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Casino Capitalism: Neoliberalism in Western countries

"When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done"

John Maynard Keynes

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Financialization is a process whereby financial markets, financial institutions, and financial elites gain greater influence over economic policy and economic outcomes. Financialization transforms the functioning of economic systems at both the macro and micro levels.

Its principal impacts are to (1) elevate the significance of the financial sector relative to the real sector, (2) transfer income from the real sector to the financial sector, and (3) increase income inequality and contribute to wage stagnation. Additionally, there are reasons to believe that financialization may put the economy at risk of debt deflation and prolonged recession.

Financialization operates through three different conduits: changes in the structure and operation of financial markets, changes in the behavior of nonfinancial corporations, and changes in economic policy.

Countering financialization calls for a multifaceted agenda that (1) restores policy control over financial markets, (2) challenges the neoliberal economic policy paradigm encouraged by financialization, (3) makes corporations responsive to interests of stakeholders other than just financial markets, and (4) reforms the political process so as to diminish the influence of corporations and wealthy elites.

Thomas Palley, See http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_525.pdf

Speculation and gambling were always a part of Wall Street but since the 1930’s they were just a side-show, now they are the show.

Comment to Matt Taibbi article Fannie, Freddie, and the New Red and Blue t


Introduction

“The sense of responsibility in the financial community
for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil.”

-- John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929

The term Casino Capitalism as a specific phase of neoliberal transformation of capitalism. Politically it was slow motion corporate coup d'état, which started in 70th and is now accomplished in the USA and other Western countries which buries social-democratic (New Deal style) model of capitalism.  It hypertrophied police functions of state (in the form of national-security state)  while completely avoiding economic sphere in ways other then enforcement of laws (with a notable exclusion from this top 1% -- Masters of the Universe). In this sense it is the opposite of communism (i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) and presupposed a deregulated economy (in a sense of the "law of jungle" as a business environment) , but with extremely strong militarized state, suppressing all the attempts to challenge the new "nomenklatura" (much like was the case in the USSR).  It is also called economic liberalism or neoliberalism

“Liberalism” can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Right wing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate “liberals” — meaning the political type — have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.

In other words this is a variant of neoliberal model of corporatism used in wealthy Western countries during the period of "cheap hydrocarbons".  The period that is probably near the end and which by some estimate can last only another 50 years or so.  The major crisis of casino capitalism in 2008 was connected both with financial excesses (caused by moving to semi-criminal ways of extracting return on capital, typical for casino capitalism),  but also with the rise of the price of oil and decrease of  Energy returned on energy invested (EROEI)In this sense the current low oil price period that started in late 2014 can be viewed as the "last hurrah" of the casino capitalism.

In understanding neoliberal transformation of the society since early 80th it is important to understanding of the key role of financialization in this process. When major services are privatized (education, healthcare, pension plans) financial institution insert themselves as intermediaries in this arrangement and make it the main source of their profits.  Also contrary to neoliberal propaganda this process is aided and abetted by state. State is used by neoliberalism as a tool of enforcing market relations even where they are not useless or even harmful (education). All this talk about irresolvable controversy between market and state is for gullible fools. In reality, being Trotskyism for rich, neoliberalism uses power of the state to enforce market relations  by force on reluctant population even in areas where this can do no good. That make really it close to Soviet Communism. As Marx noted "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

A very good discussion of the role of Financialisation in entrenchment of neoliberalism in modern societies can be found in the book by Costas Lapavitsas. Some highlights are provided inhis Guardian article Finance's hold on our everyday life must be broken

This extraordinary public largesse towards private banks was matched by austerity and wage reductions for workers and households. As for restructuring finance, nothing fundamental has taken place. The behemoths that continue to dominate the global financial system operate in the knowledge that they enjoy an unspoken public guarantee. The unpalatable reality is that financialisation will persist, despite its costs for society.

Financialisation represents a historic and deep-seated transformation of mature capitalism. Big businesses have become "financialised" as they have ample profits to finance investment, rely less on banks for loans and play financial games with available funds. Big banks, in turn, have become more distant from big businesses, turning to profits from trading in open financial markets and from lending to households. Households have become "financialised" too, as public provision in housing, education, health, pensions and other vital areas has been partly replaced by private provision, access to which is mediated by the financial system. Not surprisingly, households have accumulated a tremendous volume of financial assets and liabilities over the past four decades.

The penetration of finance into the everyday life of households has not only created a range of dependencies on financial services, but also changed the outlook, mentality and even morality of daily life. Financial calculation evaluates everything in pennies and pounds, transforming the most basic goods – above all, housing – into "investments". Its logic has affected even the young, who have traditionally been idealistic and scornful of pecuniary calculation. Fertile ground has been created for neoliberal ideology to preach the putative merits of the market.

Financialisation has also created new forms of profit associated with financial markets and transactions. Financial profit can be made out of any income, or any sum of money that comes into contact with the financial sphere. Households, for example, generate profits for finance as debtors (mostly by paying interest on mortgages) but also as creditors (mostly by paying fees and charges on pension funds and insurance). Finance is not particular about how and where it makes its profits, and certainly does not limit itself to the sphere of production. It ranges far and wide, transforming every aspect of social life into a profit-making opportunity.

The traditional image of the person earning financial profits is the "rentier", the individual who invests funds in secure financial assets. In the contemporary financialised universe, however, those who earn vast returns are very different. They are often located within a financial institution, presumably work to provide financial services, and receive vast sums in the form of wages, or more often bonuses. Modern financial elites are prominent at the top of the income distribution, set trends in conspicuous consumption, shape the expensive end of the housing market, and transform the core of urban centres according to their own tastes.

Financialised capitalism is, thus, a deeply unequal system, prone to bubbles and crises – none greater than that of 2007-09. What can be done about it? The most important point in this respect is that financialisation does not represent an advance for humanity, and very little of it ought to be preserved. Financial markets are, for instance, able to mobilise advanced technology employing some of the best-trained physicists in the world to rebalance prices across the globe in milliseconds. This "progress" allows financiers to earn vast profits; but where is the commensurate benefit to society from committing such expensive resources to these tasks?

The term "casino capitalism" was coined by Susan Strange who used it as a title of her book Casino Capitalism published in 1986. She was one of the first who realized that

  1. "The roots of the world's economic disorder are monetary and financial";
  2. "The disorder has not come about by accident, but has in fact been nurtured and encouraged by a series of government decisions." (p. 60). In other words its was a counter-revolution of the part of ruling elite which lost its influence in 30th (dismantling New Deal from above in the USA (Reaganomics) or Thatcherism in the GB).

According to Susan Strange transformation of industrial capitalism into neoliberal capitalism ("casino capitalism") involved five trends. All of them increased the systemic instability of the system and the level of political corruption:

  1. Innovations in the way in which financial markets work due to introduction of computers;
  2. The sheer size of markets; (with the introduction of 401K the size of stock market multiplied, etc)
  3. Commercial banks turned into investment banks;
  4. The emergence of Asian nations as large players;
  5. The shift to self-regulation by banks (pp.9-10).

Now it is pretty much established fact that the conversion from "industrial capitalism" to neoliberal, completely financialialized "casino capitalism" is the natural logic of development of capitalism. In early and incomplete matter this trend was noticed at early 1990th by many thinkers. This is just the second iteration of the same trend which was interrupted by the Great Depression and subsequent WWII. So, in a way, replacement of industrial capitalism with financial capitalism in a natural tendency within the capitalism itself and corruption was contributing, but not decisive factor.  The same is true about globalization, especially about globalization of financial flows, typical for casino capitalism.

Also this conversion did not happen due to lack of oversight or as a folly. It was a couscous choice made by the US and GB elite, both of which faced deterioration of rates of return on capital. Also unlike "industrial capitalism" which was more-or-less stable system, able to outcompete the neo-theocratic system of the USSR, the financial capitalism is unstable in the same sense as radioactive elements are unstable.  And this instability tend to increase with time. So there is probably natural half-life period for neoliberalism as a social system. It might be already reached in 2008.  In we assume that global victory of neoliberalism happened in 1990. It is just 18 years.  If we think that it happened in late 60th, then it is closer to 50 years.

The global crisis of neoliberal capitalism which started from bursting the USA subprime housing bubble in 2008 undermined ideological legitimacy of its central claim that "free markets" lead to faster and more uniform economic development of all countries. While the peak of its "ideological" power might be over (much like the peak of attractiveness of "command socialism" was over after WWII), it will exist in a zombie state for a long time due to economic and military power of the USA and G7.  And as we know from Hollywood films, zombies can be especially bloodthirsty. It probably will remain the dominant force for at least the next two decades pursuing the same policy of "forceful" opening of energy rich  and resource countries for western multinationals intact using color revolutions and local wars.  But as Napoleon quipped "You can do anything with bayonets, you just can't sit on them".

Conversion to neoliberal capitalism was a reaction on stagnation of industrial production and as such it was nurtured and encouraged by a series of government decisions for the last 50 years. Stagnation of industrial production made expansion of financial sector of paramount importance for the ruling elite and by extension for Congress which represents this elite. House vote 377:4 for Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 is pretty telling in this respect.

There were also at least two important parallel developments.

Most respectable authors like Henry Giroux in his article in Counterpunch generally consider the term "casino capitalism" to be an equivalent to the term Neoliberalism. Here is a relevant quote from Henry Giroux's Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism :

There is more at work here than simply a ramped up version of social Darwinism with its savagely cruel ethic of “reward the rich, penalize the poor, [and] let everyone fend for themselves,” [ii] there is also a full scale attack on the social contract, the welfare state, economic equality, and any viable vestige of moral and social responsibility. The Romney-Ryan appropriation of Ayn Rand’s ode to selfishness and self-interest is of particular importance because it offers a glimpse of a ruthless form of extreme capitalism in which the poor are considered “moochers,” viewed with contempt, and singled out to be punished. But this theocratic economic fundamentalist ideology does more. It destroys any viable notion of the and civic virtue in which the social contract and common good provide the basis for creating meaningful social bonds and instilling in citizens a sense of social and civic responsibility. The idea of public service is viewed with disdain just as the work of individuals, social groups, and institutions that benefit the citizenry at large are held in contempt.

As George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith point out, casino capitalism creates a culture of cruelty: “its horrific effects on individuals-death, illness, suffering, greater poverty, and loss of opportunity, productive lives, and money.”[iii]

But it does more by crushing any viable notion of the common good and public life by destroying “the bonds that hold us together.”[iv] Under casino capitalism, the spaces, institutions, and values that constitute the public are now surrendered to powerful financial forces and viewed simply as another market to be commodified, privatized and surrendered to the demands of capital. With religious and market-driven zealots in charge, politics becomes an extension of war; greed and self-interest trump any concern for the well-being of others; reason is trumped by emotions rooted in absolutist certainty and militaristic aggression; and skepticism and dissent are viewed as the work of Satan.

If the Republican candidacy race of 2012 is any indication, then political discourse in the United States has not only moved to the right—it has been introducing totalitarian values and ideals into the mainstream of public life. Religious fanaticism, consumer culture, and the warfare state work in tandem with neoliberal economic forces to encourage privatization, corporate tax breaks, growing income and wealth inequality, and the further merging of the financial and military spheres in ways that diminish the authority and power of democratic governance.[v] Neoliberal interests in freeing markets from social constraints, fueling competitiveness, destroying education systems, producing atomized subjects, and loosening individuals from any sense of social responsibility prepare the populace for a slow embrace of social Darwinism, state terrorism, and the mentality of war — not least of all by destroying communal bonds, dehumanizing the other, and pitting individuals against the communities they inhabit.

Totalitarian temptations now saturate the media and larger culture in the language of austerity as political and economic orthodoxy. What we are witnessing in the United States is the normalization of a politics that exterminates not only the welfare state, and the truth, but all those others who bear the sins of the Enlightenment — that is, those who refuse a life free from doubt. Reason and freedom have become enemies not merely to be mocked, but to be destroyed. And this is a war whose totalitarian tendencies are evident in the assault on science, immigrants, women, the elderly, the poor, people of color, and youth.

What too often goes unsaid, particularly with the media’s focus on inflammatory rhetoric, is that those who dominate politics and policymaking, whether Democrats or Republicans, do so largely because of their disproportionate control of the nation’s income and wealth. Increasingly, it appears these political elite choose to act in ways that sustain their dominance through the systemic reproduction of an iniquitous social order. In other words, big money and corporate power rule while electoral politics are rigged. The secrecy of the voting booth becomes the ultimate expression of democracy, reducing politics to an individualized purchase—a crude form of economic action. Any form of politics willing to invest in such ritualistic pageantry only adds to the current dysfunctional nature of our social order, while reinforcing a profound failure of political imagination. The issue should no longer be how to work within the current electoral system, but how to dismantle it and construct a new political landscape that is capable of making a claim on equity, justice, and democracy for all of its inhabitants. Obama’s once inspiring call for hope has degenerated into a flight from responsibility.

The Obama administration has worked to extend the policies of the George W. Bush administration by legitimating a range of foreign and domestic policies that have shredded civil liberties, expanded the permanent warfare state, and increased the domestic reach of the punitive surveillance state. And if Romney and his ideological cohorts, now viewed as the most extremists faction of the Republican Party, come to power, surely the existing totalitarian and anti-democratic tendencies at work in the United States will be dangerously intensified.

History

Alternatively, we could have spent more time studying the work of Hyman Minsky. We could also have considered the possibility that, just as Keynes’s ideas were tested to destruction in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Milton Friedman’s ideas might suffer a similar fate in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. All gods fail, if one believes too much. Keynes said, of course, that "practical men … are usually the slaves of some defunct economist". So, of course, are economists, even if the defunct economists are sometimes still alive.

Martin Wolf

 


 

 

Casino capitalism  is a nickname for nailibelism. Probably more properly nickname would be  financial corporatism. While the key idea of corporatism: that political actors are not individual people, but some associations and first of all corporations (which are officially considered to be "persons" and have rights as well as trade unions and some other associations) remains intact, financial corporatism is different from classic corporatism in several major ways:

Historically corporatism in various modifications became dominant social system after WWII and defeated "command socialism" as was implemented in the USSR. Here is an instructive review of corporatism history (The Economic System of Corporatism):

In the last half of the 19th century people of the working class in Europe were beginning to show interest in the ideas of socialism and syndicalism. Some members of the intelligentsia, particularly the Catholic intelligentsia, decided to formulate an alternative to socialism which would emphasize social justice without the radical solution of the abolition of private property. The result was called Corporatism. The name had nothing to do with the notion of a business corporation except that both words are derived from the Latin word for body, corpus.

The basic idea of corporatism is that the society and economy of a country should be organized into major interest groups (sometimes called corporations) and representatives of those interest groups settle any problems through negotiation and joint agreement. In contrast to a market economy which operates through competition a corporate economic works through collective bargaining. The American president Lyndon Johnson had a favorite phrase that reflected the spirit of corporatism. He would gather the parties to some dispute and say, "Let us reason together."

Under corporatism the labor force and management in an industry belong to an industrial organization. The representatives of labor and management settle wage issues through collective negotiation. While this was the theory in practice the corporatist states were largely ruled according to the dictates of the supreme leader.

One early and important theorist of corporatism was Adam Müller, an advisor to Prince Metternich in what is now eastern Germany and Austria. Müller propounded his views as an antidote to the twin dangers of the egalitarianism of the French Revolution and the laissez faire economics of Adam Smith. In Germany and elsewhere there was a distinct aversion among rulers to allow markets to function without direction or control by the state. The general culture heritage of Europe from the medieval era was opposed to individual self-interest and the free operation of markets. Markets and private property were acceptable only as long as social regulation took precedence over such sinful motivations as greed.

Coupled with the anti-market sentiments of the medieval culture there was the notion that the rulers of the state had a vital role in promoting social justice. Thus corporatism was formulated as a system that emphasized the positive role of the state in guaranteeing social justice and suppressing the moral and social chaos of the population pursuing their own individual self-interests. And above all else, as a political economic philosophy corporatism was flexible. It could tolerate private enterprise within limits and justify major projects of the state. Corporatism has sometimes been labeled as a Third Way or a mixed economy, a synthesis of capitalism and socialism, but it is in fact a separate, distinctive political economic system.

Although rulers have probably operated according to the principles of corporatism from time immemorial it was only in the early twentieth century that regimes began to identify themselves as corporatist. The table below gives some of those explicitly corporatist regimes.

Corporatist Regimes of the Early Twentieth Century
System Name Country Period Leader
National Corporatism Italy 1922-1945 Benito Mussolini
Country, Religion, Monarchy Spain 1923-1930 Miguel Primo de Rivera
National Socialism Germany 1933-1945 Adolph Hitler
National Syndicalism Spain 1936-1973 Francisco Franco
New State Portugal 1932-1968 Antonio Salazar
New State Brazil 1933-1945 Getulio Vargas
New Deal United States 1933-1945 Franklin Roosevelt
Third Hellenic Civilization Greece 1936-1941 Ioannis Metaxas
Justice Party Argentina 1943-1955 Juan Peron

In the above table several of the regimes were brutal, totalitarian dictatorships, usually labeled fascist, but not all the regimes that had a corporatist foundation were fascist. In particular, the Roosevelt New Deal despite its many faults could not be described as fascist. But definitely the New Deal was corporatist. The architect for the initial New Deal program was General Hugh Johnson. Johnson had been the administrator of the military mobilization program for the U.S. under Woodrow Wilson during World War I. It was felt that he did a good job of managing the economy during that period and that is why he was given major responsibility for formulating an economic program to deal with the severe problems of the Depression. But between the end of World War I and 1933 Hugh Johnson had become an admirer of Mussolini's National Corporatist system in Italy and he drew upon the Italian experience in formulating the New Deal.

It should be noted that many elements of the early New Deal were later declared unconstitutional and abandoned, but some elements such as the National Labor Relations Act which promoted unionization of the American labor force are still in effect. One part of the New Deal was the development of the Tennessee River Valley under the public corporation called the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Some of the New Dealer saw TVA as more than a public power enterprise. They hoped to make TVA a model for the creation of regional political units which would replace state governments. Their goal was not realized. The model for TVA was the river development schemes carried out in Spain in the 1920's under the government of Miguel Primo de Rivera. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the son of Miguel Primo de Rivera, was the founder of Franco's National Syndicalism.

Corporatist regime typically promote large governmental projects such as TVA on the basis that they are too large to be funded by private enterprise. In Brazil the Vargas regime created many public enterprises such as in iron and steel production which it felt were needed but private enterprise declined to create. It also created an organized labor movement that came to control those public enterprises and turned them into overstaffed, inefficient drains on the public budget.

Although the above locates the origin of corporatism in 19th century France it roots can be traced much further back in time. Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her book, The Cruel Dilemmas of Development: Twentieth Century Brazil, says,

Corporatism is based on a body of ideas that can be traced through Aristotle, Roman law, medieval social and legal structures, and into contemporary Catholic social philosophy. These ideas are based on the premise that man's nature can only be fulfilled within a political community.
..........
The central core of the corporatist vision is thus not the individual but the political community whose perfection allows the individual members to fulfill themselves and find happiness.
...............
The state in the corporatist tradition is thus clearly interventionist and powerful.

Corporatism is collectivist; it is a different version of collectivism than socialism but it is definitely collectivist. It places some importance on the fact that private property is not nationalized, but the control through regulation is just as real. It is de facto nationalization without being de jure nationalization.

Although Corporatism is not a familiar concept to the general public, most of the economies of the world are corporatist in nature. The categories of socialist and pure market economy are virtually empty. There are only corporatist economies of various flavors.

These flavors of corporatism include the social democratic regimes of Europe and the Americas, but also the East Asian and Islamic fundamentalist regimes such as Taiwan, Singapore and Iran. The Islamic socialist states such as Syria, Libya and Algeria are more corporatist than socialist, as was Iraq under Saddam Hussain. The formerly communist regimes such as Russia and China are now clearly corporatist in economic philosophy although not in name.

The concept of Quite Coup

Sine ira et studio

Tacitus, see Wikipedia

The term "Quiet coup" which means the hijacking of the political power in the USA by financial oligarchy was introduced by Simon H. Johnson, a British-American economist, who currently is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, he was Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund. The term was introduced in his article in Atlantic magazine, published in May 2009(The Quiet Coup - Simon Johnson - The Atlantic). Which opens with a revealing paragraph:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government

The wealth of financial sector gave it unprecedented opportunities of simply buying the political power iether directly or indirectly (via revolving door mechanism):

Becoming a Banana Republic

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again). In each of those cases, global investors, afraid that the country or its financial sector wouldn’t be able to pay off mountainous debt, suddenly stopped lending. And in each case, that fear became self-fulfilling, as banks that couldn’t roll over their debt did, in fact, become unable to pay. This is precisely what drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy on September 15, causing all sources of funding to the U.S. financial sector to dry up overnight. Just as in emerging-market crises, the weakness in the banking system has quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy, causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people.

But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better—in a “buck stops somewhere else” sort of way—on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for “safety and soundness” were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies — lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership—had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector’s profits — such as Brooksley Born’s now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998—were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Several other factors helped fuel the financial industry’s ascent. Paul Volcker’s monetary policy in the 1980s, and the increased volatility in interest rates that accompanied it, made bond trading much more lucrative. The invention of securitization, interest-rate swaps, and credit-default swaps greatly increased the volume of transactions that bankers could make money on. And an aging and increasingly wealthy population invested more and more money in securities, helped by the invention of the IRA and the 401(k) plan. Together, these developments vastly increased the profit opportunities in financial services.

Not surprisingly, Wall Street ran with these opportunities. From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986, that figure reached 19 percent. In the 1990s, it oscillated between 21 percent and 30 percent, higher than it had ever been in the postwar period. This decade, it reached 41 percent. Pay rose just as dramatically. From 1948 to 1982, average compensation in the financial sector ranged between 99 percent and 108 percent of the average for all domestic private industries. From 1983, it shot upward, reaching 181 percent in 2007.

The great wealth that the financial sector created and concentrated gave bankers enormous political weight — a weight not seen in the U.S. since the era of J.P. Morgan (the man). In that period, the banking panic of 1907 could be stopped only by coordination among private-sector bankers: no government entity was able to offer an effective response. But that first age of banking oligarchs came to an end with the passage of significant banking regulation in response to the Great Depression; the reemergence of an American financial oligarchy is quite recent.

He further researched this theme in his book 2010 book 13 Bankers The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown  (ISBN 978-0307379054), coauthored with James Kwak. They also founded and regularly contributes to the economics blog The Baseline Scenario. See also History of Casino Capitalism

The net effect of the ideological counter-revolution based on market fundamentalism ideology was that it restored the power of financial oligarchy typical for Gilded Age. As Simon Johnson argues that was partially done by subverting regulators and that oversize institutions always disproportionately influence public policy:

The second problem the U.S. faces—the power of the oligarchy—is just as important as the immediate crisis of lending. And the advice from the IMF on this front would again be simple: break the oligarchy.

Oversize institutions disproportionately influence public policy; the major banks we have today draw much of their power from being too big to fail. Nationalization and re-privatization would not change that; while the replacement of the bank executives who got us into this crisis would be just and sensible, ultimately, the swapping-out of one set of powerful managers for another would change only the names of the oligarchs.

Ideally, big banks should be sold in medium-size pieces, divided regionally or by type of business. Where this proves impractical—since we’ll want to sell the banks quickly—they could be sold whole, but with the requirement of being broken up within a short time. Banks that remain in private hands should also be subject to size limitations.

This may seem like a crude and arbitrary step, but it is the best way to limit the power of individual institutions in a sector that is essential to the economy as a whole. Of course, some people will complain about the "efficiency costs" of a more fragmented banking system, and these costs are real. But so are the costs when a bank that is too big to fail—a financial weapon of mass self-destruction—explodes. Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation. Laws put in place more than 100years ago to combat industrial monopolies were not designed to address the problem we now face. The problem in the financial sector today is not that a given firm might have enough market share to influence prices; it is that one firm or a small set of interconnected firms, by failing, can bring down the economy. The Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus evokes FDR, but what we need to imitate here is Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting.

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. Wall Street’s main attraction—to the people who work there and to the government officials who were only too happy to bask in its reflected glory—has been the astounding amount of money that could be made. Limiting that money would reduce the allure of the financial sector and make it more like any other industry.

Still, outright pay caps are clumsy, especially in the long run. And most money is now made in largely unregulated private hedge funds and private-equity firms, so lowering pay would be complicated. Regulation and taxation should be part of the solution. Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine.

Two Paths

To paraphrase Joseph Schumpeter, the early-20th-century economist, everyone has elites; the important thing is to change them from time to time. If the U.S. were just another country, coming to the IMF with hat in hand, I might be fairly optimistic about its future. Most of the emerging-market crises that I’ve mentioned ended relatively quickly, and gave way, for the most part, to relatively strong recoveries. But this, alas, brings us to the limit of the analogy between the U.S. and emerging markets.

Emerging-market countries have only a precarious hold on wealth, and are weaklings globally. When they get into trouble, they quite literally run out of money—or at least out of foreign currency, without which they cannot survive. They must make difficult decisions; ultimately, aggressive action is baked into the cake. But the U.S., of course, is the world’s most powerful nation, rich beyond measure, and blessed with the exorbitant privilege of paying its foreign debts in its own currency, which it can print. As a result, it could very well stumble along for years—as Japan did during its lost decade—never summoning the courage to do what it needs to do, and never really recovering. A clean break with the past—involving the takeover and cleanup of major banks—hardly looks like a sure thing right now. Certainly no one at the IMF can force it.

In my view, the U.S. faces two plausible scenarios. The first involves complicated bank-by-bank deals and a continual drumbeat of (repeated) bailouts, like the ones we saw in February with Citigroup and AIG. The administration will try to muddle through, and confusion will reign.

Boris Fyodorov, the late finance minister of Russia, struggled for much of the past 20 years against oligarchs, corruption, and abuse of authority in all its forms. He liked to say that confusion and chaos were very much in the interests of the powerful—letting them take things, legally and illegally, with impunity. When inflation is high, who can say what a piece of property is really worth? When the credit system is supported by byzantine government arrangements and backroom deals, how do you know that you aren’t being fleeced?

Our future could be one in which continued tumult feeds the looting of the financial system, and we talk more and more about exactly how our oligarchs became bandits and how the economy just can’t seem to get into gear.

The second scenario begins more bleakly, and might end that way too. But it does provide at least some hope that we’ll be shaken out of our torpor. It goes like this: the global economy continues to deteriorate, the banking system in east-central Europe collapses, and—because eastern Europe’s banks are mostly owned by western European banks—justifiable fears of government insolvency spread throughout the Continent. Creditors take further hits and confidence falls further. The Asian economies that export manufactured goods are devastated, and the commodity producers in Latin America and Africa are not much better off. A dramatic worsening of the global environment forces the U.S. economy, already staggering, down onto both knees. The baseline growth rates used in the administration’s current budget are increasingly seen as unrealistic, and the rosy "stress scenario" that the U.S. Treasury is currently using to evaluate banks’ balance sheets becomes a source of great embarrassment.

Under this kind of pressure, and faced with the prospect of a national and global collapse, minds may become more concentrated.

The conventional wisdom among the elite is still that the current slump "cannot be as bad as the Great Depression." This view is wrong. What we face now could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression—because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big. We face a synchronized downturn in almost all countries, a weakening of confidence among individuals and firms, and major problems for government finances. If our leadership wakes up to the potential consequences, we may yet see dramatic action on the banking system and a breaking of the old elite. Let us hope it is not then too late.

It is pretty interesting to see how financial oligarchy filters information provided to the population to fit their biases. For example, the key facts about repeal of Glass-Steagall law  (BTW Joe Biden voted for it) mostly hidden from the public: 

Commodity Futures Trading Commission — under the leadership of Mr. Gramm’s wife, Wendy — had approved rules in 1989 and 1993 exempting some swaps and derivatives from regulation. In December 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was passed as part of a larger bill by unanimous consent after Senator Gramm dominated the Senate debate...

"He was the architect, advocate and the most knowledgeable person in Congress on these topics," Mr. Donovan said. "To me, Phil Gramm is the single most important reason for the current financial crisis."

"The virtually unregulated over-the-counter market in credit-default swaps has played a significant role in the credit crisis, including the now $167 billion taxpayer rescue of A.I.G.," Christopher Cox, the chairman of the S.E.C. and a former congressman, said Friday.

But you will never find discussion of flaws and adverse consequences Phil Gram (or Greenspan for a change) initiatives in Heritage Foundation and other right-wing think tanks publications.

Stages of transformation

So what we are experiencing is a the completion of the transformation of one phase of capitalism to another. It happened in stages:

  1. Manufacturing stagnated and can't provide the "decent" rate of growth. Competition from re-built Europe and Asian markets severely stressed the US manufacturing. due to competition return of capital dropped and in several industries became negative.

  2. Computers brought innovations into financial markets. They make possible real time trading of induces like S&P500, complex financial instruments like derivatives, etc. Later they enables superfast trading (HFT). All those instruments dramatically increased the possibilities of extracting the rent by financial institutions from the society.

  3. Globalization kicked in due to new opportunities offered by high speed global communications (Internet). And that is not limited to outsourcing. Due to globalization the sheer size of the financial markets increased to the extent that they started to represent a different, new transnational phenomena allowing new types of redistribution of wealth to be practiced. Integration of Russian elite (oligarchs) is just one example of this process. In case of pro-western oligarchs (fifth column) West went to significant length to protect them and their racket (Mikhail Khodorkovsky - Wikipedia,)

  4. Commercial banks turned into investment banks to exploit this opportunity.

  5. Financial sector completely corrupted academic science converting most economists to pay prostitutes which serve their interests.

  6. Collapse of the USSR provided the financial sector major shoot in the arm and a golden, once in century opportunity to finance new half-billion consumers and stole for a penny on a dollar huge industrial assets and natural resources as well as put most of those countries in the debt (Latin-Americanization of xUSSR space). Harvard Mafia (with some support from London) did the bidding of western banks in xUSSR space. As more becomes known about the laundering of Russian money in Western banks, many in the United States will likely try to hide behind stories of faraway organized crime. But U.S. policy toward Russia has contributed to that country's sorry conditions--with the Harvard Institute for International Development's Russia project (HIID) playing a major role (Harvard's 'Best and Brightest' Aided Russia's Economic Ruin ). Professor Jeffery Sacks provided a bogus idea of "shock therapy" to achieve spectacular for Western banks result. As a result all xUSSR space became new Latin America with typical for Latin America problems like huge level of inequality, prostitution, child poverty, and prominent role of organized crime.

  7. Banks became dominant political force on western societies with no real counterbalance from other parts of the elite. The first president completely subservient to banking elite was elected in the USA in 1992. Bill Clinton regime lasted eight years and along with economic rape of xUSSR space in best colonial powers tradition, it removed what was left of financial regulations after the flurry of deregulation of the early 1980s. And they behaved as an occupying force not only in xUSSR space but in the USA as well. They deprived workers out of their jobs, they abolished the US pension system as it impede playing with population money and replaced in with widely inadequate 401K plans. They deprived municipalities out of their revenues and assets, while municipalities became just a den of bond traders looking for then next mark which give them the ability to put municipalities deeper in debt.

  8. Newly acquired political power of financial elite speeded the shift to bank "self-regulation" created huge shadow banking system which dwarf "official" under the smoke screen of "free-market" propaganda and PR from a coterie of corrupts academics (Chicago Scholl, Harvard Mafia, etc) . It engaged in pursuit of short term profits and self-enrichment of top brass which became new elite by-and-large displacing not only the old one, but also the newly minted IT elite of dot-com boom. Using newly acquired power financial elite remove all regulations that hamper their interests. Glass-Steagall was repealed at the last days of Clinton presidency, financial derivatives became unregulated.

  9. Deindustrialization kicked in. As financial speculation proved to be much more profitable to other activities deindustrialization kicked in the USA as the financial center of the world. Outsourcing which first was limited to manufacturing jobs now extent its reach on IT and decimate previously profitable sector and its export potential.

  10. Externalities can no longer be suppressed and economics became unstable. Growth of inequality, job insecurity, as well as frequency of financial crises were natural consequences of financialization of the economy. They create huge imbalances, like bubble in residential real estate which was blown with the help and full support of the USA government as a way to overcome dot-com crisis consequences.

  11. Debt crisis strikes. Growth of debt became unsustainable and produces the financial crisis of enormous proportions. By their reckless policies and greed financial sector caused huge financial crisis of 2008 and now they are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in fire sales at prices rigged by twenty-something largest banks, the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.

  12. Devastating "local" wars became "new normal". Due to financial crisis, the overconsumption in western economies came under threat. Debt expansion which led to overconsumption within the western economies affected (or infected) by financialization. To sustain the current standard of living financial expansion became the necessity. It took the form of a competition for spheres of influence in the area of energy supplies, which we see in post USSR space, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. And central banks play critical role in financing wars. After all Banks of England was created with this exact purpose.

I think by 2008 when the second major financial crisis hit the USA, the transformation on the USA economy into casino capitalism, which is essentially implementation of neoliberal doctrine (or more correctly the US brand of corporatism) was by-and-large complete.

In short we are living in a new politico-economic system in which financial capital won victory over both labor and industrial capital. We might not like what we got, but financial elite is now a new ruling class and this fact is difficult to dispute. As a result. instead of the robber barons of the early 20th century (some of whom actually created/consolidated new industries), we have the top executives from investment banks, insurers and mortgage industry who represent a new Rentier class, much like old aristocracy.

They are living off parasitic monopolization of access to any (physical, financial, intellectual, etc.) kind of property and gaining significant amount of profit without contribution to society (see Rentier capitalism which is a very fuzzy term for neoliberal model of capitalism).

Casino Capitalism as a result of stagnation of industrial manufacturing

Stagnation of industrial manufacturing droved up financial speculation as the method to compensate for falling rate on return on capital. This stagnation became prominent during Reagan administration (which started the major shift toward neoliberalism), although signs of it were present from early 60th.

For example Chicago which was a manufacturing center since 1969 lost approximately 400K manufacturing jobs which were replaced mainly by FIRE-related jobs, In 1995 over 22% of those employed by FIRE industries (66K people) were working in executive and managerial positions. Another 17% are in marketing, sales and processional specialty occupations (computer system analysts, PR specialists, writer and editors).

