A view from China. "Absurd." The wonders of democracy.
Absurd presidential debate underlines deep-rooted problems facing US
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS have launched a major new legal challenge over mass surveillance programs revealed by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Ten organizations – including Privacy International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Amnesty International – are taking up the landmark case against the U.K. government in the European Court of Human Rights (pictured above). In a 115-page complaint released on Thursday, the groups allege that “blanket and indiscriminate” surveillance operations carried out by British spy agencies in collaboration with their U.S. counterparts violate privacy and freedom of expression rights.
The case represents the first time Europe’s top human rights court has been asked to consider the legality of surveillance exposed in the Snowden documents. Its judgments are legally binding and could potentially have ramifications for how surveillance is conducted within the U.K.
“Through bulk surveillance programs, the U.S. and U.K. governments intercept the private communications and data of millions of people around the world,” said Ashley Gorski, staff attorney at the ACLU National Security Project. “Not only is bulk surveillance unlawful, but it has a deeply chilling and corrosive effect on political discourse and our personal communications. We are hopeful that the European Court of Human Rights will recognize that this mass surveillance violates fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech, and that the court’s ruling will help put an end to these practices on a global scale.”Totalitarianism.
Russia will have to triple the volume of loans in 2017, head of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) and ex-Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel as part of the Sochi-2016 International Investment Forum.
"It will be necessary to increase borrowings anyway, even next year we will have to take three times more than this year, but when the reserve fund becomes empty, we will have to borrow even more," Kudrin said.
At the same time he noted that "this policy can be only temporary."
"That is why it will be necessary to cut deficit and cut borrowings. But in these conditions it is necessary to take funds to solve these current issues," Kudrin said. He did not say exactly what borrowings he was talking about.
"It will be necessary to increase borrowings anyway, even next year we will have to take three times more than this year, but when the reserve fund becomes empty, we will have to borrow even more," Kudrin said.
Kudrin has suggested that certain social budget expenditures on the so-called Presidential ‘May decrees’, including the one implying a raise in wages to public sector employees, should be postponed in order to bring the budget into balance.Neoliberal moronism.
The US is going to sharpen its military edge in the Asia-Pacific region in connection with growing concern about China’s military building up there, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Thursday.
“The United States will continue to sharpen our military edge so we remain the most powerful military in the region and the security partner of choice,” Carter said.
Since the invention of assholes in 50,000 B.C.E., bleached-teethed television pundits and other social parasites have beckoned the young to die or lose limbs in pointless, illegal wars.…
We've already established, in our lede, that assholes have been roaming the world for thousands of years. But it was Mark Twain who warned us about the New York Timesmany, many years ago:Riley Waggaman specializes in dark humor. Today, the NYT gets the richly deserved brunt of it.
Please consider that before you go to vote.
You don’t need to be an expert in ground-to-air warfare, radar, missile ordnance, or forensic criminology to understand the three fundamental requirements for prosecuting people for crimes. The first is proof of intention to do what happened. The second is proof of what could not have happened amounts to proof that it didn’t happen. The third is proof beyond reasonable doubt.
These are not, repeat not, the principles of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), a team of police, prosecutors, and spies from The Netherlands, Ukraine, Malaysia, Belgium, and Australia. They have committed themselves to proving that a chain of Russian military command intended to shoot down and was criminally responsible for the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, and for the deaths of all 298 people on board. The JIT case for Russian culpability hinges on five elements occurring in sequence – that a BUK missile was launched to the east of the aircraft, and approached it head-on, before exploding on the port (left) side of the cockpit.Dances with Bears
Pause, rewind, then reread slowly in order to identify the elements of intention, causation, and culpability: (1) the BUK missile was aimed with a target acquisition radar by operators inside a BUK vehicle at a target flying in the sky and ordered to fire; (2) they fired from their vehicle parked on the ground facing east towards the aircraft’s approach; (3) the missile flew west and upwards to a height of 10,060 metres; (4) the warhead detonated; (5) the blast and the shrapnel tore the cockpit from the main fuselage; destroyed one of the aircraft engines; and caused the aircraft to catch fire, fall to the ground in pieces, and kill everyone.
On Wednesday afternoon, in the small Dutch town of Nieuwegein, two Dutchmen, one a prosecutor, one a policeman, claimed they have proof that this is what happened. For details of the proof they provided the world’s press, read this. Later the same day, in Moscow, a presentation by two Russians from the Almaz-Antei missile group, one a missile ordnance expert, the other a radar expert, presented their proof of what could not have happened. Click to watch.
The enemies of Russia accept the Dutch proof and ignore the Russian proof. As Wilbert Paulissen, the Dutch policeman, claimed during the JIT briefing, “the absence of evidence does not prove [the BUK missile] was not there.”
