Thursday, March 5, 2015

Out in the Open:  The CIA Secret Prisons in Europe - Washington’s European Partners in Crime  (Rudy Giuliani’s Dangerous Game:  Jeb Bush, Patriotic Lies, and the Truth About American Exceptionalism) Exceptionalism = Delusional Ideology

We do not understand that our “money politics” — the old Japanese phrase for the corrupted political process — has cost us any claim to leading by democratic example. Ditto Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib and so on in the matter of human rights.

Nice times we grew up for, huh?

Land of the free.

Home of the do-anything-you-like-to-maintain-power brave.

The CIA Secret Prisons in Europe. Political Camouflage in the EU. Washington’s “European Partners in Crime”

By Nako Minchev

March 04, 2015

It is common knowledge that at end-January 2015 the global movement Amnesty International published a report, titled “Breaking the conspiracy of silence:  USA’s European “partners in crime” must act after Senate torture report”, which throws further light upon the information gathered within the US Senate investigation into torture methods, applied by the Central Intelligence Agency, by referring to media reports on the way CIA-operated secret detention sites were run in Europe – in particular, on the territory of Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

As a matter of fact, it was several years ago when it first became known that CIA tortured terror suspects not only in these countries but also on the territory of another EU Member State – namely, Great Britain. According to the Lawrence Wilkinson, former Chief of Staff to the US Secretary of State, after the terror attack of 11th September 2001 the CIA used the US military base on the island of Diego Garcia, located in the British Indian Ocean Territory, to conduct interrogations and torture terror suspects who had been abducted from various countries without any court order whatsoever.

After the US Senate report got published, the European Parliament adopted a special resolution on 11th February 2015 in which it:

“expresses its deep condemnation of the gruesome interrogation practices that characterized these illegal counterterrorism operations; underlines the fundamental conclusion by the US Senate that the violent methods applied by the CIA failed to generate intelligence that prevented further terrorist attacks; recalls its absolute condemnation of torture”.
The resolution also highlights the fact that:

“the climate of impunity regarding the CIA programme has enabled the continuation of fundamental rights violations, as further revealed by the mass surveillance programmes of the US National Security Agency and secret services of various EU Member States”.
In this context, the US Government is called on:

“to investigate and prosecute the multiple human rights violations resulting from the CIA rendition and secret detention programmes, and to cooperate with all requests from EU Member States for information, extradition or effective remedies for victims in connection with the CIA programme”.
The European Parliament also:

“reiterates its calls on Member States to investigate the allegations that there were secret prisons on their territory where people were held under the CIA programme, and to prosecute those involved in these operations, taking into account all the new evidence that has come to light”.
At the same time it:

“expresses concerns regarding the obstacles encountered by national parliamentary and judicial investigations into some Member States’ involvement in the CIA programme, the abuse of state secrecy, and the undue classification of documents resulting in the termination of criminal proceedings and leading to de facto impunity of perpetrators of human rights violations”.
Furthermore, the resolution “calls for the findings of existing inquiries relating to Member States’ involvement in the CIA programme, in particular the Chilcot inquiry, to be published without further delay”.

Considering the above, we are unpleasantly impressed by the fact that the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) have hitherto failed to demonstrate the due will to discuss the refusal of the governmental authorities in Vilnius, Warsaw and Bucharest to investigate the multiple occasions of human rights violations, ensuing from the agreement of these countries to host the establishment of CIA black sites on their territory. Such an attitude erodes the very foundations of the European Union, weakens the belief of European citizens that their fundamental rights are truly guaranteed, divests the EU of its moral authority and discredits its allegiance to the universal human values.

The US Senate report and the one issued by Amnesty International, unequivocally point out that the above three EU Member States, as well as Great Britain, played a key role in the implementation of this CIA “operation” on the territory of the Old Continent. Without the help of these governments the USA would not have been in the position to detain and torture people for so many years, applying such inhumane methods as waterboarding and mock execution, sleep deprivation, use of coffin-sized confinement boxes or sexual threats.

It is high time that Europe became aware of the fact that the time for paying lip service to the condemnation of these crimes or the attempts at their covering up is over for good.

The governments of Lithuania, Poland and Romania can no longer hide behind the unconvincing “national security reasons” and “state secret” arguments, thus refusing to bring to light the entire truth about their role for the torture and abduction of people in their countries. Jozef Pinior, one of the legendary leaders of the Polish “Solidarity” trade union, member of the European Parliament in the period 2004 – 2009 and of the Parliamentary committee on secret CIA prisons in Europe, now a Polish senator, points out:

“The information in the Washington Post about the fact that Polish intelligence services received USD 15 million to “host” a secret CIA prison in the country compromises the entire Polish state which should elucidate this issue as quickly as possible. This unquestionably confirmed the grimmest hypothesis that under Leszek Miller Poland turned into a “banana republic” to the USA.

Another deplorable fact is that our national services have contributed in no way whatsoever to the disclosure of this conspiracy. This is an extremely disgraceful situation. The Polish state, the judicial system and the Government should publish the investigation findings as soon as possible. Otherwise we are going to become Europe ’s laughing stock.

It turns out that we while we give lessons in democracy to countries like the Ukraine, we take money from the US to allow them to practice illicit torture of people on our territory”.
In its turn the Bulgarian Government should state its official support for the appeal of Amnesty International and the European Parliament and urge the authorities in Vilnius, Bucharest and Warsaw to undertake an immediate and full investigation of this case and to prosecute those involved in the tortures.

Let us be reminded that most of the victims of these malpractices are Muslims and in the context of surging anti-Islam mood after the terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen it becomes even more important to find out the truth about the secret CIA “black sites” in Europe.

Rudy Giuliani’s Dangerous Game:  Jeb Bush, Patriotic Lies, and the Truth About American Exceptionalism

Feb 25, 2015

Our politicians are selling us fictions dressed up as patriotism. We need a new approach - and not another Bush

Rudy Giuliani's dangerous game: Jeb Bush, patriotic lies, and the truth about American exceptionalism 

(Click on picture to enlarge it for full effect.)

Jeb Bush, Rudy Giuliani (Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook/AP/Damian Dovarganes/Photo montage by Salon)

“I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country…. With all our flaws, we’re the most exceptional country in the world.”

That is Rudy Giuliani, New York’s former mayor, speaking at a Republican dinner in Manhattan earlier this month. Many readers will recognize these now-infamous remarks.

Here is Jeb Bush, the all-but-certain Republican candidate in 2016, speaking to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs a few hours earlier:

“America does not have the luxury of withdrawing from the world. Our security, our prosperity and our values demand that we remain engaged and involved in often distant places. We have no reason to apologize for our leadership and our interest in serving the cause of global security, global peace and human freedom.”
And here is President Obama, introducing his administration’s 2015 National Security Strategy  , an annual announcement as to how America’s defense and foreign policy cliques intend to get us through the year:

“Any successful strategy to ensure the safety of the American people and advance our national security interests must begin with an undeniable truth—America must lead. Strong and sustained American leadership is essential to a rules-based international order that promotes global security and prosperity as well as the dignity and human rights of all peoples. The question is never whether America should lead, but how we lead.”
There it is, readers. You have your lumpen rightists, who have acquired more power than seemed possible a few years ago but still face the knotty problem of stupidity. You have your mainstream rightists, polished and clever, intent on staying the expansionist course and persuading us it is best for all. On the foreign policy side, these people remain the right’s true center of gravity.

