice report. Although facts didn't matter with the incubator babies, Benghazi black mercenaries, WMD, ... it's good to set the record straight for those who are interested in the truth. It also proves again and again that big party politicians and main stream media are a bunch of whoring liars.

wwinsti | Apr 20, 2017 5:09:04 PM | 3
The Foreign minister of France is promising to release supposedly 'undeniable evidence' of Assad's involvement in the sarin gas attack.

http://www.newstalk.com/France-to-release-evidence-Assad-ordered-chemical-attack

There's a slight chance that this might be the radio intercept the Israeli's claim to have.

(Hint, easily faked)

Igor Bundy | Apr 20, 2017 5:28:52 PM | 4
Oh I do believe the bodies will show sarin.. But they would be christian or alawite bodies.. Just like the bodies shown in ghouta who were kidnapped victims of al queda.

Who is going to verify the bodies are actual people and who they say they are.. In many decades of knowing multi racial couples I have never seen blonde white babies as shows in al queda photos. No woman would be stupid enough to go live in such freedom loving hell hole like idlib unlike kids who think screwing dozens of jihadis are actually fun.

karlof1 | Apr 20, 2017 5:29:07 PM | 5
Today, TASS published a rather damning article aimed at the OPCW, http://tass.com/world/942326

The Swedish Doctors for Human Rights whose text and video were used at the UNSC presentation on the topic report: "The response of Western media journalists have also in occasions taken a bizarre, seemingly desperate character ... Le Figaro indulges in a series of libellous statements ad-hominem against the messenger of the objective research-conclusions they dislike," which is a sure sign the Doctors are correct, http://theindicter.com/libellous-attack-by-mainstream-journalists-angered-by-swedhr-denounce-of-unethical-anti-syria-propaganda/

The Indicter also published a witness account of the big refugee massacre bombing, testifying that at least 4 Turkish ambulances were on-site prior to the explosion, were filled with the children's bodies and took them away, probably for their organs. Canthama at SyrPers observes: "There is a REAL RISK of children organ trafficking, this has been a very common sad aspect of the war of aggression against the Syrians, many children and adults (thousands) were kidnaped and had their organs removed in Turkey and either for use inside Turkey or shipped to terrorist friendly UK, France, Germany, US, KSA, Qatar and Israhell. The UN is well aware of this illegal trade and crime, but as usual double standard is applied as if Syrians are no humans."
[sic]

Putin was right to publicly announce the "attack" to be a False Flag, and it looks ever more likely the Turkish government played a role and is complicit in a number of other Syria related crimes of the most vilest.

karlof1 | Apr 20, 2017 5:33:27 PM | 6
Igor @4--

I wanted to post the Javad Zarif‏ statement you posted at SyrPers because of its strong condemnation of the Outlaw US Empire's alliance with terrorists, but it's not yet listed at the Iranian Foreign Ministry's website. Perhaps you could post a link to where you found it?

Peter AU | Apr 20, 2017 5:40:50 PM | 7
karlof1 5

The white helmet actor that played the part of father of twins in the bombing very quickly appeared for photo shoot with Erdogan. Also Bana the seven year old tweeting from Aleppo, who miraculously escaped Aleppo and then appeared for photo shoot with Erdogan.
It seems Turkey does play a very direct role, Erdogan personally, working directly with AQ.
Not forgetting the direct links between Erdogan and the ISIS oil convoys.

dh | Apr 20, 2017 5:41:52 PM | 8
@4 Bodies Igor? You'll never know who they were or where they came from. You think some human rights group is going to Idlib to dig them up?

jfl | Apr 20, 2017 5:49:11 PM | 9
the us election was hacked! => the russians are coming! => assad gasses his own people!

all have in common their shrill hysteria and faith-based appeal. they are diammetrically opposed to reality. but the people who want us to believe this nonsense will not be denied! the people who want us all to believe include all the western trans-national corporate mainstream media and, of course, the minority neo-cons for whom they shill.

this shrill minority is bent on continuing their terrorism in syria, ukraine, libya and elsewhere. the governments of the us/nato/eu and their gcc/il proxies comprise the early 21st-century axis of evil. they will be defeated by the alliance of the rest of the countries of the world free of their dominion as the 21st-century unfolds, but their horrid reign of death, devastation, destruction, and deceit around the world, and in ukraine and mena especially, will live on in infamy, just as has that of the third reich and its axis.

james | Apr 20, 2017 6:00:10 PM | 10
thanks b, for articulating what the msm will not.. it doesn't serve there bosses agenda.

look, when someone is going for your jugular, it is a case of surviving however you can.. the west is like a heroin addict looking for it's next fix. the fix is making war openly, and if they can't do that - silently.. the msm is just a stooge for them at this point..

as for the turk throwing this out - if he hasn't gotten a promotion from king erdogan yet, i would be surprised.. what an embarrassment the turk establishment is at this point.. that means they will be used more by the west and i do wonder what this means for the turkey relationship with russia and iran at this point..

already looks questionable when there is no chain of custody, no samples taken from the site, and no samples from the air force base that was attacked.

Posted by: Toxik | Apr 20, 2017 6:58:50 PM | 11

already looks questionable when there is no chain of custody, no samples taken from the site, and no samples from the air force base that was attacked.

Posted by: Toxik | Apr 20, 2017 6:58:50 PM | 11

karlof1 | Apr 20, 2017 7:00:22 PM | 12
james @10--

It may take awhile, but Erdogan and the Turks will experience blowback in a big way when the SAA and allies push the terrorists back over the border into Turkey. Hard to fathom what Putin and Lavrov think about Erdogan at this point as little is being written or said, other than the MoD's statement on the OPCW report covered by the TASS link above and Putin's call regarding the election victory on the 18th about which little was said, http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/54330 And unfortunately, the remarks by Russia's OPCW rep are fully posted at the Foreign Affairs Ministry's website, although they will sometime, http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2732765

sejomoje | Apr 20, 2017 7:21:02 PM | 13
re: the "Blonde" babies, it looks like peroxide...or perhaps super-strong chlorine. Too orange/yellow to be real. Also the "father" isn't one of those light-eyed Syrians iykwim.

What really clinched it for me though was the video of the already-dead children, showing no signs of chemical poisoning, lined up in a row to be filmed. As the cell phone camera panned over them, the guy realizes one of their heads is lolled to the side, not facing the camera. Instead of simply repositioning the head, he slaps it into place, very roughly.

These dead are not mourned by the living who were there to document the event.

sejomoje | Apr 20, 2017 7:23:01 PM | 14
The word of the day is "organ donors".

[Apr 20, 2017] Bill Binney explodes the Russia witchhunt

Mar 04, 2017 | www.youtube.com

He also exposes the NSA penchant for "swindles", such as preventing the plugging of holes in software around the world, to preserve their spying access.

Frank Oak 3 weeks ago Big Mike's boat 200 tons coke bust n Hussien on the run as cosmic Camelots​ crimes going viral

Marija Djuric 3 weeks ago Bill Binney should be head of the NSA

Nancy M 3 weeks ago The Clinton campaign to divert attention to Russia instead of her myriad of crimes that were revealed during the election must be stopped and the alt media needs to start talking about her and Obama's crimes again and demand justice...control the dialogue

John 3 weeks ago It's almost comical to hear that they lie to each other. No wonder why these retards in the mid-east and every other third world country gets the better of us.

[Apr 20, 2017] Bill Maher Interviews Bill Binney NSA Whistleblower Obama Worst Than Bush! Impeach Them ALL!

Apr 20, 2017 | www.youtube.com

Alex B 8 months ago

This man is definitely a patriot in the strictest sense

[Apr 20, 2017] NSA Whistleblower Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post

Notable quotes:
"... Who knew that the NSA mandate *is to exceed their mandate" ..."
Apr 20, 2017 | www.youtube.com

Ethercruiser 11 year ago

Great interview, thanks RT. I knew most of the material in this interview for years now, but it's good for it to get out whatever way possible. Hope you continue doing more such great interviews.

jake gittes 1 year ago

RT? Imagine the Russian equivalent? Golly, NSA out of control? Who knew? Who knew that the NSA mandate *is to exceed their mandate" .

If you were in prison for the last 15 yrs you would know that NSA security in triplicate is just doing what they've always been doing except that PRISM, restarted in 2007, is just updated software.

Jim Jimmy 2 years ago

there is one main reason they collect all information and target everyone, even members of congress and people like Angela merkel. If they have personal information on these powerful people there comes the chance to blackmail them. "vote this way on this" "consent to this policy". It's political leverage

Fighting Words 3 weeks ago

It's called POLICE STATE.

[Apr 20, 2017] Against False Arrogance of Economic Knowledge

Notable quotes:
"... By Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Visting Professor, Council for Social Development. Originally published at the New Economic Perspectives website ..."
"... why do we accept the artificial devolution of political economy into economics and politics? ..."
"... gets interest from ..."
"... Economics should be transferred to the divinity school. Then it will be untouchable! ..."
Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. I'm using the original headline from INET even though "false arrogance" seems like rhetorical overkill. After all, arrogance and hubris are closely related phenomena (my online thesaurus list "arrogance" as the first synonym for "hubris"). But in Greek tragedies, the victims of hubris were all legitimately accomplished, yet let their successes go to their heads. Thus the use of "false arrogance" presumably means that economists' high opinion of themselves is not warranted.

By Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Visting Professor, Council for Social Development. Originally published at the New Economic Perspectives website

The problem of any branch of knowledge is to systematize a set of particular observations in a more coherent form, called hypothesis or 'theory.' Two problems must be resolved by those attempting to develop theory: (1) finding agreement on what has been observed; (2) finding agreement on how to systematize those observations.

In economics, there would be more agreement on the second point than on the first. Many would agree that using the short-hand rules of mathematics is a convenient way of systematizing and communicating knowledge - provided we have agreement on the first problem, namely what observations are being systematized. Social sciences face this problem in the absence of controlled experiments in a changing, non-repetitive world. This problem may be more acute for economics than for other branches of social science, because economists like to believe that they are dealing with quantitative facts, and can use standard statistical methods. However, what are quantitative facts in a changing world? If one is dealing with questions of general interest that arise in macroeconomics, one has to first agree on 'robust' so-called 'stylized' facts based on observation: for example, we can agree that business cycles occur; that total output grows as a long term trend; that unemployment and financial crisis are recurring problems, and so on.

In the view of the economic world now dominant in major universities in the United States - with its ripple effect around the world - is these are transient states, aberrations from a perfectly functioning equilibrium system. The function of theory, in this view, is to systematize the perfectly functioning world as a deterministic system with the aid of mathematics. One cannot but be reminded of the great French mathematician Laplace, who claimed with chilling arrogance, two centuries after Newton, that one could completely predict the future and the past on the basis of scientific laws of motion - if only one knew completely the present state of all particles. When emperor Napoleon asked how God fitted into this view, Laplace is said to have replied that he did not need that particular hypothesis. Replace 'God' by 'uncertainty', and you are pretty close to knowing what mainstream macro-economists in well-known universities are doing with their own variety of temporal and inter-temporal optimization techniques, and their assumption of a representative all knowing, all-seeing rational agent.

Some find this extreme and out-dated scientific determinism difficult to stomach, but are afraid to move too far away, mostly for career reasons. They change assumptions at the margin, but leave the main structure mostly unchallenged. The tragedy of the vast, growing industry of 'scientific' knowledge in economics is that students and young researchers are not exposed to alternative views of how problems may be posed and tackled.

This exclusion of alternative views is not merely a question of vested interest and the ideological view that we live in the best of all possible worlds where optimum equilibria rule, except during transient moments. It stems, also, from a misplaced notion of the aesthetics of good theory: Good theory is assumed to be a closed axiomatic system. Its axioms can, at best, be challenged empirically - e.g. testing the axiom of individual rationality by setting up experimental devices - but such challenges hardly add up to any workable alternative way of doing macro-economics.

There is however an alternative way, or, rather, there are alternative ways. We must learn to accept that when undeniable facts stare us in the face and shake up our political universe - e.g. growing unemployment is a problem, and money and finance have roles beyond medium of payment in an uncertain world shaken by financial crises - they are not transient problems; they are a part of the system we are meant to study. It is no good saying my axiomatic system does not have room for them. Instead, the alternative way is to take each problem and devise the best ways in which we are able to handle them analytically. Physicist Feynman (economist Dow (1995) made a similar distinction) had made a distinction between the Greek way of doing mathematics axiomatically, and the Babylonian way, which used separate known results (theorems) without necessarily knowing the link among them. We must accept this Babylonian approach to deal with macro-economic problems, without pretending that it must follow from some grand axiom.

Awareness of history must enter economic theory by showing that concepts such as cost, profit, wage, rent, and even commercial rationality have anthropological dimensions specific to social systems. The humility to accept that economic propositions cannot be universal would save us from self-defeating arrogance.

8 0 0 1 0 This entry was posted in Guest Post , Ridiculously obvious scams , Science and the scientific method , The dismal science on April 19, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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Subscribe to Post Comments 63 comments fresno dan , April 19, 2017 at 10:03 am

I can't tell you how much I agree with the article.
For example, what CRITERIA are used that something is a "good" job. Before you even start to debate the "facts" at least set up the criteria by which you will evaluate them. It seems evident to me (pension, "good" – what is "good" health care) but apparently, one of the "pre-eminent" economists, at least according to another economist, thinks part time jobs are just as good as retail .

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/paul-krugman-gets-retail-wrong-they-are-not-very-good-jobs?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+beat_the_press+%28Beat+the+Press%29

Cujo359 , April 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

It works for me as an executive summary, but almost every paragraph would probably require a similarly-sized essay to explain it. I agree with its judgment that too many economists view the world as being governed by some sort of universal economic law (or "laws"), when in reality those laws work in very limited circumstances. Whether it's possible there could be such laws some day, I don't have an opinion one way or another, and nothing in this article sheds much light on that issue.

Benedict@Large , April 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm

It's my experience that the overwhelming number of economists don't know squat about employment/ unemployment, including why and employer hires and why people look for and accept jobs. I assume this is because all of these things are rare event in the personal lives of economists, who spend little time looking for or between jobs. An economist is either employed, or he/she is not an economist, and so once they gain experience with the above, they are no longer in a position where they can speak about it among others still in the field.

jrs , April 19, 2017 at 2:19 pm

pension + black lung = good job? I mean if we're saying coal mining is a "good job" now noone who can do better wants it though, that's what a "good job" it is. Compensation matters but so do working conditions, and by the way externalities matter, and "coal mining" as a good job certainly doesn't account for that and the whole community being a cancer cluster etc.

Moneta , April 20, 2017 at 8:20 am

The thing is that there are an awful lot of bad jobs that need to be done and will never go away.

Dead Dog , April 19, 2017 at 5:24 pm

As an economist, now semi retired (author, handyman, carer ), I can speak of my own experiences.

I think one aspect of my degree course was a lack of normative studies and not enough, 'well that is the mainstream theory, now this is what we observe in practice' (and why eg control fraud, captured political interests)

We were also mispoken to about how private banks create money, taxes fund government spending and so on.

My choice to study economics was regretted years later, yet it gave me a lift up career-wise.

It now seems sad that the profession has become mis-trusted and denigrated. We don't all think alike.

Moneta , April 20, 2017 at 8:36 am

When I studied economics, I realized how absurd a lot of it was so I answered according to what the prof wanted to see.

However, I'm under the impression that my education in a Cdn university was way less dogmatic than in the US.

Externalities were discussed, as was the dubious quality of GDP growth. I had a book on the history of the Cdn financial system. It explained very well how we went from gold standard to current system.. and how the leading countries used devaluations (France, UK, US) to their advantage.

The problem with objective economists is that they realize that there exists something called the law of unintended consequences. Once you realize there are too many variables to control, you become a leaf in the wind. And no one likes ambivalent people. They want leaders who KNOW the answers. So leaders who appear to have answers are chosen.

Eric Anderson , April 20, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Well said. I always appreciated having my undergraduate economic theory class delivered by an active duty Marine Corp Major. A hardened realist with a talent for illuminating theory.

sgt_doom , April 19, 2017 at 6:51 pm

No offense to Dean Baker, but what doesn't Krugman NOT get wrong? His public disagreement with Real Economist, Steve Keen, would have been hilarious had it not been so pathetic in demonstrating either what a sheer idiot he is, or professional liar, whatever the case may be. (Krugman was claiming that banks do not create credit as Krugman has no understanding of that rather simple fractional reserve banking system. I once wrote to Krugman to correct him on his supply-and-demand theory as to the cause of that incredible spiking upwards of oil/energy costs around 2008, even though the Baltic Exchange Index ad pretty much collapsed, with an incredible number of oil tankers floating off the coasts of Singapore and Malaysia, in an inactive state – – attempting to explain to him about Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, et al., speculating up the prices on ICE via commodity futures speculation or wash sales, and he didn't get that either!)

But this reminds me of a local (Seattle) witless talk show (KIRO radio station: the John and Curley Show) where the two snarky hosts, as ignorant as can be, go on and on about their love of globalization, scoffing at those who don't understand that offshoring manufacturing (they ignored all the other categories) jobs to China and elsewhere was most clever, and "freed up America to manufacture high-end goods" - evidently ignorant of the fact as to where most chip fabs are located, and that 70% to 100% of many auto parts and aircraft parts are manufactured overseas, shipped back to America only for assembling purposes.

That ultra-boondoggle, the F-35, is manufactured across 9 foreign countries plus America - wonder why it's such a cluster screw-up, huh?

JustAnObserver , April 19, 2017 at 10:16 am

In Greek tragedy wasn't hubris always followed by nemesis as the Gods took their revenge on the upstart humans ?

witters , April 19, 2017 at 6:03 pm

A further aside: I don't see all Greek tragedies as turning on hubris. Where is the hubris, say, of Oedipus? He is the King, there is a plague, the people call on him for help, he helps. And the plague is vanquished (mind you, he and his family – the ones still living – are in a mess. But that – Sophocles seems to be saying – is Life).

RBHoughton , April 19, 2017 at 8:22 pm

The important thing according to the Greek scholar Michael Scott is to recognize that Greek theater and Greek democracy are joined at the hip. The former educated the electorate in the difficult choices they would have to make as managers of their own political existence. We have political theater today but no-one considers it instruction in one's civic duty.

JTMcPhee , April 19, 2017 at 10:18 am

"We" here can say it to each other, over and over, in different and ever-better-documented ways, that almost all economics and the "findings" it generates, and almost all economists and their credentials, are BS, MS, Ph.D (bullish!t, more sh!t, piled higher and deeper). But how to reach a larger, and large enough, set of people who actually have votes that count and can "call bullsh!t" and demand and get an end to the "policies" that are built on and gather "legitimacy" from the "findings" of all those faux 'economists?" Who after all do have those (feedback-loop-granted) "credentials," and so many sous-chefs to keep pumping out the mega-gallons of Bernays sauce to make the sh!t sandwiches seem au courant, de rigeur, and somehow palatable?

washunate , April 19, 2017 at 10:35 am

Agreed, I think that's the issue. Debating whether or not economics is a science plays right into the prevailing power structure. Rather, the question is why do we accept the artificial devolution of political economy into economics and politics? There are lots of quantitative (and qualitative) "facts" in the world about economics; it can be a scientific discipline like any other. The important civic debate is the political part: what values should guide our interpretation and implementation of those economic understandings?

nycTerrierist , April 19, 2017 at 11:28 am

x1000!

Left in Wisconsin , April 19, 2017 at 7:11 pm

why do we accept the artificial devolution of political economy into economics and politics?

This is the right question if we change "why to we accept" to "how is it that we now have" – that is, if we ask an empirical, historical question and not a metaphysical or psychological question. In an academic sense, I would say the answer has to do with a long battle within economics that was decisively won in the 50s or 60s by one "school" to the extent that they could ostracize and ignore alternative "schools" without much effective criticism, and an implicit "bargain" with sociology and political science to craft an academic division of labor. And then, inertia and serious pushback against any and all challengers.

In the non-academic world, the answer has to do with a certain confluence of interest between neoclassical economics and existing social and economic power.

a different chris , April 19, 2017 at 8:15 pm

(never mind, I seem to have missed half of your good post)

Ulysses , April 19, 2017 at 11:16 am

"But how to reach a larger, and large enough, set of people who actually have votes that count and can "call bullsh!t" and demand and get an end to the "policies" that are built on and gather "legitimacy" from the "findings" of all those faux 'economists?"

I think one method, to move in that direction, is to make a very small number of very specific demands. Single payer healthcare, and a living wage. We demand them!! Why don't we have them??!!

When the "economists" tie themselves up into illogical pretzels, trying to "explain" why we can't have these nice things, they destroy their credibility– to the point where their dogma is revealed as false and inhuman. Then, we can shake off their dead hand and begin to build a new society on more rational and humane principles.

dontknowitall , April 19, 2017 at 1:02 pm

I understand and share your frustration with a brand of economics being used as a cudgel to tell us we cannot have nice things even as each individual US state's GDP is the equivalent to that of (at least) a medium EU nation which individually can afford far better health insurance schemes than we do. It should be the economists' job to smooth the way, to find ways so that we can have nice things not just leave it at can't.

I disagree with washunate that to engage with economists who are failing is a waste of time that plays into the hands of the prevailing power structure. Neoliberal economists should be hearing from us that they are not scientists no matter how much math they dress their pet theories with. The greatest glory of a science is the predictive powers of its foundational theories and in that regard neoliberal economics fails spectacularly. It is not by any definition a science and they should hear it as often as possible. Of course they know this in their bones but their theories give their funders significant political cover as they seek more undeserved goods for themselves. It is our job to remind everyone who will hear that neoliberal theories are fiction not science.

steelhead23 , April 19, 2017 at 7:15 pm

Why don't we have universal health care? Sadly, I think the answer is quite simple – the elasticity of demand for health is infinite as the alternative is death. Hence, Genentech can and does charge $20,000 for a round of rituxan, which is very effective on non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Is it worth it? Of course it is – lymphoma is deadly.

My point is that while the social benefit of universal health care is high, so is the opportunity cost to the healthcare industry. And since the industry is free to bribe politicians (sans a quid pro quo of course) we are unlikely to ever get it. As discussed above, economics divorced from politics is useless.

a different chris , April 19, 2017 at 8:20 pm

wow pretty awesome that Europe/Great Britain and Japan don't have politicians . just teasing you, how though did those countries manage to get around your problem is the question//

AbateMagicThinking but Not money , April 20, 2017 at 12:22 am

The British learned from the washout of the first world war that the usual politicians could not be trusted to produce a country fit for heroes as was promised, so they voted for socialism.

As for the Japanese, my memory is that the US set their health system up! Dang!

AbateMagicThinking but Not money , April 20, 2017 at 12:49 am

The British polititician who lost out big time in that election that brought the Labour Party's version of socialism into power, was Winston Churchill – after the end of World War Two.
It goes to show that you might need one kind of leader in existential-wartime, and another for peacetime. However, nowadays how do you know whether the there is an existential struggle or not?

Katharine , April 19, 2017 at 10:38 am

Yes, hubris was the tragic flaw. Treating it as a mere synonym for arrogance is a fine example of why to avoid thesaurusi. A good dictionary with synonymies is more reliable.

Katharine , April 19, 2017 at 11:34 am

That was supposed to be a reply to JustAnObserver. Don't know what happened.

sgt_doom , April 19, 2017 at 6:57 pm

Speaking of hubris, there's a recently published book by a "professor of national security" (good luck with that one!!!), Tom Nichols, titled: The Death of Expertise , and it's a real hoot!

Not because the author got anything right, he got almost everything completely wrong, and simply for that reason!

At one point in this garbage book by Nichols, he is repeating an exchange between a political appointee whom he believes to be an "expert" and a grad student concerning Reagan's spaced-based missile defense {SDI or Star Wars - in this case I believe it was the space-based platform} of which much of it turned out to be a hoax meant to mislead the Soviets – – and historically we know the grad student was correct, and Jastrow, if I recall his name correctly, was most incorrect – – but you would never know it from this author! ! !

(If you observe any American space-based missile platforms, please be sure to let me know!)

flora , April 19, 2017 at 8:40 pm

Hubris: "My theory, divorced from reality, supersedes reality."

CD , April 19, 2017 at 11:09 am

Besides acknowledging that economic theory is bound to time and society, it would also be good to give some fresh thought to familiar economic concepts we take as Bible-given.

Let's re-examine the ideas of interest [can we do without it], growth [can we have a no-growth economy], and differential pay [need we pay a much higher salary for "higher" work],

I would go on to look at profit [should there be profit in all economic activities, such as health care, education, and others], oligopolies [is it good to have very large corporations], and competition [should we promote competition is all aspects of life].

Some of these have been questioned in these pages, such as the question of oligopoly. I encourage raising more and continued questioning, as we've done here.

JTMcPhee , April 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm

It tends to draw fire when I mention it, but "Sharia or Islamic banking and finance" is supposed to be done without any interest. And the system (now under assault by Western interest-holders, by physical violence and subversion of many types, and co-optation via corruption) kind of relies on actual trust and risk-sharing. Here's some details for anyone "interested:" http://www.islamic-banking.com/islamic_banking_principle.aspx

So there is a model to look toward, though there will be all kinds of nationalist and kleptocratic resistance, http://www.wnd.com/2015/07/major-u-s-city-poised-to-implement-islamic-law/ . Though of course because Muslims have money, our banksters are adapting and even bringing semi-pseudo-Sharia banking and finance inside Western borders, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/10/11/shariah-compliant-islamic-financing-usa-europe/16828599/ .

Once again, "we" need to look at what "we" means - hardly a collective with any mass or teeth, mostly just an aspirational conversation tic.