Those changes in the structure of employment had several consequences:

  1. The stagnation of the underlying economy meant that capitalists were increasingly dependent on the growth of finance to preserve and enlarge their money capital.
  2. The financial superstructure of the capitalist economy could not expand independently of its base -- underlying productive economy — hence the bursting of speculative bubbles became a recurrent and growing problem.
  3. Financialization could never overcome stagnation of industrial production. It is just an opium for rich, not a structural adjustment of the stagnation-prone economy. But like addition to narcotics does to human body it does tremendous damage to real economy.
  4. Rapid increase in inequality is necessary to sustain the appetites of the elite in the system with fixed size of the pie. Politico-economic conditions might became even more unfavorable for labor. Stagnation of industrial production mean shrinking pie, which necessitates redistribution of wealth in favor of a new, all-powerful financial Rentier class. This redistribution resulted in partial wipe-out of large swats of middle class. For the past three decades, America has steadily converted itself into a nation of haves (as Bush II quipped "This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores! Some people call you the elite -- I call you my base". ) and have-nots. The cost of a college education rises rapidly at a time when wages for skilled labor stagnate, so access to college became against discriminated in favor of upper class of the society. Repressive apparatus and ideological brainwashing are too strong to mount effective resistance.

The key to understanding of Casino Capitalism is that it was a series of government decisions (or rather non-decisions) that converted the state into neoliberal model. In other words casino capitalism has distinct "Government property" mark. It was the USA elite, which refused to act responsibly in the face of changing economic conditions resulting from its own actions, and instead chose to try to perpetuate, by whatever means it had at its disposal, the institutional advantages of dollar as a reserve currency which it had vis-à-vis its main economic rivals and grab as large part of the world economic pie as it can. And this power grab was supported first of all by the role of dollar as currency in which oil is traded.

There might be some geo-strategically motives as well as the US elite in late 80th perceived that competitiveness is slipping out of the USA and the danger of deindustrialization is real. Many accuse Reagan with the desire to ride dollar status as a world reserve currency (exorbitant privilege) until the horse is dead. That's what real cowboys do in Hollywood movies... But the collapse of the main rival, the USSR vindicated this strategy and give a strong short in the arm to financialization of the economy. Actually for the next ten years can be called a triumphal ascend of financialization in the USA.

Dominance of FIRE industries clustered up and in recent years reached in the USA quite dramatic proportions. The old Bolsheviks saying "When we say Lenin we mean the Party and when we say the Party we mean Lenin" now can be reworded: "Now it we say US banks, we mean the US government and vise versa if we say US government we mean US banks".

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the FIRE sector was and is the biggest contributor to federal candidates in Washington. Companies cannot give directly, so they leave it to bundlers to solicit maximum contributions from employees and families. They might have been brought down to earth this year, but they’ve given like Gods: Goldman Sachs, $4.8 million; Citigroup, $3.7 million; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., $3.6 million; Merrill Lynch, $2.3 million; Lehman Brothers, $2.1 million; Bank of America, $2.1 million. Some think the long-term effect of such contributions to individual candidates was clear in the roll-call votes for the bailout.

Take the controversial first House vote on bailout of major banks on Sept. 29, 2008. According to CRP, the "ayes" had received 53 percent more contributions from FIRE since 1989 than those who voted against the bill, which ultimately failed 228 to 205. The 140 House Democrats who voted for the bill got an average of $188,572 in this election cycle, while the 65 Republicans backing it got an average of $185,461 from FIRE—about 23 percent more than the bill’s opponents received. A tinkered bill was passed four days later, 263 to 171.

According to the article Fire Sale (The American Conservative) half of Obama’s top ten contributors, together giving him nearly $2.2 million, are FIREmen. The $13 million contributed by FIRE executives to Obama campaign is probably an undercount. Democratic committee leaders are also dependent of FIRE contributions. The list includes Sen. Dodd ( please look at Senator Dodd's top donors for 2007-8 on openSecrets.org ) and Sen. Chuck Schumer ($12 million from FIRE since 1989), Rep. Barney Frank ($2.5 million), and Rep. Charlie Rangel ($4 million, the top recipient in the House). All of them have been accused of taking truckloads of contributions while failing to act on the looming mortgage crisis. Dodd finally pushed mortgage reform last year but by then as his hometown paper, The Hartford Courant stated, "the damage was done."

Casino Capitalism and Financial Instability

At the same time rise of financial capital dramatically increased instability. An oversized financial sector produces instability due to multiple positive feedback loops. In this sense we can talk about Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy. The whole society became "House of cards", "Giant Enron" and "extension of Las Vegas". Reckless management, greed and out-right stupidity in playing derivatives games was natural consequence of the oversized financial sector, not just a human folly. In a way it was dramatic manifestation of the oversized financial sector negative influence of the economy. And in 2008 it did brought out economy to the brink of destruction. Peak oil added to suffocating effect on the economy of reckless gambling (and related debts) of financial sector producing the economic calamity that rivals Great Depression. Also, like Socialism, Casino Capitalism demands too much of its elite. And in reality, the financial elite much like Bolsheviks elite, is having its own interests above the interests of the society.

As Kevin Phillips noted "In the United States, political correctness, religious fundamentalism, and other inhibitions sometimes dumb down national debate". And the same statement is true for financial elite that became the center of power under the Casino Capitalism. Due to avalanche of greed the society became one giant Enron as money that are made from value addition in the form of manufacturing fade in significance to the volume of the money that is made from shuffling money around. In other was the Wall Street's locked USA in the situation from which there is no easy exit.

Self-reinforcing ‘positive’ feedback loops prevalent in Casino Capitalism trigger an accelerating creation of various debt instruments, interest of which at some point overwhelm the system carrying capacity. Ability to lend against good collateral is quickly exhausted. At some point apparently there is no good collateral against which lending freely was possible, even at high rates. This means that each new stage of financial innovation involves scam and fraud, on increasing scale. In other words Ponzi economy of "saving and loans" is replaced with Madoff economy.

Whether you shift the resulting huge private debt to public to increase confidence or not, the net result is of this development of events is a crisis and a huge debt that society needs to take. Actually the debt bubble in 2008 can only be compared to the debt bubble of 1933. The liquidation of Bear Sterns and Lehman was only a start of consolidation of finances and we need to find something that replace financial sector dominance in the national economy. It would be nice is some technological breakthrough happened which would lift the country out of this deep hole.

See Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy for more details.

Neoliberalism as the Ideology of Casino Capitalism

Like Bolshevism was marked by deification of teaching of Marx and Lenin, converting them into pseudo-religious doctrine, the Casino Capitalism has its own deified ideological doctrine. It is the ideology of Neoliberalism. The latter as an ideology and an agenda seeks to topple democratic capitalism and replace it with a de facto unaccountable autocratic government which serves as channel of a wealth transfer from the public to a rentier elite. In a way it is a spectacular example of a successful (in a very negative sense) pseudo-religious doctrine.

Addiction of the societies to disastrous politico-economical doctrines are similar to addictions to alcohol and drugs in individuals. It is not easy to recover and it takes a long, long time and a lot of misery. As dissolution of the USSR aptly demonstrated not all societies can make it. In this case the USSR elite (nomenklatura) simply shed the old ideology as it understood that it will be better off adopting ideology of neoliberal capitalism; so it was revolution from above.  this abrupt switch created chaos in economics (which was applauded by Washington which under Clinton administration adopted the stance the Carnage needs to be destroyed and facilitated the process), criminal privatization of major industries, and pushed into object poverty the 99% of population of those countries. For some period under "drunk Yeltsyn" Russia sees to exist as an independent country and became a vassal of Washington.

This also means that "society at large" did not had effective brakes to the assent of financial plutocracy (aka financial oligarchy).  I would add to this the computer revolution and internet that made many financial transaction qualitatively different and often dramatically cheaper that in previous history. Computers also enabled creation of new financial players like mutual funds (which created a shadow banking system with their bond funds) , hedge funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), as well as high-frequency trading and derivatives.

From the historical view Reaganomics also can be considered to be the US flavor of Lysenkoism with economics instead of genetics as a target. Here is how Reaganomics is defined in Wikipedia

Reaganomics (a portmanteau of "Reagan" and "economics") refers to the economic policies promoted by United States President Ronald Reagan. The four pillars of Reagan's economic policy were to:[1]
  1. reduce the growth of government spending,
  2. reduce marginal tax rates on income from labor and capital,
  3. reduce government regulation of the economy,
  4. control the money supply to reduce inflation.

In attempting to cut back on domestic spending while lowering taxes, Reagan's approach was a departure from his immediate predecessors.

Reagan became president during a period of high inflation and unemployment (commonly referred to as stagflation), which had largely abated by the time he left office.

Please not that the Number 1 idea ("reduce government spending") was essentially a scam, a smoke screen designed to attract Rednecks as a powerful voting block. In a way this was a trick similar to one played by Bolsheviks in Russia with its "worker and peasants rule" smokescreen which covered brutal dictatorship. In reality all administrations which preached Reagonomics (including Clinton's) expanded the role of state and government spending. The number two was applied by-and-large to top 1%. The number three means deregulation in the interests of financial oligarchy and dismantling all social program that hamper profit of the latter (including privatizing of Social Security). The number fours is a scam, in the same sense as number one. As soon as financial institutions get in trouble, money are printed as if there is no tomorrow.

While the essence of Reagonomics was financial deregulation, the other important element was restoring the Gilded Age level of power of financial oligarchy which influence was diminished by FDR reforms. In this sense we can say that Reagan revolution was essentially a counter-revolution: an attempt to reverse the New Deal restrictions on financial sector and restore its dominance in the society.

Like it was the case in Bolshevism the ideology was developed and forced upon the society by a very small group of players. The key ideas of Casino Capitalism were formulated and implemented by Reagan administration with some contribution by Nixon (the role of rednecks aka "moral majority", "silent majority" as an important part of republican political base, which can be attracted to detrimental to its economic position policies by the smoke screen of false "moral" promises).

It was supported by each president after Reagan (paradoxically with Clinton having the most accomplished record -- he was the best Republican President in a very perverted way). Like in case of Lysenkoism opponents were purged and economic departments of the country were captured by principless careerists ready to tow the party line for personal enrichment. Like in case of Bolshevism, many of those special breed of careerists rotated from Republican Party into Fed and other government structures. A classic example of compulsive careerists that were used by finance sector to promote its interests was Alan Greenspan.

One of the key ideas of Reaganomics was the rejection of the sound approach that there should be a balance between too much government regulation and too little and that government role is important for smooth functioning of the market. In this area Reagan and its followers can be called Anarchists and their idea of 'free market" is a misnomer that masks the idea of "anarchic market" (corporate welfare to be exact -- as it was implemented). Emergence of corporate welfare Queens such as GS, Citi, AIG, are quite natural consequence of Reaganomics.

Reaganomics was a the US flavor of Lysenkoism with economics instead of generics as a target... It can and should be called Economic Lysenkoism.

The most interesting part of Reaganomics was that the power of this ideology made it possible to conditioned "working class" and middle class to act against their own economic interests. It helped to ensure the stagnation of wages during the whole 25 years period, which is close to what Soviets managed to achieve with working class of the USSR, but with much more resentment. This makes it in many ways very similar to Bolshevism as a whole, not just Lysenkoism (extremes meet or in less flattering way: "history repeats, first as a tragedy, then as farce).

Along with the term Reaganimics which implicitly stresses the deregulation, the other close term "market fundamentalism" is often used. Here is how market fundamentalism is defined (Longview Institute):

Market Fundamentalism is the exaggerated faith that when markets are left to operate on their own, they can solve all economic and social problems. Market Fundamentalism has dominated public policy debates in the United States since the 1980's, serving to justify huge Federal tax cuts, dramatic reductions in government regulatory activity, and continued efforts to downsize the government’s civilian programs.

Some level of government coercion (explicit or implicit ) is necessary for proper labeling of any pseudo-scientific theory with the term Lysenkoism. This holds true for both Market Fundamentalism (after all Reagan revolution was "revolution from above" by financial oligarchy and for financial oligarchy and hired guns from academia just do what powers that be expected) and, especially, Supply side economic. The political genius of those ideas is evident. Supply-side economics transformed Republicans from a minority party into a majority party. It allowed them to promise lower taxes, lower deficits and, in effect, unchanged spending. Why should people not like this combination? Who does not like a free lunch?

In this sense the Republican Party played the role very similar to the Communist Party of the USSR.

For example supply side economics was too bizarre and would never survive without explicit government support. This notion is supported by many influential observers. For example, in the following comment for Krugman article (Was the Great Depression a monetary phenomenon):

Market fundamentalism (neoclassical counter-revolution — to be more academic) was more of a political construct than based on sound economic theory. However, it would take a while before its toxic legacy is purged from the economics departments. Indeed, in some universities this might never happen.

Extreme deregulation and extreme regulation (Brezhnev socialism) logically meets and both represent a variant of extremely corrupt society that cannot be sustained for long (using bayonets as in the case of USSR or using reserve currency and increasing leverage as is the case of the USA). In both cases the societies were economically and ideologically bankrupt at the end.

Actually, elements of market fundamentalism looks more like religious doctrine than political philosophy — and that bonds its even closer to Lysenkoism. In both cases critics were silenced with the help of the state. It is interesting to note that Reaganomics was wiped into frenzy after the dissolution of the USSR, the country which gave birth to the term of Lysenkoism. In a way the last act of the USSR was to stick a knife in the back of the USA. As a side note I would like to stress that contrary to critics the USSR was more of a neo-feudal society with elements of slavery under Stalin. Gulag population were essentially state slaves; paradoxically a somewhat similar status is typical for illegal immigrants in industrialized countries. From this point of view this category of "state slaves" is generally more numerous that gulag inmates. Prison population also can be counted along those lines.

It look like either implicitly or explicitly Reagan's bet was on restoration of gilded Age with its dominance of financial oligarchy, an attempt to convert the USA into new Switzerland on the "exorbitant privilege" of dollar status as the global fiat currency.

Casino Capitalism is characterized by political dominance of FIRE industries (finance, insurance, and real estate) and diminished role of other and first of all manufacturing industries. It was also accompanied by the drastic growth of inequality (New Gilded Age). Its defining feature is "the triumph of the trader in assets over the long-term producer" in Martin Wolf's words.

Voodoo economic theories

Attempts of theoretical justification of Economic Lysenkoism fall into several major categories:

Those can be called pillars, cornerstones of Economic Lysenkoism. Each of the deserves as separate article (see links above).

Historically especially important was Chicago school of market fundamentalism promoted pseudo-scientific theories of Milton Freedman (Chicago School) as well as supply side economics.

Collapse of the USSR as ideological justification of Casino Capitalism superiority

The huge boost of Casino Capitalism was given by the collapse of the USSR in 1991. That gave a second life to Reagan era. Collapse of the USSR was used as a vindication of market fundamentalism. After it New Deal regulations were systematically destroyed. Dumped down variants of Nietzsche philosophy like bastardatized variant promoted by Russian emigrant became fashionable with an individual "creative" entrepreneur as a new Übermensch, which stands above morality.

"The word Übermensch [designates] a type of supreme achievement, as opposed to 'modern' men, 'good' men, Christians, and other nihilists ... When I whispered into the ears of some people that they were better off looking for a Cesare Borgia than a Parsifal, they did not believe their ears."[9] Safranski argues that the combination of ruthless warrior pride and artistic brilliance that defined the Italian Renaissance embodied the sense of the Übermensch for Nietzsche. According to Safranski, Nietzsche intended the ultra-aristocratic figure of the Übermensch to serve as a Machiavellian bogeyman of the modern Western middle class and its pseudo-Christian egalitarian value system.[10]

Brainwashing

The instability and volatility of active markets can devalue the economic base of real lives, or in more macro-scenarios can lead to the collapse of national and regional economies. In a very interesting and grotesque way it also incorporates the key element of Brezhnev Socialism in everyday life: huge manipulation of reality by mass media to the extend that Pravda and the USSR First TV Channel look pretty objective in comparison with Fox news and Fox controlled newspapers. Complete poisoning of public discourse and relying on the most ignorant part of the population as the political base (pretty much reminiscent of how Bolsheviks played "Working Class Dictatorship" anti-intellectualism card; it can be called "Rednecks Dictatorship").

The "heroes" or transformation of US economy to casino capitalism model

While transformation to casino capitalism was an objective development, there were specific individuals who were instrumental in killing New Deal regulations. We would single out the following twelve figures:

  1. Ronald Reagan (although first steps toward casino capitalism were made under Carter).
  2. Milton Friedman
  3. Alan Greenspan
  4. Phil Gramm
  5. Robert Rubin
  6. Larry Summers
  7. Helicopter Ben
  8. Bush II
  9. Bill Clinton
  10. Sandy Weill
  11. Jeffrey Sachs with his "shock therapy" racket
  12. Martin Feldstein

There is no question that Reagan and most of his followers (Greenspan, Rubin, Phil Gramm, etc) were rabid radicals blinded by ideology. But they were radicals of quite different color then FDR with disastrous consequences for society. Here again the analogy with Bolsheviks looms strong. In a way, they can be called financial terrorists inflicting huge damage on the nation and I wonder if RICO can be use to prosecute at least some of them.

In Bailout Nation (Chapter 19) Barry Ritholtz tried to rank major players that led country into the current abyss:

1. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan
2. The Federal Reserve (in its role of setting monetary policy)
3. Senator Phil Gramm
4-6. Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings (rating agencies)
7. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
8-9. Mortgage originators and lending banks
10. Congress
11. The Federal Reserve again (in its role as bank regulator)
12. Borrowers and home buyers
13-17. The five biggest Wall Street firms (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch,Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs) and their CEOs
18. President George W. Bush
19. President Bill Clinton
20. President Ronald Reagan
21-22. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
23-24. Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers
25. FOMC Chief Ben Bernanke
26. Mortgage brokers
27. Appraisers (the dishonest ones)
28. Collateralized debt obligation (CDO) managers (who produced the junk)
29. Institutional investors (pensions, insurance firms, banks, etc.) for
buying the junk
30-31. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC); Office of Thrift
Supervision (OTS)
32. State regulatory agencies
33. Structured investment vehicles (SIVs)/hedge funds for buying the junk

Early Researchers of Casino Capitalism

Hyman Minsky

Hyman Minsky argued that a key mechanism that pushes an economy towards a crisis is the accumulation of debt and the fact the financial system represents a positive feedback loop that tend to destabilize the system, creating ossilations in the form of boom and bust cycles. . He identified 3 types of borrowers that contribute to the accumulation of insolvent debt: Hedge Borrowers; Speculative Borrowers; and Ponzi Borrowers. That corresponds to three stages of Casino Capitalism of increasing fragility:

Growth of debt and increased levarate at some point create predocition of the crash. The stage of business cycle at which those preconditions are met is called "Minsky moment":

A Minsky moment is the point in a credit cycle or business cycle when investors are starting to have cash flow problems due to spiraling debt they have incurred in order to finance speculative or Ponzy investments.

At this point, a major selloff begins due to the fact that no counterparty can be found to bid at the high asking prices previously quoted, leading to a sudden and precipitous collapse in market clearing asset prices and a sharp drop in market liquidity.[1]

After the collapse of the USSR there were a lot of chest thumping of the status of America as a hyper power (American exceptionalism) and the "end of history" where neoliberalism that displaced Brazhvev socialism (and wiped out the socialist camp) was supposed to reign supreme forever.

But this triumphal march of neoliberalism was short lived. The system proved to be self-destructive due to strong positive feedback look from the unregulated financial sector.

But in 2000 the first moment to pay the piper arrives. It was postponed by Iraq war and housing bubble, but reappeared in much more menacing form in 2008. In 2009 the USA experienced a classic Minsky moment with high unemployment rate and economy suppressed by (and taken hostage) by Ponzi finance institutions which threaten the very survival of the capitalist system and way of life. Huge injection freom the state halped to save the economy from disintration, but the price was very high. And  after 2009 the US economy entered the period prologed stagnation, called  the perios of "secular stagnation".

In events preceding 2008 the shift from speculative toward Ponzi finance was speed up by increased corruption of major players.  The drive to redistribute wealth up destroyed any remnants of the rule of the law in the USA. It became a neo-feudal two casts society with "Masters of the Universe" as the upper cast (top 1% ) and "despicables" (lower 80%) as the lower cast. With some comprador strata of professional in between (top 20% or so), who generally support the upper cast.

Loweer cast experienced deterioration of the standard of living, loss of well paying jobs to outsourcing and offshoring and in 2016 revolted electing Trump, who defeated Hillary Clinton, who became a real symbol of the corruption of neoliberal system. 

"As Minsky observed, capitalism is inherently unstable. As each crisis is successfully contained, it encourages greater speculation and risk taking in borrowing and lending. Financial innovation makes it easier to finance various schemes. To a large extent, borrowers and lenders operate on the basis of trial and error. If a behavior is rewarded, it will be repeated. Thus stable periods naturally lead to optimism, to booms, and to increasing fragility.

A financial crisis can lead to asset price deflation and repudiation of debt. A debt deflation, once started, is very difficult to stop. It may not end until balance sheets are largely purged of bad debts, at great loss in financial wealth to the creditors as well as the economy at large."

For more information see

Susan Strange

For Strange the speed at which computerized financial markets work combined with their much larger size and  near-universal pervasiveness is an important qualitative change, that changes the social system into what he called "casino capitalism".  She actually popularized the term "Casino Capitalism" with her important book Casino Capitalism  published in 1997.

One of the side effects of this change is that volatility extends globally. Approximately $1.5 trillion dollars are invested daily as foreign transactions. It is estimated that 98% of these transactions are speculative. In comparison with this casino Las Vegas looks like a aborigine village in comparison with Manhattan.

Notes:

Susan Strange (June 9, 1923 - October 25, 1998) was a British academic who was influential in the field of international political economy. Her most important publications include

For a quarter of a century, Susan Strange was the most influential figure in British international studies. She held a number of key academic posts in Britain, Italy and Japan. From 1978 to 1988, she was Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the first woman to hold this chair and a professorial position in international relations at the LSE. She was a major figure in the professional associations of both Britain and the US: she was an instrumental founding member and first Treasurer of the British International Studies Association (BISA) [1] and the first female President of the International Studies Association (ISA) in 1995.

It was predominantly as a creative scholar and a forceful personality that she exercised her influence. She was almost single-handedly responsible for creating ‘international political economy’ and turning it into one of the two or three central fields within international studies in Britain, and she defended her creation with such robustness, and made such strong claims on its behalf, that her influence was felt—albeit not always welcomed—in most other areas of the discipline. She was one of the earliest and most influential campaigners for the closer integration of the study of international politics and international economics in the English language scholarship.

In the later period of her career, alongside the financial analyses offered in Casino Capitalism (the analysis in which she felt was vindicated by the South-East Asian financial crisis) and Mad Money, Strange's contributions to the field include her characterisation of the four different areas (production, security, finance and knowledge) through which power might be exercised in International Relations. This understanding of what she termed "structural power", formed the basis of her argument against the theory of American Hegemonic Decline in the early eighties.

Her analysis particularly in States and Markets focused on what she called the ‘market-authority nexus’, the see-saw of power between the market and political authority. The overall argument of her work suggested that the global market had gained significant power relative to states since the 1970s.

This led her to dub the Westphalia system Westfailure. She argued that a ‘dangerous gap’ was emerging between territorially-bound nation states and weak or partial intergovernmental cooperation in which markets had a free hand which could be constructive or destructive.

John K. Galbraith

Among important early critiques of casino capitalism was John K. Galbraith. He promoted a pretty novel idea that the major economic function of Governments is to strengthen countervailing powers to achieve some kind of balance between capital and labor.

While unions are far from being perfect and tend to slide into corruption due to "iron law of oligarchy" when thier management stop representing interests of thwe worksers and start to reprreesnt interest of thier own narry strate of fat cats,  there were the only sizable countewailing power that made the New Seal possible.

His prediction proved to be wrong as government actually represent the capitalist class and is not that interested in creating this balance, which was convincingly demonstrated by Thatcher and Reagan.  Both Britain and the USA start sliding into a new form of corporations, called neoliberalism which actually does not allocate any space for uniot at the negotiation table and strive for their complete elimination and "atomization" of work force, when each invididual is up to himself to find employment and group solidarity is suppressed by instilling neoliberal ideology in schools and universitites as well as via MSM (which in the USA surprisingly never were allowed to use the work neoliberlaism, as if it represents some secret Masonic cult)

And it does not look like there is any renewed support of unions right  (including important right to organize) at the  post subprime/derivatives/shadow_banking crisis stage of neoliberalism, when neoliberal ideology became sufficiently discredited to allow rise of populist politicians such as Trump. 

Still John K. Galbraith critique of primitive market fundamentalism of Milton Freedman and the whole pseudoscience of neoclassical economics which like Marxist political economy is one of there pillars of neoliberalism (along with Randism as philosophy and Neoconservatism or "Trotskyism for the rich" in politics), still has its value today. As Joseph Stiglitz noted (CSMonitor, Dec 28, 2006):

...In many ways, Galbraith was a more critical observer of economic reality.

Driven to understand market realities

Galbraith's vivid depictions of the good, bad, and ugly of American capitalism remain a sorely needed reminder that all is not quite as perfect as the perfect market models – with their perfect competition, perfect information, and perfectly rational consumers – upon which so much of Friedman's analysis depended.

Galbraith, who cut his teeth studying agricultural economics, strove to understand the world as it was, with all the problems of unemployment and market power that simplistic models of competitive markets ignore. In those models, unemployment didn't exist. Galbraith knew that made them fatally flawed

... ... ...

In his early research, Galbraith attempted to explain what had brought on the Great Crash of 1929 – including the role of the stock market's speculative greed fed by (what would today be called) irrational exuberance. Friedman ignored speculation and the failure of the labor market as he focused on the failures of the Federal Reserve. To Friedman, government was the problem, not the solution.

What Galbraith understood, and what later researchers (including this author) have proved, is that Adam Smith's "invisible hand" – the notion that the individual pursuit of maximum profit guides capitalist markets to efficiency – is so invisible because, quite often, it's just not there. Unfettered markets often produce too much of some things, such as pollution, and too little of other things, such as basic research. As Bruce Greenwald and I have shown, whenever information is imperfect – that is, always – markets are inefficient; hence the need for government action.

Galbraith reminded us that what made the economy work so well was not an invisible hand but countervailing powers. He had the misfortune of articulating these ideas before the mathematical models of game theory were sufficiently developed to give them expression. The good news is that today, more attention is being devoted to developing models of these bargaining relationships, and to complex, dynamic models of economic fluctuations in which speculation may play a central role.

Government's role

While Friedman never really appreciated the limitations of the market, he was a forceful critic of government. Yet history shows that in every successful country, the government had played an important role. Yes, governments sometimes fail, but unfettered markets are a certain prescription for failure. Galbraith made this case better than most.

Galbraith knew, too, that people aren't just rational economic actors, but consumers, contending with advertising, political persuasion, and social pressures. It was because of his close touch with reality that he had such influence on economic policymaking, especially during the Kennedy-Johnson years.

Galbraith's penetrating insights into the nature of capitalism – as it is lived, not as it is theorized in simplistic models – has enhanced our understanding of the market economy. He has left an intellectual legacy for generations to come. And he has left a gap in our intellectual life: Who will stand up against the economics establishment to articulate an economic vision that is both in touch with reality and comprehensible to ordinary citizens?

Galbraith was vindicated in his belief that the only economics possible is political economics and that government is always an agent of dominant class. As such it always pursue poklitics favorable to this class, just making marginal efforts to prevent the open revolt of lower classes.

In 2008 neoliberal economist such as Krugman and (to a lesse extent) Stiglitz both have eaten humble pie, because according to neoclassical economics the crises should not have happened. Both should now reread Galbraith's The Great Crash: 1929 (see also extracts).  Krugman also need to shred his previous writings with this mathiness execises of using differential equations to justify the dominance of financial oligarchy,  and eat them with borsch ;-)

BTW it is interesting that in 1996 neoliberal stooge Paul Krugman criticized limitations of Galbright vision in the following way:

To be both a liberal and a good economist you must have a certain sense of the tragic--that is, you must understand that not all goals can be attained, that life is a matter of painful tradeoffs. You must want to help the poor, but understand that welfare can encourage dependency. You must want to protect those who lose their jobs, but admit that generous unemployment benefits can raise the long-term rate of unemployment. You must be willing to tax the affluent to help those in need, but accept that too high a rate of taxation can discourage investment and innovation.

To the free-market conservative, these are all arguments for government to do nothing, to accept whatever level of poverty and insecurity the market happens to produce. A serious liberal does not reply to such conservatives by denying that there are any trade-offs at all; he insists, rather, that some trade-offs are worth making, that helping the poor and protecting the unlucky may have costs but will ultimately make for a better society.

The revelation one gets from reading John Kenneth Galbraith's The Good Society is that Galbraith--who is one of the world's most celebrated intellectuals, and whom one would expect to have a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the human condition than a mere technical economist would -- lacks this tragic sense. Galbraith's vision of the economy is one without shadows, in which what is good for social justice always turns out to have no unfavorable side effects. If this vision is typical of liberal intellectuals, the ineffectuality of the tribe is not an accident: It stems from a deep-seated unwillingness to face up to uncomfortable reality.

Similar limited understanding of Galbright is demonstrated in London Times (cited from comment to Economist's View blog) :

Some motifs of Galbraith’s work have entered popular consciousness. Galbraith wrote of private opulence amid public squalor, illustrating it with a memorable metaphor of a family that travels by extravagant private car to picnic by a polluted river.

Yet while arguing for increased public expenditure on welfare, Galbraith gave scant attention to the limits of that approach. His writings perpetuate a debilitating weakness of modern liberalism: a reluctance to acknowledge that resources are scarce.

In Galbraith’s scheme, said Herbert Stein, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers: “The American people were only asked whether they wanted cleaner air and water . . . The answers to such questions seemed obvious — but they were not the right questions.”

Soros contribution to the understanding of growth of financial sector as source of new, global economic instability

This idea of "casino capitalism" as a driver of financial instability was developed further in the book The Crisis of Global Capitalism by prominent financial speculator and staunch neoliberal George Soros (1998), who after Minsky highlights the potential for disequilibrium in the financial system, and the inability of non-market sectors to regulate markets.

the latter is a prominant feature of Casino Capitalism, which can be defined as economic system were financial barons run amok.

Although the insights of the Soros critique of global capitalism are scarcely new, they were articulated with such candor and accuracy that the book made a significant impact. The following is a sampling of Soros' insights.
  1. Unregulated financial markets are inherently unstable. There is nothing new in this statement. It is just a repetition of what Keynes and Minsky said much more eloquently. But Soros made in important observation about the source of constant disequilibrium of markets under neoliberalism, the observation which permitted for him to achieve spectacular success as a financial speculator.  Soros observes that, contrary to conventional economic theory, financial markets are not driven toward a relatively stable and rational price by the objective value assessment of such things as the soundness of a company's management, products, or record of profitability. Rather they are constantly driven away from equilibrium by the momentum of self-fulfilling expectations -- a rising stock price attracts buyers who further raise the price-to the point of collapse. The recent massive inflation and subsequent collapse in the price of the shares of unprofitable dot-com companies illustrates Soros' point.

    Bank lending also contributes to the instability, because the price of real and financial assets is set in part by their collateral value. The higher their market price rises the larger the loans banks are willing to make to their buyers to bid up prices. When the bubble bursts, the value of the assets plummets below the amount of the money borrowed against them. This forces banks to call their loans and cut back on the lending, which depresses asset prices and dries up the money supply. The economy then tanks-until credit worthiness is restored and a new boom phase begins.

  2. Financial markets are amoral by definition. Following Napoleon Bonaparte ("Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain. "), Soros stressed that there is no meaningful place for individual moral behavior of financial oligarchy in the context of financial markets, because such behavior has no consequences for them other than to reduce the financial return of  a more  ethical actor.  In other words modern finance is breeding ground for ruthless sociopath, which we really observed during 2008.

    When I bought shares in Lockheed and Northrop after the managements were indicted for bribery, I helped sustain the price of their stocks. When I sold sterling short in 1992, the Bank of England was on the other side of my transactions, and I was in effect taking money out of the pockets of British taxpayers. But if I had tried to take social consequences into account, it would have thrown off my risk-reward calculation, and my profits would have been reduced.

    Soros argues that if he had not bought Lockheed and Northrop, then somebody else would have, and Britain would have devalued sterling no matter what he did. "Bringing my social conscience into the decision-making process would make no difference in the real world; but it may adversely affect my own results." One can challenge the Soros claim that such behavior is amoral rather than immoral, but his basic argument is accurate. His understanding that it is futile to look to individual morality as the solution to the excesses of financial markets is all too accurate.

  3. Corporate employees are duty-bound to serve only corporate financial interests. As such financial institution are closely related to organized crime and top layers of managers are essentially institualized criminals. Soros writes:

    Publicly owned companies are single-purpose organizations-their purpose is to make money. The tougher the competition, the less they can afford to deviate. Those in charge may be well-intentioned and upright citizens, but their room for maneuver is strictly circumscribed by the position they occupy.

     They are duty-bound to uphold the interests of the company. If they think that cigarettes are unhealthy or that fostering civil war to obtain mining concessions is unconscionable, they ought to quit their jobs. Their place will be taken by people who are willing to carry on.

    Though not specifically mentioned by Soros, this is why corporations were in the past (at least partially) excluded from the political processes (although it was never complete and it is well known fact that Crusades and Siege of Constantinople (1204) were financed by Genoese bankers upset by lack of access to the Byzantium markets). But at least formally other parts of the society can define their goals and the rules of the marketplace and suppress excessive appetities of banker, if nessesary by brute force.  Financial oligarchy is incapable of distinguishing between private corporate interests and broader public interests. And that situation became even worse with the the global dominance of corporatism in the form of neoliberalism.

  4. Financial markets are oblivious to externalities and are infected by "short-termism". Specifically the fact that a strategy or policy produces economic returns in the short-term does not mean the long-term results will be beneficial. The focus of financial markets is on short-term individual gain to the exclusion of both social and longer-term consequences. The fact that particular policies and strategies are effective in producing short-term financial returns does not mean they are more generally beneficial or desirable. Soros offers the example that running up a budget or trade deficit "feels good while it lasts, but there can be hell to pay later."

