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Will The U.S. Slap Sanctions On Nord Stream 2?

Will The U.S. Slap Sanctions On Nord Stream 2?

Nord Stream 2

There is a growing push in the U.S. Congress to slap sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The pipeline under construction would carry Russian natural gas to Germany, and has been a lightning rod of controversy both in Europe and across the Atlantic. Many governments and officials from Eastern Europe fear deeper dependence on Russia for gas supplies, a sentiment echoed by the U.S. government. Meanwhile, many in Western Europe are less concerned, viewing Russia as a rather reliable low-cost supplier of gas.

The U.S. has long tried to pry away Europe from Russia for geopolitical ends, and Nord Stream 2 is merely the latest chapter in this Cold War-era calculus. But, increasingly, the pipeline has commercial implications for the United States. The U.S. has become a major exporter of LNG, a position that will only grow over time with several gas export terminals along the Gulf Coast. The flood of shale gas is finding its way around the world.

At first, when U.S. LNG exports began in 2016, shipments were going to a smattering of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Soon, top importers included South Korea, Japan and China. Only a handful of countries in Europe have imported U.S. LNG in any significant way.

But that is starting to change with more U.S. shipments arriving in European ports. U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has likened U.S. gas to American soldiers liberating Europe from the Nazis. “The United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent,” he told reporters in Brussels earlier this month. “And rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas.”

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

Iran Squeezed Between Imperial Psychos and European Cowards

Iran Squeezed Between Imperial Psychos and European Cowards

Berlin, Paris and London assumed Tehran could not afford to leave the JCPOA even if it was not receiving any of the promised economic rewards.  Now the EU3 are facing the hour of truth, writes Pepe Escobar.

The Trump administration unilaterally cheated on the 2015 multinational, UN-endorsed JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal. It has imposed an illegal, worldwide financial and energy blockade on all forms of trade with Iran — from oil and gas to exports of iron, steel, aluminum and copper. For all practical purposes, and in any geopolitical scenario, this is a declaration of war. 

Successive U.S. governments have ripped international law to shreds; ditching the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is only the latest instance. It doesn’t matter that Tehran has fulfilled all its commitments to the deal — according to UN inspectors. Once the leadership in Tehran concluded that the U.S. sanctions tsunami is fiercer than ever, it decided to begin partially withdrawing from the deal. 

President Hassan Rouhani was adamant: Iran has not left the JCPOA — yet. Tehran’s measures are legal under the framework of articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA — and European officials were informed in advance. But it’s clear the EU3 (Germany, France, Britain), who have always insisted on their vocal support for the JCPOA, must work seriously to alleviate the U.S.-provoked economic disaster to Iran if Tehran has any incentive to continue to abide by the agreement. 

Protests in front of former U.S. embassy in Tehran after U.S. decision to withdraw from JCPOA, May 8, 2018. (Hossein Mersadi via Wikimedia Commons)

Russia and China — the pillars of Eurasia integration, to which Iran adheres — support Tehran’s position. This was discussed extensively in Moscow by Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Javad Zarif, perhaps the world’s top two foreign ministers. 

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

The MAGApocalypse Comes to Venezuela

The MAGApocalypse Comes to Venezuela

When the U.S. surprised the world by electing Donald Trump president many of us understood what it truly meant. “MAGA Bitchez!” was all I could say for at least a week. It was such a glorious event.

It was a giant ‘two-fingers up’ to the globalist establishment and endemic corruption of not just our government but of our society. We hoped it would signal a fundamental shift in U.S. foreign and domestic policy. 

“No Mas” to more creeping totalitarianism at home. 

“No Mas” to the weird intersectionalism and messianic Just War interventionism of the Baby Boomer generation.

Finally a coherent political statement from the latch-key Generation X; ready to assume the mantle of political power and tear down the rotten edifice of the world’s financial and political behemoth sucking the life out of humanity, one rehypothecated dollar at a time.

Sadly many of us, including myself, were wrong. Two and a half years of the most cynical Russophobia supporting an obvious and ham-handed coup operation against Trump has left the country more divided today than it was in 2016 when he won.

And the profound unfairness of it all has polarized the MAGA crowd into frothing-at-the-mouth righteous warriors against the evils of Socialism as a proxy for the Democrats and the Deep State itself.