Larry Motuz , April 19, 2017 at 1:29 pm

Thank you for your first reference, JTMcPhee, from the Institute of Islamic Banking. It makes a great deal of sense that lenders bear risk along with borrowers when we are talking about financing entrepreneurship. In this view, the lender has an interest in rather than gets interest from . [I very much suspect that the former meaning became detached from the latter very early on in human history, which is why the latter was condemned as 'usury', a result itself of an imbalance of power leading to coercive lending.]

I wonder, however, about 'consumer lending' where there is clearly no entrepreneurial risk.

Do you have a useful reference about how this 'consumer lending' occurs without 'interest' in the Islamic world?

JTMcPhee , April 19, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Try this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8401421.stm
It's not easy being halal Not when all that "green" is floating around

fresno dan , April 19, 2017 at 11:14 am

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/apr/06/kate-raworth-doughnut-economics-new-economics

In 1955, the economist Simon Kuznets thought he had found such a law of motion, one that determined the path of income inequality in a growing economy. The scant data that he could gather together seemed to suggest that, as a nation's GDP grows, inequality first rises, then levels off, and ultimately starts to fall. Despite Kuznets' explicit warnings that his work was 5% empirical, 95% speculation and "some of it possibly tainted by wishful thinking", his findings were soon touted as an economic law of motion, immortalized as "the Kuznets Curve"– resembling an upside-down U on the page – and has been taught to every economics student for the past half century.

As for the curve's message? When it comes to inequality, it has to get worse before it can get better, and more growth will make it better. And so the Kuznets Curve became a perfect justification for trickle-down economics and for enduring austerity today in the pursuit of making everyone better off some day.

Forty years later, in the 1990s, economists Gene Grossman and Alan Krueger thought they too had found an economic law of motion, this time about pollution. And it appeared to follow the very same trajectory as Kuznets' curve on inequality: first rising then falling as the economy grows. Despite the familiar caveats that the data were incomplete, and available for local air and water pollutants only, their findings were quickly labeled the "Environmental Kuznets Curve". And the message? When it comes to pollution, it has to get worse before it can get better and – guess what – more growth will make it better. Like a well-trained child, growth will apparently clean up after itself.

Except it doesn't.
===================================================================
More fuel to the fire

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , April 19, 2017 at 2:11 pm

They both seem typical of the human search for knowledge, with or without resorting to the Scientific Method.

Typical in that

1. we fail to recognize our knowledge is always partial and limited
1A. Sometimes with the added arrogance of saying we know it's partial and limited
(Some can't afford that added arrogance, because they have been exposed already, like, say, fortune tellers)

And yet
2. we use that knowledge as if it's complete and applicable everywhere.

Michael Hudson , April 19, 2017 at 11:21 am

The Greek concept of hubris was not merely arrogance, but involved an INJURY to others. (I discuss this in J is for Junk Economics.) The main examples were creditors and land monopolizers - and kings. Nemesis not only fight hubris, but specifically supported the weak and poor who were the main injured parties. The iconography is quite similar to Sumerian Nanshe of Lagash.
So the concept of hubris is linked to affluenza: irresponsibility of wealth, injuring society at large.

HopeLB , April 19, 2017 at 3:31 pm

My Lord! The best economist on the planet is commenting! Our Economist God! (As someone here aptly characterized you a few weeks ago when Yves ran your discussion of Jubilees.)
I'll come right out with it, I'm a Michael Hudson super fan/groupie and after Yves published one of your articles, which of course, I had already read being a big fan/internet tube tracker, I suggested we concerned citizens, get a Michael Hudson fan club going and somehow convince you to take your stellar, economics distilling/demystifying self on the road along with other exemplary economists and some musicians and comedians. Like that stadium event you did in Europe or that Irish Econ Conference, but this would be for the education of the vast citizenry, hence the addition of a bit of music/comedy to entice. A touring TED/Coachella or South by Southwest but for the Economic Edification of the 99%. (You wouldn't neccessarily have to deliver all of your addresses in person. Some could be taped.)
You would be bigger than Bernie if the millenials became familiar with your work, but more importantly, you and other like minded economists, could arm people with the deeper understanding that is essential to overturning the prevailing paradigm.

Thank You For Your Works!
Hope

ps I looked into getting Economic Rock Star as a website but it is taken.

clinical wasteman , April 19, 2017 at 11:53 pm

Yes, 'injury' as in injustice ! Of course that may entail physical damage, but the recent tendency to reduce 'injury' to that narrow sense alone misses most of the point.
Thanks for the connection to 'hubris', concerning which I was Classically clueless until a few minutes ago. If hubris corresponds to injury in the proper sense, perhaps 'arrogance' should be paired with 'insult', i.e. the gratuitous gloating (= self-aggrandizement of the unjust) and gleeful blaming of the injured that at least in living memory seems almost always to be packaged with the injustice?

fresno dan , April 19, 2017 at 11:23 am

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-18/california-tries-to-refill-its-biggest-reservoir

None of these practices is new, although their use has expanded over the years. What does seem to be new, as Bettina Boxall of the Los Angeles Times reported this week, is that some California farmers are now experimenting with flooding fields that have grapevines and almond trees growing on them. And in general, people in California are paying a lot more attention to groundwater than they used to.

In 2014, the California Legislature approved a package of groundwater-management laws - long after most other Western states had done so - that are now slowwwwwly beginning to take effect. Local groundwater-management agencies are being formed that will have to come up with plans to reach groundwater sustainability within 20 years.

========================================================
You can look at this optimistically or pessimistically. With the population growing year, after year, after year, it doesn't take high intelligence that water demand will exceed water supply. And yet CA government choose to deal with this freight train coming down the tracks in ..2014.

Arizona Slim , April 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm

And, once again, the elephant in the room is not addressed. Population growth.

Too many people in this world already. We need to question the pro-natalist bias in our culture.

Spring Texan , April 19, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Yes. See this NY Times article from this week. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/16/business/fewer-children-in-greece-may-add-to-its-financial-crisis.html

Wisdom Seeker , April 19, 2017 at 3:35 pm

> With the population growing year, after year, after year, it doesn't take high intelligence that water demand will exceed water supply.

Supply is not fixed. A lot of the current "supply" (rainfall) isn't being retained, stored, or used intelligently. So there's still quite a bit of room for population growth, particularly in the northern, wetter parts of the state. Even without artificial restrictions on usage.

On the other had, I agree with the point that humanity should not have as its primary goal the maximization of population on a single finite sphere. And thus economics should not have as its primary goal the maximization of "growth".

flora , April 19, 2017 at 11:30 am

"The problem of any branch of knowledge is to systematize a set of particular observations in a more coherent form, called hypothesis or 'theory.' Two problems must be resolved by those attempting to develop theory: (1) finding agreement on what has been observed; (2) finding agreement on how to systematize those observations."

How will modern economists agree to agree on anything real now that post-modernist thought and critique has entered the economics field?

"But Foucault had belatedly spotted that post-modernism and "neo-liberal" free-market economics, which had developed entirely independently of each other over the previous half-century, pointed in much the same direction. "
http://www.economist.com/node/8401159

Thanks for this post.

flora , April 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm

adding: The economists who use a post-modernist approach( all is uncertain and events are transient and therefore immaterial to the core theory) to defend a scientific determinist* core theory are engaging in double-think. I'm not an economist so maybe there's a there there I cannot see.

*
"Popper insisted that the term "scientific" can only be applied to statements that are falsifiable. Popper's book The Open Universe: An Argument For Indeterminism defines scientific determinism as the claim that any event can be rationally predicted, with any desired degree of precision, if we are given a sufficiently precise description of past events, together with all the laws of nature, a notion that Popper asserted was both falsifiable and adequately falsified by modern scientific knowledge.

"In his book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking claims that predictability is required for 'scientific determinism' (start of chapter 4). He defines 'scientific determinism"" as meaning: 'something that will happen in the future can be predicted.' "

http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Scientific_determinism

fresno dan , April 19, 2017 at 11:37 am

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-18/why-social-networks-are-becoming-too-viral

By measures that register actual human engagement – rather than fake accounts and bot activity - Facebook does not seem to be growing at all. In 2016, its users generated about 25 percent less original content than in 2015. The time users spend on Facebook dropped from 24 hours in mid-2015 to 18.9 hours in February, Comscore reported.

========================================
One can only hope.
I am only on Facebook because a friend and co-worker signed me up (without my knowledge or consent, but I think most people looked upon it like getting a greeting card) back in the day when the Facebook fad was at its peak. And I was interested in it as a social and economic phenomenon.

My own anecdotal experience is that the most ardent users (multi daily postings) have declined by 95%. The occasional 2 or 3 times weekly posters are down to once monthly, and so on.
And the response to postings seems to have had even greater declines. Even good friends who I used to TRY and keep up with postings, I scarcely ever bother now – and when I do open one, people who used to get near 100 "looks" have 2 or 3 – maybe once in a while for something real (somebody died, instead this is a picture of a meal I eated) , maybe 5.

Woolworths used to be a juggernaut – so was Sears. Who remembers "My Space" ???

Arizona Slim , April 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm

The Presidential election of 2016 did it for me.

I saw too many people turning into Trump Fraidy Cats before the election ("Vote for Hillary because Trump! He's so awful!") or Vote Shamers ("You're voting third party? Shame on you!").

After the election, Facebook seemed like a psych ward. Too many sobbing, crying, and raving loons for my taste.

Cutting back on Facebook is part of my larger goal of spending less time on social media and more time in social reality.

Cujo359 , April 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm

I had a similar experience on Twitter, which is why I stopped going there. Too depressing.

Kalen , April 19, 2017 at 11:49 am

Bravo, another critical issue absent from MSM or even worse purposefully being confused.

It would help a lot if people take time to understand the money in itself that permeates every aspect of life since it is a central feature of any financial system under any economic system ancient or contemporary.

Here is an simple essay that explains without financial jargon what money is in itself as a social construct and whom in reality it serves:

https://contrarianopinion.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/plutus-and-the-myth-of-money/

Disturbed Voter , April 19, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Economics isn't economical, it is political-economics. Politics first, economics second. Politics is the art, not the science, of sharing out the wealth, power and fame in a society in an organized way. If your politics is corrupt, then your economics will be corrupt also.

Blame Pythagoras. From Pythagoras and Croesus, we got the idea that value was a number, and that everything had a value, and that a market (aka city state) is where the hidden hand determined the relationship between prices, goods and services. The actual "cost" per capita, of running a subsistence agrarian society hasn't changed since the days of Babylon. We simply have more technical bookkeeping (and accounting). A shekel was the weight of 180 grains of dried barley seed. The Babylonians didn't have a primitive society they had monarchy, theocracy, militarism and receipts. A thing might be valued in so many shekels of silver, but the receipt accomplished what a coin would have, because it was honored. Clay money instead of paper money. You got your receipt for your socialist food dole, went to the temple granary to pick it up (this was long before Rome), visited the temple prostitutes (way better than Roman games), then went home. And as has been pointed out, this was a clay fiat and honesty was just as vanishing then as now. And yes, it was a debt system, not a credit system. The US and the world has moved from a credit system to a debt system in the last 100 years. The Great Whore, Babylon is still awaiting her destiny.

"Daniel reads the words MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN and interprets them for the king: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed and found wanting; and PERES, the kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

Paul Greenwood , April 19, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Having once held a 1776 edition of Wealth of Nations in my hand I recall Smith was a Moral Philosopher and that Economics was a branch of Moral Philosophy choosing between Goods and Bads and seeing Utility Functions as Demand Curves.

Then I recall Keynes, the Mathematician, writing beautiful prose in The General Theory. Somewhere the Reduced Form Equation boys started to play with Stochastic Variables to make the R2 fit Deterministic equations replaced Moral choices and an obsession with Beta proceeded to ignore Alpha.

Economics is something of an academic joke. Steve Keen has introduced some life into a dead subject with his Hyman MInsky analysis since so much of Economic Theory as propounded is simply a Java Box running inside the main system

Hope Larkin-Begley , April 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Steve Keen is great like Michael Hudson. Did you read this hilarious post;

http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/36353/

flora , April 19, 2017 at 6:18 pm

+1. Moral philosophy. Yes.

Cujo359 , April 19, 2017 at 1:23 pm

We must learn to accept that when undeniable facts stare us in the face and shake up our political universe - e.g. growing unemployment is a problem , and money and finance have roles beyond medium of payment in an uncertain world shaken by financial crises - they are not transient problems; they are a part of the system we are meant to study.

I think studying some of these things might be better left to psychologists. I emphasized the phrase about unemployment as a case in point – it could be argued that we have the unemployment we have right now thanks to telling ourselves, collectively, that we can't employ people. Anyone who chooses to look around and observe can find things we could be paying people to do, like fixing our streets and bridges, educating our young, exploring space and advancing science, providing medical care to the significant portion of our population who don't have access, but we are told that this would be bad for some reason, and many of us seem to believe this.

I don't know if that confirms the author's ideas or not, but as several of us have observed now in these comments, our economic problems have less to do with the dismal science (or lack of it) and more to do with what people are inclined to believe is true, regardless of the facts.

PKMKII , April 19, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Economics needs to think of itself as a branch of sociology, and not money physics.

Justicia , April 19, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Actually, economics is more like a branch of medieval scholasticism. It's about forcing reality to fit dogma by imposing methodological and epistemological gag rules on its practitioners so that they're blinded to substance by form - and the non-expert public is bamboozled into mute acquiescence. Econned, as Yves would say.

Andrew Baker , April 20, 2017 at 7:46 am

+ 1

Spring Texan , April 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Yes, I'm baffled that we hear all this about oh jobs are going away becuz robots and maybe UBI and on and on when there are SO MANY UNFILLED JOBS staring us in the face where filling them would be of enormous benefit to all. Are they looking around at ALL?

Thanks, Cujo349

Cujo359 , April 19, 2017 at 2:59 pm

As you can see, I'm baffled, too. UBI might be a good idea, and various forms of technology have certainly eliminated jobs over the years, but when so much work remains to be done, I don't see how you can argue that we've reached an age where most of us are truly unemployable.

FTM, what is employment? Put most simply, it is one person or entity who has money paying someone to perform some task(s), possibly to a minimum acceptable quality. There are many forms of work we do that no one wants to pay us to do. My work at an amateur theatre falls into that category, as does the work of the people in the food bank/soup kitchen next door. Maybe our concept of what constitutes useful work needs to change, too.

Cujo359 , April 19, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Let me revise that to say "most of us who are now unemployed are truly unemployable".

JEHR , April 19, 2017 at 3:27 pm

The place to start paying decent wages is for all kinds of housework, daycare and elder care. All are undervalued and underpaid while that latter two are essential for a healthy community. None of these should be consigned to robots as only human contact can do the job well.

washunate , April 19, 2017 at 3:39 pm

But the irony of basic income is that's one of the things it does. A huge portion of "housework, daycare, and elder care" is better done informally , outside of the GDP-measured formal economy of employers and jobs and wages and benefits, especially given how crappy the formal jobs tend to be in those sectors. Income supports that lack formal work requirements by definition create more time for people to do things in the informal economy.

Left in Wisconsin , April 19, 2017 at 7:18 pm

But wouldn't it be better to pay parents and caregivers for caring? First of all, it's work and deserves to be remunerated like work. Second, keeping care work in the informal economy only "works" if people have other income with which to satisfy their needs and wants. There is no possibility that any basic income grant will provide a single parent with the funds to allow them to work taking care of their children, which is the socially optimal situation in almost all cases.

craazyman , April 19, 2017 at 6:30 pm

pretty funny. that's been standard econ cirricuulum at the University of Magonia for, oh, let's see, 1, 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9. Nine! Nine years!

Pretty funny. Is this still April 1st? I guess not. Oh well, a day late, a dollar short (no pun intended) is better than a year late and a grand short, or a century late and a million short. There's a pattern there! it goes back to the Testament of Amram, Manuscript B. The Dead Sea Scrolls. That's what we teach in econo 101 during the "money" unit. Money, at the Universtiy of Magonia, is an idea that mediates the boundary wtihin a society between cooperation and conflict.. That's not a theory, it's a reality. Everybody has heard this before in the peanut gallery so I won't reapeat myself.

They should send a delegation from Harvard to the Universtiy of Magonia for a seminar in money and economics. hahahaha. That's pretty funny even to think about. Believe me. They'd learn a few things but they might get ontological shock and end up like MIT mathematical economist Ed Bucks who spent two months in the New Hampshire woods looking at deer through binoculars in search of a theory of economics that could survive a collision with nature AND be deterministic and mathematically rigorous. He pretty much had a nervous breakdown and ended up back at MIT sucking up grant money like a baby at his mamas tits. Many are called, but few are chosen. LOL

wilroncanada , April 19, 2017 at 8:06 pm

Magonia? Isn't that the university that was threatening to move to San Seriffe, because they got a big donation from President Pica?

Expat , April 19, 2017 at 7:10 pm

Economics should be transferred to the divinity school. Then it will be untouchable!

[Apr 20, 2017] Mexicos Economy Is Being Plundered Dry naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street ..."
"... By Don Quijones . ..."
"... When it comes to debt, everything is relative, especially if you don't have a reserve-currency-denominated printing press. Read Is Mexico Facing "Liquidity Problems?" ..."
"... Greenspan's Fraud ..."
"... It would also stop phony war on drugs in Mexico ..."
"... To make matters worse, much of Mexico's new debt is in foreign-denominated currencies. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, the total amount of euro and dollar-denominated debt it issued rose by 46%. ..."
"... [u]nlike debt issued in pesos, Mexico's central bank cannot just print dollars and euros to bail out bond holders or inflate away the debt. ..."
"... Therefore shouldn't the question be the absolute external debt in dollars instead of the relative amount in pesos? ..."
"... To make matters worse, much of Mexico's new debt is in foreign-denominated currencies. ..."
Apr 20, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Mexico's Economy Is Being Plundered Dry Posted on April 20, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. Most Americans know on some level that Mexico has become an economic and political disaster, save for those at the very top of the food chain. This post gives vignettes that bring home how much of a failed state it has become. And needless to say, the US had no small role in that outcome.

By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street

The government of Mexico has a new problem on its hands: what to do with the burgeoning ranks of state governors, current or former, that are facing prosecution for fraud or corruption. It's a particularly sensitive problem given that most of the suspects belong to the governing political party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico uninterruptedly from 1929 to 2000. It returned to power in December 2012 with the election of Enrique Peña Nieto. And it clearly hasn't changed its ways.

Some of the accused governors were so compromised they went on the run. In the last few weeks, two of them, Tomás Yarrington, former state governor of Tamaulipas, and Javier Duarte, former governor of Veracruz, were tracked down. Yarrington, accused of laundering proceeds from drug trafficking as well as helping Mexico's Gulf Cartel export "large quantities" of cocaine to the United States, was ensnared by Italian Police in the Tuscan city of Florence. He faces possible extradition to the United States.

Yarrington's successor as governor of Tamaulipas, Eugenio Hernández, a fellow PRI member who is also accused of close ties with narcotraficantes and money laundering, has not been seen in public since last June .

As for Duarte, he was caught this week by police in Guatemala. Like Yarrington, he wasn't exactly laying low. Among the accusations he faces is that of buying fake chemotherapy drugs , which were then unknowingly administered by state-run hospitals to children suffering from cancer. He and his cohorts purportedly pocketed the difference. He is also alleged to have set up 34 shell companies with the intention of diverting 35 billion pesos (roughly $2 billion) of public funds into his and his friends' deep pockets.

In just about any jurisdiction on earth, $2 billion is a substantial amount of money, even by today's inflated standards. But in Mexico, where neither the super rich (accounting for a very large chunk of the country's wealth) nor the super poor (accounting for roughly half of the population) pay direct taxes of any kind, it's a veritable fortune.

And when the country's public debt is already growing at an unprecedented pace, rampant corruption becomes a serious problem.

In the year 2000, Mexico had a perfectly manageable debt load of roughly 20% of GDP. Today, it is almost two and a half times that size. Last year alone the Mexican state issued a grand total of $20.31 billion in new debt, the largest amount since 1995, the year immediately after the Tequila Crisis when the country received an international bailout to rescue its entire banking system from collapse and to make whole the Wall Street investment banks that had gone all in on Mexican assets.

To make matters worse, much of Mexico's new debt is in foreign-denominated currencies. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, the total amount of euro and dollar-denominated debt it issued rose by 46%. Unlike debt issued in pesos, Mexico's central bank cannot just print dollars and euros to bail out bond holders or inflate away the debt. This debt must be serviced the hard way.

In recent years, Mexico's public debt has mushroomed in order to make up for lackluster growth, a weakening peso, much lower global oil prices, and the dwindling contribution to government coffers of the country's erstwhile sugar daddy, Pemex. The state-owned oil giant has itself been systematically plundered dry by its burgeoning ranks of senior managers and administrators, the untouchable, unsackable leaders of the oil workers' union, all closely aligned to PRI, and legions of Pemex contractors.

Between 2008 and 2016 Pemex's contribution to the government's tax revenues shrank from 40% to 13%. During roughly the same period (2009-2016) its debt grew 187% , to nearly $100 billion. Its pension liabilities amount to $1.2 billion. The losses and debt keep growing in tandem, while its production and reserves are shrinking. The company was already bailed out once last year.

The more Pemex's financial health declines, the larger the shortfall in public finances and the faster Mexico's public debt will grow.

The really twisted part? The more the debt grows, the more opportunities the country's corrupt politicians will get to feather their nests. It's not like there's much deterrent. In recent years only 17 of 42 serving or former governors suspected of corruption have been investigated, according to a study by María Amparo Casar, executive president of the advocacy group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity. Before the latest rash of detentions, only three of them ended up in prison.

"The decades of impunity have generated a level of shamelessness we've never seen before in Mexico," Max Kaiser, anti-corruption director for the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness (IMCO), told the New York Times . The excesses are more public than ever and have brought Mexicans to the verge of bankruptcy.

Mexico's debt continues to grow at a much faster pace than its economy, whose growth is forecast to slow this year to 1.5%, compared to last year's 2.4%. In February Mexico's top auditor, the Federal Audit Office (ASF), warned that Mexico's debt situation was just a step away from becoming unsustainable. A number of states are already facing bankruptcy , including Duarte's Veracruz.

Last August, Standard & Poor's lowered the outlook for Mexico's sovereign bonds from stable to negative and saw "an at least one-in-three possibility of a downgrade over the next 24 months." Mexico's foreign currency sovereign credit rating, which is what matters with bonds denominated in a foreign currency, at BBB+, is just three notches above junk. A downgrade would raise the cost of borrowing, pushing Mexico's finances even closer to the brink. In the meantime, the plunder must go on. By Don Quijones .

When it comes to debt, everything is relative, especially if you don't have a reserve-currency-denominated printing press. Read Is Mexico Facing "Liquidity Problems?"

0 0 9 0 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Free markets and their discontents , Globalization , Guest Post , Income disparity , Politics , The destruction of the middle class on April 20, 2017 by Yves Smith .
Trade now with TradeStation – Highest rated for frequent traders
Subscribe to Post Comments 37 comments Loblolly , April 20, 2017 at 10:15 am

And needless to say, the US had no small role in that outcome.

Can you elaborate on this? What responsibility do average US citizens bear for Mexico's crisis? Given the massive wealth transfer upwards in the last decade do we not have the same corruption issues in the US, regardless of it being under cover of law?

JTMcPhee , April 20, 2017 at 10:42 am

Maybe the stuff in this article has something to do with explaining the role "our" government and corruptorations have had and continue to have in catalyzing an dexporting and importing immiseration in Mexico and here "at home" too? "The Political Economy of Mexico's Drug War," http://isreview.org/issue/90/political-economy-mexicos-drug-war

jpj , April 20, 2017 at 10:44 am

I don't know if this is what was meant by that comment or not but, at the very least, it is the US' appetite for drugs that has allowed the cartels to flourish into practically nation states unto themselves.

Arizona Slim , April 20, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Exactly.

And, guess what, legalizing drugs that are currently illegal, will put quite the crimp in the cartels' business model.

If legalization is too big a leap, the US could try decriminalization. I believe that this was done in Portugal.

palamedes , April 20, 2017 at 1:59 pm

The problem with either is that a) The Mexican drug cartels are moving toward producing more lethal, cheaper drugs in massive quantities as the profits from selling marijuana dry up, and b) there needs to be, in the USA, a much more rigorous process regulating (as opposed to banning) controlled substances and of assisting addicts towards recovery. We've made periodic moves in this direction, but none have had staying power and that needs to change.

Massinissa , April 20, 2017 at 11:40 am

Us having no small role in crisis =/= US citizens having role in crisis.

If you havn't noticed yet, the government in the US doesn't answer to the citizenry at all.

Harry , April 20, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Quite so !

Adam Eran , April 20, 2017 at 12:25 pm

@Loblolly: The U.S.'s role south of its borders has been predation and looting for centuries now. I've read that between 1798 and 1994 the U.S. was responsible for 41 changes of government south of its borders.

When the Haitians, one of the two poorest nations in the hemisphere, had the temerity to elect Jean Bertrand Aristide, the candidate of the poor, the Clintons sent troops, and Bush 43 kidnapped him and took him to Central Africa.

The Reagan administration famously sold arms to Iran right after it had kidnapped U.S. embassy staff to fund a proxy war against the other poorest nation in the hemisphere, Nicaragua. Reagan asked the Mexican president to endorse his line that Nicaragua was a threat to the U.S. The Mexican president replied he would be happy to do that if there was any way he could say such a thing without being laughed out of office.