  5. The relationship between the center and the periphery of the capitalist system is profoundly unequal. The powerful countries at the center of the capitalist system are both wealthier and more stable than countries at the periphery because control of the financial system and ownership of productive assets allows them to shape economic and political affairs to their benefit.

    "Foreign ownership of capital deprives peripheral countries of autonomy and often hinders the development of democratic institutions. The international flow of capital is subject to catastrophic interruptions."

    In times of uncertainty financial capital tends to return to its country of origin, thus depriving countries at the periphery of the financial liquidity necessary to the function of monetized economies. "The center's most important feature is that it controls its own economic policies and holds in its hands the economic destinies of periphery countries."

  6. In the capitalist system greed (aka "monetary values") tend to displace social values in sectors where this is destructive to important public interests. Soros writes:

    Monetary values [under neoliberalism] have usurped the role of intrinsic values, and markets have come to dominate spheres of existence where they do not properly belong.

    Law and medicine, politics, education, science, the arts, even personal relations-achievements or qualities that ought to be valued for their own sake are converted into monetary terms; they are judged by the money they fetch rather than their intrinsic value."

    Because financial "capital is free to go where most rewarded, countries vie to attract and retain capital, and if they are to succeed they must give precedence to the requirements of international capital over other social objectives.

Ha-Joon Chang

One notable later researcher of casino capitalism, especially "free market" fundamentalism propaganda Cambridge University researcher Ha-Joon Chang. In 2011 he published a fascinating book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism. Here is a Youtube lecture at LSE (23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism  ). We will reproduce  two Amazon reviews that shed some light at the key ideas of the book:

William Podmore

Ha-Joon Chang, Reader in the Political Economy of Development at Cambridge University, has written a fascinating book on capitalism's failings. He also wrote the brilliant Bad Samaritans. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times says he is `probably the world's most effective critic of globalization'.

Chang takes on the free-marketers' dogmas and proposes ideas like

He notes that the USA does not have the world's highest living standard. Norway, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and the USA, in that order, had the highest incomes per head. On income per hours worked, the USA comes eighth, after Luxemburg, Norway, France, Ireland, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands. Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Finland and Sweden have the highest industrial output per person.

Free-market politicians, economists and media have pushed policies of de-regulation and pursuit of short-term profits, causing less growth, more inequality, more job insecurity and more frequent crises. Britain's growth rate in income per person per year was 2.4 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.7 per cent 1990-2009. Rich countries grew by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1980-2009. Developing countries grew by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 2.6 per cent 1980-2009. Latin America grew by 3.1 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.1 per cent 1980-2009, and Sub-Saharan Africa by 1.6 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 0.2 per cent 1990-2009. The world economy grew by 3.2 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1990-2009.

So, across the world, countries did far better before Thatcher and Reagan's `free-market revolution'. Making the rich richer made the rest of us poorer, cutting economies' growth rates, and investment as a share of national output, in all the G7 countries.

Chang shows how free trade is not the way to grow and points out that the USA was the world's most protectionist country during its phase of ascendancy, from the 1830s to the 1940s, and that Britain was one of world's the most protectionist countries during its rise, from the 1720s to the 1850s.

He shows how immigration controls keep First World wages up; they determine wages more than any other factor. Weakening those controls, as the EU demands, lowers wages.

He challenges the conventional wisdom that we must cut spending to cut the deficit. Instead, we need controls capital, on mergers and acquisitions, and on financial products. We need the welfare state, industrial policy, and huge investment in industry, infrastructure, worker training and R&D.

As Chang points out, "Even though financial investments can drive growth for a while, such growth cannot be sustained, as those investments have to be ultimately backed up by viable long-term investments in real sector activities, as so vividly shown by the 2008 financial crisis."

This book is a commonsense, evidence-based approach to economic life, which we should urge all our friends and colleagues to read.

Loyd E. Eskildson

The 2008 'Great Recession' demands re-examination of prevailing economic thought - the dominant paradigm (post 1970's conservative free-market capitalism) not only failed to predict the crisis, but also said it couldn't occur in today's free markets, thanks to Adam Smith's 'invisible hand.' Ha-Joon Chang provides that re-examination in his "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism." Turns out that the reason Adam Smith's hand was not visible is that it wasn't there. Chang, economics professor at the University of Cambridge, is no enemy of capitalism, though he contends its current conservative version should be made better. Conventional wisdom tells us that left alone, markets produce the most efficient and just outcomes - 'efficient' because businesses and individuals know best how to utilize their resources, and 'just' because they are rewarded according to their productivity. Following this advice, countries have deregulated businesses, reduced taxes and welfare, and adopted free trade. The results, per Chang, has been the opposite of what was promised - slower growth and rising inequality, often masked by rising credit expansion and increased working hours. Alternatively, developing Asian countries that grew fast did so following a different version of capitalism, though to be fair China's version to-date has also produced much greater inequality. The following summarizes some of Chang's points:

  1. "There is no such thing as a free market" - we already have hygiene standards in restaurants, ban child labor, pollution, narcotics, bribery, and dangerous workplaces, require licenses for professions such as doctors, lawyers, and brokers, and limit immigration. In 2008, the U.S. used at least $700 billion of taxpayers' money to buy up toxic assets, justified by President Bush on the grounds that it was a necessary state intervention consistent with free-market capitalism. Chang's conclusion - free-marketers contending that a certain regulation should not be introduced because it would restrict market freedom are simply expressing political opinions, not economic facts or laws.
  2. "Companies should not be run in the interest of their owners." Shareholders are the most mobile of corporate stakeholders, often holding ownership for but a fraction of a second (high-frequency trading represents 70% of today's trading). Shareholders prefer corporate strategies that maximize short-term profits and dividends, usually at the cost of long-term investments. (This often also includes added leverage and risk, and reliance on socializing risk via 'too big to fail' status, and relying on 'the Greenspan put.') Chang adds that corporate limited liability, while a boon to capital accumulation and technological progress, when combined with professional managers instead of entrepreneurs owning a large chunk (e.g.. Ford, Edison, Carnegie) and public shares with smaller voting rights (typically limited to 10%), allows professional managers to maximize their own prestige via sales growth and prestige projects instead of maximizing profits. Another negative long-term outcome driven by shareholders is increased share buybacks (less than 5% of profits until the early 1980s, 90% in 2007, and 280% in 2008) - one economist estimates that had GM not spent $20.4 billion on buybacks between 1986 and 2002 it could have prevented its 2009 bankruptcy. Short-term stockholder perspectives have also brought large-scale layoffs from off-shoring. Governments of other countries encourage longer-term thinking by holding large shares in key enterprises (China Mobile, Renault, Volkswagen), providing greater worker representation (Germany's supervisory boards), and cross-shareholding among friendly companies (Japan's Toyota and its suppliers).
  3. "Free-market policies rarely make poor countries rich." With a few exceptions, all of today's rich countries, including Britain and the U.S., reached that status through protectionism, subsidies, and other policies that they and their IMF, WTO, and World Bank now advise developing nations not to adopt. Free-market economists usually respond that the U.S. succeeded despite, not because of, protectionism. The problem with that explanation is the number of other nations paralleling the early growth strategy of the U.S. and Britain (Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan), and the fact that apparent exceptions (Hong Kong, Switzerland, The Netherlands) did so by ignoring foreign patents (a free-market 'no-no'). Chang believes the 'official historians' of capitalism have been very successful re-writing its history, akin to someone trying to 'kick away the ladder' with which they had climbed to the top. He also points out that developing nations that stick to their Ricardian 'comparative advantage,' per the conservatives prescription, condemn themselves to their economic status quo.
  4. "We do not live in a post-industrial age." Most of the fall in manufacturing's share of total output is not due to a fall in the quantity of manufactured goods, but due to the fall in their prices relative to those for services, caused by their faster productivity growth. A small part of deindustrialization is due to outsourcing of some 'manufacturing' activities that used to be provided in-house - e.g.. catering and cleaning. Those advising the newly developing nations to skip manufacturing and go directly to providing services forget that many services mainly serve manufacturing firms (finance, R&D, design), and that since services are harder to export, such an approach will create balance-of-payment problems. (Chang's preceding points directly contradict David Ricardo's law of comparative advantage - a fundamental free market precept. Chang's example of how Korea built Pohang Steel into a strong economic producer, despite lacking experienced managers and natural resources, is another.)
  5. "The U.S. does not have the highest living standard in the world." True, the average U.S. citizen has greater command over goods and services than his counterpart in almost any other country, but this is due to higher immigration, poorer employment conditions, and working longer hours for many vs. their foreign counterparts. The U.S. also has poorer health indicators and worse crime statistics. We do have the world's second highest income per capita - Luxemburg's higher, but measured in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) the U.S. ranks eighth. (The U.S. doesn't have the fastest growing economy either - China is predicted to pass the U.S. in PPP this coming decade.) Chang's point here is that we should stop assuming the U.S. provides the best economic model. (This is already occurring - the World Bank's chief economist, Justin Lin, comes from China.)
  6. "Governments can pick winners." Chang cites examples of how the Korean government built world-class producers of steel (POSCO), shipbuilding (Hyundai), and electronics (LG), despite lacking raw materials or experience for those sectors. True, major government failures have occurred - Europe's Concorde, Indonesia's aircraft industry, Korea's promotion of aluminum smelting, and Japan's effort to have Nissan take over Honda; industry, however, has also failed - e.g.. the AOL-Time Warner merger, and the Daimler-Chrysler merger. Austria, China, Finland, France, Japan, Norway, Singapore (in numerous other areas), and Taiwan have also done quite well with government-picked winners. Another problem is that business and national interests sometimes clash - e.g.. American firms' massive outsourcing has undermined the national interest of maintaining full employment. (However, greater unbiased U.S. government involvement would be difficult due to the 10,000+ corporate lobbyists and billions in corporate campaign donations - $500 million alone from big oil in 2009-10.) Also interesting to Chang is how conservative free marketing bankers in the U.S. lined up for mammoth low-cost loans from the Federal Reserve at the beginning of the Great Recession. Government planning allows minimizing excess capacity, maximizing learning-curve economies and economies of scale and scope; operational performance is enhanced by also forcing government-owned or supported firms into international competition. Government intervention (loans, tariffs, subsidies, prohibiting exports of needed raw materials, building infrastructure) are necessary for emerging economies to move into more sophisticated sectors.
  7. "Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer." 'Trickle-down' economics is based on the belief that the poor maximize current consumption, while the rich, left to themselves, mostly invest. However, the years 1950-1973 saw the highest-ever growth rates in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, despite increased taxation of the rich. Before the 'Golden Age,' per capita income grew at 1-1.5%/year; during the Golden Age it grew at 2-3% in the U.S. Since then, tax cuts for the rich and financial deregulation have allowed greater paychecks for top managers and financiers, and between 1979 and 2006 the top 0.1% increased their share of national income from 3.5% to 11.6%. The result - investment as a ratio of national output has fallen in all rich economies and the pace at which the total economic pie grew decreased.
  8. "U.S. managers are over-priced." First, relative to their predecessors (about 10X those in the 1960s; now 300-400X the average worker), despite the latter having run companies more successfully, in relative terms. Second, compared to counterparts in other rich countries - up to 20X. (Third, compared to counterparts in developing nations - e.g.. JPMorgan Chase, world's 4th largest bank, paid its CEO $19.6 million in 2008, vs. the CEO of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's largest, being paid $234,700. Read more ›

Willem Buiter and the idea of long term stagnation

Willem Buiter in his FT article After the Crisis Macro Imbalance, Credibility and Reserve-Currency suggested that after financial crisis of 2008 there might be very long a painful deleveraging period aka secular stagnation.  He was right.

In short each financial crisis make recovery longer and longer. That's why the US will most likely face a long period of stagnation: the digestion of huge excessive debt of the private sector might well take a decade:

Since the excess of debt is relative to income and GDP, the lower the rate of growth, the longer the required period of digestion. This explains for the paradox of trying to stimulate consumption when the economy faces a monumental crisis provoked exactly by excessive debt and excessive consumption. A cartoon line best captured the spirit of it: "country addicted to speculative bubbles desperately searches a new bubble to invest in. "

... ... ...

The roots of the crisis are major international macroeconomic imbalances. Despite the fact that the excesses of the financial system were instrumental to lead these imbalances further than otherwise possible, insufficient regulation should not be viewed as the main factor behind the crisis. The expenditure of central countries, spinned by all sort of financial innovations created by a globalized financial system, was the engine of world growth. When debt became clearly excessive in central countries and the debt-financed expenditure cycle came to an end, the ensuing crisis paralyzed the world economy. With the lesson of 1929 well assimilated, American monetary policy became aggressively expansionist. The Fed inundated the economy with money and credit, in the attempt to avoid a deep depression. Even if successful, the economies of the US and the other central countries, given the burden of excessive debt, are likely to remain stagnant under the threat of deflation for the coming years. The assumption of troubled assets by the public sector, in order to avoid the collapse of the financial system, might succeed, but at the cost of a major increase in public debt. Fiscal policy is not efficient to restart the economy when the private sector remains paralyzed by excessive debt. Even if a coordinated effort to increase public expenditure is successful, the central economies will remain stagnant for as long as the excessive indebtedness of the private sector persists. The period of digestion of excess debt will be longer than the usual recessive cycle. Since imports represent a drain in the effort to reanimate domestic demand through public expenditure, while exports, on the contrary, contribute to the recovery of internal demand, the temptation to central economies to also adopt a protectionist stance will be strong.

Willem Buiter also defined ‘cognitive regulatory capture’ which existed during the Greenspan years and when the Fed were just an arm of Wall Street.

This regulatory capture has resulted in an excess sensitivity of the Fed to financial market and financial sector concerns and fears and in an overestimation of the strength of the link between financial market turmoil and financial sector deleveraging and capital losses on the one hand, and the stability and prosperity of the wider economy on the other hand. The paper gives five examples of recent behavior by the Fed that are most readily rationalized with the assumption of regulatory capture. The abstract of the paper follows next. The latest version of the entire enchilada can be found here. Future revisions will also be found there.

Joseph Stiglitz on 5 steps to Casino Capitalism

Stiglitz is very unene and early Striglist was actually defender of neoliberalism (aka casino capitalism). Later he became a critic. In his 2008 Vanity Fair article Capitalist Fools Stiglitz identifies five key steps in transformation of American capitalism to Casino Capitalism (moments of failure as he called them):

No. 1: Reagan Fires Fed Chairman Volcker and Replaces Him With Greenspan in 1987:

Volcker also understood that financial markets need to be regulated. Reagan wanted someone who did not believe any such thing, and he found him in a devotee of the objectivist philosopher and free-market zealot Ayn Rand.

snip

If you appoint an anti-regulator as your enforcer, you know what kind of enforcement you’ll get. A flood of liquidity combined with the failed levees of regulation proved disastrous.

Greenspan presided over not one but two financial bubbles.

  1. Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 under Bill Clinton (Glass-Steagall was a depression-era reform that separated commercial and investment banks)

I had opposed repeal of Glass-Steagall. The proponents said, in effect, Trust us: we will create Chinese walls to make sure that the problems of the past do not recur. As an economist, I certainly possessed a healthy degree of trust, trust in the power of economic incentives to bend human behavior toward self-interest—toward short-term self-interest, at any rate, rather than Tocqueville’s "self interest rightly understood."

Stiglitz also refers to a 2004 decision by the SEC "to allow big investment banks to increase their debt-to-capital ratio (from 12:1 to 30:1, or higher) so that they could buy more mortgage-backed securities, inflating the housing bubble in the process."

Once more, it was deregulation run amuck, and few even noticed.

  1. The Bush tax cuts, both on income and capital gains

The Bush administration was providing an open invitation to excessive borrowing and lending—not that American consumers needed any more encouragement.

  1. Faking the Numbers

Here he refers to bad accounting, the failure to address problems with stock options, and the incentive structures of ratings agencies like Moodys that led them to give high ratings to toxic assets.

  1. Paulson and the Flawed Bailout

Valuable time was wasted as Paulson pushed his own plan, "cash for trash," buying up the bad assets and putting the risk onto American taxpayers. When he finally abandoned it, providing banks with money they needed, he did it in a way that not only cheated America’s taxpayers but failed to ensure that the banks would use the money to re-start lending. He even allowed the banks to pour out money to their shareholders as taxpayers were pouring money into the banks.

Stiglitz concludes:

The truth is most of the individual mistakes boil down to just one: a belief that markets are self-adjusting and that the role of government should be minimal. Looking back at that belief during hearings this fall on Capitol Hill, Alan Greenspan said out loud, "I have found a flaw." Congressman Henry Waxman pushed him, responding, "In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right; it was not working." "Absolutely, precisely," Greenspan said. The embrace by America—and much of the rest of the world—of this flawed economic philosophy made it inevitable that we would eventually arrive at the place we are today.

The flawed economic philosophy brought by Reagan, and embraced by so many, brought us to this day. Ideas have consequences, especially when we stop empirically testing them. Republican economics have created great pain to America and harmed our national interest.

The flaw that Greenspan found was always there: self-regulation does not work. As Stiglitz said:

As an economist, I certainly possessed a healthy degree of trust, trust in the power of economic incentives to bend human behavior toward self-interest — toward short-term self-interest

Yes, for all their claims to science, the premise conflicts with tendencies of people.

This is the real legacy of Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan:

The whole scheme was kick-started under Ronald Reagan. Between his tax cuts for the rich and the Greenspan Commission’s orchestrated Social Security heist, working Americans lost out in a generational wealth transfer shift now exceeding $1 trillion annually from 90 million working class households to for-profit corporations and the richest 1% of the population. It created an unprecedented wealth disparity that continues to grow, shames the nation and is destroying the bedrock middle class without which democracy can’t survive.

Greenspan helped orchestrate it with economist Ravi Batra calling his economics "Greenomics" in his 2005 book "Greenspan’s Fraud." It "turns out to be Greedomics" advocating anti-trust laws, regulations and social services be ended so "nothing....interfere(s) with business greed and the pursuit of profits."

 Conclusions: From Animal Farm To Animal House

Instead of conclusion I will reproduce the post from Sudden Debt (March 17, 2008):

In Orwell's Animal Farm all animals are equal - except that some are more equal than others. All in the spirit of law, order and the proper functioning of society, of course. Fittingly, the animals that have chosen this role by themselves and for themselves, are the pigs.

Cut to US financial markets today. After years of swinish behavior more reminiscent of Animal House than anything else, the pigs are threatening to destroy the entire farm. As if it wasn't enough that they devoured all the "free market" food available and inundated the world with their excreta, they now wish to be put on the public trough. Truly, some businessmen believe they are more equal than others.

But do not blame the pigs; they are expected to act as swine nature dictates. The fault lies entirely with the farmers, those authorities entrusted by the people to oversee the farm because they supposedly knew better. While the pigs were rampaging and tearing the place apart, they were assuring us all that farms function best when animals are free to do as they please, guided solely by invisible hooves. No regulation, no oversight, no common sense. Oh yes, and pigs fly..

So what is to be done now? Two things:

In other words, the focus from now on should be on adding value by means of work and savings (capital formation), instead of inflating assets and borrowing.

Furthermore, we should realize that in a world already inhabited by close to 7 billion people and beset by resource depletion and environmental degradation, defending growth for growth's sake is a losing proposition. The wheels are already wobbling on the Permagrowth model; pumping harder on the accelerator is not going to make it go any faster and will likely result in a fatal crash.

Debt, and finance in general, should be left to re-size downwards to a level that better reflects the carrying capacity of our world. The Fed's current actions are shortsighted and "conservative" in the worst interpretation of the words: they are designed to artificially maintain debt at levels that myopically projects growth as far as the eye can see.

What level of resizing may be necessary? I hope not as much as at Bear Stearns, which got itself bought by Morgan at buzz-saw prices: $2 per share represents a 98% discount from its $84 book value. What scares me, though, is the statement by Morgan's CFO, who said the price reflected the risk the firm was taking, even though he was comfortable with the valuation of assets in Bear's books. It "...gives us the flexibility and margin of error that's appropriate given the speed at which the transaction came together", he said.

If it takes a 98% discount and the explicit guarantee of the Fed for a large portion of assets to buy one of the largest investment banks in the world, where should all other financial firms be trading at? ....Hello? Anyone? Is that a great big silence I hear, or the sound of credit imploding into a vacuum?


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[Apr 21, 2018] The Blight of Ukania

I always thought that Brexit was UK populati0on protest against neoliberalism.
Notable quotes:
"... Then there is of course the ongoing Brexit shambles. The inflexible Eurocrats have always only had one position on Brexit: accept our terms for leaving the EU or you get nothing. ..."
"... Ukania's chief Brexit negotiator, David Davies, is a retired special-services commando who was given the job because he is the Conservative's most dyed-in-the-wool anti-EU ideologue. ..."
"... On the other hand, this Empire 2.0 fantasy also serves a more sinister purpose. The Brexiteer dream is basically a fusion of neo-imperial illusions with a no-holds-barred neoliberalism. ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

Tom Nairn coined the phrase "Ukania" to designate the confused and disorganized hotchpotch of an island-nation off the coast of northern Europe, tottering on the nation-state equivalent of varicose-veined and arthritic legs, and further enfeebled by an unproductive nostalgia for Empire (aka Empire 2.0).

... ... ...

"Dilapidation" is the word to describe the UK today. I was last there in November and will be there again in July. Frequent, indeed daily, contact with family and friends confirms that the UK is indeed Nairn's "Ukania".

This week London overtook New York as a "murder capital". Brits were shocked, because this reversed their notion of the US as a place where gun nuts can kill whenever they want.

I tried to reassure my Brit friends and family that the murder statistics for New York don't include police killings of unarmed black men, and that inclusion of the latter statistic in the murder toll would probably tell a somewhat different story.

Ukania has stringent gun laws, but nearly all the killings in London are stabbings. Acid attacks have also become increasingly common.

The causes for this outbreak of knifings and acid-throwing are almost certainly multiple. A decaying social fabric caused by nearly a decade of Tory austerity, high youth unemployment as well as employed youth who nonetheless dominate the precariat, and savage cuts in police numbers (a result of deliberate Tory policy to hand over policing to private security firms, who in turn donate generously to the Tories), are almost certainly key factors here.

The Tories however have "none of the above" on their list of causes for London's crime wave. For them and their allies in the rightwing media, drugs, a form of rap known as UK drill, and social media are to blame!

This ignorance is obviously contrived -- absolutely unlike the social media-illiterate geriatric US senators who questioned Mark Zuckerberg on the issue of Facebook's data leaks, and who in their genuine bafflement were unable to tell the difference between Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, among other things.

Unlike the technologically-senile US senators befuddled by contemporary social media and its associated technologies, the Tories know damn well the underlying conditions for London's stabbing and acid-throwing epidemic.

Then there is of course the ongoing Brexit shambles. The inflexible Eurocrats have always only had one position on Brexit: accept our terms for leaving the EU or you get nothing.

The Ukanians in response alternate hopelessly between faux bravado ("we're prepared to leave with nothing") and conciliatory placation ("please, oh please, can we come to a fresh understanding of what's on the table? ").

The Eurocrats see right through the phony bravado and dismiss it outright, while responding to pleas for a "fresh understanding" with a bored shrug– in effect saying that it is "you deluded Brits who need to understand we are not having negotiations about the terms of your departure, but only about such minutiae as the timetabling of this this or that move that (according to us) needs to be made".

The intransigent Eurocrats thus insist that negotiations can only be about "process", while the Ukanian government persists in thinking the door is somehow still open for negotiations about "substance".

Alas, those who insist on talking about "process" have held all the cards from the beginning. The Ukanians have not helped themselves by sending absolute third-raters to deal with the meritocratic wolves in Brussels. The EU wolves make it to the top by speaking two to three, or more, languages fluently, by graduating from Europe's top schools of international relations and public administration, and by having decades of experience in international diplomacy.

Ukania's chief Brexit negotiator, David Davies, is a retired special-services commando who was given the job because he is the Conservative's most dyed-in-the-wool anti-EU ideologue. Davies sits at the Brussels negotiating table without a piece of paper in front of him, while his guileful and well-schooled EU counterparts consult bulky folders as they take the woefully underprepared and intellectually underwhelming ex-commando to the woodshed. It is, in sporting terms, the equivalent of the lard-encased Donald Trump presuming he can win an Olympic race against Usain Bolt.

Ukania's self-deceptions are not confined to its dealings with the wolves of Brussels. Most of the Brexiteers (not to be confused with Lexiteers, of whom I've always been one) are gripped by nostalgic imperial fantasies. The neo-imperial fantasy of these Brexiteers is that the former members of their Empire will fall in line, dutifully, in order to conclude trading agreements with their ex-imperial master– the Brexiteer hope being that these Empire 2.0 "agreements" will somehow compensate economically for the cessation of trading links with the EU countries. This is simply not going to happen, given the dynamos driving post-imperial economic development.

The EU exists for the purpose of extending and sustaining the European embodiment of the current neoliberal order, and in so doing maintaining the very comfortable livelihoods of its Eurocratic elite. But that, or its equivalent, alas, is also the "mission" of the members of the ex-Empire, who are supposed by the Brexiteers to salute and fall in line when asked to do so by their erstwhile imperial master!

The raison d'etre of such countries as India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc., is precisely to subserve the exigencies of the forms of capitalist of accumulation prevailing in their countries, forms which in turn coincide more or less with the needs of their national elites.

And this post-imperial raison d'etre is clearly not congruent with daydreamed requirements imposed by a post-Brexit Empire 2.0 nostalgia on the part of Ukania. Australia and New Zealand now have their economic systems attuned, profitably, to demand from China and the rest of the Pacific Rim; Canada likewise with regard to the US; and India in relation to the economies of the Gulf States; and so on.

Ukania will get nowhere with Empire 2.0 après Brexit unless it can provide terms of trade and revenues matching or surpassing those now available to its former colonies.

... ... ...

On the other hand, this Empire 2.0 fantasy also serves a more sinister purpose. The Brexiteer dream is basically a fusion of neo-imperial illusions with a no-holds-barred neoliberalism.

The EU at least insists on health and safety standards that are better than India's. But why shouldn't India's standards be good enough for Ukania's pampered workers? The latter's ancestors worked in dark satanic mills, so surely these f*@#ers can work in factories recycling toxic metals from discarded computers and mobile phones? The EU's food inspection standards are better than China's, but why should Ukania hold itself to a standard higher than China's? Milk "supplemented" with de-icer fluid anyone? The EU has minimal standards on bank operations and financial transactions – get rid of these and Ukania can be freed to become the world's premier haven for tax-dodgers and money launderers. Okay, it already holds the latter title, but Ukania will be able to lower the bar even more on money laundering once it gets rid of the EU's regulatory shackles.

... ... ...

[Apr 20, 2018] How about the West which has been trying to build a gas pipeline through Syria into Turkey to supply Europe with gas and break Russia's monopoly of European gas supplies.

Notable quotes:
"... How about the West which has been trying to build a gas pipeline through Syria into Turkey to supply Europe with gas and break Russia's monopoly of European gas supplies. Don't believe me read the Doha agreement where the west recognised the Syrian rebels, this pipeline was a pre requisite for that recognition. ..."
"... And why would Assad who is winning the war do the one thing that would give America and other western countries the chance to get involved because of outrageous moral indignation. Assad and Outing really aren't that stupid. ..."
Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

dumbwaiter -> Kevin Watson , 13 Apr 2018 15:31

How about the West which has been trying to build a gas pipeline through Syria into Turkey to supply Europe with gas and break Russia's monopoly of European gas supplies. Don't believe me read the Doha agreement where the west recognised the Syrian rebels, this pipeline was a pre requisite for that recognition.

Israel? which is not happy with Iran and Lebanon having a presence in Syria, worried that America was withdrawing.

AlQaeda or the Syrian Rebels, many are both who are losing the war and this is a last desperate attempt to drag in America and the west?

You've also got Turkey and the Kurds (the Kurds were abandoned by the West after they had fulfilled their useful purpose), both also players in the region but I can't see a motive here.

And why would Assad who is winning the war do the one thing that would give America and other western countries the chance to get involved because of outrageous moral indignation. Assad and Outing really aren't that stupid.

Any or all of the above could be the true motivation. I am no fan of Assad, Putin, or Trump or May (or the Blair clone Macron) but the question you have to ask yourself is who gains from this? And is. this in the interests of a resolution to a conflict, to your safety or is it something else?

[Apr 20, 2018] The Great Game Comes to Syria by Conn Hallinan

Apr 20, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

An unusual triple alliance is emerging from the Syrian war, one that could alter the balance of power in the Middle East, unhinge the NATO alliance, and complicate the Trump administration's designs on Iran. It might also lead to yet another double cross of one of the region's largest ethnic groups, the Kurds.

However, the "troika alliance" -- Turkey, Russia and Iran -- consists of three countries that don't much like one another, have different goals, and whose policies are driven by a combination of geo-global goals and internal politics. In short, "fragile and complicated" doesn't even begin to describe it.

How the triad might be affected by the joint U.S., French and British attack on Syria is unclear, but in the long run the alliance will likely survive the uptick of hostilities.

But common ground was what came out of the April 4 meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meeting in Ankara, the parties pledged to support the "territorial integrity" of Syria, find a diplomatic end to the war, and to begin a reconstruction of a Syria devastated by seven years of war. While Russia and Turkey explicitly backed the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva, Iran was quiet on that issue, preferring a regional solution without "foreign plans."

"Common ground," however, doesn't mean the members of the "troika" are on the same page.

Turkey's interests are both internal and external. The Turkish Army is currently conducting two military operations in northern Syria, Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield, aimed at driving the mainly Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) out of land that borders Turkey. But those operations are also deeply entwined with Turkish politics.

Erdogan's internal support has been eroded by a number of factors: exhaustion with the ongoing state of emergency imposed following the 2016 attempted coup, a shaky economy , and a precipitous fall in the value of the Turkish pound. Rather than waiting for 2019, Erdogan called for snap elections this past week and beating up on the Kurds is always popular with right-wing Turkish nationalists. Erdogan needs all the votes he can get to imlement his newly minted executive presidency that will give him virtually one-man rule.

To be part of the alliance, however, Erdogan has had to modify his goal of getting rid of Syrian President Bashar Assad and to agree -- at this point, anyhow -- to eventually withdraw from areas in northern Syria seized by the Turkish Army. Russia and Iran have called for turning over the regions conquered by the Turks to the Syrian Army.

Moscow's goals are to keep a foothold in the Middle East with its only base, Tartus, and to aid its long-time ally, Syria. The Russians are not deeply committed to Assad personally, but they want a friendly government in Damascus. They also want to destroy al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, which have caused Moscow considerable trouble in the Caucasus.

Russia also wouldn't mind driving a wedge between Ankara and NATO. After the U.S., Turkey has NATO's second largest army. NATO broke a 1989 agreement not to recruit former members of the Russian-dominated Warsaw Pact into NATO as a quid pro quo for the Soviets withdrawing from Eastern Europe. But since the Yugoslav War in 1999 the alliance has marched right up to the borders of Russia. The 2008 war with Georgia and 2014 seizure of the Crimea were largely a reaction to what Moscow sees as an encirclement strategy by its adversaries.

Turkey has been at odds with its NATO allies around a dispute between Greece and Cyprus over sea-based oil and gas resources , and it recently charged two Greek soldiers who violated the Turkish border with espionage. Erdogan is also angry that European Union countries refuse to extradite Turkish soldiers and civilians who he claims helped engineer the 2016 coup against him. While most NATO countries condemned Moscow for the recent attack on two Russians in Britain, the Turks pointedly did not .

Turkish relations with Russia have an economic side as well. Ankara want a natural gas pipeline from Russia, has broken ground on a $20 billion Russian nuclear reactor, and just shelled out $2.5 billion for Russia's S-400 anti-aircraft system.

The Russians do not support Erdogan's war on the Kurds and have lobbied for the inclusion of Kurdish delegations in negotiations over the future of Syria. But Moscow clearly gave the Turks a green light to attack the Kurdish city of Afrin last month, driving out the YPG that had liberated it from the Islamic State and Turkish-backed al-Qaeda groups. A number of Kurds charge that Moscow has betrayed them .

The question now is, will the Russians stand aside if the Turkish forces move further into Syria and attack the city of Manbij, where the Kurds are allied with U.S. and French forces? And will Erdogan's hostility to the Kurds lead to an armed clash among three NATO members?

Such a clash seems unlikely, although the Turks have been giving flamethrower speeches over the past several weeks. "Those who cooperate with terrorists organizations [the YPG] will be targeted by Turkey," says Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said in a pointed reference to France's support for the Kurds. Threatening the French is one thing, picking a fight with the U.S. military quite another.

Of course, if President Trump pulls U.S. forces out of Syria, it will be tempting for Turkey to move in. While the "troika alliance" has agreed to Syrian "sovereignty," that won't stop Ankara from meddling in Kurdish affairs. The Turks are already appointing governors and mayors for the areas in Syria they have occupied.

Iran's major concern in Syria is maintaining a buffer between itself and a very aggressive alliance of the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia, which seems to be in the preliminary stages of planning a war against the second-largest country in the Middle East.

Iran is not at all the threat it has been pumped up to be. Its military is miniscule and talk of a so-called "Shiite crescent" -- Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon -- is pretty much a western invention (although the term was dreamed up by the King of Jordan).

Tehran has been weakened by crippling sanctions and faces the possibility that Washington will withdraw from the nuclear accord and re-impose yet more sanctions. The appointment of National Security Advisor John Bolton, who openly calls for regime change in Iran, has to have sent a chill down the spines of the Iranians. What Tehran needs most of all is allies who will shield it from the enmity of the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia. In this regard, Turkey and Russia could be helpful.

Iran has modified its original goals in Syria of a Shiite-dominated regime by agreeing to a "non-sectarian character" for a post-war Syria. Erdogan has also given up on his desire for a Sunni-dominated government in Damascus.

War with Iran would be catastrophic, an unwinnable conflict that could destabilize the Middle East even more than it is now. It would, however, drive up the price of oil, currently running at around $66 a barrel. Saudi Arabia needs to sell its oil for at least $100 a barrel, or it will very quickly run of money. The on-going quagmire of the Yemen war, the need to diversify the economy, and the growing clamor by young Saudis -- 70 percent of the population -- for jobs requires lots of money, and the current trends in oil pricing are not going to cover the bills.

