Libya, seven years on: A shame for the West

10-27-2018 – After Messrs. Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy committed a spectacular mission creep violating the terms of the UN Charter and the UNSC Resolutions 1970 and 1973 (2011), I wrote the following indictment along with some colleagues.

http://www.pravdareport.com/opinion/columnists/06-11-2011/119534-indictment_nato-0/

Needless to say, the European Court of Human Rights did not accept it and the ICC at The Hague likewise. But how  can a handful of war criminals invade a country, committing the acts named in the indictment among many others, and walk around today as if nothing had happened?

To put things into context, let us study a few figures about Libya in 2010 (the year before the unrest spurred on by the West in which terrorists were armed and abetted, terrorists on the FUKUS Axis own lists of proscribed groups, to destabilize the country).

GDP down from 188 bn. To 64

GDP in billion USD in 2010 was 187.8. In 2017 it was 64.4. GDP per capita in 2010 was 31,094 USD. In 2017 it was 9,986 USD, more than three times less. The inflation rate jumped from 2.5% in 2010 to a staggering  28% in 2017. The budget balance as a percentage of GDP was a positive 12.5% in 2010 and in 2017 it was 43.2% negative.

In 2010, under Muammar al-Qadafi, homelessness was at zero percent. Homes were guaranteed and free. Electricity was free. Bank loans carried a zero per cent interest rate. Farmers were given land, a house, seeds and equipment for free to set up farms in the interior of the country, where the Great Man-Made River irrigated the Sahara. NATO bombed the water supply network, bombed the tubes factory so it could not be repaired then bombed the electricity grid “to break their backs”.

Newly married couples received 50,000 USD, education was free, medical care was free. Higher education was free and students who wished to study abroad received 2,300 USD per month and a car allowance. Libyans who needed healthcare abroad travelled for free and their treatment was paid by the State.

Unemployed graduates received the average salary for the profession they wished to practice until they found a job. The State paid 50% of the price of a car. Mothers were paid 5,000 USD upon the birth of a child. To put this into context, a one could buy three loaves of bread with one US cent. Before al-Qadafi, 75% of Libyans could not read or write. Today the literacy rate is 100% among youths and 87% nationally. The external debt of Libya was zero and it had reserves of 150 billion USD. The FUKUS Axis stole this and today the country’s reserves remain frozen.

As said above, Libya had the highest Human Development Index in Africa and Muammar al-Qadafi was to receive a prize from the United Nations Organization for his development work. His crime? To be planning to drop the US Dollar for transactions and replace it with an African currency, which would have deprived the Western bankers of billions of dollars. His e-learning projects and telemedicine networks set up in Africa were already depriving western telecoms giants many millions in lost revenue.

Libya today does not have the resources to deal with illegal migrants, trafficked by gangs who are selling them as slaves in open-air markets, Libya today does not have the resources to deal with terrorism, Libya today does not have a budget to pay for what it needs to guarantee national security.

Today, power and the executive capacity in Libya is divided between the Tobruk-based Government and the National Libyan Army supported by Al-Qadafi loyalists, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya and the Warshefana militias; the Government of National Accord supported by the Misrata Brigares, the Zintan Brigades, the Amazigh Militias, the Toubou Militias, the Tuareg Militias, the Tripoli Brigade, and the Presidential Guard, among others; the National Salvation Government, supported by the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna, Ansar al-Sharia in Derna, the Abu Salim Martyrs; Islamic State (ISIL), divided into Wilayat Barqa, Wilayat Tripolitania and Wilayat Fezzan and supported by AQIM.

What a mess? Thank France, the UK and USA for that, thank Obama, Clinton, Cameron and Sarkozy and those mentioned in the indictment. All of them are walking around Scot-free as if nothing had happened. And what is the international community going to do about it?

Right, nothing. Welcome to Planet Earth 2018 but do NOT tell me that international law exists or that the West respects any form of the law.

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Stock Market Plunges Again – Global Stocks Down 5 Weeks In A Row – 8 Trillion Dollars In Wealth Wiped Out

[editor – When economic bubbles burst it causes an economic depression. In other words, it removes currency out of circulation and stalls out the creation of jobs. Today America is facing another crash like the collapse of the investment banks in 2008. The government’s remedy to this is to bail out the insolvent banks, insurance companies, and automakers by giving them billions in bailout dollars. This saves the banks and replenishes the currency taken out of circulation by the crash. It worked, sort of, in 2009. It robbed the common man and gave the bankers a lot of money, but they at least temporarily patched the leak in the money pool. But observers are saying the 2018 crash may be much worse than the one in 2008. So if you haven’t yet started getting your money out of the banks, you may want to think about it. People who do nothing and trust the government to save them may be betting on a lame horse.]

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Michael Snyder – 

It’s not over.  The worst October stock market crash since 2008 got even worse on Friday.  The Dow was down another 296 points, the S&P 500 briefly dipped into correction territory, and it was another bloodbath for tech stocks.

On Wednesday, I warned that there would be a bounce, and we saw that happen on Thursday.  But the bounce didn’t extend into Friday.  Instead, we witnessed another wave of panic selling, and that has many investors extremely concerned about what will happen next week.  Overall, global stocks have now fallen for five weeks in a row, and during that time more than 8 trillion dollars in global wealth has been wiped out.  That is the fastest plunge in global stock market wealth since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and it is yet another confirmation that a major turning point has arrived.

The wild swings up and down that we witnessed this week are very reminiscent of what we saw in 2008.

When markets are very volatile, the overall trend tends to be down.  So what investors should be hoping for are extremely boring days on Wall Street when not much happens.  That has been the usual state of affairs for much of the past decade, but now volatility has returned with a vengeance.  The following is how CNBC summarized the carnage that we witnessed on Friday…

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 296.24 points lower at 24,688.31 after dropping 539 points at its lows of the day. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.1 percent to 7,167.21. At its lows, the tech-heavy Nasdaq had fallen more than 3 percent.

The S&P 500 fell 1.7 percent to 2,658.69 and briefly entered into correction territory, trading more than 10 percent below its record high reached in September. The average stock market correction, since WWII, results in a 13 percent drop and lasts for four months if it does not turn into a full-fledged bear market.

Larry Benedict, CEO of The Opportunistic Trader, said traders “don’t want to be long heading into the weekend.” He added, “S&P now down on the year and people are more afraid to be long today than they were when market was 10 percent higher.”

And when you step back and take a longer-term view of things, the devastation is breathtaking.  The following facts come from ZeroHedge

  • Dow down 9% from record high (down 4 of last 5 weeks)
  • S&P down 10.1% from record high (down 4 of last 5 weeks)
  • Nasdaq down 13% from record high (down 4 weeks in a row)
  • Dow Transports down 15.2% from record high (down 6 weeks in a row)
  • Small Caps down 15.8% from record high (down 6 weeks in a row)

More importantly, global systemically important bank stocks have now fallen for 5 weeks in a row, and they have now plunged more than 30 percent from the peak.

In other words, the “too big to fail banks” around the world have already seen almost a third of their value wiped out.

There are quite a few global candidates that could potentially become “the next Lehman Brothers”, and once one “too big to fail bank” goes down, it could escalate this new financial crisis very rapidly.

But for most ordinary Americans, the main concern is about keeping their own money safe.  Thanks to low returns almost everywhere else, more retirement money is in the stock market than ever before, and many Americans are very anxious about what a stock market crash would mean for their savings…

Nearly 40 percent of Americans said they were “anxious” about stock market volatility, according to Allianz Life’s 2018 Market Perceptions study, mainly because they worried they would not be able to protect their retirement savings.

In the end, a lot of people are going to get completely wiped out.

Hopefully you will not be one of them.

Of course the mainstream media continues to insist that everything is going to be just fine.  In fact, CNN is telling people that now is “a good time for investors to double down on their investments”

Experts say big sell-offs are often a good time for investors to double down on their investments. One recommended looking for companies that are expected to post healthy gains in sales and earnings. A strong balance sheet and a steadily growing dividend don’t hurt either.

“With earnings season in full force, this is when stock pickers can add a lot of value,” said Ernesto Ramos, managing director of active equities with BMO Global Asset Management. “There really was no good reason for the market to be down as much as it was Wednesday.”