More recently, then secretary of state Hillary Clinton blessed the Honduran coup, installing a military junta to replace the democratically-elected government–a government which had the temerity to try to raise Honduras' minimum wage from 60¢ an hour. (The nerve of those people!). Meanwhile, 30,000 unaccompanied minors made their way to Gringolandia to avoid Honduran chaos. (I heard from WaPo's Ruben Navarette, deploring the treatment of these kids, but he uttered not a peep about what made them choose exile over their homes.)

For Mexico's current corruption and sad-and-sorry economy, we can at least take credit for NAFTA. Actually their president, Carlos Salinas Gotari, drank enough of the neoliberal koolaid with his Harvard education to propose "free trade" to Bush 41 whose administration authored the actual legislation. Clinton signed the treaty with environmental and labor provisions that just aren't enforced.

To demonstrate what a great idea was NAFTA, almost immediately the U.S. had to come up with a $20 billion loan to deal with the capital flight it permitted–and not incidentally to bail out U.S. banks that bet wrong on Mexico, and to rehearse the U.S. bank bailouts for any later financial scandal.

One might guess that shipping a bunch of subsidized Iowa corn south of the border would put some subsistence corn farmers in Mexico out of business and it did. Sure, corn is only arguably the most important food crop in the world, and those little farmers were keeping the diversity of the corn genome alive, but hey! They weren't making any money for Monsanto!

In the wake of NAFTA, Mexican real incomes declined 34% (says Ravi Batra in his Greenspan's Fraud )–really saying something in a country where half the population gets by on less than $4 a day. One has to return to the halcyon days of the Great Depression to find a decline like that in the U.S. economy.

Of course that U.S. decline provoked no great migration oh wait! The Okies! The only more recent comparable economic decline (besides the Greeks) that I can think of is when Cuba lost its oil and subsidies from the Soviets in the early '90s. In the U.S., Michael Pollan reports we get one calorie of food by burning 10 calories of petroleum. Without that Russian oil, I've read that the average Cuban lost 20 lbs.

So the constant attacks, political, economic and military, from the U.S. have had an effect. All those "illegal aliens" (no, not Martians with unpaid traffic tickets actually: "undocumented workers") came north for a reason. Ask one if he'd rather be back home, and you'll seldom hear them say "no."

We read daily in nakedcapitalism how we're sowing the wind, but we're surely going to reap the whirlwind for the way the U.S. has treated its southern neighbors.

lyman alpha blob , April 20, 2017 at 2:11 pm

It's widely known that NAFTA allowed US agriculture companies that are heavily subsidized by the government to dump their cheap corn in Mexico putting farmers there off their land and out of business. And yet people still wonder why so many are immigrating to the US.

Also, I'd keep an eye on that governor who is facing extradition to the US for facilitating the export of "large quantities" of cocaine. Speculation to be sure, but something tells me you don't do that without the knowledge and possible assistance of Uncle Sugar.

I'd say ask Gary Webb, but he's dead of course after exposing a similar scandal back in the 90s.

Ping , April 20, 2017 at 2:44 pm

NAFTA is directly responsible for increased cartel power. Besides corn dumping disrupting Mexico's rural economy and legitimate income, it generated the "maquiladora's" or Mexican factories along the US border for assembling tariff free imported materials for export.

The large population increase the factories attracted had no increase in public infrastructure like schools, housing etc and youth gangs proliferated. The cartels then began using the gangs as enforcers for smuggling routes and distribution into the US and many associated criminal tasks. A cascade of events ..

Jim Haygood , April 20, 2017 at 10:43 am

Between 2008 and 2016 Pemex's contribution to the government's tax revenues shrank from 40% to 13%.

A radio journalist friend in Guadalajara has been expecting and writing about this scenario for at least a dozen years. Mexico is a petro-state, but production is declining in its big oilfields and isn't being replaced. He visited South America to check out alternate bolt holes, on the theory that when the oil runs out, it's gonna turn ugly in Mexico.

So far his worries proved to be early. We don't have enough data points, but it's worth noting that Mexico's 1982 debt crisis occurred after a spike in US interest rates, a US recession and an oil patch meltdown in 1981.

Similarly, the US Fed started hiking interest rates in early 1994, while the price of oil had been sliding toward $15/bbl ever since the late 1990 spike to $40/bbl in anticipation of the Gulf war. Here's a long term chart of crude oil:

http://www.mrci.com/pdf/cl.pdf

Now J-Yel and her sidekick Stanley Mellon Fischer are once again "normalizing" interest rates, in a process they imagine to be smooth sailing. One should doubt this proposition. Among other things, recent extreme peso devaluation makes Mexico's dollar-denominated debt more onerous to service.

By next year, the question on everyone's lips in Vichy DC may be " Who lost Mexico? "

carl , April 20, 2017 at 12:10 pm

IIRC, Cantarell, the supergiant Mexican offshore field, peaked quite awhile ago. Maybe some new discoveries have made up for some of the decline, but I hadn't heard much about that.

Kalen , April 20, 2017 at 10:53 am

If US establishment would go after murderous Mexican oligarchy's Wall Street interests and support democratic movements in Mexico based of egalitarian principles, return of land to the people and establish social justice, we would have to build a wall to keep Mexicans in the US not the other way around.

It would also stop phony war on drugs in Mexico, a war that is nothing but a modern form, a sad reincarnation of popular insurrection against Mexican aristocracy happens to be at this time funded by drug trade, as a proud Mexican tradition of noble outlaws, a country founded on "Bandits" myth as national heroes bringers of independence from Spain.

If the US removed big Imperial foot of the throats of billions of peoples all over the world, and that includes Mexico nobody would want to go to America enjoying living in their own countries as everybody wants.

World immigration is an artifact of exploitative globalism and wars. Nothing natural or normal or desired is in emigration of people. Tourism yes but emigration is a sociopolitical tools of global oligarchy combined with chaos and violence.

If US let, as it were before in history (revolution of 1910-1930-ties, before PRI was corrupted to the bone) for political left to takeover the Mexican government then fate of Mexican people would have changed significantly for better.

djrichard , April 20, 2017 at 12:30 pm

It would also stop phony war on drugs in Mexico

This is an extension of the phone war on drugs in the US. See A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the "Mexican Drug War" .

My belief is that the US war on drugs is just another example of what I'm calling CJ Hopkin's law of propaganda ,

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.

Or to use your language, it's to keep in place the foot of US authority on its own people. The damage to Mexico in the war on drugs is collateral damage – a necessary cost of keeping people in the US disciplined. Nothing personal just bidness.

Ranger Rick , April 20, 2017 at 11:18 am

This article focuses on the oil, but where does Carlos Slim figure into this? I find it endlessly fascinating that one of the world's richest people hails from one of its poorest countries.

Don Quijones , April 20, 2017 at 11:24 am

Here's an article on that very subject from a few years ago:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/09/slimlandia-the-land-of-mexican-oligarchs.html

RabidGandhi , April 20, 2017 at 11:36 am

Point taken, but it should be noted that in terms of per capita GDP (PPP), Mexico is 68th out of 186 in the world, meaning it is not really one of the world's poorest countries. That said, there is rampant poverty in Mexico that makes Slim's hoarding all the more despicable.

Seamus Padraig , April 20, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Per capita GDP is just an average. Median income is what you should be considering here. There are a handful of Carlos Slims down there that bust the curve for everyone else. Oh, by the way, did I mention that Señor Slim now owns the New York Times?

RabidGandhi , April 20, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Agreed, median income is a much more telling stat. Mexican median annual household income is $11,680 vs. $9,733 worldwide.

RabidGandhi , April 20, 2017 at 11:31 am

Far be it from me to defend the Peña Nieto administration, but I'm not sure from where Quijones gets this:

To make matters worse, much of Mexico's new debt is in foreign-denominated currencies. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, the total amount of euro and dollar-denominated debt it issued rose by 46%.

The figures I have from the Bank of México show the country ended 2015 with a gross external debt of USD $417bn, while it ended 2016 at USD $412 bn: ie not a 46% increase but rather the first decrease in Mexico's external debt since 2009.

What I do see is that the total external debt (in dollars) decreased but the peso lost 18% to the USD in 2016. Since GDP only grew 7% last year, Mexico's external debt as a percentage of GDP (denominated in pesos) would have grown by around 40%. But this goes against Quijones' correct point that " [u]nlike debt issued in pesos, Mexico's central bank cannot just print dollars and euros to bail out bond holders or inflate away the debt. ". Therefore shouldn't the question be the absolute external debt in dollars instead of the relative amount in pesos?

Mel , April 20, 2017 at 11:58 am

I would guess that we want to answer the question "How much Mexican production would have to be diverted to pay off that debt?" So we either work out the value of Mexican GDP in dollars, or convert the value of the debt to pesos.

djrichard , April 20, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Therefore shouldn't the question be the absolute external debt in dollars instead of the relative amount in pesos?

Simpler to keep the currency conversions out, and just track changes on a per currency basis.

A perennial question I always ask when it comes to trade imbalances by the US is that we send our dollars to foreign countries for goods, and it only a subset of the US dollars come back to the US for goods what's happening to the rest of our US dollars? In the case of Mexico, an answer in theory could be that at least some of those US dollars are being used to pay US debt. But that would mean the Fed Gov of Mexico would have to implement a tax that is denominated in US dollars. Which would then fall on their exporters, as they're the ones hoovering up the US dollars. And they don't want that.

So instead they tax the losers. And they only have pesos. So the conversion rate is an issue.

What's interesting in all this is that while Mexico's Fed Gov is taking on debt in US dollars, their central bank owns US treasuries (that's how they manipulate their currency). But it begs the question, is there a way that Mexico's central bank and Mexico's Fed Gov could come to a deal to use the US treasuries that the central bank is holding to cancel out the US debt obligation by Mexico's Fed Gov? I'm guessing no – it's the principle of the matter, lol.

To make matters worse, much of Mexico's new debt is in foreign-denominated currencies.

Why do countries do this to themselves? Seems to be the very definition of insanity.

RabidGandhi , April 20, 2017 at 1:58 pm

"Why do countries do this to themselves?" They don't. They have an elite that does this to the country because it benefits them as a class, with most people in the country excluded from the decision-making process.

Susan the other , April 20, 2017 at 11:54 am

I don't get what good it can possibly do to build a wall to keep those bad hombres out when the bad hombres are all the politicians in Mexico. This is not a cautionary tale, it's too late for that. We need entirely new thinking here. Look how complex Brexit is – which lets us know how detailed the union tried to be in order to protect its interests. Which is looking pretty futile. Victor Orban was the only leader in the EU to put up a wall to keep refugees/immigrants out and instead of sanctioning Hungary, Mutti has confessed her immigration policy was a mistake. Why on earth didn't she say the ME war was a mistake? It's practically genocide. Three years ago when Syrians started leaving in a panic they knew it was going to be annihilation. How did they know they were sitting on such unlucky ground? If free trade treaties had a way of maintaining decent wages and living standards as the prerequisite to that trade we could begin to set things right. And that is what we should be doing instead of going to war to kickstart the free market economy. Trump is acting like that wall is actually infrastructure. And I wonder if people are amused by the double meaning of "the war on poverty." Everything is such a mess we can't keep pretending that the basics we follow are right. It seems like one long and insane emergency. I'm so burned out with political failure.

Seamus Padraig , April 20, 2017 at 1:12 pm

If free trade maintained "decent wages and living standards," the neo-liberal establishment would be against them.

pretzelattack , April 20, 2017 at 2:04 pm

heard that.

curlydan , April 20, 2017 at 12:10 pm

"[Pemex's] pension liabilities amount to $1.2 billion" this figure seemed a bit low in today's world of inflated pension return expectations–wondering about the source here. I saw the following study said Pemex's liabilities were closer to $90 billion although it is Wharton.

"Pemex's $90 billion in unfunded pension liabilities has been a major headache"
http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/pemexs-pension-problem-oil-giant-slippery-ground/

Don Quijones , April 20, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Curly Dan,

That is a terrible typo on my part and I hang my head in shame - it should read 1.8 trillion pesos (roughly $90 billion at today's exchange rate), though there's some controversy around the number since some of the liabilities were supposed to have been transferred to the government's books last year. I don't how how the $1.2 billion crept in but I apologize with complete sincerity to all readers (and Yves) for the cock up.

DQ

Don Quijones , April 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Hi Rabid Gandhi,

That data point you mention was taken from an article (second paragraph down) published in EL Financiero, the third most read newspaper in Mexico and an affiliate of Bloomberg. Will look into the disparity.

As for Mexico's GDP, it grew by 2.3% last year, not 7%. The country hasn't experienced such buoyant growth for decades - and certainly not since joining NAFTA.

Thanks.

RabidGandhi , April 20, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Thanks DQ: sorry I wasn't clear about the 7% figure; the Bank of Mexico data I cited refer to nominal GDP growth in pesos. Since the peso devalued 18% to the dollar in 2016, real GDP in dollars shrank from USD 1.3 trillion to 1.15 trillion. Might this account for why EF calculated a 46% increase in external debt– because they are stating how many dollars Mexico borrowed but calculated in pesos? If so, this figure is misleading and detracts from your argument: those obligations are in foreign currencies, so their value in pesos is beside the point.

As I see it, the external debt is not (yet) a major issue in Mexico; more of a concern are the bonds issued by the states and semi-public companies that cannot print their own currencies and will leave the public on the hook. (Not to mention PRI whacking the public with spending cuts and utility/gas hikes, which are another story )

Don Quijones , April 20, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Thanks for clarifying, RG. And you're probably right: external debt is not the biggest issue here. More important are the out of control public spending at the regional level, the systemic corruption at both the state and federal level, which Peña Nieto's government has done nothing to address, and Pemex's worsening woes, and the risk they pose to Mexico's fiscal health.

If the peso once again begins to fall in value, the exposure of Mexico's corporate sector to foreign denominated debt is likely to be a much more immediate threat than the government's.

River , April 20, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Mexico has always been like this. Even prior to American meddling. Transferring all their mineral wealth i.e. silver to China for cheap, yet profitable, ceramics, and turning the Yucatan from growing food into the plants that were used to weave bags for storage containers in the 18th C., peonage and companies stores, on and on it goes.

What's happening now is just a continuation of the plundering that's been happening since the 16th C.

Seamus Padraig , April 20, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Quite correct. It all began with the Spaniards centuries ago.

Jeff N , April 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm

this sounds like the standard bezzle:
run up debts
buy things
pocket the things
burn down the store
collect insurance $ on everything that was "inside" the store (even though it had actually been looted long ago)

Sutter Cane , April 20, 2017 at 1:44 pm

As for Duarte, he was caught this week by police in Guatemala. Like Yarrington, he wasn't exactly laying low. Among the accusations he faces is that of buying fake chemotherapy drugs, which were then unknowingly administered by state-run hospitals to children suffering from cancer. He and his cohorts purportedly pocketed the difference.

Shades of Harry Lime, no? The drug war has done to Mexico what it took WWII to do to Vienna.

pretzelattack , April 20, 2017 at 2:05 pm

seems like the world is being plundered dry, at various rates of impoverishment.

Phemfrog , April 20, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Anecdote here, but an uncle on my husband's side who lives in Mexico City had mentioned big problems with his pension. (he works in media, and the family refers to it as a government pension). he said that pensions are being looted and they are paying out pennies on the dollar. so he withdrew what he could in lump sum and bought a small apartment near a beach somewhere. the only way to keep any of the value. they say what used to be hundreds of dollars a month to retire on is now less than $50 per month, and that no one can live off that little.

[Apr 19, 2017] Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell: Russian meddling in US election is the political equivalent of 9/11

Really agitated Hillary supporter...
Notable quotes:
"... "A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life," Morell said. "To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11." ..."
Dec 12, 2016 | www.businessinsider.com

Evidence that Russia attempted to sway the outcome of the presidential election with a hacking campaign targeting Democrats "is the political equivalent of 9/11," the former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell, said in an interview published Monday.

Morell, an intelligence analyst who served as acting director of the CIA twice between 2011 and 2013, told The Cipher Brief that revelations disclosed in a new CIA report about how Russia meddled in the election to help get Donald Trump elected "is an attack on our very democracy."

"A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life," Morell said. "To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11."

[Apr 19, 2017] Ex-CIA Directors kill Russians in Syria comment reveals neocon influence

Looks like the former CIA Director Michael Morell is kind of "inside CIA" chickenhawk. Never was in field operations
Notable quotes:
"... Morell has proposed the US change tactics in Syria by targeting President Bashar Assad's allies, adding that killing Russians should be done covertly. ..."
"... Morell was suggesting to kill Russian and Iranian people – I'm assuming soldiers, even though he wasn't that specific – as payback for their actions in Syria and Iran's actions in Iraq. Apparently Iran was providing supplies and armaments to the people we were fighting there during our occupation. Is this of strategy or tactics the norm or the oddity for the CIA in planning? ..."
"... What Mike Morell is proposing is quite simply illegal. You just can't wantonly kill people because you don't like their politics. One of the important things that Mike Morell has forgotten or has chosen to ignore is that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, whether we like him or not, is the internationally recognized leader of a sovereign country. And the Russian military has been invited into that country by its sovereign leader. So it's not up to us to decide we don't like that, and so we are going to start killing people because of it. ..."
"... What a fraud. A transparent fraud. John knows him better than I do because John dealt with him. ..."
"... Mike Morell was a golden boy for many years. He was a very young manager and rose quickly through the ranks, and had the most important jobs in the CIA, at least on the analytic side Once he got into the senior intelligence service, he took on a broader role, but that role never involved operations. This is a problem inside the agency. ..."
"... You have somebody who has never served overseas except in the very final years of his career in a very cushy position. But certainly never operationally. He's never recruited a foreign national to spy for the United States; he's never been involved in difficult or dangerous operations, yet he's advocating putting American lives on the line to kill foreign nationals against whom we have no declaration of war. ..."
"... Say he gets the chance to implement this great strategy of his which is apparently murdering a bunch of people and blowing up a bunch of stuff around Assad. How does that bring peace to Syria? ..."
"... The definition of a neocon is somebody who has great difficulty distinguishing between the strategic interests of Israel, on the one hand, and the strategic interests of the United States on the other. Israel wants bedlam in Syria, and they've got it. ..."
Aug 13, 2016 | www.rt.com
Op-Edge 'Ex-CIA Director's 'kill Russians in Syria' comment reveals neocon influence' Published time: 13 Aug, 2016 12:53 Edited time: 14:38

I want to scare Assad Mike Morell (Aug 8, 2016) Charlie Rose

Former CIA Director Michael Morell sparked uproar when he said in an interview on Charlie Rose that Russians and Iranians should be killed in Syria. Was the provocative statement an effort to promote himself as the new CIA Director under Hillary Clinton?

Morell has proposed the US change tactics in Syria by targeting President Bashar Assad's allies, adding that killing Russians should be done covertly.

"We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria, we need to make the Russians pay a price," Morell told a stunned Charlie Rose, who asked if that means killing Iranians and Russians. Morell answered "Yes," saying the killings should be done "convertly" but done in such way that "Moscow would get the message."

Two former CIA officials turned whistleblowers, Ray McGovern and John Kiriakou, appeared on RT's "Watching the Hawks" program to give their analysis on the disturbing comments, as well as other tantalizing bits of information.

'Kill Russians and Iranians, threaten Assad,' says ex-CIA chief backing #Clintonhttps://t.co/qd21Klts2Npic.twitter.com/Otcuwniwxw

- RT America (@RT_America) August 9, 2016

RT (Tyrel Ventura): Morell was suggesting to kill Russian and Iranian people – I'm assuming soldiers, even though he wasn't that specific – as payback for their actions in Syria and Iran's actions in Iraq. Apparently Iran was providing supplies and armaments to the people we were fighting there during our occupation. Is this of strategy or tactics the norm or the oddity for the CIA in planning?

John Kiriakou: This is the exception. It's not the norm. Even under George W. Bush when the CIA wanted to initiate or institute a policy or program that would result in the killing of foreign nationals, my God, we went to the UN Security Council and asked for a vote. What Mike Morell is proposing is quite simply illegal. You just can't wantonly kill people because you don't like their politics. One of the important things that Mike Morell has forgotten or has chosen to ignore is that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, whether we like him or not, is the internationally recognized leader of a sovereign country. And the Russian military has been invited into that country by its sovereign leader. So it's not up to us to decide we don't like that, and so we are going to start killing people because of it.

Ray McGovern: What a fraud. A transparent fraud. John knows him better than I do because John dealt with him.

JK: I worked closely with Mike Morell for several years in CIA headquarters. Mike Morell was a golden boy for many years. He was a very young manager and rose quickly through the ranks, and had the most important jobs in the CIA, at least on the analytic side Once he got into the senior intelligence service, he took on a broader role, but that role never involved operations. This is a problem inside the agency. It's emblematic of what has happened with what I like to think is a neoconservative takeover of CIA policy. You have somebody who has never served overseas except in the very final years of his career in a very cushy position. But certainly never operationally. He's never recruited a foreign national to spy for the United States; he's never been involved in difficult or dangerous operations, yet he's advocating putting American lives on the line to kill foreign nationals against whom we have no declaration of war.

#WatchingTheHawks SoundCloud Episode 44.2 is here of our best segments! @TabethaWatching@TyrelWatchinghttps://t.co/dxYcjCww42

- RT America (@RT_America) August 13, 2016

RT (Tabetha Wallace): Say he gets the chance to implement this great strategy of his which is apparently murdering a bunch of people and blowing up a bunch of stuff around Assad. How does that bring peace to Syria?

JK: It doesn't, it can't and it won't. This whole idea that he espoused on the Charlie Rose show will not come to pass. If Mike Morell were serious about this, if this were something that Hillary Clinton would seriously consider, it would be kept so secret and so private that even inside the CIA 99 percent of employees wouldn't know anything about it. So for him to just go on TV and dramatically say this is what he would do it's just grandstanding.

This is such an obviously transparent bid by Michael Morell to be the CIA Director under a Hillary Clinton administration... This is a political ploy by him that is not thought through at all - Gareth Porter, investigative journalist, to RT in a separate interview.

RT (Tyrel Ventura): Why do you think Morell is getting on TV and grandstanding like that? What is his motivation for doing this?

RM: He's not the only one. There are others who are candidates to be head of the CIA or other high positions. The whole thing is so vacuous. Charlie Rose has had this guy on 11 times in the last two years. They never question the unspoken premises. I mean, Hello? Why does Bashar al-Assad have to go? Is he a threat to the United States? No. Then why does he have to go? It's very simple. The neocons want him to go. Why do the neocons want him to go? The definition of a neocon is somebody who has great difficulty distinguishing between the strategic interests of Israel, on the one hand, and the strategic interests of the United States on the other. Israel wants bedlam in Syria, and they've got it.

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

[Apr 19, 2017] A Lawless Plan to Target Syrias Allies

Notable quotes:
"... (Emphasis added) ..."
"... And I think I came across as saying U.S. Special Forces should go in there and start killing Iranians and Russians. I did not say that. ..."
"... And here I did argue, Charlie, that the U.S. military itself should take some action, and what I would see as valuable is limited, very, very, very limited U.S. airstrikes against those assets that are extremely important to Assad personally. ..."
"... (Emphasis added) ..."
"... "Now these issues that I'm talking about here, right, are talked about in the sit room. They're talked about in national security circles all the time, right. These are debates that people have, and I certainly understand that there are people on the other side of the argument from me, right. But I wasn't talking about the U.S. starting a major war with Iran and Russia, and I think that was the way people interpreted it." ..."
"... Morell is advocating here violates international law, the rules that – in other circumstances, i.e. when another government is involved – the U.S. government condemns as "aggression" or as an "invasion" or as "terrorism." ..."
Aug 20, 2016 | consortiumnews.com

Exclusive: Official Washington's disdain for international law – when it's doing the lawbreaking – was underscored by ex-CIA acting director Morell voicing plans for murdering Iranians and maybe Russians in Syria, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says.

On Aug. 17, TV interviewer Charlie Rose gave former acting CIA Director Michael Morell a "mulligan" for an earlier wayward drive on Aug. 8 that sliced deep into the rough and even stirred up some nonviolent animals by advocating the murder of Russians and Iranians. But, alas, Morell duffed the second drive, too.

Morell did so despite Rose's efforts to tee up the questions as favorably as possible, trying to help Morell explain what he meant about "killing" Russians and Iranians in Syria and bombing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into submission.

Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell.

In the earlier interview, Morell said he wanted to "make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. make the Russians pay a price in Syria."

Rose: "We make them pay the price by killing Russians?"

Morell: "Yeah."

Rose: "And killing Iranians?"

Morell: "Yes You don't tell the world about it. But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran."

In the follow-up interview , some of Rose's fretful comments made it clear that there are still some American non-neocons around who were withholding applause for Morell's belligerent suggestion.

Rose apparently has some viewers who oppose all terrorism, including the state-sponsored variety that would involve a few assassinations to send a message, and the notion that U.S. bombing Syria to "scare" Assad is somehow okay (as long as the perpetrator is the sole "indispensable" nation in the world).

Rose helped Morell 'splain that he really did not want to have U.S. Special Forces kill Russians and Iranians. No, he would be satisfied if the U.S.-sponsored "moderate opposition" in Syria did that particular killing. But Morell would not back away from his advocacy of the U.S. Air Force bombing Syrian government targets. That would be "an okay thing" in Morell's lexicon.

The FBI defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." That would seem to cover Morell's plan.

But Morell seems oblivious to international law and to the vast human suffering already inflicted in Syria over the past five years by government forces, rebels, terrorists and outside nations trying to advance one geopolitical goal or another.

What is needed is a serious commitment to peace talks without unacceptable preconditions, such as outside demands for "regime change." Instead, the focus should be on creating conditions for Syrians to make that choice themselves through elections or power-sharing negotiations.