War and oil make for odd bedfellows . While the Saudis are doing their best to overthrow the Assad regime and fuel the extremists fighting the Russians, Riyadh is wooing Moscow to sign onto to a long-term OPEC agreement to control oil supplies. That probably won't happen -- the Russians are fine with oil at $50 to $60 a barrel -- and are wary of agreements that would restrict their right to develop new oil and gas resources. The Saudi's jihad on the Iranians has a desperate edge to it, as well it might. The greatest threat to the Kingdom has always come from within.

The rocks and shoals that can wreck alliances in the Middle East are too numerous to count, and the "troika" is riven with contradictions and conflicting interests. But the war in Syria looks as if it is coming to some kind of resolution, and at this point Iran, Russia and Turkey seem to be the only actors who have a script that goes beyond lobbing cruise missiles at people.

[Apr 19, 2018] Imran Awan's Father Transferred USB Drive To Ex-Head Of Pakistani Intel Agency Zero Hedge

Apr 19, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

The father of Imran Awan - a longtime IT aide from Pakistan who made "unauthorized access" to the House computer network - reportedly transferred a USB drive to the former head of a Pakistani intelligence agency , alleges the father's ex-business partner, Rashid Minhas.

Imran Awan and wife Hina Alvi

Minhas told the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) - which traveled to Pakistan to interview those involved - that Haji Ashraf Awan, Imran Awan's father, had been giving information to Rehman Malik - former head of Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and current senator. Malik was appointed to Interior Minister in early 2008, only to step down in 2013 after he lost a Supreme Court hearing over holding dual UK citizenship.

Minhas told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Imran Awan's father, Haji Ashraf Awan, was giving data to Pakistani official Rehman Malik, and that Imran bragged he had the power to " change the U.S. president. "

Asked for how he knew this, he said that on one occasion in 2008 when a "USB [was] given to Rehman Malik by Imran's father, my brother Abdul Razzaq was with his father ." - DCNF

"After Imran's father deliver (sic) USB to Rehman Malik, four Pakistani [government intelligence] agents were with his father 24-hour on duty to protect him," he said - however Minhas did not say what was on the USB.

[insert: Foreign_Secretary_in_Pakistan_(4727720266).jpg ]

British Foreign Secretary William Hague (left), Rehman Malik

The House watchdog, Inspector General Michael Ptasienski, charged in September 30, 2016 that data was being siphoned off of the House Network by the Awans as recently as two months before the US presidential election.

The Awan family had virtually unlimited access to Democratic House members' computers, including classified information.

Nearly Imran's entire immediate family was on the House payroll working as IT aides to one-fifth of House Democrats , and he began working for the House in 2004. The inspector general, Michael Ptasienski, testified this month that " system administrators hold the 'keys to the kingdom' meaning they can create accounts, grant access, view, download, update, or delete almost any electronic information within an office. Because of this high-level access, a rogue system administrator could inflict considerable damage ." - DCNF

https://www.youtube.com/embed/x6I2ikJIzjU

According to Minhas - "Imran Awan said to me directly these words: ' See how I control White House on my fingertip ' He say he can fire the prime minister or change the U.S. president," Minhas said. " Why the claiming big stuff, I [didn't] understand 'till now ."

" I was Imran father's partner in Pakistan, " Minhas said, in two land deals in Pakistan so big that they are often referred to as "towns." In 2009, both men were accused of fraud , and Haji was arrested but then released after Imran flew to Pakistan , "allegedly exerting pressure on the local police through the ministry as well as the department concerned," according to local news. Minhas and multiple alleged victims in Pakistan also told TheDCNF Imran exerted political influence in Pakistan to extricate his father from the case . - DCNF

Minhas is currently sitting in US federal prison for fraud, and the Daily Caller says they can not confirm whether Minhas' claims about the USB is true. That said, Minhas says that neither the DOJ nor the FBI ever interviewed him about the Awans , which is odd considering that he's available and connected to Imran Awan.

He is also one of many people with past relationships with the Awans who have said they believe they are aggressive opportunists who will do anything for money . And parts of Minhas's story correlate with observations elsewhere. Haji's wife, Samina Gilani -- Imran's stepmother -- said in court documents that Imran used his IT skills to wiretap her as a means of exerting pressure on her.

Haji would frequently boast that Imran's position gave him political leverage, numerous Pakistani residents told TheDCNF. " My son own White House in D.C. ," he would say, according to Minhas. " I am kingmaker ."

Senator Malik has denied any relationship with the parties reportedly involved, saying "I am hearing their names for the first time. I am in public and people always do name-dropping."

Imran Awan's attorney Chris Gowen says Minhas's claims are "completely and totally false."

The Awans were banned from the congressional network on Feb 2, 2017 by House Seargant-At-Arms, Paul Irving - after the IG report concluded that the Awans had been making "unauthorized access" to House servers. The Awans were logging in using Congressional members' personal usernames , as well as breaching servers for members they did not work for. After several members fired them, the Awans continued to access their data , says the IG.

The behavior mirrored a "classic method for insiders to exfiltrate data from an organization," and "steps are being taken [by the Awans] to conceal their activity," reads the report.

Shortly before the 2016 election, the House Democratic Caucus server was breached by Awan - who authorities believe secretly moved all the data of over 12 House members' offices onto the caucus server.

The server may have been " used for nefarious purposes and elevated the risk that individuals could be reading and/or removing information, " an IG presentation said. The Awans logged into it 27 times a day, far more than any other computer they administered .

Imran's most forceful advocate and longtime employer is Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who led the DNC until she resigned following a hack that exposed committee emails. Wikileaks published those emails, and they show that DNC staff summoned Imran when they needed her password . - DCNF

Shortly after the IG report came out, the House Democratic Caucus server - which the Awans were funneling data onto, was physically stolen according to three government officials. During the same period of time, the Awans were shedding assets at a rapid pace.

In January 2017 they took out a loan intended for home improvement, falsely claimed a medical emergency in order to cash out their House retirement account, and wired $300,000 overseas , according to an FBI affidavit. - DCNF

The FBI arrested Imran Awan at Dulles Airport in July 2017 while trying to flee to Pakistan with a wiped cell phone and a resume that listed a Queens, NY address. Imran and his wife, Hina Alvi, were indicted last August on charges of bank fraud - which prosecutors contend was hastened after the Awans had likely learned that authorities were closing in on them for various other activities .

That said, neither Imran nor Hina have been charged over the unauthorized access concluded by the House's own Inspector General, after reviewing server logs. Three other suspects, Jamal and Abid Awan, and Rao Abbas, have faced no charges whatsoever.

[Apr 18, 2018] Criminal Referral Issued For Comey, Clinton, Lynch And McCabe; Rosenstein Recusal Demanded

Apr 18, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Eleven GOP members of Congress led by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) have written a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Attorney John Huber, and FBI Director Christopher Wray - asking them to investigate former FBI Director James Comey, Hillary Clinton and others - including FBI lovebirds Peter Strzok and Lisa Page , for a laundry list of potential crimes surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Recall that Sessions paired special prosecutor John Huber with DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz - falling short of a second Special Counsel, but empowering Horowitz to fully investigate allegations of FBI FISA abuse with subpoena power and other methods he was formerly unable to utilize.

The GOP letter's primary focus appears to be James Comey, while the charges for all include obstruction, perjury, corruption, unauthorized removal of classified documents, contributions and donations by foreign nationals and other allegations.

The letter also demands that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "be recused from any examination of FISA abuse ," and recommends that " neither U.S. Attorney John Huber nor a special counsel (if appointed) should report to Rosenstein. "

The letter refers the following individuals for the following conduct:

James Comey - obstruction , perjury , corruption , stealing public property or records , gathering transmitting or losing defense information , unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents, false statements .

Hillary Clinton - contributions and donations by foreign nationals

Loretta Lynch - obstruction, corruption

Andrew McCabe - false statements, perjury, obstruction

Peter Strzok and Lisa Page - obstruction, corruption,

"Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI personnel connected to the compilation of documents on alleged links between Russia and then-presidential candidate Donald Trump known as the "Steele dossier."

The criminal referrals for the group allegedly responsible for FISA abuse include: obstruction, deprivation of rights under color of law, corruption.

Read the full letter below...

[Apr 18, 2018] Count on an inverted yield curve and Treasury Department derivative losses in the trillions on interest rate swaps sold to Wall Street banks

Apr 18, 2018 | thesaker.is

Rob from Canada on April 15, 2018 , · at 2:06 pm UTC

Count on an inverted yield curve and Treasury Department derivative losses in the trillions on interest rate swaps sold to Wall Street banks.

Wall Street banks have been buying surplus US government debt that the world doesn't want to finance huge budget deficits over the last 10 years and the Treasury Department sold them insurance protection against capital loses on that debt.

A lot of malinvestment in fracking and share buybacks with borrowed money has overleveraged corporations. Personal debt, corporate debt and government debt compared to GDP are at 1929 levels and a lot of that debt will be uncollectible.

The USA has kicked the financial can down the road for 10 years. It created a huge asset inflation bubble with borrowed money ie all malinvestment via interest rate suppression by the Fed that will blow up when the yield curve goes inverted signifying a financial panic is underway. That is the demand for short-term money(to borrow) is greater than the supply of money to short-term borrow.(to lend)

All I have to do is look at the SPX chart of the SP500 to know the US is FUKUS. The bull market that started in 2008 has started a head&shoulders topping pattern. In 2019 I expect 52-week lows to be hit and a bear market worse the 2008 financial crisis to be underway.

­
guest on April 15, 2018 , · at 2:52 pm UTC
People keep tossing out "The US economy is tanking, it is going to implode/explode/crumble sooner or later" etc., etc. Such beliefs may be soothing to hold but they do not rest on knowledge or economic literacy. Briefly, here is why.

Economies do not tank because of massive credit. Money Supply = M1 + M2 + M3, where M3 is the outstanding credit in the economy. The US M3 is huge because the economy itself is huge. Modern economies have moved away from paper notes and in future all money supply will essentially be M2 + M3. M2 (total outstanding bank deposits) and M3 are in turn fusing into one as credit card payments replace the practice of mailing out cheques.

Nor is high foreign indebtedness in itself a sign of future imminent collapse. Yes, it is worryingly high presently, but no it is not imminent that some sort of disaster will befall the US Treasury. No one forces the rest-of-the world to buy US treasuries, bonds, and stocks. Yet governments, corporations, and individuals from all over the world line-up to buy these. Ask yourselves why. The answer is: Money and Capital flows to low risk and high return zones. This is how it always has been, and this is how it always will be. Why do Alibaba and the other Chinese majors seek listing on American stock exchanges?

Yes, there are plenty of things wrong with the USA, and yes it may end up paying a dear price for its arrogance, aggression, and cruelty all over the world (not to talk of its collapsing morality, ethics and social cohesion at home) but there is nothing the matter with its economy. Those who wait for its supposedly "Ponzi scheme" to collapse will wait to eternity, I am afraid.

­
Simon Chow on April 16, 2018 , · at 12:57 pm UTC
@guest. I think your conclusion that the US economy is not tanking is blinkered. The US economy tanked in 2008 and would had crashed into a worse depression had not the Chinese held up the US economy (the Chinese also held up Europe by holding up the German economy). Alibaba is not the biggest Chinese company to list in the US. The biggest which is twice as profitable, twice the market capitalisation of Alibaba(more than USD500 billion) and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is Tencent.

The US economy and the US dollar was viewed as safe haven becuase there was no alternative. The US dollar and the US economy became a bubble because of the global demand for the US dollar resulting from there being no alternative. Besides the use of the USD is enforced by the US military.

But, if you have been following the latest economic development, that had changed. The US economy is no longer the biggest, certainly not the strongest. The US dollar is no longer indispensable. It's value is now perched on the edge of a sharp slippery slope due to US financial mismanagement and profligacy ala the late great USSR!

Its stupendous, useless, egoistic and hubristic military spending and other factors will push the US economy down that very slippery slope to oblivion.

But China will be waiting at the bottom of that slope to cushion the fall!

­
pogohere on April 16, 2018 , · at 8:12 pm UTC
SIGNS THAT THE US DEBT-FUELED ECONOMY MIGHT ACTUALLY COLLAPSE

An Awara Accounting Study on US Economy 2018:
Signs that the US Debt-Fueled Economy Might Actually Collapse
Main findings:

US debt-to-GDP to reach 140% by 2024

Net increase in debt could be as enormous as $10 to 15 trillion in just five years 2019 to 2024

Federal budget interest expenditure could reach $1.5 trillion by 2028, 25% of the total

There has been no real GDP growth since at least 2007

Growth of government debt has exceeded even nominal GDP growth multiple times each year since 2007

US reporting on national debt and inflation full of tricks

War budgets ripping open huge deficits

Skyrocketing social spending leaves no room for deficit cuts

Unfunded liabilities now a reality as Social Security and Medicare funds dry up

https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/signs-that-the-us-debt-fueled-economy-might-actually-collapse/

­
Rob from Canada on April 15, 2018 , · at 10:17 am UTC
No, it's not over Saker, but compared to 2007 victory is in sight.

First, my opinion is that the Russia/China asymmetric attack on US dollar hegemony will create a second financial crisis next year, worse than the one in 2008.

Second, in my opinion, Russia and China are winning on the most important Grand Strategic/Moral level of warfare for global public opinion. The UN votes are illustrative of that moral victory. Also, Qatar, Turkey and the Philippines switching sides are examples of moral victory.

"Facts simply don't matter. And neither does logic. All that matters are perceptions!"
That's the perfect strategy to defeat yourself.

"Those who defeat others are strong, those who defeat themselves are mighty." Lao Tzu

Napolean marched into Russia in 1812 with lot's of allies but left several months later with none.

I agree with MK Bhadrakumar assessment of the strike on Syria over your assessment. It's a moral defeat for the F#$%ing stupidest, exceptional nation on the face of the earth.

http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2018/04/15/trump-opens-a-pandoras-box-in-middle-east/

Anonymous on April 15, 2018 , · at 10:29 am UTC
<>

Well, I'm not sure what old Lao was smoking on that day but if we replace the word "mighty" with "exceptional" then perhaps Trump fits the bill in a modern context.

Putin the Great vs Trump the Mighty (and Exceptional) who managed to defeat himself.

­
cdvision on April 15, 2018 , · at 3:32 pm UTC
Rob: my view exactly.

Russia and China have stopped buying US Treasuries, in fact are selling down for gold. The deficit if 1.3T will be more costly to fund, and the debt impossible to service. And China with the petro-yuan has tolled the death knell. Added to that is the dysfunction of the US political system. The mid-terms will be very interesting. I doubt Trump will see out 1 term, never mind 2.

And yes, the so-called US allies are fair weather friend.

­
Iris on April 15, 2018 , · at 7:24 pm UTC
Dear Saker;

Rob is right: the coming economic crisis will be nothing like 2007, or like any depression that occurred over the past century for that matter. It is the first time a cycle is ending with interest rates so low, so the trick of lowering them further cannot be used this time.
Even though hyperinflation is not happening because of globalised and cheap offer (Richard Duncan), Western economies are slowly collapsing under the burden of debt (Prof Steve Keen, Prof Michael Hudson).

The global Ponzi scheme will soon end, with major geopolitical consequence. The US, being given their history, will probably go to full blown war where this can bring most economic gains. The Chinese are fully aware of that, and are preparing for it All of their plans ( the OBOR initiative, the petro-yuan) depend on a strong Russia, The Chinese will not let Russia go down, their own survival depend on Russia.
All the best.

[Apr 17, 2018] After Greeks and British, now Italians reject neoliberal EU. Not many ideas what to put in its place. Defend Democracy Press

March 5, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press

After Greeks and British, now Italians reject neoliberal EU. Not many ideas what to put in its place. 06/03/2018 Italian election results: How the world's press reacted

Italy's governing centre-left Democratic Party has seen disappointing losses in the election result, while the populist League and Five Star Movement have had remarkable gains. Here's how the world's press reacted to the vote.

Read more at https://www.thelocal.it/20180305/italian-election-results-how-international-press-reacted

Eurosceptic Italy in race to form majority government

Five Star Movement and the League vie to form a coalition, but ultimate decision is held by President Sergio Mattarella

Mon 5 Mar 2018

The two populist parties that won major upsets in the Italian election – the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the League (La Liga) – are in a race to be the first to try to form a majority government after the election produced a hung parliament.

The decision will ultimately fall to Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, who could take weeks to determine whether the anti-establishment M5S, which took 32.6% of the vote, or a fragile centre-right alliance led by the League's bombastic Matteo Salvini, with 35.7% of the vote, are better equipped to create a majority government.

Read more at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/05/italy-turns-back-on-europe-as-election-points-to-hung-parliament

[Apr 16, 2018] Self-Centered, Self-Serving Jackass : FBI Insiders Furious After Comey Interview

Notable quotes:
"... Prior to becoming the DNC's most wanted, Comey and his team notoriously let Hillary Clinton off the hook for her private server and mishandling of classified information - having begun drafting Clinton's exoneration before even interviewing her, something which appears to have been "forgotten" in his book. ..."
"... You left out the fact that he was instrumental in the formation of the Clinton Foundation. ..."
Apr 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Current and former FBI agents are furious after former Director James Comey gave his first interview since President Trump fired him last year to ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday night, reports the Daily Beast - which was privy to a play-by-play flurry of text messages and other communications detailing their reactions.

Seven current or former FBI agents and officials spoke throughout and immediately after the broadcast. There was a lot of anger, frustration, and even more emojis -- featuring the thumbs-down, frowny face, middle finger, and a whole lot of green vomit faces .

One former FBI official sent a bourbon emoji as it began; another sent the beers cheers-ing emoji. The responses became increasingly angry and despondent as the hourlong interview played out. - Daily Beast

" Hoover is spinning in his grave ," said a former FBI official. " Making money from total failure ," in reference to Comey plugging his book, A Higher Loyalty .

Jana Winter of The Beast adds that when a promo aired between segments advertising Comey's upcoming appearance with The View , the official "grew angrier." " Good lord, what a self-serving self-centered jackass ," the official said. " True to form he thinks he's the smartest guy around ."

... ... ...

Comey was fired by President Trump on May 9, 2017, after which he leaked memos he claims document conversations with Trump to the New York Times, kicking off the special counsel investigation headed by Robert Mueller - whose team started out looking at Russian influence in the 2016 election, and is now investigating the President's alleged decade-old extramarital affairs with at least two women. Truly looking out for national security there Bob...

... ... ...

Prior to becoming the DNC's most wanted, Comey and his team notoriously let Hillary Clinton off the hook for her private server and mishandling of classified information - having begun drafting Clinton's exoneration before even interviewing her, something which appears to have been "forgotten" in his book.

Oldguy05 -> nmewn Mon, 04/16/2018 - 20:54 Permalink

Cumey is nothing but a small man in a big car.

hxc -> Oldguy05 Mon, 04/16/2018 - 21:57 Permalink

I would rather have RP if he had the charisma/gusto and also tactical genius of DT. However, I worry that Ron, as a guy that delivered babies and educated people on nonagression, as opposed to running a something-billion dollar cutthroat RE empire, might be more at risk of A) being unable to overcome political roadblocks and destabilization, and B) something bad happening to him.

Fish Gone Bad -> FireBrander Mon, 04/16/2018 - 19:43 Permalink

I once saw this on a T-shirt: Those who think they are the smartest person in the room, really piss off those of us who are.

Comey is a narcissistic traitor .

NoDebt -> Bitchface-KILLAH Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:00 Permalink

Comey was always the most enigmatic figure to me in this sad, troubling series of events involving the FBI.

THE GOOD NEWS: Everyone hates him now. The Rs hate him, the Ds hate him. Who's Christmas party did he get invited to last year? I'm guessing the invitations were few. His own ego has turned him into plutonium. And he deserves even worse than that.

Bitchface-KILLAH -> NoDebt Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:03 Permalink

Every agency has a Jim Comey in it... you know the guy. Their CV just has an implied "team skills and natural ability to get a deep brown nose" at the very top of it.

JimmyJones -> Bitchface-KILLAH Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:55 Permalink

He really is a traitor

FireBrander -> Bitchface-KILLAH Mon, 04/16/2018 - 19:41 Permalink

Comey reminds me of all the "executives" I've known that married the owners daughter prior to getting hired.

nmewn -> NoDebt Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:19 Permalink

So, to review.

Comey was the FBI Director when warrants were issued to spy on Trump and his associates. Warrants gained in part or in whole by, false evidence (the Steele dossier) presented to a FISA court judge(s), gathered by, a foreign national former spy (Steele) who was in contact with his old Kremlin pals, who (Steele) was then paid by the DNC, Fusion GPS via Perkins Coie to give Hillary Rodham Clinton (affectionately known here as The Bitch of Benghazi) some distance from the fake "evidence".

Now besides Comey knowing the source of "the dossier" one of his deputies (McCabe) was at the same time "colluding" with a couple FBI agents (Strzok & Page) in a "counter-intel operation" (on the taxpayers dime) to gather dirt on candidate Trump. McCabe's wife (we might recall) got a sizable "donation" from Terry McAuliffe (another Klinton sleezebag) for her political run in Virginia.

And we haven't even touched on Comey's theft of government documents or his turning over those documents to his friend so the friend could turn them over to the Alinsky NYT's for the purposes of...getting his mentor Grand Inquisitor Mueller a gig as "special prosecutor" (as he admitted to under oath).

He should be arrested and sent to Gitmo.

???ö? -> nmewn Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:27 Permalink

Mueller's investigation is tainted with fruit of the poisonous tree and the entirety of seized evidence will be unceremoniously thrown out by a 5-4 US Supreme Court.

The First Rule -> nmewn Mon, 04/16/2018 - 18:51 Permalink

There is only one thing keeping Comey out of Prison: Jeff Sessions. If we someday get a real AG, who is willing to man up and appoint a second special prosecutor, Comey is finished. But for the moment, Mr. Magoo is saving his ass.

Ajax-1 -> The First Rule Mon, 04/16/2018 - 20:32 Permalink

Don't hold your breath. The clock on the statute of limitations is ticking away. I wish someone could provide me with an honest rational as to why Trump hasn't fired Jeff Sessions.

Hulk -> nmewn Mon, 04/16/2018 - 19:04 Permalink

He is one stupid ass. ALways stuns me to hear him speak...

Boxed Merlot -> nmewn Mon, 04/16/2018 - 20:02 Permalink

...Comey was the FBI Director when...

And if he wasn't aware of every fact as stated, the whole enchilada is even more bogus than you have represented.

Shut it down.

jmo.

Dilluminati -> nmewn Mon, 04/16/2018 - 20:03 Permalink

https://translate.google.com/m/translate?client=ob&hl=en&ie=UTF8&sl=en&

GreatUncle -> nmewn Mon, 04/16/2018 - 20:08 Permalink

But ... but .. but this is the new normal.

We all need to take a leaf out of Comeys behavior ... that's the way to play this game.

Honesty and integrity no longer needed ... time for everybody to lie to the government.

Duc888 -> nmewn Mon, 04/16/2018 - 20:17 Permalink

You left out the fact that he was instrumental in the formation of the Clinton Foundation.

NumberNone -> nmewn Mon, 04/16/2018 - 20:25 Permalink

Problem is that a sizable portion of the US population view Comey's actions in the 'if you could go back in time and kill baby Hitler...' perspective. Yes it's illegal, yes it's unconstitutional...but was trying to save the 'World' so it's justified.

I think you framed it similar...this is the same as injecting bleach into our veins in the hope in clears up a pimple on our nose.

[Apr 16, 2018] Macron takes fire for Syria attack

Macron is a neoliberal. As such he is a Washington marionette. So what other behaviour you would expect from him ? He is no Charles de Gaulle
And UN charter was violated by the USA already so many times, that it is difficult to take its existence seriously. The USA clearly view itself above the law at least since 1991.
"Ten days ago, President Trump was saying 'the United States should withdraw from Syria.' We convinced him it was necessary to stay." Thus boasted French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, adding, "We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term."
Apr 16, 2018 | www.presstv.com

On Monday, the head of the far-left France Insoumise party, Jean-Luc Melenchon, said that there was no proof of the chemical attacks which were used as a pretext to the US-led strikes.

"It's in this context that morals and the adherence to the resolution of the United Nations does not fully prove advantageous, that we intervened, without any proof. I'm not saying without certainty or conviction. I'm not saying that intelligence services are incapable of evaluating the situation," he added.

"But according to international law and international action, we can only act based on proof confirmed by institutions that are responsible. However, these institutions were in the process of conducting their investigations at the time of the strikes," he said during parliamentary debate on the airstrikes.

He further noted that strikes were carried out without a mandate from the United Nations "I'm adding that not only did we not have any mandate from the United Nations, but we did not at all consider any regional organization involved in the situation in Syria, or at least Western ones," he added.

Melenchon went on to stress that the attacks were carried out without consideration of "the people in whose name we claim to act."

The leader of the far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, also said that Macron had not offered any evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.

On Sunday, Macron defending the strikes claiming that he convinced US President Donald Trump to keep troops in Syria. Wh ,> 1 hour ago

Think about it, the three stooges strikes chemical sites irresponsibly in order to make them
airborne to kill more civilians. Fortunately non of the sites that were bombed did NOT have
any airborne of chemical syndrome, that meant there were no chemical weapon at those
sites. Douma must have been targeted but those missiles were shoot down. They will make
false flag again in order to destroy Douma to erase false evidence.

[Apr 16, 2018] Russia Reveals Who Staged Syria Gas Attack, As US Claims Moscow May Have Tampered With Site

Apr 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

The Russian envoy to the chemical weapons watchdog group, OPCW, said that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded by the UK and US carried out the April 7 chemical attack in the Damascus, Syria suburb of Douma.

Russia's permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Alexander Shulgin, said Russia has irrefutable evidence that there was no chemical weapons incident in Douma .

"Therefore, we have not just a "high degree of confidence ," as our Western partners claim, but we have incontrovertible evidence that there was no incident on April 7 in Douma and that all this was a planned provocation by the British intelligence services, probably, with the participation of their senior allies from Washington with the aim of misleading the international community and justifying aggression against Syria," he stated. - Sputnik

Shulgin added that the US, UK and France are not interested in conducting an objective investigation of the attack site. " They put the blame on the Syrian authorities in advance, without even waiting for the OPCW mission to begin to establish the possible facts of the use of chemical weapons in Syria ," he said.

The nine-member OPCW mission people has yet to deploy to the city of Douma according to the organization's Chief, citing pending security issues.

"The Team has not yet deployed to Douma. The Syrian and the Russian officials who participated in the preparatory meetings in Damascus have informed the FFM Team that there were still pending security issues to be worked out before any deployment could take place . In the meantime the Team was offered by the Syrian authorities that they could interview 22 witnesses who could be brought to Damascus ," OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said as quoted by the organization.

The Russian Envoy says that the controversial " White Helmets " were one of the anti-Assad "pseudo-humanitarian NGOs" which staged the event. As Disobedient Media and others have reported, the White Helmets are funded in large part by the United States.

"The Syrian Civil Defense Force (aka the White Helmets) is funded in part by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) . Included here are two links showing contracts awarded by USAID to Chemonics International Inc. (DBA Chemonics). The first award was in the sum of $111.2 million and has a Period of Performance (POP) from January 2013 to June 2017. It states that the purpose of the award will be to use the funds for managing a " quick-response mechanism supporting activities that pursue a peaceful transition to a democratic and stable Syria ." The second was in the sum of $57.4 million and has a POP from August 2015 to August 2020. This award was designated to be used in the " Syria Regional Program II " which is a part of the Support Which Implements Fast Transitions IV (SWIFT IV) program." Via Disobedient Media

https://www.youtube.com/embed/8aAaReVn2I4

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Moscow says they have confirmed that " these structures [NGOs] on a fee-based basis cooperate with the governments of the United States, the UK and some other countries ."

Russian experts who conducted the verification of reports on the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian city of the Douma, found participants of video filming, presented as evidence of the supposedly occurring chemotherapy, according to the Russian Envoy to OPCW . - Sputnik

"Everything has been developing according to the script that was prepared in Washington. There is no doubt that Americans are playing the 'first violin' in all of this . The United States, the United Kingdom, France and some other countries after the "fake" addition from the White Helmets and their ilk in Douma, immediately pounced upon the Syrian authorities with accusations," Shulgin said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has alerted the OPCW that Russia "may have tampered" with the chemical attack site in Douma ...

me title=

"It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site," U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Ward said at a meeting of the OPCW in The Hague on Monday.

" It is our concern that they may have tampered with it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission to conduct an effective investigation ," he said. His comments at the closed-door meeting were obtained by Reuters .

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shot back in a BBC interview, saying " I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site ."

Earlier, Britain's delegation to the OPCW accused Russia and the Syrian government of preventing the international watchdog's inspectors from reaching Douma.

The inspectors aim to collect samples, interview witnesses and document evidence to determine whether banned toxic munitions were used, although they are not permitted to assign blame for the attack. - Reuters

"Unfettered access is essential," the British delegation said in a statement. "Russia and Syria must cooperate."

Moscow says the OPCW delay is due to the Western air strikes. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the British accusation that Russia was to blame for holding up the inspections was "groundless".

"We called for an objective investigation. This was at the very beginning after this information [of the attack] appeared. Therefore allegations of this towards Russia are groundless ," Peskov said.

***

On Friday we reported that Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow has "irrefutable evidence" that the attack - which allegedly killed over 40 people, was staged with the help of a foreign secret service.

" We have irrefutable evidence that this was another staged event, and that the secret services of a certain state that is now at the forefront of a Russophobic campaign was involved in this staged event ," he said during a press conference according to AFP.

According to defense ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Kremlin has evidence that Britain was behind the attack.

Quoted by Reuters , he said: " We have... evidence that proves Britain was directly involved in organising this provocation ."

As RT further adds , the Russian Defense Ministry presented what it says is " proof that the reported chemical weapons attack in Syria was staged." It also accused the British government of pressuring the perpetrators to speed up the "provocation." During a briefing on Friday, the ministry showed interviews with two people, who, it said, are medical professionals working in the only hospital operating in Douma, a town near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

During a briefing on Friday, the ministry showed interviews with two people, who, it said, are medical professionals working in the only hospital operating in Douma, a town near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

During a briefing on Friday, the ministry showed interviews with two people, who, it said, are medical professionals working in the only hospital operating in Douma, a town near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

In the interviews released to the media, the two men reported how footage was shot of people dousing each other with water and treating children, which was claimed to show the aftermath of the April 7 chemical weapons attack. The patients shown in the video suffered from smoke poisoning and the water was poured on them by their relatives after a false claim that chemical weapons were used, the ministry said.

"Please, notice. These people do not hide their names. These are not some faceless claims on the social media by anonymous activists. They took part in taking that footage," said Konashenkov.

"The Russian Defense Ministry also has evidence that Britain had a direct involvement in arranging this provocation in Eastern Ghouta," the general added, referring to the neighborhood of which Douma is part. " We know for certain that between April 3 and April 6 the so-called White Helmets were seriously pressured from London to speed up the provocation that they were preparing ."

According to Konashenkov, the group, which was a primary source of photos and footage of the purported chemical attack, was informed of a large-scale artillery attack on Damascus planned by the Islamist group Army of Islam, which controlled Douma at the time. The White Helmets were ordered to arrange the provocation after retaliatory strikes by the Syrian government forces, which the shelling was certain to lead to, he said.

The UK rejected the accusations, with British UN Ambassador Karen Pierce calling them "grotesque," "a blatant lie" and "the worst piece of fake news we've yet seen from the Russian propaganda machine."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/LKE6YKw5Y40

So when will Moscow release their evidence for the whole world to see? Or is it maybe waiting for the US to first release its own proof that Assad launched the attack?

If so, we'll be waiting for a long time.

[Apr 16, 2018] Fucking amateur hour. The site supposedly hit by 70 missiles still standing

Apr 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Joiningupthedots Mon, 04/16/2018 - 14:50 Permalink

The blast area of just ONE cruise missile is 150ft/2 = 7000m/2

How many hit this target allegedly? You can even see the matrix caused by the layering of the photo shopping software when you zoom right in (its not present on the first photo) Fucking amateur hour LMAO

tangent Mon, 04/16/2018 - 16:15 Permalink

There really is not even a conspiracy theorist out there who would suggest it was a Syrian government operation any way. Only batshit crazy raving lunatics have suggested it was the Syrian government. This is clearly the stupidest thing Trump has done. It makes the USA look like a bunch of circus freak losers. Very sad and shockingly insane. This is the stupidest piece of propaganda in modern history. The USA looks very, very bad. It looks like, from any reasonable perspective, that they are actively aiding terrorists on purpose. Wow. Interesting cosmetics. Interesting optics.

Its almost as if the USA government hates itself and actually wants a nuclear war where everyone dies. I think the only thing that should be considered is whether the nutty freaks in charge are actually humans. Humans are a great disappointment, so likely, yes, human beings really can be that mentally deficient. Trump really is such a level of mental retard that he hates himself and wants to be nuked, so he bombs Syria knowing full well they have nothing to do with it. He hates his career now and wants out.

[Apr 16, 2018] There is no magic way to make this stuff go away. Incineration doesn't solve the problems of the metal containers. All of this stuff would be making its way into their environment, causing illness and death in the coming years. It takes decades to properly neutralize this stuff. Lighting it up with Tomahawks definitely isn't the best way, and without a doubt some of it would be immediately released into the surrounding area. However small or not so small that amount is:

Apr 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Canadian Dirtlump -> Pearson365 Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:40 Permalink

So the barrels of chlorine that we've seen multiple times that the West / Saudis have provided to the "rebels" are stored inertly?

How is that?

The calling card of this false flag is the simple fact that such a crude munition was used.

Gimme a break Walter White jr.

gatorengineer -> Canadian Dirtlump Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:52 Permalink

chlorine gas is no big deal. Sarin is destroyed by fire.... There is a reason everyone stores these away from People. Not saying Orange is right, by any means in fact the opposite, but this story is a bit of a reach.

