Saturday, September 23, 2017

Today's Links

We have to remember that South Korea was created by the United States as an artificial proxy state after World War II to prevent the creation of a unified Korea.

During the Korean War, the North faced nuclear annihilation at least seven times. From 1958 until 1991 there were tactical nuclear weapons on the peninsula. All 950 of them were removed in 1991, but then ICBMs, which were pointed at the Soviet Union, were redirected at North Korea.

Colin Powell threatened to turn North Korea into a charcoal briquette; Recently Secretary of Defense Mattis spoke of “annihilation”; John McCain has spoken of the “extinction” of North Korea. It makes sense that North Korea would be seeking a deterrent.

1--Margaret Kimberley: Black Agenda Report

“It is an error to be swept up in useless argument about whether the current president is a white supremacist without also discussing the racist underpinnings of American society.”

We had a white supremacist nation even when the president was black. Barack Obama was indeed the more effective evil. He is now proving it by doing what former presidents always do. He is lining his pockets giving speeches to the banksters who stole what little wealth black people had managed to earn. But he had better manners than the erratic and, yes, bigoted Donald Trump and he went out of his way to make nice even as he worked to enhance the neo-liberal and imperialist projects.

Obama never prosecuted killer cops or thieving bank executives. He destroyed Libya, Africa’s most prosperous nation. But white racists still hated him and he benefited from their animus. They gave him the Teflon coating that Trump can only dream about.

2--US-backed Forces Push For Another Oil Field While ISIS Attacks Syrian Army Near Deir Ezzor

ISIS working hand in hand with SDF?

ISIS creates diversion while SDF seize oil fields....."Earlier this, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it has observed almost no fighting between ISIS and the SDF."

3--Spetsnaz-- Russian Specials Ops (video)

" ...the decay of the post cold war globalisation world order means more countries slipping into state failure and falling prey to radical nonstate actors using terror and other forms of unconventional warfare against which conventional forces are a less than ideal form of coercion.

4--ISIS still controls 80 percent Syria's oil

The militants of the Daesh terrorist group (outlawed in many countries) control nearly 80 percent of oil fields and most gas deposits in the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor, the Syrian Gas Company representative in the region, Amin Hamid, told Sputnik.

"At the moment, nearly 80 percent of oil resources in Deir ez-Zor are under IS [Daesh] control. As regards gas deposits, almost all of them are still under control of terrorists. All the plants and gas fields, which I refer to, are located on the other side of the Euphrates [the northern part of Deir ez-Zor] — this is Conoco, Omar, Jafra, Al-Isba and Tanak, and most gas processing plants are also located there."

5--CIA still delivering arms to jihadists in Syria?

TRUST. Trump announced the closure of the CIA support to Syrian rebels. Or has it ended, or was that just weasel-wording that allowed the Pentagon to continue? Who can say? Foreign Affairs magazine, no less, has just gone public with "The Pentagon Is Spending $2 Billion Running Soviet-Era Guns to Syrian Rebels" and there are persistent reports (denied by Washington of course) that US helicopters lifted people out of Deir ez-Zor after the Syrians broke the siege. (Deir ez Zor was the scene of the US attack on Syrian forces a year ago.) Trump's constant references to the Iran nuclear deal as "one of the worst" does not give anyone confidence that Washington would keep its word to Pyongyang (or anybody).

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. All the reasons why the Russia-election-interference story is bunkum. Not least of which is the remarkable inactivity of the FBI: for example "The FBI has never questioned Assange [he confirms that] or Murray" and neither has it ever looked at the DNC servers. Nonetheless, every time you think the hysteria has gone as far as it can, it goes a bit farther: Morgan Freeland joins the circus. Bershidsky trashes the latest nonsense

6--US helping ISIS?  I remind you that this is an oil-rich region, which has been providing oil to the terrorists.

Russia continues to accuse the US of effectively fighting them as they mop up ISIS in Syria.
Attacks are coming from areas where US special forces are based. The Russian suspect, with good reason, that the Americans are helping coordinate the attacks.
Another accusation is that somebody opened the upstream dams to raise the water level of the Euphrates, complicating getting troops and equipment across it...

Konashenkov put special emphasis on the following statement:
As the end of ISIS approaches in Syria, it is obvious who is really fighting them, and who has been pretending to fight them for the last 3 years. If the American led coalition would prefer not to fight terrorism in Syria, then the least they could do is get out of the way of those who have been doing it consistently and effectively.
Despite this, the Syrian army, with the support of the Russian air force, continues to expand the bridgehead on the east bank of the Euphrates. They have freed 60 sq. kilometers from the terrorists.
I remind you that this is an oil-rich region, which has been providing oil to the terrorists.

That is why they (i.e. the Americans) are so energetic in trying to throw a spanner into the works.

7--Trump provokes North Korean counter-threats and heightens war danger

North Korea has reached two agreements with the US to denuclearise—in 1994 and 2007—only to have them sabotaged by Washington. The US and international media routinely accuse Pyongyang of bad faith, but the Bush administration scuttled the 1994 Agreed Framework on coming to office in 2001 and denounced North Korea in 2002 as part of an “axis of evil.” It blew up the 2007 deal that it reached with Pyongyang by unilaterally insisting in 2008 on far tougher inspection measures than were written into the agreement.

The Pyongyang regime is well aware of the fate of governments that have capitulated to US demands to abandon their weapons programs and agree to ever-more intrusive inspections. In the case of both Iraq and Libya, the US intervened militarily to oust the regimes and kill their leaders....

In his statement yesterday, North Korean leader Kim declared that Trump’s threats at the UN “convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.”...

Shortly after Mr. Kim’s statement was released, North Korean foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, suggested that Pyongyang’s response “could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific.” However, he immediately added: “We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong-un.”

8-- Hacked or not hacked?

Here’s the worst case scenario: someone maybe working for Russia (maybe!) called someone maybe working for Trump (maybe!) and said, “we can do something” and the Trump person most likely said, inappropriately, “I don’t want to hear about it but…I DON’T want to hear about it”. In other words, a wink.

But this is not illegal. If this happened (which is just my worst-case scenario guess), the American side could have said, “Don’t do anything” but that might be just as illegal also (to have any communication whatsoever with a bad participant).
This is where guys like Comey and Flynn get involved and we still don’t know the extent of what they knew and who they spoke to.

The law is very unclear on ALL of this and even Democrat-leaning lawyer Alan Dershowitz has stated no crime was committed by a US citizen in terms of this attack or any influence on the elections. And Barak Obama, probably prematurely, said there was no direct attack on the US election system.
But….we don’t know and never will....