Morell prefers to think that a few more U.S.-directed murders and some more aerial-inflicted mayhem should do the trick. Perhaps he thinks that's the sort of tough-guy/gal talk that will impress a prospective President Hillary Clinton.

A Slight Imprecision?

Charlie Rose begins the "mulligan" segment with the suggestion that Morell might have slightly misspoken: "Tell me what you wanted to say so we understand it Tell me what you meant to say perhaps you did not speak as precisely as you should have or I didn't ask the right questions."

TV interviewer Charlie Rose.

Morell responded, "No, no, Charlie, you always ask the right questions," and then he presented his killing plan as a route to peace, albeit one in which the United States dictates "regime change" in Syria: "So there's not a military solution to this, there is only a political solution. And that political solution is, in my view, a transition of power from Assad to a, a, a transitional government that represents all of the Syrian people.

"That is only going to happen if Assad wants it to happen, if Russia wants it to happen, if Iran wants it to happen. So we need to increase our leverage over those three people and countries, in order to get them more interested in having a conversation about a transition to a new government.

"And sometimes you use military force for military ends. Sometimes you use military force to give you political leverage. So what I tried to say was, Look, we need to find some ways to put some pressure on Assad, or put some pressure on Russia, and put some pressure on Iran. Now, with regard to Russia and Iran, what I said was, what I wanted to say was: Look, the moderate opposition, which the United States is supporting (everybody knows that, right?), the moderate opposition is already fighting the Syrian government, and they're already fighting Russians and Iranians.

"So the Syrian military, supported by Russia and the Iranians, is fighting the moderate opposition. And the moderate opposition is already killing Iranians and Syrians. What, what I said is that's an okay thing, right, because it puts pressure on Iran and Russia to try to see some value in ending this thing politically. And what I said is that we should encourage the moderate opposition to continue to do that and perhaps get a lot more aggressive." (Emphasis added)

Rose: "You weren't suggesting that the United States should do that, but the moderate forces on the ground."

Morell: "And I think I came across as saying U.S. Special Forces should go in there and start killing Iranians and Russians. I did not say that.

"So that's Russia and Iran. Now, Assad. How do you put some pressure on Assad, right? And here I did argue, Charlie, that the U.S. military itself should take some action, and what I would see as valuable is limited, very, very, very limited U.S. airstrikes against those assets that are extremely important to Assad personally. So, in the middle of the night you destroy one of his offices; you don't kill anybody, right, zero collateral. You do this with the same rules of engagement we use against terrorists . (Emphasis added)

"You take out his presidential aircraft, his presidential helicopters, in the middle of the night, right, just to send him a message and get his attention that, that maybe your days are numbered here, just to put some pressure on him to think about maybe, maybe the need to think about a way out of this.

"Now these issues that I'm talking about here, right, are talked about in the sit room. They're talked about in national security circles all the time, right. These are debates that people have, and I certainly understand that there are people on the other side of the argument from me, right. But I wasn't talking about the U.S. starting a major war with Iran and Russia, and I think that was the way people interpreted it."

Acts of Illegal War

Not to put too fine a point on this, but everything that Morell is advocating here violates international law, the rules that – in other circumstances, i.e. when another government is involved – the U.S. government condemns as "aggression" or as an "invasion" or as "terrorism."

Video of the Russian SU-24 exploding in flames inside Syrian territory after it was shot down by Turkish air-to-air missiles on Nov. 24, 2015.

Remember, after the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in February 2014, when Russia intervened to allow Crimea to hold a referendum on splitting away from the new regime in Kiev and rejoining Russia, the U.S. government insisted that there was no excuse for President Vladimir Putin not respecting the sovereignty of the coup regime even if it had illegally ousted an elected president.

However, regarding Syria, the United States and its various "allies," including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel, have intervened directly and indirectly in supporting various armed groups, including Al Qaeda's Nusra Front, seeking the violent overthrow of Syria's government.

Without any legal authorization from the United Nations, President Barack Obama has ordered the arming and training of anti-government rebels (including some who have fought under Nusra's command structure ), has carried out airstrikes inside Syria (aimed at Islamic State militants), and has deployed U.S. Special Forces inside Syria with Kurdish rebels.

Now, a former senior U.S. intelligence official is publicly urging bombing of Syrian government targets and the killing of Iranians and Russians who are legally inside Syria at the invitation of the internationally recognized government. In other words, not only does the U.S. government operate with breathtaking hypocrisy in the Syrian crisis, but it functions completely outside international law.

And, Morell says that in attacking Syrian government targets - supposedly without causing any deaths - the United States would employ "the same rules of engagement we use against terrorists," except those rules of engagement explicitly seek to kill targeted individuals. So, what kind of dangerously muddled thinking do we have here?

One can only imagine the reaction if some Russian version of Morell went on Moscow TV and urged the murder of U.S. military trainers operating inside Ukraine – to send a message to Washington. And then, the Russian Morell would advocate Russia bombing Ukrainian government targets in Kiev with the supposed goal of forcing the U.S.-backed government to accept a "regime change" acceptable to Moscow.

A Fawning Audition

Rather than calls for him to be locked up or at least decisively repudiated, the American Morell was allowed to continue his fawning audition for a possible job in a Hillary Clinton administration by extolling her trustworthiness and "humanity."

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

Morell offered a heartwarming story about how compassionate Clinton was as Secretary of State when he lost out to John Brennan to be the fulltime CIA Director. After he was un-picked for the job, Morell said he was in the White House Situation Room and Clinton, "sat down next to me, put her hand on my shoulder, and she simply said, 'Are you okay?' There is humanity there, and I think the public needs to know."

And, Clinton was a straight-shooter, too, Morell explained: "You know, it's interesting, Charlie, I worked with her for four years. Leon Panetta, David Petraeus worked with her for four years. We trusted her word; we trusted her judgment. You know, [CIA] Director Panetta, [CIA] Director Petraeus, I provided her with some of the most sensitive information that the CIA collects and she never gave us one reason to doubt how she was handling that. You know, she spoke to us forthrightly. I trust her word and I trust her judgment."

Can Morell be unaware that Clinton repeatedly put highly sensitive intelligence on her very vulnerable private email server along with other data that later investigations determined should have been marked SECRET, TOP SECRET, CODEWORD, and/or SPECIAL ACCESS PROGRAMS?

FBI Director James Comey, in announcing that he would not recommend prosecuting Clinton for compromising these secrets, called her behavior "extremely careless."

For his part, Charlie Rose offered a lament about how hard it is for Clinton to convey her "humanity" and how deserving she is of trust. He riffed on the Biblical passage about those who can be trusted in small matters (like sitting down next to Morell, putting her hand on his shoulder, and asking him if he is okay) can be trusted on big matters, too.

My Travails With Charlie

Twelve years ago, I was interviewed by Charlie Rose, with the other interviewee (who participated remotely) James Woolsey, former head of the CIA (1993-95), arch-neocon, and self-described "anchor the Presbyterian wing of JINSA " (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs).

The occasion was the New York premier of Robert Greenwald's full-length film version of his documentary, "Uncovered: the Whole Truth About the Iraq War," in which I had a small part and which described the many falsehoods that had been used by President George W. Bush and his neocon advisers, to justify invading Iraq. Woolsey did not like the film, and Greenwald asked me to take the Rose invitation that had originally been extended to him.

True to form, Charlie Rose knew on which side his bread was buttered, and it wasn't mine. He was his usual solicitous self when dealing with an "important" personage, such as Woolsey. I was going to count the minutes apportioned to me and compare them with those given to Woolsey, but I decided to spare myself the trouble.

The last time I checked the Aug. 20, 2004 video is available for purchase but I refuse to pay for it. Fortunately, a friend taped and uploaded the audio onto YouTube. It might be worth a listen on a slow summer day 12 years after my travails with Charlie.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990 and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

[Apr 19, 2017] Preventive war is like committing suicide for fear of death

Apr 17, 2017 | www.unz.com

TG , April 17, 2017 at 3:10 pm GMT \n

300 Words An interesting article. A few random thoughts.
  1. "Preventive war is like committing suicide for fear of death" – Otto von Bismarck.
  2. In general I agree and wish that the United States military would be more defensive and waste fewer resources attacking irrelevant nations on the other side of the world. But. It is nevertheless true that "defensive" Russia has been invaded and devastated multiple times, and the United States has not. Perhaps creating chaos on the other side of the world is long-term not quite so ineffective as sitting around waiting for an attack?
  3. The American elites are simply corrupt and insane/don't care about the long-term. At every level – companies taking out massive loans to buy back their stock to boost CEO bonuses, loading up college students with massive unplayable debt so that university administrators can get paid like CEOs, drug prices going through the roof, etc.etc. Military costs will never be as efficient as civilian, war is expensive, but the US has gotten to the point where there is no financial accountability, it's all about the right people grabbing as much money as possible.

    To make more money you just add another zero at the end of the price tag. At some point the costs will become so inflated and divorced from reality that we will be unable to afford anything And the right people will take their loot and move to New Zealand and wring their hands at how the lazy Americans were not worthy of their brilliant leadership

[Apr 19, 2017] What would Jesus disrupt? Clearly the banks. He would be all about debt forgiveness.

Notable quotes:
"... Cynicism does derive from Socrates; from that part of the Socratic approach that questions community norms so aggressively that they have to kill you to shut you up. As for Socrates, so for Jesus. ..."
"... What would Jesus disrupt? Clearly the banks. He would be all about debt forgiveness. http://www.michael-hudson.com/2017/01/the-land-belongs-to-god/ ..."
"... I believe Lambert's point was exactly that: that the money-changers should be thrown out of the temple; that Blankfein is not doing "God's work"; that the whole article was a depiction of the deliberate debauchery of the Christian message by conflating it with material enterprise. That article in the links was a spiritual horror show. ..."
"... Has someone written a good book on the history of usury? When did it become acceptable in the Christian dominated US? Islam bans it. Shakespeare talked about it. Our founders lamented their usurious debts. Think I read somewhere that the Zionists pledged, after WW2, to get out of banking altogether? ..."
Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
PhilM, April 17, 2017 at 12:10 pm

"What have I to do with thee, woman?"

Christ was apparently a true cynic. See the wikipedia article on Cynicism before judging that; it's not original with me. Cynicism was open in its denunciation of all human convention. Nevertheless, it was non-violent, so "bringing a sword" means not the waging of organized war, but rather is a metaphor of conflict between those who support conventional morality and those who support the Cynical way of life; if indeed those were Jesus's words (if there were any words of Jesus, for that matter), as they are mostly incompatible with the rest of his speech.

Cynicism does derive from Socrates; from that part of the Socratic approach that questions community norms so aggressively that they have to kill you to shut you up. As for Socrates, so for Jesus.

It's amazing the doors that open onto the understanding of Christianity once its Cynical features are recognized, and the neo-Platonist frosting that was applied by Paul, and the forces of order later on, is demoted. The cake is actually quite inspirational; the frosting, pretty revolting. But the natural selection of ideas, that process which favors the survival of ideas that enhance power and authority, has decisively suppressed the Cynical core.

UserFriendly , April 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

What would Jesus disrupt? Clearly the banks. He would be all about debt forgiveness. http://www.michael-hudson.com/2017/01/the-land-belongs-to-god/

AbateMagicThinking but Not money , April 17, 2017 at 9:51 am

Re: What would Jesus disrupt? (just the question, not the linked article)

Wasn't there something about money changers in the temple? My view is that Forex is the great threat to whatever commonwealth anyone lives in – if not now, sooner or later. Always cheaper elsewhere.

So I reckon Jesus would disrupt the system of foreign currency exchange. I imagine that something more turbulent than disrupting the equilibrium of Forex trader's desks would be involved. Now, that would be a miracle!

PhilM , April 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Jesus rendered unto Caesar those things which are Caesar's. He was getting the money-changers out of the temple, not getting rid of them altogether. The spiritual path is not material, or military, it is in the mind and the soul. People cannot pursue a material, political, or social agenda of any kind, even one of redistribution, and still be truly "Christian," as Christ would have had it. They must give all they have and find their way in poverty. They must abandon judgment of the actions of their fellows. Just as Diogenes lived in a barrel, but did not much care about the decor of the Athens' St Regis lobby one way or another.

Ultimately the message was that to be poor and angry is to be a slave twice over; to be poor and happy is to be free of the chains of both wealth and resentment. Hence also the point that the poor are always with you; that has come up often here, and the real message is missed: that the most important thing is not necessarily to help the poor, but to be among them: to eliminate concern for material things from life entirely. The same goes for pain; turning the other cheek is not metaphorical; it is a statement that suffering imposed by others has only the meaning one gives it, and to deny that meaning is to deny them power over your mind.

I'm not saying that all of that is right, or even arguable; I'm just saying that I think the philosophical basis of it should be considered more profoundly, and given more respect, than it often is, when it is used for political polemic.

I believe Lambert's point was exactly that: that the money-changers should be thrown out of the temple; that Blankfein is not doing "God's work"; that the whole article was a depiction of the deliberate debauchery of the Christian message by conflating it with material enterprise. That article in the links was a spiritual horror show.

HopeLB , April 17, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Has someone written a good book on the history of usury? When did it become acceptable in the Christian dominated US? Islam bans it. Shakespeare talked about it. Our founders lamented their usurious debts. Think I read somewhere that the Zionists pledged, after WW2, to get out of banking altogether?

[Apr 19, 2017] How Liberals Fell In Love With The West Wing

Notable quotes:
"... House of Cards ..."
"... The Thick of It ..."
"... The Thick of It ..."
"... The Thick of It ..."
"... The Thick of It ..."
Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
voteforno6 , April 17, 2017 at 7:58 am

Re: How Liberals Fell In Love With The West Wing

I'm not surprised at all that the professional Democrats out there view American politics as an extended episode of The West Wing . It should come as no surprise, considering the impact that 24 had on the views that many have about torture.

As far as politics-based TV shows go, The West Wing isn't bad, and is probably a little less ridiculous than the American version of House of Cards . Neither one of them is good as the Danish TV show Borgen , though.

NotTimothyGeithner , April 17, 2017 at 8:59 am

The West Wing isn't bad?

-Rob Lowe had the relationship with the hooker who was nympho and made lots of money while she went to prestigious law school so it was okay. The hero Is really helping her. And Lowe's liberalism meant she didn't take his money.
-the mindless support for free trade; "trade stops wars"
-the Supreme Court nominee situation; hey let's get one guy who thinks guys should marry called Rodriguez and one guy who makes. Hitler look emphatic and call it a day because centrism is great!
-Sheen did Welfare reform
-Lawrence O'Donnell. He didn't become insufferable on MSNBC. His episodes were the worst.
-the moderate Republican fetish
-"smart wars"
-an insane portrayal of deficit hawks as reasonable

The show was garbage. The joke is "who is the office Jonah?" On "The West Wing", they were all Jonah. The Hillary Clinton campaign and Obama Administration were the West Wing put into action.

Pat , April 17, 2017 at 10:36 am

Admission, I loved the West Wing. I also enjoyed 24. In particular, West Wing is a joy for self admitted acting addict. And yes it played to my sensibilities, but even I began to realize that the episodes that meant the most to me, the ones that really resonated and stayed with me were the ones where the underlying issue was not solved or changed by working in the White House who most of the time just put on a bandage on it for themselves (and the viewers). So Veterans still didn't get their benefits and the care of a "grateful nation" but a funeral, drunk drivers still kill, etc. And on return to it a decade later, things like how crazy the voters are, and only a really smart staffer can realize that they are not seeing the real problem for the trees began to grate unbearably.

Oh, and NTG, don't forget the Rob Lowe character was the speech writer for many of the Bartlett early speeches, which when you think about it is the prototype for the Obama administration talk pretty about things and dazzle them before failing to change anything prototype. He also later ran for Congress, loses and becomes a highly paid lawyer (because?) only to give it up to become the Deputy Chief of Staff of the first Latino President. (And maybe I am the only one who can see so much wrong with that.)

diptherio , April 17, 2017 at 11:32 am

I also enjoyed 24.

That's the show where an American Patriot saves the day through torture, right? No accounting for taste, I suppose .

craazyboy , April 17, 2017 at 11:42 am

Sure, but Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland took it nearly as often as he dished it out. And it was him against a world full of bad guys.

Good series, you just need to remind yourself it's only the TeeBee.

FYI – This is really his full name!

Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland

Pat , April 17, 2017 at 12:01 pm

I'm a fan of whodunnits and 24 was at its base a whodunnit/stop them before they can do more, and a well crafted one at that. The thing is that the one season I watched it, there was far less torture in it than probably one fifth of a season of Criminal Minds. Now CM does supposedly make the case the torturer is a criminal, but when it comes to torture porn (like the movies SAW) CM is near the top on television. And torture is one of those things that many people do find entertaining though they vocally condemn it. And most have not thought out the larger political and social implications of it. We are savage creatures with a veneer. Where 24 and Zero Dark Thirty are detrimental is they make people think torture actually works in real life rather than in fantasy.

jrs , April 17, 2017 at 2:05 pm

or life in this society is so boring and unrewarding that people need ever more violence (fictional OR real) to entertain themselves. Granted people have always liked stories with violence, but it probably does play in.

witters , April 17, 2017 at 7:09 pm

And if you are an atheist getting off on the righteous violence, then go the whole hog, and embrace Hell Fire & Eternal Damnation. (Or stop saying people who do are dumb, when they are just you, a step further.)

Musicismath , April 17, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Yeah, I nodded along to that article, but was surprised that it didn't connect the dots between liberals' love of war, sorry, "humanitarian intervention" and the appalling post-9/11 "West Wing" episodes. As we say around these parts, those storylines were "wonderfully clarifying."

Carolinian , April 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm

With you. Phooey on Aaron Sorkin and all his works.

montanamaven , April 17, 2017 at 12:54 pm

"The Newsroom" was like "The West Wing" a fantasy version of the real deal. But embedded in both fantasies was the same embrace of the exceptionalism of the USA, USA, USA. American politics should only be dished out to us in comedic form like the first two years of VEEP. If you want to get a funny view of our class system and urban versus rural dynamics, and just want a good laugh, watch "Schitts Creek" starring Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy.

Pat , April 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Anyone who has given money to a Sorkin production has largely gotten that (although less for his television industry set pieces), it is a feature of his work along with the soaring emotional speech by the lead. Don't forget that Sorkin's first big work had the following speech (delivered in typical style by Jack Nicholson in the movie):

You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
We use words like honor, code, loyalty we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!

NotTimothyGeithner , April 17, 2017 at 9:20 am

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/03/the-feel-good-presidency/302138/

Annotherone , April 17, 2017 at 2:05 pm

From the West Wing article:
"The West Wing "took something that was for the most part considered dry and nerdy-especially to people in high school and college-and sexed it up", former David Axelrod advisor Eric Lesser told Vanity Fair in a longform 2012 feature about the "Sorkinization of politics".

I didn't watch West Wing on TV as I wasn't in the USA during its original airing times, but we bought DVDs of the series and watched it in 2012, by which time I'd become plenty cynical about US politics in general! Looking back, rather than (or as well as) depicting politics' "Sorkinization" I'd say that West Wing = the Hallmark-ization of US politics.

Plenue , April 17, 2017 at 8:48 pm

One thing from the article that really stands out to me is where he talks about how the administration in The West Wing doesn't actually seem to stand for (or accomplish) much of anything, and viewers could project their views onto it. Compare this to The Thick of It/In the Loop, where the party of the characters is never specified, only there it's part of the joke. They're just 'The Party' and the other side is 'The Opposition'. Intentionally or not, this has the effect of portraying British politics as filled with parties that aren't actually terribly different internally, and just obsessed with optics and media relations. Both Armando Iannucci and Aaron Sorkin have created shows that portray politics as vapid, empty, and stupid, only Sorkin thinks this is something positive and praiseworthy, that this is how 'serious' politics should be.

Also, bah, Borgen. I dropped that show after the "we must stay the course in Afghanistan, because reasons" episode.

Marina Bart , April 17, 2017 at 9:26 pm

The Thick of It also makes it clear that the intelligent but vicious consultants lead the dim-witted elected officials and party bureaucrats (all of whom went to Oxbridge) around by the nose.

Literally no one in the world of The Thick of It is both competent and admirable. One episode does suggest that Malcolm Tucker, the famously nasty PR and messaging expert, honestly believes that his party is better for workers and regular people. But there's no way to map his beliefs onto policy. So there's no way to test whether he's a Blairite or an old fashioned Labor dude. (I think it's pretty clear his unnamed party is Labor and the other unnamed Party is the Tories - there's even a season whether that party is in a coalition with another, weaker party that's clearly the Liberals.)

Of the many, many moments I love from the The Thick of It , I can't decide whether my favorite is the cleaning lady screaming at the idiot aristocrat MP, with Malcolm and his hench (IIRC) stepping in to apologize to her for the idiot aristocrat, or Malcolm's long speech describing Star Wars: https://www.reddit.com/r/television/comments/5r0klm/malcolm_tucker_describes_star_wars_the_thick_of_it/

(Warning: Malcolm Tucker's vocabulary is not fit for a family blog - another way The Thick of It is superior to West Wing .)

[Apr 19, 2017] A guaranteed income that helps people pay for expensive insurance for still-unaffordable healthcare, or social services that don't exist, or rent-extracting tolls and fees isn't utopian.

Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Ulysses , April 17, 2017 at 9:30 am

Allysa B. provides an interesting overview of the UBI issue in the piece linked above. She is even-handed and thorough, without blatant cherry-picking to promote any specific agenda.

Yet the conclusion of her piece is profoundly dissatisfying.

"Basic income isn't the only way to make that demand, and it isn't even a necessary part of it-but its utopian elements can help drive a more visionary agenda for labor.
None of the UBI proposals we hear today-in Canada, the United Kingdom, or in France-is likely to be quite the basic income imagined by luxury communists (there aren't enough of them to win an election yet), but they're a start.

Utopia is possible. If we want it, though, we'll need to make it a part of the demands and visions of the left movements we build over the next few years. Because we can't just invent the future-we're going to have to fight for it."

If her real interest is in building powerful movements, more than the technical pros and cons of UBI or a Jobs Guarantee, why not share some strategic thoughts on how to build such movements? She is rightly unenthused at the prospects of accomplishing anything through politics as usual in the U.S., or other parts of the developed world. So how will these new movements seize power?!?!

In other words– does she have any useful ideas on how to translate the energy of well-meaning doctoral students like herself, in places like New Haven, Ithaca, or Princeton, into positive changes in the working lives of people in places like Akron or Camden?

Without including real strategies for the seizure of political and economic power by workers, these earnest discussions may only do what Alyssa B., herself, decries: "Instead of fighting off the dystopian future, settle into the interregnum of the present, with all its morbid symptoms."

marym , April 17, 2017 at 12:35 pm

So how will these new movements seize power?!?!

adding: and what goals will they advance besides leisure?

A guaranteed income that helps people pay for expensive insurance for still-unaffordable healthcare, or clothes and appliances that fall apart, or social services that don't exist, or rent-extracting tolls and fees, or the bill for their poisoned water isn't utopian.

jrs , April 17, 2017 at 2:33 pm

on the other hand what goal did the movement for an 8 hour day and a 40 hour week advance besides leisure?

marym , April 17, 2017 at 4:35 pm

It was a labor movement, not an 8-hr day movement. People expected to be productive and have enough of a share in the fruits of their labor to meet their needs, and enjoy their leisure.

Neither automation nor an income guarantee will enable people to meet their needs, and enjoy their leisure in the examples in my comment and many other areas of our diminished economic life. That's not an argument against an income guarantee. It's a question about what problem it's supposed to solve.

HBE , April 17, 2017 at 2:31 pm

UBI in combination with corporate dominance is an absolutely terrible idea.

After corps have exploited labor to the point they have no consumers (already happening), UBI just becomes a gov subsidy to oligarchs keeping them in power and the people out, when they (oligarchs and corps) would otherwise crumble under their own extractive overreach.

UBI can be good, UBI combined with corporate dominance is most certainly not.

Why do you think all the squillionaires are calling for UBI. It's certainly not because they give a damn about the workers they've violently exploited for decades.

[Apr 19, 2017] And yet the "isolationist" candidate win the election, and only took 70 days to go full neoconservative

Notable quotes:
"... Just stop! If nothing else, save yourself the time coming up w 10 or 17 other rules The real question is why does Am. public condone these endless interventions abroad and subsequent destruction? For those wanting to know more, a really good interview: Birth of American Empire with Stephen Kinzer – https://www.rt.com/shows/on-contact/381285-american-imperialism-overseas-expansion/ ..."
"... Americans flat out don't care and aren't circumspective in the Establishment or amongst the people. (see post 1918-Europe .easier to blame everything on Hitler and UK/France than ask about the contributory effects of Woodrow Wilson's 1917 intervention) ..."
"... as long as there are cheap sugar, cheap beef and cheap carbs, Americans don't care what happens around the world. ..."
"... And you are saying the general public in other countries do ..."
"... And yet the "isolationist" candidate win the election, and only took 70 days to go full neoconservative. The American people are damned by the MIC even when they vote isolationist. ..."
Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Olga , April 17, 2017 at 10:22 am

17 Rules for Foreign Interventions The American Conservative

Ok, so how about just one rule: stop (bleep, bleep) intervening!

Just stop! If nothing else, save yourself the time coming up w 10 or 17 other rules The real question is why does Am. public condone these endless interventions abroad and subsequent destruction? For those wanting to know more, a really good interview: Birth of American Empire with Stephen Kinzer – https://www.rt.com/shows/on-contact/381285-american-imperialism-overseas-expansion/

oho , April 17, 2017 at 10:58 am

>>The real question is why does Am. public condone these endless interventions abroad and subsequent destruction?

