Monday, August 14, 2017

Today's links

"A politics fixated on indelible differences will inevitably lead to resentments that extremists can exploit in ugly ways on the right and left." WSJ editorial

1-- Great Corporate Bond Rush of 2017 Persists as Fed Mulls Hike

Corporate debt explodes

2-- Corporate debt is at new highs

Uh, oh.

3-- Corporate Censorship Tightens The Noose, Caitlin Johnstone 

4-- This is big-- Turkey Ending Support for Syrian Rebels

5-- Who’s Behind Antifa? The Gov??

6--Mattis and Tillerson: “We’re Holding Pyongyang to Account”

The object of our peaceful pressure campaign is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea. We do not seek an excuse to garrison U.S. troops north of the Demilitarized Zone. We have no desire to inflict harm on the long-suffering North Korean people, who are distinct from the hostile regime in Pyongyang....

Chinese entities are, in one way or another, involved with roughly 90% of North Korean trade. This affords China an unparalleled opportunity to assert its influence with the regime. ...

While diplomacy is our preferred means of changing North Korea’s course of action, it is backed by military options. The U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan are strong. But Pyongyang has persistently rebuffed Seoul’s attempts to create conditions whereby peaceful dialogue can occur, and has instead proceeded on its reckless course of threats and provocation...

The U.S. will continue to work with our allies and partners to deepen diplomatic and military cooperation, and to hold nations accountable to their commitments to isolate the regime. That will include rigorous enforcement of sanctions, leaving no North Korean source of revenue untouched. In particular, the U.S. will continue to request Chinese and Russian commitments not to provide the regime with economic lifelines and to persuade it to abandon its dangerous path.

7-- Trump's handout to Wall Street  Trump Chips Away at Postcrisis Wall Street Rules --Cutting thru the red tape to reward the Banksters

Plan to restrict bonuses has been dropped, and some limits on banks’ trading are under review

8--Margin Debt Sets Four New Peaks This Year — a Red Flag with a New Twist

9--Despite Record Stock Markets, Almost Half of Americans Own No Stocks

10--The Price Still Isn’t Right for Consumers-- Low inflation helps people buy more, but without stronger income gains spending growth will remain weak

11-- U.S. Stocks: We’re No. 39!-- America's stock market is one of the world's worst performers this year

12--  Margin Pressure Ahead for U.S. Companies-- Productivity growth is a great boon to companies but it has been poor in the U.S. and there are few signs of improvement

13-- Why Jobs, Wages and Savings Mean Weaker Profits

Weak wage growth has Americans saving less. That can’t go on forever

14-- Charlottesville: What You Wish Upon Others, You Wish Upon Yourself

U.S. "liberals" cuddle fascists and right-wing religious extremists in Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela and elsewhere.

15-- Russia brings peace to Syria-- Large numbers of Syrians are returning home.

" According to a study by the International Organization for Migration (a United Nations body), some 602,759 displaced Syrians have been returned to their homes of which about two-thirds of that number specifically resettled in Aleppo Governorate.

16-- Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford talks peace while gearing up for war games, threats and provocations

“We’re all looking to get out of this situation without a war,” Dunford said, even as he stressed Pyongyang possessing nuclear weapons that threaten the United States and its regional allies is “unacceptable.”

“As a military leader, I’ve got to make sure that the president does have viable military options in the event that the diplomatic and economic pressurization campaign fails,” he added.

But some experts do not agree that Pyongyang’s acquisition of nuclear weapons is an unacceptable option. Richard Bush, a senior fellow in the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center, said the Trump administration has “made a big mistake” by determining that North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons capable of hitting the United States is something to fight over

New military exercises to start
Annual exercises between the U.S. and South Korean militaries, dubbed Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, begin later this month. North Korea has always condemned these exercises, and some experts fear these war games could increase hostilities from Pyongyang while irking Beijing, a key influencer of North Korea.

“If you have the current tensions and pile on top of that these exercises, it’s going to make for a much worse situation,” Joel Wit, who helped negotiate the 1994 U.S.-North Korea nuclear deal that delayed North Korea’s nuclear program for almost a decade, told VOA.

A senior official with U.S. Pacific Command, which overseas military activity in the region, said China will almost certainly propose to Dunford that the U.S. and South Korea stop these exercises. However, the Trump administration would not agree to that proposal because it considers the exercises necessary for readiness in the event of an attack, the official added...

The United States has carried our several B-1B Lancer strategic bomber jet flights from Guam to the peninsula, with the last one carried out about a week ago. Japanese and South Korean jets have escorted the bombers at times.

The United States also has deployed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system to South Korea that can shoot down short, medium and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Two of the system’s six launchers are fully operational, and President Moon has ordered consultations on the possibility of deploying the final four interceptors, which are already in-country. THAAD’s ability to take out missile threats has proven 15 for 15 in tests conducted since 2005, when the system began operational testing.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Today's links

The dog barks, the caravan moves on. Russian proverb 

1--Xi Jinping in phone call to Trump: calm down on North Korea

Xi stressed that China and the United States have common interests in achieving denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and maintaining peace and stability there.
The concerned parities should strive to resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiation to reach a political solution, Xi said.

2--Why Does North Korea Want Nukes? Paul Atwood

.... It should be noted that American forces played no role in the liberation of Korea from Japanese rule. However, because the Soviets, as allies of the U.S., wished to remain on friendly terms they agreed to the division of Korea between Soviet and American forces. The young Dean Rusk, later to become Secretary of State under Kennedy and Johnson, arbitrarily drew a line of division across the 38th Parallel because, as he said, that would leave the capital city, Seoul, in the American zone.

Written reports at the time criticized Washington for “allowing” the Red Army into Korea but the fact was it was the other way around. The Soviets could easily have occupied the entirety of Korea but chose not to do so, instead opting for a negotiated settlement with the U.S. over the future of Korea. Theoretically the peninsula would be reunited after some agreement between the two victors at some future date.

However, the U.S. immediately began to favor those Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese in the exploitation of their own country and its people, largely the landed elites, and Washington began to arm the provisional government it set up to root out the peoples’ committees. For their part the Soviets supported the communist nationalist leader, Kim Il-Sung who had led the guerrilla army against Japan at great cost in lives.


4-- Defense Secretary “Mad Dog” Mattis visits Google and Amazon

On Thursday, Mattis met with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the tech giant’s headquarters in Seattle.
On Friday, he spoke at the headquarters of Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX), a Defense Department unit located two miles from the Google campus in Mountain View, California. Among the unit’s advisors is Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Mattis said the Pentagon’s partnership with Silicon Valley via DIUX would make the US military “more lethal and more effective” than ever before. DIUX awards military technology contracts to US hi-tech firms.
The operation has already awarded more than $100 million in contracts for 45 pilot projects in areas such as artificial intelligence, autonomous machines and outer space. Its web page encourages technology firms to “tap into a $100+ billion market.”

During his visit, Mattis proclaimed, “We’ll get better at integrating AI advances out here into the US military” as a result of the unit, which he said would “grow in influence and impact” on the military. Among the projects rolled out by DIUX, according to Bloomberg News, is a system to coordinate air strikes against targets “such as fleeing vehicles.”