And you have your neoliberals, ever dressing up the rightists’ agenda as the progressive thing to pursue. This, the Williams-Sonoma crowd, is possessed of an egregious righteousness. They are the heirs of the Cold War liberals, those gutless many who assumed whatever shape necessary to avoid confronting American paranoia, reaction and aggression, usually out of sheer self-interest.

These are the alternatives before us as we look to a presidential campaign and a new administration. It is an interesting choice. We can have exceptionalism, exceptionalism or exceptionalism. One cannot wait to vote.

One cannot wait for the media to wring fantastic distinctions out of the field of candidates for the 2016 presidency. How awful it must have been for those condemned to life in one-party states until freed through our leaders’ commitment to spreading liberty and “human freedom” everywhere.

We live through a significant passage in American history. This bears only brief explanation.

Chosen-people consciousness arose in England prior to the 17th century crossings. It was a belief, never a thought. There are those who still profess to believe, but the belief long ago passed into the sphere of mythologies. There exceptionalism remained, I would say until September 11, 2001.

The airborne attacks in New York and Washington revealed the myth as myth. The astonishingly abrupt revelation that Americans are exceptions to nothing was the primary reason that day so shocked most of us.

Since then the wheel turns again:  The myth is now two things. It has hardened into an ideology, and it is something closer to a psychological disorder, whereby the leadership — which has most to lose from the collapse of the exceptionalist version of history, not you and I — incessantly insists on the efficacy of the idea in the face of all evidence.

This is how I read our moment. An exhausted mythology is finally overwhelmed by new realities as the entire world beyond American shores presents them, with exceptions such as Britain, Australia and Israel.

The American leadership faced a choice in 2001: It could re-imagine the nation’s place in the global community or eschew all imagination in favor of holding to the past. The choice was on the table briefly but proved too stark. The job of thinking lost to the job of believing. Rudy Giuliani, Jeb Bush and President Obama merely articulate the standing preference among the powerful.

Each of these three have something to tell us. Let’s consider these lessons one at a time.
Giuliani was named “America’s mayor” after the 2001 attacks in his city, but the buffoon within was always destined to break the surface, as it has regularly since he stepped aside in late 2001. D.H. Lawrence had a term for this kind of pol. He called them “temporarily important people.” It is perfect for Rudy.

What is Giuliani doing talking about love in public places? This was my first question. The answer is that he does not mean love. His true accusation against Obama was that the president shows signs of ideological deviance. This is dangerous in America — for all of us. Think about it: Every conversation we have now is freighted with semiological signals as to whether or not one is a believer.

Giuliani reminds me of a couple of things. We are not a strong nation at this moment in our story. We are merely powerful — another, lesser thing altogether. The leadership is weak (as in incapable of new thinking) and frightened (as in having no idea of how to face a future that does not look much like the past).

No general in a uniform, no one in camo fatigues, no senior spook at the NSA, no hyperpatriotic politician with a flag pin on the lapel should be mistaken as strong because he or she recites the exceptionalist catechism. They seek shelter in the past because facing forward in the post-September 11 era is too fearful a prospect.

Giuliani is a blunt instrument, but do not miss this point, either: Not too many of us ask others to pass some kind of love-of-country test, but very many of us, maybe most, are more subtle exceptionalists. Cold War liberals felt called upon to prove their anti-Communist bona fides. Most of us live according to a variant of the same imperative.
The interesting thing about Jeb Bush’s speech in Chicago was what he felt called upon to prove. Most comment has focused on his “I am my own man” effort to distance himself from George W.’s catastrophic foreign policy decisions, notably the Iraq invasion in 2003. Fair enough, one cannot blame him for trying.

My focus landed on the theme of departure, a policy different from what Washington puts out now. His insistence on the new was partly an early rendition of campaign stumping, O.K., but Bush implicitly acknowledged the fundamental malfunction of policy, too: We need the new because what we have does not work.

It turned out, of course, that Bush meant the new in the nothing-new. “Greater global engagement,” one of his core policy principles, does not mean innovating how America addresses the world—identifying root causes of conflict, for instance. It means a stronger NATO and a strategy to defeat “Islamic terrorism” not by diplomatic or any other reasoned means but an effort “to take them out.” (I have always found the use in high places of a phrase that originated among criminals to be telling.)

“Our words and actions must match,” Bush declared. Ah, a return to the Enlightenment ideals we ignore but hollowly profess. Nothing doing. He means when we say we are going to invade or bomb somebody unless, unless, unless, we must make sure we do so.

Beware always when an American leader talks of advancing freedom and liberty abroad, and the point holds with Bush’s notion of “liberty diplomacy.” Sure enough, Bush defined this as a foreign policy that asserts uniquely American notions of individualism, liberty and other such things. “If we withdraw from the defense of liberty anywhere,” he said, “the battle eventually comes to us.”

New? This is straight out of the 18th century. At the very most recent, it is a restatement of Wilson’s dictum, “The world must be made safe for democracy.” The great William Appleman Williams put this in its place decades ago: Safe for our democracy, no one else’s, is the intent. And it is Bush’s, should he become Bush III.

Upsum:   Elect this man and Americans will resume just where they left off—or thought they left off — on January 20, 2009. Bush recently announced a new crew of 21 foreign policy advisers, and the truth of what he has to offer lies in the names. Nineteen of these people served in either the Bush I or Bush II administrations.

No need to do any better than Maureen Dowd, the "New York Times" columnist who covered “Rummy,” Cheney and others among the regents who took George W.’s presidency more or less out of his hands:

“It’s mind-boggling, but there’s Paul Wolfowitz, the unapologetic designer of the doctrine of unilateralism and pre-emption, the naïve cheerleader for the Iraq invasion and the man who assured Congress that Iraqi oil would pay for the country’s reconstruction and that it was ridiculous to think we would need as many troops to control the country as Gen. Eric Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, suggested.
There’s John Hannah, Cheney’s national security adviser (cultivated by the scheming Ahmed Chalabi), who tried to stuff hyped-up junk on Saddam into Powell’s U.N. speech and who harbored bellicose ambitions about Iran; Stephen Hadley, who let the false 16-word assertion about Saddam trying to buy yellowcake in Niger into W.’s 2003 State of the Union; Porter Goss, the former CIA director who defended waterboarding.
“There’s Michael Hayden, who publicly misled Congress about warrantless wiretapping and torture, and Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security secretary who fumbled Katrina.
“Jeb is also getting advice from Condi Rice, queen of the apocalyptic mushroom cloud. And in his speech he twice praised a supporter, Henry Kissinger, who advised prolonging the Vietnam War, which the Nixon White House thought might help with the 1972 election.
Why not bring back Scooter Libby?”
No need, I would say. There are enough evil-doers among Bush’s 21 advisers to propel him nicely backwards should he take back the White House for the Bush clan.
Once upon a time I might have been disappointed to see how abjectly Obama’s latest National Security Strategy conforms to the orthodoxy. But that was long ago. This paper is a good case for casting the neoliberals as descendants of the Cold War liberals. Obama does not even question the exceptionalist narrative, much less critique it. He stays safely with the matter of how to advance it: “The question is never whether America should lead, but how we lead.”

Actually, Mr. President, that is precisely the question. We are not going to get anywhere in the 21st century until it is legitimate to ask it.

