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Close Up and Long Shot


Be careful about what you see in the foreground of the news vis-à-vis what’s in the background. Sunday, the cable networks were on fire over the 30-or-so white nationalists marching across Washington DC — with much larger hordes of masked, black-clad Antifa street-fighters following them around, and an army of DC cops in fluorescent green riot vests following the Antifas and the white nationalist knuckleheads.

The event was a billed as an attempt to commemorate the clash that happened between the same contestants in Charlottesville, Virginia, a year ago in the uproar over Confederate statues. That fiasco ended in the death of a bystander named Heather Heyer. Not a whole lot has changed since then, except perhaps the Left has become more strident in its calls to penalize white people for their crimes of “privilege,” no doubt further inflaming the Unite-the-Right crew. (And the anti-statue campaign has dropped down the memory hole.)

There was plenty of “hate” to go around on both sides Sunday. But those who were waiting for a climactic bloodbath in Lafayette Park must have been disappointed after a long day of tension when a big blob of rain hunkered over the District at suppertime and the theatrics concluded. Both the Antifas and the Unite-the-Right marchers had to go home and get out of their wet clothes. At least they could agree on that.

The cable TV anchors had issued the usual calls for “national unity,” exhorting President Trump to emerge from his Bedminster, New Jersey, golfing bunker and “bring the country together,” a sadly fatuous proposition. There is nothing to come together within. There’s nothing left of an American common culture besides a few Disney movies and that’s not nearly enough. That’s what happens when you opt for multiculturalism as your number one political principle.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nicaraguan President Blasts US Foreign Policy: Forget “Normal Relations, US Demands Total Submission, Even Servility”

Yet another world nation appears to be joining the anti-hegemonic order…

US foreign policy is based on expansionism and oppression, President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua told RT Spanish, adding that those countries that refuse to submit to Washington’s will are demonized and destabilized.

“We have always wanted to have normal relations with the US but we see only aggression in return,” Ortega said in an exclusive interview with RT Spanish. 

He believes Washington clearly does not need good relations, as it constantly “attacks” the Nicaraguan government. Ortega added that the US demands “submission, even servility,” while trampling on those who refuse to bow to Washington’s will.

As RT notes, the US has long sought to absorb Nicaragua into its sphere of influence, even resorting to a direct military occupation in the early 20th century, the president explained.

“Washington’s expansionist culture” apparently makes the US unable and unwilling to forgive the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) for the fact that it overthrew the last Nicaraguan dictator that was supported by the US, said Ortega.

Additionally, just as we have seen throughout Europe, Ortega points out that Washington actively pushes its “human rights agenda” through various NGOs as well as directly through its embassy in Managua in an attempt to present the Latin American state as a country “lacking democracy.”

“The activities of all those ‘human rights commissions’ has long turned into business,” he said.

Ortega’s remarks came as his country copes with months-long civil unrest, which began as student demonstrations over the government’s failure to handle forest fires in one of the most protected areas of the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve last April. Tensions increased further as the FSLN government announced unpopular welfare reforms.

On the bright side, at least Ortega has not been the victim of a drone assassination attempt.

The Only Existential Threat To Russia Is Neoliberal Economics

The Only Existential Threat To Russia Is Neoliberal Economics

This week I was interviewed on Russian TV about the possible new anti-Russian sanctions that Washington is considering that would prohibit anyone in the entirety of the world from holding Russian government bonds. Think about this for a moment. Washington thinks that Washington has the right and the power to block sovereign countries and their citizens from investing in Russian government bonds. Here we face arrogance that has developed into insanity.

The Russian bonds are an excellent investment. Unlike US, EU, UK, and Japanese government bonds, the Russian bonds pay good interest rates, and Russia has virtually no national debt, unlike the heavily indebted governments of the US, Europe, UK, and Japan.

Moreover, the Russian ruble is protected by immense energy resources on which Europe and China are dependent. The only way the ruble can be driven down is by orchestrated short-selling by Western and Japanese central banks. These central banks can print and waste all the money that they care to. A Western central bank is even less accountable than a Western government.

The Soviet government had more sense than to aleow the ruble to be traded on markets that the West can manipulate, but the Russian government, brainwashed as it is by American neoliberal economists, lacks the understanding of the Soviet government.