Paulissen may be right. To prove he’s right all he has to do is to fill in the gap between the JIT version of what happened and the Russian version of what could not have happened by answering these questions. To convince a court and jury, Paulissen’s answers to these questions must be beyond reasonable doubt.…
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Eric Beinhocker’s influential book The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics. Like an earthquake tremor, Beinhocker’s book rattled the windows of the economic establishment by proposing a new foundation for the discipline that was paradigmatically different than its current foundation inspired by Newtonian physics.Evonomics
Accordingly, Alexandrov suggested that US lawmakers' proposal is based on the understanding that a nuclear war is unwinnable, and to try to trick Russia into abandoning its established doctrine."In essence, the US is repeating the technique of Leonid Brezhnev's Soviet Union, which unilaterally renounced the first use of nuclear weapons. This was done because at the time, the USSR had a significant superiority in conventional forces over NATO. As a result, the use of nuclear weapons was judged to be disadvantageous, since all of Western Europe could be captured without their use. In that situation, it's worth noting, NATO banked on the use of tactical nuclear weapons, which became a deterrent against possible Soviet attack."Today, Alexandrov noted, the situation has been flipped on its head. Russia can no longer resist the combined might of NATO in a long war using only conventional weaponry.
"Therefore, since the 1990s, our doctrine provides for the possibility of using nuclear weapons first in case of a serious threat to Russia's national security." "Thus, the Democrats' initiative is aimed at achieving strategic superiority over Russia, and possibly China," the analyst suggested. "Of course, Moscow should not give in to this kind of demagogy. Russia must continue to retain the right to use tactical nuclear weapons first," he emphasized.Ultimately, Alexandrov noted, Russia has already taken the necessary measures to move to a new generation of nuclear weaponry, from the Iskander tactical missile complex and the Kh-101 strategic cruise missile, which has a range of 5,000 km, to new ballistic missiles capable of overcoming US missile defenses. "All of this has forced the US to maneuver in this way, and to try to outplay Russia in the nuclear field," the analyst concluded.
Now let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. It’s interesting that China today is actually quietly touting to the rest of the world its own evolving system. Of course we recoil from the terrible catastrophes of Chinese regimes over most of the past century. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that China has been concerned with principles of good governance going back some three thousand years, including Confucian principles of the responsibility of “cultivated” or educated people to govern wisely; that was probably as good as it got in that era. More important, the state bureaucracy was selected through massive nation-wide examination systems to choose the most qualified. The system had its good periods and bad, almost on a 300 year cyclical basis—breakdown and restoration.
Today China is creeping back again, this time from the disasters of Chairman Mao towards a semblance of order and rationality in governance. It has implemented a series of often unusually effective policies that are slowly bringing an ever rising percent of the rural and urban poor into the middle class and a slightly freer life.
Now, I don’t want to live in China particularly. But consider the daunting challenges of running this country: one that was left behind in the last century or so, invaded by English and Japanese imperialists, massively misruled under fanatic communists (not all were fanatic) for fifty years, and now presides over a population approaching 1.4 billion people. China’s leaders operate on the razor’s edge: meeting pent-up demand after decades of deprivation, managing the transition of millions of peasants who want to come to the cities, feeding and housing everyone, maintaining industrial production while trying to reverse the terrible environmental damage wrought in earlier decades, to maintain stability, law and order while managing discontent that could turn violent, and to maintain the present ruling party in power to which there is no reasonable alternative as yet. That’s quite a high-wire act.
So if you were running China today, what would you advocate as the best policies and system to adopt? Chances are few of us would simply urge huge new infusions of democracy and rampant capitalism. The delicate balance of this frail recovering system needs to be guided with care. But it is basically working—as opposed to looming alternatives of chaos and poverty.
China today suggests to developing countries that China’s own model of controlled cautious light authoritarian leadership—where leaders are groomed over decades up through the ranks of the party— may be a more reliable system than, say, the bread and circuses of the US. That’s their view.
No one system has all the answers. But it’s worth observing that by now the US probably lies at one extreme of a political spectrum of bread-and-circus “democracy.” Can the system be reformed? Ever more serious questions arise about the present system’s ability to meet the challenge of this century—along multiple lines of measurements.
And, as world gets more complex, there is less room for radical individualism, whistle blowing, and dissent. Vital and complex infrastructural networks grow ever more vulnerable that can bring a state down. The state moves to protect itself. The strengthening of the state against the individual has already shifted heavily since the Global War on Terror and even more so under Obama.
I’m not suggesting that China is the model to be emulated. But we better note how it represents one rational vision of functioning governance of the future—under difficult circumstances—at one end of the spectrum. The US lies at the other. Is there anything that might lie somewhere between these two highly diverse systems of governance?In the spirit of disclosure, this is a view that I have espoused previously so I am biased in its favor. I am happy to see someone "on the other side of the fence" putting it forward for consideration in the policy establishment.