And the answer is no, America should not lead the global community in the 21st century. It could, had it made fewer bad decisions throughout the post-1945 period. But as things have turned out it cannot, and the reasons for this are simple and closely related: It does not know how to lead. It is not equipped to lead even if it had an idea of how to do so.

This is a 29-page document, and I urge readers to spend a little time with it. Certain core truths emerge in its lines and between them.

One is that there is an abiding blindness at work here as to the world beyond American shores — and, indeed, as to the world within them. We cannot see ourselves as we are and, still less, as others see us. We do not understand that our “money politics” — the old Japanese phrase for the corrupted political process — has cost us any claim to leading by democratic example. Ditto Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib and so on in the matter of human rights.

The paper makes much of an American commitment to “a rules-based international order,” and elsewhere reiterates our right to act unilaterally across sovereign borders when we see fit (which works out to be regrettably often). Does Obama’s Washington think others do not notice these gross contradictions?

There is a very interesting section subheaded simply “Values.” This is another of those words that prompts worry when it emanates from Washington. And one finds, as one does all the way back to Wilson, a subtle, carefully conveyed conflation of “universal values” with “the values of the American people.” This is the very purest essence of exceptionalism:   We must lead because we are possessed of the providentially given light.

All the Cold War tropes — rational choice theory, game theory, Chicago economics and so on — animate the 2015 National Security Strategy in that the document reveals the American leadership utterly incapable of registering difference, alternative preference or perspective and culture altogether. This simply will not work any longer.

Some phrases are bold-faced in a Churchillian display of determination that, again, conveys nothing so much as self-doubt:  “We will lead with strength,” “We will lead by example,” “We will lead with capable partners,” We will lead with all the instruments of U.S. power,” “We will lead with a long-term perspective.”

These phrases have an odd way of making the heart ache, I found as I read them. We are not strong as a nation, we have abdicated the power of example, our capable partners now include the same mix of dictators, crooks and murderers familiar from the Cold War decades and we make most of it up as we go along. Dead on as to the instruments of U.S. power, though:   As the paper makes clear, military and surveillance hardware rank first through fourth or so on this list. It is all we know well.

Thirty-odd years ago, the worldly and well-trained Stanley Hofmann, a professor at Harvard, gave an early layout of our post-Cold War choices. Primacy or World Order is a book that made much clear to many people (and one rarely out of my mind these days).

As the title implies, we will have to rest our decisions on different priorities, Hoffmann predicted. We must accept a plural world, we must achieve consistency in what we do, we cannot regress, the American public must be given a voice in foreign policy it has never by tradition had, we need to develop “maximum feasible understanding.” The alternative will be chaos.

Have you looked out the window lately? Now you know why I continue to honor the late Stanley Hoffmann.

One question remains. Where are the foreign-policy progressives, such as they may be?
I cannot find one. If there are any — in the executive departments, on Capitol Hill — they lie very low. But the only way to defeat the orthodoxy is if they come out of hiding, and it seems the only way they will is in response to prevalent, well-voiced objection. It should be obvious where this places the onus of a heavy burden.

For as long as America has had a foreign policy — let’s say 140 years or so — the exceptionalist consensus has proven extremely durable beyond all differences on the domestic side. So it is now. We have got done little of what Hoffmann argued persuasively to be our new imperatives. The worst of it is, from both sides of an aisle that has never meant much in foreign policy, we are now on notice that the commitment in our names but not by us remains headlong in the other direction.

(Patrick Smith is the author of Time No Longer:  Americans After the American Century. He was the "International Herald Tribune" ’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote “Letter from Tokyo” for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the "New York Times," the "Nation," the "Washington Quarterly," and other publications. Follow him on Twitter, @thefloutist.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fundamentally Rotten Economic Foundation  (Calculated Destruction of the Liberal Class Right Before That of the Middle Class)  Postcard from the End of America  (Nasdaq 5,000 Is Different This Time . . . But Not In A Good Way!)  Gitmo in Chicago

The Case For Super Glass-Steagall

February Stock Buybacks Hit Record - Total $2 Trillion Since 2009

Corporate America’s love affair with itself grows more passionate by the month.

Stock buybacks, which along with dividends eat up sums of money equal to almost all the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s earnings, vaulted to a record in February, with chief executive officers announcing $104.3 billion in planned repurchases. That’s the most since TrimTabs Investment Research began tracking the data in 1995 and almost twice the $55 billion bought a year earlier.

Even with 10-year Treasury yields holding below 2.1 percent, economic growth trailing forecasts and earnings estimates deteriorating, the stock market snapped back last month as companies announced an average of more than $5 billion in buybacks each day.

. . . “Companies that are earning a lot of money and generating cash are borrowing money at basically zero rates and buying back,” said Neil Grossman, the St. Petersburg, Florida-based chief investment officer at Tkng Capital Partners. “From an investor’s standpoint, you want the highest return on your dollar, period. If the highest return comes not from growing your business but buying your shares back, that’s fine.”

. . . Companies in the S&P 500 have spent more than $2 trillion on their own stock since 2009, underpinning an equity rally in which the index has more than tripled.

. . . (Comment:   Schri - Corporate stock buybacks is only half the story...the other half is the collapsed corporate tax collections (as a % of their earnings) under Bush (jr) and now even more so under Obama. This is another couple of trillion handed to corporations vs. the previous % of taxation corporations paid (now about 20% vs. 50 yr average of 40%).

Gitmo in Chicago

Inverted totalitarian? It's certainly descriptive.

Confronting the centers of power?

So Chris Hedges, who wrote Death of the Liberal Class, says.

Chris was featured on LINK TV at the "Santa Fe Retreat on Occupy," holding an in-depth discussion of almost everything we'd like to know more about as well as many other important subjects that inform his audience (and us) immeasurably.

From the Link TV website:

As an icon of the Occupy movement, journalist Chris Hedges has been willing to face arrest and ridicule to stand up for what he believes in. He has even gone as far as suing the Obama administration over part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allowed indefinite detention of US citizens. We caught up with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author during the Truthdig Santa Fe Retreat hosted by our friends at on May 22, 2012. In this moving talk, Hedges takes us through history to show the calculated destruction of what was the Liberal Class. He advocates for a new movement to be born, one that revolts against the unfettered capitalism that he says is destroying our world. It is a passionate plea for a new American revolution.

After almost 25 years of a solid, impeccable professional work life, I found I could not be hired by almost anyone as I was no longer qualified to hold a job. What a surprise. But it was not only I. It's been a long-term disease in America since the 90's easily (that many people fear to go into too deeply psychologically because it spelled the end of the dream of democracy).

I fear for Chris Hedges who has no fear.

From Postcard from the End of America:
The most insidious abuse of power, was how employees were discarded, “In the bar and restaurant business, they will overhire, then get rid of whoever they don’t like, but without firing them. If they find someone that they like more than you, they’ll keep it hush hush and find ways to push you out, and they will do this with any position. It’s not just with a server or kitchen worker, they will also do this with a manager.
They do not want to give fired employees unemployment. They will find any way of going around paying people unemployment. So if they want to do a mass firing, they’ll cut people’s schedules. They’ll cut their hours. For people they want to get rid of, they’ll just give them one or two shifts a week. This usually forces people to quit, because they’re so broke. This way, they don’t have to fire ten people and pay unemployment.”
Long time employees also expect periodic raises, so by forcing them out, owners save money.

