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Russians Told To “Prepare For Worst Outcome” As US Prepares New Sanctions

Russians Told To “Prepare For Worst Outcome” As US Prepares New Sanctions

A bipartisan team of US senators is preparing to hit Russia with additional sanctions over its 2016 US election interference and military operations in Syria and Ukraine.

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are spearheading the measure, called the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, which includes a wide range of financial penalties targeting Russia’s energy complex, financial industry and “political figures, oligarchs, and family members and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Vladimir Putin,” reported The Independent.

Threats of the sanctions rocked Russian stock and government bond markets at the end of the week, and the country’s debt insurance costs jumped alongside FX volatility.

Moscow has responded to the prospect of new sanctions with anger.

A former minister told Russians to prepare for the worst outcome; the Kremlin accused the US of “racketeering.”

“We see clear symptoms of emotional Russophobia,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “But behind the emotions … is an entirely pragmatic, assertive trade calculation, and … nothing less than an attempt to engage in dishonest competition.”

Frants Klintsevich, a member of the Defence and Security Committee of Russia’s upper house, described the new sanctions as a “dangerous habit” similar to “smoking a pipe before breakfast, poisoning all those around.”

The head of Russia’s largest bank and its former economics minister, Herman Gref, warned that the sanctions could damage the already slowing economy.

 “We need to prepare for the very worst of situations,” Gref warned.

The sanction also includes support for NATO, including requiring a two-thirds majority in the Senate for the US to leave the alliance. It includes plans to make it easier to transfer military hardware to NATO countries to reduce their dependences on Russian arms.

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

Does Washington Rule the World?

Does Washington Rule the World?

Does Washington Rule the World?

One of the most disturbing aspects of the past two years of Donald Trump foreign policy has been the assumption that decisions made by the United States are binding on the rest of the world. Apart from time of war, no other nation has ever sought to prevent other nations from trading with each other. And the United States has also uniquely sought to penalize other countries for alleged crimes that did not occur in the US and that did not involve American citizens, while also insisting that all nations must comply with whatever penalties are meted out by Washington.

The United States now sees itself as judge, jury and executioner in policing the international community, a conceit that began post World War 2 when American presidents began referring to themselves as “leader of the free world.” This pretense received legislative backing with passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987 (ATA) as amended in 1992 plus subsequent related legislation, to include the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act of 2016 (JASTA). The body of legislation can be used by US citizens or residents to obtain civil judgments against alleged terrorists anywhere in the world and can be employed to punish governments, international organizations and even corporations that are perceived to be supportive of terrorists, even indirectly or unknowingly. Plaintiffs are able to sue for injuries to their “person, property, or business” and have ten years to bring a claim.

Sometimes the connections and level of proof required by a US court to take action are tenuous, and that is being polite. Suits currently can claim secondary liability for third parties, including banks and large corporations, under “material support” of terrorism statutes. This includes “aiding and abetting” liability as well as providing “services” to any group that the United States considers to be terrorist, even if the terrorist label is dubious and/or if that support is inadvertent.

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

Turkey Dismisses Trump’s Threat To Devastate Economy Over Kurds

Turkey has brushed off a Sunday threat by President Trump to “devastate” them economically if they attack the Kurdish militia (YPG) in northern Syria, which US forces have fought alongside against the Islamic State (IS).

Turkey regards the YPG as terrorists.


Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone….


You cannot get anywhere by threatening Turkey economically,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Trump announced in December that the US would withdraw all troops from Syria as the Islamic State had been “defeated,” a move which shocked allies and resulted in the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Concerns remain that Kurds from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are are under YPG leadership, would fall under attack by Turkey once the US withdraws.

Last week Turkey’s leaders, including the defense minister, described preparations underway for another major Turkish assault on US-backed Kurdish positions east of the Euphrates, following the exit of American advisers based on Trump’s previously announced pullout. That said, Trump said on Sunday that he would thwart any Turkish invasion plans with a “20 mile safe zone,”

Presumably this “safe zone” will be towards protecting American forces while precise exit logistics take shape, and will occur simultaneously to the US pounding remnant ISIS positions; however the details remain uncertain.