Following his prepared remarks, Mattis added that the US military was “ready” with “military options” against North Korea.

Even more important to the Pentagon than the utility of the tech giants in waging war abroad is the use of their communication infrastructure to shape public opinion and block the expression of antiwar and oppositional sentiment. A major player in this sphere is a thinktank called Jigsaw, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Jigsaw is headed by Jared Cohen, a former State Department advisor to both Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.

Jigsaw’s most prominent project is a web commenting censorship system called “Perspective API,” which it calls “a new tool for web publishers to identify toxic comments that can undermine a civil exchange of ideas.”...

Developed in cooperation with major US newspapers, Jigsaw has already been implemented to flag comments for deletion in the New York Times comments section. This week, WikiLeaks noted that a comment containing the language “The CIA armed Islamists in Syria, killing thousands” would be flagged as 66 percent “toxic” by Perspective API. A comment declaring that “the US government is wonderful” is labeled zero percent “toxic,” while “the US government is corrupt” is flagged as 71 percent “toxic.”

In a study titled “Social media, the vital ground: Can we hold it?” published in April, the Army War College noted, “The impact of social media on the media environment has been widely recognized, as has the ability of extremist and adversarial organizations to exploit the media to publicize their cause, spread their propaganda, and recruit vulnerable individuals.”

It went on to conclude that “Social media will increasingly have a direct impact on virtually all aspects of military operations in the 21st century,” and that the military had to expand its control over social media, “in particular, its use in deception and Psychological Operations (PSYOPS).”
Control over online communication will become increasingly significant amid what one Defense Department report published last month warned was an “increasing chasm between governments and their governed over the basic right to rule.”

That report concluded, “Today, all states are experiencing a precipitous decline in their authority, influence, reach and common attraction,” as populations are presented with “myriad alternative sources of political alignment or allegiance.”

Yet another report, published last year, warned that growing international antagonisms were leading to an intensifying crisis of “social order.”

It concluded that states “now all wrestle with one another over competing interests while standing on quicksand—threatened” not only by national rivals, but by “the fragile and restive social order they themselves rest on.”

5-- Hillary explains our N Korea policy

6--Hair-Trigger Korean-U.S. Situation

7--DNC Makes Unbelievably Feeble Response To Latest Russiagate Debunking Evidence

8--A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack

9-- Will Tough New U.N. Sanctions Work Against North Korean Regime?

(Sanctions aimed at innocent civilians) 
BILL RICHARDSON: Thank you, Rachel - nice to be with you.
MARTIN: How are these new sanctions that much tougher than what the international community has tried over and over again?

RICHARDSON: Well, they affect 90 percent of North Korea's economy. It's a small economy. They embark on cutting off of coal, foodstuffs, a lot of North Korean foreign workers that make money through energy. These sanctions have bite. I have to give the administration credit. And most credit I think has to be the ability to get the sanctions passed in the U.N. Security Council without a veto from China and Russia, especially China.

MARTIN: And I want to talk about China in a minute. But you just noted something. These sanctions are going to target coal and foodstuffs. Doesn't that mean that the people who are going to feel the effects of these sanctions most are just going to be a regular North Koreans, not necessarily the ruling class?

RICHARDSON: Yes, it's going to affect the North Korean people. I've been there eight times. They're in very bad shape economically. Many are starving. But I think what was not passed in terms of the sanctions was oil. I think that may be the next step. These are very, very tough sanctions.

10-- BREAKING: China says it will defend North Korea in event of US invasion

China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral. If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so....

Now what the latest US threats have managed to do is make China give its first public hint of a Chinese security guarantee to North Korea, with a public statement that in the event of a US attempt to overthrow Kim Jong-un by force China will come to his defence.
This comes with a statement that China sees the survival of North Korea as a Chinese national interest.

11-- US imperialism and the threat of nuclear war against North Korea

The current crisis is the outcome of a policy of naked aggression pursued by US imperialism for the past quarter-century in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and the Balkans. In the wake of the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, which had acted as an impediment to Washington’s global ambitions, the Pentagon drafted defence guidelines stating that the fundamental US strategy must “focus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor.”

The doctrine of “pre-emptive war” now being invoked by Trump and his advisers to justify an attack, even a nuclear strike, on North Korea was first enunciated by President George W. Bush as the pretext for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. President Barack Obama expanded the Bush doctrine to declare any threat to American “values and interests” sufficient cause for the US to militarily attack another country. This new doctrine is a gross violation of international law. Waging a war of aggression was the chief crime for which the Nazi leaders were charged and convicted at the Nuremberg trials after World War II....

Behind this barrage of propaganda, what is the fundamental character of this looming war? It is a conflict between the world’s most heavily armed imperialist power and an oppressed and impoverished country, whose social and political character is the product of relentless colonialist and imperialist oppression throughout the twentieth century.

After more than forty years of brutal colonial rule by Japan, the US installed a military dictatorship in Seoul and waged a near-genocidal war in the early 1950s to preserve the artificial division of the Korean Peninsula into North and South. Since the end of the war, North Korea has been subjected to a US-led economic blockade, accompanied by repeated provocations and military threats.

The chief target of the Trump administration’s threats of war is not North Korea, but China, which the US regards as the principal obstacle to its regional and global dominance. The US military build-up throughout the Asia Pacific did not begin with the fascistic billionaire Trump, but is a continuation of the “pivot to Asia” developed by the Obama administration. In handing this geo-strategic initiative over to Trump, Obama identified North Korea as the chief military challenge facing the new administration and advised that the North Korean “threat” be used as the pretext for ratcheting up the US confrontation with China.

12--The CIA's grip on journalism

13-- BREAKING: Trump tells French President he’s ready for war and other measures against N. Korea

14--The world on the brink

The threat of nuclear war is not simply the product of a fascistic madman in the White House, but arises out of immense geo-political tensions fueled by the deep economic crisis of American and global capitalism. Trump has the backing of powerful sections of the military and political elites in Washington who have been pressing for the US to challenge and if necessary go to war with China, regarded as the chief obstacle to American global dominance.

The present crisis is the outcome of the political climate prepared by a quarter-century of continuous wars by US imperialism in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, as Washington sought to use its military might to overcome its historic economic decline. It has become a virtual article of faith in American ruling circles that all of their problems on the international arena can be resolved through military action.

The ground was prepared for war against North Korea by the Obama administration, which, as part of its “pivot to Asia” against China, authorised a huge military build-up throughout the Indo-Pacific. The US military has now stationed its most advanced weaponry in Asia, along with 60 percent of its air and naval forces, and secured new basing agreements throughout the region.

The Pentagon could immediately call on more than 28,000 Air Force, naval, Marine and Special Operations personnel based in South Korea as well as many more forces from its bases in Japan and Guam. Moreover, in the event of a war with North Korea, the US would assume operational control of the South Korean military, with its 625,000 personnel and 3,100,000 reservists

15--  “‘I know who leaked them,” Murray said recently. “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.”