All of Washington’s economic threats to Russia are designed to force the Russian government into accepting vassal status, like all of Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan. The threats can only work because the Russian government and the Economics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences have ignored the lessons that Michael Hudson and I taught them. See:

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/08/10/russias-weakness-is-its-economic-policy-paul-craig-roberts-and-michael-hudson/

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/09/28/can-russia-learn-from-brazils-fate-paul-craig-roberts-and-michael-hudson/

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/02/08/privatization-is-the-atlanticist-strategy-to-attack-russia-paul-craig-roberts-and-michael-hudson/

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Madness Gripping Washington

The Madness Gripping Washington

The Madness Gripping Washington

The United States and Israel have been threatening Iran for something like twenty years, using the pretext that it was developing a nuclear weapon initially, but also more recently declaring that Tehran has become a threat to the entire Middle East. Both contentions are essentially lies, concocted by an Israel and Saudi Arabia that would prefer to have Iran removed as a possible impediment to their own ambitions. And they would like the United States to do the removing.

Iran is the hottest of all hot spots in the American view, but the tendency of the White House to threaten first before engaging in negotiations has meant that most nations have come to see the United States as the greatest threat to peace worldwide. In a recent interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin observed how the U.S. believes it can intervene militarily anywhere in the world because it is “spreading democracy,” a justification that no one believes in any event as the results of recent crusades in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya have been less that encouraging. Putin commented that Washington should treat all other nations with respect and it will then get respect – and cooperation – in return.

The track record of the Trump White House is not encouraging. It has twice launched barrages of cruise missiles against targets in Syria based on fabricated or incomplete intelligence suggesting that the government in Damascus had used chemical weapons against its own people. It also uniquely added juvenile humiliation to the American diplomatic arsenal, with Trump describing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a “rocket man” before going off into a rhapsody about how the nuclear arsenal button accessible to Trump was “bigger and more powerful” than that available to Pyongyang.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Backlash Against “War on Cash” Reaches Washington & China

Backlash Against “War on Cash” Reaches Washington & China

The electronic-payments industry, which gets a cut from every electronic transaction, wants to kill cash. But wait…

Not so long ago, it seemed that the death of cash was both inevitable and imminent. The war against physical money was advancing on all fronts. Cash, already with technological and generational trends stacked against it, faced an imposing array of enemies, including private banks, fintech firms, telecom behemoths, credit card giants, assorted NGOs, tech magnates like Bill Gates and Tim Cook, a bewildering alphabet soup of UN agencies and many national governments. All wanted (and to a great extent still want) to accelerate the demise of physical money, for their own disparate motives.

But a study released in June by UK-based online payments company Paysafe confirmed that consumers on both sides of the Atlantic continue to cling to physical lucre: 87% of consumers surveyed in the UK, Canada, the US, Germany, and Austria said they had used cash to make purchases in the last month, 83% visited ATMs, and 41% said they are not interested in even hearing about cash alternatives.

Now, even certain branches of government are pushing back against the cashless trend. In Washington D.C., city councilors have introduced a new bill that would make it illegal for restaurants and retailers not to accept cash or charge a different price to customers depending on the type of payment they use. The bill is in response to efforts by retailers in the city and around the country – like the salad chain Sweetgreen – to go 100% cashless.

Such moves have been decried as discriminatory against the roughly one-quarter of people in the U.S. who would have trouble using a card or some other electronic means of payment, not to mention those who would just prefer to use cash. “Certain underbanked customers have to use cash; they don’t have other alternatives.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russia Warns: Increased US Marine Corps Presence In Norway Could Be Viewed As An Attack

Russia is hinting that a new wave of U.S. Marines in Norway, near the Russian border in the Troms region, could be viewed as an attack, the MarineTimes reported.

Last week, the Russian Embassy in Norway warned of consequences for the latest U.S. troop buildup, and on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova criticized Norway for its expanded military cooperation with Washington.

A Marine with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 18.1 sends live rounds down range while conducting a squad attack during winter warfare training at Haltdalen Training Center, Norway, April 18, 2018. (Gunnery Sgt. Clinton Firstbrook/Marine Corps/MarineTimes)

According to Zakharova, the policy of the Norwegian government to support a doubling of Marines “in the country and deploy them near the border with Russia undermines mutual confidence.” Furthermore, she argues, the Marines’ presence in the Arctic country — a few hundred miles from the Russian border, in fact, could be an attack.

The statements come as the Norwegian government intends to add another 400 U.S. Marines to Norway before the most significant military exercise since the Cold War this fall.

However, the Marines are not permanently stationed in the country, only on a “rotational deployment,” the Norwegian defense ministry recently stressed.