Last week, the US Congress approved the Stability and Democracy for Ukraine Act, or “STAND for Ukraine.” As the Ukrainian Embassy in the US has reported, American congressmen unanimously supported the bill.Fort Russ
The bill’s list of means for supporting democracy in Ukraine includes the supply of lethal defensive weapons systems. The legislation will come into force following a vote in the Senate and its signing by the US President. From that point on, Washington will be able to officially supply lethal weapons to Ukraine.
Their analysis of trade deficits, starting on page 18, boils down to the following: We know that GDP=C+I+G+NX. NX is negative (the trade deficit). Therefore, if we somehow renegotiate trade deals and make NX rise to zero, GDP goes up! They calculate this will bring in $1.74 trillion in tax revenue over a decade.
But of course you can't model an economy just using the national income accounts identity. Even a freshman at the end of ec 10 knows that trade deficits go hand in hand with capital inflows. So an end to the trade deficit means an end to the capital inflow, which would affect interest rates, which in turn influence consumption and investment.As Professor Mankiw observes, this is a freshman error, and is he the one making it! Apparently he cannot distinguish between a model with simplifying assumptions and the real world. The good professor is describing a the world as he would like it to be, not the way it actually is at present.
There are four guiding principles:
—It is legitimate, even imperative, for the threatened democratic world, led by Washington, to use its power to forestall assaults on them.
–Traditional concepts of state sovereignty do not constitute an acceptable legal or political barrier to efforts at imposing that solution.
–The United States, therefore, is not a “global Leviathan” that advances its selfish interests at the expense of others. It is, rather, the benign producer of public goods.
–The privilege of partial exception from the international norms, including the right to act unilaterally, is earned by an historical record of selfless performance.Consortium News
A critique yours truly sometimes encounters is that as long as I cannot come up with some own alternative to the failing mainstream theory, I shouldn’t expect people to pay attention.
This is however to totally and utterly misunderstand the role of philosophy and methodology of economics!
As John Locke wrote in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding….Science is a competition of ideas in an arena where evidence is the final arbiter.
The recent North American steel price recovery has proved short-lived as regional values continued their downward trajectory, this month.
The sustainability of the recent price rises, in the US, hinged upon supply-side considerations. The introduction of import barriers on a number of flat products initially supported the domestic producers.
However, steel imports, into the US, are steadily rising, month-by-month, from countries not covered by the trade cases. The restrictions are unlikely to be strong enough to reverse the negative price tendency that exists currently.
Now consider the following two facts:
First, MH17 was diverted to fly over contested airspace.
Second, it is known that MH17 was being trailed by two Ukrainian Su-25′s. (Some conspiracy theories allege that they were actually the ones who shot it down).
An alternate possibility, however, is that the Su-25 escorts and possibly the diversions were an intentional Ukrainian policy to increase the chances of an AA missile fired by an inexperienced rebel crew bringing down a civilian airliner. After drawing out the missiles, the Ukrainian fighters would engage their counter-measures and fly off, while the missiles would autonomously home in on the target with the much bigger radar signature – that is, MH17 itself. The resulting fallout would hopefully pressure Russia into withdrawing support for the rebellion.
Frankly this is the theory I consider most likely because it is more or less the only one that explains all aspects of the case.
It explains why the Americans have no released their intelligence. If it was to show the Su-25′s were directly or almost directly below MH17 then questions would be asked.
It explain why we have not seen a consistent or credible alternate theory from Russia.
Because there is none. While if it where to push this theory it would then have to admit that at the it is to some extent culpable.
And it would also explain the findings of the Dutch report. It might well be just true. But…
Nor would it in any case qualify as an act of terrorism.
It cannot qualify as an act of terrorism because as phone conversations between the rebels in the immediate aftermath prove, and as the US itself has admitted, the shooting down of MH17 if done by the rebels was based on the mistaken impression that it was a legitimate military target.The Unz Review
“Our argument is that the Ukrainian government was completely aware of what happened on the ground, that there was a separatist movement. They obviously knew about the equipment they had. That the equipment could reach higher altitudes, because the government closed the airspace two days before the downing of MH17. It closed the airspace after the level of 6,600 meters which is not enough because given the size of the danger the whole airspace should have been closed,” Elmar Giemulla, the victim’s lawyer and leading expert on air law told RT.
When asked by RT correspondent Paula Slier if Ukraine “could be to blame” for the MH17 tragedy, Giemulla emphasized that “whoever shot or pushed the button of the missile – this is not relevant for my case,” because the aim of the lawsuit is to create a strong precedent in international civil aviation making government responsible for sky safety over its territory, the lawyer said, adding that “of course” the relatives of the victims want to find the responsible party as well.