16-- Unmasking Samantha Power-- We still don’t know why Obama officials needed to know the names of so many Trump officials

Of all the Russia storms raging around Donald Trump —the Christopher Steele dossier, the email to Don Jr. promising dirt on Hillary Clinton —there is still only one clear felony we know about: the leaking of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s name after someone had identified him from a classified intelligence report. Funny how this is a scandal no one seems interested in

17-- How to Resolve the North Korea Crisis-- An understanding between the U.S. and Beijing is the essential prerequisite. Tokyo and Seoul also have key roles to play

18--The day the world changed’: Ten years on from global financial crisis experts warn it could happen again

By August 9, respected French bank BNP Paribas had frozen $2.55 billion worth of funds citing an “evaporation of liquidity”. Former Northern Rock boss Adam Applegarth called it “the day the world changed” after the European Central Bank and US Federal Reserve injected $113 billion into financial markets and it proved not enough to calm panicked investors.

One month later, Northern Rock suffered its first run on the bank in 150 years as customers queued to get their money out. By September the next year, Lehmann Brothers had declared bankruptcy marking the start of the full blown crisis that would spread throughout the economy.
At the time, Stenfors said he “couldn’t see the world was going under” and was simply worried about his current trading position. Two years later he was left exhausted after years of waking up to early morning phone calls and suffering from RSI after intense computer training.

19--A decade after the financial crisis, the world is still hooked on the debt that caused it

20--- The stock market is rigged

Steve Kroft: What’s the headline here?
Michael Lewis: Stock market’s rigged. The United States stock market, the most iconic market in global capitalism is rigged.
Steve Kroft: By whom?
Michael Lewis: By a combination of these stock exchanges, the big Wall Street banks and high-frequency traders.
Steve Kroft: Who are the victims?
Michael Lewis: Everybody who has an investment in the stock market.

21--  On the 10th anniversary of the global financial meltdown, here's what's changed

22-- How Capitalist Central Banks Have Been Creating the Next Financial Crisis, Jack Rasmus

Today's Headline Article

I've had enough, By Jack Perry

I’m 50, unemployed, and poor. Okay? I don’t give a damn about whether or not Bashar al-Assad runs Syria, about Russia, or any of these other so-called political concerns I’m told to have by the Democratic Party who has learned the sum total of absolutely nothing in the 2016 election. When it was revealed the election of 2016 was more about economic concerns than anything else, the Democrats vowed to work on that—the promptly forgot it and blamed the loss on Russia. Despite the fact that Russia has not laid off Americans or contributed to poverty in the United States.

I am tired of Democrats who assume I’ll vote for them because I’m poor. They’re toying with a new 2018 campaign slogan that says, “Have You Seen The Other Guys?” Yes, actually, I have seen the other guys. And you know what? You’re as bad as they are. When people can’t afford Obamacare, you tell them, “You should get a better job”. Just like Republicans would say. When people want the individual mandate repealed because they don’t want to be penalized for not being able to afford your so-called “affordable” health care, what do you say? “People need to take personal responsibility for their health care!” Amazing! Because that is exactly what the Republicans say whenever the concept of single payer health care comes up! You guys cheat by copying one another’s homework.

The Democrats have Kamala Harris attend some hush-hush meeting up in the Hamptons and assume I can’t see through this charade of another wealthy, privileged individual who’ll allegedly understand the things I struggle with. Really? So Kamala wonders how she’ll afford her medication? Kamala knows how to eat on $20 a week because she has to? Kamala shops for clothes at thrift stores? I see the Democrats are just doing business as usual. Providing another pre-picked candidate who would be a high-profile banking executive if she hadn’t chosen politics to express her privileged status.

The Democrats run a good game, I’ll give that to them. People think they’re somehow different from Republicans when, in fact, they’re not. Both of these parties connive and fool two segments of the working class into voting for them. Urban working class voters vote for the Democrats and rural working class voters vote for Republicans and all of them get soundly screwed collectively no matter who wins. It also makes sure the shell game of popular vote and electoral vote provide the perfect imbalance for the genuine needs of all. Russia does not need to rig a U.S. election when both political parties have proven themselves more than capable of doing so themselves without outside help.

I love how Democrat and Republican politicians both tell voters to man the phones and call in about this or that issue to make sure it gets passed or repealed. Excuse me, but were you not elected to represent the voters in your districts? You should already know what your district wants and vote accordingly. But you don’t know and, besides all of that, you have no idea how the people in your districts live. None of you does without health care. None of you go to the food bank. None of you drive on bald tires, or even drive yourselves for that matter. None of you know how I live and, therefore, I will not waste my time calling your offices where you sit on the phone chatting with bankers and defense contractors promising to deliver payola.

I even hear Democrats who want Hillary to run in 2020. Now here America has told you they don’t want her, but no. You insist on trying to cram Hillary down the throat of America and when you lose that election, you’ll blame Russia again. Brilliant. Meanwhile, the poor get poorer and you don’t actually give a damn or you’d have run a candidate that put people before party. Not one of you knows how to do that because the party is power and you’re all addicted to it like the power junkies you are. “Oh, he sounds angry…” You’re damn right I’m angry and none of your so-called “free press” actually report the news or the truth, either, because all of you have lost touch with the truth a long time ago.

All these games get played, all these wars get started, and hundreds of thousands die, and for what?! For what, I ask you?! What, you think Trump started this horrific slaughter in Syria and Yemen? What, Trump got inaugurated and suddenly wars broke out in Yemen and Syria? No! Your all-wise, all-knowing President Obama contributed to this slaughter and you all sat there nodding your heads with peace symbol stickers on your Priuses. You bunch of hypocrites! You’re as bad as the Republicans with their “regime change” crap and “We’re bring democracy to the Middle East!” As if the Middle East sat there for thousands of years longer than the United States even existed, saying, “Gosh, we wish someone would bring us democracy.” No! You’ve brought them wholesale death and destruction! The biggest export America has is death! The creation of widows and orphans!

Hundreds of thousands dead and none of you can even admit to the woefully tragic mistakes all of you have made. That hundreds of thousands died and Assad remained in power despite Obama’s vows that he must step down. Those people died for nothing. Because American promises of democracy amount to nothing. Just ask those of us here allegedly living under it with our own rigged elections we accuse Assad of running and the poverty inflicted on us so American defense contractors can get rich. The entire United States government and both political parties are mass murderers on a scale that dwarfs Caligula and Nero. Is it any wonder why federal buildings here look like the Roman Empire built them? And the United States doesn’t treat the Middle East any better than they did.

I’ve heard this crap since 1980. I could pave a path to the moon with the promises. And they promise the moon, too. Or was that a NASA mission to Mars. To see what? The galactic equivalent of Death Valley but not as interesting. “Oh, sorry you’re poor. Here, have a mission to Mars.” I wish all of you would board the ship and go to Mars and stay there. But there’s probably some environmental law against dumping toxic waste on Mars, so you’ll wiggle out of exile that way. Not that any of you have the courage to go any of the hellholes you send people to in order to glorify yourselves and gloat as if you’d done it and not them. Just look at the wars you idiots start or decide to join. We’ve been in Afghanistan now going into the last half of its second decade.

