U.S. Sanctions Aimed at Russia Strike Western European Allies
DIANA JOHNSTONE • JULY 28, 2017 • 1,600 WORDS
Under U.S. sanctions, any EU nation doing business with Russia may find itself in deep trouble. In particular, the latest bill targets companies involved in financing Nord Stream 2, a pipeline designed to provide Germany with much needed natural gas from Russia.
By the way, just to help out, American companies will gladly sell their own fracked natural gas to their German friends, at much higher prices.
The United States gets away with this gangster behavior because over the years it has developed a vast, obscure legalistic maze, able to impose its will on the “free world” economy thanks to the omnipresence of the dollar, unrivaled intelligence gathering and just plain intimidation.
European leaders reacted indignantly to the latest sanctions. The German foreign ministry said it was “unacceptable for the United States to use possible sanctions as an instrument to serve the interest of U.S. industry”. The French foreign ministry denounced the “extraterritoriality” of the U.S. legislation as unlawful, and announced that “To protect ourselves against the extraterritorial effects of US legislation, we will have to work on adjusting our French and European laws”.
Let’s start with health care, so called, since the failure to do anything about the current disastrous system is so fresh. What’s the narrative there? That “providers” (doctors and hospitals) can team up with banking operations called “insurance companies” to fairly allocate “services” to the broad population with a little help from the government. No, that’s actually not how it works. The three “players” actually engage in a massive racketeering matrix — that is, they extract enormous sums of money dishonestly from the public they pretend to serve and they do it twice: once by extortionary fees and again by taxes paid to subsidize mitigating the effects of the racketeering.
Almost nobody that writes about these things understands how this stuff works. The people that understand what is happening don’t talk about it. Sandi Arabia is the most awful government and system in the world with the exception of North Korea, which can’t really be considered part of the planet most days.
The United States has the “relationship” it does with Sandi Arabia for one reason only – that is where the remaining oil will be in the future. There and Russia and Iraq and Iran. This is why everything that happens between any countries that matter happens the way it does.
We are not “friends” with Sandi Arabia. They are not our “allies.” No matter what anybody may say or write. We let them do anything they want. We sell them all the weapons they want. They can do anything they want with their oil most of the time. We can get ours other places. For now. They can have a pointless, stupid war in Yemen for no reason and NOBOBY – not Hillary Clinton, or Samantha Power, or fucking Bernie Sanders – will say anything. Because, well just because – Iran. All you have to do is mumble something about Iran and terrorists. Nobody has any idea that we are running out of oil.
There is only one reality in this “relationship.” The United States has Sandi Arabia completely surrounded with bases, aircraft carriers with F-18 Super-Hornets, and thousands of combat-hardened special operations troops that could take over Riyadh and Ras Tanura in about an hour.
Nobody has to say anything. This is well understood in Washington and Riyadh. It is an awkward truth. The Ruling House of Sand serves at Washington’s discretion.
There is no reason for Sandi Arabia and Iran not to get along. A visitor from Mars just looking at the stats on paper would assume that we would be closely allied with Iran in the region and trying to foment regime-change in Sandi Arabia. Believe that. The actual reality is absurd. Israel and the United States would rather this extreme tension exist – so the conflict is kept alive.
The relationship is only embarrassing if you fail to understand or won’t admit that The American Empire is dependent on our controlling where the oil comes from and who gets it in the future.
Michael Brendan Dougherty doesn’t get that. Because Elon Musk is going to make America great again or something. It never ends.
How come the Clintons have not been asked to explain why — as reported on The Hill blog — Bill Clinton was paid half a million dollars to give speech in Russia (surely he offered them something of value in exchange, pending the sure thing Hillary inaugural), or what about the $2.35 million “contribution” that the Clinton Foundation received after Secretary of State Hillary allowed the Russians to buy a controlling stake in the Uranium One company, which owns 20 percent of US uranium supplies, with mines and refineries in Wyoming, Utah, and other states, as well as assets in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer? Incidentally, the Clinton Foundation did not “shut down,” as erroneously reported early this year. It was only its Global Initiative program that got shuttered. The $2.35 million is probably still rattling around in the Clinton Foundation’s bank account. Don’t you kind of wonder what they did with it? I hope Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller wants to know.