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

World Seriously Needs to Tell Trump “Go to Hell”

The US threatens German companies with sanctions if they continue with Nord Stream 2. This is not our place.

Neither the US nor President Trump should not be the sole decider of global sanctions. If the EU wants to do business with Russia to secure natural gas, that is EU business.

U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Germany of being a “captive” of Moscow because of its reliance on Russian energy and urged it to halt work on the $11 billion gas pipeline. U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell addressed the issue in a letter sent to several companies, the U.S. Embassy said on Sunday.

Juergen Hardt, foreign policy spokesman for Merkel’s conservatives in parliament, was scathing in his criticism of the U.S. move.

“That the U.S. ambassador is now turning to German companies with direct threats is a new and unacceptable one-sided tightening of the tone in the transatlantic relationship,” Hardt said. “If the U.S. president thinks he has to publicly show he is getting tough on Russia in view of the many question marks regarding his relationship with Moscow, he should not thereby impair the relationship with his most important ally.”

“The letter reminds that any company operating in the Russian energy export pipeline sector is in danger under CAATSA of U.S. sanctions,” the embassy spokesman said, adding that other European states also opposed the planned pipeline.

CAATSA

CAATSA stands for Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

Imagine Europe passing a CEATSA and directly threatening US businesses. That’s how arrogant and wrong this policy is.

A Bloomberg Nord Stream 2 Editorial gets it correct.

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

German Business Blasts Trump’s NordStream 2 Sanctions As “Attack On EU Sovereignty”

A German business group said on Friday that any attempts by the United States to stop Europe from buying Russian gas in the form of additional sanctions against Moscow would be an attack on European sovereignty, reports Reuters.

“If the U.S. decided to sanction the use of Russian gas, that would be an attack on German and European sovereignty,” said Wolfgang Buechele, chairman of the German Committee on East European Economic Relations (GCEEER?) at a new year news conference.

The United States has threatened sanctions against European firms involved with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which would carry gas straight to Germany under the Baltic Sea. The project is being spearheaded by Russian state gas giant Gazprom, and has been driving a wedge between Germany and its allies over economic harm to Ukraine, which would be deprived of lucrative gas transit fees it currently charges.

“I believe the Nord Stream 2 project is in the pure interests of not just Germany but also of Europe,” said Buechele of the pipeline, which would branch off into Europe-wide gas transmission networks.

In July, President Trump slammed Germany at a bilateral breakfast in Brussels for being a “captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia.”

The former Chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that is supplying the gas,” Trump continued.

“Ultimately Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. So you tell me, is that appropriate?” Trump asked. “It should have never been allowed to happen. So Germany is totally controlled by Russia.”

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

Russia Backs Away From Dollar AGAIN: Shifts $100 Billion To Yuan, Yen, And Euro

Russia Backs Away From Dollar AGAIN: Shifts $100 Billion To Yuan, Yen, And Euro

Russia is continuing to ramp up its efforts to move away from the American dollar.  The country just shifted $100 billion of its reserves to the yuan, the yen, and the euro in their ongoing effort to ditch the dollar.

The Central Bank of Russia has moved further away from its reliance on the United States dollar and has axed its share in the country’s foreign reserves to a historic low, transferring about $100 billion into euro, Japanese yen, and Chinese yuan according to a report by RTThe share of the U.S. dollar in Russia’s international reserves portfolio has dramatically decreased in just three months between March and June 2018.  The holding decreased from 43.7 percent to a new low of 21.9 percent, according to the Central Bank’s latest quarterly report, which is issued with a six-month lag.

The money pulled from the dollar reserves was redistributed to increase the share of the euro to 32 percent and the share of Chinese yuan to 14.7 percent. Another 14.7 percent of the portfolio was invested in other currencies, including the British pound (6.3 percent), Japanese yen (4.5 percent), as well as Canadian (2.3 percent) and Australian (1 percent) dollars.

The Central Bank’s total assets in foreign currencies and gold increased by $40.4 billion from July 2017 to June 2018, reaching $458.1 billion. –RT

Russian and others have been consistently moving away from the dollar and toward other currencies.  Economic sanctions, which are losing their power as more countries move from the dollar, and trade wars seem to be fueling the dollar’s uncertainty.