Giemulla’s comments come the same day as a Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report concluded that the Buk missile that was allegedly used by the rebels in Ukraine to take down the Boeing was taken to Ukraine from Russian territory.RT
… Brazil’s financial openness made Brazil an easy target to attack. One might hope that Vladimir Putin would take note of the cost of “economic openness.” Putin is a careful and thoughtful leader of Russia, but he is not an economist. He has confidence in neoliberal Elvira Nabiulina, Washington’s choice to head the Russian central bank. Nabiulina is unfamiliar with Modern Monetary Theory, and her commitment to “economic openness” leaves the Russian economy as exposed as Brazil’s to Washington destabilization. Nabiuina believes that the assault on the ruble is due to impersonal “global market forces,” not to Washington’s financial clout.
Nabiulina, an indoctrinated and propagandized neoliberal, is essentially a servant of Washington, not that she is aware of her role as “useful idiot.” She delights in the applause she receives from the Washington Consensus for leaving the Russian economy open to Washington’s manipulation. Being a neoliberal, she does not understand that Russia’s central bank can create at zero cost the money with which to finance productive projects in Russia. Instead, she thinks that the money entering the economy from the central bank is inflationary, but the money entering the economy from foreign sources is not.
Money is money regardless of whether it is made available by the central bank or by foreign creditors. As long as the money, whatever its source, is used productively, the money is not inflationary.
There is a huge difference between the money created by the central bank and the money created by foreign creditors. Money lent by foreign banks in the form or US dollars or euros must be repaid with interest in the foreign exchange in which the money was lent. Money created by the central bank to finance public infrastructure projects does not have to be repaid at all, much less with interest and in foreign exchange earned by exports….
The only way out of the trap is a hefty dose of creative destruction, which in Europe would have to be accompanied by debt relief and exits from the eurozone, with subsequent currency devaluations. The shock would be painful for the incumbent wealth owners, but, after a rapid decline in the dollar values of asset prices, including land and real estate, new businesses and investment projects would soon have room to grow, and new jobs would be created. The natural return on investment would again be high, meaning that the economy could expand once again at normal interest rates. The sooner this purge is allowed to take place, the milder it will be, and the sooner Europeans and others will be able to breathe easy again.Creative destruction = liquidation. As Sinn recognizes, it would blow up the EZ. Well, that one way to do it.
The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) demands of staff officers of US Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to include Salafi Jihad to the list of US enemies. However, the officers oppose the demand.…
The Pentagon’s orders on this issue come from the highest levels, including from the US President himself. For that reason it is no surprise that SOCOM’s pushback has not yet created any effect on the forthcoming strategy.
Nevertheless I am here to suggest to you that, despite the fact that the war state with all its private allies appear to be riding as high as ever, the historical circumstances may now be favorable to a frontal challenge to the war state for the first time in many year.
First: the Sanders campaign has shown that a very large proportion of the millennial generations do not trust those who hold power in the society, because they have rigged the economic and social arrangements to benefit a tiny minority while screwing the vast majority – and especially the young. Obviously the permanent war state’s operations can be convincingly analyzed as fitting that model, and that opens up a new opportunity to take on the permanent war state.
Second: U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have been such obvious disastrous failures that the present historical juncture is marked by a low-point in support for interventionism reminiscent of the late Vietnam War and post-war period (late 1960s to early 1980s). Most Americans turned against Iraq and Afghanistan about as fast as they had against the Vietnam War. And the opposition to military intervention in Syria, even in the face of overwhelming media coverage that encouraged support for such a war was overwhelming. A Gallup poll in September 2013 showed that the level of support for the proposed use of force in Syria – 36 percent – was lower than that for any of the five wars proposed since the end of the Cold War.
Third, the very obvious bankruptcy of the two parties in this election have made tens of millions in this country – especially young people, blacks and independents – open to a movement that connects the dots that need to be connected.