Decoherence -> gatorengineer Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:33 Permalink

Not necessarily. There is no magic way to make this stuff go away. Incineration doesn't solve the problems of the metal containers. All of this stuff would be making its way into their environment, causing illness and death in the coming years. It takes decades to properly neutralize this stuff. Lighting it up with Tomahawks definitely isn't the best way, and without a doubt some of it would be immediately released into the surrounding area. However small or not so small that amount is:

https://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-09/fyi-chemical-weapons-

RAT005 -> Decoherence Mon, 04/16/2018 - 14:51 Permalink

I used to manage a small apartment complex swimming pool. Dry Chlorine was mixed into a 40gal concentrated tank and a small squirt was pumped into the filter circulation all day long. A newbee once lifted the top off the tank to have a look inside. Lucky I was there (telling him, don't do thattttttt) I about had to carry him out of the room. There would be reports all over that area if a few hundred gallons or more of Chlorine had been blasted into the air.

[Apr 16, 2018] Do Brits try top prevent OPCW team getign to the site?

Apr 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Dangerclose Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:09 Permalink

I emailed the OPCW yesterday. I asked for the location of the Douma inspection team at precisely the time the research center was attacked. I heard that they were at the airport and only hours away from the site. I thought this would give credence to the theory that the site was attacked just so it would interfere with a proper inspection. They declined to release any info for the protection of their workers and the integrity of their work. I guess we will have to wait for the report.

[Apr 16, 2018] Paul Craig Roberts Has One Awkward Question For Washington Warmongers

Apr 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

US officials and the presstitutes tell us that the illegal US missile attack on Syria destroyed chemical weapons sites where chlorine and sarin are stored/manufactured.

This satellite image, taken Monday morning, shows the Barzah Research and Development Center in Damascus after it was struck by coalition forces.

If this were true, would not a lethal cloud have been released that would have taken the lives of far more people than claimed in the alleged Syrian chemical attack on Douma?

Would not the US missile attack be identical to a chemical weapons attack and thus place the US and its vassals in the same category as Washington is attempting to place Assad and Putin?

What about it, you chemical weapons experts?

Do chemical weapons only release their elements when they explode from intended use but not when they explode from being militarily attacked?

There is no evidence in Syria of chemical residue from the chemical weapons facilities allegedly destroyed by US missiles.

No dead victims.

No reports of hospitals treating Syrian casualties of the American chemical attack.

How can this be if such sites were actually hit?

When I was a Wall Street Journal editor newspapers had competent journalists to whom such a question would occur. But no more. Stephen Lendman takes the New York Times to task for its unprofessionalism . The NY Times is no longer a news source. It is a propaganda megaphone.


BennyBoy -> QueenDratpmurt Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:51 Permalink

The OPCW said there was no chlorine and sarin there.

Remember when....March 31, 2005 - The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction reports that the intelligence community was "dead wrong" in its assessments of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities before the US invasion.

EuroPox -> BennyBoy Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:54 Permalink

That is the site that the Pentagon says was hit with 76 missiles!

19 JASSMs and 57 Tomahawks!

Does anybody believe them?

SafelyGraze -> EuroPox Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:59 Permalink

the lendman article suggests that missiles deliberately targeted and destroyed non-chem-weapons sites that were being used to develop anti-cancer drugs.

that information is completely mistaken because otherwise the official reports would be incorrect.

hugs,
nyt subscribers

JRobby -> SafelyGraze Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:03 Permalink

Good argument just because it sure DOESN'T look like a large scale chemical manufacturing site........

But it is destroyed.

D503 -> JRobby Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:19 Permalink

And on the left here you'll see our chemistry lab cleverly disguised as an office building. We have no need for any of the essential components such as reasonable delivery methods, power supply, storage tanks, pipes, etc. We're cutting edge, unlike all those American plants:

https://www.iscgrp.com/projects/

JimmyRainbow -> Klassenfeind Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:10 Permalink

ever heard of the ship extra built to burn the nerve gas shit out on sea?

there is one, maybe just one worldwide

and if it were so natural and clean to just burn the shit, why the ship?

hundreds of tons nikki said.

a vial enough to kill a town. something always escapes.

additionally the rubble does not look burnt at all

another nice story: there is a phosgen producing site in germany,

phosgen is a weapon-gas but also used in fabrication of plastic.

the whole reactor is shielded by a few 1000 tons of alcohol because that neutralizes phosgen.

in densly populated germany no risk is taken

[Apr 16, 2018] I suggest that Russia act as marginal producer and refuse to sell oil, gas or raw petroleum products for less than double the price of other suppliers.

Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

honestann Sun, 04/15/2018 - 21:58 Permalink

I suggest that Russia act as "marginal producer" and refuse to sell oil, gas or raw petroleum products for less than double the price of other suppliers.

All of a sudden... thing will change.

After the treatment Russia has gotten for the past year or more, they are more than justified to adopt this policy.

[Apr 16, 2018] In late March, the U.S. State Department warned European corporations that they will likely face penalties if they participate in the construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, on the grounds that the project undermines energy security in Europe

Apr 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

spyware-free -> Pernicious Gol Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:47 Permalink

What's going on?
Read this:
"In late March, the U.S. State Department warned European corporations that they will likely face penalties if they participate in the construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, on the grounds that "the project undermines energy security in Europe"

The Nord Stream 2 project and the denial of pipelines through Syria territory is what's eating at the zio-cons. This is power politics and Russia / China are too much of a threat.

Chupacabra-322 -> spyware-free Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:43 Permalink

@ spy,

March, 14, 2017:

The Russian central bank opened its first overseas office in Beijing on March 14, marking a step forward in forging a Beijing-Moscow alliance to bypass the US dollar in the global monetary system, and to phase-in a gold-backed standard of trade.

Apr 3 2017 - Europe approves Nordstream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany

April 6 2017 - need to attack Syria.

Coincidentally, with a new government a gas pipelin can be run from Qatar to Europe and cut-off Russian gas revenue.

Nord Stream 2 Project Gets Green Light From EU

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201704031052232006-nord-stream-eu-gas-pip ...

*Three Mediterranean EU countries and Israel agreed on Monday to continue pursuing the development of a gas pipeline ... EU countries and Israel ... April 3, 2017 ...*

EU, Israel agree to develop Eastern Mediterranean gas pipeline

https://www.rt.com/business/383410-eu-israel-mediterranean-gas-pipeline/

The Optics of the Inter National Geo Political Crises would suggest that The Criminal Oligarch Cabal Bankster Intelligence Deep State Crime Syndicate are going "All In."

Brace YourSelves.....

spyware-free -> Chupacabra-322 Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:52 Permalink

The petroyuan project is the key. It will smash the petrodollar zio-world. Saddam Hussien thought of doing that in the 80's by consolidating Arab oil into a basket of currencies backed by gold. The problem for him was he was a disposable puppet and not able to defend that project. China and Russia are a different matter. It's driving the zios batty.

Chupacabra-322 -> spyware-free Sun, 04/15/2018 - 18:43 Permalink

And, the Yuan is now in the IMF basket of SDR's. Ultimately, the Petro Dollar will meet its demise & it will be decided by which is the cleanest, dirtiest shirt to put on among the SDR's.

[Apr 16, 2018] I can only imagine what Putin et al are thinking. They know they and Assad were not behind that attack, and they know we know, or should know. What this means is that they will have to come to view our government the same way America used to view the Communists. As dangerous, fanatical lunatics.

Apr 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

RedDwarf Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:03 Permalink

Great, I voted for Trump in the hopes he would not be a warmonger since Hillary certainly was. Looks like I should not have bothered after all.

I can only imagine what Putin et al are thinking. They know they and Assad were not behind that attack, and they know we know, or should know. What this means is that they will have to come to view our government the same way America used to view the Communists. As dangerous, fanatical lunatics.

Once you come to view someone not as a rational actor, but as deranged, the dynamics change, and in very dangerous ways. You cannot appease or come to terms with a lunatic. All reasonable options begin to disappear, leaving behind only the last resorts.

[Apr 16, 2018] Trump voters dissatisfaction now reached boiling level

Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Whoa Dammit -> Adolph.H. Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:35 Permalink

The reason we voted for Trump is because we are tired of this sanctimonious hypocritical horse shit. Instead we get more of what we didn't vote for. All Russia did was kindly not sink any of our war ships when we attacked Syria on an assumption.

crossroaddemon -> Whoa Dammit Sun, 04/15/2018 - 18:19 Permalink

You got exactly what you voted for... because if you were dumb enough to think you could actually get an outsider maverick anywhere near the white house I have to think you are too dumb to figure out how to turn on a computer.

Lore -> JohninMK Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:14 Permalink

Trump's in deep over his head. It was an open question whether he posed any genuine obstacle to the pathocracy, but it seems more clear now that, one way or another, he has been brought more tightly under their control. THAT, much more than any individual false-flags or other deceptions or wrongs, should be cause for the rational world to fear. The psychopaths are still on the march, and Trump is at least paying lip service to their chicanery. The further out on a limb he goes, the more reluctant and then helpless he will be to backtrack as pathology becomes more extreme and events escalate under their own momentum. With markets looking more precarious than ever, how long will it be before the psychopaths commit more and bigger false flags?

Sid Davis -> serotonindumptruck Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:55 Permalink

Cornered animal; that sounds like Trumps modus operandi. Notice that anyone who criticizes him gets lambasted with personal attacks instead of a reasoned response.

We need a President who understands freedom and who is a reasonable person, neither of which traits are possessed by Trump. He didn't win the election on his own qualification but on Hillary's lack of qualification. This speaks to the point, "The lesser of two evils is still evil".

silverer Sun, 04/15/2018 - 21:47 Permalink

Trump sucks. He started out good, but now that's over. I expect things to continue to deteriorate daily.

VW Nerd Sun, 04/15/2018 - 21:48 Permalink

I love the smell of unprovoked missile attacks and sanctions in the morning. Reminds me of........desperation.

[Apr 15, 2018] Russia gas for Europe as a political tool of the USA to pressure Russia via its EU vassals

Notable quotes:
"... I think the only that would really cause the Russians serious economic hardship at this point would be a total EU embargo on Russian oil/natgas. That, of course, would cause the rest of Europe a fair amount of hardship, too, as they would then have to pay 3 or 4 times as much for frack-gas from the US. ..."
Apr 15, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

RaisingMac , 9 hours ago

I think the only that would really cause the Russians serious economic hardship at this point would be a total EU embargo on Russian oil/natgas. That, of course, would cause the rest of Europe a fair amount of hardship, too, as they would then have to pay 3 or 4 times as much for frack-gas from the US.
Tony -> RaisingMac , 7 hours ago
Of course, oil/gas being fungible, the EU in such an eventuality would buy higher priced gas/oil from us or someone and the Russians would just end up selling to other entities. Whatever we sell to Europe is fuel we can't sell to others and it's not like our export market is infinitely expandable. The EU has a huge need for natural gas which it mostly gets from Russia via pipeline. Even if the US had that much surplus capacity, it would take years to come up with the means to export that much LNG..

[Apr 15, 2018] We know this empire is destined to eat itself up due to greed and hubris. My only concern is how long that will take.

Notable quotes:
"... This is very clear path toward a confrontation with Russia. America is not going to stop . Russia continues to be punished because does not leave Syria and does not bow to America. ..."
Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

serotonindumptruck -> Janet smeller Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:44 Permalink

Russia knows that this diplomatic, economic, and military aggression will never stop. These military strikes and economic sanctions from the West represent the death throes of a dying empire. A dying empire is like a gravely wounded, cornered animal.

This is an extremely dangerous animal, because it is willing to arbitrarily kill anyone and anything before it dies.


serotonindumptruck -> spyware-free Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:00 Permalink

I still believe that the USA and its European allies will be the first to use nuclear weapons.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping no doubt recognize the grave circumstances, and they are using the utmost restraint to avoid the provision of a military pretext that the West/USA is seeking in their effort to greatly escalate hostilities.

GoinFawr -> serotonindumptruck Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:07 Permalink

" I still believe that the USA ... will be the first to use nuclear weapons . "

Eg. Nagasaki and Hiroshima

dirty fingernails -> serotonindumptruck Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:12 Permalink

The US will only use nukes to secure their dominance. The people in change aren't beholden to any country or continent being filthy rich and/or dual citizens. So the plan is to deny the US an excuse to use nukes while cutting the empire off at the knees.

Otherwise, I agree it'll be a NATO country that nukes first. That's part of the desire to make smaller nukes. "Small" nukes are seen as a way to nuke but not start a global exchange. Fucking insane people gambling with all higher life forms.

Chupacabra-322 -> dirty fingernails Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:38 Permalink

"Small Nuke."

You make it sound like she's just "a little pregnant."

dirty fingernails -> spyware-free Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:01 Permalink

Russia will tolerate it as long as possible. The delay only weakens the US and allies. All have serious issues domestically and even alliances are strained. Don't interrupt when your enemy is making a mistake

serotonindumptruck -> dirty fingernails Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:22 Permalink

That is certainly some excellent Sun Tzu advice.

However, Sun Tzu never calculated criminal insanity into his logical strategems.

When your enemy refuses to concede defeat, and is willing to suicide the entire world in their obstinance, the only winning move is not to play.

Pernicious Gol -> serotonindumptruck Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:48 Permalink

He did talk about that.

dirty fingernails -> serotonindumptruck Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:50 Permalink

True, but look around us. There is no need to nuke cities and military targets in the US. Shut down the electrical grid and the population would lose it in a matter of hours. Within days it would be chaos on so many levels that it would take a long time to recover. We really are our own worst enemies because we are so fractured and polarized of the stupidest shit.

serotonindumptruck -> dirty fingernails Sun, 04/15/2018 - 18:01 Permalink

If limited global depopulation is the ultimate goal, then yes, the USA will suffer the most due to the prevalence of firearms and the general hostility that is clearly evident within its citizenry.

That's obviously not the main objective for the warmongers and neocons in DC.

The ultimate objective is global dominance, and the complete and total subjugation of humanity.

Like I said, criminal insanity is the paradigm that rules the West.

Sid Davis -> serotonindumptruck Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:55 Permalink

Cornered animal; that sounds like Trumps modus operandi. Notice that anyone who criticizes him gets lambasted with personal attacks instead of a reasoned response.

We need a President who understands freedom and who is a reasonable person, neither of which traits are possessed by Trump. He didn't win the election on his own qualification but on Hillary's lack of qualification. This speaks to the point, "The lesser of two evils is still evil".

Cosmicserpent -> Adolph.H. Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:42 Permalink

We won't hit bottom without taking everyone with us. The Republic was lost when JFK was assassinated.

spyware-free -> Adolph.H. Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:43 Permalink

This will work out about as good as Obama "isolating" Russia. Nothing more than a ziocon jerkfest.

khnum -> I woke up Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:51 Permalink

That proposition plus a ban on all US agricultural produce is currently being put up in their parliament

veritas semper -> FBaggins Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:43 Permalink

This is very clear path toward a confrontation with Russia. America is not going to stop . Russia continues to be punished because does not leave Syria and does not bow to America.

This recent American fiasco in Syria is just the opening overture. In May we have the moving of American embassy to Jerusalem and the unilateral withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal. I think we will not reach the end of the year without a big war : America is losing power and needs it.

Jumanji1959 -> FBaggins Sun, 04/15/2018 - 18:26 Permalink

Actually the terrorists were sent by Israel and more specifically, the Mossad, who trained them. Israel wants to expand its territory by committing a GENOCIDE.

keep the basta -> FBaggins Sun, 04/15/2018 - 20:25 Permalink

The chemical weapons organisation in Damascus and elsewhere in Syria found NO chemical weapons at the site the USA UK And FR bombed for that. The only chemical weapons are those found in the tunnels in East Ghouta after Syria bussed the militant occupiers away. The 40 tons of chemicals have manufactuer names, serial numbers and addresses eg Porton Down Salisbury.

Occams_Razor_Trader -> Occams_Razor_Trader Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:38 Permalink

Cui Bono? Trump says he's going to pull out of Syria -- Things never looked better for Assad -- and he gets the bright idea, to turn the world against him by gassing gassing his own people? I'm not buying it. I-F-F (Israeli False Flag)

[Apr 15, 2018] World cup as a political game

Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Danedog Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:13 Permalink

The west wants to destroy the world cup for Russia so that things will heat up before June to the point of war. So much money was invested in the stadiums that Russia expects the visitors to help pay. The US will deny this through false flags and lies. I am so ashamed of this nation that has changed to the point that I do not recognize it from my childhood.

ExPat2018 -> Danedog Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:16 Permalink

Yep. they tried the same shit before Sochi Olympics

The used the LGBT Nazis to demonize Russia.

Come to find out that its NOT illegal to be gay in Russia and there are gay bars and discos there.

its ILLEGAL to push GAY education on children (same law that the UK had for years).

[Apr 15, 2018] Syria: What Just Happened?

Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:30 112 SHARES Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

What happened right after the second direct U.S.-missiles invasion of Syria, which had occurred on the night of April 13th, could turn out to have momentous implications - far bigger than the attacks themselves...

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons headlined on April 14th, in the wake of this U.S.-UK-France invasion of Syria that was allegedly punishing Syria's Government for allegedly having used chemical weapons in its bombing in the town of Douma on April 7th, "OPCW Fact-Finding Mission Continues Deployment to Syria" , and reported that:

The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) team of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will continue its deployment to the Syrian Arab Republic to establish facts around the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma.

The OPCW has been working in close collaboration with the United Nations Department of Safety and Security to assess the situation and ensure the safety of the team.

This means that the effort by the U.S. and its allies on the U.N. Security Council, to squash that investigation , has failed at the OPCW, even though the effort had been successful at blocking U.N. support for that specific investigation .

The OPCW is not part of the U.N., nor of any country; it, instead (as introduced by Wikipedia ):

is an intergovernmental organisation and the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force on 29 April 1997. The OPCW, with its 192 member states, has its seat in The Hague, Netherlands, and oversees the global endeavour for the permanent and verifiable elimination of chemical weapons.

In conformity with the unchallenged international consensus that existed during the 1990s that there was no longer any basis for war between the world's major powers, the Convention sought and achieved a U.N. imprimatur, but this was only in order to increase its respect throughout the world. The OPCW is based not on the U.N. Charter but on that specific treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, which was formally approved by the U.N.'s General Assembly on 30 November 1992 and was then opened for signatures in Paris on 13 January 1993. According to the Convention's terms, it would enter into effect 180 days after 65 nations signed it, which turned out to be on 29 April 1997.

So, although the treaty itself received U.N. approval, the recent Russian-sponsored resolution at the U.N.'s Security Council to have the U.N. endorse the OPCW's investigation of the 7 April 2018 Douma incident, did not receive U.N. approval. It was instead blocked by the U.S. and its allies . Nonetheless, though without a U.N. endorsement, the OPCW investigation into the incident will move forward, despite the invasion.

This fact is momentous, because a credible international inspection, by the world's top investigatory agency for such matters, will continue to completion, notwithstanding the effort by the U.S. and its allies on the U.N. Security Council, to block it altogether. This decision was reached by the OPCW -- not by the U.N.

Among the 192 signers of the Chemical Weapons Convention are U.S., Russia, and Syria, as well as China, Iran, and Iraq, but not Israel, nor North Korea and a very few other countries. So: all of the major powers have already, in advance, approved whatever the findings by the OPCW turn out to be. Those findings are expected to determine whether a chemical attack happened in Douma on 7 April 2018, and, if so, then perhaps what the specific banned chemical(s) was(were), but not necessarily who was responsible for it if it existed. For example, if the 'rebels' had stored some of their chemical weapons at that building and then Syria's Government bombed that building, the OPCW might not be able to determine who is to blame, even if they do determine that there was a chemical attack and the chemical composition of it. In other words: science cannot necessarily answer all of the questions that might be legal-forensically necessary in order to determine guilt, if a crime did, in fact, occur, there.

If the investigation does find that a banned chemical was used and did cause injuries or fatalities, then there is the possibility that its findings will be consistent with the assertions by the U.S. and its allies who participated in the April 13th invasion. That would not necessarily justify the invasion, but it would prove the possibility that there had been no lying intent on the part of the U.S.-and-allied invaders on April 13th.

However, if the investigation does not find that a banned chemical was used in the Syrian Government's bombing of that building, then incontrovertibly the U.S.-and-allied invasion was a criminal one under international laws, though there may be no international court that possesses the authority to try the case .

So: what is at stake here from the OPCW investigation is not only the international legitimacy of Syria's Government, but the international legitimacy of the Governments that invaded it on April 13th. These are extremely high stakes, even if no court in the world will possess the authority to adjudicate the guilt -- either if the U.S. and its allies lied, or if the Syrian Government lied.

For us historians, this is very important. And, for the general public, the significance goes much farther: to specific Governments, to their alleged news media, and to the question of: What does it even mean to say that a government is a "democracy" or a "dictatorship"? The findings from this investigation will reverberate far and wide, and long (if World War III doesn't prevent any such findings at all).

* * *

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 , and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity .

[Apr 15, 2018] We are entering the psyops and propaganda phase of a war. In this phase we are ordered to only say what they want us to, and this goes for both sides. They don't care about the truth, just where and when the shooting will start.

Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

DavidC Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:35 Permalink

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? THESE IDIOTS?!

DavidC

holdbuysell Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:36 Permalink

These people are delusional and extremely dangerous. There's been zero proof of who actually used the chemical weapons (if there were chemical weapons at all?) and they're making statements about it as if it were a verified and universally recognized fact.

Stolypin -> holdbuysell Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:39 Permalink

We are entering the psyops and propaganda phase of a war. In this phase we are ordered to only say what they want us to, and this goes for both sides. They don't care about the truth, just where and when the shooting will start.

[Apr 15, 2018] Any good reason we shouldn't just start calling the 5(+1)-eyez media environment the Oceania State News Network (OSNN) right now?

Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

r0mulus -> Whoa Dammit Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:41 Permalink

Here we go again- the ever-plotting West trying to create reality on the fly- attempting to make the alleged chemical weapons attack into a fait accompli , painting the tape of reality with the shadow-puppets of the operation mockingbird-controlled, corporate (MIC) media!

Any good reason we shouldn't just start calling the 5(+1)-eyez media environment the Oceania State News Network (OSNN) right now?

[Apr 13, 2018] Live updates Syria under military attack on Trump's orders

Notable quotes:
"... People think this is about Syria, it is not. It's about oil price. Watch on Monday and the days following oil price will rocket up, and Iran, Russia, US will all be celebrating privately. The Chinese stock market will fall because oil will cost them more. ..."
Apr 13, 2018 | www.presstv.com

Syrian state TV said that the attack hit the country's army depots in the area of Homs, Reuters reported.

A Reuters witness said that at least six loud explosions were heard in Damascus with smoke rising over the Syrian capital where a second witness said the Barzah district, the location of a major Syrian scientific research center, was also hit in the strikes.

Meanwhile, Syrian state television reported that "Syrian air defense blocks American, British, French aggression on Syria." It added that 13 missiles were shot down.

The US has been threatening Damascus with military action since April 7, when a suspected chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, reportedly killed 60 people and injured hundreds more. The Syrian government has already strongly denied using chemical munitions in the flashpoint town.

Joe ,

People think this is about Syria, it is not. It's about oil price. Watch on Monday and the days following oil price will rocket up, and Iran, Russia, US will all be celebrating privately. The Chinese stock market will fall because oil will cost them more.

[Apr 13, 2018] Yet when you consider the broader context and what the Russian side is now saying, it is just plain idiotic to own the S P 500 at 24X. After all, earnings that have been going nowhere for the past three years (earnings per share have inched-up from $106 in September 2014 to $109 in December 2017), and now could be ambushed by a hot war accident in Syria that would rapidly escalate.

Apr 13, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Folks, like some alien abductors, the Deep State has taken the Donald hostage, and with ball-and-chain finality. Whatever pre-election predilection he had to challenge the Warfare State has apparently been completely liquidated.

Trump's early AM tweet yesterrday, in fact, embodies the words of a man who had more than a few screws loose when he took the oath, but under the relentless pounding of the Imperial City's investigators, partisans, apparatchiks and lynch-mob media has now gone stark raving mad. To wit:

"....Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and "smart!" You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!

Yes, maybe Wall Street has figured out that the Donald is more bluster than bite. Yet when you consider the broader context and what the Russian side is now saying, it is just plain idiotic to own the S&P 500 at 24X. After all , earnings that have been going nowhere for the past three years (earnings per share have inched-up from $106 in September 2014 to $109 in December 2017), and now could be ambushed by a hot war accident in Syria that would rapidly escalate.

Indeed, did the robo-machines and boys and girls down in the casino not ponder the meaning of this message from the Kremlin? It does not leave much to the imagination:

# Russian ambassador in beirut : "If there is a strike by the Americans on #Syria , then... the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired," Zasypkin told Hezbollah's al-Manar TV, speaking in Arabic.

Sure, the odds are quite high that the clever folks in the Pentagon will figure out how to keep the pending attack reasonably antiseptic. That is, they will bomb a whole bunch of places in Syria where the Russians and Iranians are not (after being warned); and also deploy stand-off submarine platforms to launch cruise missiles and high-flying stealth aircraft to drop smart bombs, thereby keeping American pilots and ships out of harm's way.

Then, after unleashing the Donald's version of "shock and awe" they will claim that Assad has just received the spanking of his life and that the Russians and Iranians have been messaged with malice aforethought.

But our point is not that Douma is Sarajevo, and, besides, this is still April, not August. What should be scaring the daylights out of Wall Street is that we are even at the point where the two tweets quoted above are happening.

For crying out loud, there is a brutal, bloody and barbaric civil war raging in Syria where both sides are bedecked in black hats; both sides have committed unspeakable atrocities; and where it is a documented fact that the rebels possess chemical weapons and have launched false flag gas attacks in the past---even as 1,300 tons of Assad's inventory, which may or may not have been the totality of it, was destroyed according to the certification of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

In that context, who can tell whether the alleged chlorine gas release last Saturday in Douma originated in a bomb dropped by Assad's air force or came from a rebel stockpile that was hit by a bomb? Or whether it was another deliberate false flag attack staged by the jihadists or perhaps that it never happened at all.

The evidence comes mainly from rebel forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. One of these was the Violations Documentation Center, a virulent anti-Russian organization funded by George Soros. Another was the White Helmets, a completely comprised operation financed by the US and UK and which has operated only in rebel held territories--- often check-by-jowl with the al-Nusra Front and other terrorist elements.

Indeed, Washington's fabled spies in the sky and taps on every node of the worldwide web can read your email and spot a rogue camel caravan anywhere in a Sahara sandstorm. But they can not tell whether dead bodies are the victims of bullets, bombs, collapsing buildings or chlorine gas. You need to be on the ground and perform chemical tests for that, and Washington just plain isn't there.

Besides, even if a careful investigation--like the one proposed by Sweden and which the US and UK vetoed at the UN---were actually completed, why is it Washington's prerogative to administer a spanking to the culprit?

For one thing, if you are in the spanking business owing to bad behavior, then just within the region you would also need to administer the rod to al-Sisi in Egypt and Erdogan in Turkey; and also to Washington's on and off wards in Baghdad and to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for his genocidal attacks on Yemen. While you were at it, why would even Bibi Netanyahu be spared the birch---given his periodic "lawn mowing" exercises on the Gaza strip?

The point is, Assad has never attacked, threatened or even looked cross-eyed at the United States. So you would have thought that administering spankings to international malefactors is the business of Washington's permanent War Party, not the leader of America First.

To be sure, the only evidence we have to date is the gruesome images posted on the internet by the "Douma Revolution", which we don't credit because it is a tool of the good folks of Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), who were holding 3,200 pro-Assad hostages in cages when the attack happened. But even if Assad is culpable, why is the Donald getting out the birch switch if he doesn't mean to effectuate regime change?

Yes, inconstancy is his middle name. But how in god's name could even the Donald have rearranged the modest amount of gray matter under his great Orange Comb-Over so quickly and completely with regards to Syria?

As a reminder, this is what the Donald said just last week:

"We'll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon," Trump said on Thursday, "Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon, very soon, we're coming out....We're going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be."

The fact is, it's way too late to drag Bashar Assad behind the Moammar Khadafy Memorial Jeep to be ritually sodomized by his enemies. That's because he's already won the civil war (red area in map below).

What's left is not remotely conducive to regime change because the majority Arab population of Syria (regardless of Alawite, Shiite, Sunni, Christian, Druse etc. religious affiliation) would never consent to be ruled by the small minority of Kurds (who control the yellow, largely desert areas). And besides, a Kurdish Syrian state in part or whole would guarantee a Turkish invasion and a blue (Turkish controlled areas surrounding Afrin in the northwest) versus yellow war where Washington would be on both sides.

Indeed, the only thing that a regime change attempt at this late date would accomplish is a resurrection of the remnants of ISIL (small black specs) or an upwelling of chaos from the three or four islets (green areas) that warring gangs of rebels, jihadists, salafists and blood-thirsty warlords now nominally control.

So the map below, in fact, tells you what is really going on. To wit, the neocons and deep staters around Trump--with the Walrus Mouth (Bolton) now literally shouting in his ear----are really about picking a fight with Iran and Russia. These are really Imperial Washington's designated enemies, and the purpose of the impending attack on Syrian military installations is to intimidate them into backing down----even as they issue hostile warnings and rhetorical fulminations (especially the Iranians) against America.

Stated differently, the Orange Comb-Over is being lured not so much into an Assad spanking exercise or regime change maneuver as into a Proxy War with Iran and Russia. The latter is literally manna from heaven for the Warfare State.

Indeed, with the defense budget already cranked up to the absurd level of $720 billion , the Deep State and its military/industrial/surveillance/congressional complex allies would like nothing better than maximum rhetorical belligerence (and occasional provocative acts) from Russia and Iran in order to keep the national security gravy train inflating toward the $1 trillion funding mark.

Needless to say, the contractual droppings from these staggering budget levels will keep the beltway think tanks, NGOs and pro-war lobbying apparatus in clover for years to come, thereby fueling the ugly secret of Imperial Washington.

Namely, since America lost its only real enemy in 1991, Washington has become an unhinged war capital. It is now endangering the entire planet in a doom-loop of expanding military muscle, multiplying foreign interventions and occupations, intensifying blowback from the victims of Washington's aggression and an ever greater chorus of Empire justifying experts, apparatchiks and politicians getting fat on the banks of the Potomac.

[Apr 13, 2018] Neoliberalism's deceptively seductive offer of increased individual choice comes at a heavy price, rendering individuals more and more vulnerable

Apr 12, 2018 | nyupress.org

It is difficult to ignore the cross-cultural parallels prompted by the growth of neoliberalism, an economic and moral philosophy in which sociologist Zygmunt Bauman notes, "the responsibilities for resolving the quandaries generated by vexingly volatile and constantly changing circumstances is shifted onto the shoulders of individuals -- who are now expected to be 'free choosers' and to bear in full the consequences of their choices" (Bauman 2007:3–4). Bauman essentially argues that neoliberalism's deceptively seductive offer of increased individual choice comes at a heavy price, rendering individuals more and more vulnerable.

Neoliberal economic policies have increasingly impacted individual lives throughout the world through the unprecedented untethering of workers and the workplace so that those in positions of power and privilege have less direct contact with or responsibility for those who work at the lowest levels of the same industry. Such new labor practices are a constant reminder to workers that they are expendable, easily replaced, and thus not in a position to negotiate the terms and conditions under which their labor is carried out.

Such vulnerability is even more pronounced for those who already inhabit the margins of social life because of their poverty or other forms of social exclusion. This is particularly true for situations wherein particular types of state-endorsed socioeconomic inequalities create a larger pool of feminized labor that is typically lower paid, less respected, and less able to u

[Apr 13, 2018] Embodying the Sexual Limits of Neoliberalism by Sealing Cheng

Notable quotes:
"... While market competitiveness is idealized as the engine to advancement for all, labor competition is circumscribed for particular groups (e.g., through a household registration system that prevent migrants from accessing certain jobs, rights, and benefits in China) and in specific ways (e.g., only certain sectors of the labor market are considered legitimate -- not sex work or surrogacy, for example). The discourse of national competitiveness and collective welfare pushes forward a conservative moral agenda in the face of these changes. ..."
"... Political Theory ..."
"... Theory and Society ..."
Apr 13, 2018 | sfonline.barnard.edu

S&F Online

The Scholar & Feminist Online is a webjournal published three times a year by the Barnard Center for Research on Women I begin this article by reflecting on one of the biggest professional mistakes I have ever made. I became a part of corporate humanitarianism in 2006, when IOM Korea invited me to be part of a research project on trafficking of Korean women overseas, sponsored by the Bom-bit Foundation, an NGO set up by the wife of the CEO of the biggest insurance company in South Korea. She had been concerned about the barrage of news reports that were circulating both in and out of Korea about the trafficking of Korean women into forced prostitution overseas. She wanted a global research project, "Korean women victims of sex trafficking in five global sites": South Korea, Japan, Australia, and the East and West Coasts of the United States. The ultimate goal was to find solutions to end such outflow and to save these women. The principal researcher, a male Korean academic, drafted a survey questionnaire laden with assumptions about coercion, violence, and sexual abuse. Even though the final reports from different sites came back with little evidence of trafficking, they did not prevent the principal investigator from producing a final report about the "serious problem of sex trafficking of Korean women into the global sex trade."

The first woman who I interviewed for this project was working in a massage parlor in Queens, New York. She came to the United States after the Korean police cracked down on her in her home, after they had obtained her address from her employer in Seoul in an antiprostitution raid. She explained her work in the United States:

Jin: Some people only come in for table showers, massage, and chats.
Interviewer: Are they the good clients?
Jin: No, they are not.
Interviewer: So who are the good clients?
Jin: Those people who finish quickly, they are the good ones. Those who have shower and then have sex and go. They are the best.

This response exploded the entire premise of the research and its assumptions about the inherently victimizing nature of sexual labor for women. Those who demand sex rather than conversations are the good clients -- if they finish quickly, get themselves cleaned before having sex, and leave immediately after sex. Jin situated sex squarely within a repertoire of labor performance, along with other physical and emotional work, and identified sex as more efficient ("quick") in providing return to her labor. She made between $11,000 and $22,000 per month. On that note, let me move on to some important points in the discussion about gender and neoliberalism within the context of South Korea.