“We paid attention to the reports of the Norwegian Ministry of Defense released on June 13, which contain Oslo’s agreement to double the US Marine Corps stationed on the Norwegian territory from 330 to 700 people, prolong their rotation presence there for five years, expand its footprint to the north, closer to the border with our country, and create infrastructure for warplanes at the expense of the US under the implementation of the so-called European initiative to deter Russia,” Zakharova said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mattis Warns Of “Consequences” If Beijing Continues Weaponizing The South China Sea

The United States and China appear to be headed for a military collision in the Southeast Asia region, as Washington warns of a more powerful military response to the increased weaponization of the heavily disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Speaking at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, a civilian and military defense summit in Singapore, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis blasted Beijing Saturday morning for the militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea and warned there could be “much larger consequences” in the near term.

IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2018 – James N. Mattis delivers opening plenary speech. (Source: IISS) 

“There are consequences that will continue to come home to roost if China does not find a way to work more collaboratively with nations that have interests in the disputed region,” Mattis said, while he addressed ministers and high-ranking delegates from over 50 countries. During the entirety of the speech, Mattis did not define what exactly those consequences would be.

The Wall Street Journal said Mattis’ warning to Beijing, was in direct response to a question from an audience member, which he responded by saying, “despite China’s claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion,” adding that “China’s militarization of the Spratlys is also in direct contradiction to President Xi Jinping’s 2015 public assurances in the White House Rose Garden that they would not do this.”

IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2018 – James N. Mattis delivers opening plenary speech. (Source: IISS) 

Beijing’s deployment of anti-ship cruise missiles, radar-jamming equipment, and strategic bombers to the disputed islands have dramatically increased geopolitical tensions around the region. Mattis said such action forced Washington to rethink its “cooperative stance” and disinvite China from the biennial Rim of the Pacific military exercise, expected to start in June.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

May You Live in Stupid, Corrupt and yet Fascinating Times

May You Live in Stupid, Corrupt and yet Fascinating Times

In the old days, America’s top spies would complete their tenures at the CIA or one of the other Washington puzzle palaces and segue to more ordinary pursuits. Some wrote their memoirs. One ran for president. Another died a few months after surrendering his post. But today’s national-security establishment retiree has a different game plan. After so many years of brawling in the shadows, he yearns for a second, lucrative career in the public eye. He takes a crash course in speaking in soundbites, refreshes his wardrobe and signs a TV news contract. Then, several times a week, waits for a network limousine to shuttle him to the broadcast news studios where, after a light dusting of foundation and a spritz of hairspray, he takes a supporting role in the anchors’ nighttime shows.

PoliticoThe Spies Who Came in to the TV Studio

May you live in stupid, corrupt and yet fascinating times.

– Me, paraphrasing a Chinese curse

I’ve been away the past couple of weeks taking a break with my family. I paid attention to the news, but from a distance. As usual, there’s plenty to talk about.

In the last 24 hours alone, we’ve seen political chaos erupt in Italy and hordes of pundits simultaneously lose their minds over the murder of a prominent Russian journalist that never happened. Such is the world we live in. Stupid, corrupt, yet fascinating.

Of all the things I could’ve written about, you may be surprised by today’s selection. It’s a clip many of you probably saw where Richard Stengel (who was Time Magazine’s managing editor from 2006-2013) admits he approves of government propagandizing its own citizens during a Council on Foreign Relations forum. Here’s the clip.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

America’s Incredible Shrinking Influence

America’s Incredible Shrinking Influence

Just two weeks after President Trump pulled the US from the Iran nuclear agreement, his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, issued 12 demands to Iran that could never be satisfied. Pompeo knew his demands would be impossible to meet. They were designed that way. Just like Austria-Hungary’s ultimatum to Serbia in July, 1914, that led to the beginning of World War I. And just like the impossible demands made of Milosevic in 1999 and of Saddam Hussein in 1991 and 2003, and so many other times when Washington wanted war. These impossible demands are tools of war rather than steps toward peace.

Secretary Pompeo raged at Iran. The mainstream news media raged at Iran. Trump raged at Iran. But then a strange thing happened: nothing. The Iranians announced that they remained committed to diplomacy and would continue to uphold their end of the nuclear agreement if the Europeans and other partners were willing to do the same. Iranian and European officials then sought out contacts in defiance of Washington in hopes of preserving mutually-beneficial emerging commercial relations.

Washington responded to the European snub by threatening secondary sanctions on European companies that continued doing business with an Iran that had repeatedly been found in compliance with its end of the bargain. Any independent European relationship with Iran would be punished, Washington threatened. But then, again, very little happened.

Rather than jump on Washington’s bandwagon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made two trips to Russia in May seeking closer ties and a way forward on Iran.