Russia began its unprecedented dumping of U.S. Treasury bonds in April and May of last year.

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

America’s Technology and Sanctions War Will End, by Bifurcating the Global Economy

America’s Technology and Sanctions War Will End, by Bifurcating the Global Economy

America’s Technology and Sanctions War Will End, by Bifurcating the Global Economy

“The true reason behind the US-China ‘trade’ war has little to do with actual trade … What is really at the basis of the ongoing civilizational conflict between the US and China … are China’s ambitions to be a leader in next-generation technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), which rest on whether or not it can design and manufacture cutting-edge chips, and is why Xi has pledged at least $150 billion to build up the sector”, Zerohedge writes.

Nothing new here: yet behind that ambition, lies another, further ambition and a little mentioned ‘elephant in the room’: that the ‘trade war’ is also the first stage to a new arms race between the US & China – albeit of a different genre of arms race. This ‘new generation’ arms-race is all about reaching national superiority in technology over the longer-term, via Quantum Computing, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Hypersonic Warplanes, Electronic Vehicles, Robotics, and Cyber-Security.

The blueprint for it, in China, is in the public domain. It is ‘Made in China 2025’ (now downplayed, but far from forgotten). And the Chinese expenditure commitment ($ 150 billion) to take the tech lead – will be met ‘head on’ (as Zerohedge puts it), “by a [counterpart] ‘America First’ strategy: Hence the ‘arms race’ in tech spending … is intimately linked with defence spending. Note: military spending by the US and China is forecast by the IMF to rise substantially in coming decades, but the stunner is: that by 2050, China is set to overtake the US, spending $4tn on its military, while the US is $1 trillion less, or $3tn … This means that sometime around 2038, roughly two decades from now, China will surpass the US in military spending.”

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

Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

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

Peter Schiff: “The American Standard Of Living…It’s Going To Collapse”

Peter Schiff: “The American Standard Of Living…It’s Going To Collapse”

Market analyst and financial guru Peter Schiff says that the United States economy is headed for a disaster.  In a recent interview, Schiff said that when the dollar goes away as a reserve currency, so will the American standard of living.

Schiff says the U.S. is flexing more muscle than it has.  After the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese businessman who is accused of violating U.S. sanction laws, the Chinese are already planning economically destructive ways to reduce the dollar’s influence and power.

“The dollar, having the reserve currency, that status is in jeopardy. And I don’t think the world likes giving America this kind of power that we can impose our own rules and demand that the entire world live by it. So, I think this has a much bigger and broader ramifications other than what’s going on in the stock market today. I think long-term, this is going to undermine the dollar and its role as a reserve currency. And when that goes, so does the American standard of living because it’s going to collapse.” –Peter Schiff

Schiff added that he thinks China is in a much better position than many are willing to admit.

“People think we have the upper hand because we have this huge trade deficit with China. But I think it’s the other way. I think the fact that they supply us with all this merchandise that our economy needs, and the fact that they hold a lot of our bonds and continue to lend us a lot of money so we can live beyond our means, they’re the ones, I think, that call the tunes and we have to dance to it.” –Peter Schiff

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

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OPEC Cuts Deep to Save Cartel

OPEC Cuts Deep to Save Cartel

With oil prices in free fall and the dawning realization that Great Reflation trade of 2017 is over, OPEC needed to do something drastic to remind everyone how important they are.

Moreover, with Qatar quitting the cartel last week it was then doubly necessary for OPEC to make the markets stand up and remember them.

So, after a few days of wrangling, a 1.2 million barrel per day cut was announced by OPEC, far larger than the market was expecting.

The Trump administration is fuming today over this result.

Predictably, oil prices jumped on the news.  All is right with their world, yes?

Well, yes and no.  The Saudis need $80 per barrel oil.  Russia doesn’t get its hair mussed below around $50 and even then it simply scales back government spending in line with oil prices — auto-budgeting based on oil tariffs.

The free-floating ruble insulates Russia domestically from a sharp drop in oil prices far better than Saudi Arabia since the Riyal is pegged to the U.S. dollar.