No, I’m done. Run this show without me. I’ve had enough.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Today's Links

1--- Polls show plunging popular support for Trump 

Approval of Trump’s performance as president fell to new lows in virtually every poll: 32 percent according to Investor’s Business Daily, 33 percent according to Quinnipiac University, 36 percent in the CBS survey, 37 percent recorded by both the Gallup daily tracking poll and Reuters/IPSOS, and 38 percent according to CNN.
All of these figures are record lows for an American president during his first year in office. Normally it requires a major war, financial collapse, social disaster or scandal to generate such a level of popular disapproval and distrust...

Quinnipiac found that among white voters without a college degree, the demographic in which Trump posted his largest electoral margin, approval of Trump’s job performance fell from 53 percent in June to only 40 percent.
Investor’s Business Daily noted that Trump “lost significant support across the board, but saw big declines among areas of core support, including Republicans, Midwesterners, middle-income families, white men and the high-school educated.” This included a 12-point drop among Republicans.
Among income groups, Trump suffered the biggest losses among those with household incomes between $30,000 and $50,000, dropping from 40 percent in early July to 27 percent in early August....

The polls found that health care and immigration were among the most important issues fueling hostility towards the Trump administration. CNN found 62 percent disapproval of Trump on health care, 55 percent disapproval on immigration, 61 percent on foreign policy and 54 percent on “helping the middle class.” CBS found 59 percent disapproval on health care, 57 percent disapproval on immigration, and 61 percent disapproval of Trump’s policy towards North Korea.....

The crumbling popular support for Trump has thrown both capitalist parties into crisis, the Democrats no less than the Republicans, and perhaps even more so. Nothing terrifies the Democrats more than the prospect of a mass movement from below directed against the right-wing policies of the Trump administration, because it would threaten the capitalist system as a whole.

This fear of the working class, as much as a desire to curry favor with the military-intelligence apparatus, accounts for the maniacal insistence of the Democrats that the sole issue of any importance in American politics is the alleged Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election.

This issue was pioneered during the election campaign itself by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, who sought to overcome her own deep unpopularity, because of her close identification with Wall Street and war, by painting Trump as the favored candidate of Moscow. That appeal failed in the election and the current even more intense anti-Russian campaign is still failing to resonate among working people.

2-- Trump threatens “fire and fury” against North Korea 

No one should dismiss Trump’s statements as empty rhetoric. By threatening North Korea with annihilation if it carries out further tests, Trump has created a situation where it is impossible for him to back down. Moreover, such is the intense crisis and infighting in American ruling circles that Trump may be driven to launch a reckless attack on North Korea as a means of diverting attention from the political turmoil at home.
The Trump administration, assisted by a servile media, is already ramping up a propaganda campaign aimed at stampeding American public opinion into believing that US cities are in imminent danger of a nuclear attack from North Korea.
The Washington Post yesterday featured an article entitled, “North Korea is fast approaching Trump’s red line.” The article uncritically reported claims made in “a previously secret Defence Intelligence Agency analysis” that Pyongyang had produced “a miniaturised warhead that can fit inside one of the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) that it has been testing.”
These claims come from the same American intelligence establishment that forged the lies about weapons of mass destruction used to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq. They cannot be taken at face value. Everything about North Korea’s so-called ICBMs remains in question, including their range, accuracy, warhead load and ability to survive re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

3-- Syria charges Washington with war crimes in siege of Raqqa 

In an appeal to the United Nations, the Syrian government denounced this US war crime.

“The systematic bombing of residential areas, houses of civilians, the destruction of the Raqqa state hospital and the use of banned white phosphorus by the aircraft of the international coalition are a blatant violation of international law and is among a number of coalition’s crimes against the innocent [civilians] in the provinces and cities of Syria,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday.

Noting that the US military is operating in Syria “outside the framework of the UN and without the permission from the Syrian government,” the ministry called upon the United Nations to uphold international law by ordering Washington and its “coalition” out of the country. Given the US veto on the UN Security Council and the habitual subservience of the UN to US imperialist interests, there is no prospect for such an intervention

US imperialism has no intention of leaving Syria. Under the cover of the so-called campaign against ISIS—a Sunni Islamist militia which is itself the byproduct of the US wars and regime change operations in Iraq, Libya and Syria—the Pentagon is setting up a string of bases and attempting to carve out a zone of control from which it can pursue its broader aims in the region. These include, in the first instance, the preparation of war against Iran, which is seen by Washington as an obstacle to the drive for US hegemony over the Middle East.

(Defending ISIS to defeat Iran?)

The threat that the US intervention will provoke a wider war was posed starkly with the reported American airstrike Monday morning on a Shia militia unit deployed on the Iraq-Syria border. The militia, known as the Seyid Suheda, belongs to Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, a predominantly Shia and Iranian-backed force that Baghdad has incorporated into its security forces. The militia reported that the bombing killed 35 of its fighters and wounded another 25. “We guarantee the attack will not go unpunished, and we call upon all Islamic resistance units in Iraq to consider an appropriate response to such a criminal act,” the group said in a statement.

The militia had been preparing to participate in an operation to take Tal Afar, one of the last ISIS strongholds in northwestern Iraq. The area is across the border from the Syrian city of Al-Hasaka, where the Pentagon has set up a base for US special forces troops.

4--US sanctions aimed at starving the NK people 

Bill RICHARDSON: Thank you, Rachel - nice to be with you.
MARTIN: How are these new sanctions that much tougher than what the international community has tried over and over again?

RICHARDSON: Well, they affect 90 percent of North Korea's economy. It's a small economy. They embark on cutting off of coal, foodstuffs, a lot of North Korean foreign workers that make money through energy. These sanctions have bite. I have to give the administration credit. And most credit I think has to be the ability to get the sanctions passed in the U.N. Security Council without a veto from China and Russia, especially China.
MARTIN: And I want to talk about China in a minute. But you just noted something. These sanctions are going to target coal and foodstuffs. Doesn't that mean that the people who are going to feel the effects of these sanctions most are just going to be a regular North Koreans, not necessarily the ruling class?

RICHARDSON: Yes, it's going to affect the North Korean people. I've been there eight times. They're in very bad shape economically. Many are starving. But I think what was not passed in terms of the sanctions was oil. I think that may be the next step. These are very, very tough sanctions. The issue is going to be, will China enforce them? Will China stop the cross-border smuggling? Will China seriously make an effort? And I think this is why North Korea is so upset. I think they've reached a point where China is saying to them, hey, guys, you've got to stop; you've got to cool it down. And North Korea understandably is very angry because their one ally may be turning on them a little bit....

MARTIN: But I hear you - just in the seconds remaining - I hear you being supportive of the administration's tactics so far with North Korea.
RICHARDSON: Well, no, not entirely because they all speak with different messages. The national security adviser, the U.N. ambassador, Tillerson - they should let Tillerson handle this. The others get a little warlike. They get a little preemptive - military strikes. We shouldn't be talking about that. We should talk about diplomacy

5--Trump intensifies rhetoric against North Korea xxx

President Trump on Wednesday ratcheted up his rhetoric against North Korea, pointing to the strength of the U.S. nuclear arsenal one day after warning Pyongyang of "fire and fury" if it continued its threats.
Trump said in a series of tweets that he hoped that the "power" of the U.S. nuclear arsenal would never have to be used.
He added that "there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world.

He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before,” Trump said at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J....

What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un can understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language,” Tillerson said in Guam. “I think the president just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime on the U.S.'s unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies

6--Saudi regime continues brutal siege against Shia minority 

7-- Is the Korean war scare real"? sic semper tyrannis

8--Consider what the U.S. media don’t tell you about Korea:

BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) — China proposed “double suspension” to defuse the looming crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday.
“As a first step, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) military exercises,” Wang told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress.

Wang said the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is mainly between the DPRK and the United States, but China, as a next-door neighbor with a lips-and-teeth relationship with the Peninsula, is indispensable to the resolution of the issue.
FM Wang, ‘the lips’, undoubtedly transmitted an authorized message from North Korea: “The offer is (still) on the table and China supports it.”
North Korea has made the very same offer in January 2015. The Obama administration rejected it. North Korea repeated the offer in April 2016 and the Obama administration rejected it again. This March the Chinese government conveyed and supported the long-standing North Korean offer. The U.S. government, now under the Trump administration, immediately rejected it again. The offer, made and rejected three years in a row, is sensible. Its rejection only led to a bigger nuclear arsenal and to more missiles with longer reach that will eventually be able to reach the United States.

I am not interested in defending Kim Jong Un here, just in pointing out that the US war machine lies constantly in order to justify regime change in sovereign nations. That’s all. It’s hard to be sure through the immense veil of western media spin how much of what is said about the disobedient communist government is a distortion of the facts, but we can be absolutely 100 percent certain that it is a sovereign nation, and that the US power establishment has an extensive, consistent history of lying to manufacture support for war. Be intensely skeptical. That’s all I’m saying here

9--TIM SHORROCK: Well, is he discounting the fact that the United States has 30,000 American soldiers in South Korea and 70 to 80,000 in Japan nearby within range of the North Korean missiles? I mean, any way would draw in US forces there and would lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans, as well as, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Koreans and possibly Japanese. It was just an outrageous statement by Graham and really smacks of racism. Just to say, "Oh well, we don't really care because the war will be over there, not over here with us Americans." Asia's already seen enough war and particularly in Korea has too.

10--No threat to Guam

200,000 in guam an attack on guam is an attack on US

11--Steve Keen: "Another crash is ‘almost inevitable"

12--Productivity slowdown 

13--The only thing that can save Trump is a war 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Today's Links

1--  Evidence of Google blacklisting of left and progressive sites continues to mount

This is political censorship of the worst sort; it’s just an excuse to suppress political viewpoints,” said Robert Epstein, a former editor in chief of Psychology Today and noted expert on Google.

Eric Maas, a search engine optimization consultant working in the San Francisco Bay area, said his team has surveyed a wide range of alternative news sites affected by changes in Google’s algorithms since April. “These sites, which have had their search traffic fall by up to 67 percent, have a diverse range of content strategies and compliance with best practices advocated by Google and SEO experts.”

2-- The Democrats adopt Trump and Bannon’s economic nationalism

The embrace of economic nationalism by the Democratic Party, as well as sections of the Republican Party represented by Trump and Bannon, should be taken as a stark warning to workers in the US and internationally. Just as the world is more economically unified than ever before, and when workers in the US must unite with their class brothers and sisters in other countries to defend their interests, both big-business parties in the US, along with the unions, are dividing workers along national lines....

“A Better Deal,” as the World Socialist Web Site wrote after its unveiling, “is a transparent exercise in empty sloganeering and threadbare rhetorical populism.” It combines the weakest “reforms” imaginable, such as a $15 hourly minimum wage that is unlikely to be implemented and would still be wholly inadequate, with blatant pro-business measures, including tax credits for businesses to train and hire workers.

3-- Devastating toll of hunger on US school children  

Brian Minter, a spokesman for Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry” campaign, said, “Hunger exists in nearly every community in America today. It’s an urban problem, it’s a rural problem, and it has come to our suburbs. It is also a solvable problem.”

He noted that programs like food stamps, school meals and WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) had a major impact in alleviating hunger. But these programs are targeted for severe cuts, if not outright destruction, in the budget proposals of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans.

According to a report published Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the House Republican budget plan, scheduled for a vote in early September, would slash $2.9 trillion from programs for low-income and moderate-income families over the next ten years.

This includes a cut of $150 billion from food stamps alone, a reduction of 40 percent. According to the CBPP, “A funding reduction of this magnitude would end food assistance for millions of low-income families, reduce benefits for tens of millions of such families, or some combination of the two.”...

While the Trump administration and the congressional Republicans propose to deal with the deepening poverty and social misery by deliberately making the conditions worse, the Democratic Party offers no alternative. The Democrats are not demanding hearings over hunger or the impact of the proposed budget cuts....

There are no events spotlighting the dire conditions of life for tens of millions of working people. As for the Democrats’ latest political offering, the so-called “Better Deal” program unveiled last week, it makes no mention of poverty, hunger, homelessness or even unemployment, proposing to use the power of the federal government to boost the interests of “small business and entrepreneurs” and defend “Main Street” against “Wall Street”—i.e., favor one section of business against another.

4-- The guns of August  

The danger of escalation and war is rooted in policies pursued by the NATO powers, above all the United States, over the more than quarter-century since the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. By means of US-led wars in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Syria and beyond, Washington sought to establish its hegemony over the Eurasian landmass. It aimed not only to prevent the emergence of a rival power dominating Eurasia, but also to control the energy supplies and trade routes of its “allies” in Europe and Asia.

The current escalation against Russia is the product of a series of devastating setbacks for the US in these wars. Washington’s Islamist proxy forces face imminent defeat in the civil war that it and NATO incited against the Russian-backed regime in Syria, and the NATO-backed regime in Kiev has failed to seize the entire country, losing effective control of Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine and the key Russian naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea. And amid growing economic rivalries between America and Europe, these setbacks have encouraged the European powers, led by Germany, to pursue an independent, that is, potentially hostile, foreign and military policy.

5-- Which country is the greatest threat to world peace

6--Corporate Leverage Has Never Been Higher

7-- After the Coup, What Then?

But there is a far larger story here, of which this Post piece is but an exhibit. It is the story of a concerted campaign, in which the anti-Trump media publish leaks, even criminal leaks, out of the FBI, CIA, NSA and NSC, to bring down a president whom the Beltway media and their deep-state collaborators both despise and wish to destroy. 

8--The Tale of the Brothers Awan

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in the middle of a new scandal

And how does a recently bankrupt and unemployed Imran Awan wind up with a high-priced lawyer to defend him who is associated with the Clintons? Would that kind of lawyer even take a relatively minor bank fraud case if that were all that is involved? Finally, there are the lingering concerns about the unfortunately well-established Russiagate narrative. Did the Russians really hack into the DNC or were there other possibilities, to include some kind of inside job, a “leak,” carried out by someone working for the government or DNC for reasons that have yet to be determined, possibly even someone actually employed by DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz? There are certainly many issues that the public needs to know more about and so far, there are not enough answers.....