Russia and China were named as our prime enemies in the latest National Security Strategy for the United States, but both countries stand to benefit from the unilateral US withdrawal from the Iran deal. When the French oil company Total got spooked by Washington threats and pulled out of Iran, a Chinese firm eagerly took its place.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Washington Threatens Sanctions For Nord Stream 2

Washington Threatens Sanctions For Nord Stream 2

Natural Gas

While Germany tries to make sure Ukraine will not suffer too badly from the addition of Nord Stream 2 to the European natural gas pipeline network, a senior State Department official has threatened sanctions for the controversial project.

Speaking to media in Berlin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy Sandra Oudkirk said Washington deemed the pipe as a security threat because it would give Russia the chance to install “undersea surveillance equipment” such as “listening devices” in the Baltic. Oudkirk did not go into detail about the surveillance equipment that she suspected Russia might put on the seabed.

What she did make a point of noting was that the threat of sanctions was motivated by Washington’s strong desire to curb Russia’s influence in Europe and had nothing to do with the fact that U.S. LNG is one alternative to Russian gas. Oudkirk also said Washington did not believe there was a way to enforce guarantees for Ukraine’s transit fee revenues from current Russian pipeline exports to Russia.

These revenues have turned into a sticking point between Russia and Germany, with the latter showing genuine concern for Ukraine’s revenues, although it was clear from the beginning that an expanded Nord Stream would mean diverting part of current gas transit from Ukraine.

Europe has been very active in showing its support for gas transit revenue dependent Ukraine, although little of this support has been constructive, such as finding ways to generate other revenues besides those from transit fees. Besides, concern for Ukraine may be genuine, but it is not the single concern of all European countries when it comes to Nord Stream 2.

For Germany, Nord Stream 2 means more gas amid nuclear and coal power plant phasing out.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is Putin’s Strategy Finally Beginning To Work?

Is Putin’s Strategy Finally Beginning To Work?

I have explained Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Christian practice of turning the other cheek to Western provocations as a strategy to convey to Europe that Russia is reasonable but Washington is not and that Russia is not a threat to European interests and sovereignty but Washington is. By accommodating Israel and withdrawing from the multi-nation Iran nuclear-nonproliferation agreement, US President Donald Trump might have brought success to Putin’s strategy.

Washington’s three main European vassal states, Britain, France, and Germany have objected to Trump’s unilateral action. Trump is of the opinion that the multi-nation agreement depends only on Washington. If Washington renounces the agreement, that is the end of the agreement. It doesn’t matter what the other parties to the agreement want. Consequently, Trump intends to reimpose the previous sanctions against doing business with Iran and to impose additional new sanctions. If Britain, France, and Germany continue with the business contracts that have been made with Iran, Washington will sanction its vassal states as well and prohibit activities of British, French, and German companies in the US. Clearly, Washington thinks that Europe’s profits in the US exceed what can be made in Iran and will fall in line with Washington’s decision, as the vassal states have done in the past.

And they might. But this time there is a backlash. Whether it will go beyond strong words to a break with Washington remains to be seen. Trump’s neoconservative pro-Israel National Security Advisor John Bolton has ordered European companies to cancel their business deals in Iran. Trump’s ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has ordered German companies to immediately wind down their business operations in Iran. The bullying of Europe and blatant US disregard of European interests and sovereignty has made Europe’s long vassalage suddenly all too apparent and uncomfortable.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

As US Military Effectiveness and Diplomatic Efforts Fade into Irrelevance Many Countries Start Ignoring Washington

As US Military Effectiveness and Diplomatic Efforts Fade into Irrelevance Many Countries Start Ignoring Washington

As US Military Effectiveness and Diplomatic Efforts Fade into Irrelevance Many Countries Start Ignoring Washington

Diplomatic work continues in some of the areas with the highest geopolitical tensions in the world. In recent days there have been high-level meetings and contacts between Turkey, Iran and Russia over the situation in Syria; meetings between Modi and Xi Jinping to ease tensions between India and China; and finally, the historic meeting between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un. The common component in all these meetings is the absence of the United States, which may explain the excellent progress that has been seen.

The last seven days have brought a note of optimism to international relations. The meeting between Modi and Xi Jinping in China offered a regional example, confirmed by the words of Wang Yi, member of the State Counsel of the People’s Republic of China:

“Our [India and China] common interests outweigh our differences. The summit will go a long way towards deepening the mutual trust between the two great neighbors. We will make sure that the informal summit will be a complete success and a new milestone in the history of China-India relations”.