Two years of believing in 4-d chess, Qanon, and all the other political horoscoping has a large swath of Americans so gaslit they are not only willing to back Trump’s regime change operation in Venezuela, they are defending it as ‘not a coup.’

They believe that because Trump told them to.

The real victims are the Venezuelans, the latest in a long-series of people who lives have been destroyed because of our incessant meddling in foreign affairs for our profit while selling it to Americans as humanitarian aid. 

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

Humpty Dumpty Has Had a Great Fall

Humpty Dumpty Has Had a Great Fall

While the crazed and corrupt people who comprise the Democratic Party and US print and TV media continue to insist that Russiagate is real, a very real threat is emerging in Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. The threat arises from the fact that Washington has taught each country to have no trust in America’s veracity. The governments of the four countries have learned that everything Washington says is a lie.

Moreover, the countries have learned that Washington does not accept their sovereignty and objects to their existence. Each of the four countries has experienced sanctions designed to overthrow their governments or cause them to submit to Washington’s will. 

Russia long ago saw through Washington’s disingenuous claim that the missile ring that Washington has arrayed around Russia is defensive and directed against (non-existent) Iranian missiles. Putin has said many times that the “defensive” missiles can easily and quickly be converted into nuclear armed offensive missiles that leave Russia no response time. I have always been amazed at the utter stupidity of the Polish and Romanian governments for accepting these American missiles. No doubt the Polish and Romanian officials were paid handsome bribes, but money is no good to a dead person. You can bet your life that the Russians are not going to permit such operable weapons to be on Russian borders during a time of high tensions that exists today between the West and Russia.

Not content with this reckless provocation of Russia, the dumbshits that comprise the US government have announced a program to put weapons in space that can neutralize Russia and China’s nuclear deterrent. This reckless and irresponsible plan did not go unnoticed in Russia.

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

US abandons all semblance of rule of law to go after Assange

US abandons all semblance of rule of law to go after Assange

The US government can’t simply charge the man behind Wikileaks, Julian Assange, with rebel journalism.

So they charged him with computer crimes, because he published classified evidence of US war crimes.

But before the US could punish him, they had to get their hands on him.Sovereignman.com explained how they did that:

Ecuador recently expelled Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, from its embassy in London.

He had been living there with asylum since 2012, fearing extradition to the United States.

Assange helped leaked top secret information exposing US war crimes in the middle east. And last year it was revealed that the US indeed filed a sealed indictment against him.

Now he will be extradited to the Land of the Free to face charges related to computer hacking.

But the timing of Ecuador’s revocation of his asylum raises some suspicions.

Less than two months before Ecuador expelled Julian Assange from its embassy, it secured a $4.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The last time the IMF gave a loan to Ecuador was 2016. That was only $364 million, and it was to help them rebuild after a devastating earthquake.

The USA is the largest shareholder in the IMF (and is known to use cash to exert international pressure).

The timing seems a little too perfect to be a coincidence.

But now the USA has to actually prosecute Assange.

And to bolster the case, they wanted his accomplice to testify against him.

Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) was the Army Intelligence Analyst who leaked the classified documents to Assange. Manning served seven years of a 35-year sentence before Obama commuted her sentence.

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

The US Government Debt Crisis

The US Government Debt Crisis 

This article explains why the US Government is ensnared in a debt trap from which there is no escape. Its finances are spiralling out of control. In the context of a rapidly slowing global economy, the budget deficit can only be financed by QE and bank credit expansion. Do not draw comfort from trade protectionism: it will not prevent the trade deficit increasing at the expense of domestic production, unless you believe there will be an unlikely resurgence in personal saving rates. We can now begin to see how the debt crisis will evolve, leading to the destruction of the dollar.

Introduction

At the time of writing (Thursday April 24) bond yields are crashing, the euro has broken down against the dollar and equities are hitting new highs. Obviously, equities are taking their queue from bonds. But bond yields are crashing because the global economy is sending some very worrying signals. Equity investors will be hoping monetary easing (which they now fully expect) will kick the can down the road once again and economies will continue to bubble along. They are ignoring some very basic economic facts…

Regular readers of my Insight articles will be aware of strong indications that the expansionary phase of the credit cycle is now over, and that we at grave risk of falling headlong into a global credit and systemic crisis. The underlying condition is that economic actors and their bankers accustomed to credit expansion are beginning to realise the assumptions behind their borrowing commitments earlier in the credit cycle were incorrect. 