With those favorable strategic conditions in mind, I suggest that it is time for a newly invigorated national movement to come together around a concrete strategy for accomplishing the goal of ending the permanent war state by taking away its means of intervening in foreign conflicts
Although the “return to the German mark” theme was undoubtedly essential, the program’s developers sought to defend themselves from accusations of forming a “single issue party.” Therefore, they touched on a number of problems that, in their opinion, are troubling society. They included demands for a commitment to “A Europe of sovereign states” with a common internal market, demands for EU reform, and the “liquidation of the Brussels bureaucracy,” the strengthening of the democratic freedoms of citizens, and introducing a system of popular referendums along the Swiss model. The party also spoke out in support of families and especially pensioners and children: “Family solidarity support is an investment in our common future and an important part of inter-generational consensus.” An important component of such family support was determined to be an educational system including kindergartens, schools, and universities. At the same time, parents are to be responsible for the education and upbringing of their children and should be supported by the state. The situation with integrating immigrants had led to such programs so valued by AfG to be shut down. In a rather short section, special attention is devoted to the necessity of revising immigration laws. The immigration system of Canada is presented as one to be imitated: “It is necessary to put an end to indiscriminate immigration into our social system.” On the same note, it is emphasized that persons persecuted on political grounds should be given priority right to asylum in Germany.…Fort Russ
To borrow a phrase from Leon Trotsky, the situation in Ukraine is ‘neither war nor peace’. The poll suggests that this is no accident. Ukrainians have no great appetite for war, but they are unwilling to take the steps required to bring peace. If they have ended up with something in between, it is because that is what they appear to prefer. As Nezavisimaia Gazeta concludes, Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko ‘cannot not take these circumstances into consideration’. At this stage, therefore, a major change in Ukrainian policy is unlikely.Minsk 2. 0 is dead in the water.
In summary, the economic factors that produce higher pre-tax income inequality—stagnant middle-class wages, high corporate profits, and booming asset markets—are alive and well, and it doesn’t seem the Obama administration has done much about them. The administration did pass the Affordable Care Act and let the Bush tax cuts expire for the rich, both of which helped mitigate the pre-tax inequality produced by contemporary American capitalism. But even if Barack Obama called inequality the “defining challenge of our time,” he has done little to tackle its fundamental causes. Let’s hope the next president does better.Baseline Scenario
After all the hoopla last year with the rise and fall of Syriza one’s attention span strays from what is happening in Greece at present and how it demonstrates the continued (and permanent) failure of the Eurozone. We also become inured to badness after badness is normalised. I was reminded of the depth of the malaise in that nation last week when I was in Kansas City. I won’t disclose confidences but an influential person (in the Greek context) I spoke to now regard their previous support for remaining within the Eurozone as a mistake and they consider my assessment of the situation (which they opposed at the time) to be closer to reality. That was an interesting conversation and credit to them for being able to recognise an error of judgement. I was also reminded of the absurdity of the Eurozone when the IMF released its latest – Greece: Staff Concluding Statement of the 2016 Article IV Mission (September 23, 2016). This is normalisation of badness in bold! The current thinking is that the Greek unemployment rate will remain in double figures until at least 2050, that business investment has collapsed, real GDP is around 27 per cent below its pre-GFC level – and – more significant and accelerated austerity is required. If an organisation can exhibit psychopathy then the IMF has it!Bill Mitchell – billy blog
On June 22, 2016, there was a press report – Greek Labour Minister Katrougalos says IMF wants ‘blood’….
The World Economic Forum named Switzerland the most competitive nation for an eighth straight year...
Switzerland has been named the world’s most competitive nation again https://t.co/KO3rW93q5P pic.twitter.com/hjRRTqhsMW— Bloomberg (@business) September 28, 2016
“Affordability” for national governments like the US, UK, Canada, Japan, Australia is always in terms of real resources (iron ore, agricultural capacity, water supply, labor supply, etc.) and never “money”. If you still do not understand this concept, you will soon. Forty years of neoliberalism and nonsensical mainstream economic policy errantly focused on the finances of these governments, which do not possess hard financial constraints, while ignoring their real productive capacities, leaving vast resources idle. Persistent recessions, high unemployment rates, expanding income inequality, high private debt levels and financial instability have been the end results of these policies and so, political unrest is rising as world populaces are no longer willing to tolerate these deplorable conditions. At the root of the problem is the erroneous belief that these governments can run out of “money”. That incorrect viewpoint causes you to miss the reality: US Dollars are infinite. Real resources are finite.…Simple argument to pass along your out of paradigm family, friends and acquaintances.
It is an unstated central bank policy in many parts of the world to reduce the value of their currency to below its fair value. The reason for doing so is 'competitiveness'. A weaker currency means lower global prices for your goods and hence increases your exports, while at the same time reducing imports. Since a fundamental equation of economics says that GDP = C+I+G+X, or consumption plus investment plus government expenditure plus net exports; it would appear self evident that an increase in net exports would increase GDP.