Neoliberalism is useful as a term only to the extent of understanding macro-historical shifts and setting a framework for investigation. But its history, manifestation, and effects can be so diverse in each location that it cannot be a useful analytical category without empirical analysis. For example, contrary to the trend of de-democratization [ 1 ] observed in the United States, in South Korea, neoliberal reforms coincided with the democratization of civil society and the state in late 1990s, following four decades of military and authoritarian rule. In 1997, just when the first civilian democratic leader Kim Dae-jung became president, South Korea went through a major financial crisis and received the largest IMF bailout. The president supported a new wave of civic/human-rights organizations, set up the first National Human Rights Commission, and founded the Ministry of Gender Equality. During the same period, structural readjustment also ensured the flexibilization of labor and the weakening of trade unions, rendering many lives of more precarious as they became underemployed or unemployed.

In my work, I am grappling with how individuals like Jin live and make sense of their lives within a number of paradoxes/contradictions in neoliberalism:

1) The apparent amorality of neoliberalism and its facilitation of conservative moral agenda. The deployment of market principles to reconfigure the relationship between sovereignty and citizenship not only remakes economic, political, and cultural life, but also remakes citizen-subjects as entrepreneurs and consumers. While market competitiveness is idealized as the engine to advancement for all, labor competition is circumscribed for particular groups (e.g., through a household registration system that prevent migrants from accessing certain jobs, rights, and benefits in China) and in specific ways (e.g., only certain sectors of the labor market are considered legitimate -- not sex work or surrogacy, for example). The discourse of national competitiveness and collective welfare pushes forward a conservative moral agenda in the face of these changes.

2) The depoliticization of social risks and the hyperpoliticization of national security. The emergence of an ethics of self-management and risk-taking justifies some form of retrenchment of the state in the social sphere. Yet this by no means suggests a weakening of the state. What we witness in neoliberal transformations is the assertion of the state through more hard-lined enforcement of criminal justice and border control. The consequence is an uneven emphasis on and legitimation of the self-enterprising individual, invoking national crisis, social danger, and self-harm to justify state intervention or exclusion. These measures have significant gendered repercussions -- reshaping discourses on domesticity, sexuality, and mobility.

3) The concomitant and continuous ravaging of vulnerable populations and celebration of humanitarianism/human rights responses from state and civil society. Neoliberal developments create vulnerable populations by polarizing resources and wealth, and concomitantly generate a set of humanitarian/human rights responses from the state and civil society. Rather than being a set of problems that are being held back or eliminated by a set of solutions, they seem to grow symbiotically together. In effect, many humanitarian/human-rights interventions turn out to reiterate dominant interests, reproducing conservative gender, racial, class, and national hierarchies and divides.

How are these contradictions lived? Maybe Jin has some answers for us -- not just from her personal trajectory, but also in what she said:

I am working hard and making money for myself. I am saving money to start my own business back home/to further study. I am not dependent on the government or my family. I am not harming anyone, even though this is not a job to boast about. I don't understand these women's human rights. These activists don't understand us. They are people from good background. I am not saying the antiprostitution laws are wrong. But do they have to go so far?

My research since 1997 on sex work and migrant women in South Korea and the United States is located right at the intersection of these paradoxes. As women who strategize their immigration and labor strategies for self-advancement as sex workers, they embody the sexual limits of neoliberalism. While they may personify the values of self-reliance, self-governance, and free markets in a manner akin to homo economicus, they violate the neoliberal ideals of relational sexuality and middle-class femininity. [ 2 ] As many critics have attested to, even though the antitrafficking movement hails women's human rights, gender justice, and state protection, its operation predominantly through the crime frame reinforces gender, class, and racial inequalities. As such, antitrafficking initiatives, as they have taken shape in the twenty-first century, are part of neoliberal governance, and underlying the claims of equality and liberty are racial, gender, and sex panics with nationalist overtones that justify the repression of those who step outside these limits.

I think antitrafficking initiatives need to be situated within a broader set of political and social transformations in order to analyze the undercurrents of gender and sexuality across different sites. In South Korea, there was a strong gender and sexual ideology pervading the expansion of social policies in the post-1997 era. While the government could claim credit for addressing the needs of certain vulnerable populations (the unemployed, the homeless, migrant wives, women leaving prostitution, etc.), public anxieties about the breakdown of the family (runaway teenagers, old-age divorce, the fight for women's equality) that started during the 1997 crisis have continued into the new millennium (same-sex families, "multicultural families," single women). As national boundaries seem to have weakened with the incorporation of "multicultural families," the heteronormative nuclear family became more reified, and the domestic sphere as the proper place for women was reinscribed in a range of social policies. These include protection for "prostituted women," since 2004, and support provided to migrant wives -- both policies designed to harness these women's reproductive powers for the future of the Korean nation, and to reproduce their class location.

It is also important to be wary of claims to promote "women's human rights" and how these claims are circumscribed within certain spheres -- only in sex work, and not in the gendered layoffs during an economic crisis, or in relation to the homeless women who have been excluded as legitimate recipients of government support. "Women's human rights" have been hurled around to legitimize activism and policies that turned out to make lives more difficult for some women, rendering them either as targets or instruments of criminal law.

We also need to ask why the law is resorted to so consistently for women activists to make claims on the state. And why does the general public have so much faith in the law to enforce morality?

I would like to see cultural struggles become a more important site to extend into, building on a solid economic and political critique. As we witnessed i the Occupy movement, as well as with the sex worker festivals in different global locations, creativity, humor, and conviviality have a lot of power to draw attention, if not to incite solidarity. The new sex workers' organization in South Korea calls itself the Giant Girls ("GG" also means "support" in Korean), and organizes its own seminars, holds a sex work festival celebration, and produces its own podcasts, in which everyday conversation and serious discussion take place in a light-hearted manner, often with bursts of laughter. The fists-in-air protests are no longer the main part of the movement, marking a significant departure from the victimhood discourse. I am hopeful that this will appeal at least to a younger generation of potential coalition partners in the LGBT community, labor movements (for women and migrants), and cultural movements. This could be a refreshing -- and possibly transformational -- shift in feminist politics and critique in South Korea, and in other sites in Asia.

Footnotes
  1. Brown, Wendy (2006). "American Nightmare: Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism, and De-Democratization." Political Theory 34(6): 690-714. [ Return to text ]
  2. Bernstein, Elizabeth (2012). "Carceral Politics as Gender Justice? The 'Traffic in Women' and Neoliberal Circuits of Crime, Sex, and Rights." Theory and Society 41(3):233–59. [ Return to text ]
Tags class law neoliberalism policy sex work sexuality

[Apr 12, 2018] Bolton And Mattis Feud Over Syria Strike As Assad Evacuates Weapons

Note dramatic change of Zero hedge audience attitude toward Trump. And generally ZeroHedge attracts people who were former Trump base.
Apr 12, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Mattis said that the U.S. aim in Syria is to defeat Islamic State, not "to engage in the civil war itself." But referring to the use of chemical weapons, Mattis said that " some things are simply inexcusable, beyond the pale " and require a response. - Bloomberg

The Wall St. Journal reports that Mattis "brought those concerns directly to the White House on Thursday, where White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the national security team didn't agree on a response."

Exactly two weeks ago Mattis met Bolton - telling the bemoustached bringer-of-death "I heard you're actually the devil incarnate, and I wanted to meet you."

... ... ...

"If these strikes start, it could end very tragically and it's impossible to predict the outcome -- that's the nature of military actions," said Russian Senator Frants Klintsevich in a phone interview, adding that there are "no madmen" among Trump's top military advisors. " These are professionals who aren't populists and know what this could lead to. "

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia issued a stark warning on Thursday that there was a danger the war could escalate beyond Syria because of Russia's military presence.

"We cannot exclude any possibilities [of war between Russia and the U.S.] unfortunately because we saw messages that are coming from Washington," Mr. Nebenzia said. " They were very bellicose. "

In an attempt to settle things diplomatically, Russia asked for an open Security Council emergency meeting on Friday morning, calling for UN Secretary-General António Guterres to brief the council, according to the Wall St. Journal .

Meanwhile, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says they are sending a team of investigators to Syria on Saturday to collect samples from the site of the alleged chemical attack last weekend.


algol_dog -> Gen. Ripper Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:30 Permalink

Will Bolton be sending his grandchildren to the front?

ne-tiger -> algol_dog Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:32 Permalink

Fucking orange clown, that's why the fucktard brought in Bolton.

BaBaBouy -> ne-tiger Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:35 Permalink

Thump Hired Bowlton, End Of Story ...

You don't need to be Einstein to see where this is Going...

directaction -> ne-tiger Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:36 Permalink

That maniac, Trump, has sure surrounded himself with a swarm of sick, twisted, psychotic mass killers.

Walter White -> ne-tiger Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:37 Permalink

orange clown will send his kids to war...yes?

Truther -> ne-tiger Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:37 Permalink

HANG THE MOTHER FUCKERS.. HANG THEM ALL.

dirty fingernails -> ne-tiger Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:38 Permalink

Mad props to Mattis for calling him the devil incarnate to his face even if couched tactfully.

But remember, Bolton is just a scare tactic, he isn't really a demented bloodthirsty demon. He wants to go balls out against a nuclear power over a false flag but it's a bluff. /s

Walter White -> ne-tiger Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:37 Permalink

orange clown will send his kids to war...yes?

Truther -> ne-tiger Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:37 Permalink

HANG THE MOTHER FUCKERS.. HANG THEM ALL.

dirty fingernails -> ne-tiger Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:38 Permalink

Mad props to Mattis for calling him the devil incarnate to his face even if couched tactfully.

But remember, Bolton is just a scare tactic, he isn't really a demented bloodthirsty demon. He wants to go balls out against a nuclear power over a false flag but it's a bluff. /s

VladLenin Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:32 Permalink

Let's see. Who's responsible for toppling (or trying to) one strong man after another in the Middle East and leaving the place in a shit storm? USA! USA! USA!

carlnpa Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:32 Permalink

Trump

Leave Syria alone, your interference will result in the slaughter of the Christians that remain in Syria.

besnook Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:32 Permalink

will someone remind these guys that they haven't won a war in awhile. they are not very good at this war stuff so maybe they should stop.

Steaming_Pile Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:33 Permalink

And the academy award for best makeup artist goes to.....

RationalLuddite Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:35 Permalink

while President Trump told reporters on Thursday "We're looking very, very seriously, very closely at that whole situation, and we'll see what happens, folks, we'll see what happens. It's too bad that the world puts us in a position like that."

The lack of self awareness and the victim mentality in this cry-bully statement is breathtaking. Akin to projectile vomiting on someone them blaming them for smelling disgusting. Extraordinary .

besnook Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:35 Permalink

for once in my life i wish i could watch undoctored video of people throwing parties because the usa army is in town.

khnum Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:36 Permalink

Is there a Praetorian guard they used to handle these situations quite efficiently

Gregor Samsa Thu, 04/12/2018 - 21:38 Permalink

"It was very disconcerting when I saw that an attack is planned on Mosul, an attack is planned. ... Why do we have to talk about it? Why? I never saw anything like this. Every time we are going to attack somebody, we explain. We're going to attack, we'll be attacking at three, noon on March 25. I don't know, unless you disagree with me, wouldn't it be better if we were going to go after Mosul to not say anything and do it, as opposed to announcing -- they're announcing all over television they're planning to attack Mosul." -- Donald J. Trump

[Apr 11, 2018] I think that the read target of attack in Syria is the Nord Stream II pipeline.

Apr 11, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Hagios | Apr 11, 2018 8:50:17 AM | 58 I think that the read target here is the Nord Stream II pipeline. They're currently unwilling to cancel it out of economic considerations, but they think that they could get away with cancelling it if NATO attacks Syria and Russia responds with "unprovoked aggression." NATO's attack IMO will be just large enough that Russia has to respond, then Trump and co. will cease further military action and continue with economic warfare.

Posted by: Timothy

[Apr 10, 2018] The brand of [neoliberal] "rationality" when the market interest is the only rational motive that too many people in the West subscribe to is a brand of smug pseudoreligious fanaticism that is itself "irrational."

Notable quotes:
"... So, in a different way, were old American political operators, at least when it came to domestic politics, as they had to manage multitudes of groups who had diverse worldviews who didn't take kindly to moral lecturing by politicians. ..."
"... Nowadays, though, this seems a worldview that many in "western" societies are running low on. Too many people start their argument by asserting their beliefs, why they believe them, and, implicitly, even if not made explicit, why they are right and others should be "persuaded" to believe them (since the "others" are "obviously" irrational.) ..."
"... Condemning the other, who are "obviously wrong," I suppose, makes people feel better, all the more so if one's own worldview can be justified by the Scripture or "science." ..."
"... An important point, however, is that for action to be 'rational' in this sense, it has, in some manner, to be appropriately calculated to the purposes envisaged. A difficulty lies precisely in the ambiguity about purposes which is implicit in this whole tradition. ..."
Apr 10, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

kao_hsien_chih , 4 years ago

Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

I agree entirely with your view. In order to make sense of the "purpose" behind actions taken by various political actors, it is necessary to take seriously their worldview and value system. It is not necessary that one should "respect" them or believe them for oneself, but recognize that these do actuate the choices that they do make.

I suppose this might sound like a sort of backhanded compliment, but this is something that the old British were really good at -- and lay behind successful management of the empire.

So, in a different way, were old American political operators, at least when it came to domestic politics, as they had to manage multitudes of groups who had diverse worldviews who didn't take kindly to moral lecturing by politicians.

Nowadays, though, this seems a worldview that many in "western" societies are running low on. Too many people start their argument by asserting their beliefs, why they believe them, and, implicitly, even if not made explicit, why they are right and others should be "persuaded" to believe them (since the "others" are "obviously" irrational.)

Condemning the other, who are "obviously wrong," I suppose, makes people feel better, all the more so if one's own worldview can be justified by the Scripture or "science." (not the science based on logical deduction and empiricism, but something that is vaguely "right" because it "just is.") But that certainly rules out actually dealing with the other side responsibly to accomplish something.

I still feel that the brand of "rationality" that too many people in the West subscribe to is a brand of smug pseudoreligious fanaticism that is itself "irrational." It may be itself "rational," given the context, as much as beliefs in witchcraft might be, but it is not what its believers think it is. When such beliefs clash with other, comparable beliefs, nothing good can come out of such encounters.

David Habakkuk , 4 years ago
kao_hsien_chih,

'One great irony is that, at least among "serious" academics in economics and other social sciences, the only definition of "rational" that is accepted is that there is some purpose behind it.'

This takes me into areas where I get out of my depth.

But the link of 'rationality' to purposive action is certainly very much in keeping with the tradition which goes, through Collingwood, into areas of British anthropology (exmples chosen from limited knowledge, Evans-Pritchard, Wendy James, Paul Dresch.)

An important point, however, is that for action to be 'rational' in this sense, it has, in some manner, to be appropriately calculated to the purposes envisaged. A difficulty lies precisely in the ambiguity about purposes which is implicit in this whole tradition.

So if one of one's basic conception of human purposes is to keep a kind of social order 'on the road', then beliefs which may be 'irrational', in the sense of indefensible in terms of canons of Western science which are, patently 'rational', may have a 'rationality' of their own.

An example is the analysis by Evans-Pritchard of the witchcraft beliefs of the Azande.

Implicit in this is a nightmare possibility which is lurking in a manner which is often hysterical, but not necessarily 'irrational' manner, in a tradition of conservative thought: that what is 'rational' in terms of scientific enquiry may be subversive of what is 'rational' in terms of the need to maintain functioning societies.

kao_hsien_chih , 4 years ago
One great irony is that, at least among "serious" academics in economics and other social sciences, the only definition of "rational" that is accepted is that there is some [market-related] purpose behind it.

Most people who rant about what "social science" says about the universe and how it should be are sophomoric thinkers who don't know what the "science" part of social science is. The tragedy is that they are what the rest of society expects social science to be about, to rant about morality of this or that mode of politics, and not engage in hard headed analysis based on logic and evidence.

[Apr 10, 2018] Trump says the US will be pulling out of Syria and a week later White helmets spread diinforation about Assad poisoning civil population in Douma and Trump believe this propaganda calls Assad an animal and blames Putin.

Apr 10, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

chunga Sun, 04/08/2018 - 12:37 Permalink

The context of the entire Russia mania is ludicrous and the fake news is so ridiculous that war must be close.

A) Congress votes unanimously to sanction Russia for tampering the election by hacking and everybody in DC makes believe they've never heard of the dead staffer.

B) Putin decides to poison some guy right before their election using a special poison only Russia has. Their involvement in the "investiagtion" is forbidden,

C) The maverick outsider says the US will be pulling out of Syria and ~ a week later Assad decides to shoot chemicals at people like no one will ever find out. Trump calls Assad an animal and blames Putin.

There are a few possibilities. Trump could truly be a dotard moron and believe this shit or he's being strong-armed.

It's either that or some sort of wacko plan. Even the most ardent deplorables are having a hard time with this.

Griffin -> chunga Sun, 04/08/2018 - 18:20 Permalink

First reports about Syria chemical attack said at least 150 killed, according to white helmets. Shortly there after the number falls to 70.

https://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/8amk7l/150_dead_in_syria_ga

[Apr 10, 2018] The "Russian" Poisoning of the Skirpals In Context

Notable quotes:
"... U.S. government documents declassified in October 2017 admitted that a very high-level 1962 meeting of U.S. government officials – separate from the Joint Chiefs of Staff – also discussed: The possibility of U.S. manufacture or acquisition of Soviet aircraft . There is a possibility that such aircraft could be used in a deception operation designed to confuse enemy planes in the air, to launch a surprise attack against enemy installations or in a provocation operation in which Soviet aircraft would appear to attack U.S. or friendly installations in order to provide an excuse for U.S. intervention. ..."
Apr 10, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Unless you've been living under a rock, by now you know that the British government falsely claimed that irrefutable evidence proved that the Russian government was behind the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter using a "Novichok" nerve agent.

In response, the UK and US carried out the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats in history.

Now that the wheels have come off this farce, it is interesting to note previous examples of the West falsely blaming Russia for bad acts.

Official German intelligence service documents show that, in 1994, the German intelligence services planted (original German ) plutonium on an airplane coming from Russia, as a way to frame Russia for exporting dangerous radioactive materials which could end up in the hands of terrorists and criminals.

This frame-up job was so successful at whipping up fear that it got German Chancellor Kohl re-elected, and the U.S. used it as an excuse to "help" secure Russia's nuclear facilities, as a way to get access to Russian nuclear secrets.

While everyone "knows" that the Kremlin poisoned Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium, a very high-level French counterterrorism official, Paul Barril, alleges that French, US and UK intelligence worked together to kill Litvinenko and to frame Russia: And see this .

U.S. government documents declassified in October 2017 admitted that a very high-level 1962 meeting of U.S. government officials – separate from the Joint Chiefs of Staff – also discussed: The possibility of U.S. manufacture or acquisition of Soviet aircraft . There is a possibility that such aircraft could be used in a deception operation designed to confuse enemy planes in the air, to launch a surprise attack against enemy installations or in a provocation operation in which Soviet aircraft would appear to attack U.S. or friendly installations in order to provide an excuse for U.S. intervention.

Newsweek ran an article headlined (all caps in original Newsweek title):

U.S. GOVERNMENT PLANNED FALSE FLAG ATTACKS TO START WAR WITH SOVIET UNION, JFK DOCUMENTS SHOW

The article notes:

The U.S. government once wanted to plan false flag attacks with Soviet aircraft to justify war with the USSR or its allies, newly declassified documents surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy show.

***

False flag attacks are covert operations that make it look like an attack was carried out by another group than the group that actually carried them out.

Indeed, falsely blaming other countries for terrorism or violence is the oldest way to create a "justification" for war.

Update: Why the Russian Double-Agent Skripal Could Not Have Been Poisoned with "Novichok"

Umh Sun, 04/08/2018 - 08:58 Permalink

The governments have certainly learned how to mess with the thinking gear of people. I spent most of my life working with inanimate objects not spending much time figuring out how people think. Most of the people that I did try to figure out were personally known to me. It was only in the last few years of my career that I paid any real attention to how people are manipulated. I knew people were easily manipulate for years, just think about how the war in Iraq in 2003 was so popular amoung most people.

are we there yet -> DuneCreature Sun, 04/08/2018 - 17:56 Permalink

Hi, I am from the government. I am here to lie to you. I have so many lies on top of other lies that sometimes they are true. Even the government has lost track. I am not sure if even MIC or Israel knows anymore.

[Apr 09, 2018] It remains unclear if US neocons staged Dauma provocation to prevent the US troops withdraval annonced by Trump

Apr 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

HopefulCynical -> Enoughalready Mon, 04/09/2018 - 07:56 Permalink

Someone didn't RTFA: " President Trump recently announced his intention to pull US troops out of Syria - although the neocons that now dominate the Trump national security team have been aghast at such a suggestion, and have managed to convince the president to slow-roll this. It remains unclear if they staged the false flag chemical attack in Syria with the help of Israel, or on their own. "

[Apr 09, 2018] Israel Launched Deadly Airstrike Against Syrian Airbase

Apr 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Despite President Trump adopting his harshest rhetoric yet to condemn Russia and the government of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad for an alleged chemical attack in rebel-held eastern Ghouta, a missile strike carried out overnight on a Syrian airfield was not the US's doing.

Instead, Russia and Syria have accused Israel of carrying out the strike on Syria's T-4 airfield, situated about halfway between Homs (Syria's third-largest city) and Palmyra (famously the site of ancient ruins). RT reports that two Israeli F-15 jets fired eight guided missiles at the airfield from Lebanese airspace. The jets never entered Syria.

Of these, Syrian air defenses intercepted five. The attack left roughly 14 people dead, including Iranians and Syrians, the Associated Press reported.

Russia and the Syrian military blamed Israel for a pre-dawn missile attack Monday on a major air base in central Syria , saying Israeli fighter jets launched the missiles from Lebanon's air space. A war-monitoring group said the airstrikes killed 14 people, including Iranians active in Syria.

Russia's Defense Ministry said two Israeli aircraft targeted the T4 air base in Homs province, firing eight missiles. It said Syria shot down five of them while the other three landed in the western part of the base. Syrian state TV quoted an unnamed military official as saying that Israeli F-15 warplanes fired several missiles at T4. It gave no further details.

Israel's foreign ministry had no comment when asked about the accusations.

Since 2012, Israel has struck inside Syria more than 100 times, mostly targeting suspected weapons' convoys destined for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside Syrian government forces.

Most recently, Israel hit the same T4 base in February, after it said an Iranian drone that had violated Israeli airspace took off from the base. The base, which was used as a launching pad for counter offensive attacks against Islamic State militants who were at one point stationed close by, is near the Shayrat air base, which was targeted by U.S. missiles last year in response to a chemical weapons attack.

Monday's missile attack came hours after President Donald Trump warned there would be a "big price to pay" after a suspected poison gas attack Saturday on the last remaining foothold for Syrian rebels in the eastern suburbs of Damascus. At least 40 people were killed in that assault, including families found in their homes and shelters, opposition activists and local rescuers said.

Eight missiles were launched by two Israeli Air Force F-15 jets at the T-4 airfield located about halfway between Homs and the ancient city of Palmyra. Israel previously launched a strike against the base back in February after an Iranian drone ventured into Israeli airspace, provoking an alarmed response.

This isn't Israel's first unprovoked attack on a Syrian military installation: most recently, Israel launched an attack against a government installation near Damascus almost exactly two months ago. Before that, the Israelis launched another unprovoked attack back in September.

Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen reported Monday that Israeli reconnaissance aircraft had been spotted close to the border with Syria during the attack. The missiles crossed Lebanese airspace over Keserwan and Bekaa before heading toward Syria.

France, which we had initially suspected might be behind the attack, along with Israel...
While the US was quick to pin the chemical attack in Ghouta - the last rebel stronghold in what's considered suburban Damascus - on Russia and Assad, the US jumped to a similar conclusion a year ago when Trump authorized a fusillade of tomahawk missiles to strike a Syrian airbase. It was later learned that the US had no proof to suggest that attack was orchestrated by Assad's government.

As for Israel's desire to provoke another regional war, it is understandable in light of growing Iranian influence on its border, while President Trump recently announced his intention to pull US troops out of Syria - although the neocons that now dominate the Trump national security team have been aghast at such a suggestion, and have managed to convince the president to slow-roll this. It remains unclear if they staged the false flag chemical attack in Syria with the help of Israel, or on their own.

Meanwhile, the Guardian says the IDF views the chaos in the West Wing as the latest sign that it must take matters into its own hands, and not wait for explicit US approval. However, with a UN Security Council meeting scheduled for Monday over recent events in Syria, we now wait to see what kind of response Russia and Assad will decide on, and how Moscow will respond to this provocation by Netanyahu, who has been friendly - at least superficially - with Putin in recent months.


topspinslicer -> J. Peasemold G Mon, 04/09/2018 - 07:30 Permalink

The jews will use madeline Albright reasoning of we had to kill the Syrian children to protect the Syrian children

EuroPox -> topspinslicer Mon, 04/09/2018 - 07:36 Permalink

The story is now getting widely confirmed. Looks like it was actually 4 jets not 2:

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-lebanese-military-confirm

2 for the attack and 2 to provide countermeasure support.

The Russian Defense Ministry has also said that medics in Douma received no patients with signs of chemical poisoning:
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201804091063359321-douma-medics-pati

Slack Jack -> Manthong Mon, 04/09/2018 - 09:52 Permalink

This latest chemical attack in Syria is yet another FALSE FLAG.

Just like all the previous chemical attacks in Syria were FALSE FLAG attacks.

Just like the Skripal "chemical attack" in Britain was a FALSE FLAG attack.

Jim in MN -> nmewn Mon, 04/09/2018 - 09:20 Permalink

OK, let's take a moment to re-set the stage.

The natural regional powers are Iran, Turkey and Egypt. Just look at any population map and/or economic activity indicators.

Israel has only technology and 'influence' to create a temporary, brittle form of power. Saudis have only oil and 'influence', ditto.

Hence, by a short-term accident, Israel and KSA can effectively create death and destruction in the region, killing babies for their own greed and power.

BUT ONLY IF THE US HELPS. The IDF is essentially useless on the ground, ditto the Saudis, and neither can handle Russian intel and air superiority on their own.

So this populist insurrection is indeed a pivotal moment, coming as it does when the global balance is shifting toward Eurasian integration, global peace and prosperity. A 'Chinese Peace' with Russian muscle. The main idea being to not blow up shiny new Chinese ports, roads, etc.

So the tiny, tiny minority of war-mongering, globalist traitors in these very, very few countries (Israel, KSA, and the 'Five Eyes') has essentially NO other cards to play. Use WMDs against civilians, false flags, try to get their own killed to trigger war fever.

The very best part right now is: we're already past the tipping point. No one cares, and almost no one believes them.

Pretty much game over, but a very dangerous end game. I think we should round up all these sociopaths pronto before they murder more babies.

Faeriedust -> Jim in MN Mon, 04/09/2018 - 09:52 Permalink

Take it one step farther. The US public is on to the con. BUT the US economy still depends on the MIC. And the MIC depends on maintaining the constant state of little brush wars around the globe to sell their hardware. Every Israeli or KSA plane, missile, and bomb is stamped "Made in the USA". As China and Russia step in to impose peace in Eurasia and the Saudi oil runs out, the petrodollar ceases to be the world reserve currency. The US has two economic pillars: the MIC and Big Ag. With a failing currency and no customers for war toys, it becomes locked into the position of being a global commodity supplier: pork, wheat, corn, soybeans, peanuts. Historically, agricultural commodity suppliers are third-world nations, forced to accept low prices on highly-competitive products while paying high prices for monopolized industrial goods.

This is the END for global US dominance. One can understand why the PTB are desperate to keep going no matter what the resistance at home or abroad. A major war is likely. Victory is not.

optimator -> valjoux7750 Mon, 04/09/2018 - 09:08 Permalink

And if the Syrian Air Force launched missiles from Jordanian air space against an Israeli Air Base nothing would happen? By the way, the Golan Heights does not belong to Israel so they launched from Syrian territory. Whatever......hopefully no U.S. Ships are in the way.

ChaoKrungThep -> egerman Mon, 04/09/2018 - 08:50 Permalink

Five missiles out of eight shot down - by Syrian (old) defense systems. Not too bad. Russia is not there to stop Israel. It's there to stop Daesh, which it's done. Smart, patient, focused strategy.

strannick -> ChaoKrungThep Mon, 04/09/2018 - 08:56 Permalink

Putins patience is what keeps the peace. Like that Russian sub captain in the cuban missle crisis who wouldnt pull the trigger.

Pardon me thou bleeding piece of earth if i am meek and gentle with these butchers.

God bless and keep Vlad Putin. Pray for him.

[Apr 09, 2018] US Will Respond To Syria Gas Attack Regardless Of Security Council's Decision

Notable quotes:
"... Nikki Haley claims that the US "Will Respond" To Syria Gas Attack Regardless Of Security Council's Decision ..."
"... Last year, the US destroyed more than a dozen aircraft, as well as oil storage facilities and other structures, and killed at least seven people when it fired 59 missiles at Syria's Shayrat Airbase following a chemical weapons attack that the US also pinned on the Syrian government. ..."
"... Both the UK and France have suggested they're considering military action in Syria. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he and his French and US allies agree there should be "no impunity for those that use such barbaric weapons." ..."
"... However, Johnson added that Monday's emergency meeting of the UN Security Council would be "an important next step in determining the international response" and that "a full range of options should be on the table." ..."
Apr 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Nikki Haley claims that the US "Will Respond" To Syria Gas Attack Regardless Of Security Council's Decision

Update (4:15 pm ET): US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday that the US would retaliate against the attack in Syria regardless of what the UN Security Council decides.

"History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria. Either way, the United States will respond."

She described the victims in graphic terms.

"I could hold up pictures of babies lying dead next to their mothers, in their diapers, all lying together, dead, ashen blue, open eyed and lifeless, white foam bubbling from their mouths and noses."

Haley added that "the world must see justice done" in Syria.

* * *

Before heading into his Monday afternoon cabinet meeting, President Donald Trump condemned a chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, Syria during an impromptu press conference. The president said "even with the world as bad as it is, you just don't see things like that" before saying he'd decide on a response "probably by the end of today."

And while the US was "having trouble getting people in" to the town, Trump added that he would definitively determine which states were involved in the attack - be it Syria, Iran, Russia (or presumably all three).

https://www.youtube.com/embed/CFCy-5c_imc

With Trump and his most trusted advisors still debating the proper response, several anonymous Pentagon officials have told the Washington Examiner that the US is considering several options including a missile barrage similar to the strike carried out on a Syrian air base last year.

The Israeli F-15s launched a lethal strike on a Syrian airbase early Monday, killing 14 people with the US's tacit approval .

The options being considered now are similar to the options that were provided to the president before last year's strike. The US has several ships armed with tomahawk cruise missiles stationed in the region - including the USS Donald Cook, a guided-missile destroyer that just completed a port call in Cyprus and got underway in the eastern Mediterranean. The ship is within range of Syria and could presumably strike at any target the president orders.

Last year, the US destroyed more than a dozen aircraft, as well as oil storage facilities and other structures, and killed at least seven people when it fired 59 missiles at Syria's Shayrat Airbase following a chemical weapons attack that the US also pinned on the Syrian government.

But according to one official who spoke with the Examiner , Trump could be considering a "more robust" strike this time around, considering that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad didn't quite get the message last time.

Both the UK and France have suggested they're considering military action in Syria. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he and his French and US allies agree there should be "no impunity for those that use such barbaric weapons."

However, Johnson added that Monday's emergency meeting of the UN Security Council would be "an important next step in determining the international response" and that "a full range of options should be on the table."

[Apr 09, 2018] Hi, I am from the government. I am here to lie to you

The Brits blinked and did not punish the criminal liar Blair. Since then, the war profiteering based on false flag operations has become a national British pastime.
Notable quotes:
"... The problem for governments using false flag operations like this is many more people are no longer trusting their own governments and quite rightly so. ..."
Apr 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

are we there yet -> DuneCreature Sun, 04/08/2018 - 17:56 Permalink

Hi, I am from the government. I am here to lie to you. I have so many lies on top of other lies that sometimes they are true. Even the government has lost track. I am not sure if even MIC or Israel knows anymore.

GreatUncle Sun, 04/08/2018 - 10:51 Permalink

The problem for governments using false flag operations like this is many more people are no longer trusting their own governments and quite rightly so. Human minds are reinforcing the concept of untrustworthy governments that actually lasts far longer than the elected period of time of those who purport to represent the population we now know to be a deceit.

As example, take Blair ex-UK prime minister who concocted the whole Iraq dodgy dossier in the UK who most people I know now call him a war criminal but nobody will put on trial in the Hague. He has not been PM since 2007 but nobody forgets the criminal acts he instigated and supported and will be remembered for a long time for this. So how do you make Blair appear human again to the population?

You can apply this concept to so many elected criminals in the west ... join it up those that rule us are in fact criminals not ordinary people. The psychos rule over us and to them we are no more than dead meat.

[Apr 09, 2018] The big game is the eradication of Western sponsored terrorists and ending of the Syrian civil war

Apr 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Joiningupthedots Mon, 04/09/2018 - 08:48 Permalink

The big game is the eradication of Western sponsored terrorists and ending of the Syrian civil war.

This is on schedule and nothing can stop it. It will be over soon.

Russia sees EVERYTHING flying over the entire theatre and in due course the SAA will be supplied with the means to destroy the IDF over Lebanon also.

The IDF attacks are nothing more than an irritation and will be dealt with in the fullness of time. 5 from 8 is nothing to brag about at all. In mission planning terms its a disaster really and will lead to failure in a full war.

Only a direct attack on the Russian military will elicit a direct response from Russia. It has been stated publicly enough times.

Any response from Russia in that instance will come from missile launches from Russia (hundreds of them at that) The antagonists know this.

Syria is winning its war and that's all that matters.

God is The Son Mon, 04/09/2018 - 09:53 Permalink

Assad is fighting Sunni Insurgency, their all RADICAL. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Gulf States are funding them. AL-Qaeda, ISIS, and all the other groups, all SUNNI's. This pocket in SYRIA is filled with Sunni's, their fighting force are all RADICALS.

Look at one of the groups that USA supported a Jihadist Sunni Division, who went to KITCHEN grab a cooking knife and cut off the head of 10 year old KID.

THE USA, FRANCE, UK, are all in BED with Sunni's, Ironically, It's Sunni's that are also committing TERROR attacks in EUROPE. Yet Jew Boss's in USA and EUROPE want make Sunni the Allies and SHIA the enemy.