It is not known if the Awans, who were working for several Intelligence Committee members simultaneously, would have been involved or had access to the computers able to pull up classified material being used by those staffers, but Buzzfeed, in its initial reporting on the investigation of the Awans family, repeated the concerns of a Congressman that the suspects might have “had access to the House of Representatives’ entire computer network.” Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that that was not the case. In office environments, the IT administrators routinely ask for passwords if they are checking out the system. WikiLeaks emails confirm that Imran certainly had passwords relating to Congressman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as well as to others on her staff.....

It was also believed that they had somehow obtained entry to much of the House of Representatives’ computer network as well as to other information in the individual offices’ separate computer systems that they were in theory not allowed to access. The Capitol Hill Police began an investigation and quietly alerted the congressmen involved that there might be a problem. Most stopped employing the Awan family members and associates, but Wasserman-Schultz kept Imran on the payroll until the day after he was actually arrested.....

I for one was appalled to learn that the official who quite likely will oversee the investigation of the Awans is one Steven Wasserman, Assistant Attorney for the District of Columbia, the brother of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. If that should actually occur, it would be a huge conflict of interest and it has to be wondered if Wasserman would have the integrity to recuse himself.

9-- A New Twist in Seth Rich Murder Case

If an FBI report exists indicating that Rich was the source of the DNC emails and the report is made public, it could reduce tensions with Russia that Congress ratcheted up further last week by escalating sanctions – a form of economic warfare – against Russia as punishment for its alleged role in exposing the DNC emails and others belonging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.

The DNC emails revealed DNC officials improperly interfering in the Democratic primaries to undercut Clinton’s chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Podesta emails included the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street and other special interests as well as pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.

On Jan. 6 – before leaving office – President Obama’s intelligence chiefs oversaw “hand-picked” analysts from the CIA, FBI and NSA creating an “assessment” blaming Russia for the hacked emails albeit without presenting any hard evidence. Russian officials have denied supplying the emails to WikiLeaks and WikiLeaks has denied receiving them from Russia.

Nevertheless, the unproven allegations of Russian interference in the election have raised tensions between the two nuclear powers to levels not seen since the darkest days of the Cold War and possibly worse. Stephen Cohen, a leading U.S. expert on Russia, said the current showdown may be even more hazardous than the Cuban missile crisis.
“I think this is the most dangerous moment in American-Russian relations, at least since the Cuban missile crisis. And arguably, it’s more dangerous, because it’s more complex,” he told Democracy Now! in April. “Therefore, we … have in Washington these – and, in my judgment, fact-less – accusations that Trump has somehow been compromised by the Kremlin.”

10--More Whoppers (about Iran, of course)

The biggest outright whopper was Tillerson’s assertion that “they [Iran] got the immediate lifting of the sanctions before they ever had to deliver on anything.” Any look at the history of implementation of the JCPOA, according to the carefully negotiated schedule, shows how drastically false that statement is.

In fact, the asymmetry in the implementation of the agreement worked in the opposite direction. Iran had to do nearly all it was going to do to curtail its nuclear program and significantly extend the “breakout” time to a possible nuclear weapon before it got an ounce of new sanctions relief under the JCPOA.
This Iranian work included gutting its heavy water research reactor, disposing of excess heavy water, cutting back its uranium enrichment cascades, taking all excess centrifuges off line, ceasing uranium enrichment at the underground Fordow facility, providing international inspectors a comprehensive inventory of centrifuge equipment, and many other measures.
It was only after the International Atomic Energy Agency certified that Iran had completed all these required steps that the parties moved to “Implementation Day,” which was when the United States and the Europeans began sanctions relief

11--  Congress and trump demand EU buy expensive US gas

According to Schaefer, US shipments are 50 percent more expensive compared with European reference prices.
"Nobody wants to pay such a premium," he said.
Last week, US President Donald Trump signed sanctions targeting Russia's oil and gas sector. The new measure means Washington could now penalize European investors in Russian energy projects.

12-- The End of the CIA's Illegal Program in Syria Is a Major Victory

In a New York Times article on this story we are informed how "once CIA-trained fighters crossed into Syria, CIA officers had difficulty controlling them. The fact that some of their CIA weapons ended up with Nusra Front fighters — and that some of the rebels joined the group — confirmed the fears of many in the Obama administration when the program began. Although the Nusra Front was widely seen as an effective fighting force against Mr. Assad's troops, its Qaeda affiliation made it impossible for the Obama administration to provide direct support for the group."....

Similarly, in Syria, by the time the CIA program began in 2013, the country was being ravaged by an Islamic Khmer Rouge intent on implementing its very own Year Zero, involving the wholesale massacre and extirpation of minority communities that can trace their presence in the Levant back a millennia and more.....

There was no mention made, of course, that the program had been undertaken in violation of international law. No mention either of the fact it was in support of an insurgency largely been made up of non-Syrians, who over the past six years have descended on the country driven not by the desire to establish a democracy in the country, but rather to impose religious and cultural tyranny.

Imagine, just for a moment, if the shoe was on the other foot. Imagine if Russia had announced that the FSB was ending a US$1billion program in support of an armed insurgency dominated by religious extremists with a penchant for torture, enslaving women, chopping off people's heads —  whose objective was the destruction of the secular government of a multi-religious and multi-ethnic state — imagine what the reaction would be in Western capitals. The outrage would be stratospheric — and justifiably so.

As for those who argue that the West has only ever supported moderate head-chopping fanatics in Syria, never the extreme kind, this is a preposterous distinction that the Syrian people have never had the luxury of embracing.

13--Vladimir Putin is still on top in Russia, new poll shows

14--New starvation sanctions implemented by deranged, immoral congress and president

AARON MATE: Looking forward, I'm wondering what you think we should keep an eye on now. I just want to say again on the issue of these sanctions, I was reading a blog called "North Korean Economy Watch," and they pointed out that unlike the previous resolution last year that also imposed sanctions on North Korea, previous UN Security Council resolution, this new measure do not appear to contain any humanitarian exemptions which means the squeeze could be put tighter now on North Korean people.

LARRY WILKERSON: This is a very disturbing happening and it started in the George W. Bush administration and it didn't get too far because of Colin Powell, but it seems to have picked up steam with the Obama administration in places, even though you did have Susan Rice and Samantha Power and other people around who objected to it. It seems to have no end in the Trump administration and that is to say that we'll do anything. We will do anything. We will do things that we wouldn't do in the past for humanitarian reasons. That is to say we will even cut off food. We'll cut off water. We'll cut off life sustainables in order to bring a regime down.

This is a very disturbing development, very disturbing development. As disturbing for example as was torture during the George W. Bush administration. This is not the way America should operate in the world, but it's part and parcel of some of the changes that were happening in our security policy. It's not a good development.