But for Saudi Arabia, the stakes are far higher.  And its chief rival, Iran, understands this very well.  The reason the OPEC meeting was so touch and go was Iran exerting its leverage over the Saudis in response to U.S. sanctions.

Because while Russia agreed to a 200,000 barrel cut, which is nothing to them in the grand scheme of things, Iran was exempted from making any cuts.

Iran, Libya and Venezuela will be effectively exempt from the cuts, though the text of the deal will say they received “special considerations,” Iraqi oil minister Thamir Ghadhban said.

Saudi Loss Leader

Saudi leadership is weakening.  Qatar left to pursue its own ambitions without OPEC getting in the way.  That’s a nice way of saying they want to do business with Iran developing the shared North Pars gas field.

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

Iran: Oil To Fall To $40 If OPEC Fails To Reach Deal

Iran: Oil To Fall To $40 If OPEC Fails To Reach Deal

oil tanker hurricane

A fractured OPEC is meeting later this week to discuss a deal to cut oil production—yet again—to rebalance the market and lift oil prices that have recently slipped to below most of the cartel members’ budget-balance points.

OPEC needs a unanimous vote to pass decisions such as curtailing production. Yet, Iran—one of OPEC’s biggest producers but also one of the most sidelined members in recent months—warns that the group is unlikely to reach an agreement on a sizeable cut of around 1.4 million bpd as some are suggesting. Such a failure to act decisively would send oil prices plunging to $40 a barrel, Iran’s OPEC Governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili told Bloomberg in an interview.

The cartel and its Russia-led non-OPEC allies may not extend their cooperation pact either, according to Iran’s representative at OPEC—a position typically held by the second most powerful oilman in a cartel member after the oil minister.

Iran has repeatedly expressed frustration with the Saudi/Russia-led increase in oil production since June to offset what was expected to be a steep decline in Iranian oil supply with the U.S. sanctions on Tehran’s petroleum and shipping industries.

Iran’s oil exports indeed dropped by some 1 million bpd, but they are likely still holding onto above 1 million bpd, while U.S. waivers to eight Iranian customers allow buyers to continue purchasing oil at reduced volumes until the end of April next year.

Oil prices have plunged by around 30 percent from early October as the market started to fear an oversupply is building up again, due to record high production in Saudi Arabia and Russia, and an all-time high oil output in the United States, coupled with fears of slowing economic and oil demand growth.

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

When you want to sanction States, you call them « terrorists »

The new unilateral sanctions by the United States against Iran, Russia and Syria add to the previous actions concerning the same three targets. They now form the most unforgiving embargo in History. The way in which they have been organised is illegal according to the definition of the Charter of the United Nations – these are weapons of war, designed for killing.

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Secretary of Defense James Mattis applauded by United States Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin.

For his visit to Moscow on 8 November, ambassador James Jeffrey was tasked with explaining the current US obsession with the expansion of Persian influence in the Arab world (Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen). Washington now wishes to formulate this question in geo-strategic rather than religious terms (Chiites/Sunni), while Teheran is organising its national defence around forward posts composed of Chiite Arabs.

Moscow then considered the possibility of negotiating on Teheran’s behalf for the easing of unilateral US sanctions, in exchange for its military withdrawal from Syria. President Vladimir Putin confirmed his proposition, not only for his US opposite number, but also for the Israëli Prime Minister, during their meeting in Paris on 11 November for the celebrations marking the centenary of the end of the First World War .

He attempted to convince the Westerners that Russia alone in Syria was preferable to the Irano-Russian tandem. However, he could not guarantee that Iran would have sufficient authority over Hezbollah – as both Washington and Tel-Aviv pretend – to be able to order it to withdraw also.

Washington’s only answer, nine days later, was to announce the eleventh series of unilateral sanctions against Russia since the beginning of August. This was accompanied by a ridiculous speech according to which Russia and Iran had together organised a vast plot aimed at maintaining President Assad in power and expanding Persian control in the Arab world.

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

Does The U.S. Really Need Saudi Oil?

Does The U.S. Really Need Saudi Oil?

oil rigs

“Saudi Arabia — if we broke with them, I think your oil prices would go through the roof. I’ve kept them down,” President Trump told reporters on Tuesday. “They’ve helped me keep them down. Right now we have low oil prices, or relatively. I’d like to see it go down even lower — lower.”