It’s very passive aggressive, these tactics, “They will give you the shittiest shifts or they can cite you for every little mistake, every little thing that you do that they can make into an issue. What they did to me was, they’d suddenly email me and say, ‘You’re not in charge of that anymore. Why don’t you do this,’ then they’d give me these very childish tasks, these very boring tasks, and I was like, ‘Why am I doing this if I’m the manager?’
They’d email me and say, ‘Oh, you don’t have to come in today.’ They phrased it in such a way that you’re like, am I being rewarded with some time off? They kind of fucked with your head a little bit, so you’d think, maybe I’m being rewarded here, but at the end of the month, you’re like, holy shit, I hardly worked at all. So they push you off. Holy shit, you know, they basically fired me, but they didn’t do it outright, but only in the most passive aggressive way.”

Nasdaq 5,000 Is Different This Time . . . But Not In A Good Way!

David Stockman

March 3, 2015

The robo-traders and Wall Street punters were busy painting the tape yesterday, and did bump the Nasdaq composite across the magic 5,000 threshold for the first time since March 2000. But even as Wall Street urged home-gamers to “return with us to the thrilling days of yesteryear”, the caveats about this time is different were flowing with abundance:

This time, the Nasdaq at 5,000 is underpinned by substantial companies with strong sales and credible plans for growth, not wishful schemes to “monetize eyeballs” and sell pet food online.

Not exactly. This time is very different, but, as they say, not in a good way. Not even close. Since the two days of March 9 and 10 in the year 2000 when the Nasdaq closed over the 5,000, the financial markets have been converted into central bank managed gambling halls and the global economy has bloated beyond recognition by 15 years of non-stop financial repression.

Back then, a few hundred stocks were wildly over-valued based on monetizing eyeballs; now the entire market is drastically overvalued owing to the false financial market liquidity generated by $14 trillion of central bank asset monetization — mostly public debt— since the turn of the century.

As a result, the global financial system and economy are orders of magnitude more fragile and vulnerable to collapse then they were 15 years ago. Indeed, nearly all of the tail winds which managed to quickly revive markets and economic growth after the dotcom crash have now played out, and, if anything, will morph into stiff headwinds in the period immediately ahead.

For better or worse, for example, China proved to be a powerful tailwind after the turn of the century. It functioned as an enormous global locomotive that generated hyper-growth in the energy and resource industries; and which also ignited a supplier boom in a whole variety of EM industries from Brazil’s soybean and iron ore sectors to shipbuilding and semiconductor production in South Korea.

Yet this was accomplished not through healthy, balanced, market-driven investment and enterprise, but through the most spectacular credit bubble in human history. At the end of the year 2000, China’s debt was about $2 trillion and its GDP was about the same. By contrast, today its credit market debt outstanding is about $28 trillion or 14X greater, according to McKinsey’s research. Notionally its GDP is up by 5X to about $10 trillion, but that doesn’t really mitigate the debt explosion.

That’s because China’s GDP growth was a force draft concoction of state directed credit spending that resulted in massive waste and unproductive investment. Rather than catalyze permanent gains in wealth and sustainable output, its erected a phony hothouse economy which will inexorably implode and crater. So doing, China’s imminent collapse will drive powerful waves of global deflation as its demand for iron ore, coal, petroleum, alumina, copper, manufactured components and intermediates and shipping and distribution services falters.

In short, the world economy is drastically overbuilt owing to the “China bid” for materials and supplies — meaning that what had been a source of extraordinary profits and margin expansion in the world materials and industrial economy will become a sledgehammer on prices, margins and profits in the years ahead. At the peak in 2012-2013, upwards of 23% of S&P profits were attributable to energy and materials. But the China deflation now gaining a head of steam will vaporize these bloated profits in the years ahead, taking a huge bit out of aggregate corporate earnings.

Or take the hapless case of Europe. At the turn of the century, the single currency was an economic supernova just beginning its eruption. As is now evident, Germany’s credit rating was being seconded to inefficient, corruption-ridden welfare states all over the continent, but especially on the periphery. And for the first decade, the resulting one-time explosion of public and private credit generated by that false credit transfer did wonders for the reported GDP numbers and the profits of global corporations that answered the EU demand call.

It was a tailwind on steroids. But as is evident from the three charts below, the one-time credit boom that accompanied the euro is over and done. Public and private debt carrying capacity is tapped out. Consequently, eurozone growth hit a peak in 2008 and has flat-lined ever since. Now Europe’s traditional welfare state and dirigisme headwinds to economic growth will be compounded by an endless struggle of aging, uncompetitive economies with peak debt.

See the charts and the entire essay here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Why the Rise of Fascism is Again the Issue   (Nemtsov’s Assassination:  A Propaganda Attack On Putin?)

I'm not a conspiracist (although I am studying several at the moment), but this surely took a solid plan. One can almost see the creation of the Pakistani ISI mirroring that of the Koch-funded CATO Institute, if you follow the logical reasoning route.

Nation builders!

The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar's specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a "freedom fighter".

Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and "destabilise" the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, "a few stirred up Muslims". His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them.

I've thought since Bush Boy 1 (or was it 2?) was allowed by the Supreme Court to steal the 2000 election, that full-scale fascism must be on the horizon (of course, I tend to see the big picture instead of being comforted by the small picture which always says "No, can't happen here because . . . ."), although it still escapes me how the rich plunderers think they will escape long term with their hides (or maybe scalps).

Fascism. The marriage of corporations and bullies (er, governments)?

It never changes.

At least it won't without concerted efforts by committed citizens who demand fair play and real democracy, and won't stop advocating for it until it happens.

John Pilger is our savior again.

And a timely reminder presents itself with his emphasis on Zbigniew Brzezinski's enormous influence on foreign affairs (and thus, how all those brazen, uneducated offspring of the connected influential came to be employed and viewed as ideal to run the MSM news vehicles and the country). (Thanks, Brzezinskis! Cheneys! Carlsons! Bushes!)

I may be telescoping my comments too much here, but I'd rather let you get on to the essays that follow.

Why the Rise of Fascism Is Again the Issue

By John Pilger

February 27, 2015

The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

"To initiate a war of aggression...," said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, "is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.

Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome:  thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.

In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 "strike sorties" against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that "most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten".

The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a "rebel" bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words:  "We came, we saw, he died." His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning "genocide" against his own people. "We knew... that if we waited one more day," said President Obama, "Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world."

This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told "Reuters" there would be "a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda". Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato's inferno, described by David Cameron as a "humanitarian intervention".

Secretly supplied and trained by Britain's SAS, many of the "rebels" would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.

For Obama, Cameron and Hollande, Gaddafi's true crime was Libya's economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa's greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to "enter" Africa and bribe African governments with military "partnerships".

Following Nato's attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, "confiscated $30 billion from Libya's Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency".

The "humanitarian war" against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing "genocide" against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as "225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59" might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and "the spirit of the Second World War". The West's heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.

With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia's infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the "holocaust". The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing "a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines".

A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo:  2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The "holocaust" was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.

Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its "natural market" in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.

In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans. Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo "peace" conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer's duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day.

This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia - a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation - and the implementation of a "free-market economy" and the privatisation of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.

Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations - 69 countries - have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America's modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as "sanctions". The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.

"Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over." These were opening words of Obama's 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment.

"The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion," said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records. The majority have been killed - civilians and soldiers - during Obama's time as president.