Look at the CRIMINALITY going on.

[Apr 09, 2018] The US is in Syria illegally and that manes that guerilla attacks of the USA troops in occupied areas might intensify

Apr 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Mike Masr Mon, 04/09/2018 - 07:32 Permalink

US Interference and Regime Change Bullshit

"Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria."

Regime change is the only reason we or any of our proxies are there. We have NO GOOD REASON being there other than this BS.

Truth Eater Mon, 04/09/2018 - 07:34 Permalink

Dammit Trump! Get control of your staff and get out of Syria leaving the Kurds all the AA stinger missiles they need to take out Turk aircraft. And on the way out, rip the Turk invasion force to shreds, then just say, "oops, sorry."

davatankool Mon, 04/09/2018 - 07:38 Permalink

Massive Propaganda Push Re. Syria Gas Attack

William Dorritt Mon, 04/09/2018 - 08:08 Permalink

Israel wants the US to fight to the last American

one reason Israel remained silent even though it seems clear they had advanced knowledge of the 9-11 attack; and allowed them to proceed. Israelis Agents filming the attacks were arrested and later deported, more than 70 of them.

Fortunately, Bibi was ready to take the microphone minutes after the 9-11 attack and define the enemy for the American public, resulting in the deaths of thousands of American service men and $7 Trillion wasted in the shit hole middle east.

The Anglo Jewish Alliance continues to try to provoke a war between the US and Russia, Iran, and Syria.

Trump is right to get the US out of the shit hole as fast as possible, months not years.

Former CIA Steele claims that the Epstein Compromise Kiddie Sex tapes from the Lolita Express, the palm beach estate and probably six other Epstein properties are in Israel for Control-Blackmail purposes. The next time Bibi calls Trump, Trump should tell Bibi to fuck off. What happened on the 300ft yacht ?????

CFR and AIPAC and all Globalist and Foreign lobbyist organization must be registered as Foreign Agents, and forced to meet at the State Dept, and cut off from contact with the rest of the US govt.

JPMorgan Mon, 04/09/2018 - 08:12 Permalink

Israel is US by proxy.

DingleBarryObummer -> JPMorgan Mon, 04/09/2018 - 08:15 Permalink

+1

Perhaps if you flipped it around, it would be even more accurate.

RagnarRedux -> DingleBarryObummer Mon, 04/09/2018 - 08:34 Permalink

Correct.

Former CIA Intelligence Officer Michael Scheuer: Israel Owns US Congress

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_T1VrzdaKs

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Scheuer

Former CIA Operations Officer Valerie Plame: American Jews Are Starting Wars

http://www.newsweek.com/americans-jews-are-starting-wars-jewish-former-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valerie_Plame

Former British Foreign Secretary & MP Jack Straw: Jewish Money Prevents Peace

https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4445810,00.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Straw

Lostinfortwalton Mon, 04/09/2018 - 10:04 Permalink

"a missile strike carried out overnight on a Syrian airfield was not the US's doing."

The Israelis only used US provided weapons from US provided aircraft.

BGO Mon, 04/09/2018 - 10:19 Permalink

The plan is for Israel to conduct however many cowardly missions it takes until their murderous ways are considered normalized behavior.

Someday in the not so distant future, israel hopes conversations such as "did you hear Israel told an incidious lie then killed a bunch of innocent people?" to which a typical brow beaten dufus responds "yes, but it had to be done," become as common place as banter about the weather.

Lizards. Lizards everywhere.

[Apr 09, 2018] Publication by the USA formula of Novichok was probably a fake as in case it is real it put Israel into tremendous danger

Notable quotes:
"... Basically, Mirzayanov claims that it is relatively easy to make the Novichok nerve agents. So, some enterprising Arabs could buy a few chemists to make a few tons of it and then spray it all over the little Satan. Do you really think that the Jews who run the United States would allow the publication of information that could lead to thousands of deaths in Israel? ..."
"... Remember, Mirzayanov was given residence (and a University position) in the United States after he was kicked out of Russia. There are also a number of "people who should know" that have stated that there is zero solid evidence for the existence of the Novichok nerve agents. For example: Robin Black in Development, Historical Use and Properties of Chemical Warfare Agents (2016): ..."
"... "In recent years, there has been much speculation that a fourth generation of nerve agents, 'Novichoks' (newcomer), was developed in Russia, beginning in the 1970s as part of the 'Foliant' programme, with the aim of finding agents that would compromise defensive countermeasures. Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published." ..."
"... "There has never been a 'Novichok' research project conducted in Russia,... But in the West, some countries carried out such research, which they called 'Novichok,' for some reason." ..."
Apr 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Slack Jack -> Slack Jack Mon, 04/09/2018 - 09:54 Permalink

Remember, the evil people, Theresa May, Stoltenberg, Trump and the rest, are damning Russia with obvious lies.

The Novichok nerve agents don't even exist.

HERE IS THE PROOF:

The Novichok nerve agents are supposedly much more toxic than the nerve gases VX or Sarin (and yet the Skripals are still alive!?).

Mirzayanov's book, published in 2008, contains the formulas he alleges can be used to create Novichoks. In 1995, he explained that "the chemical components or precursors" of Novichok are "ordinary organophosphates that can be made at commercial chemical companies that manufacture such products as fertilizers and pesticides."

https://www.amazon.com/State-Secrets-Insiders-Chronicle-Chemical/dp/143

Basically, Mirzayanov claims that it is relatively easy to make the Novichok nerve agents. So, some enterprising Arabs could buy a few chemists to make a few tons of it and then spray it all over the little Satan. Do you really think that the Jews who run the United States would allow the publication of information that could lead to thousands of deaths in Israel?

Do you really think they would protect the publisher of such information by giving him residence in the United States?

Remember, Mirzayanov was given residence (and a University position) in the United States after he was kicked out of Russia. There are also a number of "people who should know" that have stated that there is zero solid evidence for the existence of the Novichok nerve agents. For example: Robin Black in Development, Historical Use and Properties of Chemical Warfare Agents (2016):

"In recent years, there has been much speculation that a fourth generation of nerve agents, 'Novichoks' (newcomer), was developed in Russia, beginning in the 1970s as part of the 'Foliant' programme, with the aim of finding agents that would compromise defensive countermeasures. Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published."

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/03/the-novichok-story-is-i

And, Alexander Shulgin, Russia's representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (2018):

"There has never been a 'Novichok' research project conducted in Russia,... But in the West, some countries carried out such research, which they called 'Novichok,' for some reason."

CONCLUSION: The Novichok nerve agents don't even exist.

[Apr 09, 2018] Former President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa shut down the US base at Manta. His successor, Lenin Moreno, has proven to be some kind of neoliberal mole

Apr 09, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

PrairieBear , Apr 8, 2018 5:04:50 PM | 17

@11 Yes, Maracutu, shivers are pretty much a daily thing for me in these times. An "accidental" bombing of Latakia was the spark that finally set off WWIII in the old, but still popular, nuclear apocalypse novel Alas Babylon .

@ all Meanwhile, as all the Mad Magazine "Spy vs Spy" nonsense spins out in the UK, the Empire is keeping busy on the other side of the pond. In late March, a couple of nice folks from the US Southern Command paid a courtesy "friendship" visit to Ecuador:

https://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/266769-ecuador-funcionarios-comando-sur-eeuu

Also, we apparently have US troops in Ecuador once again:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2nClTjCs3I

During his term as President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa had (not very) politely and very firmly invited US military personnel to go home (or at least elsewhere than Ecuador) and he shut down the US base at Manta. His successor, Lenin Moreno, has proven to be some kind of neoliberal mole who wormed himself into the Alianza Pais and has completely betrayed the Citizens' Revolution. In less than a year in office, he has wrecked most of the progress slowly and steadily made under 10 years of Correa's leadership. In the past month or so, there have been three "terrorist" attacks on the Colombian border. These are supposedly connected with FARC. There had been NO troubles with FARC under Correa.

So far, I have not found any English-Language media talking about any of this. I have not found mention of how many US troops are involved. I have seen that there are now 500 additional ones in Peru to help with security for some summit Trump is going to. Of course, the ones in Ecuador are only there to be "helpful" to the country.

Also: RIP Nash Van Drake and his guinea pig siblings (has anyone heard what their names were, if any?). The murder of these pets may just be a weird side story to this madness, or it may have been to cover up and destroy evidence. The explanations for their deaths seem very suspicious to me. Some years ago, I had a male cat whom I let outside sometimes. He got himself shut in the neighbor's garage one afternoon. I looked everywhere, placed want ads, etc. No luck. Having basically given up, I discovered by accident he was in there after a week. I called the neighbor, who came out late at night and opened the garage up and I coaxed him out. Cat was very happy to be home and glad to see his food and water dish, but he was hardly malnourished. He essentially was no worse for wear, physically.

It takes quite a long time without food for a healthy, well-fed house cat to become "severely malnourished," unless perhaps there are some other special health problems already or special needs. I don't know the timeline of when they went in and found him. Two weeks? Three? Even then, look at all the videos out there of sick, malnourished cats rescued and nursed back to health.

I know a lot less about guinea pigs, but similar with them. If they had a bottle waterer mounted on the side of their cage, it was probably kept refilled pretty often. Even if already down by half, it should have lasted a while. How much water would they drink in normal house temperatures in the UK in late winter?

[Apr 08, 2018] The UK and France are in deep economic trouble and need an external enemy such as Russia using an incident such as the Skripal affair to deflect the people from focusing on removing their government leaders

Notable quotes:
"... The UK and France are in deep economic trouble and need an external enemy such as Russia using an incident such as the Skripal affair to deflect the people from focusing on removing their government leaders. If all else fails, the UK Royals will have a couple of weddings and babies to take up the front pages for most of this year. Meanwhile, like the Skripals, several UK/EU agents involved in the HillaryGate Steele dossier trail of evidence such as Christophe Steele, Joseph Mifsid, and Gianni Pittella have disappeared: ..."
"... In the UK case of May and BoJo, any alternative will result in a continuation of the decline of the society. To be honest, much of the decline is baked in structural with the loss of income from former "slave" colonies and the decline of North Sea oil and gas reserves. Staying in the EU against the will of the people will continue to further drain resources to Germany, which has structurally colonialized Western Europe. ..."
"... France, like the UK, has extracted the wealth from their former colonies and facing a reduction in tribute from these sources. Macron has attempted to maintain control of some colonies such as Mali and really wants to conquer Syria. I suspect the meetings between Macron and MbS will result in an agreement for Saudi Arabia to buy French weapons while France getting financial aid to expand French troop bases in Syria. ..."
"... Almost all sectors of the French society are protesting against the neo-feudal policies of Macron, FIRE economy participants and his dwarves in the National Assembly. There are strikes among: ..."
"... The EU is also experiencing internal dissent with the Visegrad four (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia) plus Italy and Austria and thus needs an external enemy to distract its members. I suspect that a Ukrainian invasion of DPR/LPR will once again be used as a flash point create "two minutes of hate" against Russia ..."
Apr 08, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Krollchem , Apr 8, 2018 5:18:42 PM | 18

The UK and France are in deep economic trouble and need an external enemy such as Russia using an incident such as the Skripal affair to deflect the people from focusing on removing their government leaders. If all else fails, the UK Royals will have a couple of weddings and babies to take up the front pages for most of this year. Meanwhile, like the Skripals, several UK/EU agents involved in the HillaryGate Steele dossier trail of evidence such as Christophe Steele, Joseph Mifsid, and Gianni Pittella have disappeared:

https://disobedientmedia.com/2018/04/all-russiagate-roads-lead-to-london-as-evidence-emerges-of-joseph-mifsuds-links-to-uk-intelligence/

https://via.hypothes.is/https://www.buzzfeed.com/albertonardelli/the-mysterious-professor-at-the-center-of-the-russia-trump?utm_term=.paVe5QKjLR#.imWM6VNRLp

https://www.buzzfeed.com/albertonardelli/the-mysterious-professor-at-the-center-of-the-russia-trump?utm_term=.paVe5QKjLR#.imWM6VNRLp

In the UK case of May and BoJo, any alternative will result in a continuation of the decline of the society. To be honest, much of the decline is baked in structural with the loss of income from former "slave" colonies and the decline of North Sea oil and gas reserves. Staying in the EU against the will of the people will continue to further drain resources to Germany, which has structurally colonialized Western Europe.

France, like the UK, has extracted the wealth from their former colonies and facing a reduction in tribute from these sources. Macron has attempted to maintain control of some colonies such as Mali and really wants to conquer Syria. I suspect the meetings between Macron and MbS will result in an agreement for Saudi Arabia to buy French weapons while France getting financial aid to expand French troop bases in Syria.

Somehow, the current revolution in France is blacked out in the Western Media. Videos of the current revolution are common on Youtube such as: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g21_myERteQ

Almost all sectors of the French society are protesting against the neo-feudal policies of Macron, FIRE economy participants and his dwarves in the National Assembly. There are strikes among:

For a schedule of the rolling strikes in France see: http://www.cestlagreve.fr/

Macron has already deployed the CRS assassins and the street war will begin when EU police and military invade to crush to protestors. This will be far more violent than May 1968 and may usher in the 6th Republic. Unfortunately, Macron would prefer the cities to burn rather than resign and turnover the government to the President of the Senate.

The EU is also experiencing internal dissent with the Visegrad four (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia) plus Italy and Austria and thus needs an external enemy to distract its members. I suspect that a Ukrainian invasion of DPR/LPR will once again be used as a flash point create "two minutes of hate" against Russia :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4zYlOU7Fpk

These EU conflicts will not end peacefully as the system will fight back rather than step aside.

[Apr 08, 2018] Kelly Goes Nuclear In Oval Office, Threatens To Quit Report

Apr 07, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly threatened to quit in late March after a blow up with Trump in a meeting in the Oval Office, reports Axios .

Kelly was reportedly heard muttering about quitting as he stormed back to his office after the March 28 argument - however sources say it wasn't related to the firing of former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin which happened the same day.

A senior administration official said that calling it a threat was "probably too strong, it was more venting frustration." Kelly often says he doesn't have to be there and didn't seek the job originally. - Axios

Details (via Axios ):

Meanwhile, President Trump has reportedly been sidestepping Kelly of late - telling one confidant that he's " tired of being told no " by Kelly, and has instead opted to simply not include his Chief of Staff in various matters, according to CBS News , citing a person who was not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

When President Donald Trump made a congratulatory phone call to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, White House chief of staff John Kelly wasn't on the line . When Mr. Trump tapped John Bolton to be his next national security adviser, Kelly wasn't in the room.

And when Mr. Trump spent a Mar-a-Lago weekend stewing over immigration and trade, Kelly wasn't in sight .

Kelly, once empowered to bring order to a turbulent West Wing, h as receded from view, his clout diminished , his word less trusted by staff and his guidance less tolerated by an increasingly go-it-alone president. - CBS News

Kelly had made it a practice for months to listen in on many of the president's calls - particularly with world leaders. He also reportedly advocated against the hiring of John Bolton.

"It's not tenable for Kelly to remain in this position so weakened," said Chris Whipple, author of "Gatekeepers," a history of modern White House chiefs of staff. "More than any of his predecessors, Donald Trump needs an empowered chief of staff to tell him what he does not want to hear. Trump wants to run the White House like the 26th floor of Trump Tower, and it's simply not going to work ."

In December we reported that President Trump had been calling White House aides to his private residence in the evening where he would give them new assignments - asking them not to tell Kelly .

" John has been successful at putting in place a stronger chain of command in the White House , requiring people to go through him to get to the Oval Office," said Leon Panetta, a White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton who worked with Mr. Kelly, a four-star Marine general, in the Department of Defense. " The problem has always been whether or not the president is going to accept better discipline in the way he operates. He's been less successful at that. " - WSJ

" This is all just inevitable ," said one person close to Mr. Trump. " It's not that Mr. Kelly is wrong -- we all know he's terribly competent. "

Meanwhile, frustrated friends of the President have also reportedly gotten around Kelly's "do not call" list by calling Melania Trump in order to pass messages to her husband , according to two people familiar with the matter.

"[S]ince she arrived in the White House from New York in the summer, the first lady has taken on a more central role as a political adviser to the president."

" If I don't want to wait 24 hours for a call from the president, getting to Melania is much easier ," one person said. - WSJ

Melania Trump's office issued a harsh rebuke to the Wall St. Journal, stating " This is more fake news and these are more anonymous sources peddling things that just aren't true. The First Lady is focused on her own work in the East Wing ."

Trump's Twitter feed is still off limits to Kelly, who's been rolling his eyes at questions over potential diplomatic quagmires such as the time he called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "short and fat." Asked about the incident, Kelly shrugged it off - saying " Believe it or not - I don't follow the tweets ," adding that he has advised White House staff to do the same. " We develop policy in the normal traditional staff way ."

As one White House official told the WSJ, despite what appears to be an equilibrium between Kelly and Trump, they may never see eye to eye. " Kelly is too much of a general, and Trump is too much Trump ," adding that Trump continues to hold Mr. Kelly in high regard - often praising him during public appearances.

Meanwhile in March, Kelly was reportedly so furious over the way the press was covering Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's Tuesday firing that he shouted at the television on Air Force One as the President and his staff took off for California, according to Politico .

Accounts of Kelly's involvement in Tillerson's ouster have varied. While some reports describe Kelly only telling Tillerson to watch Trump's twitter account "over the next few days," others have said it was a much more direct conversation in which the Secretary of State was given a heads up. In that version, Tillerson implored Kelly to hold off on any decisions until he returned to the U.S. on Monday.

Tillerson, meanwhile, would only say that he received a "lunchtime call" from Trump during the President's flight to California, and a separate call from Kelly - both after Trump's tweet.

Kelly's consternation over the press coverage came on the heels of former Trump staff secretary Rob Porter's ouster in February after the Daily Mail published accounts from his two ex-wives accusing him of domestic abuse. Kelly took fire for not getting rid of Porter earlier, after it emerged that the FBI had alerted the White House several times in 2017 that the allegations were holding up Porter's security clearance. When the allegations against Porter began to fly, Kelly put out a statement calling Porter a "man of true integrity and honor," and "a trusted professional."

With Trump playing musical chairs in the West Wing seemingly every other week, one has to wonder exactly how much longer Kelly will last.

[Apr 08, 2018] Chris Hedges U.S. Citizens Are Living In An Inverted Totalitarian Country

Apr 08, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

The mainstream media deflects attention from where power resides: corporations, not with the leaders of the free world. The arguments posed by Chris Hedges, that the U.S. is neither a democracy nor a republic but a totalitarian state that can now assassinate its citizens at will, are pertinent ones. Scary ones. Especially as consecutive governments seem equally as impotent to invoke any real change for the States. If the media won't stand up to the marionettes who pull the strings of the conglomerates causing deep, indelible polarisation in the world abound; then so we must act. Together.

Listen to the full interview in our weekly Newsvoice Think podcast.

We were delighted to have Chris Hedges on an episode of the Newsvoice Think podcast as we seek to broadcast perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum. Right, left, red, blue and purple.

In our interview with Chris, we discussed a range of topics facing the U.S. today as the Trump administration looks back at a year in power, and forward to the November '18 midterms where Democrats will be looking to make gains. Chris was scathing of that party describing them as a "creature of Wall Street, which is choreographed and ceased to be a proper party a long time ago." As a columnist with Truthdig, and a big advocate of independent media. Chris Hedges was the perfect interviewee for us to draw on the benefits of crowdsourced journalism and the challenges facing sites at the mercy of Facebook, Google and Twitter algorithms.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/I0Lzmq8alBw

Chris's ire against the corporate interest of Facebook et al didn't let up saying dissident voices were being shut down and that corporate oligarchs were only too happy to let them. The neutralisation of the media platforms that seek to provide independent opinion on U.S. current affairs is in full pelt.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Im5zi2lcX8Y

North Korea was the hot topic in 2017. Commentators said it was like a return to the days of the Cold War. But Hedges pointed that we need to remember what happened during the Korean War  --  how the North was flattened by U.S. bombs  --  and that as a result they, as a nation, suffer from an almost psychosis as a result. Trump, he said, is an imbecile and only deals in bombast, threats and rhetoric.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/iD2YGy56VAs

Not surprisingly, Trump got it hard from Hedges. Describing his administration as a "kleptocracy" who will seek to attack immigrants and up the xenophobia stakes as it distracts and covers for the unadulterated theft of U.S. natural resources.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/0Ajr6WFf_SM

As young people look to estimable journalists, activists and politicians in the States to help give them a voice, Hedges sees the democratic system as utterly futile. Encouraging mass civil disobedience instead, the ex-NY Times foreign correspondent states that railroads should be blocked and shutting down corporate buildings, for example, is the only way forward.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/hailNKOv2mw

The perennial argument between Republicans and Democrats is just that; is the U.S. a Republic or a Democracy? Hedges thinks neither. He told Newsvoice that the States is an inverted totalitarian country where the government regards the public as "irrelevant".

https://www.youtube.com/embed/uexNoNK2Xok

Unlike Ben Wizner from the ACLU who sees hope in delaying Net Neutrality, at least until a new administration is in power, Chris feels it is hopeless  --  that it is a dead duck, and as Net Neutrality slows down independent media platforms, the public will be at the behest of corporate social media sites such as Facebook who'll increasingly deem what you do and don't read or see.

You can read more of Chris' work at Truthdig where he has a weekly column every Monday.

[Apr 07, 2018] Richest one percent will own two-thirds of all wealth by 2030 by Michael Savage

Neoliberalism as a social system is self-destructive -- similar to Trotskyism from which it was derived.
World leaders urged to act as anger over inequality reaches a 'tipping point'
Typical neoliberal mantra "need to rise productivity" is a typical neoliberal fake: look at Amazon for shining example here.
Notable quotes:
"... The real focus of our taxation system should be to tax wealth and recipients of silly amounts of annual income. ..."
"... Ur talking about something called "Reagan-nomics" or what was commonly and lovingly referred to as "trickle down economics". After the destruction of unionized labor, years of globalization, record profits for corporations & wall street and a high octane doze of Reagan / Thatcher Neoliberalism, "trickle down" has obviously been a complete failure. ..."
Apr 07, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

An alarming projection produced by the House of Commons library suggests that if trends seen since the 2008 financial crash were to continue, then the top 1% will hold 64% of the world's wealth by 2030. Even taking the financial crash into account, and measuring their assets over a longer period, they would still hold more than half of all wealth.

Since 2008, the wealth of the richest 1% has been growing at an average of 6% a year – much faster than the 3% growth in wealth of the remaining 99% of the world's population. Should that continue, the top 1% would hold wealth equating to $305tn (£216.5tn) – up from $140tn today.


BrianSand , 7 Apr 2018 14:53

The population of third world countries is skyrocketing. The population of developed countries, outside the importation of poor immigrants, is static. The top 1% of world population will continuously become comparatively richer as long as this is the case.
feliciafarrel -> apaliteno , 7 Apr 2018 14:50

but there's no way the UK has 10 million of the world's richest 75 million.

You need £550,000 to be in the top 1% in the world.

In the UK there are 27m households with an average of 1.94 adults per household.

25% of households have £550,000 or more.

That means 6.75m households are in the top 1% of the world, At 1.94 adults per household, that's 13,000,000 people.

However, assuming households are not 'legal people' but the adults within them are, then you'd have to divide household income by the number of adults (1.94) to get the wealth per person. So to reach £550,000 per person, a household would have to have net wealth of £1.067m, and only 10% of households have that wealth.

10% of 27m is 2.7m and that equates to only 5,240,000 people.

So in terms of households we easily reach 10m mark, but in terms of individual people, you are correct, it is 'only' 5.24m. Still and awful lot of people though.

Landlord52 -> Whattayagonnado huh , 7 Apr 2018 14:46
A single mother get £20k on benefits per years. Over 18 years that is £360,000. She has two kids, so that iwill cost £3,000 in education per years. 2 kids x 14 years x £3,500 per years = £98,000. We pay for child birth costs, free vaccinations, anti-natal care, free prescriptions, free eye care, free dental care, free school meals, we pay her countal tax bil. Plus if she is lucky, she get a free £450,000 council home.

Even if she works for a few years, it will never be enough to pay what she has received from the state. PLus we have to make provisions for her pension and her elderly care, meals on wheels, elderly health care etc...

That is easily £1m to £2million per single mother....

yeah... we are such a terrible society....

PotholeKid -> counttrumpage , 7 Apr 2018 14:45
The plebs are well on the way to figuring it out alright and so have the 1%. That's we now live under a militarized surveillance state which serves the elites.. Think again if voting will ever change this.. Bernie was doomed from the getgo.
hundredhander , 7 Apr 2018 14:42
I think the principle here is that the longer this goes on and the greater inequality becomes then the more extreme will be the countervailing force.

It is in everybody's interest that the world becomes fairer. That governments govern in the interests of as many people as possible. That public services like health and education are available to all regardless. That taxes are progressive and that governments have international treaties to deal with tax avoidance and evasion. That our democratic processes are as robust as possible and that all our organs of state are as transparent as possible and open to scrutiny to the public.

If the accumulation of wealth on this scale continues unabated it will end in tears... inevitably.

Furthermore I believe that there is a relationship between inequality - and all the things that go with it and follow from it - and environmental degradation.

Greater fairness between individuals and between countries is, in my opinion, one of the essential requirements for us to surmount the epic problems that we face in the world today.

DogsLivesMatter , 7 Apr 2018 14:41
I think most of us have are aware of what really happens at Davos. The wealthy and powerful are cooking up more schemes to screw the 99% over. Your Bono's and your Bill Gates are no friends to the working class or the working poor. Take Jeff Bezos for example. He has a mass of wealth totaling $112 Billion.

Jeff Bezos, or even Bill Gates could do that in an instant and still have Billions to spare. The super rich don't care about "regular" people, and never have.


Peter Rabbit ComfortablyPlumb 7 Apr 2018 14:25

This is the Osborne analogy regurgitated.

If you live in a £2.5 million house, you are wealthy, not average or poor. To be wealthy is not some form of human rights entitlement, especially if it is at the cost of the overwhelming majority. This concept is known as "greed" and "selfishness". Obviously your mantra is that of Gordon Gekko "greed is good".

The real focus of our taxation system should be to tax wealth and recipients of silly amounts of annual income.

All these arguments are dated and are applicable to the Thatcher era of the early 1980s which has long gone and is not going to return. The problem facing our society currently is run away social and economic inequality and the entrenchment of substantial wealth for a very small number of people which is fuelling generational social and inequality.


TakoradiMan BrotherLead 7 Apr 2018 14:24

I presume that most those living in the U.K. will fall within top 1% which the Guardianista loath so much.

I'm sorry but this post is utterly clueless.

To be in the top 1% you need to have a household income of well over £50k per annum (closer to £100k I suspect - no one here has yet given very authoritative figures); only a fraction of the UK population are that well off.

AnneK1 Landlord52 7 Apr 2018 14:24

Except that they don't and the charities have to come along and ask us for more money because the public sector haven't used tax revenue efficiently. I would say Britain's ineffective public sector are the greatest threat to Corbyn's chances of forming the government we need to rid us of these dangerous Tories.

PeterlooSunset 7 Apr 2018 14:24

The richest 1% own the corporate media (including the private equity firms keeping the Guardian afloat) that keep telling us we have to focus our attention on identity politics while they loot all the wealth.


prematureoptimsim -> Inthesticks 7 Apr 2018 14:23

Ur talking about something called "Reagan-nomics" or what was commonly and lovingly referred to as "trickle down economics". After the destruction of unionized labor, years of globalization, record profits for corporations & wall street and a high octane doze of Reagan / Thatcher Neoliberalism, "trickle down" has obviously been a complete failure.

U need proof ? Just examine recent history of presidential elections. . . .

  1. Barack Obama - ( Mr. Hope and Change )
  2. Donald Trump - ( Mr. Make America Great Again ).

And in the end it's the same as it ever was. The rich get richer and. . . . Well u know the rest. Good luck to u. Enjoy ur crumbs.

[Apr 07, 2018] As Skripal-Gate Collapses, Will May's Government Be Next by Tom Luongo,

The level of the USA support suggests that this is a wishful thinking. Who corralled the EU nations to join GB in this mess?
Apr 07, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Tom Luongo,

The United Kingdom is headed for a break-up. Not today or tomorrow, mind you but, sooner than anyone would like to handicap, especially in this age of coalition government at any cost.

By responding to the alleged poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with histrionics normally reserved for The View, Theresa May's government has set the stage for its own collapse.

Government's fall when the people lose confidence in them. May has bungled everything she has touched as Prime Minister, from Brexit talks and her relationship with Donald Trump to her response (or lack thereof) to the escalating level of domestic terrorism and her pathetic campaign during last year's snap election.

When I confront such obvious ineptitude it's not hard to believe that wasn't the plan to begin with.

Since her initial meeting with Donald Trump after his election where it looked like the two would get along, May has become more and more belligerent to both him and his base. While he continues to affirm our special relationship "The Gypsum Lady" as I like to call her makes mistake after mistake.

The latest of which is pushing everyone east of the Dneiper River in Ukraine to denounce the Russians and President Vladimir Putin personally for this alleged poisoning in Salisbury a month ago.

The result of which was the largest round of diplomatic expulsions in a century, if not ever.

And now that the whole "Russia did it" narrative has been skewered by May's own experts at Porton Downs, she stands alone along with her equally inept and embarrassing Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The calls for their jobs will only intensify here.

Tinker, Tailor, Traitor, Spy

The whole thing felt from the beginning like a bad Ian Fleming novel. I said from the beginning this this was a classic false flag to gin up anti-Russian fervor while May's negotiator betrayed Brexit and pushed to remove Russian businesses from doing business in London.

I'm sorry but it's not a stretch to think this whole thing was cooked up by MI-6. In fact, that's been my operating assumption for a month now.

The problem was, until a few days ago, I didn't have a good enough reason why.

Putting diplomatic pressure on Russia on behalf of the U.S.'s crazed neoconservative Deep State just didn't seem like a big enough reward. Neither did cutting Russian businesses out of European banks to stop contractor and creditor payments associated with the Nordstream 2 pipeline.

Those things felt like nice bonus objectives but not main goals.

And it wasn't until the lead scientists at Porton Downs left May, Johnson and Williamson out to hang on Monday that the full operation became clear. By stating that they could not confirm the origin of the Novichok nerve agent used in the attack on the Skripals the Porton Downs officials destroyed the credibility of The Gypsum Lady's government.

Therefore, this operation was always about undermining May's government to the point of a no-confidence vote. This would then be the ultimate betrayal of Brexit in order to preserve the U.K.'s position in the European Union, which is favored by the political and old-monied British elite.

In short, this was a coup attempt.

And don't think for a second that this is not plausible. Remember it was Margaret Thatcher's own most trusted people who betrayed her to get the U.K. into the European Union in the first place. This was why they brought down The Iron Lady.

So, here's the scene:

May and Johnson both get told by trusted advisors that there is incontrovertible proof of Russia's hand in this. They go with this information with confidence to parliament, the U.N., high-level meetings with foreign leaders and the press.

They convince their allies to stand strong against the evil Russians who is everyone's bid 'baddie' at this point.

Trump has to go along with this nonsense even though he is obviously skeptical otherwise there will be an uproar in the U.S. press about him betraying our most trusted ally for his puppet-master Putin.

To be honest, I don't think these bozos, May and Johnson, were in on the plan. I think they were being played all along and now will be the patsies.

Just like May was played last year, calling for snap elections. The minute she called them there were terror attacks all over London, marches against her over public safety. A media campaign which puffed up Jeremy Corbyn, who they are now destroying for his rightful trepidation about this fairy tale MI-6 is spinning.

The goal was to weaken May and get Labour back in charge. Corbyn would then be cast aside and a Tony Blair clone installed as Prime Minister to scuttle Brexit and restore order to the galaxy, Europe. Unfortunately, the DUP got enough of the vote to re-elect a very weakened May and things have limped along for nearly a year.

Crisis on Infinite Empires

The problem with this however, is like all plans of those desperate to cling to vestiges of former glory (and the U.K. is definitely the poster child for that), is the crisis of confidence it will engender.

Make no mistake, Brexit was no mistake.

It's what the people of Britain wanted and they want it more now than in 2016. So, they don't dare call for a new referendum. But, they are also looking at a third parliamentary vote in as many years.

And that doesn't scream confidence no matter how much markets would prefer the legal status quo. Opposition to Brexit comes from the entrenched monied power, not from any adherence to globalist ideology.

But, if Brexit is betrayed through this hackneyed farce of a spy thriller, it won't sit well with the British people. Scotland's call for a second referendum will continue to grow and the Pound will fall alongside the competitiveness of British labor still trapped within a euro-zone that has done nothing but choke the life out of the economy.

The Pound will begin to sink into irrelevancy as this unfolds. It won't happen overnight, but we will look back on these events and see them as the trigger points for the path of history.

Between these things and the toxic levels of political correctness as it pertains to Muslim immigration, the insanity of London liberals and the de facto police state the U.K. has become and you have a recipe for political unrest that will not be pretty.

Brexit was meant to be the peaceful revolution that put the nail in the coffin of the march to one world government. It is about to be nullified.

When it is the sun will finally set on what's left of the British Empire.

Support this work by signing up with my Patreon Page and gain access to the Gold Goats 'n Guns Investment Newsletter, the Private Blog as well as our private community on Slack.


Occident Mortal -> Manthong Sat, 04/07/2018 - 15:30 Permalink

Theresa May and Boris Johnson are just not very competent. At all.

That's all you need to know to understand Brexit and Skripal case.

chunga -> Occident Mortal Sat, 04/07/2018 - 15:35 Permalink

Sergei Skripal's pets die after investigators sealed off home despite vet warning

https://www.rt.com/uk/423359-skripal-salisbury-pets-die/

The revelation that the animals had died caused considerable reaction on social media with many wondering why it had taken officials so long to find the animals despite so much police activity at the home.

solidtare -> chunga Sat, 04/07/2018 - 15:39 Permalink

"Bring down the government" - isn't that the point of all this.

Well, actually, a second Brexit referendum is, "the point".

Boris took the bait "hook, line and sinker."

No Boris, or rather, Boris the disgraced clown, then maybe we rethink Brexit.