Fun with Slavery
Dark Spots in a Shining Sea of Twaddle
FRED REED • JULY 13, 2017 • 1,500 WORDS
In truth, South Vietnam was an illegal construct made possible by the intervention of the United States in violation of the provisions of the Geneva Accords that forbade foreign intervention during the interim period of national reconciliation following the defeat of the American funded French colonialists at Dien Bien Phu and required a democratic election to unite all of Vietnam within two years – an election that was prevented from occurring by Saigon’s puppet regime and its U.S. overlords for fear that Ho Chi Minh would emerge victorious. Consequently, rather than to describe the North Vietnamese as “overrunning” an “ill-fated independent country,” it would be more historically accurate, not merely a different perspective, to describe the end of hostilities as the liberation of the occupied south.
Mayweather is expected to earn at least $100 million, increasing up to four times that amount if the event achieves all of its metrics. McGregor is expected to earn $75 million, but both men signed NDA’s barring them from publicly communicating the financial details. -wikipedia
A report published in 2004 by the American Geological Institute said that a typical American house requires more than a hundred tons of sand, gravel, and crushed stone for the foundation, basement, garage, and driveway, and more than two hundred tons if you include its share of the street that runs in front of it. A mile-long section of a single lane of an American interstate highway requires thirty-eight thousand tons. The most dramatic global increase in aggregate consumption is occurring in parts of the world where people who build roads are trying to keep pace with people who buy cars. Chinese officials have said that by 2030 they hope to have completed a hundred and sixty-five thousand miles of roads—a national network nearly three and a half times as long as the American interstate system.
by James Howard Kunstler
June 5, 2017
To me, the Paris Accords were just another feel-good PR stunt enabling politicians to pretend that they could control forces that are already way out-of-hand, an international vanity project of ass-covering. The coming economic collapse will depress global industrial activity whether anybody likes it or not, and despite anyone’s pretense of good intentions — and then we will have a range of much more practical problems of everyday life to contend with.
Ali is the title character of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (1974), a film that is, among other things, a scornful survey of racial stratification in 1970s Germany. It centers on the romantic relationship between Ali (El Hedi ben Salem), a black Moroccan immigrant in his late thirties, and Emmi (Brigitte Mira), a white German woman nearly twice his age. Through the prism of this relationship, Fassbinder implicates all of white German society in its harsh treatment and exploitation of men like Ali.
Though Fassbinder’s Ali is a masterpiece, it’s an imperfect one. It eventually suffers from some of the ills it critiques. Several times we see Ali stark naked; in fact, he’s one of only two characters in the film to strip down. He bears the brunt of sexuality onscreen, and the objectification of his body doesn’t stop with the people who hurl abuse at him. Fassbinder, too, objectifies Ali—by fetishizing him. How many times do we see Ali’s penis?
While the results of the lab analysis are yet to come back, one source familiar with the investigation told reporters that bad shrimp was the most likely cause of the diarrhea. “Typically shrimp are involved in cases like this, particularly when they are not cleaned thoroughly.”
“The Fed has now overestimated the strength of the US economy for 11 consecutive years,” DeLong writes. “Elementary mathematics dictates that credible forecasts should at least overestimate half the time and undershoot half the time. If each year of Fed forecasting were a coin toss, we would now have had eleven heads in a row, and zero tails. The odds of that happening are one in 2,048.”
There’s a key reason for the Fed’s undue optimism: It is not only the economy’s steward, but has also taken on the uncomfortable and dangerous role of cheerleader. This may help maintain confidence in the short-run, but is costly to the central bank’s credibility in the long run.