That’s why it is a credit cycle. It is driven by prior credit expansion which corrals all producers into acting in an expansionary manner at the same time. Random activity, the condition of a true laissez-faire economy, ceases. Instead, credit conditions act on profit-seeking businesses in a state-managed context.

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

The Deep State vs. WikiLeaks

The Deep State vs. WikiLeaks

The Deep State vs. WikiLeaks

The Made by FBI indictment of Julian Assange does look like a dead man walking. No evidence. No documents. No surefire testimony. Just a crossfire of conditionals.

But never underestimate the legalese contortionism of US government (USG) functionaries. As much as Assange may not be characterized as a journalist and publisher, the thrust of the affidavit is to accuse him of conspiring to commit espionage.

In fact the charge is not even that Assange hacked a USG computer and obtained classified information; it’s that he may have discussed it with Chelsea Manning and may have had the intention to go for a hack. Orwellian-style thought crime charges don’t get any better than that. Now the only thing missing is an AI software to detect them.

Assange legal adviser Geoffrey Robertson – who also happens to represent another stellar political prisoner, Brazil’s Lula – cut straight to the chase (at 19:22 minutes); “The justice he is facing is justice, or injustice, in America… I would hope the British judges would have enough belief in freedom of information to throw out the extradition request.”

That’s far from a done deal. Thus the inevitable consequence; Assange’s legal team is getting ready to prove, no holds barred, in a British court, that this USG indictment for conspiracy to commit computer hacking is just an hors d’oeuvre for subsequent espionage charges, in case Assange is extradited to US soil.

All about Vault 7

John Pilger, among few others, has already stressed how a plan to destroy WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was laid out as far back as 2008 – at the tail end of the Cheney regime – concocted by the Pentagon’s shady Cyber Counter-Intelligence Assessments Branch.

It was all about criminalizing WikiLeaks and personally smearing Assange, using “shock troops…enlisted in the media — those who are meant to keep the record straight and tell us the truth.”

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

Delegitimising Journalism: The Effort to Relabel Julian Assange

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

“Your honour, I represent the United States government”.  The Westminster Magistrates Court had been left with little doubt by the opening words of the legal team marshalled against the face of WikiLeaks.  Julian Assange was being targeted by the imperium itself, an effort now only garnished by the issue of skipping bail in 2012. Would the case on his extradition to the US centre on the matter of free speech and the vital scrutinising role of the press?

Thomas Jefferson, who had his moments of venomous tetchiness against the press outlets of his day, was clear about the role of the fourth estate.  A government with newspapers rather than without, he argued to Edward Carrington in 1787, was fundamental so long as “every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”  To Thomas Cooper, he would write in November 1802 reflecting that the press was “the only tocsin of a nation.  [When it] is completely silenced… all means of a general effort [are] taken away.”  The press provided the greatest of counterweights against oppressive tendencies, being the “only security” available.

Not so, now.  The fourth estate has been subjected to a withering.  The State has become canny about the nature of the hack profession, providing incentives, attempting to obtain favourable coverage, and, above all, avoiding dramatic reforms where necessary.  An outfit like WikiLeaks is a rebuke to such efforts, to the hypocrisy of decent appearances, as it is to those in a profession long in tooth and, often, short in substance.

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

Four ways that Uncle Sam will respond to its $75 trillion insolvency

Four ways that Uncle Sam will respond to its $75 trillion insolvency

Last week I told you that the US government recently reported a negative net worth of MINUS $75 TRILLION.

That’s not a type-o. According to the Treasury Department’s annual financial report for Fiscal Year 2018 (which they just published last week), the US government is hopelessly bankrupt.

Now, I’m not talking about this trying to stoke fear and panic.

Quite the opposite– I’m hoping that this conversation results in calm optimism. But the point is that it’s an important conversation to have… because a number as large as $75 trillion absolutely has consequences.

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To believe that any nation can be so desperately insolvent without suffering any negative impact is just plain foolish.

Debts have to be paid. Obligations have to be met. So at some point, with numbers these gruesome, something has to break down.

This is not a dire prediction or wild conspiracy theory. It’s an arithmetic certainty.

Remember, this isn’t even my analysis. The government itself acknowledges its $75 trillion insolvency. The Social Security Administration acknowledges that its trust funds will run out of money in 15 years.

This is happening. So let’s take a look at the government’s very narrow playbook:

1) Ignore the problem

Politicians are already acting as if nothing is wrong.

Sure, occasionally you’ll hear someone complain about the debt, or there will be a debt ceiling showdown. But no serious alarm bells are ringing.

And because they don’t make a big deal over the debt, no one else does either. Everyone just goes along as if there’s not a problem.

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

The Mueller Report Is In. They Were Wrong. We Were Right.

The Mueller Report Is In. They Were Wrong. We Were Right.

The Robert Mueller investigation which monopolized political discourse for two years has finally concluded, and his anxiously awaited report has been submitted to Attorney General William Barr. The results are in and the debate is over: those advancing the conspiracy theory that the Kremlin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government were wrong, and those of us voicing skepticism of this were right.

The contents of the report are still secret, but CNN’s Justice Department reporter Laura Jarrett has told us all we need to know, tweeting, “Special Counsel Mueller is not recommending ANY further indictments am told.” On top of that, William Barr said in a letter to congressional leaders that there has been no obstruction of Mueller’s investigation by Justice Department officials.

So that’s it, then. A completely unhindered investigation has failed to convict a single American of any kind of conspiracy with the Russian government, and no further indictments are coming. The political/media class which sold rank-and-file Americans on the lie that the Mueller investigation was going to bring down this presidency were liars and frauds, and none of the goalpost-moving that I am sure is already beginning to happen will change that.

Say it again: Mueller has indicted *zero* Americans for conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election, which was central impetus for the Special Counsel in the first place. Anyone who denies this is an abject liar https://twitter.com/lauraajarrett/status/1109210442864439299 …Replying to @LauraAJarrett

It has been obvious from the very beginning that the Maddow Muppets were being sold a lie. In 2017 I wrote an article titled “How We Can Be Certain That Mueller Won’t Prove Trump-Russia Collusion“, saying that Mueller would continue finding evidence of corruption “since corruption is to DC insiders as water is to fish”, but he will not find evidence of collusion.

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

U.S. Government Knew Climate Risks in 1970s, Energy Advisory Group Documents Show

U.S. Government Knew Climate Risks in 1970s, Energy Advisory Group Documents Show

The National Petroleum Council, once chaired by former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond, has long advised the federal government on energy issues

The National Petroleum Council, once chaired by former Exxon chief Lee Raymond, has long advised the U.S. government on energy issues. Documents show it downplayed fossil fuels’ role in climate change. Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images  

A series of newly discovered documents clarify the extent to which the U.S. government, its advisory committees and the fossil fuel industry have understood for decades the impact carbon dioxide emissions would have on the planet.

The documents obtained by Climate Liability News show how much the National Petroleum Council (NPC), an oil and natural gas advisory committee to the Secretary of Energy, knew about climate change as far back as the 1970s. A series of reports illuminate the findings of government-contracted research that outlined the dangers associated with increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

They also shed light on how this advisory group to the federal government understood the fossil fuel industry’s contributions to climate change, and unveil the strategies it used to downplay the industry’s role. 

“These documents reaffirm that, to one extent or another, the fossil fuel industry as a whole has known for decades about the basics of climate change and its implications. But rather than warning the public and taking action, many of them turned around and orchestrated anti-science, anti-policy denial campaigns dwarfing even those of Big Tobacco,” said Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard who has extensively studied those denial campaigns.

Many of the documents were compiled by Hugh MacMillan, then a senior researcher on water, energy and climate issues for Food & Water Watch, an environmental nonprofit. He was preparing to file a public comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to the Trump Administration’s plan to replace the Clean Power Plan.

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

Leaked Documents Show U.S. Government Tracking Journalists Through a Secret Database

Leaked Documents Show U.S. Government Tracking Journalists Through a Secret Database

Welcome to Trumpworld.

The President has little appreciation for liberty or the dangers of a growing police state. And those working under him understand this and act accordingly.

He is as bad as most other presidents. The only difference being that there is a group of about 30% of the population, MAGA people, who don’t understand this and believe he is going to protect them from the expanding state.