Given the tensions in August 2017 in the Himalayan border area between the two countries, the progress achieved in the last nine months bodes well for a further increase in cooperation between the two nations. Bilateral trade stands at around $85 billion a year, with China as India’s largest trading partner. The meeting between Modi and Xi also serves to deepen the already existing framework between the two countries in international organizations like BRICS, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in which they are integral participants. It is imaginable that negotiations on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will be in full swing, with Beijing keen to involve New Delhi more in the project.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Oil Curse Comes to Washington

The Oil Curse Comes to Washington

Prices rise and prices fall.  So, too, they fall and rise.  This is how the supply and demand sweet spot is continually discovered – and rediscovered.

When supply exceeds demand for a good or service, prices fall.  Conversely, when demand exceeds supply, prices rise.  Producers use the information communicated by changing prices to make business decisions.  High demand and rising prices inform them to increase output.  Excess supply and falling prices inform them to taper back production.

This, in basic terms, is how markets work to efficiently bring products and services to market.  Five year plans, command and control pricing systems, and government price edicts cannot hold a candle to open market pricing.  But not all markets are created equal.  The market for gumballs or garbage bags, for instance, is much simpler than the market for solar panels or jet engines.

What we mean is some markets are subject to more government intervention than others; especially, if there’s a large money stream that can be extracted by government coercion.  Sometimes governments nationalize an entire market – for the good of the people, of course.

Strange and peculiar price movements can indicate there’s something else besides natural supply and demand mechanics going on.  On April 6, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) grade crude oil cost about $62.  Ten months ago, that same barrel of WTI oil cost about $43.  About 24 months ago, it was only about $30 a barrel.

Yesterday, April 26, WTI oil was about $68 a barrel.  What’s going on?

Price Fixing Accidents

Indeed, the oil market is subject to mass government interventions the world over.  The push and pull of these hindrances to regular market determined price discovery can prompt wild price distortions.  We don’t pretend to understand the many variables at play that influence the price of oil.  Still, today, we scratch for clarity and edification, nonetheless.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Road to 2025 (Part 4) – A Very Bright Future If We Demand It

The Road to 2025 (Part 4) – A Very Bright Future If We Demand It

Whenever all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.

– Thomas Jefferson letter to C.Hammond, 1821

The first three parts of this series focused on the obvious reality that imperial America is not just increasingly being seen as a rogue state around the world, but that it’s also become harmful and parasitic to its own people. It’s become abundantly clear that empire is not compatible with Constitutional government.

As power and resources have become increasingly centralized in Washington D.C., the American people have suffered. We’ve suffered from an increasingly rigged economic and financial system, continued security-state encroachment in the form of mass surveillance and a militarization of police, and a war industry which relentlessly funnels more and more wealth toward protecting imperial dominance overseas.

As anyone who’s read the U.S. Constitution knows, this is not the way the union was supposed to function. Indeed, the founders were obsessed with avoiding the pitfalls of European empires since they knew how that story ends. At the federal level, a separation of powers between the three branches of government: the legislative, the executive and the judicial was a key component of the Constitution. The specific purpose here was to prevent an accumulation of excessive centralized power within a specific area of government.

While this separation of powers still exists on paper, it’s been eroded to a very dangerous degree. When it comes to war, which the legislative branch is supposed to declare, Congress has chosen to abdicate its responsibility and simply allows the executive to do whatever it wants.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Donald Trump and the Next Crash: Making the Fed an Instrument for Disaster

Donald Trump and the Next Crash: Making the Fed an Instrument for Disaster

Photo by futureatlas.com | CC BY 2.0

Warning: What you are about to read is not about Russia, the 2016 election, or the latest person to depart from the White House in a storm of tweets. It’s the Beltway story hiding in plain sight with trillions of dollars in play and an economy to commandeer.

While we’ve been bombarded with a litany of scandals from the Oval Office and the Trump family, there’s a crucial institution in Washington that few in the media seem to be paying attention to, even as President Trump quietly makes it his own. More obscure than the chambers of the Supreme Court, it’s a place where he has already made substantial changes. I’m talking about the Federal Reserve.

As the central bank of the United States, the “Fed” sets the financial tone for the global economy by manipulating interest rate levels. This impacts everyone, yet very few grasp the scope of its influence.

During times of relative economic calm, the Fed is regularly forgotten. But what history shows us is that having leaders who are primed to neglect Wall Street’s misdoings often sets the scene for economic dangers to come. That’s why nominees to the Fed are so crucial.

We have entered a landmark moment: no president since Woodrow Wilson (during whose administration the Federal Reserve was established) will have appointed as many board members to the Fed as Donald Trump. His fingerprints will, in other words, not just be on Supreme Court decisions, but no less significantly Fed policy-making for years to come — even though, like that court, it occupies a mandated position of political independence.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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