A) The US election system is hacked beyond belief.
– Passwords of top officials are known
– Computers are sending every keystroke to bad agents
– Bot armies are ready to shut down election centers at the press of a button
– registration software is probably hopelessly infected
– vote counting software is probably effected but this is much more difficult since there are many backup systems for storage and replication of counting.

9--“Committee to Investigate Russia:” Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman’s warmongering video

On January 6, 2017, America’s intelligence agencies shared a declassified report concluding Russia had attacked our nation with the express goal of disrupting the presidential election and ultimately weakening our democracy. To this day, that destabilizing effort continues.”
That’s it! On the basis of this bald assertion, the committee declares that “We have been attacked. We are at war.”
As the WSWS noted in January, the cited report consists of unsupported conclusions by the CIA, FBI and NSA, “using the phrase ‘we assess’ 19 times without a single fact to demonstrate Russian involvement… One is left with the bare assertion: we, the intelligence community, have made a judgment, and you, the American people, must take it on faith..

It took right-winger Tucker Carlson of Fox News, of all people, to point out to Reiner some of the implications of his pro-war propaganda. On Carlson’s program Thursday, the host asked the actor-director, “How would you respond if President Trump took you seriously and sent the B-52s to St. Petersburg or blockaded the Gulf of Finland? Would you support that?”...

During the campaign, Reiner attributed the persistence of support for Trump to the racism of white working class males. Speaking of such support, he told the Hollywood Reporter in September 2016, “Look at the demographics: It’s mostly white males who don't have college degrees. And, you know, that’s Archie [Bunker]. Then there’s also a very serious strain of racism that runs through his followers…”

This is the voice of someone a thousand miles from the economic and social suffering of broad layers of the American population.
That Reiner is participating in the McCarthyite anti-Russian campaign has an ironic element. His father, Carl Reiner, veteran comedian, actor and director, had a brush with the anti-communist witch-hunts in the 1950s and even early 1960s.

The elder Reiner, now 95, had sufficient contact with left-wing figures in Hollywood during the time he was writing for and performing on Sid Caesar’s popular television program Your Show of Shows to warrant a visit from two FBI agents in 1954. They inquired about his voting habits and asked, according to Reiner, “Do you know any communists?”

10--Did Obama spy on Trump? Tucker Carlson

11--Samantha Power unmasking almost one person per day

Excuses for uncovering the names of over 200 American citizens

12--$2 Trillion Later, Does the Fed Even Know if Quantitative Easing Worked?

As the central bank sets out to reverse quantitative easing, there are at least three reasons not to worry too much about its impact on markets—and one good reason to be concerned

After spending $2 trillion on government bonds in an effort to stimulate the economy, the U.S. Federal Reserve can hardly admit that it doesn’t know how, or even if, it worked.
Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen on Wednesday came as close as she’s ever likely to get to accepting that quantitative easing is still poorly understood even by the experts. Explaining why the central bank prefers to set short-term rates rather than buy or sell stuff, she said it was because “we believe we understand pretty well what the effects [of rate changes] are on the economy,” and so do investors. Left unsaid: No one’s really sure how, or if, QE works....

Further, we can’t be sure that QE had much, or any, effect on growth and inflation. Studies mostly find a noticeable impact, but teasing out how much of that was really down to QE requires too many assumptions to be reliable. As Claudio Borio and Anna Zabai of the Bank for International Settlements put it in a paper last year, “these results generally have to be taken with more than a pinch of salt...

There’s a good reason for investors to worry, however. At the moment, the one measure on which U.S. stocks don’t look expensive is when they’re compared with bond yields. If a rise in yields removes that advantage, it takes away the only valuation support for U.S. equities, making it even harder to justify buying at record highs

13--Putin UN speech 2015

In the United Nations General Assembly, 28 September 2015, President Putin seemed to lay at least part of the responsibility for the Syrian Civil War with unnamed powers that had been "pushing" for "democratic revolution" in Syria:
"(...) We all know that after the end of the Cold War, a single center of domination emerged in the world. (...)

(...) We are all different. And we should respect that. No one has to conform to a single development model that someone has once and for all recognized as the only right one.

(...) Attempts to push for changes within other countries based on ideological preferences often led to tragic consequences and to degradation rather than progress. It seems however, that far from learning from others' mistakes, everyone just keeps repeating them. And so the export of revolutions, this time of so-called "democratic" ones, continues. Suffice it to look at the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. (...) Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress we got violence, poverty and a social disaster. (...) It is now obvious that the power vacuum created in some countries of the Middle East and North Africa led to emergence of anarchy areas. Those immediately started to be filled with extremists and terrorists. Tens of thousands of militants are fighting under the banners of the so-called "Islamic State". (...) And now the ranks of radicals are being joined by the members of the so-called "moderate" Syrian opposition supported by the Western countries. First, they are armed and trained, and then they defect to the Islamic State.

(...) Russia has always been firm and consistent in opposing terrorism in all its forms. Today, we provide military and technical assistance both to Iraq and Syria that are fighting terrorist groups. We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its Armed Forces (...) We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad's Armed Forces and Kurd militia are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria

14--Facebook should be investigated for its role in the illegal Kiev coup of 2014

15--Flawed & selective:’ UN Security Council failed to investigate crimes in Iraq – HRW

16--The forgotten postwar US-Nazi alliance

17--CIA--Seven decades of organized crime

18--Arm twisting to rat-out Trump?

The press accounts of Mueller’s demands for White House documents follow the CNN report that Mueller has threatened former campaign chairman Manafort with indictment on charges unrelated to the Trump campaign, concerning his activities as a consultant to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, in an effort to compel Manafort to become a cooperating witness against Trump or Flynn.

More links and Notes----

At the same time, the sanctions underscore the reality that the Trump administration’s reckless escalation of the conflict with North Korea is part of a broader strategy aimed at undermining China, which is regarded by the US as the main obstacle to its regional and global hegemony.

fb censorship?

Lying Comey?  "With respect to the president's tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI," former FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee last March. Comey was under oath
Could Manafort wiretap reports put Comey in legal trouble? critical 240 min
Mueller dragnet in Stalinist America

There's also the fact that fomer FBI director James Comey testified on Capitol Hill this spring that there was no evidence to back up Trump's claim that his wires were tapped. "We have no information to support those tweets," Comey told the House intelligence committee.
And the fact that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has also definitively ruled out that Trump's phones were tapped.
"For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign," Clapper said on NBC in March. Asked directly whether there was a FISA warrant to tap Trump's phone at Trump Tower, Clapper responded bluntly: "I can deny it."
constitutional crisis?
Russia hacking "a total scam"
Did Obama Know about Comey’s Surveillance?
The media is less interested in Obama Administration wiretapping than in how Trump described it.