That is about the exact opposite from the advice that they should be giving, but unfortunately this is the narrative that we get from the corporate media before every major crisis.

October has historically been the most volatile month for stocks, and without a doubt this has been a wild month.  Of course the midterm elections are coming up early next month, and those results could potentially spook investors.  But once we get past that, hopefully the markets will start to settle down.

But if things continue to unfold as they did in 2008, this crisis could continue to escalate during the months ahead, and that would especially be true if some sort of “trigger event” sent a major surge of panic through the marketplace.

At this point, investors are extremely jumpy.  For example, even though Amazon reported very good earnings this week, the stock crashed on Friday because revenue growth was slightly below expectations.

Any piece of bad news could send the markets tumbling right now, and if a major disaster were to happen we could be talking about a total collapse.

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Flu vaccine BOMBSHELL

630% more “aerosolized flu virus particles” emitted by people who received flu shots… flu vaccines actually SPREAD the flu

Image: Flu vaccine BOMBSHELL: 630% more “aerosolized flu virus particles” emitted by people who received flu shots… flu vaccines actually SPREAD the flu

A bombshell new scientific study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) finds that people who receive flu shots emit 630% more flu virus particles into the air, compared to non-vaccinated individuals. In effect, this finding documents evidence that flu vaccines spread the flu, and that so-called “herd immunity” is a medical hoax because “the herd” is actually transformed into carriers and spreaders of influenza.

The bombshell finding is documented in a study entitled Infectious virus in exhaled breath of symptomatic seasonal influenza cases from a college community. The study authors are Jing Yan, Michael Grantham, Jovan Pantelic, P. Jacob Bueno de Mesquita, Barbara Albert, Fengjie Liu, Sheryl Ehrman, Donald K. Milton and EMIT Consortium.

Details of this bombshell study have been revealed by Sayer Ji at Green Med Info, a site that’s rapidly becoming one of the world’s most authoritative sources on intelligent analysis of real science. Green Med Info has published 500 studies that document the adverse effects (and injury) of vaccines. Find that extensive list at this link.

630% more aerosolized flu virus particles shed by vaccinated individuals

The study, which examined 355 volunteers who were sick with flu-like symptoms, found that people who previously received flu shots emitted sharply higher quantities of flu virus particles that can infect other people. From the study:

Fine-aerosol viral RNA was also positively associated with having influenza vaccination for both the current and prior season… We provide overwhelming evidence that humans generate infectious aerosols and quantitative data to improve mathematical models of transmission and public health interventions… Our observation of an association between repeated vaccination and increased viral aerosol generation demonstrated the power of our method, but needs confirmation.

Shockingly, people who received prior flu shot vaccinations were found to emit 6.3 times (or 630%) the number of flu virus particles emitted by non-vaccinated individuals.

This means — prepare yourself for this realization — that the most responsible way to avoid infecting other people is to AVOID being vaccinated with flu shots.

People are receive flu shots, in other words, are irresponsible spreaders of the flu. They’re the ones making other people sick, just as we’ve observed for years.

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Global Banking Stocks Are Crashing Hard – Just Like They Did In 2008

Michael Snyder – 10-24-2018

Global stocks are falling precipitously once again, and banking stocks are leading the way.  If this reminds you of 2008, it should, because that is precisely what we witnessed back then.  Banking stocks collapsed as fear gripped the marketplace, and ultimately many large global banks had to be bailed out either directly or indirectly by their national governments as they failed one after another.  The health of the banking system is absolutely paramount, because the flow of money is our economic lifeblood.  When the flow of money tightens up during a credit crunch, the consequences can be rapid and dramatic just like we witnessed in 2008.

[Trump’s sanctions and trade embargoes are sniffling the flow of currency. – editor]

So let’s keep a very close eye on banking stocks.  Global systemically important bank stocks surged in the aftermath of Trump’s victory in 2016, but now they are absolutely plunging.  Global banking stocks are now down a whopping 27 percent from the peak, and that puts them solidly in bear market territory.

In the U.S., banking stocks are not officially in bear market territory yet, but they are getting close.  At this point, they are now down 17 percent from the peak…

Monday early afternoon, the US KBW Bank index, which tracks large US banks and serves as a benchmark for the banking sector, is down 2.5% at the moment. It has dropped 17% from its post-Financial Crisis high on January 29.

Of course European banking stocks are doing much worse.  Right now they are down 27 percent from the peak and 23 percent from a year ago.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

But unlike their American brethren, the European banks have remained stuck in the miserable Financial Crisis mire – a financial crisis that in Europe was followed by the Euro Debt Crisis. The Stoxx 600 bank index, which covers major European banks, including our hero Deutsche Bank, has plunged 27% since February 29, 2018, and is down 23% from a year ago

I wish that we didn’t have a global economic system that was so dependent on the “too big to fail” banks, but we do.

If they aren’t healthy, nobody is going to be healthy for long, and it is starting to look and feel a whole lot like 2008.

But unlike 2008, we also have a global trade war to contend with.  The CEO of one yacht company recently told USA Today that tariffs have had a “catastrophic” effect on his company…

Tariffs imposed on goods by the European Union, and the Chinese and American governments on boats, cribs, bourbon, and more have put Wisconsin businesses between a rock and a hard place. The tariffs imposed are already damaging a bloated bubble economy and the hardships are just beginning.
“It’s been catastrophic,” said Rob Parmentier, who is the president and CEO of Marquis-Larson Boat Group, which builds Carver yachts in Pulaski, Wisconsin. According to USA Today, the first “hand grenade,” as Parmentier described it, tossed during the trade wars at him specifically, was a 25 percent tariff the European Union placed this year on boats built in the United States, along with scores of other products including Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

I have previously warned my readers that the damage caused by this trade war would get progressively worse the longer that it lasts.

Many companies have been trying to ride it out, but eventually the money runs out and layoffs start happening

“We’ve had a lot of order cancellations. Canada and Europe have essentially stopped buying boats,” Parmentier said according to USA Today. “We’ve been absorbing some of the additional costs … hoping the tariffs will go away. But we can only do that for so long,” he saidThe next step is layoffs.

Anyone who thought that this trade war would not have very serious consequences was just fooling themselves.  According to one source, tariffs paid by U.S. businesses are up 45 percent compared to a year ago…

“For the most recent months available, August 2018, the amount of tariffs paid increased by $1.4 billion — or 45% — as compared to tariffs paid in August 2017. Tariff costs in Michigan tripled to $178 million and more than doubled in multiple states — to $424 million in Texas, $193 million in Illinois, $50 million in Alabama, $29 million in Oklahoma, $23 million in Louisana, and $7.3 million in West Virginia.
These costs strain businesses of all sizes but are particularly painful for small business, manufacturers, and consumers who bear the burden of tariff increases in the form of higher prices,” via the data compiled by The Trade Partnership and released by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland.

And it doesn’t look like this trade war is going to end any time soon.  In fact, one key Chinese official recently made it very clear that China is not afraid of a long trade war…

On Monday in Beijing, Zhang Qingli, a leading member of a Chinese committee tasked with forging alliances with other nations, told a small group of U.S. business leaders, lobbyists and public relations executives that China refuses to be intimidated by an ongoing trade war with the Trump administration.
“China never wants a trade war with anybody, not to mention the U.S., who has been a long term strategic partner, but we also do not fear such a war,” Zhang said through a translator, according to a meeting attendee who declined to be named.

We are entering a time when the economy was likely to slow down anyway, but if stocks continue to crash and global banking woes escalate, that is going to spread fear and panic like wildfire.

And when there is fear and panic in the air, lending tends to really tighten up, and a major credit crunch is just about the last thing that we need right now.

It’s been a really bad October for global markets so far, and more trouble is brewing.  Hold on to your hats, because it looks like it is going to be a bumpy ride ahead.

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Survey Reveals What Really Scares Americans: #1 on the List May Surprise You

By Mac Slavo

Every year, Chapman University conducts a Survey of American Fears. The annual survey provides an in-depth examination into the concerns of average Americans, tracking changes and trends over the years.

The survey asks participants about topics including government, health, environmental concerns, disaster preparedness, the paranormal, and personal anxieties.

What’s the number one thing Americans fear?