Yet compromise and negotiation with Hitler’s Germany were impossible, because the policy objectives of National Socialism were irrational and unlimited. Expansion and aggression were built into the system and, short of accepting German domination in advance, i.e. choosing not to resist the Nazi advance, war was unavoidable, sooner rather than later. Hence the central role of ideology in the formation of policy in the 1930s: if it determined the aims of Nazi Germany, it excluded realpolitik for the other side. Those who recognized that there could be no compromise with Hitler, which was a realistic assessment of the situation, did so for entirely unpragmatic reasons. They regarded fascism as intolerable on principle and a priori, or (as in the case of Winston Churchill) they were driven by an equally a priori idea of what their country and empire ‘stood for’, and could not sacrifice. The paradox of Winston Churchill was that this great romantic, whose political judgment had been almost consistently wrong on every matter since 1914 – including the assessment of military strategy on which he prided himself – was realistic on the one question of Germany.
Conversely, the political realists of appeasement were entirely unrealistic in their assessment of the situation, even when the impossibility of a negotiated settlement with Hitler became obvious to any reasonable observer in 1938-39. This was the reason for the black tragicomedy of March-September 1939, which ended in a war nobody wanted at a time and in a place nobody wanted it (not even Germany), and which actually left Britain and France without any idea of what, as belligerents, they were supposed to do, until the blitzkrieg of 1940 swept them aside. In the face of the evidence they themselves accepted, the appeasers in Britain and France still could not bring themselves to negotiate seriously for an alliance with the USSR, without which war could neither be postponed nor won, and without which the guarantees against German attack suddenly and heedlessly scattered around Eastern Europe by Neville Chamberlain – without, incredible as it may seem, consulting or even adequately informing the USSR – were waste paper.
If I have to choose between believing WikiLeaks or believing Mike Pompeo, I’ll believe WikiLeaks six days a week and twice on Sunday.
Over the course of more than a decade, WikiLeaks has built a sterling reputation for delivering the real goods on various governments (including Russia’s). The next document it releases which is shown to be fake will be the first. WikiLeaks has earned the trust of the public – and moreover, it has shown that it trusts the public with information about what our governments are doing in our names and with our money.
The US intelligence community, on the other hand, spies on us, lies to us about it, and expects us to pick up the check even after decades of irrefutable evidence of its dishonesty and incompetence.
Growing economies use more energy; shrinking economies use less energy. And if the Corrupt West wasn’t using its energy-intensive war machine so regularly, the collapse in energy demand in the Western world would have been even more pronounced. No economy with flat energy demand can pretend to be growing. No economy with its interest rates set permanently at near-zero levels can pretend to be growing. Both of those preceding statements are economic tautologies. Absolute proof. Western economies are not growing because two absolutely unequivocal economic fundamentals indicate such growth to be impossible.
Well, of course they bugged Trump Tower. Why wouldn’t they? Trump’s big blunder du jour is that he tweeted “wiretapped,” like some hapless sap out of a 1950s I Was a Spy for the FBI movie. (I know people who still say “ice box,” too.) So he left himself — or rather poor Sean Spicer — open for a week of legalistic pettifogging by reporters acting as litigators for the Deep State’s intel corps.
Anyway, Wikileaks “Vault 7” document release earlier in the month made it clear that US intel has the ability to cover and confuse the tracks of any entity —including especially US intel itself — that ventures to penetrate any supposedly private or secure realm. And, by the way, that probably settles the matter of who “they” are. Whatever statutory restraints once existed against CIA spying on American citizens is long gone by the boards.
WikiLeaks and Julian Assange would have gone down in history as the greatest enemies of government oppression of all kinds in any case, but their latest release – a comprehensive exposé of the US intelligence community’s cyberwar tools and techniques – is truly the capstone of their career. And given that this release – dubbed “Vault 7” – amounts to just one percent of the documents they intend to publish, one can only look forward to the coming days with a mixture of joyful anticipation and ominous fear.