It is not president Assad we are protecting. We are protecting the Syrian state. we don't want Syria to end up like Libya, Somalia or afgahnistan In Afghanistan NATO has been involved for many years, but the situation is not getting better. We want to preserve the Syrian state. Putin    crossing at deir ezzor
another great rundown of war for deir ezzor   daring attempt to capture Russian police   US wanted deconfliction zone along Euphrates nb
Meanwhile, the SDF has moved a large number of US-supplied military equipment to Deir Ezzor frontlines.  Photos of at least one military column have appeared online.
Syrian analysts say the US-led coalition and the SDF will attempt to prevent the SAA advance on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.
At the same day, spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said government forces have faced fierce ISIS counter-attacks from an area controlled by the US Special Operations Forces and the SDF.
“According to Syrian commanders’ reports from the front line, the Syrian Army encounters the most severe counterattacks and fire from the northern direction. That is, where SDF forces and US special operations units are located, who are allegedly administering medical aid to these militants instead of liberating Raqqa. You don’t have to possess profound military knowledge to see consistency in all these ‘coincidences’,” Konashenkov said.
Konashenkov added that water discharges from the Euphrates dams controlled by the US-backed forces hamper the government advance north of Deir Ezzor.
we have to realize that that process of denuclearization may have to be tied to the reunification of Korea. The division of Korea has created an untenable situation where both sides are continuing the massive militarization. Reunification could resolve the nuclear crisis that is facing Northeast Asia

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Today's Links

"Neither Robert Mueller's team nor the US Senate Intelligence Committee has bothered to contact WikiLeaks or me, in any manner, ever."  Julian Assange

1--It’s Time to Talk to North Korea, Jimmy Carter

In June 1994, I met with Kim Il Sung in a time of crisis, when he agreed to put all their nuclear programs under strict supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency and to seek mutual agreement with the United States on a permanent peace treaty, to have summit talks with the president of South Korea, to expedite the recovery of the remains of American service personnel buried in his country, and to take other steps to ease tension on the peninsula. Kim Il Sung died shortly after my visit, and his successor, Kim Jong Il, notified me and leaders in Washington that he would honor the promises made by his father. These obligations were later confirmed officially in negotiations in Geneva by Robert Gallucci and other representatives of the Clinton administration....

During all these visits, the North Koreans emphasized that they wanted peaceful relations with the United States and their neighbors, but were convinced that we planned a preemptive military strike against their country. They wanted a peace treaty (especially with America) to replace the ceasefire agreement that had existed since the end of the Korean War in 1953, and to end the economic sanctions that had been very damaging to them during that long interim period. They have made it clear to me and others that their first priority is to assure that their military capability is capable of destroying a large part of Seoul and of responding strongly in other ways to any American attack

2--Russia threatens to attack US-backed forces in Deir Ezzor

The Russian Ministry of Defense has issued a formal warning to the US military regarding the behavior of their forces in the Deir Ezzor Governorate.“Russia unequivocally told the commanders of US forces in Al Udeid Airbase (Qatar) that it will not tolerate any shelling from the areas where the SDF are stationed,” the Spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Major General Igor Konashenkov, stated this morning, adding that the attacks put at risk Russian military advisers embedded with Syrian government troops.

“Fire from positions in regions [controlled by the SDF] will be suppressed by all means necessary,” he stressed.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have shelled the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) positions in Deir Ezzor at least two times this week; this has prompted the Russian Ministry of Defense’s to issue a stern warning to Washington

3--Syrian Army expands control over eastern bank of Euphrates River

4--US moving ISIS commanders around Afghanistan?

Russian presidential special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov expressed a distrust regarding the issue of “unidentified helicopters” transfering ISIS members in northern Afghanistan, during his meeting with US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Alice Wells in New York.

“Among the problems that we have, I identified the distrust that we have in connection with these mysterious helicopters transferring ISIS militants, their weapons, ammunition,” Kabulov said, according to the Russian state-run media outlet RIA.

Kabulov added that his Western counterparts pretend that they know nothing about this. However, this is not possible. The aforementioned helicopters operate from few bases, including Camp Marmal in Mazar-i-Sharif [the second largest city in Afghanistan].
Camp Marmal is one of the largest bases of the US-led coalition in the country

5-- Showdown in Syria: The Reason Russia (Not China) Is the Target of Washington's Wrath

US vilification of Russia began in earnest shortly after Moscow opened a military offensive against Islamic State forces in Syria

Last year, Russia,... was accused of interfering in the US presidential election in order to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. (Moscow was) slandered without a shred of evidence against them ...However, Washington wants the world to believe Russia was responsible for such folly, and the reason for that is obvious - Syria, and more specifically, Russia's stunning success there. And what we know in the aftermath of the USS McCain wreck confirms that....

The unbridled level of US hostility toward Russia has nothing to do with the 2016 elections, but everything to do with an embattled Arab country called Syria. Russia began its military intervention in the Syrian conflict in September 2015 after an official request by the Syrian government for military aid against Islamic State. It speaks volumes about Washington's real agenda in Syria, which is yet another regime change operation, this time against Syrian President Bashar Assad, that it never attempted to cooperate with Russian military efforts in Syria. In fact, it tried to impede them at every opportunity. In June 2016, for example, when Russian Defense Ministry requested Washington provide Moscow with the coordinates of areas controlled by the US-backed Syrian opposition to avoid any unintended consequences, Washington inexplicably refused, risking a disastrous mishap.

While the Russian military was effectively liberating terrorist strongholds, like Palmyra and Aleppo, US criticism against Russian efforts seldom took a pause. However, the joyous celebrations followed the liberation of these ISIS strongholds vindicated Russia for its actions. ...

Meanwhile, the source of the problem, which is still very much the elephant in the room, is that the US seems willing, once again, to take its chances by removing an elected leader from office thereby creating a power vacuum, which in all likelihood will be filled by far worse alternatives, perhaps even terrorists. Think Libya. Think Iraq. Russia, however, is adamantly opposed to such interference in the affairs of yet another foreign sovereign state.

As all of this was coming to a boil in Syria, the US campaign between Clinton and Trump was also heating up. And the stakes were as high as ever. The Clinton camp represented a continuation of neocon foreign policy, which remained largely unchanged and very unhinged from the days of 'war president' George W. Bush to that of 'peace president' Barack Obama. Trump, at least on the campaign trail, promised to end US conflicts, going so far as to suggest walking away from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

And when it became painfully apparent that Hillary Clinton would not carry the day for the military-industrial complex, a convenient scapegoat was needed. After all, who could believe that any American would willfully vote to end exorbitant military misadventures abroad in favor of 'Make America Great Again'?

6--America's Jews Are Driving America's Wars

7-- Markets hail “gradual” moves by Federal Reserve

The US Federal Reserve kept its official interest rate on hold at the conclusion of its two-day meeting yesterday, as expected, in a further indication that any return to “normal” conditions will be very gradual.
The main decision to come out of the meeting was to start winding back its holdings of the $4.5 trillion in financial assets, accumulated as a result of the program of quantitative easing. This decision was also expected as the Fed had indicated back in June that it would start the wind down...

In an op-ed piece published in the New York Times on September 15, Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Shiller noted that, according to his cyclically adjusted price earnings ratio (CAPE), market valuations were very high.

“The CAPE ratio is above 30 today, compared with an average of 16.8 since 1881. It has been above 30 in only two other periods: in 1929, when it reached 33, and between 1997 and 2002, when it soared as high as 44.”

While he described the present level as “troubling,” Shiller maintained that the present situation was not like that which preceded the Great Depression because there was not the same mass psychology and while valuations remained “very high” there did not seem to be a worry by investors that others were on the verge of selling.

But as a student of economic history, Shiller would be well aware that market crises have generally been preceded by the claim that “this time it’s different.”
“Why people are so calm about the high-priced market is a bit of a mystery. On this I can only speculate. … I don’t really know.”...

With less than 1 percent of the population having a net worth that is equal to the bottom 90 percent of the population combined, “what is a big deal is if you had an economic downturn because we have two economies.”

8--The New York Times sets out its brief for Internet censorship

The meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York is taking place under the shadow of the accelerating drive of the major powers, spearheaded by the United States, toward World War III...

Trump devoted a significant portion of his tirade to a denunciation of socialism and communism, reflecting the fear within the US ruling elite of the growth of social opposition and rise of anti-capitalist and socialist sentiment in the working class.

Another major focus of the assembly is the mounting campaign of the US and European governments to crack down on the exchange of information and views on the Internet. British Prime Minister Theresa May, French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni all used the pretext of fighting terrorism and “fake news” to call for more drastic measures by the major technology firms to censor the Internet, which Gentiloni called a “battlefield for hearts and minds.”

This attack on free speech is a central part of the response of the crisis-ridden capitalist ruling elites to the growth of global geo-political tensions and economic instability, and the political radicalization of broad masses of workers and youth.
In the US, the drive for Internet censorship has been spearheaded by the so-called “liberal” wing of the political establishment, concentrated in the Democratic Party, whose chief media organ is the New York Times. On the eve of the UN assembly, the Times published an unambiguous brief for censorship of the Internet in the form of an op-ed column by the ambassador to the UN under Barack Obama, Samantha Power.

Under the headline “Why Foreign Propaganda Is More Dangerous Now,” and on the pretext of combating Russian disinformation and subversion, Power calls for the use of “professional gatekeepers” to police public discourse on the Internet...

Power presents the rise of the Internet, and consequent weakening of control over the flow of information and opinion by state-sanctioned and allied corporate media outlets such as the Times, as an altogether dangerous and negative development. Under conditions where the establishment media is increasingly discredited—“60 percent believe news stories today are ‘often inaccurate,’ according to Gallop”—Power notes, the fact that “two thirds of Americans are getting at least some of their news through social media” is a matter of the gravest concern.

The “growing reliance on new media—and the absence of real umpires,” she writes, have opened up the US to disinformation and subversion at the hands of a demonic Russia, with its all-powerful media outlets RT and Sputnik, and its “trolls, bots and thousands of fake Twitter and Facebook accounts that amplified damaging stories on Hillary Clinton.”

Here we see the coming together of the hysterical, neo-McCarhtyite campaign against Russia that has been used by the intelligence agencies, the Democratic Party and their media allies to attempt to whip up a war fever and pressure Trump to take a more bellicose posture toward Moscow with a growing attack on public access to anti-war, progressive and socialist web sites.

9--US security services behind Al Nusra offensive in Syria’s Idlib – Russian MoD

The Russian Defense Ministry says that, according to their data, an offensive launched by Al Nusra terrorists and their allies in Syria was orchestrated by the US security services, aiming at derailing the Syrian Army operation near Deir ez-Zor.

“According to our intelligence data, the offensive was instigated by the US security services to stop the successful advance of the government forces to the east of the [city of] Deir ez-Zor,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, commenting on the incident...

Russian officials already suspected the US of having links to some radical groups in Syria and even of attempts to let Al Nusra terrorists off the hook. On September 11, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the situation around the Al Nusra Front terrorist group remains “highly ambiguous” as it was repeatedly spared in the operations conducted by the US-led coalition and its allies.
Lavrov then condemned this situation by denouncing the actions of “some members of the US-led coalition that seek to spare Al Nusra” as “absolutely

10--Can't handle the truth?  RT may soon be dropped by US providers, courtesy of McCain & Graham

11-- Susan Power unmasked numerous members of Trump campaign
Obama team tries to preserve a one party system

Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year, multiple sources told CNN.

12-- All Mr. Comey’s Wiretaps-- Congress needs to learn how the FBI meddled in the 2016 campaign

CNN reported Monday that the FBI obtained a warrant last year to eavesdrop on Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager from May to August in 2016. The story claims the FBI first wiretapped Mr. Manafort in 2014 while investigating his work as a lobbyist for Ukraine’s ruling party. That warrant lapsed, but the FBI convinced the court that administers the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to issue a second order as part of its probe into Russian meddling in the election.
Guess who has lived in a condo in Trump Tower since 2006? Paul Manafort.

The story suggests the monitoring started in the summer or fall, and extended into early this year. While Mr. Manafort resigned from the campaign in August, he continued to speak with Candidate Trump. It is thus highly likely that the FBI was listening to the political and election-related conversations of a leading contender for the White House. That’s extraordinary—and worrisome.

Mr. Comey told Congress in late March that he “had no information that supports those [Trump] tweets.” Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was even more specific that “there was no such wiretap activity mounted against—the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.” He denied that any such FISA order existed. Were they lying?

The warrant’s timing may also shed light on the FBI’s relationship to the infamous “ Steele dossier.” That widely discredited dossier claiming ties between Russians and the Trump campaign was commissioned by left-leaning research firm Fusion GPS and developed by former British spy Christopher Steele—who relied on Russian sources. But the Washington Post and others have reported that Mr. Steele was familiar to the FBI, had reached out to the agency about his work, and had even arranged a deal in 2016 to get paid by the FBI to continue his research.

The FISA court sets a high bar for warrants on U.S. citizens, and presumably even higher for wiretapping a presidential campaign. Did Mr. Comey’s FBI marshal the Steele dossier to persuade the court?

All of this is reason for House and Senate investigators to keep exploring how Mr. Comey’s FBI was investigating both presidential campaigns. Russian meddling is a threat to democracy but so was the FBI if it relied on Russian disinformation to eavesdrop on a presidential campaign. The Justice Department and FBI have stonewalled Congressional requests for documents and interviews, citing the “integrity” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But Mr. Mueller is not investigating the FBI, and in any event his ties to the bureau and Mr. Comey make him too conflicted for such a job. Congress is charged with providing oversight of law enforcement and the FISA courts, and it has an obligation to investigate their role in 2016. The intelligence committees have subpoena authority and the ability to hold those who don’t cooperate in contempt.

Mr. Comey investigated both leading presidential campaigns in an election year, playing the role of supposedly impartial legal authority. But his maneuvering to get Mr. Mueller appointed, and his leaks to the press, have shown that Mr. Comey is as political and self-serving as anyone in Washington. No investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign will be credible or complete without the facts about all Mr. Comey’s wiretaps

13--Exactly How Many Warnings Do You Need? Margin debt, confidence, available cash (on sidelines), valuations, buybacks, 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Today's links

1--Trump WAS bugged 

"....all those patronizing assurances that "No one is spying on political campaigns" were false....either the intel agencies have gone rogue pursuing their own goals without meaningful oversight from elected officials or our elected officials are colluding with one another to lie to the American people apparently for political reasons."

Why did 3 top members of congress from both parties, and the country's top law enforcement officer, all assure us that surveillance didn't happen, and that there wasn't a shred of evidence to suggest it had happened....Were they lying?"

2--Korean peninsula draws range of military drills in show of force against North Korea

3--Chinese-Russian naval drills begin off North Korea

4--Obama Goes From White House to Wall Street in Less Than One Year

The UN was created as part of a global system designed to further American imperialist hegemony, which included the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and various global and regional alliances and trade organizations...

Donald Trump, the ugly end product of American capitalism’s protracted decline—the rise of financial parasitism and the criminality of American militarism—is rising to the General Assembly’s podium on Tuesday. Trump will address the body under conditions where US imperialism is literally holding a gun to the head of humanity....

Amid these bellicose threats, American warplanes have carried out their most provocative exercises yet, with B-1B nuclear bombers and F-35 fighter jets flying Monday from Guam and Japan to drop bombs near North Korea’s border.....

Mueller’s investigators apparently obtained another search warrant for information about several hundred Facebook accounts, purportedly set up by individuals linked to Russian companies, which engaged in forwarding political messages over a two-year period. According to Facebook’s public assurances to users, it will hand over information about accounts only in response to a judicially approved warrant.

The scale of this alleged Russian operation, in an election cycle that encompassed millions of online participants sending hundreds of millions, if not billions, of messages, is trivial. According to the New York Times, which first made public the existence of the Facebook accounts, the total expenditure on political ads was about $100,000, compared to the billions spent by the Democrats and Republicans in the course of the campaign.

Facebook itself estimated that information operations like those allegedly mounted by Russia, all combined, accounted for less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the total “civic content” on its platform related to the US elections.

Moreover, the bulk of the messages sent by the Russian-linked accounts, according to Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, did not refer to either Trump or his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, or make any mention of the election, but rather focused on “divisive social and political messages” related to abortion, immigration, gay rights and similar issues.

Despite the ominous language in media reports reiterating that it is illegal for non-residents of the United States to make contributions to US election campaigns, the bulk of the Facebook messages described in these reports were perfectly legal....

A lengthy report in the New York Times Monday details Facebook’s assiduous collaboration with demands by authoritarian governments, including China, Vietnam and Kenya, which has included exposing dissidents to arrest and imprisonment for anti-regime postings as well as the systemic removal of such “offending” material from Facebook pages.

The Times report glosses over the demands placed on Facebook by US authorities, but the company functions in practice as an instrument of the US military-intelligence apparatus. Facebook, Google and other giant IT companies are engaged in an increasingly brazen campaign of political censorship against publications and organizations identified by the CIA, NSA and Pentagon as threats

9--North Korea tests missile in response to sanctions

10-- Gallup Poll: US Majority Backs Attacking North Korea

11-- Obama Wiretapped the Trump Campaign

In summary: the Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government just prior to the inauguration; virtually ensuring that the information, including the conversations of private citizens, would be leaked to the media.

12--  Donald Trump Caught in Wiretap at Trump Tower.

Comey said, "I know of no surveillance at trump Tower."
They were listening to Trump's campaign manager (Manafort)
if the Obama team used the subterfuge of national security to spy on Donald Trump and pass it on to Hillary or the media,  that's a felony

13--CNN claims FBI wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman

The question raised by CNN is whether conversations involving Manafort and Trump were monitored by the FBI—including after Trump had been sworn in as president. Contact between the men continued long after Manafort had ceased working for the campaign. Discussions reportedly ended only after both were advised to do so by their legal teams.

Trump’s claim on Twitter in March that Trump Tower had been “wire-tapped” during the election was publicly denied by both the FBI and the Justice Department. Manafort owns an apartment in the New York skyscraper.

The timing of the first alleged period of wiretapping serves to underscore that suspicion toward any figure in the American establishment who had relations with Russia or its allies long predates the furore that has developed over the 2016 election. The Putin administration was viewed with complete hostility in Washington due to its efforts to assert Russian interests against the US.
Tensions escalated after Moscow undermined the regime-change operation in Ukraine by annexing Crimea and launched a military intervention in 2015 to disrupt the US-led efforts to overthrow the pro-Russian Syrian regime.

The CIA-driven push for a second round of surveillance targeting Manafort coincided with the repeated statements by Trump during the election campaign that he would shift away from a hostile attitude toward Moscow and pursue closer ties. Trump’s emphasis was instead on bellicose denunciations of China, threats of trade war, and vows to increase American war preparations against Beijing.

These foreign policy conflicts—not any concern over the “subversion” of American democracy—lie at the heart of the frenzy over alleged Russian interference. The anti-Russia hysteria is being used to pressure the Trump administration to fall into line with the insistence of powerful sections of the intelligence, military and

14--A final word on President Hopium: CHA CHING

Obama became the first president to be at war for two full terms, dropping bombs on at least seven countries and continuing the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. He pioneered assassinations by unmanned drone missile strikes, personally approving targets for death at meetings held on “Terror Tuesdays,” murdering hundreds of civilians in the process.

As the wars raged and the financial oligarchs were allowed to engorge themselves on the ever-greater amounts of wealth that are being piled up at the top of society, the living standards of the working class were driven down with wages slashed and health care and pensions torn away. Obama oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in history.
Obama is just starting to reap the rewards of a job well done serving the interests of the financial elite and the military-intelligence apparatus.

In April, he received $400,000 from A&E Television and received an undisclosed amount for a discussion in May about food with his former White House chef in Milan, Italy.