From NBC News:

Customs and Border Protection has compiled a list of 59 mostly American reporters, attorneys and activists for border agents to stop for questioning when crossing the U.S-Mexican border at San Diego-area checkpoints, and agents have questioned or arrested at least 21 of them, according to documents obtained by NBC station KNSD-TV and interviews with people on the list. Several people on the list confirmed to NBC News that they had been pulled aside at the border after the date the list was compiled and were told they were being questioned as part of a “national security investigation.”… 

One lawyer from the list who was recently stopped at a San Diego-area crossing, Nicole Ramos, refugee director for Al Otro Lado, a law center for migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, learned from NBC News that CBP had compiled a dossier of information on her. The dossier included personal details such as her mother’s name, her social media pictures, the car she drives and her work and travel history. “The document…appears to prove what we have assumed for some time, which is that we are on a law enforcement list designed to retaliate against human rights defenders who work with asylum seekers and who are critical of CBP practices that violate the rights of asylum seekers,” Ramos said.

The TBAC Is Suddenly Worried Who Pays For $12 Trillion In US Deficits… And The Dollar’s Reserve Status

The TBAC Is Suddenly Worried Who Pays For $12 Trillion In US Deficits… And The Dollar’s Reserve Status

Today at 830am the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (aka the TBAC, which many years ago we dubbed the Supercommittee That Really Runs America, an assessment which 8 years later Bloomberg now generally agrees with) “released minutes of its Jan. 29 meeting held at the Hay-Adams Hotel in conjunction with the U.S. government’s quarterly refunding announcement.

First, the highlights from the refunding announcement revealed no surprises, with the Treasury announcing no increase in nominal coupon or FRN auction sizes in the coming quarter, and expects TIPS issuance of $22-27BN this calendar year. Specifically, the Treasury will sell $38BN in 3 Year notes, unchanged from December, $27BN in 10 Year notes, unchanged from last quarter, and $19BN in 30 Year Bonds, also unchanged from last quarter.  In total, the Treasury will sell $84BN in long-term debt next week vs $83BN last quarter, in the process raising $29.9BN in new cash.

In this context, the TBAC recommended keeping nominal coupon auction sizes unchanged for the coming quarter, while gradually increasing TIPS by $1b per auction, with the increases starting with the 30Y TIPS in February, 5y TIPS in April and 10y increases to be considered subsequently. Following were dealers recommendations for coupon auction size increases: $1BN in 5y and 10y, $2BN in 30y, noted increases could be gradual and 30y could at first be increased by just $1BN. Primary dealers also suggested increasing TIPS issuance gradually, resulting in $24b increase over rest of CY2019; committee agreed increase should be gradual, with bulk coming from new October 5y security

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

Has the Government Legalized Secret Defense Spending?

Has the Government Legalized Secret Defense Spending?

While a noisy Supreme Court fight captivated America last fall, an obscure federal accounting body quietly approved a system of classified money-moving

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 24: Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Aerial view of the Pentagon building.     Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

October 4th, 2018, was a busy news day. The fight over Brett Kavanuagh’s Supreme Court nomination dominated the cycle. The Trump White House received a supplemental FBI report it said cleared its would-be nominee of wrongdoing. Retired Justice John Paul Stevens meanwhile said Kavanaugh was compromised enough that he was “unable to sit as a judge.”

#NationalTacoDay trended on Twitter. Chris Evans told the world production wrapped on Avengers 4.

The only thing that did not make the news was an announcement by a little-known government body called the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board — FASAB — that essentially legalized secret national security spending. The new guidance, “SFFAS 56 – CLASSIFIED ACTIVITIES” permits government agencies to “modify” public financial statements and move expenditures from one line item to another. It also expressly allows federal agencies to refrain from telling taxpayers if and when public financial statements have been altered.

To Michigan State professor Mark Skidmore, who’s been studying discrepancies in defense expenditures for years, the new ruling — and the lack of public response to it — was a shock.

“From this point forward,” he says, “the federal government will keep two sets of books, one modified book for the public and one true book that is hidden.”

Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecywas one of the few people across the country to pay attention to the FASAB news release. He was alarmed.

“It diminishes the credibility of all public budget documents,” he says.

I spent weeks trying to find a more harmless explanation for SFFAS 56, or at least one that did not amount to a rule that allows federal officials to fake public financial reports.

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

How a NeoCon-Backed “Fact Checker” Plans to Wage War on Independent Media

Steven Brill | Newsguard
NEWSGUARD EXPOSED

How a NeoCon-Backed “Fact Checker” Plans to Wage War on Independent Media

As Newsguard’s project advances, it will soon become almost impossible to avoid this neocon-approved news site’s ranking systems on any technological device sold in the United States.

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