The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina. In his lauded and much quoted book The Grand Chessboard:  American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because "the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion ... Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation." He is right. As "WikiLeaks" and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Carter's National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan's first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?

In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.

The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan's doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. "Every girl," recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon, "could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported."

The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, "there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]". Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the "threat of a promising example".

On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorised support for tribal "fundamentalist" groups known as the mujaheddin, a program that grew to over $500 million a year in U.S. arms and other assistance. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan's first secular, reformist government. In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that "the United States' larger interests ... would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan."

The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar's specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a "freedom fighter".

Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and "destabilise" the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, "a few stirred up Muslims".

His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them.

Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called "Operation Cyclone". Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah - who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help - was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.

The "blowback" of Operation Cyclone and its "few stirred up Muslims" was September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the "war on terror", in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer's message was and remains:  "You are with us or against us."

The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder.

The American invasion of Vietnam had its "free fire zones", "body counts" and "collatoral damage". In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians ("gooks") were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered.

In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.

Today, the world's greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals.

These are Obama's victims. According to the "New York Times," Obama makes his selection from a CIA "kill list" presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die.

His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains. Each "hit" is registered on a faraway console screen as a "bugsplat".

"For goose-steppers," wrote the historian Norman Pollock, "substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while."

Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being," said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, "The sovereign is he who decides the exception."

This sums up Americanism, the world's dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing.

Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.

The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the "tragedy" of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places - just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood's violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, 'American Sniper', which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The "New York Times" described it as a "patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days".

There are no heroic movies about America's embrace of fascism. During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism.

In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens - as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the "father" of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.

In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its "new wave" hailed by the enforcer as "nationalists".

This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government. The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the "Moscow-Jewish mafia" and "other scum", including gays, feminists and those on the political left.

These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get "the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry". If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.

No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe - with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine.

At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as "the minister for defeatism". It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D. Kagan, a leading "neo-con" luminary and co-founder of the extreme right wing Project for a New American Century, she was foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney.

Nuland's coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia's historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea - illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 - voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s. The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed.

There was no invasion.

At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleaning. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia.

In the western media, they became unpeople escaping "the violence" caused by the "Russian invasion". The Nato commander, General Breedlove - whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove - announced that 40,000 Russian troops were "massing". In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.

These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine - a third of the population - have long sought a federation that reflects the country's ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are not "separatists" but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous "states" are a reaction to Kiev's attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.

On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as "another bright day in our national history".

In the American and British media, this was reported as a "murky tragedy" resulting from "clashes" between "nationalists" (neo-Nazis) and "separatists"(people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).

The "New York Times" buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington's new clients. The "Wall Street Journal" damned the victims - "Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says". Obama congratulated the junta for its "restraint".

If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained "pariah" role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine. On January 29, Ukraine's top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically:  "The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army". There were "individual citizens" who were members of "illegal armed groups", but there was no Russian invasion. This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev's Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for "full scale war" with nuclear-armed Russia.

On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime. In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell's fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America's most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently, "No European government, since Adolf Hitler's Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West's media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established ... If you wonder how the world could stumble into World War Three - much as it did into World War One a century ago - all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason."

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media:  "The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack ... In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons."

In the "Guardian" on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war. "Putin must be stopped," said the headline. "And sometimes only guns can stop guns." He conceded that the threat of war might "nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement"; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that "America has the best kit".

In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, "has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones." He lauded Blair as a "Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist". In 2006, he wrote, "Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq:  Iran."

The outbursts - or as Garton-Ash prefers, his "tortured liberal ambivalence" - are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader. The "Guardian," in which Garton-Ash's piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words:  "The F-35. GREAT For Britain". This American "kit" will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world. In tune with its advertiser, a "Guardian" editorial has demanded an increase in military spending.

Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev's new Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas "investment". She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship. They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden's son is on the board of Ukraine's biggest oil, gas and fracking company.

The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine's rich farming soil.

Above all, they want Ukraine's mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia's long Arctic land border.

Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country's economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.

The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves:  our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.

Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger  Visit his website

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Below are two essays, the first of which contains Paul Craig Roberts' first thoughts on hearing of the shooting of Boris Nemtsov in Russia, and the second of which is Stephen Lendman's dissection of the events surrounding what may come to be seen as a possible false flag (or the first shot leading to the next world war). Yes, it made me think of Princip too.

February 27, 2015

Nemtsov’s Assassination:  A Propaganda Attack On Putin?

Paul Craig Roberts

Boris Nemtsov, a Russian dissident politician highly critical of President Vladimir Putin often sounded like an agent of Washington. He was shot and killed today on a street near Red Square.

If Nemtsov wasn’t assassinated by the CIA in order to blame Putin, most likely Nemtsov was killed by Russian nationalists who saw him as Washington’s agent.

Remembering the Magnitsky affair that resulted in sanctions imposed on Russians as a result of the US Congress over-reacting to a jail death in Russia, Nemtsov’s death will likely be blamed on Putin. The Western media will repeat endlessly, with no evidence, that Putin had his critic killed.

I can tell you one thing, and that is that Putin is much too smart to play into Washington’s hands in this way. Moreover, Nemtsov, although a loud mouth, had no impact on Putin’s 85% approval rating. Nemtsov’s support resided in the Washington-funded NGOs in Russia. If the CIA assassinated Nemtsov, they killed their own asset.

It remains to be seen if the propaganda gains justify the CIA’s loss of a Putin critic.

Nemtsov Murder:  Anti-Putin False Flag!

February 28, 2015

by Stephen Lendman

As if on cue, the murder yesterday of Boris Nemtsov, a Washington-funded Russian “opposition politician” with a tiny following, has become a major news item for the American presstitute media. The presstitutes have responded as if orchestrated by a conductor with insinuations of Putin’s responsibility and the death of democracy in Russia.

Stephen Lendman who watches these matters closely notes that clearly Nemtsov is worth more to Washington dead than alive.

Overnight Friday, opposition politician/Putin antagonist Boris Nemtsov was shot and killed in central Moscow.

Tass said he was “shot dead (by) four shots from a handgun from a car passing by him…”
He was RPR-Parnas party co-chair, a Yaroslavi Oblast regional parliament member, and Solidarnost co-founder/co-chair – modeled after CIA-financed anti-communist Lech Walesa’s Polish Solidarnosc.

In the 1990s, he held various government posts – including first deputy prime minister and deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin.

He served in Russia’s lower house State Duma and upper house Federation Council. He ignored clear US responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions. He lied calling Donbass “Vladimir Putin’s war.”

Before Washington’s coup, he said “(w)e support Ukraine’s course toward European integration…By supporting Ukraine, we support ourselves.”

Along with Aleksey Navalny, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Ryzhkov, and other Putin opponents, he had close Western ties.

He got State Department funding through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). It wages war on democracy worldwide.

It advances US interests. Its board of directors includes a rogue’s gallery of neocon extremists.

In 2009, Nemtsov and Kasparov met personally with Obama. They discussed anti-Putin tactics – regime change by any other name.

Nemtsov’s killing was strategically timed – ahead of Sunday’s Vesna (Russian Spring anti-government) opposition march.

I’ll now be a Nemtsov memorial rally – turning an anti-Putin/pro-Western opportunist/convenient stooge into an unjustifiable martyr.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “Putin has stressed that this brutal murder has all (the) signs of a contract murder and is extremely provocative.”