Fear because the power of the Deep State is even more forbidding – and seemingly invincible – than anyone knew. Joyful anticipation because, for the first time, it is dawning on the most unlikely people that we are, for all intents and purposes, living in a police state.
I think many professional observers-of-the-scene are missing something in this unspooling story: the Deep State is actually becoming more impotent and ineffectual, not omnipotent. Case in point: RussiaGate — come on, let’s finally call it that — the popular idea that Russia hacked the 2016 presidential election. It’s popular because it’s such a convenient excuse for the failure of a corrupt, exhausted, and brain-dead Democratic establishment. But all the exertions of the Deep State to put over this story since last summer were negated this week by two events.
Details are still scant. Officials refused to confirm the size of the unit or other details, beyond them having a number of M777 howitzers, and a support unit of infantry Marines along with them, marking the first time US artillery has been deployed into Syria.
The first book earned for Obama more than $10 million in royalties and established his political identity, as did The Audacity of Hope. If later, it turned that ghostwriters had a hand in turning out one or both books, would we not feel about Obama as we do about cyclist Lance Armstrong—that he had used some of “mother’s little helpers” to get to the finish line?
Lance cheated because “everyone did it” and because seven-time winners of the Tour de France earned $100 million and rode private planes to beachside manors, while less successful domestiques (support riders) ate bananas for lunch and worked during the off-season as a wrench in a bike shop.
Would Lincoln be Lincoln if it later turned out that he had spent his early years living in a split-level suburban ranch house, playing video games after school?
Would Obama be kite-surfing off Richard Branson’s private island if his first book had sounded like a downloaded term paper?
Why go near the book when you can just read a thousand words by Andrew Bacevich?
Debunking America’s “Good” Occupation
The Good Occupation: American Soldiers and the Hazards of Peace, Susan L. Carruthers, Harvard University Press, 384 pages
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH • March 9, 2017
Marring this otherwise very fine book, however, are large numbers of careless errors. So, for example, Carruthers describes the Chicago Daily Tribune as part of the Hearst chain, which would come as news to the ghost of Col. Robert McCormick. She refers to George Marshall as secretary of war, a civilian post; during World War II, General Marshall served as army chief of staff. “Until 1945,” she writes, “officers were not permitted to vote.” That is simply not true. She identifies Woodrow Wilson as “an alumnus of the University of Virginia.” Wilson had diplomas from Princeton and Johns Hopkins, but none from UVA. She characterizes Eisenhower’s controversial agreement with French Admiral Jean Darlan, a representative of the puppet Vichy regime, as “Washington’s first retreat from ‘unconditional surrender.’” But the so-called Darlan Deal dates from November 1942; President Roosevelt did not announce the policy of unconditional surrender until the Casablanca Conference of January 1943. The USS Missouri, site of the final Japanese surrender, does not have “massive twin sixteen-inch guns.” Mighty Mo’s main battery consists of three cannons in each turret. The Marine Corps does not have “cadets.” Why the family and friends of a GI convicted of murdering two Japanese civilians would have “joined forces with the Foreign Legion to mobilize support” is, to put it mildly, unclear. Is Carruthers referring to the American Legion? Finally, and perhaps more egregiously, among American military decorations there is no such thing as a “Purple Cross.”
The Duty of General McMaster
As he takes charge of U.S. grand strategy, he must be a blunt, candid truth-teller.
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH • February 21, 2017
– The national security adviser operates—or should operate—in the realm of “grand strategy.”
– This distinction between military strategy and grand strategy is more than semantic. Maintaining it is crucial to successful statecraft.
– Consider the case of nineteenth-century Germany. Von Moltke the Elder was a gifted military strategist. Bismarck was a master of grand strategy. The collaboration between the two, with the Iron Chancellor in the role of senior partner, created the modern German state.
– U.S. national security policy in the present century bears more than passing resemblance to that of Germany a century ago.
– Like German militarists in 1917, American militarists in 2017 fight on because they lack the capacity to imagine an alternative. In policymaking circles, war has become a habit.