Oil prices have indeed fallen significantly in recent weeks, and to be sure, Saudi Arabia has played a large role in that. Saudi production reportedly hit a record high 11 million barrels per day (mb/d) at times this month, and global inventories are rising once again.

But Riyadh is also clearly upset at being “duped” by Trump. Having been convinced by the Trump administration that Iran’s oil exports were heading to zero, or at least close to zero, Saudi Arabia ramped up supply to offset the losses.

The U.S. then surprised the market by issuing a bunch of waivers, allowing Iran to continue to export oil. Japan and South Korea may even resume buying oil from Iran in January, after cutting imports to zero in anticipation of sanctions.

Almost immediately after the waivers were issued, oil prices crashed. Saudi Arabia then promptly announced that it would cut production by 500,000 bpd in December, and the rumors of an OPEC+ cut really began to pick up.

Trump is happy about the slide in oil prices, but Saudi Arabia clearly isn’t. Saudi Arabia and its OPEC+ partners could soon take action to push prices back up. So, it isn’t clear that Washington and Riyadh have the same objectives, or that their tight relationship is resulting in lower oil prices.

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

How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries

How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries

A new collection of essays, edited by former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, clearly shows that it is the U.S. that is largely responsible for the poverty and suffering in these very nations, says Robert Fantina.


In two years, the world has become accustomed to being shocked by the words and actions of United States President Donald Trump. In January of this year, he again showed his lack of diplomacy, tack and common decency, when he referred to many poorer countries as “sh*ithole countries”, asking, “Why do we want all these people from sh*thole countries coming here?” Former member of the House of Representatives Cynthia McKinney, in the new book she has edited, How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries, (Clarity Press) has gathered a collection of essays, including one of her own, that clearly shows that it is the U.S. that is largely responsible for the poverty and suffering in these very nations.

McKinney

The first series of essays describes U.S. foreign policy, and its true motives. In the essay, The End of Washington’s ‘Wars on the Cheap’, The Saker sums up U.S. foreign policy as follows: “Here’s the template for typical Empire action: find some weak country, subvert it, accuse it of human right violations, slap economic sanctions, trigger riots and intervene militarily in ‘defense’ of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’ and ‘self-determination’ (or some other combo of equally pious and meaningless concepts).” The hypocrisy of such a policy is obvious. A weak and vulnerable nation is victimized by a far more powerful one. The U.S. has done this countless times in its history, and there appears to be no appetite in the government to change.

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

The Impending Endgame In Oil Markets

The Impending Endgame In Oil Markets

Chess

U.S. president Trump is facing strong internal pressure to punish Saudi Arabia in the coming days.

For Washington, however, this could be a double-edged sword, as turning on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could result in two unwanted major geopolitical consequences. The still fresh Jamal Khashoggi murder case continues to make headlines due to a relentless anti-Saudi media and a diplomatic offensive by Turkey, Qatar and Western diplomats, and it could trigger the largest U.S.-Saudi/Arab crisis in decades.

U.S. politicians have set their sights on the position of the young Saudi Crown Prince, based on still unsubstantiated claims of direct involvement by Ankara and unnamed CIA-officials, U.S. president Trump finds himself backed into a corner to deal directly with the Kingdom.

Until now, the U.S. Administration has refrained from mentioning the direct involvement of MbS in the murder of the former Saudi journalist, but has put sanctions on the officials being connected to the case. Inside of the Kingdom, the pressure is also increasing but this time not to remove MbS, but instead to prepare a harsh response to any possible U.S. claims or sanctions on Royal Family members. Senior Saudi officials have already indicated that a direct attack by Washington or European leaders will be met by severe repercussions.

A Western-Turkish move to pressure Saudi King Salman to remove his son from power is at present unrealistic. Looking at the ongoing situation inside of the Kingdom, and in the Arab world, the support gathered the last weeks by the Saudis from their allies UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, is clear. No Arab country will allow for a ruling Crown Prince to be removed from power by an outside, non-Arab entity.

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

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