Americans flat out don't care and aren't circumspective in the Establishment or amongst the people. (see post 1918-Europe .easier to blame everything on Hitler and UK/France than ask about the contributory effects of Woodrow Wilson's 1917 intervention)

as long as there are cheap sugar, cheap beef and cheap carbs, Americans don't care what happens around the world.

Jagger , April 17, 2017 at 11:41 am

Americans flat out don't care and aren't circumspective in the Establishment or amongst the people.

Funny, I care but for some reason I haven't been able to figure out how to stop all those foreign interventions. Maybe if I just cared more, I could stop it. I will try that. Or maybe I simply lack the immense power required to confront and defeat a State intent on foreign interventions.

Sort of like berating individual Joe slave for not ending slavery.

Carolinian , April 17, 2017 at 12:57 pm

And you are saying the general public in other countries do care (assuming they aren't the ones being attacked)? The Brits and the French in recent years have seemed just as enthusiastic about intervening as we are. To me this is a lot more shocking than the complacency of my fellow Americans–people who live behind two oceans and are perhaps understandably uninterested in foreign affairs. This has always been true as was seen in the runups to WW1 and WW2.

Kurtismayfield , April 17, 2017 at 5:07 pm

And yet the "isolationist" candidate win the election, and only took 70 days to go full neoconservative. The American people are damned by the MIC even when they vote isolationist.

[Apr 19, 2017] I'm not saying Trump is a closeted atheist, but he's no evangelical.

Notable quotes:
"... Where evangelicals emphasize asking God for forgiveness, Trump says, "I am not sure I have. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't." ..."
"... This Sunday [Easter], tens of millions of American Christians will celebrate Easter, and thousands of children and their families will descend on the White House to take part in the annual Easter Egg Roll. ..."
Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
fresno dan , April 17, 2017 at 7:28 am

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/donald-trump-religion-215033

This Sunday [Easter], tens of millions of American Christians will celebrate Easter, and thousands of children and their families will descend on the White House to take part in the annual Easter Egg Roll. As the festivities spill over the grounds of 1600 Penn., I wonder if anyone will stop to note the obvious irony: That President Donald J. Trump is very likely the least religious president to occupy the White House since Thomas Jefferson.

I'm not saying Trump is a closeted atheist, but he's no evangelical. As a self-proclaimed Protestant, or Presbyterian, or something he describes as "a wonderful religion," Trump nominally attends the nondenominational Marble Collegiate Church in New York City.
..
Where evangelicals emphasize asking God for forgiveness, Trump says, "I am not sure I have. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't." Compare these remarks to the more earnest faith of President George W. Bush, who claimed divine consultation before invading Iraq, or the incessant God-talk of candidates like Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and Ben Carson .

Since then, it's hard to see what benefit America's strong leaning toward theocracy has had. Comparing 17 first-world prosperous democracies on a number of societal health measures, social scientist Gregory S. Paul found that the most religious country of them all-the United States-had by far the worse measures on a number of criteria, including the highest rates of homicides, suicides, incarceration, STDs, teen pregnancies, abortions, divorce, alcohol consumption, corruption, poverty and income inequality. Correlation is not causation, of course. But if religion is suppose to be such a powerful force for societal health, then why is America-the most religious nation in the Western world-also the unhealthiest on all of these important social measures?***
===================================================
I almost posted this yesterday, but I thought that would be churlish.
I read Trump's "religious" remarks and find them extremely off putting. Than I read the religious remarks of other repubs, and I find them EVEN MORE off putting .

***Teen pregnancy – so much for the solemn pledges of abstinence made by teenagers .*** ***
*** *** What is it with the US? How can anybody in hypersexualized America really believe American teens are gonna keep it in their pants?

Linda , April 17, 2017 at 7:46 am

This Sunday [Easter], tens of millions of American Christians will celebrate Easter, and thousands of children and their families will descend on the White House to take part in the annual Easter Egg Roll.

The Egg Roll is today, not Sunday.

It will be live streamed at Whitehouse.gov as well as other pages.

Linda , April 17, 2017 at 7:59 am

Good morning, dan. Didn't mean to seem to have only noticed the Egg Roll in your comment. It was the first sentence and the mistake caught my eye.

Seems to me Donald has been doing a lot more God talk since taking office, than he did at the rallies.

fresno dan , April 17, 2017 at 8:41 am

Linda
April 17, 2017 at 7:59 am

"Seems to me Donald has been doing a lot more God talk since taking office, "
I agree 1,000% – which just validates my view that Trump is all bullsh*ter. Elmer Gantry comes to mind.
And another point – it strikes me that those saying Trump is a liar misses the point – Trump is more like a parrot in that Trump will say (parrot) whatever he believes is necessary to get the cracker (though I didn't intend "cracker" to mean racists, but merely a reward, I note one can interpret that as one wishes .).

RWood , April 17, 2017 at 9:44 am

Playing to the sanctity of slaughter:

PAUL JAY: Under the protection of God, America, we'll use the Mother of All Bombs and fight without restraint. That's the message Donald wanted to send, and perhaps that's the message this bomb was meant to deliver in Afghanistan.
https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/deadly-propaganda-events/

NotTimothyGeithner , April 17, 2017 at 10:55 am

From my experience with Catholic school and church, I've long since determined "god talk" isn't as relevant as "us v. them" talk. Hillary's "deplorable" statement was just an affirmation of a view many "Christians" believe is held about them.

Pointing out hypocrisy misses the point because it's never been about religious doctrine as much as trying to belong to something and have purpose. Trump can miss every question about angels dancing on heads of pins, and it won't matter. Trump in his own way embraced the evangelicals. In effect, Hillary said she wanted the non evangelical republicans who are so smart and moderate.

In "The Merchant of Venice" (Act 1, Scene 3), Antonio says, "even the devil can cite scripture for his own use." This is all they need because it's not about scripture and never has been.

grayslady , April 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Why were enslaved Africans in the American South so religious?

Actually, they weren't all that religious. The slave owners allowed them time off on Sunday for religious services. The slaves were savvy enough to make sure that "services" were an all-day affair. Even meals and socialization were woven into the Sunday religious celebrations. That practice is the genesis of many AME and AME-Z all day (or most of the day) Sunday services today. (I learned that bit of information in my Black Religion college course many years ago.)

witters , April 17, 2017 at 7:03 pm

You and Marx: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people"

[Apr 19, 2017] Russia should be persistent and keep pressuring UNSC for investigation. This must not be swept under the rug.

Notable quotes:
"... Will the UN hold U$, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK responsible for this attack which was carried out by their takfiri, jihadist terrorist clients in Syria? ..."
"... I agree. And if the OPCW refuses to do anything, have Bolivia, and other neutral third parties do the testing. Importantly, let's call those so-called White Helmet guys. Interview them and take the blood samples. ..."
"... Agree. It's about keeping the momentum going. The more the warmedia avoids the blatant truth, the more people are going to be turned off by their crap. This story among many, must never be buried. Cheers from New Zealand. ..."
"... Dead children shown only on white helmets videos, not one "rescuer" had correct protective clothing and nobody was affected by poison gas, so there was no gas? But children are dead? Assad was blamed immediately for what reason? The airport was back in use, one day after the attack. 23 Tomahawks hit the airport, 36 Tomahawks went missing? The US media was celebrating this attack which cost the lives of at least 6 people. Surrealistic psychopath behavior - That is the only real fact in this story. ..."
"... The US is allowed to rain down as many Tomahawks/ Hellfires as they want wherever they want as long as they can get away with it. It is called the law of the jungle. If you are weak don' t complain about it. Get nukes, a strong army and be happy about a favourable geography and maybe a strong ally next to you (as North Korea is/was). ..."
"... "It is called the law of the jungle". And it works out very satisfactorily as long as you are on top. Less so when someone else turns out to be more powerful, or unscrupulous, or sneaky. ..."
"... I just have ten fingers so I give up counting the nations the US is having war like actions with. But technically the US has not declared war so it must be at peace right now? ..."
Apr 19, 2017 | theduran.com
Melotte 22 , 16 hours ago

Russia should be persistent and keep pressuring UNSC for investigation. This must not be swept under the rug.

christianblood Melotte 22 , 14 hours ago

Well-said!

In an another note: Will the UN and its so-called 'security council' condemn the horrific and barbaric attack on that took the lives of 126 mainly women and children refugee being evacuated from their villages?

Will the UN hold U$, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK responsible for this attack which was carried out by their takfiri, jihadist terrorist clients in Syria?

Tarciso Ribeiro Melotte 22 , 15 hours ago

yeah, I agree ,if they don't they will keep using and talking about this fake attack even without any proof.

Toxik Melotte 22 , 5 hours ago

I agree. And if the OPCW refuses to do anything, have Bolivia, and other neutral third parties do the testing. Importantly, let's call those so-called White Helmet guys. Interview them and take the blood samples.

Tahau Taua Melotte 22 , 4 hours ago

Agree. It's about keeping the momentum going. The more the warmedia avoids the blatant truth, the more people are going to be turned off by their crap. This story among many, must never be buried. Cheers from New Zealand.

Cale , 16 hours ago

Dead children shown only on white helmets videos, not one "rescuer" had correct protective clothing and nobody was affected by poison gas, so there was no gas? But children are dead? Assad was blamed immediately for what reason? The airport was back in use, one day after the attack. 23 Tomahawks hit the airport, 36 Tomahawks went missing? The US media was celebrating this attack which cost the lives of at least 6 people. Surrealistic psychopath behavior - That is the only real fact in this story.

Robson Robson -> Cale , 15 hours ago

The US is allowed to rain down as many Tomahawks/ Hellfires as they want wherever they want as long as they can get away with it. It is called the law of the jungle. If you are weak don' t complain about it. Get nukes, a strong army and be happy about a favourable geography and maybe a strong ally next to you (as North Korea is/was).

If you let the NeoConNazis (or Israelis, if you are close by) take your nukes you are one step closer to get disposed of (see Lybia, Syria, Iraq). From the 7 countries (as in 7 countries in 5 years) several ones have been already attacked but progress was kinda slow and we haven't seen vibrant democracies yet:

Ah, let' s start war in a different country, why not in North Korea. What are the odds it could go south?

tom -> Robson Robson , 14 hours ago

Actually, the USA is still at war with North Korea, which it invaded in 1950, killing several million of its citizens.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...

Tommy Jensen -> tom , 13 hours ago

The North Koreans killed 55000 American soldiers and marines in that war without mercy. McCain´s father was singing like a songbird but the rice eaters hanged him anyway because they were against freedom.

Robson Robson -> Tommy Jensen , 12 hours ago

55000 dead americans? Do you know that 55000 Americans are not a lot compared to a total of more then 3 million deaths, most of them civilians? Most north korean cities were leveled by US bomber attacks. There were many massacres with more then 10000 dead civilians - committed by South Korean troops supported by the US. And also many atrocities committed directly by US soldiers.

Same thing was repeated in Vietnam, except that especially the northern part of Korea was well industrialized so there was a stark contrast when the got bombed back to the stone age.

Have you ever been to Jeju-Do? It is a cute little island - many South Koreans have spent their honeymoon their. In 1948 the South Korean strongmen president (who has been in exile in the US) made sure that everybody with suspected communist ties went to a camp. And some of these internment camps became death camps and about 20000 Koreans lost their life. Way to go! USA! USA! USA!

So you stupid racist pig, calling asians rice eaters and crying about 55000 souls while many more people died by their hand: have a look at history and when maybe to think before supporting any kind of stupid war that just benefits the MIC...

tom -> Robson Robson , 15 hours ago

"It is called the law of the jungle". And it works out very satisfactorily as long as you are on top. Less so when someone else turns out to be more powerful, or unscrupulous, or sneaky.

If a major US city were to disappear in a thermonuclear explosion, or to be immersed in a cloud of poison gas or deadly virus, the USA would not have a leg to stand on in protest.

International law and the UN Charter unambiguously state that the only justified reasons for attacking another country are a UN mandate to use force, or self-defence against a country that has already attacked you. There are no exceptions.

So we must conclude that the USA is now at war with at least several dozen nations. Go on, count the nations that the USA has attacked with military force since (let's say) 1945.

Any one (or more) of those nations has the right, under international law, to commit acts of war against the USA. Including (now I come to think of it) North Korea, with whom the USA never agreed a treaty of peace.

Robson Robson -> tom , 12 hours ago

I just have ten fingers so I give up counting the nations the US is having war like actions with. But technically the US has not declared war so it must be at peace right now?

The only wars fought I personally remember are the war on the middle class and the war against Xmas. Maybe also the the war against free speech called political correctness, something I liked about Trump... ;-)

Tommy Jensen , 13 hours ago

But Trump succeeded to kill 4 children and 8 civilians in his Tomahawk attack on a Syrian Airport and related village as revenge for a staged fake, while he was crying Assad is "an animal who kill beautyful babies".

[Apr 18, 2017] Atomization of workforce and a part of atomization of society under neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness. ..."
"... And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves. ..."
"... The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling. ..."
"... Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation. ..."
"... So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church. ..."
Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:09 am
Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what's wrenching society apart George Monbiot, Guardian

George Monbiot on human loneliness and its toll. I agree with his observations. I have been cataloguing them in my head for years, especially after a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness.

A couple of recent trips to Rome have made that point ever more obvious to me: Compared to my North Side neighborhood in Chicago, where every other person seems to have a dog, and on weekends Clark Street is awash in dogs (on their way to the dog boutiques and the dog food truck), Rome has few dogs. Rome is much more densely populated, and the Italians still have each other, for good or for ill. And Americans use the dog as an odd means of making human contact, at least with other dog owners.

But Americanization advances: I was surprised to see people bring dogs into the dining room of a fairly upscale restaurant in Turin. I haven't seen that before. (Most Italian cafes and restaurants are just too small to accommodate a dog, and the owners don't have much patience for disruptions.) The dogs barked at each other for while–violating a cardinal rule in Italy that mealtime is sacred and tranquil. Loneliness rules.

And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves.

That's why the comments about March on Everywhere in Harper's, recommended by Lambert, fascinated me. Maybe, to be less lonely, you just have to attend the occasional march, no matter how disorganized (and the Chicago Women's March organizers made a few big logistical mistakes), no matter how incoherent. Safety in numbers? (And as Monbiot points out, overeating at home alone is a sign of loneliness: Another argument for a walk with a placard.)

Katharine , April 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

I particularly liked this point:

In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet.

With different imagery, the same is true in this country. The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling.

DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:48 am

Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation.

So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church.

[Apr 18, 2017] Religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy

Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Adam Eran , April 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Sorry, as a church-attending person, I object. Religion has de-legitimized itself with its hypocrisy. One example: Jerry Falwell, a "battler" against abortion actually supported it before his plutocratic masters told him it was a wedge issue.

Positions on the wedge issues (abortion, the gays) are actually difficult to prove with scripture–not that it has the kind of authority it did before 35,000 variations on old manuscripts were discovered in the 17th century. (Marcus Borg is the scholar to consult here).

Meanwhile, the big issues - e.g. covetousness, forbidden very explicitly in one of the 10 commandments - is an *industry* in the U.S.

I'll believe these evangelicals are guided by the bible when I see them picketing Madison Avenue for promoting covetousness, or when I see them lobbying for a debt jubilee.

Michael Hudson says Jesus' first appearance in the Jerusalem temple was to announce just such a Jubilee Boy is that ever ignored!

Jagger , April 17, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Your correlating the hypocritical actions of the leadership with the ideals of a religion. Corrupt leadership may delegitimize those individuals but does not delegitimize the ideals of the religion. Is the ideal of America totally dependent on the actions of its political leadership? Personally, I think there is far more to America than just the president and congress whether corrupt or not.

hunkerdown , April 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Ideals only serve in practice to create primordial debts, buttress power differentials, and enable selective malfeasance. I fail to see the social utility of any of those products and believe humanity would be better off repudiating them and their vectors. Disease is not a public good.

Jagger , April 17, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Well I am using this definition of ideal: "a person or thing conceived as embodying such a conception or conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for imitation". I guess you are welcome to your definition.

JTMcPhee , April 17, 2017 at 5:10 pm

I think "America" is maybe a shibboleth of some sort, but there is not a dam' thing left of the stuff I was taught and brought to believe, as a young person, Boy Scout, attendee at the Presbyterian Westminster Fellowship, attentive student of Mrs. Thompson and Mr. Fleming in Civics, Social Studies and US History classes, and all that. I was well enough steeped in that stuff to let "patriotism" overcome better sense, strongly enough to enlist in the Army in 1966.

Maybe you think "The Birth of a Nation" captures the essence of our great country?

What is or are the ideal(s) of "America?" Get rich quick, violence on all fronts, anti-intellectualism, imperial project across the planet? "Democracy?" If you trot that out as a "feature", you better explain what you mean, with some specificity. More to America? If youtube is any guide, try searching it for "syria combat" or "redneck" or "full auto," or all the really sick racist and extreme stuff - a pretty sorry place. But we all recite the Pledge so dutifully, don't we? and feel a thrill as the F-22s swoop over the football stadium?

[Apr 18, 2017] Attack Against Syria and the Region Speaking Up

Apr 18, 2017 | www.informationclearinghouse.info
By Andre Vltchek

April 18, 2017 " Information Clearing House " - Beirut - As the US Tomahawk missiles were raining on Syria, the entire Middle East was shaken to its core. Here, even the name itself – Syria – triggers extremely complex and often contradictory sets of emotions. To some, Syria is synonymous with pride and a determined struggle against Western imperialism, while others see it as an uncomfortable reminder of how low their own rulers and societies have managed to sink, serving foreign interests and various neo-colonialist designs.

Many people are hiding their heads in the sand, obediently repeating the official Western narrative, while others are gradually resorting to the alternative sources of information that are coming from outlets such as RT Arabic, Al-Mayadeen and Press TV.

Here in the Middle East and, in fact, all over the entire Arab world, feelings towards the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad are always 'strong'; no one appears to be 'neutral'. But even the divisions are often 'pre-defined', carved along pan-Arab versus pro-Western, or Sunni versus Shi'a lines. It is rarely being mentioned that the Syrian state is constructed mainly on secular and socialist principles.

The recent opportunistic statements by certain badly informed and biased Western 'progressive' intellectuals, calling the Syrian system "disgraceful" has confused things even further.

*****

Overall, in the countries encircling Syria, there is very little support among the general population as well as among the intellectuals, for the Western assaults on the country, conducted directly, and indirectly by proxies. Pro-Western regimes and governments are currently governing Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and all of them are officially supporting the Western military actions. So is, naturally, Israel. The leaders of both Turkey and Israel would actually like to see more military actions, and more attacks against one of the last Arab countries, which is still upholds its independence.

But ask the thinkers from all over the region, and the reaction is near unanimously against the assaults that are being conducted by the West.

Ms Zeinab Al-Saffar (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

An Iraqi educationalist, prominent journalist and researcher, Ms Zeinab Al-Saffar explained:

I believe that the attacks against Syria that we are now witnessing, are a pre-orchestrated flagrant imperialist violation of a sovereign state, a flexing of muscles which is supposed to prove that the US is still the global power. Why on earth would the Syrian government perform a chemical attack knowing that the fingers would be immediately pointed at it, consequently thwarting an ongoing political process? Only fools could buy such narratives that are reminiscent of the 2003 US-led aggression to destroy the WMDs in Iraq, which only resulted in the devastation of Iraq, in the ruining of its people, and wiping out of its culture.

After the US missile assault on Syria, the Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations, Sacha Llorenti, lashed out at Trump's decision, which he defined as, "an extremely serious violation of international law."

Llorenti reminded the Council of February 5th, 2003, when the then US secretary of State Colin Powell, "came to this room to present to us, according to his own words, convincing proof that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

Incirlik NATO air base in Turkey near Syria (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

Such views are not held in Iraq only; I encountered fairly similar logic and recollection of the events even in Turkey, from where a well-known columnist Feryal Çeviköz wrote to me:

The real question is: "who orchestrated that chemical attack?" It seems that only the US could benefit from this chemical assault. The US had finally found the 'reason', the pretext for its direct attack against Syria. There were already many similar incidents in the region and in other parts of the world, and the screenplay is always the same. It seems that only the players, the actors keep changing.

In Latin America, Russia, China, much of Africa and, of course, in the neighboring Iran, people are beginning to see clearly both the pattern and predictability of the Western foreign policy.

A young prominent Iranian researcher, columnist and filmmaker, Hamed Ghashghavi, gave me his opinion on the recent developments:

It seems to me that the US behaves like an injured wolf that is close to its death, but before vanishing is trying to hurt others. The more aggressively the US behaves, the closer, it appears to be at its end. The recent attack against Syria, whatever the reasons and consequences, has symbolically proven how and why the so-called US Empire is declining. What the US did is also sending a strong signal to Iran and its project of the military base near the Syrian town of Khmeimim, but it is also a message to an anti-Trump wing of neocons who have been accusing him of being too much 'pro-Putin' and 'pro-Assad'.

What is now clearly detectable in the region is not just a condemnation of the US and Western actions, it is also a deep fatigue of having to endure the same type aggression which brings absolutely nothing except misery to the people of the Middle East and the world.

In Syria, the sentiments are clear. My friend, a Syrian educator Ms. Fida Bashour summarized it all, I believe:

I feel sad and worried. I want this war to finally stop, no blood any more, I want peace and to have my safe existence. I don't want others to interfere in our life. Why doesn't Trump let us live as we want to; why is he doing this to us?

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel "Aurora" and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: " Exposing Lies Of The Empire " and " Fighting Against Western Imperialism " . View his other books here . Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. Watch Rwanda Gambit , his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter .

First published by NEO

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

[Apr 18, 2017] Apparently, we only care when "beautiful, beautiful babies" are killed.

Notable quotes:
"... Al-Qaeda Suicide Attack Kills 100+ Children, Women ..."
"... An MoA commentor reports that the group Nour al Din al Zenki which is is financed, armed and promoted by NATO, is responsible for this latest atrocity in Syria. IOW, another NATO war crime. ..."
"... Apparently, we only care when "beautiful, beautiful babies" are killed. Quick, do an air lift of American cosmetics so that we can extend our concern / sarc ..."
Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
MoiAussie , April 17, 2017 at 7:57 am

Al-Qaeda Suicide Attack Kills 100+ Children, Women

An MoA commentor reports that the group Nour al Din al Zenki which is is financed, armed and promoted by NATO, is responsible for this latest atrocity in Syria. IOW, another NATO war crime.

fresno dan , April 17, 2017 at 8:54 am

MoiAussie
April 17, 2017 at 7:57 am

Apparently, we only care when "beautiful, beautiful babies" are killed. Quick, do an air lift of American cosmetics so that we can extend our concern / sarc

mle detroit , April 17, 2017 at 9:31 am

Good idea. But they gotta be cosmetics from Ivanka's brand.

craazyboy , April 17, 2017 at 10:25 am

They can get 'em on Overstock.com now! Just package 'em up on the pallets stacked with $100 bills and air drop them wherever we know there are friendly terrorists. It'll all work out. Helicopter money always does.

[Apr 18, 2017] Learning to Love Intelligent Machines

Notable quotes:
"... Learning to Love Intelligent Machines ..."
Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
MoiAussie , April 17, 2017 at 9:04 am

If anyone is struggling to access Learning to Love Intelligent Machines (WSJ), you can get to it by clicking though this post . YMMV.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , April 17, 2017 at 11:26 am

Also, don't forget to Learn from your Love Machines.

Artificial Love + Artificial Intelligence = Artificial Utopia.

[Apr 18, 2017] Corporations love non-class based identity politics, love arguing that the real problems in society are not about economic inequality but rather on identity based sensitivity.

Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
libarbarian , April 17, 2017 at 9:05 am

RE: "Fearless Girl"

A few seasons back, South Park pointed out how easy it was for corporations to co-opt social justice rhetoric. Since then, life has stubbornly insisted on supporting that thesis.

DH , April 17, 2017 at 9:57 am

Every now and then the un-system bites back as we just saw with the Pepsi ad, although they did get a ton of free press, similar to United. That approach worked for The Donald ..

Ernesto Lyon , April 17, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Corporations love non-class based identity politics. They love arguing that the real problems in society are not about economic inequality but rather on identity based sensitivity. You can learn the fancy sensitivity codes at your uppity college and look down your nose at the poor whites who don't get the semiotic coaching. Business as Usual.

[Apr 17, 2017] How many articles have I read that state as fact that the problem is REALLY automation?

Notable quotes:
"... It isn't. It's the world's biggest, most advanced cloud-computing company with an online retail storefront stuck between you and it. In 2005-2006 it was already selling supercomputing capability for cents on the dollar - way ahead of Google and Microsoft and IBM. ..."
"... Do you really think the internet created Amazon, Snapchat, Facebook, etc? No, the internet was just a tool to be used. The people who created those businesses would have used any tool they had access to at the time because their original goal was not automation or innovation, it was only to get rich. ..."
"... "Disruptive parasitic intermediation" is superb, thanks. The entire phrase should appear automatically whenever "disruption"/"disruptive" or "innovation"/"innovative" is used in a laudatory sense. ..."
"... >that people have a much bigger aversion to loss than gain. ..."
"... As the rich became uber rich, they hid the money in tax havens. As for globalization, this has less to do these days with technological innovation and more to do with economic exploitation. ..."
Apr 17, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Carla , April 17, 2017 at 9:25 am

"how many articles have I read that state as fact that the problem is REALLY automation?