This is, unfortunately, completely wrong. There are two ways that it is wrong, both pretty fundamental….Notes on the Next Bustprincipal at Dacharan Advisory AG, PhD. in Financial Mathematics
This is Part 5 in the mini-series discussing the relative merits of the basic income guarantee proposal and the Job Guarantee proposal. It finishes this part of our discussion. Today, I consider how society establishes a fair transition environment to cope with climate change and the impacts of computerisation etc. I outline a coherent adjustment framework to allow these transitions to occur equitably and where they are not possible (due to limits on worker capacity) alternative visions of productive work are developed? I argue that while work, in general, is coercive under capitalism, the provision of employment guarantees is a more equitable approach than relying as the basic income advocates envision on the exploitation of some to provide the freedom for others. Further, I argue that the Job Guarantee is a better vehicle for creating new forms of productive work. Adopting a basic income guarantee in this context just amounts to surrender. Our manuscript is nearly finished and we hope to complete the hard edits in the next month or so and have the book available for sale by the end of this year. More information on that later.Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Too many people are striving for a quick and dirty way to feel hedonistic bliss without accepting the negative feelings they have, says Steven Hayes.This was originally tagged onto my last post which spoke about Bhutan Buddhism, but I decided to make it into a separate post. I'm not sure if it is the right thing for this site, but I think Mike Norman wanted a wider range of topics so I thought I throw this in and see. I think it is relevant because in my opinion Western society is not very well.
Deep in the Himalayas, on the border between China and India, lies the Kingdom of Bhutan, which has pledged to remain carbon neutral for all time. In this illuminating talk, Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay shares his country's mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation.
The Bellingcat site has a piece entitled "Confirmed : Russian Bomb Remains Recovered from Syrian Red Crescent Aid Convoy Attack" which includes this picture as well as several others. You may look at the others, but this one picture is apodictic proof 1) that the Russians (or Syrians) didn't do it and 2) that Bellingcat is a loyal servant of the Borg.More disinformation. Read the comments, too.
U.S. enthusiasts for the New Cold War with Russia appear to be ignoring less-belligerent orders from President Obama and pushing for a dangerous escalation of tensions, reports ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.Going rogue.
What is so surprising here is the non-surprise evinced by the editorial writers of the New York Times. The Board blandly states that the Defense Secretary and the Pentagon might not comply. Not a hint of surprise is evident at the constitutional implications of this open defiance of Presidential authority.
No, rather the Board seems to view it as quite natural and commendable that Carter should refuse to comply with this “unusual and risky” proposition. But this was not some “proposition for collaboration.” This was an agreed formal accord between the United States and another state – reached after lengthy negotiations, and done with Presidential mandate.
In brief, President Obama’s authority is no more – if it runs against the settled opinion of the Pentagon, the CIA, the New York Times, the Washington Post and of the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate. It is not unreasonable therefore to assume that Obama’s grudging détente with a Russian President that he personally, viscerally dislikes, is now no more than diplomatic chatter.President Obama should take a cue from Harry Truman's firing of wildly popular war hero 5-star General Douglas MacArthur for insubordination in questioning the presidents orders as commander-in-chief.
Marc Lavoie has an excellent contribution to the recent reappearance of the "macro wars": "Rethinking Macroeconomic Theory Before the Next Crisis." I just want to note that he is possibly too academically reserved with regards to some of the claims justifying DSGE macro.…Bond Economics
In this essay I discuss how the end of the Great Moderation – this 15-year period of low inflation and low variance in real growth rates in the Western world — has been interpreted by the advocates of mainstream economics and what changes the subprime financial crisis has or may have entailed with respect to macroeconomic theory. I review of a number of key issues in macroeconomic theory, examining what seems to have been changed or been questioned as a consequence of what has happened during and after the financial crisis. The third section is devoted to the concept of hysteresis, which seems to have been resurrected by mainstream economists. The fourth section deals with a number of miscellaneous issues, in particular the shape of the aggregate demand curve and the lack of a relationship between interest rates and public debt or deficit ratios. I conclude with broad brushes about what ought to disappear and what might disappear from macroeconomic theory. Many others, such as Stiglitz (2014) and Mendoza (2013) have done an excellent job in pursuing this kind of exercise. Here I offer my idiosyncratic thoughts, starting with the reaction of economists to the crisis.…INET
This interview by Jürgen Todenhöfer was first published in German on September 26 2016 by the Kölner Stadtanzeiger, the major newspaper in the Cologne region. (The interview was copied and translated to English by Bernhard for educational and academic purposes.)...Moon of AlabamaTodenhöfer: Interview With Al-Nusra Commander "The Americans stand on our side"
Damascus has a recording of conversations between the American military and Islamic State terrorists ahead of the US-led coalition airstrike that hit Syrian troops near Deir ez-Zor on September 17, the speaker of the People's Council of Syria said.RT
Now, reports are emerging that Israeli Mossad agents and other foreign military officers were killed in Aleppo on Tuesday in a Russian missile strike fired by Russian warships. On September 22, 2016, Russian and Iranian state media both claimed some “30 Israeli and Western officers” died when they were hit by three Kalibr cruise missiles fired by Russian warships in a “foreign officers’ coordination operations room” in western Aleppo, near Mount Simeon.