For the fourth year in a row, that dishonor goes to government corruption. That fear far exceeds any other that was asked about in the survey. In 2018, 73.6% said they fear corrupt government officials. In 2017, it was 74.5%, and in 2016, 60.6%.

Image credit: Chapman University

[Since the US Government is corrupt as an institution, that makes every politician “corrupt.” – editor]

“It is worth noting that the fears regarding corruption and the environment have increased significantly following the election of President Trump in 2016 and all top 10 fears continue to reflect topics often discussed in the media,” said Christopher Bader, Ph.D., professor of sociology.

Pollution of oceans, rivers, and lakes, polluted drinking water, money worries, and loss of loved ones also are of high concern.

Here are some of the other fears Americans have:

  • Cyber-terrorism: 52.5%
  • The US being involved in another world war: 51.6%
  • Islamic extremists: 49.3%
  • White supremacists: 49.3%
  • Economic/financial collapse: 49.2%
  • Identify theft: 46.6%
  • Corporate tracking of personal data: 46.3%
  • Government tracking of personal data: 46%
  • Widespread civil unrest: 43%
  • Nuclear weapons attack: 42.9%
  • Random mass shooting: 41.5%
  • The collapse of the electrical grid: 39%
  • Pandemic or major epidemic: 38.6%
  • Government restrictions on firearms and ammunition: 37.8%
  • Nuclear accident/meltdown: 36%

For the full list, click here.

[Most of these fears are created by government fake news. Again, government creates America’s problems. – editor]

As for political division, the survey revealed something that concerns the researchers: “What frightens Republicans the most doesn’t even register for Democrats, and vice versa. We see that bifurcation increasing Bader said.

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The Self-Defeating US Empire

[editor’s note: The question at hand is NOT whether the US should put US interests first, but rather how will the loss of international trade, caused by Trump’s sanctions, affect the US domestic economy. As the US dollar diminishes internationally the effect will undermine the US economy by causing a depletion of dollars in circulation and thus creating a national depression. Fewer dollars in circulation means fewer jobs, fewer loans, fewer purchases, and fewer business transactions in general. This creates hard times, and the bankers and politicians know it.]

Former President Teddy Roosevelt (1901-09) described the essence of US foreign policy as “speaking softly while carrying a big stick”.

Under the incumbent president, Donald Trump, it seems to be all about “speaking loudly.” What Trump is carrying in reserve is a moot question.

The difference comes down to a question of credibility. A century ago, America was a formidable military, diplomatic and economic power. Hence, Roosevelt could afford to speak softly because there were other indisputable means at his disposal to reinforce US power.

Today, the US is still a formidable military power, that’s for sure. But as for its economy and the role of the American dollar as a global payment mechanism the evidence suggests that it has lost much of its former dominance.

President Trump seems to be trying to compensate for the decline in US power overall by way of adopting more bellicose and foghorn rhetoric for others to comply with American demands.

This week saw a record fall in the American stock market. That suggests that the supposed strength of the US economy is not what it has been cracked up to be under Trump. A major factor in the collapse of the US stock market is reported to be the uncertainty prompted by the growing US trade war with China.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin lamented the US policy of imposing sanctions against other nations and its over-reliance on the dollar as the main global currency exchange tool. Putin said the US was making a “strategic mistake” by using the dollar as a weapon to punish other nations to comply with Washington’s diktats.

“This is a typical mistake of any empire,” he said at the Russian Energy Week Conference, in Moscow.

Implicit in Putin’s comments was that the US is acting like a failing empire. Unsure of its former dominance, the US is resorting to brute force to shore up its otherwise declining power. But in doing so, America is acting above its credibility and thereby compelling others to seek ways around Washington’s overextended writ.

When the dollar replaced gold as the global financial standard in the early 1970s, the American currency assumed a privileged position in international trade.

America’s loss of national economic power has resulted in the US abusing the global dollar system for its own selfish interests. That in turn results in loss of confidence by other nations. Washington is politicizing the dollar system in order to pursue its national interests.

The over-reliance by Washington on economic sanctions against other nations is forcing them to seek ways of circumventing the US-dominated global system of trade and commerce.

We see this in the European Union setting up a non-dollar system to continue trade relations with Iran after Trump abandoned the international nuclear accord with Tehran. We see it in the way Russia and China are setting up a payment system for oil and other commodities which obviates the use of dollars.

So much for “free-market capitalism” for which America is supposed to be the global exponent. If America doesn’t get its way over markets then sanctions are imposed to “correct” the way. The gas energy supply from Russia to Europe is a classic example. Russian-suppled gas is commercially viable to meet European demand. Yet the US wants to supplant that market with its own more expensive gas, and the only way it can do that is to slap sanctions on Russia and European companies. That is not market economics. It is imperialist hegemonic diktat. That undermines the US dollar and principles of supposed American capitalism.

Slowly but surely the world is moving away from the dollar as a universal currency. Because of Washington’s abuse of the dollar and its preeminence in banking as a political weapon to exert its national objectives.

Putin said that US sanctions policy towards many countries and abuse of the dollar as global reserve currency is a “strategic error” committed by a waning empire. As more countries increasingly drop the dollar to circumvent US sanctions, the result will be a continual undermining of international standing of the US currency and banking system. A classic case of over-reach by Washington leading eventually to its own economic demise.

If history tells us one thing it is that every empire has its day. Imperial over-reach is the sign of a declining empire.

President Trump is clashing loudly over trade with China and almost every other nation, including the Europeans and Canada. Trump is shouting about “unfair” trade because he doesn’t have a big stick in reserve in terms of inherent American strength. The dollar is no longer the only show in town.

Russia is “de-dollarizing” its economy, meaning it is moving towards trade with other nations in bilateral currency exchange. The same goes for China and other nations. The upshot is the dollar is losing its international power, and, with that, the US economy is losing its former standing. The empire is waning. And the only one to blame for that is the US itself from its abuse of power.

The ominous resort is the only stick left to Washington – military power. That is why the world is facing a dangerous situation. If America doesn’t get its way, it seems to be pushing the world to war.

It could be all be very different of course. If the US were to stop trying to assert itself as a unipolar power and begin to engage with others on the basis of a multipolar world.

Trump is trying to square a globalized world through a national-based American capitalism. It won’t work.

And the more the US government tries to achieve that the more the dollar and American power falls into decline. Which makes US militarism a greater compensatory danger.

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Washington’s Protectionism is only Leading to the US Dollar Demise

10-19-2018 – Grete Mautner

As it’s been pointed out by a multitude of experts from both the US and other regions of the world that the energy trading market will be one of the main battlefields where the future of America’s economic dominance will be decided.

Against this backdrop it’s only logical that countries are seeking ways to turn their backs to the dollar or in the very least diminish their dependence on the ever-looming US currency. It argues that this trend was triggered by the outright protectionist practices by the Trump administration that were introduced by Washington that starst trade wars left and right.

The United States is currently waging economic warfare against one-tenth of the world’s countries with cumulative population of nearly 2 billion people and combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than 15 trillion dollars.

Additionally, in recent months it seems that America’s unwavering commitment to promoting the world’s scourges has brought governments and the wealthy individuals who support them to a critical mass, joining forces to create a parallel financial system which would be out of America’s reach. Should they succeed, the impact on America’s global posture will be devastating.

American policymakers don’t seem to care that at least 25% of the world’s population are now committed to putting an end to the global dominance of the US dollar.

As the infamous green bills are gradually losing their status of the world’s reserve currency, regular Americans will inevitably feel additional financial strain being put on their households. To make the matters worse, the global depolarization effort is being led by Russia and China that have emerged as full-fledged international players in recent decades, and they seem to have little tolerance for being pushed around. Further still, even the fact that Euro was established as a currency by Brussels can be regarded as a part of the same effort. For sure, de-dollarization is a slow process, but at this point it seems to be irreversible as there’s no chance that an emerging multi-polar world is going put up with the US dollar primacy.

However, there’s no arguing that this process, no matter how natural it is, is being accelerated considerably by the sitting American president. By pursuing policies loosely described as “America first,” Donald Trump has got the US into a number of trade wars, along with re-introducing protectionist practices to the US foreign policy. However, the more the Trump administration tries to negotiate favorable terms for American elites exclusively, the more countries are getting alienated by Washington.

For instance, Moody’s Investors Service has come to the conclusion that the ever-growing number of regional trade agreements along with the adoption of new reserve currencies, such as the yuan, can result in countries growing reluctant to rely on the currencies of geographically distant states. As a result, the role that the US dollar plays on international markets will decrease, with international players decreasing its share in their reserve currencies basket, thus changing the global distribution of reserve currencies. As Europe grows increasingly aware of the dangers associated with its dependency on the US dollar, local politicians are now just devising ways that would allow them to get away from it. But they are doing it at a rapid pace, as the rapid decline of the dollar transforms what would otherwise be a gradual transition in a geopolitical reincarnation of the hot potato game.

Further still, now Washington’s allies are pushing for an alternative to SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, headquartered in Belgium) to be created. In particular, this call was voiced by German foreign minister Heiko Maas and a number of other high-profile figures. The proposal is a response to Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. In an article published by Handelsblatt, Mass wrote that Europe should not allow the US to act “over our heads and at our expense.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come to grips with the fact that why sovereign countries would want to limit their exposure to SWIFT, and more broadly the US dollar. And many countries are making moves in that direction. For instance, the Russians, together with China, have been busy dumping US Treasuries while buying massive amounts of gold.  Both Russia and China have developed their own versions of SWIFT. Both countries are also urging their trading partners to ditch the dollar in their bilateral trade in favor of indigenous currencies. China has already established that it can be looking at massive profits when it chooses to process its settlements with Russia in rubles.

It’s been rightfully pointed that the US uses dollar-dominance as a tool of keeping other countries in line. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the rest of the world is growing weary of the United States holding an economic hammer over its head. Therefore, the pace of the irreversible process of de-dollarization is closely tied to the policies that the Trump administration will be pursuing in the future. If Donald Trump carries on swinging its sanctions club left and right, the US will inevitably find itself in a world of trouble.

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Showtime in America: Idiots’ Delight, A Quasi Review

Edward Curtin – 10, 13, 2018

“The making of a journalist: no ideas and the ability to express them.” – Karl Kraus, Half-Truths & One-and-a-Half Truths

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain

If believability is your gauge for discerning truth, you are living in a fantasy world.  But that is the reality of life in the United States today. This is the land of make-believe in which actors and audiences are engaged in a vast folie à deux full of sound and fury signifying a nothingness that passes for intelligence.  Assertions made convincingly enough are the new facts for a population hypnotized by a stage-managed reality show.

The recently closed Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford Show that mercifully had a short run at the National Comedic Congressional Theater is the latest case in point.  The believability of the actors was said to be the key issue.  In other words, who seemed to be telling the truth.  Demeanor was determinative.  Facial expressions evidence.  The mass media, those paragons of truth-telling, entertained their audiences for a few weeks by marching out their puerile pundits to tell audiences who of the two primary actors was more believable, while the politicians, not willing to allow their media accomplices to outdo them in truthfulness, donned their masks and performed their usual public service of moral outrage and did the same in their unbiased ways.

There was no child to yell and tell the world that all the king’s sycophants, like the king, were naked – naked  liars whose jobs depended on disinformation and deceptions meant to amuse an entertainment-besotted and bored public hungry for a bit of truth in a society drowning in agitprop and propaganda.  A public watching the wrong show.

The words the real Frank Serpico, the honest and brave cop, not the actor, Al Pacino, who played him in the movie Serpico, come to my mind.  He told me that when he was lying in a pool of his own blood on the night of February 3, 1971, having been shot in the face in a set-up carried out by fellow cops, he heard a voice that said, “It’s all a lie.”

“It’s all a lie.”

Those words sum up the spectacle that is American society today.  And while lies are nothing new – didn’t Aletheia, the Greek goddess of truth, flee into the wilderness just last week and say to a wandering searcher, “Among the people of old, lies were found among only a few, but now they have spread throughout all of human society”? – we are living in a time of unprecedented technological media mind manipulation difficult to penetrate.  Harold Pinter called it “a tapestry of lies” in which facts don’t matter.  What happened never happened; what never happened happened.  It’s all about believability in the national media’s hypnotic show, whose purpose Russell Baker described 25 years ago as being to “provide a manageably small cast for a national sitcom, or soap opera, or docudrama, making it easy for media people to persuade themselves they are covering the news while mostly just entertaining us.”

I know something about believability.  When I was a young teenager I appeared on a famous game show called “To Tell the Truth.”  Of course I lied, since lying was the name of the game then, as now.  I was not who I said I was.  When I walked out in front of millions of television viewers and the celebrities who would question my veracity, I knew (although I was an impostor and not the real Robert McGee – son of a U.S. Senator, by the way) how to put on a face to fool the faces that would scrutinize my smallest expressions for any sign of feigning.  Although these celebrities knew the game well, I beat them at the believability game, I am sorry to say.  My demeanor or mien (facial expression) was in sync with my words, an ability to act that I didn’t know I had.  I was an all-American boy – a student at an elite Jesuit boys’ prep school, the captain of the basketball team, my father (Edward) a lawyer – learning the national pastime of seemingly being “perfectly honest” as I lied.  And it worked, and the $250 that I won – I almost said earned – set me on a path that led to a fork in the road that I took.  When I picked this fork up, it hissed and tried to bite me with its poisonous forked tongue. So I quickly threw it down.  It was then I realized that my thirty pieces of silver ($250) were a betrayal that would haunt me forever if I didn’t try to become a genuine actor.

Soon I would come to realize that my Jesuit schooling was preparing me to be “a man for all seasons.” It had nothing to do with beer and girls. It was all about becoming a member of the ruling class.  In other words, a man with a forked tongue who could speak out of both sides of his mouth to suit the occasion.  Learning this skill would lead me to the social heights where I could smoothly move among Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, elites and regular people, defense attorneys and prosecutors, actors and audiences, alleged victims and alleged victimizers, etc.  Nothing would be foreign to me, except myself, for I could become a perfect hypocrite, a double-man, my own doppelganger without a shadow.

I could become another judge-penitent like Albert Camus’ Jean-Baptiste Clamence in his novel, The Fall, and take up a double profession, become double-faced and rich in the process.  Perhaps I could join the CIA and “sincerely” follow its motto: “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

I could become a professor with nothing to profess but my innocence.  I could become a psychologist and specialize in lie detector tests.  I could learn how to lie while sincerely telling the truth while hooked up to one.  I could be confused and act confused and not know the difference

I could denounce torture while justifying it.  I could pretend impartiality while being partial.  I could claim independence while playing the puppet. I could remember to forget and forget to remember and remember that I forgot the details of what I remembered.

And no matter how I acted or what I did I could always remain a “nice guy.”

I could even say with Clamence that I am 100 % innocent, my case is exceptional, as I played the parts of victim and victimizer; could say:

As I told you, it’s a matter of dodging judgment.  Since it is hard to dodge it, tricky to get one’s nature simultaneously admired and excused, they [we] all strive to be rich.  Why?  Did you ever ask yourself?  For power, of course.  But especially because wealth shields from immediate judgment, takes you out of the subway crowd to enclose you in a chromium-platted automobile, isolates you in huge protected lawns, Pullmans, first-class cabins.  Wealth, cher ami, is not quite acquittal, but reprieve, and that’s always worth taking.

I could become such a celebrated actor that I could make you believe my believability when I put on a tearful face or a devastated face or a confused face or an angry face. I could confess my vulnerability and make you my ally, and I could plead with you in a halting way to sympathize with how I was victimized so long ago or yesterday.  But even if you didn’t believe me, I could feel justified in knowing that I was playing my part in ShowTime in America, keeping you amused, and doing my part to advance the interests of those who accepted me for the role.  And I could always deny that I had been selected, and could always maintain I entered center stage of my own volition because I wished to fulfill my civic duty to see justice done.

But I promise, like Clamence I would never reveal who stole the painting of “The Just Judges” that I keep hidden in my cupboard.  Some things must remain hidden.  After all, who wants to know the truth?

But I digress.  I’ll be quiet, and stop with the what-could-have-beens.  The show must go on.  We both know that.  It is what is.  I look forward to reading what will no doubt be a best-selling and most truthful exposé of the Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford Show.  I imagine contracts have been signed, and the mini-series shouldn’t be far behind.

In the meantime, I would like to leave you laughing with a quote that has been disturbing me since I first read it after writing it:

Until we see through the charade of social life and realize the masked performers are not just the politicians and celebrities, not only the professional actors and the corporate media performers, but us, we won’t grasp the problem.  Lying is the leading cause of living death in the United States.  We live in a society built of lies; lying and dishonesty are the norm.  They are built into the fabric of all our institutions, into our psyches.  In America, there’s no business but show business, and we are sham actors, amusing ourselves to death while we spread death and destruction in our war theaters all around the world.  Theaters in which the tragic plays we direct hold no interest for us.  We prefer our Idiots’ Delight.

“It’s All a Lie.”  Maybe that should be the title of the next show.

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US MILITARY IN 177 COUNTRIES – AND EXPANDING. WHY?

US Military Presence in Africa: All Over Continent and Still Expanding

Arkady SAVITSKY – Strategic Culture Foundation  8-30-2018

Around 200,000 US troops are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world. Those forces utilize several hundred military installations. Africa is no exemption. On August 2, Maj. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier took command of US Army Africa, promising to “hit the ground running.”

The US is not waging any wars in Africa but it has a significant presence on the continent. Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and other special ops are currently conducting nearly 100 missions across 20 African countries at any given time, waging secret, limited-scale operations. According to the magazine Vice, US troops are now conducting 3,500 exercises and military engagements throughout Africa per year, an average of 10 per day — an astounding 1,900% increase since the command rolled out 10 years ago. Many activities described as “advise and assist” are actually indistinguishable from combat by any basic definition.

There are currently roughly 7,500 US military personnel, including 1,000 contractors, deployed in Africa. For comparison, that figure was only 6,000 just a year ago. The troops are strung throughout the continent spread across 53 countries. There are 54 countries on the “Dark Continent.” More than 4,000 service members have converged on East Africa. The US troop count in Somalia doubled last year.

When AFRICOM was created there were no plans to establish bases or put boots on the ground. Today, a network of small staging bases or stations have cropped up. According to investigative journalist Nick Turse, “US military bases (including forward operating sites, cooperative security locations, and contingency locations) in Africa number around fifty, at least.” US troops in harm’s way in Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan Tunisia, and Uganda qualify for extra pay.

The US African Command (AFRICOM) runs drone surveillance programs, cross-border raids, and intelligence. AFRICOM has claimed responsibility for development, public health, professional and security training, and other humanitarian tasks. Officials from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Agriculture, Energy, Commerce, and Justice, among other agencies, are involved in AFRICOM activities. Military attachés outnumber diplomats at many embassies across Africa.

Last October, four US soldiers lost their lives in Niger. The vast majority of Americans probably had no idea that the US even had troops participating in combat missions in Africa before the incident took place. One serviceman was reported dead in Somalia in June. The Defense Department is mulling plans to “right-size” special operations missions in Africa and reassign troops to other regions, aligning the efforts with the security priorities defined by the 2018 National Defense Strategy. That document prioritizes great power competition over defeating terrorist groups in remote corners of the globe. Roughly 1,200 special ops troops on missions in Africa are looking at a drawdown. But it has nothing to do with leaving or significantly cutting back. And the right to unilaterally return will be reserved. The infrastructure is being expanded enough to make it capable of accommodating substantial reinforcements. The construction work is in progress. The bases will remain operational and their numbers keep on rising.

A large drone base in Agadez, the largest city in central Niger, is reported to be under construction. The facility will host armed MQ-9 Reaper drones which will finally take flight in 2019. The MQ-9 Reaper has a range of 1,150 miles, allowing it to provide strike support and intelligence-gathering capabilities across West and North Africa from this new base outside of Agadez. It can carry GBU-12 Paveway II bombs. The aircraft features synthetic aperture radar for integrating GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The armament suite can include four Hellfire air-to-ground anti-armor and anti-personnel missiles. There are an estimated 800 US troops on the ground in Niger, along with one drone base and the base in Agadez that is being built. The Hill called it “the largest US Air Force-led construction project of all time.”

According to Business Insider, “The US military presence here is the second largest in Africa behind the sole permanent US base on the continent, in the tiny Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti.” Four thousand American servicemen are stationed at Camp Lemonnier (the US base located near Djibouti City) — a critical strategic base for the American military because of its port and its proximity to the Middle East.

Officially, the camp is the only US base on the continent or, as AFRICOM calls it, “a forward operating site,” — the others are “cooperative security locations” or “non-enduring contingency locations.” Camp Lemonnier is the hub of a network of American drone bases in Africa that are used for aerial attacks against insurgents in Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia, as well as for exercising control over the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. In 2014, the US signed a new 20-year lease on the base with the Djiboutian government, and committed over $1.4 billion to modernize and expand the facility in the years to come.

In March, the US and Ghana signed a military agreement outlining the conditions of the US military presence in that nation, including its construction activities. The news was met with protests inside the country.

It should be noted that the drone attacks that are regularly launched in Africa are in violation of US law. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), adopted after Sept. 11, 2001, states that the president is authorized to use force against the planners of those attacks and those who harbor them. But that act does not apply to the rebel groups operating in Africa.

It’s hard to believe that the US presence will be really diminished, and there is no way to know, as too many aspects of it are shrouded in secrecy with nothing but “leaks” emerging from time to time. It should be noted that the documents obtained by TomDispatch under the United States Freedom of Information Act contradict AFRICOM’s official statements about the scale of US military bases around the world, including 36 AFRICOM bases in 24 African countries that have not been previously disclosed in official reports.

The US foothold in Africa is strong. It’s almost ubiquitous. Some large sites under construction will provide the US with the ability to host large aircraft and accommodate substantial forces and their hardware. This all prompts the still-unanswered question — “Where does the US have troops in Africa, and why?” One thing is certain — while waging an intensive drone war, the US is building a vast military infrastructure for a large-scale ground war on the continent.

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Everything Is A Hoax

Paul Craig Roberts – 10, 5, 2018

An Israeli expert on terrorism and covert assassination procedures explains that the alleged Russian GRU attack on the Skripals with a supposedly deadly nerve agent is a completely obvious hoax to anyone who knows anything at all. https://russia-insider.com/en/skripals-are-mi6-hoax-not-worthy-ladies-detective-novels-israeli-expert-demolishes-uk-case/ri24912

The official story, says the expert, is “stupidity on stupidity.”

I agree with him.

The question is: Why did the British government think that they could get away with such an obvious hoax? The answer is that the people in Western countries don’t know anything about anything. They live in a world in which their reality is a product of the propaganda fed to them by “news organizations” and Hollywood movies. They only receive controlled explanations. Therefore, they know nothing about how anything really functions. Read the account by the Israeli expert to understand the vast difference between the British government’s hoax and the reality of how an assassination is conducted.

The Israeli expert got me to wondering why the British government thought anyone would fall for such a transparently false story. Having just read David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth’s new book, 9/11 Unmasked, and David Ray Griffin’s 2017 book, Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World, the answer became obvious. The British government had watched the idiot Western populations fall for the official 9/11 conspiracy story in which a few Saudi Arabians, who could not fly airplanes and without the support of any intelligence agency, caused the entire security apparatus of the United States to fail utterly, and no one was held responsible for the total failure. The British government concluded that anyone who could possibly believe such an obviously false story would believe anything.

I remember coming to that conclusion years ago before the official conspiracy theory in the 9/11 Commission Report was blown to pieces by thousands of scientists, structural engineers, high-rise architects, military and civilian pilots, first responders on the scene, and a large number of former high government officials both in the US and abroad.

At first I did not connect the zionist neoconservatives’ plot, outlined in their public writings (for example, Norman Podhorttz in Commentary) to destroy 7 Middle Eastern countries in five years (also described by General Wesley Clark) and their statement that they needed a “new Pearl Harbor” to implement their plan, with the attack on the World Trade Center. But as I watched the twin towers blow up floor by floor it was completely obvious that these were not buildings falling down due to asymmetrical structural damage and limited, low temperature office fires that probably did not even warm the massive steel structure to the point of being warm to the touch. When you watch the videos you see buildings blowing up. It is as clear as day. You see each floor blow. You see steel beams and other debris fly out the sides as projectiles. It is amazing that any human is so completely stupid as to think what he is seeing with his own eyes are buildings falling down from structural damage. But it required many years before half of the American people realized that the official account was fake.

Today polls indicate that a majority of people do not believe the official 9/11 propaganda any more than they believe the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the alleged Gulf of Tonkin attack, or the report from Admiral McCain (father of John) erasing Israel’s responsibility for the destruction of the USS Liberty and its crew during LBJ’s administration, or that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, or Iran had nukes, or the many lies about Syria, Libya’s Gaddafi, or Somalia, or Yemen, or the “Russian invasion of Georgia,” the “Russian invasion of Ukraine.” But at each time the idiot population, no matter how many times they had learned that the governments lied to them initially believed the next lie, thereby permitting the lie to become fact. Thus, the idiot Western populations created their own world of controlled explanations.

Only a deranged person could believe anything any Western government says. But the Western world has a huge number of deranged people. There are plenty of them to validate the next official lie. The ignorant fools make it possible for Western governments to continue their policy of lies that are driving the world to extinction in a war with Russia and China.

It seems certain that Israel was involved. We have the fact of the Mossad agents caught celebrating as they filmed the collalpse of the WTC towers. Obviously, they knew in advance and were set up ready to film. Later they were shown on Israeli TV where they stated that they had been sent to film the destruction of the buildings.

We also have the fact of the large profits made by someone that the US government continues to protect on shorting the stock of the airlines, the planes of which were allegely hijacked.

In other words, the 9/11 attack was known in advance, as was the destruction of WTC building 7 as evidenced by the BBC reporter standing in front of the still standing building accouncing its destruction about a half hour before it occurred.

Unz and Bollyn’s case against Israel is powerful. I agree with Unz that George W. Bush was not part of the plot. If he had been, he would have been on the scene directing America’s heroic response to the first, and only, terrorist attack on America. lnstead, Bush was moved out of the way, and kept out of the way, while Cheney handled the situation.

I understand what Unz is doing by focusing attention on the main beneficiary of the hoax 9/11 story. However Cheney and his corporation, Halliburton, also benefitted. Halliburton received large municifient US government contracts for services in Afghanistan and Iraq. Cheney, as David Ray Griffen proves, achieved his aim of elevating the executive branch above the US Constitution and statutory US law.

Moreover, it was impossible for Mossad to pull off such an attack without high level support in the US government. Only a US official could have ordered the numerous simulations of the attack underway in order to confuse the air traffic controllers and the US Air Force.

The Israeli government could not have ordered the destruction of the crime scene, opposed by the New York fire marshall as a felony. This required US government authority. The steel beams, which showed all sorts of distortions that could only have been caused by nano-thermite were quickly sent to Asia for reprocessing. The intense fires and molten rubble in the buildings’ remains six weeks after their collapse never received an official explanation. To this day, no one has explained how low-temperature, smothered office fires that burned for one hour or less melted or weakened massive steel beams and produced molten steel six weeks afterward.

Unz is correct that Israel made out like a bandit. Israel as a result of 9/11 got rid of half of the constraints on its expansion. Only Syria and Iran remain, and the Trump regime is pushing hard for Israel, even against Russia, a government that at its will can completely destroy the United States and Israel, something that much of the world wishes would happen.

Right now the totally evil and corrupt US and Israeli governments have the entire world on the path to extinction. The utter insouciance of the American people do not show enough intelligence or awareness to warrant their survival.

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Marketing War: the Incessant Drumbeat of Mortal Danger

Paul Atwood 10-8-2018

The claim that the national security of the United States requires that more than half the nation’s discretionary budget must be devoted to the maintenance of armies, global strategic bases and massive armaments is false. Until we can convince the majority of the public of this fiction, and surmount the wall of disinformation, nothing will change and we will continue down the road to a hellish future.

This statement of course contradicts the incessant indoctrination emanating from Washington and the corporate media that U.S. foreign policy is devoted to the maintenance of global peace and a “liberal” and just world order in the face of enemies who wish to destroy that order. The facts controvert such declarations yet to emphasize them is to be accused of disloyalty, a lack of patriotism, and conspiracy mongering.

The U.S. propaganda system relentlessly broadcasts the malevolent machinations of Russia, Iran or North Korea or Syria and China as well as of armed gangs like ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban. The drumbeat that mortal danger is on our doorstep is so ceaseless and all-encompassing that the public either accepts the claims as true or remains blind to very real dangers posed by our government’s own militarized policies that call forth various forms of opposition to those policies.

The reality is that all of the wars, assassinations, and coups carried out by Washington of the last half century have been matters of choice based not on genuine threats to our national security but on jeopardy to the profits of giant arms manufacturers and their allies- the so-called military industrial complex that extends its tentacles into every major institution in American life–Congress, the CIA, the media and universities. The complex requires at the very least the implied threat of war to ensure its existence.

How many citizens are aware that at the end of World War II the chief of wartime production exclaimed that the country needed a “permanent war economy.” His rationale centered on the fact that in the absence of massive war production, and the guaranteed profits that flowed from war contracts, numerous corporations that had grown to gargantuan proportions would suddenly be bankrupted. There was also the problem of millions of returning veterans who would be in no mood to stand in bread lines again. Since a permanent war economy required a permanent enemy Washington hawks duly asserted that the nation needed a “national security state” and a renamed Department of War to contain the new purported threat to global peace and security, namely the Soviet Union and international communism. The reality was that the USSR was extremely weakened by its overwhelming losses in the war and posed no military threat anywhere and was relatively easily contained. So unthreatening was the world environment in reality that Washington deliberately chose war in Korea to set the permanent warfare state in motion. Secretary of State Dean Acheson was even heard to exclaim “Thank God, Korea came along” in gratitude that he could then salvage the tripling of the so-called defense budget.

Understand that both world wars were emerging well before widespread and all-out conflict erupted. The Great Game was the same then as it is now and always revolves around the issue of which nation and which national oligarchy is to profit most from the control of resources, markets and access to the cheapest sources of labor at the expense of rivals. Massive arms races co-evolved with this economic competition and soon led to worldwide conflagration. As the world fractures into ultra-nationalism yet again, and mutual distrust and suspicion intensifies, it is no exaggeration to warn that our very species is at stake

Total defense spending since 9-11 has more than doubled almost to a trillion dollars annually. Thus as accelerated arms spending has coupled with bellicose policies masquerading as “defense,” we witness that alleged adversaries and enemies have quadrupled. Since 9-11 military operations employing the latest and most expensive high-tech weapons began in Afghanistan and have since spread to Iraq to Libya to Syria to Yemen and to various nations in Africa. The U.S. maintains more than 800 military bases around the world, American naval fleets patrol all oceans, and U.S. troops and missiles are now in many eastern European nations including on the very  borders of Russia itself. Only the other day Kay Bailey Hutchison, ambassador to NATO, declared that the U.S. should “take out” certain missiles in Russia. Last week reports surfaced that American B-52 bombers are overflying areas in the South China Sea claimed by China. This week a U.S. Navy destroyer entered the same area, thereby deliberately increasing tensions with that growing superpower. Meanwhile the beneficiaries of investments in the arms industries, like Massachusetts own Raytheon corporation, enjoy ever fast-tracked profits from missiles rained down on Yemen. They quite literally are making a killing from killing.

Mounting public pressure against Washington’s support for the illegal Saudi war against Yemen almost led to the de-certification of the pending sale of 120,000 precision-guided missiles by Raytheon to the Saudis and United Arab Emirates. The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that the Acting Assistant Secretary of State, was a longtime lobbyist for Raytheon, and played a key role in salvaging this two billion dollar arms deal for the company.

In the aftermath of the depression of 2008 the Federal Reserve Bank injected trillions of dollars fabricated out of thin air into the largest banks including those that had caused the financial breakdown, and which then refused to loan it to ordinary Americans who had been ruined by the crisis and who needed it most. How much of the nation’s $13.2 trillion of household debt could have been remedied with such a sum or the $1.5 trillion in unsustainable student debt? Such an amount could have financed free college, universal health care, federal jobs programs, aid for underwater mortgages, and clean energy and many more socially necessary projects. The reprehensible existence of mass homelessness and hungry children could be resolved.

A government dominated by the merchants of death drains the lifeblood of civil society, and portends another economic collapse, and ultimately threatens all with global war.

Until we can persuade the public to face these harsh facts honestly nothing will change. The stakes are nothing less than critical.

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Trump’s war mongers are trying to create more war in Syria.

(Click on the inserted links and follow them for more on this important issue)

MOSCOW, September 22. /TASS/. The notorious White Helmets group, related to the Syrian opposition, is now working on a fake video footage of a staged chemical attack in the Idlib province, according to a leaked video obtained by the SANA news agency.

According to the agency, the footage shows a number of people being hosed with water by White Helmets activists, in a bid to create the impression that they are trying to help them after an attack with chemical weapons.

However, some of the people who are being sprayed with water are in later shots playing the role of paramedics themselves. Besides, two sequences show a man being taken into an ambulance in the exact same way, but once with his shirt buttoned and once with it unbuttoned.

According to the agency, the video demonstrates that several “takes” were made of the same scene, apparently in a bid to create a fake video of the attack and thus provoke strikes on the government forces by the US-led coalition.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that members of the Jabhat al-Nusra terror group (outlawed in Russia) are providing chemical weapons to their affiliated terrorists active in the Syrian province of Idlib in order to arrange a fake chemical weapons provocation that would give the US-led coalition an excuse to conduct a missile attack. According to her, the White Helmets may play a key role in the staged incident.

Situation in Idlib

Idlib is the only Syrian province still controlled by illegal armed groups. In 2017, a de-escalation zone was established in the region, where militants reluctant to lay down their arms can move together with their families. According to United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, Idlib currently hosts about 10,000 militants from the Jabhat al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda terror groups (both outlawed in Russia).

Washington is making the false claim that the Syrian government forces may carry out a chemical weapons attack in Idlib and warned that such actions will have serious consequences. Moscow believes that these statements point to preparations for the US to make a new attack on Syria.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on August 25 that militants were making preparations together with British intelligence services to stage a chemical weapons attack in the Idlib province and blame it on the Syrian government.

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More:
http://tass.com/world/1022688

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One Click Closer to War

Last week Washington threatened Iran, Syria, China, Venezuela, and Russia

 

by Philip Giraldi  –  10, 2, 2018

The nuclear war doomsday clock maintained on the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists website has advanced to two minutes before midnight, the closest point to possible atomic apocalypse since the end of the Cold War. In 1995 the clock was at fourteen minutes to midnight, but the opportunity to set it back even further was lost as the United States and its European allies took advantage of a weakened Russia to advance NATO into Eastern Europe, setting the stage for a new cold war, which is now underway.

It is difficult to imagine how the United States might avoid a new war in the Middle East given the recent statements that have come out of Washington, and, given that the Russians are also active in the region, a rapid and massive escalation of something that starts out as a minor incident should not be ruled out.

President Donald Trump set the tone when he harangued the United Nations last Tuesday, warning that the United States would go it alone in defense of its perceived interests, with no regard for international bodies that exist to limit armed conflict and punish those who commit war crimes.

Trump’s 35-minute speech featured an anticipated long section targeting Iran. He commented that:

Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond… We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America,’ and that threatens Israel with annihilation, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth.”

There are a number of things exaggerated or incorrect in Trump’s description of Iran as well as in the conclusions he draws. The Middle East and other adjacent Muslim countries are in chaos because the United States has destabilized the region starting with the empowering of the Islamist Mujadeddin in the war against Soviet Afghanistan in the 1980s. It then invaded Afghanistan in 2001 followed by Iraq in 2003, enabling the rise of ISIS and giving local al-Qaeda affiliates a new lease on life, before turning on Damascus with the Syria Accountability Act later in the same year and then destroying the Libyan government under Barack Obama. These were, not coincidentally, policies promoted by Israel that received, as a result, bipartisan support in Congress.

The emotional description of disrespecting “neighbors, borders and sovereign rights” fits the U.S. and Israel to a “T” rather than Iran. The U.S. has soldiers stationed illegally in Syria while Israel bombs the country on an almost daily basis, so who is doing the disrespecting? Washington and Tel Aviv, not Iran, are the principal supporters of terrorists in the Middle East – arming them, training them, hospitalizing them when they are injured, and making sure that they continue their work in attacking Syria’s legitimate government.

And as for “most dangerous weapons,” Iran doesn’t have any and is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel and the U.S. have not signed. Nor would Iran have any such weapons in the future but for the fact that Trump has backed out of the agreement to monitor and inspect Iranian nuclear research and development, which will, if anything, motivate Tehran to develop weapons to protect itself.

Trump also elaborated on the following day regarding Iran’s alleged but demonstrably non-existent nuclear program when he indicated to the Security Council that Washington would go after countries that violate the rules on nuclear proliferation. He clearly meant Iran but the comment was ironic in the extreme, as Israel is the world’s leading nuclear rogue nation with an arsenal of two hundred nuclear devices, having stolen the uranium and key elements of the technology from the United States in the 1960s.

Trump’s new appraisal of the state of the Middle East is somewhat a turnaround. Five months ago he said that he wanted to “get out” of Syria and bring the soldiers home. But in early September, the secretary of state’s special representative for Syria engagement, James Jeffrey, indicated that the U.S. would stay to counter Iranian activities.

And John Bolton has also recently had a lot to say about Iran, Syria and Russia. Last Monday he confirmed that Washington intends to keep a military presence in Syria until Iran withdraws all its forces from the country. “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.” On the following day, speaking at a Sheldon Adelson funded United Against Nuclear Iran Summit, he said the “murderous regime” of “mullahs in Tehran” would face serious consequences if they persist in their willingness to “lie, cheat and deceive. If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens there will indeed be hell to pay. Let my message today be clear: We are watching, and we will come after you.”

John Bolton also warned the Russians about their decision to upgrade the air defenses in Syria in the wake of the recent Israeli bombing raid that led to the shooting down of a Russian intelligence plane. He said absurdly and inaccurately “The Israelis have a legitimate right to self-defense against this Iranian aggressive behavior, and what we’re all trying to do is reduce tensions, reduce the possibility of major new hostilities. That’s why the president has spoken to this issue and why we would regard introducing the S-300 as a major mistake.”

Bolton then elaborated that “We think introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians and something that we hope, if these press reports are accurate, they would reconsider.” And regarding who was responsible for the deaths of the Russian airmen, Bolton also has a suitable explanation “There shouldn’t be any misunderstanding here… The party responsible for the attacks in Syria and Lebanon and really the party responsible for the shooting down of the Russian plane is Iran.”

Bolton’s desire to exonerate Israel and always blame Iran is inevitably on display. He is curiously objecting to the placement of missiles that are defensive in nature, presumably because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked him to do so. The only way one can be threatened by the S-300 is if you are attacking Syria, but that might be a fine point that Bolton fails to grasp as he was a draft dodger during the Vietnam War and has since that time not placed himself personally at risk in support of any of the wars he has been promoting.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also spoke on Monday, at the Pentagon. His spin on Iran was slightly different but his message was the same. “As part of this overarching problem, we have to address Iran. Everywhere you go in the Middle East where there’s instability you will find Iran. So in terms of getting to the end state of the Geneva [negotiations] process, Iran, too, has a role to play, which is to stop fomenting trouble.”

To complete the onslaught, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at the same United Against Nuclear Iran Summit as Bolton, accused European nations seeking to avoid U.S. sanctions over the purchase of Iranian oil as “solidifying Iran’s ranking as the number-one state sponsor of terrorism. I imagine the corrupt ayatollahs and IGRC [Revolutionary Guards] were laughing this morning.”

Even the U.S. Congress has figured out that something is afoot. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, who were carefully briefed on what to think by the Israeli government, warned after a trip to the Middle East that war between the United States and Iranian proxies is “imminent.”

Iran is fun to kick around but China has also been on the receiving end of late. Last Wednesday the U.N. Security Council meeting was presided over by Donald Trump, who warned that Beijing is “meddling” in U.S. elections against him personally. It is a bizarre claim, particularly as the only country up until now demonstrated as having actually interfered in American politics in any serious way is Israel. The accusation comes on top of Washington’s latest foray into the world of sanctions, directed against the Chinese government-run Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Central Military Commission and its director Li Shangfu for “engaging in significant transactions” with a Russian weapons manufacturer that is on a list of U.S. sanctioned companies.