McMaster’s reputation as a thinker does not derive from his expressed views on matters of basic policy. Instead, it rests almost entirely on a book that he published as a young officer nearly two decades ago. The book (now once more rocketing to the top of the Amazon rankings) is called Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies That Led to Vietnam. Based on the dissertation that McMaster wrote pursuant to earning a PhD in history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, it remains today one of the most important books ever written about that benighted conflict—a savage indictment of dishonesty among top U.S. civilian and military leaders during the 1960s.
On the battlefield, McMaster has demonstrated exemplary courage in the face of the enemy. For my money, he displayed even greater courage, albeit of an intellectual sort, in publishing his book.
Through an ironic twist of fate, McMaster now finds himself called upon to fill the role of blunt, candid truth-teller for his generation of military officers—and to do so while serving a commander-in-chief who gives little evidence of valuing those qualities.
Speaking of progress. Look with these fucking nerds at MIT have actually been working on. This a game-changer, huh? Newsflash: not gonna save us. Now ketchup, mustard, and toothpaste will be twice as expensive. Thanks, Kripa (his name is Kripa).
On This Day, Peak Florida Has Been Reached
Man busted for crimes epitomizing Sunshine State
In a scene deserving of a “Yakety Sax” score, a 350-pound Florida man ran from a Walmart with two stolen TVs, but his getaway was compromised when his pants–containing his ID–“fell off as he ran away,” according to cops who yesterday apprehended the suspect, who had a crack pipe stuffed with Brillo buried in his anus at the time of his 3:43 AM arrest.
In the fall of 2016, Alan Krueger, former chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, released a study that further refined the picture of the real existing opioid epidemic in America: According to his work, nearly half of all prime working-age male labor-force dropouts—an army now totaling roughly 7 million men—currently take pain medication on a daily basis.
We already knew from other sources (such as BLS “time use” surveys) that the overwhelming majority of the prime-age men in this un-working army generally don’t “do civil society” (charitable work, religious activities, volunteering), or for that matter much in the way of child care or help for others in the home either, despite the abundance of time on their hands. Their routine, instead, typically centers on watching—watching TV, DVDs, Internet, hand-held devices, etc.—and indeed watching for an average of 2,000 hours a year, as if it were a full-time job. But Krueger’s study adds a poignant and immensely sad detail to this portrait of daily life in 21st-century America: In our mind’s eye we can now picture many millions of un-working men in the prime of life, out of work and not looking for jobs, sitting in front of screens—stoned.
Imperial Washington has flat-out gone mad in its delusional self-righteousness and risible claims that the wanton destruction inflicted on the world by current US policy is justified by American exceptionalism. Its response to the O’Reilly interview is just one more piece of evidence that Trump will not be allowed to govern – or even remain in the Oval Office for much of his term.
The raiding force began to take casualties. Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, a veteran member of the elite team, was hit and would die of his wounds. The SEALs called for backup, and for a medical chopper.
An MV-22 Osprey, intended for transport and rescue, flew to the landing zone eight kilometers from the firefight. But a hard landing injured several of the passengers and damaged the craft so badly it was no longer airworthy.
A pair of Harrier jets and a pair of helicopter gunships arrived from the USS Makin Island and joined the battle. The jets bombed and strafed the al Qaeda encampment, and the choppers fired on the target with their cannons.
“This complex situation included small arms fire, hand grenades and close air support fire,” U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said Wednesday night in a written statement.
“The known possible civilian casualties appear to have been potentially caught up in aerial gunfire that was called in to assist U.S. forces in contact against a determined enemy that included armed women firing from prepared fighting positions, and U.S. special operations members receiving fire from all sides to include houses and other buildings.”
Fifty minutes after the raiding team reached the village, the firefight was over. Owens was dead, and at least six American service members were injured. The Osprey chopper, a $70 million aircraft, was destroyed by a U.S. bomb. The U.S. left with communications equipment, and said that three of the 14 enemy combatants killed were top AQAP leaders.