NO, the real problem is that the plutocrats control the policies "

+1

justanotherprogressive , April 17, 2017 at 11:45 am

+100 to your comment. There is a decided attempt by the plutocrats to get us to focus our anger on automation and not the people, like they themselves, who control the automation ..

MoiAussie , April 17, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Plutocrats control much automation, but so do thousands of wannabe plutocrats whose expertise lets them come from nowhere to billionairehood in a few short years by using it to create some novel, disruptive parasitic intermediation that makes their fortune. The "sharing economy" relies on automation. As does Amazon, Snapchat, Facebook, Dropbox, Pinterest,

It's not a stretch to say that automation creates new plutocrats . So blame the individuals, or blame the phenomenon, or both, whatever works for you.

Carolinian , April 17, 2017 at 12:23 pm

So John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie weren't plutocrats–or were somehow better plutocrats?

Blame not individuals or phenomena but society and the public and elites who shape it. Our social structure is also a kind of machine and perhaps the most imperfectly designed of all of them. My own view is that the people who fear machines are the people who don't like or understand machines. Tools, and the use of them, are an essential part of being human.

MoiAussie , April 17, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Huh? If I wrote "careless campers create forest fires", would you actually think I meant "careless campers create all forest fires"?

Carolinian , April 17, 2017 at 10:23 pm

I'm replying to your upthread comment which seems to say today's careless campers and the technology they rely on are somehow different from those other figures we know so well from history. In fact all technology is tremendously disruptive but somehow things have a way of sorting themselves out. So–just to repeat–the thing is not to "blame" the individuals or the automation but to get to work on the sorting. People like Jeff Bezos with his very flaky business model could be little more than a blip.

a different chris , April 17, 2017 at 12:24 pm

>Amazon, Snapchat, Facebook, Dropbox, Pinterest

Automation? Those companies? I guess Amazon automates ordering not exactly R. Daneel Olivaw for sure. If some poor Asian girl doesn't make the boots or some Agri giant doesn't make the flour Amazon isn't sending you nothin', and the other companies are even more useless.

Mark P. , April 17, 2017 at 2:45 pm

'Automation? Those companies? I guess Amazon automates ordering not exactly R. Daneel Olivaw for sure.'

Um. Amazon is highly deceptive, in that most people think it's a giant online retail store.

It isn't. It's the world's biggest, most advanced cloud-computing company with an online retail storefront stuck between you and it. In 2005-2006 it was already selling supercomputing capability for cents on the dollar - way ahead of Google and Microsoft and IBM.

justanotherprogressive , April 17, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Do you really think the internet created Amazon, Snapchat, Facebook, etc? No, the internet was just a tool to be used. The people who created those businesses would have used any tool they had access to at the time because their original goal was not automation or innovation, it was only to get rich.

Let me remind you of Thomas Edison. If he would have lived 100 years later, he would have used computers instead of electricity to make his fortune. (In contrast, Nikolai Tesla/George Westinghouse used electricity to be innovative, NOT to get rich ). It isn't the tool that is used, it is the mindset of the people who use the tool

clinical wasteman , April 17, 2017 at 2:30 pm

"Disruptive parasitic intermediation" is superb, thanks. The entire phrase should appear automatically whenever "disruption"/"disruptive" or "innovation"/"innovative" is used in a laudatory sense.

100% agreement with your first point in this thread, too. That short comment should stand as a sort of epigraph/reference for all future discussion of these things.

No disagreement on the point about actual and wannabe plutocrats either, but perhaps it's worth emphasising that it's not just a matter of a few successful (and many failed) personal get-rich-quick schemes, real as those are: the potential of 'universal machines' tends to be released in the form of parasitic intermediation because, for the time being at least, it's released into a world subject to the 'demands' of capital, and at a (decades-long) moment of crisis for the traditional model of capital accumulation. 'Universal' potential is set free to seek rents and maybe to do a bit of police work on the side, if the two can even be separated.

The writer of this article from 2010 [ http://www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/artificial-scarcity-world-overproduction-escape-isnt ] surely wouldn't want it to be taken as conclusive, but it's a good example of one marginal train of serious thought about all of the above. See also 'On Africa and Self-Reproducing Automata' written by George Caffentzis 20 years or so earlier [https://libcom.org/library/george-caffentzis-letters-blood-fire]; apologies for link to entire (free, downloadable) book, but my crumbling print copy of the single essay stubbornly resists uploading.

DH , April 17, 2017 at 9:48 am

Unfortunately, the healthcare insurance debate has been simply a battle between competing ideologies. I don't think Americans understand the key role that universal healthcare coverage plays in creating resilient economies.

Before penicillin, heart surgeries, cancer cures, modern obstetrics etc. that it didn't matter if you are rich or poor if you got sick. There was a good chance you would die in either case which was a key reason that the average life span was short.

In the mid-20th century that began to change so now lifespan is as much about income as anything else. It is well known that people have a much bigger aversion to loss than gain. So if you currently have healthcare insurance through a job, then you don't want to lose it by taking a risk to do something where you are no longer covered.

People are moving less to find work – why would you uproot your family to work for a company that is just as likely to lay you off in two years in a place you have no roots? People are less likely to day to quit jobs to start a new business – that is a big gamble today because you not only have to keep the roof over your head and put food on the table, but you also have to cover an even bigger cost of healthcare insurance in the individual market or you have a much greater risk of not making it to your 65th birthday.

In countries like Canada, healthcare coverage is barely a discussion point if somebody is looking to move, change jobs, or start a small business.

If I had a choice today between universal basic income vs universal healthcare coverage, I would choose the healthcare coverage form a societal standpoint. That is simply insuring a risk and can allow people much greater freedom during the working lives. Similarly, Social Security is of similar importance because it provides basic protection against disability and not starving in the cold in your old age. These are vastly different incentive systems than paying people money to live on even if they are not working.

Our ideological debates should be factoring these types of ideas in the discussion instead of just being a food fight.

a different chris , April 17, 2017 at 12:28 pm

>that people have a much bigger aversion to loss than gain.

Yeah well if the downside is that you're dead this starts to make sense.

>instead of just being a food fight.

The thing is that the Powers-That-Be want it to be a food fight, as that is a great stalling at worst and complete diversion at best tactic. Good post, btw.

Altandmain , April 17, 2017 at 12:36 pm

As the rich became uber rich, they hid the money in tax havens. As for globalization, this has less to do these days with technological innovation and more to do with economic exploitation.

I will note that Germany, Japan, South Korea, and a few other nations have not bought into this madness and have retained a good chunk of their manufacturing sectors.

Mark P. , April 17, 2017 at 3:26 pm

'As for globalization, this has less to do these days with technological innovation and more to do with economic exploitation.'

Economic exploiters are always with us. You're underrating the role of a specific technological innovation. Globalization as we now know it really became feasible in the late 1980s with the spread of instant global electronic networks, mostly via the fiberoptic cables through which everything - telephony, Internet, etc - travels Internet packet mode.

That's the point at which capital could really start moving instantly around the world, and companies could really begin to run global supply chains and workforces. That's the point when shifts of workers in facilities in Bangalore or Beijing could start their workdays as shifts of workers in the U.S. were ending theirs, and companies could outsource and offshore their whole operations.

[Apr 17, 2017] The pot calling the kettle black

Notable quotes:
"... As soon as I turned on a television here I wondered if I had arrived through an alt-right wormhole. ..."
"... On the popular Russian television program "Vesti Nedeli," the host, Dmitry Kiselyov, questioned how Syria could have been responsible for the attack. After all, he said, the Assad government had destroyed all of its chemical weapons. It was the terrorists who possessed them, said Mr. Kiselyov, who also heads Russia's main state-run international media arm. ..."
"... One of Mr. Kiselyov's correspondents on the scene mocked "Western propagandists" for believing the Trump line, saying munitions at the air base had "as much to do with chemical weapons as the test tube in the hands of Colin Powell had to do with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." ..."
"... RT, the Russian-financed English-language news service, initially translated Mr. Putin as calling it a "false flag. ..."
"... As the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia put it, "Apparently it was for good reason Donald Trump called unverified information in the mass media one of the main problems in the U.S." ..."
"... The author asserts that those who questioned the Assad-did-it narrative were only on the alt-right "fringe". But this is absurd, as anyone who looks at a non-alt right site like https://consortiumnews.com/ can easily confirm. And of course a highly respected MIT scientist, Theodore Postol, has published not one but two notes effectively showing that the White House "Intelligence Report" about the incident was rubbish ("obviously false, misleading and amateurish") - but you are unlikely to read about this in the NYT. ..."
"... The US media should have learned something about the Iraq war, but it still hasn't. It blindly supports every stupid foreign policy decision wrapped in humanitarian clothes while being unwilling to honestly tell the American people that its a proxy war where all the actors in it are evil. That no one knows for sure what happened because it wasn't investigated. The media in Russia may be a tool of the Kremlin but the US media is the tool of the war profiteers. There is no way to get around that no matter how Rutenberg tries to frame it around what he thinks is the correct opinion. ..."
"... Israel wants the Syrian war to go on forever. The Saudi and Iranian proxies aren't saints. There are no good guys yet removing Assad is the preferred outcome for the US media. ..."
"... The good thing about the US corporate media is that it is being put behind paywalls. I just use software to block these sites so I don't even bother wasting my time by clicking and then having to click back. I get "the line" from sources not behind a paywall. Only an idiot would pay to be lied to on behalf of groups that do not have the US interest at heart. ..."
Apr 16, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

From: A Lesson in Moscow About Trump-Style 'Alternative Truth' - The New York Times by Jim Rutenberg >

Mr. Trump had just ordered a Tomahawk strike against Syria's Shayrat air base, from which, the United States said, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria had launched the chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 and sickened hundreds.

As soon as I turned on a television here I wondered if I had arrived through an alt-right wormhole.

Back in the States, the prevailing notion in the news was that Mr. Assad had indeed been responsible for the chemical strike. There was some "reportage" from sources like the conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones - best known for suggesting that the Sandy Hook school massacre was staged - that the chemical attack was a "false flag" operation by terrorist rebel groups to goad the United States into attacking Mr. Assad. But that was a view from the fringe.

Here in Russia, it was the dominant theme throughout the overwhelmingly state-controlled mainstream media.

On the popular Russian television program "Vesti Nedeli," the host, Dmitry Kiselyov, questioned how Syria could have been responsible for the attack. After all, he said, the Assad government had destroyed all of its chemical weapons. It was the terrorists who possessed them, said Mr. Kiselyov, who also heads Russia's main state-run international media arm.

One of Mr. Kiselyov's correspondents on the scene mocked "Western propagandists" for believing the Trump line, saying munitions at the air base had "as much to do with chemical weapons as the test tube in the hands of Colin Powell had to do with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

That teed up Mr. Putin to suggest in nationally televised comments a couple of days later that perhaps the attack was an intentional "provocation" by the rebels to goad the United States into attacking Mr. Assad. RT, the Russian-financed English-language news service, initially translated Mr. Putin as calling it a "false flag." The full Alex Jones was complete.

When Trump administration officials tried to counter Russia's "false narratives" by releasing to reporters a declassified report detailing Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles - and suggesting to The Associated Press without proof that Russia knew of Mr. Assad's plans to use chemical weapons in advance - the Russians had a ready answer borrowed from Mr. Trump himself.

As the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia put it, "Apparently it was for good reason Donald Trump called unverified information in the mass media one of the main problems in the U.S."

It was the best evidence I've seen of the folly of Mr. Trump's anti-press approach. You can't spend more than a year attacking the credibility of the "dishonest media" and then expect to use its journalism as support for your position during an international crisis - at least not with any success.

While Mr. Trump and his supporters may think that undermining the news media serves their larger interests, in this great information war it serves Mr. Putin's interests more. It means playing on his turf, where he excels.

Integral to Mr. Putin's governing style has been a pliant press that makes his government the main arbiter of truth.

While talking to the beaten but unbowed members of the real journalism community here, I heard eerie hints of Trumpian proclamations in their war stories.

Take Mr. Trump's implicit threat to the owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, during the election campaign. In case you've forgotten, while calling The Post's coverage of him "horrible and false," Mr. Trump warned that if he won the presidency Mr. Bezos's other business, Amazon, would have "such problems." (The Post was undaunted, and the issue hasn't come up again.)

... ... ...

Alexandra Odynova contributed research.

for-the-record , April 17, 2017 at 6:16 pm GMT \n
300 Words Is this parody or for real? Everything he cites the Russian press as saying seems to me far more believable than the "alternative" version purveyed by the NYT and other such "respectable" sources.

To put it mildly, anyone with half a brain would be willing to accept that it was far more likely that the alleged chemical attack was the work of the not-so-moderate rebels, rather than the Syrian Government which had nothing to gain, and everything to lose, from such an attack (assuming that it still had chemical weapons, which even the US previously admitted was no longer the case). That those fighting Assad do indeed possess stocks of chemical weapons is no secret. Regarding Isis, for example, you can learn from Newsweek today (April 17) via Yahoo News:

ISIS Militants Launch Multiple Chemical Weapons Attacks On Iraqi Troops

The author tells us that

Back in the States, the prevailing notion in the news was that Mr. Assad had indeed been responsible for the chemical strike.

Of course this was and is the prevailing view, a convincing testimony to the effect of the "fake news" that is reported as "fact" by the mainstream media.

The author asserts that those who questioned the Assad-did-it narrative were only on the alt-right "fringe". But this is absurd, as anyone who looks at a non-alt right site like https://consortiumnews.com/ can easily confirm. And of course a highly respected MIT scientist, Theodore Postol, has published not one but two notes effectively showing that the White House "Intelligence Report" about the incident was rubbish ("obviously false, misleading and amateurish") - but you are unlikely to read about this in the NYT.

I live outside the US and also have the time and energy to investigate alternative sources. What amazes and pains me is that many friends of mine (US, UK) have swallowed hook, line and sinker the official story, not only about this incident but the general story about what is going on in Syria (and elsewhere, notably vis-à-vis Russia).

Altai , April 17, 2017 at 8:29 pm GMT \n
400 Words @for-the-record Is this parody or for real? Everything he cites the Russian press as saying seems to me far more believable than the "alternative" version purveyed by the NYT and other such "respectable" sources.

To put it mildly, anyone with half a brain would be willing to accept that it was far more likely that the alleged chemical attack was the work of the not-so-moderate rebels, rather than the Syrian Government which had nothing to gain, and everything to lose, from such an attack (assuming that it still had chemical weapons, which even the US previously admitted was no longer the case). That those fighting Assad do indeed possess stocks of chemical weapons is no secret. Regarding Isis, for example, you can learn from Newsweek today (April 17) via Yahoo News:


ISIS Militants Launch Multiple Chemical Weapons Attacks On Iraqi Troops
The author tells us that

Back in the States, the prevailing notion in the news was that Mr. Assad had indeed been responsible for the chemical strike.
Of course this was and is the prevailing view, a convincing testimony to the effect of the "fake news" that is reported as "fact" by the mainstream media.

The author asserts that those who questioned the Assad-did-it narrative were only on the alt-right "fringe". But this is absurd, as anyone who looks at a non-alt right site like https://consortiumnews.com/ can easily confirm. And of course a highly respected MIT scientist, Theodore Postol, has published not one but two notes effectively showing that the White House "Intelligence Report" about the incident was rubbish ("obviously false, misleading and amateurish") -- but you are unlikely to read about this in the NYT.

I live outside the US and also have the time and energy to investigate alternative sources. What amazes and pains me is that many friends of mine (US, UK) have swallowed hook, line and sinker the official story, not only about this incident but the general story about what is going on in Syria (and elsewhere, notably vis-à-vis Russia).

many friends of mine (US, UK) have swallowed hook, line and sinker the official story, not only about this incident but the general story about what is going on in Syria (and elsewhere, notably vis-à-vis Russia).

It's unreal to me after everything that has happened the last 15 years that anyone who lived through it could not have learned a thing. It seems to be getting more blatant too. Now the BBC is pushing neocon talking points harder than most US outlets.

Don't ever trust a western news outlet whenever it goes on a months long crusade to 'expose' a certain regime that is alleged to be doing exactly what our 'allies' do and get no coverage about. I knew little about what was going on in Syria years ago but when the BBC started telling me how horrible 'barrel bombs' were over and over, night after night, making sure to mention Assad in every sentence, my bullshit detector sprang up and I looked at the alt media I trusted. (Which I trusted as taking the narrative from them I was able to better predict and understand the world and this simply can't be said for mainstream media)

I know a guy who thinks of himself as worldly but reads WaPo and Der Speigel daily. He doesn't understand how I can't believe how good Obama handled the US economy and how low US unemployment is. Any attempt to explain that US unemployment numbers post-1994 are not what he thinks it is is met with a dismissive as though I am full of bullshit.

I think it might also be generational. I grew up in my teens with Iraq and the explosion of alt middle east commentators and journalists who posted to the net what they'd never get cleared in the MSM. You know exactly the deal with everybody, the anti-war left, the 'alt-right', the counter jihadis and the important motivations and differences between them that colour their commentary on different events, but it still didn't change the fact that what they were posting was news and information that was being deliberately obscured. But for a lot of people in their 40s and older everything non-MSM looks like InfoWars and is scary.

It must be scary to be plugged into the MSM today. A kind of learned helplessness like this.

WorkingClass , April 17, 2017 at 9:28 pm GMT \n
I know it's bullshit. I read it in the New York Times.

The NYT is an enemy of the human race.

Assad didn't do it. Just like he didn't do it last time. Just like he will not have done it next time.

El Dato , April 17, 2017 at 10:19 pm GMT \n
300 Words @Altai

many friends of mine (US, UK) have swallowed hook, line and sinker the official story, not only about this incident but the general story about what is going on in Syria (and elsewhere, notably vis-à-vis Russia).
It's unreal to me after everything that has happened the last 15 years that anyone who lived through it could not have learned a thing. It seems to be getting more blatant too. Now the BBC is pushing neocon talking points harder than most US outlets.

Don't ever trust a western news outlet whenever it goes on a months long crusade to 'expose' a certain regime that is alleged to be doing exactly what our 'allies' do and get no coverage about. I knew little about what was going on in Syria years ago but when the BBC started telling me how horrible 'barrel bombs' were over and over, night after night, making sure to mention Assad in every sentence, my bullshit detector sprang up and I looked at the alt media I trusted. (Which I trusted as taking the narrative from them I was able to better predict and understand the world and this simply can't be said for mainstream media)

I know a guy who thinks of himself as worldly but reads WaPo and Der Speigel daily. He doesn't understand how I can't believe how good Obama handled the US economy and how low US unemployment is. Any attempt to explain that US unemployment numbers post-1994 are not what he thinks it is is met with a dismissive as though I am full of bullshit.

I think it might also be generational. I grew up in my teens with Iraq and the explosion of alt middle east commentators and journalists who posted to the net what they'd never get cleared in the MSM. You know exactly the deal with everybody, the anti-war left, the 'alt-right', the counter jihadis and the important motivations and differences between them that colour their commentary on different events, but it still didn't change the fact that what they were posting was news and information that was being deliberately obscured. But for a lot of people in their 40s and older everything non-MSM looks like InfoWars and is scary.

It must be scary to be plugged into the MSM today. A kind of learned helplessness like this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8moePxHpvok Nice short film. However, I cannot agree that people are in some kind of "oh dear" mindset. On the contrary, they are easily instrumented into supporting any random "something must be (militarily) done" call for action. Maybe a direct consequence of post-Gulf War 1 triumphalism, when the US was great again and apparently had left behind of trauma of Vietnam for good (that was an actual talking point, believe it or not!). With the Soviet Union no more, poised to rework the world in its own image, the US was!

It all went south of course. We got the Yougoslavia catastrophe. Taking sides along with Europeans acting according to reflexes harking back to 1914 and dropping bombs didn't go all that well. When bombing started, Serbia was as MSM-tarred as Syria is today. We got 10 years of suppressing Mr. Hussein. Something was happening in Russia and maybe Chechnya and Georgia but no-one was all too certain what or why. We got the surprise Hutu-on-Tutsi massacre after which liberventionists were clamoring that "something should have been done". There was some "cruise missile diplomacy" (i.e. Clinton bombs Sudan). There were noises from Afghanistan with military commanders in particular Ahmad Shah Massoud fighting someone called "Taliban" but nobody cared about that. There was the marginally interesting Israel-Palestinian conflict with neverending talks and the Israelis starting to behave like jerks after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. We got first "hard" terrorism hits: A bombing in the WTC basement, a sarin gas attack in Tokyo, a diplomatic mission in Africa and of course the OKC bombing. Well, I guess those years of practically pre-Internet chaos were when "liberventionism" gelled.

After the 9/11-Anthrax events it was of course full neocon time and everyone was on the same track for foreign land adventurism. By hook or by crook. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Johnny F. Ive , April 17, 2017 at 11:13 pm GMT \n
The US media should have learned something about the Iraq war, but it still hasn't. It blindly supports every stupid foreign policy decision wrapped in humanitarian clothes while being unwilling to honestly tell the American people that its a proxy war where all the actors in it are evil. That no one knows for sure what happened because it wasn't investigated. The media in Russia may be a tool of the Kremlin but the US media is the tool of the war profiteers. There is no way to get around that no matter how Rutenberg tries to frame it around what he thinks is the correct opinion.

Also VIPS had American intelligence contacts in the Middle East who said the Syrians hit something that had chemicals in it. Everyone has their anonymous intelligence sources. Assad isn't going anywhere there could have been a proper investigation. The US media salivated at the bombing of Syria. The US media is the American Empire's id. It tells it to do stupid stuff that is going to get it killed. The US media loves to play nuclear chicken with Russia. I suppose psychopaths need a lot of stimulation and what could be more stimulating than a risk of nuclear war.

If the US media was doing its job it would not just be after Trump's relationship with Russia. It would be after the whole American establishments cozy relationship with Israel and Saudi Arabia. They've turned the US into a banana empire. Of course the US media is tied to weapons producers and Israel gets a welfare check to buy American arms and Saudi Arabia buys American arms. Also Israel no matter what it does is protected because of guilt (which will be its undoing because its bad behavior is not being checked). If Russia bought American arms I bet the US media would love Putin. The US media then would take it upon themselves to support Putin against his enemies.

Israel wants the Syrian war to go on forever. The Saudi and Iranian proxies aren't saints. There are no good guys yet removing Assad is the preferred outcome for the US media. Its irrational unless you realize who its working for. Its not the American people. Its not even working to keep the US Empire in a position of strength. It demands obedience to the whims of the Empire's global subjects and its domestic war industry. That is what this Russian crap was about Trump. Maybe they tried to interfere. People were going to vote the way they voted anyway because Trump struck an emotional cord with his larger than life personality and the Democrats conspired against the candidate that could have beaten him (Bernie) while making sure no one that could win would run for the Democrat nomination. Also the Israelis are right wing and they get away with stuff the Alt-right could never get away with in the US (and I hope wouldn't want to engage in). What they do to the Palestinians is straight out of Nazi Germany before the holocaust (which is coming for the Palestinians). They loved Trump and voted for him. US media doesn't make a big deal about this. Any reporter who did would risk losing their job.

The good thing about the US corporate media is that it is being put behind paywalls. I just use software to block these sites so I don't even bother wasting my time by clicking and then having to click back. I get "the line" from sources not behind a paywall. Only an idiot would pay to be lied to on behalf of groups that do not have the US interest at heart. By being whores for war profiteers and their global allies the US media makes Russian government controlled media seem great in comparison. There is no reason why the US should be a whore for unsavory governments and organizations across the world. Its 20 trillion in debt and the US media uses verbal abuse and praise to manipulate the President into making war, while framing the war into simplistic and cartoonish terms. There are some that are extremely wealthy. The Europeans could handle their own security but manipulating the US to do it is easy because of the US media and easily malleable politicians.

How about the US media find some poor defenseless country and harp up a war and bleed the US Empire dry of its wealth in a fruitless quagmire and call it a day? Some of us do have a self preservation instinct and fighting Russia for the mess in Syria is stupid. If it was me I'd try to get the defense companies to focus on space and space mining. Whoever controls outer space will control humanity's destiny. But go ahead bleed the US dry on these short sided money grabbing crusades so other countries can take over outer space instead.