Last week, he spoke at an event sponsored by the Carlyle Group, where he earned $400,000. Next week, Obama will give the keynote address at a health care conference sponsored by the financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, his bank account to be infused with yet another tranche of $400,000.
A book deal was signed by the Obamas earlier this year worth $65 million. By some estimates he and Michelle will eventually rake in more than $242 million from speeches, book deals and pensions.

15--Trump’s “Mein Kampf” tirade at the United Nations

“Wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure,” said Trump. “Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.”

A quarter-century after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the proclamation of the failure of Marxism and triumph of capitalism, the threat of socialism has become a central preoccupation of an American president delivering a reactionary and militarist diatribe before the United Nations.

Trump speaks for a US financial and corporate oligarchy that feels itself under siege. It fears growing popular anger. It has been shaken to the core by the revelation during the 2016 election that a broad social constituency within the working class and among the youth is intensely hostile to the profit system and sympathetic to socialism....

The threats today, however, are far greater. Trump’s speech has made it unmistakably clear to the world that the government he heads is comprised of criminals. Having drawn multiple lines in the sand, threatening war on virtually every continent, Trump’s own demagogy leads almost inexorably to escalation and military action.

The speech included a passage warning the world that the American military is no longer subordinate to civilian control. “From now on,” Trump declared, “our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians.”
In other words, the military will decide, not elected officialsthe fundamental characteristic of a military dictatorship

Monday, September 18, 2017

Today's links

Quote: "The only reason we voted for Trump was because he was not Hillary. Now it turns out he is." Chunga, zero hedge comments line

1--How I Believe Facebook Was Censoring My Political Speech  --  

The internet police - now also in the USA

Google now automatically disables or limits searches for material that it deems to be undesirable. If Google does not approve of something it will not appear in search results....

Israel’s government has also more-or-less admitted being engaged in perception management on a large scale. The Israeli Foreign Ministry even sent a letter out to a number of pro-Israel organizations emphasizing the “importance of the internet as the new battleground for Israel’s image.” Haaretz reported in 2013 how Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office collaborated with the National Union of Israeli Students to establish “covert units” at the seven national universities to be structured in a “semi-military” fashion and organized in situation rooms. Students are paid as much as $2,000 monthly to use aliases to work the online targets...

The Times’ assertions regarding the social media invasion by Moscow are reminiscent of Obama Administration claims about Russian hacking in that they are largely evidence free. One anti-Clinton site called DCLeaks is connected by the Times to the Russian military-intelligence service the GRU without any proof whatsoever to confirm that linkage. And there is, of course, nothing to suggest that the alleged Russian meddling in any way convinced the American public of anything, or changed any votes. Even if it existed on the scale that the Times is maintaining, it was demonstrably unsuccessful. It did not determine the outcome of the election.

2--Go, Ringo

3--US B-1B supersonic bombers conduct joint drill with S. Korea ‘as warning to Pyongyang’ – media

Trump continues to provoke N Korea

4--Gallup--Majority in US support attack on N Korea

5--Assad aide says Syria will fight any force, including U.S.-backed militias

6-- US-Backed Kurds Won’t Let Syrian Forces Cross Euphrates River

7-- North Korea tests missile in response to sanctions

8--Sellout-- Trump’s biggest fans, from Breitbart to r/The_Donald, are furious about his immigration deal

9--Trump caves on the wall — and Democrats think he will again
The game of chicken between the White House and Democrats over government funding ended before it began

Far-right news outlet Breitbart News ran with the headline, “Amnesty Don.”
“President Trump signaled a full-fledged cave on the issue of giving amnesty to nearly 800,000 illegal aliens currently protected by an Obama-created executive immigration program,” Breitbart reporter John Binder wrote.
Fox News host and Trump ally Sean Hannity, who blamed Republican leaders, said that “it’s over” for the president if he abandons his hardline immigration stance.

Anti-immigration conservatives flipped out over news that President Donald Trump made a deal with Democratic leaders on immigration.

Following dinner at the White House on Wednesday night, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)  announced that Trump had agreed to legislation that would save the country’s 800,000 Dreamers from deportation. The U.S.-Mexico border wall― a central Trump campaign promise― was not part of this deal, they said

11-- GOP Congressman Sought Trump Deal on WikiLeaks, Russia

California’s Dana Rohrabacher asks for pardon of Julian Assange in return for evidence Russia wasn’t source of hacked emails

A  U.S. congressman contacted the White House this week ......for what he described as evidence that Russia wasn’t the source of hacked emails published by the antisecrecy website during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Today's links

1-- GOP Congressman Sought Trump Deal on WikiLeaks, Russia

The possible “deal”—a term used by Mr. Rohrabacher during the Wednesday phone call—would involve a pardon of Mr. Assange or “something like that,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. In exchange, Mr. Assange would probably present a computer drive or other data-storage device that Mr. Rohrabacher said would exonerate Russia in the long-running controversy about who was the source of hacked and stolen material aimed at embarrassing the Democratic Party during the 2016 election.

“He would get nothing, obviously, if what he gave us was not proof,” Mr. Rohrabacher said...
A Trump administration official confirmed Friday that Mr. Rohrabacher spoke to Mr. Kelly about the plan involving Mr. Assange. Mr. Kelly told the congressman that the proposal “was best directed to the intelligence community,” the official said. Mr. Kelly didn’t make the president aware of Mr. Rohrabacher’s message, and Mr. Trump doesn’t know the details of the proposed deal, the official said.

In the call with Mr. Kelly, Mr. Rohrabacher pushed for a meeting between Mr. Assange and a representative of Mr. Trump, preferably someone with direct communication with the president.
“I would be happy to go with somebody you trust whether it is somebody at the FBI; somebody on your staff,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. The California congressman said he would be pleased to talk to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, but that the agency “has its limitations” and wanted “to cover their butt by having gone along with this big lie.” The CIA was one of the intelligence agencies that helped determine in January that emails from prominent Democrats were stolen by Russian intelligence and given to WikiLeaks.

Mr. Pompeo has said that WikiLeaks is akin to a foreign hostile intelligence service and is an adversary of the U.S. “WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service,” Mr. Pompeo said in an April speech where he criticized the organization for stealing secrets from democratic governments all while receiving the backing of authoritarian states....

After the visit to London, Mr. Rohrabacher said in a statement that Mr. Assange “emphatically stated that the Russians were not involved in the hacking or disclosure of those emails.”

Mr. Rohrabacher has also publicly stated his desire to arrange some sort of meeting between Mr. Assange and Mr. Trump or his representatives in media interviews after the visit. He told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that he had talked to “senior people at the White House” about presenting Mr. Assange’s evidence...

The U.S. intelligence community later concluded that the Democratic emails were stolen and released at the direction of the Russian government, as part of a multipronged influence campaign aimed at boosting Mr. Trump at the expense of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. In a January report, the intelligence agencies said they had “high confidence” that Russian hackers stole emails from U.S. victims and released them publicly using WikiLeaks, another website called DCLeaks and a hacker persona known as Guccifer 2.0, among other channels...

Other Russia tactics, directed from the highest levels of the Russian government, included efforts to hack state election systems and disseminate through social media and other outlets negative stories about Mrs. Clinton and positive ones about the Mr. Trump, the report said. Russia denies any interference, while Mr. Trump has called the investigations into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia a “witch hunt.”

2--Rohrabacher: Someone Leaked 'Very Important' Call With John Kelly concerning WikiLeaks

"I have honored the confidentially of a very important business-related call," he said, speculating that someone inside the White House or within U.S. intelligence agencies leaked the call.

"I don't know who it is, all I know is I'm up against an array of very powerful forces, including the intelligence services and major newspapers that are basically allied with the liberal Left who have every reason to undermine communication on this issue," he told the Washington Examiner.

"Look, there are very powerful forces at work," he added. "We've got the NSA, the FBI and the CIA, all of whom confirmed a major lie that was being used for political purposes and a lie that was repeated and repeated in order to undercut our new president."

3-- Former CIA Agent Blows Whistle On Secret Shadow Government

4--US-Backed Forces and Syrian Troops Get Dangerously Close in Deir ez-Zor

5-- The White House Declares War on James Comey

I think there is no secret [that] Comey, by his own self-admission, leaked privileged government information. Weeks before President Trump fired him, Comey testified that an FBI agent engaged in the same practice; they face serious repercussions. I think he set his own stage for himself on that front. His actions were improper and likely could have been illegal. Comey leaked memos to The New York Times, your own outlet. He politicized an investigation by signaling he would exonerate Hillary Clinton before he ever interviewed her or other key witnesses.

As reporters immediately realized, that sounded like the president’s chief spokeswoman calling for the Justice Department to prosecute Comey, which would be both an escalation of rhetoric and a highly unusual suggestion that a political opponent face prosecution.

6-- Why Lifting Deir ez-Zor's Blockade is 'the Beginning of the End of Syria's War'

The successful Deir ez-Zor operation was the biggest breakthrough against Daesh since the terrorist group first launched an offensive in the province.
The terrorists had been blockading Deir ez-Zor since 2014, with food and other supplies only being airlifted into the city. Daesh  also took control over a large swath of the province of Deir ez-Zor and cut off roads to government-held districts...

"Israel and Egypt are building a line of communication with the Kremlin, seeing [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as a more reliable leader who fulfills his obligations."
"Tel Aviv and Cairo were echoed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is also ready to bolster a strategic line with Moscow on energy, Eurasian security and the future calibration of the Middle East," Gvozdev concluded.

The public was kept in the dark until 2011 that the financial system and U.S. economy only survived the 2008 crash because the Federal Reserve was secretly pumping $16 trillion in almost zero interest loans to Wall Street and its foreign brethren from 2007 through at least the middle of 2010. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), whose details were publicly disclosed, represented a tiny portion of the actual, massive bailout.

Glass-Steagall legislation was enacted in 1933 and kept the U.S. financial system safe for 66 years until its repeal in 1999. It was put in place in 1933 as the stock market was on its way to losing 90 percent of its value following the 1929 crash and after the U.S. Senate had spent three years intensely investigating the Wall Street corruption that had caused the crash. It was wisely decided by Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that the new legislation would ban banks holding insured deposits backstopped by the taxpayer from being housed under the same roof with Wall Street’s casino-like investment banks and brokerage firms, which had a jaded history of blowing themselves up. Nine short years after the repeal of Glass-Steagall, century old iconic names on Wall Street lay in ruins and their demise and interconnectedness led to the worst economic crisis in the United States since the Great Depression.

8-- Dodd-Franks phony reforms triggered more fleecing of America people

On May 21, 2012, the Times published a piece by business writer, Andrew Ross Sorkin, titled: “Reinstating an Old Rule Is Not a Cure for Crisis.” In the article, Sorkin writes:

“The first domino to nearly topple over in the financial crisis was Bear Stearns, an investment bank that had nothing to do with commercial banking.  Glass-Steagall would have been irrelevant. Then came Lehman Brothers; it too was an investment bank with no commercial banking business and therefore wouldn’t have been covered by Glass-Steagall either. After them, Merrill Lynch was next — and yep, it too was an investment bank that had nothing to do with Glass-Steagall.

“Next in line was the American International Group, an insurance company that was also unrelated to Glass-Steagall.”

Sorkin was not just wrong but outrageously dead wrong on every single bank. As we wrote in 2012:

“There are four companies mentioned in those five sentences and in every case, the information is spectacularly false.  Lehman Brothers owned two FDIC insured banks, Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB and Lehman Brothers Commercial Bank. Together, they held $17.2 billion in assets as of June 30, 2008, 75 days before Lehman went belly up…Merrill Lynch also owned three FDIC insured banks… Bear Stearns owned Bear Stearns Bank Ireland, which is now part of JPMorgan and called JPMorgan Bank (Dublin) PLC…AIG owned, in 2008 at the time of the crisis, the FDIC insured AIG Federal Savings Bank.  On June 30, 2008, it held $1 billion in assets.  AIG also owned 71 U.S.-based insurance entities and 176 other financial services companies throughout the world, including AIG Financial Products which blew up the whole company selling credit default derivatives. What this has to do with Glass-Steagall is that the same deregulation legislation, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that gutted Glass-Steagall in 1999, also gutted the 1956 Bank Holding Company Act and allowed insurance companies and securities firms to be housed under the same umbrella in financial holding companies...

Today, the latest Times editorial is attempting to blame the Trump administration for putting the nation’s financial system at risk through rollbacks in the Dodd-Frank reform legislation signed into law under Obama in 2010.  The editorial writers state: “The Republican-controlled Congress is too jammed up to move ahead with legislation to weaken Dodd-Frank. But that won’t be necessary, since the administration is doing a good job of dismantling the regulations on its own.”

What the New York Times knows it should be saying is that the Dodd-Frank legislation is an illusion of financial reform while it allows the New York Times’ hometown boys to become billionaires while running the largest wealth transfer system in U.S. history – fleecing the pockets of the 99 percent across America.

9--Corporate Debt Threatens U.S. Economic Prospects

According to recent studies, U.S. corporations’ debt levels could pose some serious headwinds for the United States’ economy in the next major downturn. In April, the International Monetary Fund announced the following red flags:

The U.S. corporate sector has added $7.8 trillion in debt and other liabilities since 2010;

Among S&P 500 firms, median net debt “is close to a historic high of more than 1 ½ times earnings”;

Looking at a “broader set of nearly 4,000 firms accounting for about half of the economy-wide corporate sector balance sheet, suggests a similar rise in leverage across almost all sectors to levels exceeding those prevailing just before the global financial crisis”;

Debt is especially high “in the energy, real estate, and utilities sectors, ranging between four and six times earnings”;

In July 2016, S&P Global released a report which found that “global corporate credit quality has been weakening over recent years.” It said that in a sampling of about 14,400 nonfinancial corporations around the globe, “two out of five” are highly leveraged. The report noted further:

“Our base case anticipates an orderly slowdown of credit growth relative to real growth and inflation, as the latter two factors gradually rise in coming years. However, it is not hard to envisage more negative outcomes where a credit crunch (‘Crexit’ scenario) occurs, should inflation return, rates rise, and bond prices fall. Alternatively, a worst-case scenario comprising several negative economic and political shocks (such as a potential fallout from Brexit) could unnerve lenders, causing them to pull back from extending credit to higher-risk borrowers

“The average interest coverage ratio — a measure of the ability for current earnings to cover interest expenses — has fallen sharply over the past two years. Earnings have dropped to less than six times interest expense, close to the weakest multiple since the onset of the global financial crisis.”

In December of last year, the Financial Times obtained a study from a Wall Street trade group, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which found that if you added short-term company borrowings such as those found in money market funds to outstanding corporate debt, the total comes to a whopping $11.3 trillion. The article notes the following:

“Much of the debt sold by companies in recent years has been used to buy back their own shares, pay out higher dividends or finance big mergers and acquisitions. While these buybacks funded by cheap borrowing have boosted earnings, a missing ingredient has been spending on investment to build their businesses.”

Economist Michael Hudson has a great deal to say about corporations buying back their own shares in his book, Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy. Hudson writes in one chapter:

“Instead of warning against turning the stock market into a predatory financial system that is de-industrializing the economy, [business schools] have jumped on the bandwagon of debt leveraging and stock buybacks. Financial wealth is the aim, not industrial wealth creation or overall prosperity. The result is that while raiders and activist shareholders have debt-leveraged companies from the outside, their internal management has followed the post-modern business school philosophy viewing ‘wealth creation’ narrowly in terms of a company’s share price. The result is financial engineering that links the remuneration of managers to how much they can increase the stock price, and by rewarding them with stock options. This gives managers an incentive to buy up company shares and even to borrow to finance such buybacks instead of to invest in expanding production and markets.”

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Today's links

1--US-Backed Kurds Won’t Let Syrian Forces Cross Euphrates River

Assad Govt Vows to Fight All Rival Forces to Reunite Country

2--US .-backed Syrian fighters say will not let government forces cross Euphrates

Military council commander Ahmed Abu Khawla warned government forces and their militia allies against firing across the river as his fighters close in -- something he said had happened in recent days.

“Now we have 3 km between us and the eastern riverbank, once our forces reach the area, any shot fired into that area we will consider an attack on the military council,” he said.

“We have notified the regime and Russia that we are coming to the Euphrates riverbank, and they can see our forces advancing,” he said. “We do not allow the regime or its militias to cross to the eastern riverbank.”

But Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Syrian army had already crossed. ...

“Whether it’s the Syrian Democratic Forces, or Daesh (Islamic State) or any illegitimate foreign force in the country ... we will fight and work against them so our land is freed completely from any aggressor,” she said in an interview with Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV.

3--Assad aide says Syria will fight any force, including U.S.-backed militias

4--US stock buybacks are plunging

U.S. stocks have been able to hit fresh highs this year despite a dearth of demand from a key source of buying.
Share repurchases by American companies this year are down 20 percent from this time a year ago, according to Societe Generale global head of quantitative strategy Andrew Lapthorne

Ultra-low borrowing costs had encouraged large firms to issue debt to buy back their own stock, thereby providing a tailwind to earnings-per-share growth.
"Perhaps over-leveraged U.S. companies have finally reached a limit on being able to borrow simply to support their own shares," writes Lapthorne.
Repurchase programs account for the lion’s share of net inflows into U.S. equities during this bull market. Heading into 2017, equity strategists anticipated that the buyback bonanza would continue in earnest, fueled in part by an expected tax reform plan that would provide companies with repatriated cash to invest.

5--How the terrorist superpower uses sanctions 

The US)  impose sanctions to block and prevent the necessary materials for repairs being brought into the country. Or prevent food or medicine from being brought into the country, or whatever evil the criminal brains in these command centers will devise to damage and harass people who do not obey. Sooner or later, the desired effect will appear, which can only be described as planned mass murder. This has happened in recent years in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and most recently in Yemen. Gaza can be counted as one of the places where this “policy” has also been practiced for years, interrupted only by further bombing of residential buildings and infrastructure. The fact that the Western media hardly ever report about these gigantic crimes against humanity makes these “free media” accomplices in the style of Nazi media.

The terrorist superpower, the United States of America, apparently is not mainly interested in conquering these countries – it is enough for them to have them rendered helpless and defenseless, at least not being able to stand in the way of the aggressive ambitions of those striving for world domination. It easily can be found out on any world map where they are heading to.

Many millions of people killed, crippled and displaced will have to continue to be worth the “prize” that the aspirations of the terrorist superpower and their criminal “community” will require, at least in case things are developing according to their intentions.

6--Bill Blum--Killing Hope--Korea

Once upon a time, the United States fought a great civil war in which the North attempted to reunite the divided country through military force. Did Korea or China or any other foreign power send in an army to slaughter Americans, charging Lincoln with aggression?

Why did the United States choose to wage full-scale war in Korea? Only a year earlier, in 1949, in the Arab-Israeli fighting in Palestine and in the India-Pakistani war over Kashmir, the United Nations, with American support, had intervened to mediate an armistice, not to send in an army to take sides and expand the fighting. And both these conflicts were less in the nature of a civil war than was the case in Korea. If the US/UN response had been the same in these earlier cases, Palestine and Kashmir might have wound up as the scorched-earth desert that was Korea's fate. What saved them, what kept the US armed forces out, was no more than the absence of a communist side to the conflict.

7--JPMorgan Tells Clients the Surge in Stocks Is Prolonging the Bull Market in Bonds

8--US to sanction china??

9--Proof that US supports ISIS?? 

Hajizadeh also said that over the recent years, the IRGC has infiltrated into the US military’s command centers and has evidence of their support for Daesh terrorists.
“We have documents showing the behavior of the Americans in Iraq and Syria. We know what the Americans did there; what they neglected and how they supported Daesh,” Hajizadeh said.
If the IRGC is allowed to release those documents, it would bring about more "scandals" for the US, the commander pointed out

10-- Ditch the Dollar?  

11--Global Engagement Center State Dept propaganda outlet

12-- New Legislation Establishes Orwellian Propaganda Agency