Boris was the target.

two hoots -> solidtare Sat, 04/07/2018 - 15:45 Permalink

Shows how easily we can be led, have be led, to war(s). War is hidden agendas from every player.

eforce -> two hoots Sat, 04/07/2018 - 15:46 Permalink

The EUSSR will be destroyed, there were attempts by UKIP and various others to democratize it a decade or two ago and they were unsucessful, the protocols says that all states must be democratic before world government can be implemented, both the EUSSR and PRC stand in their way.

solidtare -> two hoots Sat, 04/07/2018 - 15:57 Permalink

This is political theater.

It all is.

Note the use of the words:

"Actors", "Narrative" "arc", "story", "backstory", "script"

It is all a game with these people and they figure their opponents get the joke.

http://www.unz.com/pcockburn/the-appointments-of-bolton-and-pompeo-brin

"In another major misjudgement by the US in January, the supposedly moderate Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the US would be keeping its forces in Syria after the defeat of Isis, and intended to get rid of President Bashar al-Assad and roll back Iranian influence. This ambition was largely fantasy , but the Russian and Turkish reaction was real . Four days after Tillerson's arrogant declaration, the Turkish army poured into northern Syria with Russian permission and within two months had eliminated the enclave of Afrin, inhabited by Kurds who are the only US ally in Syria. "

Buckaroo Banzai -> chunga Sat, 04/07/2018 - 15:55 Permalink

They obviously wanted the poor defenseless pets out of the equation. I guess them surviving was somehow not good for the narrative.

Miserable cunts.

Crazy Or Not -> Buckaroo Banzai Sat, 04/07/2018 - 16:24 Permalink

Can't vivisection them if they're still alive. My guess this is a policy thing - still cunts.

northern vigor -> macholatte Sat, 04/07/2018 - 15:46 Permalink

She may be inept, and pathetic but she doesn't hold a candle to the PM Dumbpuck of Canada.

Ex-Oligarch -> northern vigor Sat, 04/07/2018 - 16:29 Permalink

Yeah, but it's only Canada, eh.

GUS100CORRINA -> Decoherence Sat, 04/07/2018 - 15:36 Permalink

As Skripal-Gate Collapses, Will May's Government Be Next?

My response: ENGLAND is CORRUPT and an UNGODLY place to live. If you have been paying attention, it was these S.O.B.s who were spying on TRUMP under the direction of the "OBOZO" administration.

This kind of thing really angers the SHIT out of me. Since when does ENGLAND have any input into AMERICA's POTUS election process. BASTARDS!!!

I HOPE THE WHOLE DAMN COUNTRY CRASHES and BURNS. JAMES BOND can go pound salt.

[Apr 05, 2018] Judge Throws Out 12-Year-Old Lawsuit Against Steve Cohen Zero Hedge

Apr 05, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Judge Throws Out 12-Year-Old Lawsuit Against Steve Cohen

by Tyler Durden Wed, 04/04/2018 - 23:40 4 SHARES

More than seven years ago , we reported on the wide-ranging financial conspiracy involving almost every single prominent US-based hedge fund and a Canadian firm called Fairfax Financial Holdings that they schemed to short - and then crush by spreading dubious research and shoddy accounting.

Around the time that a Reuters report on recently declassified court document from 2008, which outlined details of the plot, including Cohen's alleged role.

Now, a New Jersey judge has put an end (for now, at least) to the 12-year-long legal saga by ruling that the lawsuit didn't belong in his court. A state appeals court revived Fairfax's claims last April after they were previously dismissed in 2011 and 2012. Judges have already thrown out claims against Dan Loeb's Third Point and Jim Chanos's Kynikos Associates LP, according to the New York Post .

Billionaire Steven A. Cohen has won the dismissal of an $8 billion lawsuit accusing him and his former firm SAC Capital Advisors LP of conspiring with other hedge funds to spread false rumors about Fairfax Financial Holdings, hoping to "crush" or "kill" the insurer.

In a decision last week, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Frank DeAngelis said the nearly 12-year-old case did not belong in that state's courts because there was no evidence SAC expected or intended to cause injury there while "conspiring to drive down the share price of a Canadian company."

According to Reuters , Fairfax said it was victimized in a coordinated raid.

Fairfax claimed it was victimized by a four-year "bear raid" by hedge funds that engineered bogus accounting claims and biased analyst research, and persuaded reporters to write negative stories about the Toronto-based insurance and investment management company.

It said the funds did this to profit from short sales, or bets its stock price would fall. Fairfax claimed that hedge fund operatives ran the bear raid from New Jersey.

Cohen, whose four-year ban from the securities industry ended in January, is also facing another lawsuit from a former female employee alleging a culture of harassment and "hostility toward women" at Point72.

[Apr 05, 2018] An extreme Russophobia based on the most flimsiest of evidence that threaten a full scale nuclear conflagration, which is an existential threat

Notable quotes:
"... Russian gangsters &/or their capitalist counterparts, who have connections with state actors ..."
"... One should be mindful that the chemical components or precursors of A-232 or its binary version novichok-5 are ordinary organophosphates that can be made at commercial chemical companies that manufacture such products as fertilizers and pesticides. ..."
"... The largest concentration was on their house door. ..."
"... It would be easy to place it there if it were in gel form in the dead of night. ..."
"... the attack was carried out by another state or a non-state entity which had found the technical details of the Russian agent and manufactured its own stocks without being discovered, and had a motive for the attack. ..."
"... What actually happens is it completely distorts the narrative of what people think about things ..."
"... ex falso quodlibet ..."
"... The only thing that makes any sense is the accusation of chemical poisoning by a state power carries with it a level of condemnation that is beyond redemption. It is THE RED LINE. ..."
"... Never knew NC had so many CW/BW experts lurking ..."
"... I'd be mortified that someone carried this over a border ..."
"... But in the meantime, senior leadership has to be terrified (as we all should be too) and given a lot of leeway to figure this out. ..."
Apr 05, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Christopher Dale Rogers , April 4, 2018 at 4:17 am

Yves,

Many thanks for making an objective assessment of recent events within the UK that do have major economic and geopolitical consequences, particularly the growing demand to confront Putin for crimes most are oblivious too, that actual transgressions, rather than an extreme Russophobia based on the most flimsiest of evidence that threaten a full scale nuclear conflagration, which is an existential threat – and still they warmonger.

It is all rather more pernicious than this. essentially we seem to be sleepwalking into a 'Totalitarianism of the Centrists', whereby democratic outcomes must be denied, any dialogue outside what they deem correct suppressed via the imposition of censorship to save us from our own opinions, whilst professing a love for liberty and equality – forget wealth inequality.

We have dived down a rabbit hole where the Overton Window has narrowed to an extent where light itself cannot penetrate, such are the centrists so assured of their righteousness, which is to all intent and purposes a cult – one we are required to obey without question.

Time after time since the British electorate shocked a complacent establishment by voting to exit the EU, we have witnessed a torrent of abuse heaped on those who dare to disagree. We witnessed the gerrymandering and utter corruption of the Democratic Party Primaries, we have witnessed the demonisation and desire to null and void the US November Presidential vote, and we have witnessed within the UK not only a desire to void the EU vote, but the outcome of elections even within political groupings, namely the UK's Labour Party.

Indeed, such is the desire by the Establishment to remove Jeremy Corbyn, that the entire cannon of the MSM has been directed against him, whilst the Establishment forces within the Parliamentary Labour Party have stooped to ever more devious depths to undermine and eradicate the Leftist threat, to the extent of issuing early day motions giving carte blanche to a government to wage war on Putin and Russia.

Should UK political events be of interest to Naked Capitalism and its readers above economic consideration being given to Brexit?

In a nutshell, yes they do, because if the UK's Establishment fail to eradicate Corbyn, and by chance he should enter Number 10, the global elite, Atlanticist and full ecosystem of the Totalitarian Centrists have a real challenge on their hands to maintain an iron consensus that's existed for 40 years if any breach to this comes into existence – Corbyn acting as a Standard for others in the West who are sick and tired of an economic system that does not work, unless of course you belong to that small minority referred too as the 1%.

Greg Gerner , April 4, 2018 at 8:08 am

+ 1,000,000. Many thanks.

templar555510 , April 4, 2018 at 9:32 am

Thank you Christopher for a superb, excellently put comment. This is what Tariq Ali calls the ' Extreme Centre ' and how right you and he are. But neoliberalism is a Berlin Wall and with each day that passes another brick falls out and one day, not so long away I believe, it will crumble because it can no longer stand the strain of the forces marshalled against it. They may be disparate at present , but such is the nature of political ' moments' throughout history that at some point coherence occurs spontaneously and the ' ancien regime' topples.

Christopher Dale Rogers , April 4, 2018 at 11:46 am

Templar,

I must confess I've not read any of Tariq Ali's material for a while, essentially, and since january, I've just witnessed such a full-on Establishment assault on Jeremy Corbyn, with little or no scrutiny whatsoever of the actual Prime Minister, that its become alarming. And with so much evidence now at hand both sides of the Atlantic, conclusions must be drawn, namely, our liberal democracy is presently dead – if it were not for the Internet and independent Blogs, we really would be living a Soviet era dystopia.

David , April 4, 2018 at 6:31 am

This article is not very useful, because it muddles together three separate issues, for some of which there is evidence and for others only conjecture. A better source for trying to understand what's going on is this blog , written by an OPCW specialist.
I have no particular technical insight into this case, or CW in general, and I don't know who carried out the attack, although I do have a little experience of how governments work. But we need to get three things sorted out from each other.
First, according to open sources, and at least one leaked US diplomatic telegram, the Soviet Union did indeed develop new types of chemical agent in the 1970s and 80s for use in a future war, which were both more lethal than existing agents, and also exempt from the likely provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention then being negotiated. This suggestion no longer seems to be controversial. Again, according to open sources, these agents did not need to be declared to the CWC, and seem not to have been. It has been suggested that they were destroyed anyway, but we do not know, and if they were not, there was no violation of the Convention. Thus, the statements by the OPCW and the UK Ambassador last year would be technically true if Russia had destroyed all stocks of agents declared under the CWC, but not stocks of these new agents. There have been allegations that the composition of these agents, and perhaps information on their manufacture and use, may have been passed to other nations, or been stolen by them. But there is no confirmation of this and no specific nations or non-state actors have been mentioned. It remains a possibility, though. Because of this uncertainty, Porton Down has said that the agent used was "of a type developed by Russia." Because it's hard to prove a negative, we don't know, and may never know, if it was also produced elsewhere. Thus the new Porton Down statement about which people are getting so excited, but doesn't actually change anything.
Secondly, it's conceivable that the UK or some other country had completely separate information about Russian assassination plans. If so, it would not be the kind of thing that would ever be made public, so that remains supposition. But if you look at the UK government statements, they don't suggest this. May used the terms "plausible explanations" on 12 March. In the technical sense, her statement was probably correct: either the agent was used by the Russians (not necessarily the government) or it was used by someone who had acquired the formulas and production techniques from them. She was grandstanding, of course, but it's hard to see what a third alternative would have been: a third country independently developing exactly the same chemical agents seems very unlikely and there's no evidence for it.
Finally, politics, and here everything is speculation. It's hard to see what possible motive the Russians would have for this attack, but anything else is just supposition, if not actually wild speculation.
So shorn of the sabre-rattling the UK government position amounts to saying, "We know the Russians developed these agents" (accepted) "we believe they failed to destroy them" (quite possibly true but we have no means of knowing) and "there is no evidence that anyone else has them" (accepted). The leap from this to blaming the Russian government, and dragging in Putin, on the other hand, is pure inference, and pure politics.
I don't know whodunnit. The problem is that, whilst the evidence against the Russians (in the wider sense) is ambiguous, and it seems impossible to find a reasonable motive, there's even less direct reason to suspect any other specific actor.

Bill Smith , April 4, 2018 at 6:58 am

So Novichok "does not figure in the Annex on Chemicals of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)"? Does "does not figure" mean not included? If it is not included does that mean not banned?

Has there been any roughly similar events in Russia itself? The one that came to mind and I looked up was Ivan Kivelidi. But that was cadmium poisoning I believe, so other than an similarly obscure method, different.

PlutoniumKun , April 4, 2018 at 8:36 am

I'm no expert on the Convention, but my understanding of it is that there are no 'banned' substances as such, but 'controlled' substances, on the understanding that signatories are permitted to have small quantities of nerve agents for research purposes. Hence the Iranians, quite legally, made five variations of Novichuks (in very small quantities) and declared them without anyone making a fuss over it. The Convention has a series of schedules of chemicals which must be declared and facilities storing or manufacturing these compounds must be available for OPCW inspection.

The Treaty also has an 'all other compounds' category that includes any organophosphate which would cover non-scheduled chemicals. So far as I'm aware the obligation is to declare stockpiles and manufacturing facilities of these and allow them to be open for inspection, but there would obviously be a huge number of such facilities, including most pesticide factories worldwide.

So far as I'm aware – and I can stand corrected on this – it is not 'illegal' to have a non-scheduled substance, but there is an obligation to declare the manufacturing facilities. Again, I can stand corrected on this, but I believe some of the Novichuks were added to Schedule I after the Iranians reported that they'd synthesized them.

Paul Whittaker , April 4, 2018 at 9:02 am

I read somewhere recently that this nerve agent was developed in Uzbekistan (or one of the other Stan's) and that the production facilities had been cleaned out by the US military, as the the satellite is now one of their allies? The article also claimed that most agricultural pesticide producers could formulate is as it is related to insecticides used on crops.

Pat , April 4, 2018 at 7:10 am

Unless said actors had either produced false evidence in an attempt to justify military actions before OR was known to make false accusations in order to condemn states they were planning to attack. See US and UK in 2001. Add that this time around the UK Prime Minister has every reason to try to distract her country from her incompetence and her government's dishonest public policy, see Brexit, and there is a great deal of reason to suspect that the real culprits have nothing to do with the state actor they are accusing.

jsn , April 4, 2018 at 12:33 pm

The tangency of the victims to the Steele Dossier suggests multiple levels of political misdirection.

In the photo at the top, is that 12 Grimmauld Place coming into view just to the left of the front door?

PlutoniumKun , April 4, 2018 at 7:12 am

Thanks David, just one clarification:

There have been allegations that the composition of these agents, and perhaps information on their manufacture and use, may have been passed to other nations, or been stolen by them. But there is no confirmation of this and no specific nations or non-state actors have been mentioned.

At least one other nation has synthesised small quantities – Iran . They synthesised at least five of them apparently for the purpose of researching antidotes and they provided the information to the OPCW. Plus we know from reports 10 years ago that US researchers had full access to the Uzbekistan labs where they were apparently manufactured.

I can't find the link now, but I believe it was inferred from some statements that in the past Porton Down had in fact synthesized similar compounds, at the very least so they could develop techniques for identifying them.

David , April 4, 2018 at 8:00 am

Yes, I didn't want to write a long essay and anyway it's not my subject, but it's worth pointing out that nations are allowed a Single Small Scale Facility on their territory for, among other things, making and studying Schedule 1 chemicals (the most dangerous) for protective and other reasons. I've just looked up the reference in the CWC So many countries have technical facilities which could, in theory, produce small volumes of these new agents as well. I hadn't seen the particular report you mention, but I think the basic point stands – that there's nothing in the public domain to suggest that anyone has an offensive programme producing more than a few grams of these agents for protective purposes. And according to the CWC, these sites have to be inspected regularly. If these agents are not in fact illegal under the CWC (which seems to be the case) then various nations might reasonably try to synthesise small quantities for protective purposes, but I imagine it would be very hard to hide the capacity to produce quantities useful for operations. But is there a chemical engineer in the house?

Jesper , April 4, 2018 at 9:21 am

Quantities needed for operations are on the scale of grams (based on the toxicity of the substance). Industrial amounts were not used so looking for industrial capacity to produce might be interesting but I don't see the relevance of doing so.

jsn , April 4, 2018 at 12:36 pm

PK,
This may be what you were looking for .

Bill Smith , April 4, 2018 at 12:50 pm

"US researchers had full access to the Uzbekistan labs"

In the books I mentioned elsewhere the labs had been abandoned years earlier with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most of the equipment and documentation had been removed with the departing Soviets.. So yeah, the US had full access to the wreckage and learned things but it was considerably different that access to a working lab.

Donald , April 4, 2018 at 7:16 am

I thought the article here was fine. Your summary didn't add anything except your opinion that the evidence slightly favors Russia as the culprit. What, for instance, is the problem with a third country developing exactly the same chemical agent? My impression was that the formula is known. And all suggested motives are wild speculation.

I have no problem saying there is a reasonable chance Russia did it, but there is also a reasonable chance someone else did it.

David , April 4, 2018 at 8:13 am

I think your last paragraph is very reasonable. But I don't think you understood what I was saying, or perhaps I wasn't clear.
The British accusation, once you get past the flag-waving and heavy-breathing, amounts to saying that one of two things happened. Either (1) the Russian government did it or (2) someone else did it making use of either the technology or the actual agents developed by the Russians. In the first case they argue that the Russians are directly guilty, in the second that they are sort of vicariously guilty, like someone who leaves a gun lying around, or the instructions on how to make a bomb. The only other possibility, it seems to me, is that another country, in complete isolation from the Russians, and unknown to anybody, developed precisely similar agents and had a reason to use them last month. The evidence for that is, well, not very great.
The main problem, as I suggested, is mixing these sorts of arguments with political ones as though they were the same. The kind of argument that worries me (though not found on NC, I'm happy to say) amounts to saying "I loath May, she's having a rough time with Brexit, the US lied about WMD in Iraq in 2002 therefore the Russians didn't do it, therefore the British did." These are the sorts of arguments that we should leave to the CT sites to play with.

PlutoniumKun , April 4, 2018 at 8:45 am

I understand what you are saying and I agree with your caution on this, but I don't think I'd agree that the evidence isn't great that other countries have similar agents. I think its clear that within chemical warfare circles, the cat has been out of the bag, so to speak, for many years. The evidence would suggest that certainly the US, UK and Iranians have been studying the compounds and have presumably produced small amounts to do so.

I think the British allegations (1) and (2) as you outline them are only the 'probable' evidence if strong evidence is produced that the chemical used is closely related to Russian (or Uzbek) manufactured stocks – i.e. it has the 'chemical fingerprint' of Russian Novichok. The statement made yesterday by Porton Down came I think very close to stating that this could not be established.

If you are to use Occams Razor, and work on the assumption that the act was carried out by a non-State agent (or a rogue element with State connections), then that would suggest the source was from the research facility an hours walk away from the assassination attempt, not the alleged ones 5,000 km away.

larry , April 4, 2018 at 9:35 am

How would they obtain it? A more plausible hypothesis is that Russian gangsters &/or their capitalist counterparts, who have connections with state actors, some of whom have a long standing grudge against Skripal, could have carried out the act. I am not saying that they did, only that they have a strong motive and possibly the opportunity.

integer , April 4, 2018 at 10:01 am

Russian gangsters &/or their capitalist counterparts, who have connections with state actors

Assuming you're talking about capitalists that had connections to Russian gangsters like Berezovsky, Bill Browder is the man you should be looking at.

Bill Smith , April 4, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Or just plan old Russian gangsters.

"Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?" covers some Putin's old KGB / gangster connections there.

jsn , April 4, 2018 at 1:51 pm

As noted elsewhere in this thread, all it takes is a decent lab to produce this stuff from the information published on it by the people who developed it. As PK suggests, Occam's Razor in this instance takes its edge from the very nearby UK chemical weapons facility that made some effort to down play the information published by the inventors of these agents back when they published.

See: diptherio
April 4, 2018 at 9:25 am

ricken , April 4, 2018 at 10:00 am

My understanding of these agents is that they are a group of agents with a similar basic structure. Their general formula has been published. A chemical engineer should comment on how difficult it is to synthesize them. But keeping in mind that a Japanese fringe group was able to synthesize a nerve agent, my guess is , not very. If the Iranian government is able to synthesize it, then certainly any large university program in the west can. If they are variants of organo phosphorus compounds, as most nerve agents are, then add fertilizer and chemical companies to that list.
The absence of any such evidence,of their synthesis outside of USSR, means nothing. We do not know what the defense and security establishments in most countries are doing. How many knew of a weaponized anthrax program at Fort Derrick?

Many actors have a reason to discredit Russia/ Putin. You think otherwise?

Sid Finster , April 4, 2018 at 10:44 am

So every time someone is murdered with a US made weapon or poisoned with US made chemicals, or even with chemicals originally invented in the US, sanctions against the United States are justified, if not WWIII, right?

Christopher Dale Rogers , April 4, 2018 at 7:56 am

David,

The best analysis in the UK has been on Craig Murray's Blog, including full transcripts appearing from the Sky News press interview and other media sites giving a UK Gov. version – Murray used his own FCO contacts and his website and views have been 100% spot on to date.

David , April 4, 2018 at 8:18 am

Can't agree, I'm afraid. Murray is good on other things, but here I think he's simply misunderstood what the UK government was alleging, as I pointed out in comments last week.

Quentin , April 4, 2018 at 8:04 am

David says: '( ) according to open sources, and at least one leaked US diplomatic telegram, the Soviet Union did indeed develop new types of chemical agent in the 1970s and 80s for use in a future war, which were both more lethal than existing agents, and also exempt from the likely provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention then being negotiated.'

I want to get one thing straight: Were the Soviets in the process of developing or trying to do so or did they actually successfully make such chemical weapons? I can only suppose these chemical weapons were in the pipeline when the Chemical Weapons Convention was finalised and therefore couldn't be listed because they didn't (yet) exist. If so, how do we know that the Soviets/Russians ever had such weapons? Looking around, I get the impression there is some uncertainty about the history of Novichok, even though its Russian name works prejudicially against Russia. However that may be, it is hard to accept that other states hadn't made the same 'type of' weapon. After all, how is an antidote possible if the poison is not known. Or is France involved? Everyone seems to assume that the nerve agent came from outside the UK. Well, how would it every have physically been brought across the UK border. Or was it manufactured there? Maybe for sale on the streets of London–or even somewhere in the vicinity of Salisbury.

David , April 4, 2018 at 8:39 am

My understanding from what's been published is that the agents were developed in the 70s and 80s, and their development was finished by the time of the CWC, which they were anyway planned to circumvent. I think it's right to say that you don't necessarily "make" and stock CW, because the literature suggests that they decay rather quickly. So whether the Russians actually had stocks, or merely the capacity to make them when they needed them, I can't say, and I doubt if there are many people who know. I think the antidote thing is a bit of a red herring. These are not poisons. Nerve agents like VX and Sarin worked by paralysing the muscles, and I remember that during the Cold War (and perhaps since) NATO troops carried atropine injectors to try to counteract the effects. If these agents worked in the same way, then I'm not sure there's an "antidote" – more like generic types of emergency treatment which might save your life.

Quentin , April 4, 2018 at 8:50 am

David: 'My understanding from what's been published is that the agents were developed in the 70s and 80s, and their development was finished by the time of the CWC, which they were anyway planned to circumvent.'

You mean the Soviets then agreed to the CWC without declaring their operational 'Novichok' or their tested procedure to make them. Is this how it went? I really want clarity on this point. The same CWC last year certified that the Soviet Union's successor state, the Russian Federation of course, had destroyed all its chemical weapons. It seems to be that a lot of individuals want to have everything all ways to pin the Skripals' attack on Russia. France hovers in the background here and on Syria.

Quentin , April 4, 2018 at 8:54 am

David: 'My understanding from what's been published is that the agents were developed in the 70s and 80s, and their development was finished by the time of the CWC, which they were anyway planned to circumvent.'

You mean the Soviets then agreed to the CWC without declaring their operational 'Novichok' or their tested procedure to make them? Is this how it went? I really searching for clarity on this point. The same CWC last year certified that the Soviet Union's successor state, the Russian Federation of course, had destroyed all its chemical weapons. It seems to be that a lot of individuals want to have everything all ways to pin the Skripals' attack on Russia. France hovers in the background here and on Syria.

Bill Smith , April 4, 2018 at 9:19 am

Read the second half of the book "The Dead Hand". While not talking about this agent it covers a lot of this ground. Also "Biohazard" by Alibek and Handelman and "State Secrets" by Vil Mirzayanov. All published about a decade ago.

Anyone know of any other books that more or less cover this topic?

"The same CWC last year certified that the Soviet Union's successor state, the Russian Federation of course, had destroyed all its chemical weapons."

The CWC only certifies destruction of declared chemical weapons. Is this stuff on the list of chemical weapons?

brightdark , April 4, 2018 at 8:06 am

Why would Putin take the risk and do it? Simple, he's done similar things before and gotten away with it.

makedoanmend , April 4, 2018 at 8:44 am

I wonder is this the biggest tell that the average punter must keep an open mind?

Cui Bono?

What benefit accrued to the Russians – diplomatic storm, threat of more sanctions, possible war?

Of course, if one thinks that Vlad Putin is evil incarnate and loves killing for the sake of it without thinking about the wider repercussions, and that the rest of the Russian establishment has absolutely no influence or input into their government, the contention is perfectly valid. (And of course it helps if we ignore that other governments in the world have been reported to "eliminate" people they find threatening to their interests or for other reasons.)

Pookah Harvey , April 4, 2018 at 2:46 pm

One scenario that might seem plausible has to do with the Steele Dossier. If Steele's information is correct and Putin does have a sexual and financial blackmailing dossier on Trump then, as Moon over Alabama has pointed out, the Skripals probably were deeply involved in providing the information to Steele..

The fact that this information was available to a fairly low level intelligence probe would indicate that it is widely known in Russian Intelligence.

Why would such a powerful blackmailing dossier be so widely known? Remember when it was produced. You have a buffoon reality TV star with political connections that will jump into any honey-pot intelligence operation you provide. So salacious sexual tapes might easily have been passed around for entertainment value when Trump would have been considered a low value asset. Times have changed. Blackmail only works if the blackmailer controls the flow of the blackmailing information. Putin would want to clamp down on any more leaks about a Trump dossier. Hence both Skripal and his daughter would be blatantly targeted with a Russian audience in mind. This is what will happen if you leak no matter where you go..

If Steele was able to obtain information about a Trump dossier then US intelligence certainly has much more. Releasing the information that Trump is a "Manchurian Candidate" in our current political situation would provoke a civil war. The Intelligence community could try to cut the legs out from under Putin's dossier by pushing the Russian collusion story on Trump's election. Any pro-Russian actions Trump makes will look suspicious to the general public.. This would also explain the unprecedented attacks by former American Intelligence chiefs on Trump. i.e. Ex CIA Chief Brennan's recent twee t "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history."

This does seem to tie a lot of things together.
1. Why Putin would assassinate the Skripals in such an open manner.
2. The push by Intelligence Services on the story of Russian tampering in the election with little real evidence.
3. The unprecedented personal attacks on Trump from Clapper and Brennan.

Anyway it's something to think about.

jsn , April 4, 2018 at 6:21 pm

I love it! It's wonderfully baroque and it redeems our top spooks!

Do you really think it's possible for Trump to be embarrassed by any of his past behavior?

Pookah Harvey , April 4, 2018 at 7:35 pm

It seems to me that attractive Russian agents who where trying to get their target into the most embarrassing sexual activities would be very successful with Trump. Also remember Don Jr. and Eric have both spent quite a bit of time in Russia. Also it seems almost sure that the Russians would have enough information on money laundering to send the whole family to jail. Who knows how much that could influence Trump's decision making.

gallam , April 4, 2018 at 9:34 pm

The problem with that narrative is that none of the three people apparently poisoned by one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man have actually died. Indeed, two out of three have recovered in less time than some people take to recover from flu.

Pookah Harvey , April 4, 2018 at 10:36 pm

A less than fatal dose is maybe what was planned. From the Guardian :

"Circles appeared before my eyes: red and orange. A ringing in my ears, I caught my breath. And a sense of fear: like something was about to happen," Andrei Zheleznyakov told the now-defunct newspaper Novoye Vremya, describing the 1987 weapons lab incident that exposed him to a nerve agent that would eventually kill him. "I sat down on a chair and told the guys: 'It's got me.'"

By 1992, when the interview was published, the nerve agent had gutted Zheleznyakov's central nervous system. Less than a year later he was dead, after battling cirrhosis, toxic hepatitis, nerve damage and epilepsy.

Only time will tell the final effects of the attack. This seems like a very horrible end, worse then a simple assassination.

Using Novichok points the finger at Russia but also gives them a credible deniability, (other countries can produce the agent). The target audience (Russians who know of the dossier) will very clearly understand the warning.

Again this is only a scenario. But I feel that it is as plausible as any other put forward. My other favorite is Moon of Alabama's guess that Israel might have done it .

Sid Finster , April 4, 2018 at 10:46 am

Rather, Putin has been accused of similar things. Let's not kid ourselves – no evidence has been made public, other than hyperventilation and unsubstantiated claims.

hemeantwell , April 4, 2018 at 5:51 pm

Why would Putin take the risk and do it?

Exactly. Russia Hate proponents have banked heavily on blaming them or their allies for chemical attacks -- this and in Syria –that only appear foolish in terms of any plausible benefit/risk calculation and which are very open to false flagging. As noted above, the conduct of the hate campaigns, in which a rush to judgement and attacks on appeals to caution predominate, is simply alarming to see in societies that are familiar with the value of careful evidentiary procedures and supposedly take them seriously. That this is coupled with an utterly hypocritical anti-"fake news" campaign makes the situation seem all the more desperate.

My impression is that we are witnessing a barrage strategy, in which a succession of disputable accusations is made and each successive "crime" is used to undermine the possibility of reconsidering the previous charge. I don't think of this as hysteria, but as generating an atmosphere in which the threat of a charge of disloyalty and excommunicative punishment, at least, begins to haunt us. As I've probably said before, one of the Frankfurt School takes on fascist ideology was that in a sense it really wasn't one. At its core it was not systematic, but an assertion of a demand to obedience. The fascist would blabber on until someone objected, and then they would laugh and show them their pistol. As determined by the Extreme Center, Russia-focused public discourse is headed in that direction.

integer , April 4, 2018 at 8:12 am

Jiri Matousek accused the US of weaponizing novichoks at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, as detailed in cables released by Wikileaks. Hard to imagine why a Czech scientist would make that claim for no reason. While it's always pragmatic to refrain from rushing to judgement, one of the issues with always insisting on authoritative sources as evidence before reaching any conclusions is that the people who have the most to lose from that sort of information being made available to the public are the same people that have disproportionate control over the so-called authoritative sources.

diptherio , April 4, 2018 at 9:25 am

According to the Russian who developed the chemicals, literally anybody with a modern chemistry lab could produce them. Also, the chemical structures were published over a decade ago.

One should be mindful that the chemical components or precursors of A-232 or its binary version novichok-5 are ordinary organophosphates that can be made at commercial chemical companies that manufacture such products as fertilizers and pesticides. (Mirzayanov, 1995).

Soviet scientists had published many papers in the open literature on the chemistry of such compounds for possible use as insecticides. Mirzayanov claimed that "this research program was premised on the ability to hide the production of precursor chemicals under the guise of legitimate commercial chemical production of agricultural chemicals".

As the structures of these compounds have been described, any organic chemist with a modern lab would be able to synthesize bench scale quantities of such a compound. Indeed, Porton Down must have been able to synthesize these compounds in order to develop tests for them. It is therefore misleading to assert that only Russia could have produced such compounds.
http://syriapropagandamedia.org/working-papers/doubts-about-novichoks

TimmyB , April 4, 2018 at 12:50 pm

The claim that "there is no evidence that anyone else has them" (Novichok) is completely false. The formula for making so-called Novichok nerve agents has been published in a book that was sold to the public. Iran publicly admitted making such agents years ago to test them.

Moreover, the UK would need to manufacture Novichok so it could have samples to test. Simply put, if the UK didn't manufacture Novichok and run tests on it, then it would have no way of knowing what Novichok type nerve agents look like in a blood sample.

Please note that since it is impossible to prove a negative, for example, prove Martians never landed on Earth, Russia will never be able to prove it did NOT poison these people. That is why our courts don't require criminal suspects they didn't commit a crime. Instead, the state must provide evidence that the suspect is guilty. Putting the burden on Russia to provide evidence to disprove its guilt is a propaganda trick.

Bill Smith , April 4, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Or access to gas chromatography data from someone else?

As to Martians, check Weekly World News. They have pictures :)

Ahimsa , April 4, 2018 at 6:45 am

Did Putin really threaten to have traitors killed?
https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/40900/did-putin-threaten-to-have-traitors-assassinated

I tried posting this before but it got lost in the intertubes. Suffice it to say, the reported quote is: not a direct quote, a poor translation, out of context, and not refering to Skripal.

At the time of the otiginal interview, the media reported the complete oposite meaning, i.e. Putin says Russian sexret service don't kill traitors!

integer , April 4, 2018 at 7:42 am

Occam's razor suggests, to me at least, that the poisoning of the Skripals occurred at the Salisbury Zizzi restaurant. Interestingly, the Zizzi restaurant chain was recently (Feb, 2015) purchased by Bridgepoint Capital, a private equity firm with headquarters in London. Bridgepoint appears to have some connections to the UK government, for example Sir Stuart Rose (knighted in 2008), who sits on the Conservative Bench at the House of Lords, was appointed to an advisory role in 2010 .

Anyways, just a data point, maybe the Skripals were poisoned somewhere else, but I'd be intersested to hear if any of the UK-based NC commentariat are familiar with Bridgepoint Capital, and if they know of any other connections to the UK government or intelligence agenices that Bridgepoint has.

larry , April 4, 2018 at 8:55 am

The largest concentration was on their house door. Bridgepoint is a bit of a stretch. That hypothesis is not supported by invoking Occam's Razor.

integer , April 4, 2018 at 9:07 am

The largest concentration was on their house door.

Says who? No need to answer, as I know who said it; they are not even close to being reliable sources of information. The house door claim has only recently been made, after the claims that it was the car ventlation system, car door handle, Yulia Skripal's luggage, and Russian porridge(!). My understanding is that these kinds of substances are very volatile, so please enlighten me how it could reliably be established that it was the front door handle of Sergei Skripal's house that contained the highest concentration of novichok four weeks after the poisoning took place? FWIW there are photos of police officers standing by that front door without any protection that were taken shortly after the poisoning occurred.

Adding: In cas