LARRY WILKERSON: North Korea has shown a capacity to do that, and by that I mean they have rational leadership. A lot of people in this country say they don't but those people are idiots. They do have rational leadership, just like Iran has rational leadership. In fact, I would submit most countries in the world do.
The North Koreans however are in a position of extraordinary weakness, if you look at the military situation on the peninsula. There's now way they could win a war. They could fire all their nuclear weapons, and they'd still lose the war because they'd be incinerated after the first weapon detonated. The situation for them is dire. It is regime must be preserved. That's their first objective in North Korea and it is looking at a military instrument deployed against them, the United States and South Korea and for that matter Japan and others too, that is awesome. They have no other choice than to be brinkmanship players. They have to be people who are willing to do almost anything anytime, always drawing back at the last minute so they don't provoke that ultimate existential attack on them.

LARRY WILKERSON: Yes. You can even go back further than that. When Jim Kelly, Assistant Secretary for East Asia/Pacific for Colin Powell and for George W. Bush went to Pyongyang in October 2002 and talked to Kam Sak Ju and Yi Goon and essentially discovered as it were that the South Koreans, or I'm sorry, the North Koreans were actually cheating on a highly enriched uranium program, which I think they were doing to hedge their bets because we were cheating too on the heavy fuel shipments and the money for the nuclear reactors, the light water reactors, to replace the dangerous one.

When all of that happened, we had a deal in our back pocket. We were going to present the North Koreans with all manner of economic assistance. We were going to help with their electrical grid, their power grid and so forth in exchange for their stopping both their programs, their reprocessing program for plutonium in Yongbyon and also the secret uranium enrichment program.

As it turned out, we didn't go anywhere from there, but when we come to the point where you just suggested, we're back again on that same diplomatic track, and I would suggest to you that that is the only solution to this problem outside of war, and we don't want war I guarantee you...

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho. This is what he was quoted as saying, "We will under no circumstances put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table. Neither shall we flinch an inch from the road to bolstering up the nuclear forces chosen by ourselves, unless the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the US against the DPRK are fundamentally eliminated."

15--Why Venezuela needs our solidarity

Portrayed by the media as a peaceful, democratic movement, it is clear that what Venezuela is experiencing is a right-wing destabilisation campaign that not only seeks to remove Maduro but to roll back the important gains of the country’s Bolivarian Revolution.

Through campaigns of terror, assassinations, the burning alive of government supporters and attacks on government services and food distribution networks, the opposition hopes to topple the government as a first step to destroying Chavismo.

Over the past two decades, Venezuela’s political landscape has been dramatically reshaped by the rise of Chavismo, a political movement of the country’s poor and working classes.

16  The Fed's rigged market stops moving entirely--The Market Has Never Done This Before

Nothing moves

17-- Nick Hanauer Believes Stock Buybacks Are The Root Of American Inequality

what has driven these rampant levels of inequality and income redistribution?Economists have pointed to several possible factors, from the rise of globalization to tax schemes that are favorable to the super-rich. But Nick Hanauer, an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, has a simpler answer for one of the major causes of economic inequality: Stock buybacks. “Buybacks are among the most corrosive and corrupt practices in an already pretty corrosive and corrupt economy,” Hanauer says.

Monday, August 7, 2017

"The same middle class and pseudo-left organizations that would have nothing to do with the unions in the 1960s and 1970s, when the unions still had the allegiance of tens of millions of workers, became the most avid defenders of these organizations when they transformed themselves into an industrial police force. All of these fake “left” organizations, including the International Socialist Organization and the Democratic Socialists of America, insist today that workers bow before the authority of the right-wing, anti-working class trade union apparatuses."  Jerry White

1--Hannity on Rosenstein mission creep, unmasking, leaks and Mueller. Worth a look (Video)

2-- Amid high tensions, UN votes for harsh sanctions on North Korea

Unlike previous UN resolutions which were narrowly targeted against Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, the latest is broadly aimed at economically crippling the North Korean economy. It imposes outright bans on North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood which is estimated will slash export income by about $1 billion or a third of the total.....

The Pentagon carried out one show of military force after another—joint live fire exercises with South Korea, including launching missiles into the sea, were followed by despatch of two strategic B1 bombers over the Korean Peninsula. Last Wednesday, the US tested its own intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) over the Pacific—its fourth test launch this year....

At Beijing’s insistence, the UN resolution called for all sides to return to six-party talks involving the US, China, the two Koreas, Japan and Russia. But these negotiations have been effectively dead since US President George W. Bush undermined a 2007 agreement for North Korea to denuclearise by demanding extra inspections and safeguards. The Obama administration never moved for the resumption of the six-party talks sponsored by China.

Last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested that the US might be prepared to negotiate with North Korea. “We do not seek a regime change, we do not seek the collapse of the [Pyongyang] regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel [dividing the two Koreas],” he told reporters.

At the same time, Tillerson made unmistakeably clear that talks would be possible only if North Korea was prepared to give up its nuclear weapons. Negotiations, he said, could “only be achieved by denuclearising, giving up their weapons of mass destruction,” and that “only then will we be prepared to engage them in talks.”

3-- Suicide rate among US teenage girls hit all-time high in 2015

A new analysis reveals that the suicide rate among teenage girls in the United States reached a 40-year high in 2015. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that between 2007 and 2015 the suicide rate among girls aged 15-19 doubled, while it tripled for younger girls, aged 12-14. The analysis was based on government records kept since 1975.

The rate of young women aged 15-19 taking their own lives was recorded at 2.9 in every 100,000 girls in 1975. While this rate increased to 3.7 by 1990, by 2007 it showed a decline, to 2.4. By 2015, however, it had doubled, reaching 5.1....

Behind these figures stand thousands of fractured families struggling to deal with the tragic deaths of their young family members. Teenagers committing suicide are likely to have a history of depression, a previous suicide attempt and a family history of psychiatric disorders. They are frequently suffering from substance abuse.

However, the reasons teenagers take the desperate action of suicide cannot simply be reduced to these very real mental health struggles. Factors driving young people to take their own lives must also be traced to the growing social and economic tensions in 21st century America.

The most obvious catalyst for the uptick in teen suicide between 2007 and 2015 was the global financial crisis that peaked in 2008. Tom Simon, an author of the CDC report, told CNN: “One of the factors that people have talked about as a potential contributor to the trend is the economic downturn that we saw in 2007-2009. As economic problems go up, suicide rates go up.”

4-- UAW debacle at Mississippi Nissan plant

7 August 2017

In the latest debacle for the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, workers at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi voted 63 percent to 37 percent on Friday to reject the UAW’s bid for recognition as the employees’ bargaining agent. This is only the most recent in a string of similar defeats for the UAW, which has failed to win a recognition vote at any major auto factory in the US South, including Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2014 and Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee plant in 1998 and again in 2001.

After seeing the UAW collaborate with the auto corporations for nearly four decades in the shutdown of factories, elimination of jobs and imposition of wage and benefit concessions, workers have drawn definite conclusions. The UAW is despised not only by workers outside the union, but also by the majority of workers still within it. The Nissan workers saw no reason to hand over two-and-a-half hours of their monthly pay in dues payments to a corrupt, right-wing bureaucracy that leeches off the workers it claims to represent.

Incapable of making any appeal to the class unity of workers, the UAW and its supporters, including Bernie Sanders and various Democratic Party politicians, African-American clergy and Hollywood celebrities, cast the Mississippi vote in racial terms, claiming a UAW victory would advance the “civil rights” of the factory’s largely African-American workforce.