According to the Arabic version of Russia’s Sputnik news, military officials from the United States, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Turkey were also killed in the strike. These countries are staunch members of the anti-Assad alliance, and as a result, it isn’t surprising to learn their agents might have been on the ground in Syria.
As reported by the Times of Israel, at the time of this article’s publication, the Israeli government is yet to confirm or deny these reports. Thus far, only Russian and Iranian media have advanced the claim.
The OSCE hasn’t just destroyed its credibility with its strange criteria for judging some Russian elections fair and others not. As the world considers Moscow’s charge of undue American influence on the organization, it’s worth pulling an OSCE “greatest hit” out of the memory hole. In the run up to the Kosovo war, the organization was used a front for the CIA to deliver communications equipment to the Kosovo Liberation Army, and to gather targeting information for an expected upcoming NATO bombing campaign.…Dances with Bears
This is Part 4 in the mini-series discussing the relative merits of the basic income guarantee proposal and the Job Guarantee proposal. It is the ‘robot edition’. The march of the robots is the latest pretext that basic income proponents (including the IMF now) use to justify their policy advocacy. There is some truth in the claims that the so-called ‘second machine age’, marked by the arrival of robots, is not only gathering speed, but is different from the first period of machine development with respect to its capacity to wipe out human involvement in production. But the claims are somewhat over the top. Further the claims that these trends are inevitable are in denial of the basic capacities of the state to legislate in the common interest. While the innovations in technology will free labour from repetitive and boring work and improve productivity in those tasks, there is no inevitability that robots will develop outside the legislative framework administered by the state and overrun humanity (even if the predictions of robot autonomy are at all realistic). We will surely need to develop a coherent adjustment framework to allow these transitions to occur equitably and where they are not possible (due to limits on worker capacity) alternative visions of productive work are developed?
Further, the Job Guarantee is a better vehicle for handling these type of transitions and creating new forms of productive work. Adopting a basic income guarantee in this context just amounts to surrender.…Bill Mitchell – billy blog
In this interview, Jack explains that it is very important to recycle electric vehicle battery materials as we do not produce enough lithium, cobalt and spherical graphite to make even a fraction of the vehicles that Elon Musk’s Tesla plans to manufacture in the year 2018 alone.Investor Intel
Following the collapse of the ceasefire, and with the forcible imposition of a no-fly zone for all practical purposes ruled out, the US found itself left with nothing other than Kerry’s absurd proposal that Russia and Syria impose a no-fly zone on themselves. The moment the Russians rejected this proposal – as they were bound to do – the US found itself left with literally nothing at all.
It is this impotence to effect militarily the course of the battle of Aleppo – an impotence which British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has admitted – which is behind the furious denunciations we are now hearing as the US and its allies scramble desperately to try to get the Russians to call the battle off, saving their Jihadi proteges in Aleppo from total defeat and themselves from the humiliation of the public failure of their strategy.
An unintended though ultimately predictable consequence of globalization has been natural resource production monopolization. The massive transfer of wealth that resulted from lowering the costs of labor for and in “developed” countries has been accompanied by a political awakening in resource rich countries to the economic power of controlling natural resource production locally. What has been completely overlooked by economic theorists and neoliberalism (free and open markets) advocates is that unless everyone adheres to a theory and acts within its strictures then not free markets but oligarchic (nationally or individually) stratified markets result.…Investor Intel
The Indian military deployed a fourth regiment of 100 BrahMos missiles and five autonomous missile launchers in the North-Eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh disconcertingly close to the country’s border with China amid festering tensions between New Delhi and Beijing in large part based on China’s pledge to support its long-time ally Pakistan in the event of an attack.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) immediately denounced the deployment calling it a threat and saying it raises the stakes over a longstanding territorial dispute between the two countries.…That's a lot of real resources going into weaponry.
Earlier this month, a select committee of British parliamentarians released a reportwhich condemned the U.K. government under David Cameron for its role in the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya. The report makes plain that the principal basis on which the intervention was predicated – that then-Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was on the verge of committing a wholesale slaughter of the rebel stronghold Benghazi – was a lie propagated by Western and Gulf State media outlets.
It also shows the extent to which the crisis was driven by Libyan exiles who – perhaps quite understandably – had an axe to grind with the Gaddafi regime. In this – and in other ways, as we shall see – the Libyan crisis shares a number of similarities with the Syrian crisis. Indeed, it would be fair to view the debacle in Libya as a dress rehearsal for the war outside powers have been waging against the sovereign government of Syria for the past five years.…Cui bono?
From the very start, the opposition to Assad included sectarian extremists who chanted: “Christians to Beirut, Alawis to the grave.”…Russians are dumbfounded that the West is oblivious to the fact that the Sunni "opposition" is committed to eliminating Christianity in Syria.