[Apr 17, 2017] Why North Korea Needs Nukes - And How To End That

Notable quotes:
"... Isnt it amazing, the media in the west will always (ALWAYS!) be there for western nations when they want to wage a war, year after year. And then they say that we, who protest and expose them we are somehow the propagandists and disinformation agents?! ..."
"... The pressure to capitulate to the US government on this issue is immense. The propaganda relentless. For over 64 years the American people have been living the Big Lie. ..."
"... I cannot see how this ends well for any of us, mainly due to the intransigence and irrationality of the US ruling class, who do not care how much blood they shed. ..."
"... The USA as representing western elites have never signed off on the Korean War as a truce and cessation of hostilities but not a peace treaty is the current situation. This war continues and is being pursued by other means, mainly financial and with sanctions, by the west and its South Korean proxies. ..."
"... This on going policy by the west is of course aimed at its geo-political adversaries in China and Russia as allies of the North Korean nation. ..."
"... No small country is safe from the evil empire (USA) if they don't have nuclear weapons. Witness what happened to Iraq (and others) who had no weapons of mass destruction. (even though USA claimed they did) ..."
"... There is no other way to declare that China have backed off, otherwhise we wouldn't see this preparation for war by Trump that came after his big China meeting last week. ..."
"... China will sure remember this idiot stance they have taken when the wars begin, after North Korea, China will be in the cross-hair themselves. ..."
"... I still wonder why China stayed away from Syria with no talk of supporting Russia. This is/was a golden chance to show solidarity, in my opinion. Both NK and Pakistan are Chinese partners and nuclear powers. With MOAB in Afghanistan and forces around NK, this is a clear message to China. Is China setting a classic trap militarily or they just choosing to fight economically or otherwise? Somehow, Chinese reaction does not add up. ..."
"... It is utmost stupidity. Trump is parking US war ships in reach of North Korea, Russia and China. Now he depends on them not to do anything. ..."
"... If you ever ask a local jingoist to list all the countries attacked by North Korea vs a comparable USA list, you will illicit blank stares, followed by anger, followed by the suggestion you go live in North Korea. Putin's analogy of chess with a pigeon comes to mind. ..."
"... China does not care about the current leadership of North Korea at all. Their concern is to keep US forces no closer to the Chinese border than they are now, and that they will do. ..."
"... Actually what you are describing is the average westerner today (although, perhaps the average westerner is a jingoist today), they are indoctrinated every day by by the MSM, they have no idea whats going on in the world, its so tragic when you try to explain world events and they always react like you said, anger, hate, accuations etc. ..."
"... why is the usa here there and everywhere on the planet where their war machines? answer - they are the planets most warmongering nation, hands down.. ..."
"... This is extremely relevant yet almost never discussed in the US. North Korea is said to be "crazy", and is treated as some kind of rabid, non-human country that threatens the US. Of course, the opposite is more true. ..."
"... Chinese FM earlier today said 'war might come to Korea any time now', basically, US and allies could attack Korea and we wont do aynthing about it, what a corrupt nature they are show off now, disgusting. ..."
"... NK has seen what happens when nations give up their WMD's Iraq got invaded and Saddam first tortured, then hanged. Libya got smashed and Qaddafi got a bayonet up his arse. ..."
"... Now Syria is in the cross-hairs, with much of the nation in ruins, close 500K dead, millions more wounded and millions more homeless, with Assad being fitted for a hemp necktie. ..."
"... One point he makes is that the Korean war gave Truman a perfect excuse to expand the military and set up the national security complex. One thing he does not say is that US likely has zero interest in defusing the conflict - lest they'd have to leave the area. ..."
"... I'm now wondering how much worse the Known Entity - the Murderous Bloody Hillary could have been. Trump is a bull in a China Shop. ..."
"... This is why Trump acting so tough now, he know China+UN+EU+Nato will support his coming war. ..."
"... Well well well, this is almost getting comical, chinese show its true nature once again, what a backstabbing nation. China will be as complicit in this war on NK as Trump (and other pathetic allies). How many billion dollar deals did the stupid president get by Trump to be able to accept this tremendous blunder? ..."
"... At this stage, Russia was supposed to be the gas station that produced nothing. Syria should have fallen to US headchoppers. Philippines has pulled out of the pivot on China. ..."
"... Obama's leading from behind, and proxy wars largely failed. This leaves the US very short on time to take down China, plus they now have to deal with a Russia that has risen from the dead. ..."
"... Saudi's just formed a NATO-like Sunni force with an ex-Pakistani general as it's head. Now they have a about 20 nation force for basic ground ops and this will help Saudi's in Yemen and may be Syria especially with Pakistan's depth in recruiting regulars and non-regulars. This could not have happened without US approval, imo. ..."
"... overwhelming majority of US political "elite" is generally an office plankton with law or political "science" (or journalism--which is not a profession or a skill) degrees from Ivy League "humanities" departments and their comprehension of the war is limited to Hollywood. Most difficulties in life they ever experienced was, most likely, being overbooked for the first class seats on the flight to Hawaii (or any other resort). ..."
"... The #1 reason the Outlaw US Empire gets away with its continuation of massive crimes against humanity is that its citizenry is mostly ignorant--made so purposefully--of the history that matters and are today's equivalent of "Good Germans." ..."
"... Anyways, cornering Iran is the goal that the US/Israel trying to accomplish, at least from reading the pattern of activities. Slippery slope indeed. ..."
"... The development of napalm specifically to target civilians ties in the testing of the two US nuclear weapons in Japan. The Japanese target cities were left untouched by conventional air raids throughout, even though they contained valid military targets such a torpedo production plants. ..."
"... The occupants were so used to seeing US planes pass them by without ill effect, that on the fateful day they stood out in the open watching the planes pass by as normal or so they thought. The two attacks - for different designs of weapon - were designed to test and calibrate the effects of nuclear weapons on undamaged cities and unprotected civilians. They were actual medical and physical experiments on real people. ..."
"... The difference between now and all the years since WWII, through the cold war and so forth is that the US has very little time left. In trying to think how the US is acting different now to the past, or actually dig up solid points I would probably point to MH17. With MH17 Australia, one of the five eyes gladly sacrificed some people for empire. That shook me. The evidence was the same as the crap dossier on Assad gassing his own people, yet not a word of protest out of any Australian politician. ..."
"... From US point of view--absolutely. US establishment, yet again, thinks that it can control escalation. ..."
"... North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered 25 percent of Pyongyang residents to leave the city immediately, according to a Russian news outlet on Friday. The Pravda report said that in accordance with the order, 600,000 people should be urgently evacuated. ..."
"... If China/Russia were facing imminent War, then they would very probably dump all US reserves and Treasury Bonds first, and pre-emptively trigger economic collapse & rout. Unless it's MAD first strike stuff, where is the industrial and manufacturing base of the US/UK to sustain and win a 'Total War' ? Russia/China/Iran/NK are all militarily self-sufficient ... long-term sanctions do that, somewhat self-defeating, no ? ..."
"... IF the US collapses without War occurring, the 0.01% driving this will have already relocated in advance to, New Zealand or Iceland, etc ? To live lives of luxury, whilst purchasing collapsed US corporations for pennies on the dollar, perhaps, and wait for the investment to mature, maybe ? Ruthless bastards, citizens of the world ;) ..."
"... Yet, mistakes & miscalculations can occur unintentionally when even only a sustained 'strategy of tension' goes on and on ... ..."
"... "The US is going to war. Much thought and training going into fighting peer, or near peer adversary. " Do not see substantive evidence of the former, yet. Re the latter, other than neo-con/lib chickenhawk warmongers and detached from facts/reason/competent analysis & reality stink-tanks, again, see no evidence other than endless PR and rabid rhetoric, MSM abetted. ..."
"... Have you seen the most recent data/reports on DOD readiness levels, it's not a pleasant read if you're a jingoistic warmonger ... would argue, short version, the opportunity existed prior to 2001, maybe even as late as 2004-2006 at a pinch ..."
"... Thanks for a great article. It is so good to read truthful information and not the propaganda bullshit the MSM saturates us with. ..."
"... Who knows, maybe NK will be rehabilitated, as is, and accepted back into the Russia/China 'Axis', openly, as for the then USSR/ChiCom 'Axis' pre and during the Korean war ? After all, given the insane and surreal rabid propaganda in western MSM, what difference would it make re supposed 'image' in the eyes of the supposed 'International Community' (US/UK/Israhell & good time vassals) ... any ? ..."
"... I'll certainly echo Outraged's point about USA lacking the required industrial capacity and raw material for any such war other than MAD versus China/Russia. One of the main reasons the Lead From Behind strategy was adopted along with using terrorist proxies to destabilize Russia/China is because of that rather stark reality. ..."
"... ...The figure of 1,800 massacre victims was given...Somebody--presumably in either the American military or government--seems to have made the decision to turn this into a Northern massacre, the characteristic, single atrocity of the entire war. The truth seems inescapable: The worst atrocity of the war was committed by forces acting in the name of the United Nations, and a concerted effort was then made to cover it up by blaming it on the North Korean enemy... ..."
"... "...On the admission of [U.S.] General Ridgeway's Head Office, more POWs died in United Nations camps than in North Korean camps..." http://wherechangeobama.blogspot.com/2013/05/revisiting-history-of-korea-again-part-4.html?m=0 ..."
"... China does have limited versions of both Klub-NK and Club-S, those were shorter ones until recently when China started to get her hands on actual Russian versions of such weapons as P-800 Onyx with their ranges of 660 kilometers, add here SU-35 (also in Russian configuration) and S-400, also in Russian configuration, and you have a rather interesting dynamics suddenly. ..."
"... US MIC armament production ought to be seen/understood as MIC profitmaking scam that happens to produce few usable/battle-worthy assets. There's a very good reason for calling the USA's once mighty industrial heartland the Rust Belt--it's literally rotting away as a ride on Amtrak's Capitol Limited will testify. ..."
"... It really makes little sense what the US is up to. Are they relying on bluff and bluster to win the day? ..."
"... Thanks B for the information regarding how the US and South Korea time their military maneuvers to coincide with the rice planting and harvesting periods in North Korea. I had not been aware of this before. ..."
"... Bill Clinton's offer to North Korea to supply grain and materials for building two new reactors and his later reneging on that do not surprise me at all as these are of a piece with the Clinton Foundation raising hundreds of millions for Haiti's post-quake reconstruction which in the end resulted in the construction of one factory employing 30 people making T-shirts for export. No doubt with the North Korean "offer" the Clintons got something of that. ..."
"... "Approximately 30 nuclear power plants are operational in South Korea. Several of them could be destroyed even if conventional bombs and shells are used. This could lead to five-six Chernobyl-type disasters on a relatively small area of 99 square kilometers that could instantly turn into a place unsuitable for life," he explained. ..."
"... I have read although ,in a casual way rather than a study, too much of the history of wars. Often what comes across the insanity of a country starting a war and then is itself destroyed. Nazi Germany - leading edge tech, smart people. Country of sixty million conquered virtually all of Europe with ease then took on Russia. Instead of being content with being a leading country, they were willing to gamble everything to have it all. ..."
"... This is somewhat where the US is at today. The position is that it has over reached and now needs to pull back and consolidate, but we are not seeing that. instead, we are seeing the US become more threatening. ..."
"... Apologies if this has already been mentioned - but if the USA were to unilaterally launch strikes on North Korea could Russia itself intervene and launch missiles against the ships/fleet at fault - ie - against those who have abrogated their responsibilities to international peace and security? The aggressor nation. Could Russia sink the ships with the USS Carl Vinson in the name of maintaining international peace and security?? What side of Korea is the Carl Vinson and is it closer to the coastline of Russia or Syria? frances | Apr 14, 2017 9:02:27 PM | 113 According to Jim Stone NK has a very formidable 50+ submarine fleet. He also said these subs are of NK manufacture based on their upgrades to Russian 1990's designs. ..."
"... In addition nuclear reactors require fossil fuel power plants as backup up they suddenly lose power. In case of an air blast over South Korea the electrical grid would shut down with possible meltdown of reactors which didn't go into standby prior to the nuclear detonation. ..."
"... it brings a huge conundrum in decision making, if trump doesn't do anything, all countries in asia will switch alliances towards china in the long run, except for broke jokes japan/usa. ..."
"... "Wag the Dog" scenarios focus on salacious scandals, but the collapse of domestic Presidencies are usually followed by war Presidencies. Trump is largely the idiot he appears to be and is simply grabbing onto the various interests within the borg. Trump will bounce from "enemy" to "enemy" trying to find an issue to get his Presidency back on track. ..."
"... Something that has struck me as this thread goes on.. WWII never ended. Nazi/imperial Japan quest for empire morphed into US quest for empire that is coming to a climax today. ..."
"... Wide ranging fascinating interview with former high ranking CIA intelligence officer, Robert David Steele https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8UfYLA7FCqQ ..."
"... If North Korea, Russia, Iran, China or any other country that resists Zio-U.S. imperialism sent an Armada off the U.S. coast on the fourth of July, the U.S. wouldn't hesitate to sink it immediately, no questions asked. Trump is proving every day that he's a dangerous idiot. ..."
"... The wars to consolidate the world under one power has been going on for well over a century. Britain took the lead early on before passing the torch to the US once Rhodes plan to recover America was accomplished, sometime between Mckinleys assassination and the and of WWI . Wall Street and the money power in the city of London were always in sync. Albert Pike predicted 3 World Wars would be needed. ..."
"... we are ruled by idiots, con men, war-mongers, and Neanderthal whackos. Any attack by the US would be a massacre and humanitarian disaster of epic proportions. Plus, I assume, the north korean army that remains would likely shower much of south korea with tens of thousands of rockets, mortars and missiles. http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/14/whackos-in-washington-the-risky-game-of-regime-decapitation/ ..."
"... Whackos in Washington: the Risky Game of Regime Decapitation by Dave Lindorff ..."
"... A lot of people do not know that the US bombed the hell out of the entire of north Korea during the war. Like to ashes. The Chinese, and even more so, the Soviet reconstruction project for north Korea was the biggest of its kind post WWII. Even bigger than what actually went to European reconstruction I believe, but don't quote me on that (not in terms of what was earmarked but spent). ..."
"... ALSO perhaps the biggest crime was bombing the north's huge dams. Unless your a poor farmer you don't know what kind a thing that it is to do. No military value (I heard it was bombed because they ran out of other targets in some way). ..."
"... Its insane and breeds a toooon of animosity. Plus rejecting all attempts at peace talks. Plus having the media only present it in one way and an attitude of RA RA we don't engage in diplomacy with the terrorist obviously he only listens to force. ..."
"... The focus seems to be on what DPRK (north), PRC and USA might do. I would like to suggest that closer scrutiny should be applied to what is actually going on in RK (South). I think that this tension is being ratcheted upwards primarily to influence the outcome of the presidential election in the South. ..."
"... As we all know, Park has recently been impeached. In normal circumstances it could be expected that an opposition figure like Moon Jae-In would be the favourite to win the election. This may not be in the interests of either the US, Japan or the powers-that-be in South Korea. ..."
"... The election is 9 May 2017, and the US president has just ensured that North Korea will be front and centre in the campaign. ..."
"... South Korea is clearly benefiting economically (finally) from US support, but also pays a price by being another lapdog to the US and an eternal host for our military presence, willing or not. I suspect it's 'willing' because the US does everything possible to remind South Koreans of their peril by demonizing the North. South Korean press is worse than the US MSM. ..."
"... who pointed out above that wwii has not yet ended on the korean peninsula. i always knew that the war was 'technically' not over in the sense of no peace treaty's having been signed ... the same obtains between russia and japan, doesn't it? that's an indictment right there of the us. in both cases, as the us still has japan on a short leash. ..."
"... The main issue will be South Korea's relationship with the US and China. Traditionally South Korea has profited more from the US than from exchange with China. I bet this has already changed. But the US managed to create a security conflict between China and South Korea that ensures increased Chinese military support for North Korea. ..."
"... South Korean residents and civic group activists on Thursday filed a petition against the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, which they depicted as unconstitutional. ..."
"... Seoul and Washington abruptly announced a decision in July last year to install one THAAD battery in the county by the end of this year. Just three days before the announcement, Defense Minister Han Min-koo told lawmakers that he hadn't been informed of any notice about the THAAD installation. ..."
"... "The THAAD decision did not follow any proper procedure. No effort has been made for dialogue with residents," said Ha Joo-hee, an attorney at Lawyers for a Democratic Society, an advocacy group composed of liberal lawyers. ..."
"... Yet bet NATO wouldn't be happy. The entire 'containment' policy towards Beijing rests on the surrounding states being hostile to/ scared of China. Already SE Asia has all but 'fallen' (from a western viewpoint), what remains is Japan and SK. Detente? God forbid! ..."
"... According to US MSM the Chinese are totally on board and only have moved troops to bolster the border and help the US. And Russia and China really aren't conducting military exercises together. ..."
"... This constant mistranslated rhetoric and literally putting of words into foreign leaders mouths is of course one aspect of the western propaganda arm. Even when the headline or text of the article is updated, corrected or removed the meat of it remains in social media like Facebook. ..."
"... I do know more than a few Koreans firsthand pissed off at US army personnel behaviour though. Perhaps that can be channelled into meaningful change. They tell me that the impunity from judicial retribution plays a big role in the anger. Certain bases in Japan have had similar problems (I get the sense it cause more anger there though unfortunately). Perhaps this is just the views of a few people I talk to in SK though. ..."
"... What is real Russian position on this WWIII POTENTIAL STANDOFF. NK only one condemned attack on Syria while if what I hear is true, they want NK disarmed even in face of open US aggression. Also China if awfully quiet while repeating thirty year old equitable solution rejected by US that never looked for any solutions but domination. What's going on? ..."
"... Don't know about Russia but I have some thoughts re. China. Xi made it clear to Donald that China would support Kim if NK is attacked i.e WW3. ..."
"... Wikileaks, Podesta email about the Hillary Clinton speech for Goldman Sachs "We don't want a unified Korean Peninsula" because China, not the U.S., would naturally dominate it. The U.S. will do everything it can to prevent reunification. ..."
"... Would that be Judith Miller, perhaps, or possibly just a hero/role model ? ;) One perfectly reasonable phrase comes to mind, ' Subsequent to good faith negotiations & actual, guarantees '. ..."
Apr 17, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Anon1 | Apr 14, 2017 9:18:34 AM | 1

Isnt it amazing, the media in the west will always (ALWAYS!) be there for western nations when they want to wage a war, year after year. And then they say that we, who protest and expose them we are somehow the propagandists and disinformation agents?!

As b show, North Korea is the rational, but no one in our "free" western media brings these fact up.

No wonder western populations dont have any faith in their states and media.

I really hope North Korea put an end to this by standing tall, the pathetic China have backed away apparently..

Outraged | Apr 14, 2017 9:30:57 AM | 2
Bravo b. Bravo.

Another key consideration from a strategic military perspective, re the massive extensive military 'exercises' by US/SK annually is such can and have been used historically in war to create a sense of routine & normalcy, so if the Nth should be complacent, and its been going on for decades, a surprise attack can be launched and have devastating effects, even thought the Nth is on 'annual' 'alert'.

Maintaining heightened readiness, to Stand To! , stand ready for an attack, especially daily before dawn and prior to & after sunset, bayonets fixed, eye-peeled, adrenaline pumping, day after day, when the extended 'exercises' run, year after year after year is very difficult psychologically for the troops involved, corrosive of morale and discipline, and the Empire is very cognizant of this indeed.

Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 14, 2017 9:50:19 AM | 3
Anon1 | Apr 14, 2017 9:18:34 AM | 1

I really hope North Korea put an end to this by standing tall, the pathetic China have backed away apparently..

China doesn't have the option of backing away because a North Korea threatened by AmeriKKKa is also a China threatened by AmeriKKKa. I hope Trump knows what he's doing because the Chinese most certainly do know what they're doing.

Jeff Kaye | Apr 14, 2017 10:04:05 AM | 4
Thank you, b!

The pressure to capitulate to the US government on this issue is immense. The propaganda relentless. For over 64 years the American people have been living the Big Lie.

The oozing sore of a Cold War that never ended, that was really a Hot War for millions, now threatens to metastasize into Total War. I cannot see how this ends well for any of us, mainly due to the intransigence and irrationality of the US ruling class, who do not care how much blood they shed.

BRF | Apr 14, 2017 10:07:06 AM | 5
The USA as representing western elites have never signed off on the Korean War as a truce and cessation of hostilities but not a peace treaty is the current situation. This war continues and is being pursued by other means, mainly financial and with sanctions, by the west and its South Korean proxies.

The imposition of a state of tension by the west is all the west seems capable of with the result in the current situation and any time a solution is proposed that could lead to a lessening of tensions the west either sabotages or outright rejects the initiative.

This on going policy by the west is of course aimed at its geo-political adversaries in China and Russia as allies of the North Korean nation. The only fix that I can see is an economic collapse in the west that leads to a pull back from western imperial outposts as they become too expensive to maintain. This can only take place with the demise of the Federal Reserve Note (USD) as the world reserve currency which is printable in any amount the western elites desire in maintaining their grip and domination through imperial dictate over the rest of the world. End this financial death grip and the rest follows very very quickly.

Mark Stoval | Apr 14, 2017 10:11:29 AM | 6
No small country is safe from the evil empire (USA) if they don't have nuclear weapons. Witness what happened to Iraq (and others) who had no weapons of mass destruction. (even though USA claimed they did)

The USA has always believed the myth that WW2 saved the economy from the Great Depression and that the country would have slide back into depression without a war to fight --- hence the cold war and all the CIA wars ever since. Then came the "destroy the middle east" for the sake of Israel. (or oil or whatever)

The USA remains today the greatest impediment to world peace that there is. The USA may set off nuclear war and the destruction of all civilization at some point.

God help us all.

stumpy | Apr 14, 2017 10:13:43 AM | 7
Dead on, b.

If you parse Obama's Nobel prize acceptance speech he hints at the theoretical model he used to cut off chances for peace anywhere. With China's premiere in the room, no less.

Let me also say this: the promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach - and condemnation without discussion - can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

Effing liar. America offers the choice of an open door to North Korea? Ha. We like our indignation without cream and sugar, to maximize purity.

Anon1 | Apr 14, 2017 10:15:53 AM | 8
Hoarsewhisperer

There is no other way to declare that China have backed off, otherwhise we wouldn't see this preparation for war by Trump that came after his big China meeting last week.

China will sure remember this idiot stance they have taken when the wars begin, after North Korea, China will be in the cross-hair themselves.

Outraged | Apr 14, 2017 10:22:50 AM | 9
@ Posted by: Jeff Kaye | Apr 14, 2017 10:04:05 AM | 4

All honor & respect to you Invictus , for daunting, tireless & seemingly endless endeavor. Deepest & abiding respect indeed, Sir/Madam. Wishing you & yours safety & joy this Easter. ' Vale, Pax Tecum '.

Ronak | Apr 14, 2017 10:31:30 AM | 10
I still wonder why China stayed away from Syria with no talk of supporting Russia. This is/was a golden chance to show solidarity, in my opinion. Both NK and Pakistan are Chinese partners and nuclear powers. With MOAB in Afghanistan and forces around NK, this is a clear message to China. Is China setting a classic trap militarily or they just choosing to fight economically or otherwise? Somehow, Chinese reaction does not add up.
somebody | Apr 14, 2017 10:35:14 AM | 11
Chinese way of rebuking Trump
"On the Korean Peninsula issue, it is not the one who espouses hasher rhetoric or raises a bigger fist that will win," Wang said.

It is utmost stupidity. Trump is parking US war ships in reach of North Korea, Russia and China. Now he depends on them not to do anything.

Lysander | Apr 14, 2017 10:39:27 AM | 12
If you ever ask a local jingoist to list all the countries attacked by North Korea vs a comparable USA list, you will illicit blank stares, followed by anger, followed by the suggestion you go live in North Korea. Putin's analogy of chess with a pigeon comes to mind.
@ 8, China does not care about the current leadership of North Korea at all. Their concern is to keep US forces no closer to the Chinese border than they are now, and that they will do.

If Trump actually is dumb enough to strike, the Chinese will happily stand by and watch him hang himself. Just as promised at Mar-a-Lago.

Anon1 | Apr 14, 2017 10:48:53 AM | 14
Lysander

+1 on that.
Actually what you are describing is the average westerner today (although, perhaps the average westerner is a jingoist today), they are indoctrinated every day by by the MSM, they have no idea whats going on in the world, its so tragic when you try to explain world events and they always react like you said, anger, hate, accuations etc.

stumpy | Apr 14, 2017 11:11:39 AM | 15
Trump throwing stones at the mother of all hornet nests. Wonder what this all does for Samsung and Hyundai stock prices.
james | Apr 14, 2017 11:28:04 AM | 16
thanks b... many good comments already too! thanks folks.. @12 lysander - bang on example of how ignorant most folks remain.. why is the usa here there and everywhere on the planet where their war machines? answer - they are the planets most warmongering nation, hands down..
WorldBLee | Apr 14, 2017 11:38:51 AM | 18
Good article, b. This is extremely relevant yet almost never discussed in the US. North Korea is said to be "crazy", and is treated as some kind of rabid, non-human country that threatens the US. Of course, the opposite is more true.

It's important to note that every country that disagrees with the US is called crazy. Al-Assad is a "butcher", an "animal", a "dictator who kills his own people". Every time the US wants regime change they first vilify the leader of said country to turn him into a non-human entity that should be feared and loathed. This self-justifies the impending destruction of the country, which after all happened "for its own good."

Tobin Paz | Apr 14, 2017 11:59:34 AM | 19
If I told you ten years ago that the defacto American diplomat to North Korea Dennis Rodman would get kicked out of the country for getting drunk and taking a shit in a Pyongyang hotel; and that WWE hall of famer and reality TV star Donald Trump would threaten to attack North Korea as POTUS... would you have believed me?
Anon1 | Apr 14, 2017 12:02:37 PM | 20
Chinese FM earlier today said 'war might come to Korea any time now', basically, US and allies could attack Korea and we wont do aynthing about it, what a corrupt nature they are show off now, disgusting.
somebody | Apr 14, 2017 12:13:11 PM | 21
The Huge Moron has got himself into a situation now where China is mediating between the US and Korea.
likklemore | Apr 14, 2017 12:19:51 PM | 22
Kudos b putting this together. That was some digging.

Here is my 2 dumb questions: will the person who did the tallying of the MOAB taking out the 36 in Afghanistan be sent to NK for a similar task? Not to be crass, but given it was the "mother of all bombs" should the Pentagon folks not be embarrassed to release the count? KROI.

China warns, and this from Her Majesty's paper, The Telegraph.co.uk with video interview:
LINK

"World 'on the brink of thermo-nuclear war', as North Korea mulls test that could goad Trump"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Trump, as we have observed, does not enjoy being goaded - fights back when he is accused of having small hands.

And Kim Jong-Un? Well never mind.

~ ~ ~ ~

Wish all abundant blessings this Easter. We may not see 2018.

Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 14, 2017 12:25:07 PM | 23
Posted by: Anon1 | Apr 14, 2017 10:15:53 AM | 8

Imo, the main reason AmeriKKKa is threatening Korea at this time is because Xi scared them, and their freedom of navigation charade, out of the South China Sea. And now they're adding blackmail to the provocation by putting NK between them. It's cowardly and stupid, which is why I said I hope Trump knows what he's doing, because it doesn't look that way to me.

A violent conflict in NK will create a NK refugee problem which, as history illustrates, is AOK with AmeriKKKans but no-one else.
And if Xi has scared AmeriKKKa once, he can do it again.

likklemore | Apr 14, 2017 12:26:43 PM | 24
and linked in the article is Democratic-Leader Pelosi 's tweet:

President Trump's escalation on Syria, Saber-Rattling on North Korea Necessitate Immediate Congressional Scrutiny

~ ~ ~ ~
somewhat late after Congress abandoned it's war powers to the past 4 presidents.

Greg Bacon | Apr 14, 2017 12:33:42 PM | 25
Why is NK our problem?

NK has seen what happens when nations give up their WMD's Iraq got invaded and Saddam first tortured, then hanged. Libya got smashed and Qaddafi got a bayonet up his arse.

Now Syria is in the cross-hairs, with much of the nation in ruins, close 500K dead, millions more wounded and millions more homeless, with Assad being fitted for a hemp necktie.

So why should Kim give up his nukes, where's the benefit?

GoraDiva | Apr 14, 2017 12:36:48 PM | 26
For anyone even marginally interested in the issue of NK vs SK - please take time to listen to this interview - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba3dgDUtE9A (actually, 2 2-hr interviews).

Historian Bruce Cumings looks way back in trying to explain the peninsula and its troubles. One point he makes is that the Korean war gave Truman a perfect excuse to expand the military and set up the national security complex. One thing he does not say is that US likely has zero interest in defusing the conflict - lest they'd have to leave the area.

fastfreddy | Apr 14, 2017 12:47:00 PM | 28
Trump is not a huge moron. He is an actor - pretending to be a moron for his moron fan club. He is very convincing. Superb acting. Terrific. An Armada of Stagecraft. Unfortunately, his moronic behavior leads to moronic and zany consequences.

I'm now wondering how much worse the Known Entity - the Murderous Bloody Hillary could have been. Trump is a bull in a China Shop.

Anon1 | Apr 14, 2017 12:49:02 PM | 29
Hoarsewhispet

IMO, if anyone it is Trump that have "scared" the chinese or rather baited the Chinese with good trade deals and have got the word from the chinese that they wont rescue NK nor attack US if US feel like attacking NK. This is why Trump acting so tough now, he know China+UN+EU+Nato will support his coming war.

E Ring 46Z Vet | Apr 14, 2017 12:51:46 PM | 30
b, this occasion, your writing is very one-sided. You left out (as did all the commentators to this moment) the decades of brinksmanship by NK, demanding as much as $50 million annually from all the presidents prior to Bush 43, including oil shipments.

Consider this: (who ever is in charge of the WH now or last time, etc.) does not matter as much as "perhaps" that entire region, and the multiple layers of MIC/Deep State folks/their proxies in Congress in the USA, are finally fed up with the brinksmanship for cash to keep that guy's family and supporters in power, and now that NK lunatic has raised the anti to the nuke level (thanks Bill for helping them out there in the 1990's)... it looks like the Pentagon will work the decisions at their level as we now see in real-time.

I served a recent tour there. "Ready to Fight Tonight" is not just a motto with South Korea. They have lived it since 1953 and they are really tired of it.

Anon1 | Apr 14, 2017 1:00:32 PM | 31
30

Could you rephrase your whole chunk of text, it makes no sense, US dont "pay" North Korea anything and the lunatic is not in NorthKorea but in the White House allied with your dear South Koreans.

GoraDiva | Apr 14, 2017 1:03:41 PM | 33
@30
You've likely absorbed too much MCM (c - corporate) reporting; for a more complex understanding of the subject, pls listen to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba3dgDUtE9A - that is you're interested in learning, as opposed to just repeating MCM talking points.
Outraged | Apr 14, 2017 1:08:11 PM | 34
@ Posted by: E Ring 46Z Vet | Apr 14, 2017 12:51:46 PM | 30

Respectfully, your comments are very one-sided, and you appear to be profoundly ignorant of the entire genesis of the Korean v US conflict and the motivations and conduct of involved parties since the days of the Kuomintang (KMT), Chiang Kai-shek, in the Chinese Civil War starting in 1940 but especially US actions from Sept 1946 and 1949 onward, as well as relevant USSR/Chinese involvement.

Should you be interested there is significant detail in posts re 'Forgotten & buried History' of which you may be oblivious in the last three threads posts, or not.

If you served in SK, ' Ready to Fight Tonight ', then why did you not bother to actually learn something of the Korean history, if only the last 70 years, with you and your buddies lives 'on the line', as opposed to merely regurgitating 'kool-aid' propaganda & misinformation ?

Peter AU | Apr 14, 2017 1:32:44 PM | 37
And while we are studying this, the empire is making more plans.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-usa-mattis-idUSKBN17G1C1
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Qatar and Djibouti starting on Tuesday, the Pentagon said in a statement on Friday.

It said Mattis would "reaffirm key U.S. military alliances," and "discuss cooperative effort to counter destabilizing activities and defeat extremist terror organizations" during the April 18-23 tour. In Israel, he will hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the statement said.
.......

Syria? or Iran? When the above group talk about terrorist organizations they are talking Hezbollah. It is starting to look like the US is about to launch a two front war. Korea/China, Middle East/Russia.

Outraged | Apr 14, 2017 1:33:11 PM | 38
@ Posted by: From The Hague | Apr 14, 2017 1:20:25 PM | 36

Have been involved in detailed discussions that have carried thru the last three threads re Korea covering from 1940, to the critical events of Sept 1945, then thru to 1949 and just as important 1949 onwards, PRECEDING the Korean War of '50 ... many extracts, numerous links/sources/references, from multiple participating posters. Hm, suppose start around here:

b | Apr 14, 2017 1:33:38 PM | 39
@E Ring 46Z Vet

I you come here for "neutral" piece that give equal weight and view to all sides you are in the wrong place. No author does that anyway and there are mountains to read that always highly endorse the U.S. side on each and every issue. I am not from the States and have a way more neutral view than you will find in your media. But I am not one sided. I have my moral position, my conscience and I follow it. I know what the U.S. has done to Korea - unnecessarily and for what I consider nefarious reasons.

I also know that the claim NoKo was "demanding as much as $50 million annually from all the presidents prior to Bush 43, including oil shipments." is stupidly wrong.

It was only Clinton who made a deal with NoKo which included for the U.S. side the delivery of oil and grain and the building of two civil nuclear reactors in North Korea. North Korea, in exchange, was to stop all nuclear work it had proceeded with including its own building of civil reactors which it urgently needed for electricity. It was a deal. Both side got something out of it.

It was Clinton who broke that deal. It was Clinton who never delivered on his promises. The delivery of oil and grain was slow and ended early. Only the foundations of the reactors were build (by North Korea). No components were delivered. Bush only officially ended the deal Clinton had already renegaded on.

chump change | Apr 14, 2017 1:39:08 PM | 40
"demanding as much as $50 million annually from all the presidents prior to Bush 43"

Should take lessons from Israel and demand 3 Bil. 50 mil is chump change. How much do you think these annual maneuvers cost? More to the point, isn't it interesting that the US's war budget is practically unlimited, while money spent on peace is always too much.

You probably support tax cuts for oligarchs while bitching about money squandered upon the poor, homeless and ill.

Outraged | Apr 14, 2017 1:41:42 PM | 41
Followup to #38

Also very highly recommend the following article and embedded links/references re Korea and consequences/issues surrounding detailed expert factual analysis re possible war here:

Posted by: Outraged | Apr 12, 2017 8:38:58 PM | 248, 'Is There A New U.S. Syria Policy? Is There One At All?' thread. Cheers.

Skip | Apr 14, 2017 1:43:49 PM | 42
@30

I wonder how warm and fuzzy the USA would be if NK had 60+ years ago, devastated our population with the bloodlust described by MacArthur, yet still had 50,000 troops stationed all along the Mexican border(DMZ)with nuclear capabilities that in an instant could destroy Houston, Austin, Dallas, Phoenix and Los Angeles??? Somehow I hear screaming and howling coming from the bowels or our esteemed Washington overlords. Kim's behavior is no more foolish.

Anon1 | Apr 14, 2017 1:52:11 PM | 43
Air China to suspend some flights to North Korea http://presstv.ir/Detail/2017/04/14/518018/Air-China-suspend-flights-North-Korea

Well well well, this is almost getting comical, chinese show its true nature once again, what a backstabbing nation. China will be as complicit in this war on NK as Trump (and other pathetic allies). How many billion dollar deals did the stupid president get by Trump to be able to accept this tremendous blunder?

Peter AU | Apr 14, 2017 1:55:14 PM | 45
Is the US going the full John McCain? China rising, pivot on Asia behind schedule. Resources Diverted back to Middle East when Obama's headchoppers threatened US oil at Erbil. More resources for the pivot on China with Russia's re entry into the world of hard power.

At this stage, Russia was supposed to be the gas station that produced nothing. Syria should have fallen to US headchoppers. Philippines has pulled out of the pivot on China.

Obama's leading from behind, and proxy wars largely failed. This leaves the US very short on time to take down China, plus they now have to deal with a Russia that has risen from the dead.

So US going full John McCain to make up for time lost / ground lost through the Obama years?

Ronak | Apr 14, 2017 1:55:59 PM | 46
@ Posted by: Peter AU | Apr 14, 2017 1:32:44 PM | 37

I still think it's a one-front war. Saudi's just formed a NATO-like Sunni force with an ex-Pakistani general as it's head. Now they have a about 20 nation force for basic ground ops and this will help Saudi's in Yemen and may be Syria especially with Pakistan's depth in recruiting regulars and non-regulars. This could not have happened without US approval, imo.

SmoothieX12 | Apr 14, 2017 1:57:01 PM | 47
@37, Peter AU
Syria? or Iran? When the above group talk about terrorist organisations they are talking Hezbollah.It is starting to look like the US is about to launch a two front war. Korea/China, Middle East/Russia.

US is in no position to launch any serious military operation as of now, certainly not against Iran, not to speak about Russia. Bombing something? Sure, as long as it is stand-off weapons and no US casualties. Yet, US is under pressure to "perform" something because, as of lately things are not going too well for US in general and her military in particular. Consider all these plans a self-medication. Per China, China is not in the shape to fight US Navy as of now, not does she want to risk losing the access to US markets.

karlof1 | Apr 14, 2017 2:08:37 PM | 48
For those wondering what book the page is from, it's Napalm: An American Biography by Robert Neer, Belknap, 2013. Using google, enter this exactly into the search box: macarthur "biblical devastation resulted" hit search and the top result will take you to the page. (The actual url is about 4 lines, so I refrained from posting.) I do suggest reading the next several paragraphs, but they are not for the squeamish as what's described is 100% revolting. If after reading the text you cannot fathom why the North Koreans detest Americans more than anything else, then you'll make a perfect Neocon and ought to join Cheney and Co.

Thanks b for posting that extract provided by Jeffery Kaye!

SmoothieX12 | Apr 14, 2017 2:10:57 PM | 49
No one has forgotten the near genocide and no one in Korea, north or south, wants to repeat the experience.

Meanwhile, overwhelming majority of US political "elite" is generally an office plankton with law or political "science" (or journalism--which is not a profession or a skill) degrees from Ivy League "humanities" departments and their comprehension of the war is limited to Hollywood. Most difficulties in life they ever experienced was, most likely, being overbooked for the first class seats on the flight to Hawaii (or any other resort).

somebody | Apr 14, 2017 2:11:06 PM | 50
46) Not true
PAKISTAN'S Parliament rejected a Saudi request to dispatch troops to combat Houthi rebels in Yemen, much to the chagrin of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). When Pakistan joined the Saudi led 34 nation military alliance, Iran took offence believing itself to be the target. Pakistan thus found itself between a rock and a hard place. Stung by the sensitivities of both its friends, Pakistan has had to rethink its diplomatic overtures to maintain the right balance between Tehran and Riyadh.
Outraged | Apr 14, 2017 2:14:53 PM | 52
@ Posted by: Peter AU | Apr 14, 2017 1:55:14 PM | 45

Succinct overview recap, though very pessimistic ;)

Its occurred to me you may not fully follow, with utmost respect, what I've referred to on occasion as: no key indicators re logistics/materiel mandatory pre-deployments with minimum ~3-6 months lead times, ONCE, a decision to go to War, or an Op that risks War breakout, any War, has been taken and formally committed to, before the War or risk 'of' Operation, can commence ?

To do so without such pre-deployments well in advance of boots-on-the-ground, ships firing armaments or aircraft launching strikes, ie engaging in Ops that have inherent escalation to War risk, virtually guarantees failure and defeat should a War subsequently breakout ... Lieutenants study tactics, Field officers/Commanders/Generals/Admirals study logistics, to paraphrase numerous famous military commanders, especially smarmy/cheeky/insubordinate military logisticians ;)

Peter AU | Apr 14, 2017 2:15:00 PM | 53
SmoothieX12 47 China is not in the shape to fight US Navy as of now

That is a good reason for the US to act now. Look up the Rand Corp report - Thinking the Unthinkable. Report finance by the pentagon as a military strategy for taking down China.

In the report, if the US acts now, they have a good chance. In five years time it will it will be 50/50 and in ten year it is all over for the US. By then China will be militarily superior or at a point when any US force projection against China will be totally destroyed very quickly.

Rand report here. I had the title wrong in earlier posts. PDF can be read online or downloaded from the Rand Corp link
Thinking Through The Unthinkable http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1140.html

Monolycus | Apr 14, 2017 2:27:04 PM | 54
Thank you, E Ring 46Z Vet @#30 for that.

I still read this blog from time to time, but this very issue is why I almost never comment anymore. North Korea is to the Left as Israel is to the Right, and it infuriates me. The decades of kidnapping foreign nationals, hijacked planes, international assassination attempts-- basically 70 years of deliberate destabilization and human rights abuses are all justified because... "America" spelled any various number of ways is eeeeeeeevil.

I live in South Korea and have for the past 15 years. I posted a story here in 2012, shortly after Kim Jong-un came to power, about a defector badmouthing North Korea. B chastised me for believing such propaganda and responded with a linked story about how Kim Jong-un had created an agricultural revolution resulting in a surplus of crops that year and was a hero as a result of it. I am in South Korea.

Kim Jong-un had been in power for less than a year. The time of year was very, very early Spring and the ground in South Korea was still frozen and no crops of any sort had been planted at all, so I know they could not possibly have been planted yet in the north. Yet I was the one believing in baseless propaganda. There's just no way to have any rational debate when the subject is as sacred a cow to the residents here as North Korea is. You'll catch abuse for your comment daring to suggest any culpability whatsoever for poor, innocent bystander North Korea, but I wanted to reassure you that there do exist a small minority of us who appreciated what you had to say.

karlof1 | Apr 14, 2017 2:28:49 PM | 55
The conclusion from a review of the book by SF Gate: "Neer has provided a valuable book that fills in historical gaps and sheds much-needed light on a history that many would rather forget ." [Emphasis mine] http://www.sfgate.com/books/article/Napalm-by-Robert-M-Neer-4377836.php

The #1 reason the Outlaw US Empire gets away with its continuation of massive crimes against humanity is that its citizenry is mostly ignorant--made so purposefully--of the history that matters and are today's equivalent of "Good Germans."

However, that doesn't excuse the remainder of the planet's citizenry from demanding an end to the criminal actions of the Rogue United States.

Ronak | Apr 14, 2017 2:29:12 PM | 56
@ Posted by: somebody | Apr 14, 2017 2:11:06 PM | 50

Thanks for the link.

This rejection was a while ago, 2015 or so? Or was there a new one after the general was given the top post? I had assumed things have changed since.

Anyways, cornering Iran is the goal that the US/Israel trying to accomplish, at least from reading the pattern of activities. Slippery slope indeed.

Outraged | Apr 14, 2017 2:35:49 PM | 57
@ Posted by: Peter AU | Apr 14, 2017 2:15:00 PM | 52

Thought scenario ... US launches attacks and starts War with China, no virtually 'non-concealable' 6 month mandatory preparation lead-time ... however unlikely, events don't go well for PLA ... China assesses at risk of conventional defeat ... however unlikely, no possibility to continue to conventionally resist or recover for an extended conventional conflict or guerilla campaign... fires a demonstration tactical nuke (no casualties) to send a message re de-confliction/de-escalation, or else ... US either stands down or its MAD. Game Over.

Alternately US just goes MAD straight up and risks it all with a supposed surprise First Strike (highly improbable to adequately conceal) ... only a few Sino nukes make it to Stateside, yet enough to wipe out 80Million+ instantly and same number in initially non-KIA casualties of varying degrees plus turn to 'glass' half a dozen major cities ... well armed citizens response/reaction to their new post-apocalyptic lives of joy & happiness ?

Anon1 | Apr 14, 2017 2:45:17 PM | 58
53 / Monolycus

Thanks for proving how well the South Korean state propaganda work, you are basically calling for war against your own country (or perhaps you are not even a native korean?) and your own people, and you are calling people here crazy?

Yonatan | Apr 14, 2017 2:47:10 PM | 59
The 'Big Event' that Kim Jong Un boasted of, and had 'everyone' paralyzed in fear of nuke tests - the grand opening of a new mass residential area in Pyongyang.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxPw26MeviQ

As others have stated, this whole mess is yet another US creation - the consequence of a 'nukes for oil' deal that the US reneged on - NK would cease nuke development in exchange for eased sanctions.

somebody | Apr 14, 2017 2:47:13 PM | 60
Posted by: Ronak | Apr 14, 2017 2:29:12 PM | 55

Dated April 14, 2017

Another fresh link - 17 hours ago

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday assured the National Assembly that Pakistan would not become part of any alliance against a Muslim state.

Responding to a calling attention notice, he said that the terms of reference (TOR) of the Saudi-led military alliance would be unveiled by Saudi authorities next month.

He said that the TOR of the alliance, which is to be led by former Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif, and its aims and objectives will be presented in parliament before formally deciding whether Pakistan should become part of it or not.

"We have committed to safeguarding Saudi Arabia's soil for the safety and sanctity of the two holy sites - Makkah and Medina - but we will not become part of any conflict against any Muslim state, including Iran," the defence minister said, responding to the notice moved by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Dr Shireen Mazari.

somebody | Apr 14, 2017 2:56:20 PM | 61
add to 59

Egypt's cooperation is not that safe either

In Libya, the three states seem to be in lock step, supporting Khalifa Haftar, for example. In Palestine, a theatre long abandoned by the Arab leaders, Cairo has a deep-seated interest and is backing the anti-Hamas Mohammed Dahlan, who is also very close with the ruling family in the UAE.

In Yemen, the Egyptian regime has announced its plan to maintain its limited presence, although Cairo's unwillingness to expand this presence is another source of disagreement with Riyadh.

The issue on which there is the most daylight between Cairo and Riyadh, however, is the most significant conflict affecting the region today: the Syrian war.

While Riyadh has backed forces opposed to the regime since the outset, Cairo has moved from a position of ambivalence to open support for the regime.

...

Although rumblings of an Egyptian military presence in Syria have not been substantiated, Egyptian rhetoric and diplomatic efforts have firmly supported Assad. Most recently, Cairo abstained from a key vote in a UN Security Council resolution that would have imposed sanctions on the Syrian government, no doubt to the displeasure of the Saudis.

This position is more consistent with the Egyptian regime's outlook; Sisi rose to power on an anti-Islamist platform and is waging a war against a small scale insurgency in the Sinai. The Trump administration's policy goals in the region seem to align with Sisi's vision of supporting authoritarian regimes against Islamists. This agenda puts both Trump and Sisi into Assad's camp.

For this reason, it seems that Sisi's dream of a joint Arab military force will not materialise anytime soon, at least not with joint Egyptian and Saudi participation.

Without agreement on Syria, this endeavor to unify Arab governments under his leadership is dead on arrival, as the Syrian conflict is currently the most significant security threat.

b | Apr 14, 2017 3:03:08 PM | 62
The link to the book extract in the post which @karlof1 provided. The book is Napalm: An American Biography by Robert Neer, Belknap, 2013

The linked pages following the one above are about the extremely cruel effects of Napalm as used in Korea.

Yonatan | Apr 14, 2017 3:03:41 PM | 63
Karlof1 @48, @54

The US laid a similar (though smaller scale) trail of destruction in Germany at the end of WWII.

The development of napalm specifically to target civilians ties in the testing of the two US nuclear weapons in Japan. The Japanese target cities were left untouched by conventional air raids throughout, even though they contained valid military targets such a torpedo production plants.

The occupants were so used to seeing US planes pass them by without ill effect, that on the fateful day they stood out in the open watching the planes pass by as normal or so they thought. The two attacks - for different designs of weapon - were designed to test and calibrate the effects of nuclear weapons on undamaged cities and unprotected civilians. They were actual medical and physical experiments on real people.

Peter AU | Apr 14, 2017 3:04:29 PM | 64
@ outraged

I have been giving your posts a lot of consideration. How to tie the logistics and so forth lead time, to what we are seeing take place?
create major incident, congress quickly votes for war?

Can the US deploy faster than we have seen in the past? Most US wars since WWII have been wars of choice, done at leisure, in a time and place of US choosing.

The difference between now and all the years since WWII, through the cold war and so forth is that the US has very little time left. In trying to think how the US is acting different now to the past, or actually dig up solid points I would probably point to MH17. With MH17 Australia, one of the five eyes gladly sacrificed some people for empire. That shook me. The evidence was the same as the crap dossier on Assad gassing his own people, yet not a word of protest out of any Australian politician.

The US now have total and complete control over all its vassal. The US can now say and do anything, no matter how obvious, and the bobble heads as Putin calls them, just bobble their heads in agreement.

I think what we will see in the next few years will be much different to the last 70 or so years. If the US does nothing, it will start to collapse as the power of the dollar is eroded by other currencies taking up market share.

I believe US will act, and that means taking down China as China is currently the number one threat to the US. China simply continuing the way it is, manufacturing, trading ect will take down the US.

The US is going to war. Much thought and training going into fighting peer, or near peer adversary. At the same time, China and Russia are working to prevent the US from going to war.

What you have said about lead time does have to be taken into account to try and work out US strategy. Does the US need another Pearl Harbour to get its population on a war footing for the coming war with China? Sink a few useless aircraft carriers, similar to battleships being sunk at Pearl harbour when WWII was a aircraft carrier war and battle ships were largely obsolete?


US think tanks like Brookings and Rand. Fronts for the 0.01% ? US policy roughly follows the lines put out by these type think tanks.

Outraged | Apr 14, 2017 3:06:51 PM | 65
@ Monolycus

If you truly earnestly believe:

The decades of kidnapping foreign nationals, hijacked planes, international assassination attempts-- basically 70 years of deliberate destabilization and human rights abuses are all justified because...

following on from the defeat of Japan at end WWII occurred without any similar actions prior to, concurrent with and subsequent to events of the Korean War, and the issues are purely of Left & Right 'isms', not basic matters of Humanity, then frankly, you're viewpoint/position is wilfully documented counter-factual, IMHO. Have seen no 'abuse' as you assert.

You live in SK ? Respectfully, please enlighten us as to the history of the island of Jeju from Sept 1945 thru to today, as an example, maybe comment on the abandoned truth & reconciliation inquiries/compensation and the persisting existing community divisions thru to this day, hm ?

SmoothieX12 | Apr 14, 2017 3:14:00 PM | 66
@52, Peter AU
That is a good reason for the US to act now.

From US point of view--absolutely. US establishment, yet again, thinks that it can control escalation. Conventionally, North Korea is a punching bag. But I also would be very careful with any (I underscore--any) supposedly "reputable" US analytical source assessments of anyone. Overwhelming empirical evidence testifies to the fact that often they have no idea what they are talking about.

ronny | Apr 14, 2017 3:16:05 PM | 67
Kim Jong-un orders evacuation of Pyongyang: report

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered 25 percent of Pyongyang residents to leave the city immediately, according to a Russian news outlet on Friday. The Pravda report said that in accordance with the order, 600,000 people should be urgently evacuated.

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170414000689

Outraged | Apr 14, 2017 3:25:30 PM | 68
@ Peter AU
If the US does nothing, it will start to collapse as the power of the dollar is eroded by other currencies taking up market share.

Stepping back from fundamental military strategy/necessities ...

If China/Russia were facing imminent War, then they would very probably dump all US reserves and Treasury Bonds first, and pre-emptively trigger economic collapse & rout. Unless it's MAD first strike stuff, where is the industrial and manufacturing base of the US/UK to sustain and win a 'Total War' ? Russia/China/Iran/NK are all militarily self-sufficient ... long-term sanctions do that, somewhat self-defeating, no ?

IF the US collapses without War occurring, the 0.01% driving this will have already relocated in advance to, New Zealand or Iceland, etc ? To live lives of luxury, whilst purchasing collapsed US corporations for pennies on the dollar, perhaps, and wait for the investment to mature, maybe ? Ruthless bastards, citizens of the world ;)

Yet, mistakes & miscalculations can occur unintentionally when even only a sustained 'strategy of tension' goes on and on ...

Peter AU | Apr 14, 2017 3:31:49 PM | 69
Another thing to consider now when looking at US actions... US have pinned all their hopes for military dominance on the F-35. Thirty years of R&D, a trillion dollars, and all they have produced is a flying scrapyard. The F-22 is a top aircraft, but they scrapped product