“The president has expressed his deep condolences to the family of tragically deceased Nemtsov.”

Serial-killer/unindicted war criminal Obama “condemn(ed) (his) brutal murder.”

He ludicrously called him “a tireless advocate for his country, seeking for his fellow Russian citizens the rights to which all people are entitled.”

“I admired Nemtsov’s courageous dedication to the struggle against corruption in Russia and appreciated his willingness to share his candid views with me when we met in Moscow in 2009.”

“(T)he Russian people…have lost one of the most dedicated and eloquent defenders of their rights.”

John Kerry made similar duplicitous comments. Mikhail Gorbachev called his killing “an attempt to complicate the situation in the country, even to destabilize it by ratcheting up tensions between the government and the opposition.”

Nemtsov was a Western financed self-serving opportunist. His killing has all the earmarks of a US-staged false flag. Cui bono remains most important.

Clearly Putin had nothing to gain. Rogue US elements have lots to benefit from trying to destabilize Russia.

If Putin wanted Nemtsov dead, it’s inconceivable he’d order a Mafia-style contract killing. An “unfortunate” plane or car crash would have been more likely.

Perhaps cleverly poisoning him the way Obama murdered Chavez and Sharon killed Arafat.
Gunning him down in central Moscow automatically rules out Kremlin involvement.
His demise has all the earmarks of a CIA-staged false flag. Expect no evidence whatever surfacing suggesting Putin’s involvement.

Nemtsov’s martyrdom is much more valuable to Washington than using him alive as an impotent opposition figure.

Despite challenging economic conditions, Putin’s approval rating exceeds 85%. Nemtsov’s party has less than 5%. He was no popular favorite. Most Russians disliked him.

Expect his hyped martyrdom to be fully exploited in the West. Does Washington plan more political assassinations to heighten the Nemtsov effect?

Expect Sunday’s march to be nothing more than another US failed attempt to enlist anti-Putin support.

Russians aren’t stupid. They know how Washington operates. How it vilifies their government. How neocon lunatics in charge are capable of anything.

They know Washington bears full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions. How Putin goes all-out trying to resolve them diplomatically.

Obama wants war, not peace. He wants destabilizing regime change in Russia – perhaps by nuclear war if other methods fail.

Killing Nemtsov changes nothing. Expect Western anti-Putin propaganda to fall flat after a few days of suggesting his involvement.

The "New York Times" practically accused him of murder calling Nemtsov’s killing “the highest-profile assassination in Russia during (his) tenure.”

His death occurred “just days before he was to lead (an anti-Putin) rally to protest the war in Ukraine.”

The Times absurdly claimed “doors are now closing on the vision of a pluralistic political system of the type (Nemtsov) said he wanted for Russia.”

It quoted discredited (on corruption charges) Putin opposition figure Gennady Gudkov saying “(t)hey have started to kill ‘enemies of the people.’ Mr. Nemtsov is dead. Who is next?”

The Times called him a “dashing, handsome young politician..often touted as an heir apparent to (Boris) Yeltsin.”

Neocon Washington Post editors called his murder “another dark sign for Russia.”

They flat-out lied saying he “was a courageous Russian politician who never gave up on the dream that the country could make the transition from dictatorship to liberal democracy.”

They tried turning a nobody into a political icon. Ludicrously claiming he “be(came) one of the most enduring political figures of the post-Soviet era.”

Disgracefully saying “he was by no means the first Putin opponent to be murdered in brazen fashion.” Practically accusing Putin of ordering his killing.

Claiming he’s “unwilling to tolerate opposition of any kind.” Ignoring his overwhelming popularity. His opposition does a good job of rendering itself irrelevant.

Neocon "Wall Street Journal" editors proved true to form. They outrageously said “(i)n the gangster state that is Vladimir Putin’s Russia, we may never learn who shot Boris Nemtsov in Moscow late Friday night.”

They absurdly claimed “he might have steered Russia toward a decent future had he been given a chance.”

“Instead, he was fated to become a courageous voice for democracy and human rights who risked his life to alert an indifferent West to the dangers of doing business with the man in the Kremlin.”

Journal and like-minded editorials and commentaries repeated one Big Lie after another. Irresponsible Putin bashing substitutes for honest reporting and analysis.

Nemtsov’s killing is Washington’s latest attempt to destabilize Russia. It’s part of its longstanding regime change strategy.

It bears repeating. Russians are too smart to fall for thinly veiled US schemes.

Their overwhelming support for Putin shows flat rejection of what Washington neocons have in mind for their country.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine:  US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

Visit his blog site at

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reading the Greek Deal Correctly ( What Dodd-Frank Didn’t Fix:   The Worst Conflicts on Wall Street)

One of the most cogent discussions of what really happened in the Greek deal appears below. The commenters are among the best I've seen yet.

And don't miss the news on the "real" conflicted insiders in our financial demise in the second essay.

Margaret Thatcher called the creation of the EURO a huge mistake and one that would lead to the reunification of German power that she was against. Today, no one remembers why that seemed to be a bad idea in Thatcher's time. And maybe it isn't, but if Greece isn't allowed to refute $300 billion of its debt, that would be a good solution to the brick-wall problem (according to Citibank reported on the Max Keiser Report), then the shi-ite will definitely hit the fan.

Reading the Greek Deal Correctly

February 24, 2015

Social Europe

by James K. Galbraith

On Friday as news of the Brussels deal came through, Germany claimed victory and it is no surprise that most of the working press bought the claim. They have high authorities to quote and to rely on. Thus from London "The Independent" reported:

several analysts agreed that the results of the talks amounted to a humiliating defeat for Greece.

No details followed, the analysts were unnamed, and their affiliations went unstated – although further down two were quoted and both work for banks. Many similar examples could be given, from both sides of the Atlantic.

"The New Yorker" is another matter. It is an independent magazine, with a high reputation, written for a detached audience. And John Cassidy is an analytical reporter. Readers are inclined to take him seriously and when he gets something wrong, it matters. Cassidy’s analysis appeared under the headline, “How Greece Got Outmaneuvered” and his lead paragraph contains this sentence:

Greece’s new left-wing Syriza government had been telling everyone for weeks that it wouldn’t agree to extend the bailout, and that it wanted a new loan agreement that freed its hands, which marks the deal as a capitulation by Syriza and a victory for Germany and the rest of the E.U. establishment.
In fact, there was never any chance for a loan agreement that would have wholly freed Greece’s hands. Loan agreements come with conditions. The only choices were an agreement with conditions, or no agreement and no conditions. The choice had to be made by February 28, beyond which date ECB support for the Greek banks would end. No agreement would have meant capital controls, or else bank failures, debt default, and early exit from the Euro. SYRIZA was not elected to take Greece out of Europe. Hence, in order to meet electoral commitments, the relationship between Athens and Europe had to be “extended” in some way acceptable to both.

But extend what, exactly? There were two phrases at play, and neither was the vague “extend the bailout.” The phrase “extend the current programme” appeared in troika documents, implying acceptance of the existing terms and conditions. To the Greeks this was unacceptable, but the technically-more-correct “extend the loan agreement” was less problematic. The final document extends the “Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement” which was better still. The MFFA is “underpinned by a set of commitments” but these are – technically – distinct. In short, the MFFA is extended but the commitments are to be reviewed.