The workers did not buy it, and for good reason.The UAW is not identified with any serious struggle. It has spent the latter half of its existence suppressing strikes and working to boost the profits and competitiveness of the US-based auto giants. It long ago extended its nationalist support for American capitalism to embrace the corporatist outlook of labor-management “partnership.” This was summed up in the slogan on t-shirts handed out by the UAW in Mississippi, which read, “Pro-Nissan, Pro-Union.”

The UAW tried to convince the company it would make a bigger profit by utilizing its services than by excluding it. Before the 2014 vote at VW’s Chattanooga plant, the UAW signed a “neutrality agreement” committing it to “maintaining and where possible enhancing the cost advantages and other competitive advantages” Volkswagen enjoyed over its competitors. This meant, in practice, a pay cut for VW workers....

The UAW was built in giant class battles, including the Toledo Auto Lite strike and the Flint sit-down against General Motors, then the world’s largest corporation. Workers defied the National Guard, the police and judges who issued injunctions as fast as the corporations demanded them. The UAW’s rapid growth—from 35,000 to 350,000 between 1937 and 1938—coincided with a wave of mass industrial struggles, which were primarily led by workers inspired by the victory of the Russian working class in the October Revolution of 1917.

The decades-long degeneration of the UAW and its transformation into a direct tool of corporate management had its roots in the anti-socialist witch-hunt and purge of the unions after World War II. On this basis, the UAW and the other recently formed industrial unions were consolidated as pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist organizations, allied with the Democratic Party and opposed to the independent political organization of the working class....

America’s domination of the world economy and its policy of relative class compromise came to an end in the late 1970s. The American ruling class, facing a growing challenge from its European and Asian rivals, shifted to a policy of class warfare. This was initiated under the Democratic administration of Jimmy Carter, which deliberately drove up unemployment by means of high interest rates and oversaw the first Chrysler bailout in 1980, which involved a wave of plant closings and wage cuts. Republican President Ronald Reagan expanded on this policy, initiating a decade of government-backed union-busting with the 1981 firing of 11,000 striking air traffic controllers.

The UAW and the rest of the unions, based on nationalism and the defense of capitalism, had no progressive answer to the globalization of production, which the capitalists used to shift production to cheap labor regions around the world. In the name of boosting the international competitiveness of the Detroit-based auto giants, the UAW abandoned any resistance to the corporate-government onslaught, adopted corporatism as its official doctrine in 1983, and waged a filthy nationalist campaign to blame Japanese and other foreign workers, not the auto bosses, for the assault on American workers...

In return for the UAW becoming an active partner in imposing management’s dictates, the auto executives funneled billions of dollars into joint “training” programs and other labor-management schemes controlled by the UAW bureaucracy, which now had a new source of income independent of the cash flow from its shrinking base of dues-paying members. To overcome legal prohibitions against company-paid unions dating back to the 1930s, Congress had to pass the Labor Management Cooperation Act of 1978...

The same middle class and pseudo-left organizations that would have nothing to do with the unions in the 1960s and 1970s, when the unions still had the allegiance of tens of millions of workers, became the most avid defenders of these organizations when they transformed themselves into an industrial police force. All of these fake “left” organizations, including the International Socialist Organization and the Democratic Socialists of America, insist today that workers bow before the authority of the right-wing, anti-working class trade union apparatuses.

5-- Venezuelan military claims suppression of attempted coup

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Today's links

1-- AUDIO INTERVIEW & ARTICLE: Ray McGovern on CIA Head John Brennan

Brennan advocates kidnapping, torture, drone warfare, targeted killing etc.

I know the guy,...a failed analyst....who endeared himself to Tenet
There are two CIAs......A body of expert analysts who could inform the president.
Operational arm came from the Office of Strategic Services. The merging of the analytic arm with the operational arm was a big mistake....

The corruption of the CIA ...during the run-up to the war in Iraq, and Brennan was right in the center of it...
"In Nov 2007, they concluded (20:07) all 16 agencies concluded with high confidence that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003...Was that an outlier view. No all 16 agencies and it has been reaffirmed every year."
Brennan said to Diane Feinstein's committee that "Iran is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons and ICBMs.

Bush's memoir page 419  "This tied my hands (minute 22 very important) 

Minute 33 Why Israel and the US are NOT really allies

last minute Progressives ask Obama why he doesn't pursue more progressive policies and Obama says, "Because I remember what happened to MLK" 

2-- Middle-Income Americans Have Loads of Financial Stress..  Now, even those with decent salaries are feeling the pressure. Here's why middle earners are worried, and what they can do to quash those fears

In a newly released MassMutual study, 48% of Americans aged 25 to 65 with an annual household income of $35,000 to $150,000 said they worry about money at least once a week. All told, more than one-third of middle earners identified as feeling "not very" or "not at all" financially secure, including those at the top end of that range....

3--FBI spied on social media on election day to monitor people saying mean things about Hillary

The FBI monitored social media on Election Day last year in an effort to track a suspected Russian disinformation campaign utilizing "fake news," CNN has learned.
In the months leading up to Election Day, Twitter and Facebook were the feeding grounds for viral "news" stories floating conspiracies and hoaxes, many aimed at spreading negative false claims about Hillary Clinton.
On Election Day, dozens of agents and analysts huddled at a command center arrayed with large monitoring screens at the FBI headquarters in Washington watching for security threats, according to multiple sources....

That included analysts monitoring cyber threats, after months of mounting Russian intrusions targeting every part of the US political system, from political parties to policy think-tanks to state election systems.
On this day, there was also a group of FBI cyber and counterintelligence analysts and investigators watching social media.
FBI analysts had identified social media user accounts behind stories, some based overseas, and the suspicion was that at least some were part of a Russian disinformation campaign, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.
The FBI declined to comment for this story.

For the FBI, this was uncomfortable territory, given the First Amendment's free speech protections even for fake news stories.
"We were right on the edge of Constitutional legality," a person briefed on the investigation said. "We were monitoring news."

JEFFREY SMITH, Former CIA General Counsel: No, I don’t think so.
Leaks are a real problem. They can cause real harm, but I think one has to distinguish between leaks of information that is genuinely classified and truly does cause harm and leaks of information that people regard as sensitive, but is more political in nature.

So it’s important to concentrate on those leaks that really do cause harm to national security, and not just on those that are inconvenient for leadership.
HARI SREENIVASAN: James Risen, given that sort of definition that Jeffrey Smith gave us of what constitutes a leak and what doesn’t, should The Washington Post have published the transcripts of the president’s conversations with the Mexican president and the Australian leader?

JAMES RISEN: Well, in my opinion, yes. I think it’s in the real public interest, because it showed — for one thing, it showed what Donald Trump really thinks of his wall idea and how political of an issue it was for him.

I think Jeff is absolutely right that there is a distinction between national security reporting and political reporting. And I think Donald Trump is going to be very disappointed, because the kind of leaks that he rages about are just what Jeff just described as political in nature. And they don’t really fall under the kind of cases that can be prosecuted in any meaningful way.