The Chinese sanctions are serious business as they forbid conducting any transactions that go through the U.S. financial system. It is the most powerful weapon Washington has at its disposal. As most international transactions are conducted in dollars and pass through American banks that means that it will be impossible for the Chinese government to make weapons purchases from many foreign sources. If foreign banks attempt to collaborate with China to evade the restrictions, they too will be sanctioned.

So if you’re paying attention to Trump, Bolton, Mattis, Pompeo and Haley you are probably digging a new bomb shelter right now. We have told Iran that it cannot send its soldiers and “proxies” outside its own borders while Syria cannot have advanced missiles to defend its airspace, which Russia is “on notice” for providing. China also cannot buy weapons from Russia while Venezuela is also being threatened because it has what is generally believed to be a terrible government. Meanwhile, America is in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to stay while nearly all agree a war with Iran is coming soon. Everyone is the enemy and everyone hates the United States, mostly for good reasons. If this is Making America Great Again, I think I would settle for just making America “good” so we could possibly have that doomsday clock go back a couple of minutes.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50364.htm

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Trump’s Sanctions Are Killing The Economy In The US

New Vehicle Sales “Collapse” And Pending Home Sales “Plunge” As America’s Economic Slowdown Accelerates

Michael Snyder – 9-28-2018

In late 2018, the bad economic news just keeps rolling in. At a time when consumer confidence is absolutely soaring, the underlying economic numbers are clearly telling us that enormous problems are right around the corner. Of course this is usually what happens just before a major economic downturn. Most people in the general population feel like the party can go on for quite a while longer, but meanwhile the warning signs just keep becoming more and more obvious. I have been hearing from people that truly believe that the economy is “strong”, but if the U.S. economy really was in good shape would new vehicle sales be “collapsing”?

According to the latest estimates released by Edmunds, new vehicle sales for September are expected to collapse both on a monthly basis and year-over-year basis. The company predicted that 1,392,434 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in September, which makes for a estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17 million. This will be a 5.4% decrease from last month and an 8.3% drop from September of last year.

Those are absolutely terrible numbers.

And this news comes after all of the major automakers had already revised earnings guidance lower. The following comes from Zero Hedge

The drop in sales capped another rough month for the auto industry during which Detroit’s carmakers all revised their earnings guidance lower and Ford embarked on a five-year restructuring plan. Earlier this week, we reported that Ford’s CEO claimed that President Trump’s auto tariffs had cost the company $1 billion in profits.

Sadly, this may just be the very beginning of the auto industry’s troubles.

It is now being projected that if this trade war with China continues, U.S. automakers could see total sales fall “by 2 million vehicles per year”

Retaliation by China to tariffs already in place have made some American auto exports uncompetitive, and could collapse US auto sales by 2 million vehicles per year, resulting in the loss of up to 715,000 American jobs and a devastating hit of as much as $62 billion to the US GDP.

As per NBC News, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) warns that the auto industry could receive a devastating blow if Section 232 declares foreign-made cars and car parts a threat to national security.

Kristin Dziczek, a vice president and senior economist at CAR, said if Section 232 is enacted, it could trigger a “downward cycle” in the auto industry – not seen since the last great recession.

And needless to say, the thousands of companies that do business with those large automakers would also lose sales and jobs.

Once these downturns get rolling, the domino effect can be absolutely devastating.

On Thursday, we also learned that pending home sales “plunged in August”

Pending home sales plunged in August, dropping 1.8% MoM (almost four times worse than expected) to its lowest since Oct 2014 (and fell 2.5% YoY) – the fourth month of annual declines in a row…

If the U.S. economy truly is “strong”, then why have we seen four monthly declines in a row?

And it isn’t just one part of the nation that is experiencing a downturn. According to Bloomberg, all four major regions of the country showed a decline…

As Bloomberg notes, the decline, which was broad-based across all four regions, shows that higher mortgage rates, rising prices and a shortage of affordable homes continue to squeeze buyers. Existing-home sales in August matched the lowest in more than two years, while revisions to new-home sales showed a slower market than thought, according to previously released figures.

Homes are not selling like they once were. There is a reason why one out of every four home sellers in America slashed their prices in August. Demand is way down, and that strongly indicates that an economic slowdown is here.

When it looks like the economy is headed for a major downturn, a lot of people go out and stock up on gold, and it turns out that is precisely what global central banks have been doing

Central banks have emerged as some of the biggest buyers of gold this year, buying a total of 264 metric tons this year to reach the highest level in six years, according to analysts at Macquarie.

Of course the Federal Reserve and other central banks are trying to assure us that everything is going to be okay, but meanwhile their actions are telling us a different story.

Much of the world is already in the midst of a crippling economic crisis, and every indicator seems to be pointing to the fact that the U.S. is headed down the same path.

Even without any extenuating circumstances, the truth is that we are way overdue for a recession.  But when you throw in political chaos, exploding debt levels, an emerging market currency crisis and a trade war between the two largest economies on the entire planet, you definitely have a recipe for a perfect storm.

If you do not believe that this trade war is a big deal, you should consider the words of former Reagan administration official David Stockman

Folks, it’s not a “skirmish”. On the scale of trade warfare we are now at DEFCON 2.

At this very moment, the US is taxing $250 billion of Chinese imports or nearly half the total flow; and China is taxing $110 billion of its imports from the US or 85% of the flow.

And it’s soon going full monte. The Donald has repeatedly threatened to tariff the remaining $267 billion of Chinese imports if Beijing retaliates against his $200 billion, but, self-evidently, they already have.

The U.S. economy has found a way to muddle through for the past couple of years, and we should all hope that the economy can find a way to navigate through these current problems.

But the storm clouds are growing more ominous with each passing day, and at some point time will run out.

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Another Blow To The US: China Is CUTTING Tariffs On NON-US Goods

[As Trump tries to push China toward war through sanctions and tariffs, China responds intelligently in ways to nullify Trump’s warmongering.  – Ben]

Mac Slavo – 9, 26, 2018

China has decided to come out swinging against president Donald Trump’s trade war.  In a recent move, the Communist country has elected to cut tariffs on imports that come from anywhere other than the United States.

This simple yet effective step taken in the combat that has become a trade war shows that China is not backing down and will be in it for the long haul.  China’s government announced Wednesday that the country would cut import tariffs on a slew of goods to lessen the impact of the trade war with the US. Duties on textiles, construction equipment, and more than 1,500 other goods will drop on November 1, according to the Chinese government. Chinese state media said the move was expected to save consumers in the country 60 billion yuan, about $8.7 billion.

Communist China understands tariffs are paid by consumers. Attempting to ease the financial burden on their citizens, China took steps to help while the US continues to punish everyday Americans and push the cost of the trade war off onto their backs.  According to Business Insider, all indications have pointed to a protracted trade war as China canceled talks following President Donald Trump’s latest round of tariffs; and the US is already threatening another round of restrictions.

Wednesday’s move also shows that Beijing is also trying to tweak economic conditions in the country to weather a drawn-out fight. Cutting tariffs makes a lot of sense. If you’re worried about strengthening China’s position in the supply chain if you cut tariffs — especially on intermediate goods — that helps the competitiveness of companies within China and it helps keep down consumer costs at a time the tariff war is driving them up.

Cutting tariffs on non-US goods was a smart move on China’s part, and most economists agree, it’ll help ease up the consumer’s pain. This will essentially act as a release valve for some of the pressure from the trade war. Businesses and consumers in China won’t see as dramatic of an increase in the cost of goods, which decreases public pressure on the government to come to an agreement with the US. Additionally, the cut is likely to increase the pain for US manufacturers as Chinese consumers shift away from more expensive American goods toward cheaper alternatives from other countries, reported Business Insider. 

“In principle, these tariff cuts should apply to all imports, including those from the United States,” Scott Kennedy, a Chinese economic expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Business Insider. “But China is still likely to leave in place its retaliatory tariffs, meaning the benefits of these tariff cuts will go to other countries.”

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