Also there was the lovely word “arrangement” – which the Greek team spotted in a draft communiqué offered by Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Monday afternoon and proceeded to deploy with abandon. The Friday document is a masterpiece in this respect:

The purpose of the extension is the successful completion of the review on the basis of the conditions in the current arrangement, making best use of the given flexibility which will be considered jointly with the Greek authorities and the institutions. This extension would also bridge the time for discussions on a possible follow-up arrangement between the Eurogroup, the institutions and Greece. The Greek authorities will present a first list of reform measures, based on the current arrangement, by the end of Monday February 23. The institutions will provide a first view whether this is sufficiently comprehensive to be a valid starting point for a successful conclusion of the review.
If you think you can find an unwavering commitment to the exact terms and conditions of the “current programme” in that language, good luck to you. It isn’t there. So, no, the troika can’t come to Athens and complain about the rehiring of cleaning ladies.

To understand the issues actually at stake between Greece and Europe, you have to dig a little into the infamous “Memorandum of Understanding” signed by the previous Greek governments. A first point:  not everything in that paper is unreasonable. Much merely reflects EU laws and regulations. Provisions relating to tax administration, tax evasion, corruption, and modernization of public administration are, broadly, good policy and supported by SYRIZA. So it was not difficult for the new Greek government to state adherence to “seventy percent” of the memorandum.

The remaining “thirty percent” fell mainly into three areas:  fiscal targets, fire-sale privatizations and labor-law changes. The fiscal target of a 4.5 percent “primary surplus” was a dog as everyone would admit in private. The new government does not oppose privatizations per se; it opposes those that set up price-gouging private monopolies and it opposes fire sales that fail to bring in much money. Labor law reform is a more basic disagreement – but the position of the Greek government is in line with ILO standards, and that of the “programme” was not. These matters will now be discussed. The fiscal target is now history, and the Greeks agreed to refrain from “unilateral” measures only for the four-month period during which they will be seeking agreement.

Cassidy acknowledges some of this, but then minimizes it, with the comment that the deal “seems to rule out any large-scale embrace of Keynesian stimulus policies.” In what document does any such promise exist? There is no money in Greece; the government is bankrupt. Large-scale Keynesian policies were never on the table as they would necessarily imply exit – an expansionary policy in a new currency, with all the usual dangers. Inside the Euro, investment funds have to come from better tax collection, or from the outside, including private investors and the European Investment Bank. Cassidy’s comment seems to have been pulled from the air.

Another distant fantasy is the notion that the SYRIZA team was “giddy” with political success, which had come “practically out of nowhere.” Actually SYRIZA knew for months that if it could force an election last December, it would win. And I was there on Sunday night, February 8, when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras opened Parliament with his version of the State of the Union. Tsipras doesn’t do giddy. And Yanis Varoufakis’s first words to me on arrival at the finance ministry just before we went over to hear him were these:  “Welcome to the poisoned chalice.”

Turning to the diplomatic exchanges, Cassidy concludes that Tsipras and Varoufakis “overplayed their hand.” An observer on the scene would have noticed that the Greek government remained united; initial efforts to marginalize Varoufakis were made and rebuffed. Then as talks proceeded, European Commission leaders Jean-Claude Juncker and Pierre Moscovici went off-reservation to be helpful, offering a constructive draft on Monday. Other governments softened their line. At the end-game, remarkably, it was the German government that split – in public – with Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel calling the Greek letter a basis for negotiation after Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said it wasn’t. And that set up Chancellor Angela Merkel to make a mood-changing call to Alexis Tsipras.

Possibly the maneuver was choreographed. But still, it was Schäuble who took a step back in the end. It seems that none of these facts caught Cassidy’s attention.

Finally, in the run-up to these talks did the Greek side fail to realize that they had no leverage, giving – as Cassidy writes – all the advantages to Schäuble once “he realized that Varoufakis couldn’t play the Grexit card”?   In truth the Greeks never had any intention of playing any cards, nor of bluffing, as Varoufakis wrote in "The New York Times" and as I had written two days after the election, in Social Europe:

What leverage does Greece have? Obviously, not much; the heavy weapons are on the other side. But there is something. Prime Minister Tsipras and his team can present the case of reason without threats of any kind. Then the right and moral gesture on the other side would be to … grant fiscal space and to guarantee Greek financial stability while talks are underway. If that happens, then proper negotiations can proceed.
That appears to be what happened. And it happened for the reason given in my essay:  in the end, Chancellor Merkel preferred not to be the leader responsible for the fragmentation of Europe.

Alexis Tsipras stated it correctly. Greece won a battle – perhaps a skirmish – and the war continues. But the political sea-change that SYRIZA’s victory has sparked goes on. From a psychological standpoint, Greece has already changed; there is a spirit and dignity in Athens that was not there six months ago. Soon enough, new fronts will open in Spain, then perhaps Ireland, and later Portugal, all of which have elections coming. It is not likely that the government in Greece will collapse, or yield, in the talks ahead, and over time the scope of maneuver gained in this first skirmish will become more clear. In a year the political landscape of Europe may be quite different from what it appears to be today.

(Economist James K. Galbraith is currently a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and at the Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Predator State:  How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.)



Once again the elephant in the room is not mentioned, that being the international banking cartel run by the Rothschild family and their ruling elite ilk. Power concedes nothing without a demand, but the ruling elite will throw some crumbs now and then if necessary. The ultimate solution is for We the People in every country must unite and rise up to overcome the EMPIRE that is destroying our nations and planet!



The REAL elephant in the room is that which is never named in US/NATO/EU-captive media... BRICS.

Syriza, and more importantly, its potential alternative backers (Russia, China, BRICS Bank) are not quite ready to invoke the Grexit option. Recall what happened when Russia last extended a more favourable deal than the EU/IMF... in Ukraine.

The New Silk Road runs most conveniently through Greece, but like Ukraine as pipeline corridor, a stable, EU/SCO straddling country is preferable to one inflamed by civil war and social duress.

So Putin and Xi will move slowly and carefully here. In 4 months the EU will be that much more desperate over Ukraine/sanctions and the US will have ISIS/Saudi-oil-price turkeys coming home to roost. Syriza is the mouse preparing to roar... with a dragon and a bear rampant behind it.


A captured media is a media that pushes narratives amenable to the goals and game plans of the 1%.

Often, these elites sandwich people into impossible circumstances and then criticize their "choices."

A few examples come to mind:
  1. Inner cities gutted of industry and good jobs lead to unemployment, despair, and black market style local economies. Public schools are part of this depressed "infrastructure," but then the Privateers rush in and claim that these schools have failed... (and along with them, blame teachers) rather than the wider truth:  that inner cities are this nation's (under Mars' rules) collateral damage (and/or sacrifice) zones.
  2. Young poor women find it harder and harder to obtain birth control and in what to them are emergency cases, abortions. Instead of making sure that Family Planning is part of public health and appropriate resources made available, women searching for reproductive sovereignty are being blamed for their moral laxity and/or life "choices."
  3. The Shock Doctrine's religious corollary - promoted as an End Times view of the future - leads many people into doing little to ensure against Global Warming's catastrophic shocks in coming years. Conditioned to think that destruction is God's will, faithful followers flock to congregations that give them hope for an After Life in a manner that befits earlier church melded with state eras where Indulgences (guaranteed spots in heaven) were sold to the deep pocketed faithful.
Lies are to mass communication what bio-tech fraudulent substances are to agriculture. Both are being disseminated in such mad rushes as to taint the currencies of nutrition along with "food for thought."

Those who control the narrative, control MUCH in the way of human behavior, belief, expectation and realm of the considered possible.


That is an excellent complement to the article, thank you, Siouxrose.

Cassidy is an economist. Often better than most, yet, as almost every economist, devoid of any comprehension of authrity. Who is not devoid of any understanding of authority? The US political and economic bosses violate their nominal authority routinely, and their official authority as if it were expected of them. Cassidy is not an independent economist. He answers, as does the New Yorker staff, to Conde Nast, another viciously war-against-nature vulture capital enterprise. Like Halliburton. So Cassidy said all the right things for his bosses. Sounds as if he has given up on maintaining any respect as an economics reporter.


I have read JK Galbraith and I am aware of James Galbraith’s general thoughts on economics and politics, so I’m inclined to believe the title of this piece. I recall being shocked by the seeming coordination of the Russian negativity during the Winter Olympics, with David Remnick often leading the way.

I unsubscribed from the "New Yorker" some time ago because I thought the “quality” had diminished.

Something truly Big Time is going on in international economics and politics, and I wish I knew what it was. BRICS is surely part of it.



Let's see:

Uprising in Tunisia. Check.
Uprising in Hong Kong. Check.
Uprising (Indignados) in Spain. Check.
Uprising in Iceland. Check.
Uprising in Greece. Check.
Uprising in Egypt. Check.
Uprising in U.K. (street demonstrations) Check.
Uprising in U.S. (Occupy Wall St., Ferguson, the big climate event in NYC). Check.
Uprising in Chile (students). Check.
Uprising in Canada (Idle no more). Check.

This IS happening... and it is spreading like a contagious fire that the mercenary militaries obedient thus far to elites (who write their paychecks) are working to put out, fire by fire.



Add:  War in multiple African nations. War all over the Middle East. War in Ukraine. War on China, Myanamar border. The common point is our MIC is in the middle of all of them overtly and covertly. Our biggest export is arms. And mayhem.



That is an excellent complement to the article, thank you, Siouxrose.

Cassidy is an economist. Often better than most, yet, as almost every economist, devoid of any comprehension of authrity. Who is not devoid of any understanding of authority? The US political and economic bosses violate their nominal authority routinely, and their official authority as if it were expected of them. Cassidy is not an independent economist. He answers, as does the New Yorker staff, to Conde Nast, another viciously war-against-nature vulture capital enterprise. Like Halliburton. So Cassidy said all the right things for his bosses. Sounds as if he has given up on maintaining any respect as an economics reporter.


The new Greek government and the Greek population would do well to read about how Ecuador and their president Raphael Corréa challenged their illegitimate depts that foreign banks and investors have burdened their country and population with.

Max Keiser fills us in even more on what this deal portends:

JPMorgan, Still On 2-Year Probation, Under Scrutiny in Gold Fixing Probe

What Dodd-Frank Didn’t Fix:  The Worst Conflicts on Wall Street

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 25, 2015

Mary Jo White, Testifying at Her Confirmation Hearing for SEC Chair on March 12, 2013; Her Husband, John W. White, Partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Sits to Her Left

Mary Jo White, Testifying at Her Confirmation Hearing for SEC Chair on March 12, 2013; Her Husband, John W. White, Partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Sits to Her Left

Two major stories have broken this week showing how little has actually changed under the much heralded financial reform legislation known as Dodd-Frank. That legislation was enacted in 2010 with the promise of ending the unchecked corruption, conflicts of interest and casino capitalism that crashed the U.S. financial system in 2008, leading to the largest taxpayer bailout in the nation’s history.

Yesterday, in a front page article, the "New York Times" used data to back up the withering conflicts of interests of SEC Chair Mary Jo White – the same conflicts that Wall Street On Parade reported two years ago. (See related articles below.)

The "Times" reported that because Mary Jo White had worked for a major Wall Street powerhouse law firm immediately preceding her term at the SEC, representing major Wall Street firms like JPMorgan Chase, she had recused herself at least 48 times on cases involving either her former law firm or clients she directly represented.

Then comes the less than credible part of the "Times" story. The reporters write:  “But in a surprising twist, Ms. White will have to keep sitting out cases that involve her husband’s firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore. So far, she has had to recuse herself from at least 10 investigations into clients of Cravath, interviews and records show, including some that came before Ms. White joined the agency and at least four that involved Mr. White himself.”

“Surprising twist”? This is what Wall Street On Parade reported in 2013:

“The conflicts of White, a law partner at one of Wall Street’s favorite go-to firms, Debevoise & Plimpton, and those of her husband, John White, also a partner at a Wall Street law firm, are legion. Between White and her husband, they represent every too-big-to-fail firm on Wall Street. (Under ethics laws for members of the Executive branch, the conflicts of interest of White’s spouse become her conflicts of interest. And he will remain in his job.)…

“Even if Mary Jo White is retiring from representing Wall Street clients, what happens when she sits down for dinner with her husband, John White, who continues to represent Wall Street clients. Does she say: ‘Oh by the way, honey, I’m sorry I had to prosecute your best client today; the one that provides a big part of your billable hours.’ How does John White explain to his colleagues at his law firm that his wife is prosecuting their biggest revenue clients. Why would Mary Jo White, who earns a huge salary at her law firm, want to be put in that position in order to head the SEC?”

This morning, "Bloomberg News" is running a headline that reads: “Lure of Wall Street Cash Said to Skew Credit Ratings.” Again, the less than credible part of this headline is “Said to.” The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission intensely investigated the role of the credit rating agencies in the 2008 financial collapse and reported as follows:

“We conclude the failures of credit rating agencies were essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction. The three credit rating agencies were key enablers of the financial meltdown. The mortgage-related securities at the heart of the crisis could not have been marketed and sold without their seal of approval. Investors relied on them, often blindly. In some cases, they were obligated to use them, or regulatory capital standards were hinged on them. This crisis could not have happened without the rating agencies. Their ratings helped the market soar and their down-grades through 2007 and 2008 wreaked havoc across markets and firms.

“In our report, you will read about the breakdowns at Moody’s, examined by the Commission as a case study. From 2000 to 2007, Moody’s rated nearly 45,000 mortgage-related securities as triple-A. This compares with six private-sector companies in the United States that carried this coveted rating in early 2010.

In 2006 alone, Moody’s put its triple-A stamp of approval on 30 mortgage-related securities every working day. The results were disastrous: 83% of the mortgage securities rated triple-A that year ultimately were downgraded. You will also read about the forces at work behind the breakdowns at Moody’s, including the flawed computer models, the pressure from financial firms that paid for the ratings, the relentless drive for market share, the lack of resources to do the job despite record profits, and the absence of meaningful public oversight. And you will see that without the active participation of the rating agencies, the market for mortgage-related securities could not have been what it became.”

It becomes clearer everyday that the only thing that is going to bring material reform to Wall Street is, tragically, another crash in the U.S. financial system and devastating economic losses to the hardworking families who believe that Congress actually reformed the system in 2010 with Dodd-Frank.

The Whites Go to the SEC:  Why Wall Street Still Owns Washington 
The Extremely Strange History of SEC Nominee, Mary Jo White

Whoops! I better finish up quickly or you'll miss the "Victoria's Secret Swim Special!"

Because that's who we are here in the victorious west.

What ISIS Really Wants?

Yeah, that's it.

Bet on it.