The journalist and analyst John Rosenthal translated a Jan. 12, 2012 report from Homs by a Dutch Jesuit, Father Frans van der Lugt, who was later murdered, likely by al-Nusra militants, in April 2014.
The Jesuit missionary observed that: “Most of the citizens of Syria do not support the opposition. … you also cannot say that this is a popular uprising. The majority of people are not part of the rebellion and certainly not part of the armed rebellion. What is occurring is, above all, a struggle between the army and armed Sunni groups that aim to overturn the Alawite regime and take power.
“From the start the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”The fact that a "Jesuit missionary" is even permitted in Syria says volumes. This is not permitted in countries under Islamic rule (sharia).
… the U.S., ever at the beck and call of the Gulf State autocracies who are our actual enemies, Assad has became the target of regime change enthusiasts in the U.S. and Europe. Their designs have wrecked large swathes of Syria, resulted in an unprecedented migrant crisis, destroyed the lives of many millions, gave rise to ISIS and strengthened the very same Islamist radicals who attacked us on 9/11 and who remain the sworn enemies of the West.Consortium News
I listened this morning to a brilliant talk by Danny Quah on what changes in the world during the past twenty years or so portend for the intellectual leadership of the world, or to be more specific, how the political and economic life should optimally be organized given the global changes in economic power that we are witnessing. In the beginning of his speech Danny defines the two tenets of the Western (or as he puts it, American) framing of an optimal society: economic freedom and democracy. This is the well-known paradigm of liberal capitalist democracy that, according to Fukuyama and later Acemoglu and Robinson, represents the end point of human evolution. Danny links it, rightly in my view, in addition to “American exceptionalism”, that is to the belief that America, by its own example, shows to the world how it should be organized, and that ultimately, the way the world will end up by being organized will be as a form of a “Greater America”.
But then Danny says, something has gone wrong with this approach….Important to be thinking about.
Ahmed el-Tayeb, the state-appointed grand imam of the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, was the event’s headliner. Although it has declined in recent decades, Al-Azhar was for centuries considered the most influential Sunni scholarly institution. Its head, known as the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, is by job description alone a major figure in the Sunni world.
One of the long-running debates within economics is the question whether money is endogenous or exogenous. Those who follow internet economic debates can expect this argument to flare up periodically. This debate should largely be considered dead and buried; and abolishing money from economic theory would put the final nail in the coffin…Bond Economics
Mulling over the debate under way about general equilibrium and macroeconomics, I picked up Paul Samuelson’s Foundations of Economic Analysis for the first time in ages. In the foreword to my 9th (1979) edition, he wrote: “In a hard, exact science a practioner does not really have to know much about methodology. … By contrast, a scholar in economics who is fundamentally confused concerning the relationship of definition, tautology, logical implication, empirical hypothesis and factual refutation may spend a lifetime shadow-boxing with reality. In a sense therefore, to earn his daily bread as a fruitful contributor to knowledge, the practitioner of an intermediately hard science like economics must come to terms with methodological problems.” Hmm. We have a lot of shadow-boxers, I fear.The Enlightened Economist
Graph: the capitalist coup that began in the 1970s was a response to a real crisis alternatively framed as a falling rate of profit and / or declining plutocratic control over Western political economy. Financialization shifted the balance of power back toward capital through the money system. Banks create money against separable liabilities. A rough analogy is the ability to take a loan against your neighbor’s house— you (connected capitalists) get the money and your neighbor’s house gets taken when you don’t repay the loan. The eventual result is that claims on economic production become increasingly concentrated as the economic system becomes unstable and destabilizing. Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve.
The class war visible in the current political season was launched from ‘above’ in the 1970s by connected capitalists— inherited wealth with support from a committed managerial class, with the goal of regaining power and control over Western political economy. The promise, made against the actual outcomes of several centuries of Western imperial history, was of broadly shared prosperity gotten through the constrained self-realization of capitalist democracy. The actual outcome is broadly declining economic circumstance for most people, a tenuous prosperity for supporting bourgeois managers and a new Gilded-Age for the self-enriching class of corporate executives, inherited wealth and financial predators.
Graph: while the promise of shared prosperity was held-by-degree by capitalists, corporate executives and their ‘useful idiots’ in academia when the capitalist coup was launched in the 1970s, by 2008 the evidence had accumulated to the point of being irrefutable— capitalism, economic imperialism posed as ‘free choice,’ is a catastrophe-generating mode of social organization that benefits a tiny minority at the expense of most citizens of the planet. Under the terms put forward by academic explainers of capitalism (economists), the existing system is only plausible during the brief periods of respite between recurring crises. The broad trend of economic decline suggests that social turmoil will mount until resolution is found. Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve.