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Apr 13

Today’s News 13th April 2017

  • Turkey's Barks And Bites

    Authored by Burak Bekdil via The Gatestone Institute,

    • This is the first time that Erdogan is openly challenging a concerted European stand.

    Turkey's foreign policy and the rhetoric that presumably went to support it, has, during the past several years, aimed less at achieving foreign policy goals and more at consolidating voters' support for the Ankara government.

    Self-aggrandizing behavior has predominantly shaped policy and functioned to please the Turks' passion for a return to their glorious Ottoman past.

    Assertive and confrontational diplomatic language and playing the tough guy of the neighborhood may have helped garner popular support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), but after years of "loud barking and no biting", Turkey has effectively become the victim of its own narrative.

    In 2010, Turkey froze diplomatic relations with Israel and promised "internationally to isolate the Jewish state", and never to restore ties unless, along with two other conditions, Jerusalem removed its naval blockade of Gaza to prevent weapons from being brought in that would be used to attack Israel. Turkey's prime minister at the time, Ahmet Davutoglu, said Israel would "kneel down to us".

    In 2016, after rounds of diplomatic contacts, Turkey and Israel agreed to normalize their relations. The blockade of Gaza, to prevent shipments of weaponry to be used by Gazans in terror attacks remains in effect.

    In 2012, Davutoglu claimed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's days in power were numbered, "not by years but by weeks or months". In 2016, Davutoglu had to step down as prime minister, but Erdogan's and his worst regional nemesis, Assad, is in power to this day, enjoying increased Russian and Iranian backing. In 2012, Erdogan said that "we will soon go to Damascus to pray at the Umayyad mosque" — a political symbol of Assad's downfall and his replacement by pro-Turkey Sunni groups. That prayer remains to be performed.

    In November 2015, shortly after Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 military jet and cited violation of its airspace, Erdogan warned Russia "not to play with fire." As for the Russian demands for an apology, Erdogan said it was Turkey that deserved an apology because its airspace had been violated, and that Turkey would not apologize to Russia.

    In June 2016, just half a year after Russia imposed a slew of economic sanctions on Turkey, Erdogan apologized to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    In July 2016, Erdogan apologized for downing a Russian plane, and in August he went to Russia to shake hands for normalization. Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin with Turkey's then Prime Minister Erdogan, meeting in Istanbul on December 3, 2012. (Image source: kremlin.ru)

    Erdogan and his government have countless times warned the United States not to side with the Syrian Kurds –whom Turkey views as a terrorist group– in the allied fight against radical jihadists of ISIL's Islamic State. In March 2017, Washington denied that Syrian Kurds were a terrorist group and pledged continued support for them.

    Erdogan's Turkey has done more than enough to show that its bark is worse than its bite. Yet it keeps barking badly. This time, the enemy to bark at, not bite, is Europe. This is the first time that Erdogan is openly challenging a concerted European stand.

    In a recent row between several European capitals and Ankara over Erdogan's ambitions to hold political rallies across Europe to address millions of Turkish expatriates, the Turkish president said he would ignore that he was unwelcome in Germany and would go there to speak to his Turkish fans.

    In response, the Dutch government deported one of Erdogan's ministers who had gone uninvited to the Netherlands to speak to the Turkish community there.

    Germany launched two investigations into alleged Turkish spying on German soil.

    Similarly, Switzerland opened a criminal investigation into allegations that Erdogan's government had spied on expatriate Turks.

    In Copenhagen, the Danish government summoned the Turkish ambassador over claims that Danish-Turkish citizens were being denounced over views critical of Erdogan.

    The barking kept on. In Turkey, Erdogan warned that Europeans would not be able to walk the streets safely if European nations persist in what he called "arrogant conduct." That comment caused the EU to summon the Turkish ambassador in Brussels to explain Erdogan's threatening language.

    Farther east, in the rich European bloc, several hundred Bulgarians blocked the three main checkpoints at the Bulgarian-Turkish border to prevent Turks with Bulgarian passports, but who were living in Turkey, from voting in Bulgarian elections. The protesters claimed that Turkish officials were forcing expatriate voters to support a pro-Ankara party.

    Meanwhile, at the EU's southeast flank, Greece said that its armed forces were ready to respond to any Turkish threat to the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

    What happened to Erdogan's promised "bite" that he could go to Germany to speak to the Turkish community despite repeated German warnings that he would not be welcome? "I will not go to Germany," he said on March 23.

    Erdogan may be winning hearts and minds in Turkey with his neo-Ottoman Turkey "barks." But too few foreign capitals find his threats serious, too few politicians think that he is convincing and too many people tend to believe Turkey's bark is worse than its bite.

    The recent wave of European constraints against Erdogan shows that, for the first time in recent years, Europe does not seem to fear Erdogan's bluffing and thuggishness.

    At the moment, Erdogan's priority is to win the referendum on April 16 that he hopes will change the constitution so that he can be Sultan-for-life. Picking fights with "infidel" Europeans might help him garner more support from conservative and nationalist Turks.

    When the voting is done, however, he will have to face the reality that an alliance cannot function forever with one party constantly blackmailing the other.

  • Tucker Carlson Tackles the Dangerous Case of the Democratic War Party, Itching For a Fight With Russia

    During last night’s Tucker Carlson show, he attempted to find out why the democratic party, the same people who prided themselves on being anti-war during the Bush administration, were so god damned eager to wage war with just about anyone they could find willing to participate.
     
    Inside of their party is one sole source of reason, Tulsi Gabbard, Iraqi war veteran, and Congresswoman from Hawaii who sits on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees. In response to Trump’s actions in Syria, Gabbard issued the following statement.
     

    “It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government. This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia—which could lead to nuclear war.
     
    “This Administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning. If President Assad is indeed guilty of this horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians, I will be the first to call for his prosecution and execution by the International Criminal Court. However, because of our attack on Syria, this investigation may now not even be possible. And without such evidence, a successful prosecution will be much harder.”

     

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    The subsequent result of her seemingly rational position was leaders on the left calling for her to step down.

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    Carlson tackled the subject in an eloquent 1-minute monolog.
     

     
    One of his guests last night was a Democratic strategist, Al Mattour, war hawk — a man interested in overseeing the deaths of thousands.
     
    In a nutshell, Al believes we should wage war with anyone who attempts to ‘disrupt our elections.’ Tucker asked Mattour, plainly, ‘how does having a confrontation with Russia makes our country more safer and prosperous?’
     
    Mattour replied ‘it makes us safer in our democratic processes to make sure their integrity is preserved.’
     
    When Tucker juxtaposed China’s actions towards the United States against Russia, asking ‘why aren’t you pushing for confrontation with China? They’re doing everything Russia is doing, and more,’ Mattour agreed that we should be confronting them in a similar bellicose fashion.
     

     
    Lastly, Stephen Cohen, Professor of Russian studies at Princeton and NYU, an actual expert on China, weighed in, saying ‘Russia thinks we’re crazy, completely crazy.’
     
    He even took some time to express his ‘disgust’ with Al Mattour, saying ‘your previous guest, I don’t mean to be rude to him. First of all, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And, secondly, he excludes the reality that Russia has a politics. And the politics in Russia today as we talk is […] the concern that America is preparing war against Russia. If not on Syria, then on the other two cold war fronts […] where NATO is building up in an unprecedented way. This is not good because they have nuclear weapons and because accidents happen.’
     
    He then theorized what the conversation between Putin and Tillerson was like, pointing to the two having a history of trust together from the time Tillerson led Exxon Mobile.

    ‘Rex, says Putin, what in the world is going on in Washington?’

     
    Professor Cohen, ominously, summed it up, ‘I’m not young. I’ve been doing this 40 years, sometimes as a Professor, sometimes inside. I have never been as worried as I am today about the possibility of war with Russia.’
     

    Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

     

  • E PLuRiBuS NeOCoN'eD…
  • Brandon Smith Warns The Next World War "Will Be Economic… Not Nuclear"

    The elite appear to have a great deal in store for President Trump’s first four years… quite a few tricks up their sleeves, if you will. As SHTFplan.com's Mac Slavo notes, the wars are already being manifested; but the larger elements of financial upheaval may take years to play out, even if there are a number of chaotic events, a bit of panic, and more of the great squeeze that is sucking the vitality of the country dry. Depending upon how things play out, people could end up better or than four years ago, or much, much worse. Theoretically, no one knows for sure which way that will go, but it appears that the global agenda is stilling rolling slowly forward, inch by inch, and about to take a big bit out of Syria, North Korea and beyond. Get ready for some big potential downturns.

    The Real Dangers Behind The Syrian Crisis Are Economic

    Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

    Back in 2010/2011 when I was still writing under the pen-name Giordano Bruno, I warned extensively about the dangers of any destabilization in the nation of Syria, long before the real troubles began. In an article titled Migration Of The Black Swans, I pointed out that due to Syria’s unique set of alliances and economic relationships the country was a “keystone” for disruption in the Middle East and that a “revolution” (or civil war) was imminent. Syria, I warned, represented the first domino in a chain of dominoes that could lead to widespread regional warfare and draw in major powers like the U.S. and Russia.

    That said, my position has always been that the next “world war” would not be a nuclear war, but primarily an economic war. Meaning, I believed and still believe it is far more useful for establishment elites to use the East as a foil to bring down certain parts of the West with economic weapons, such as the dumping of the U.S. dollar. The chaos this would cause in global markets and the panic that would ensue among the general public would provide perfect cover for the introduction of what the globalists call the “great financial reset.” The term “reset” is essentially code for the total centralization of all fiscal and monetary management of the world’s economies under one institution, most likely the IMF. This would culminate in the destruction of the dollar’s world reserve status, its replacement being the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket currency system.

    Eventually, the SDR basket system would act as a stepping stone towards a single global currency system, and its final form and function would probably be entirely digital. This would give the globalists TOTAL push-button control over even the smallest aspects of normal trade. The amount of power they would gain from a single centralized digital currency system would be endless.

    Syria in itself is just one layer upon many in the process of deliberate global instability, but it seems to be vitally important to the elites given that they continually make new attempts to draw the American public into support for so called “regime change.”

    Mainstream media publications like The New York Times overtly press the narrative that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has a long history of war crimes including the use of chemical weapons against civilians. Yet, neither The New York Times nor anyone in government has produced a single piece of compelling concrete evidence that Assad is guilty of such acts, including the latest chemical attack which the Trump administration as used as a rational for cruise missile strikes against Syrian military targets and rhetoric calling for the ousting of Assad.

    Not that I necessarily have much faith in the Assad regime, but we saw this same exact model used under the Obama administration in 2013: A chemical attack against civilians which the White House then immediately, without evidence, uses to implicate Assad and call for regime change. This tactic to seduce the American public into war fever failed, even with many acting serving military, and Obama backed away (in part) from a full blown invasion of Syria. Now, it would appear that the establishment hopes they’ll get a better response using the same con-game under Trump.

    There are far more advantages in the Trump scenario, however.

    It has been my longstanding belief since the middle of last year that Trump would undoubtedly be president of the U.S., because the international banking cabal needs a scapegoat for the ongoing economic crisis they have been engineering for many years. The Syrian strategy is a win/win for the elites under Trump because, with Trump, there is no need for moderation. If they can influence him to rampage without concern for the repercussions in the region, then their scapegoat implicates all conservatives in general with little effort on their part.

    George Soros‘ prediction that Trump “will fail” because he is “unpredictable and unprepared” and that he will “end up bad for the markets” will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I warned the liberty movement over and over again after Trump’s cabinet selection that he was surrounding himself with establishment ghouls that would either run the White House in spite of him, or, that he was gladly cooperating with them. His recent high tension rhetoric against the Syrian government and against North Korea only seems to confirm my suspicions.

    So, where is this all headed? Nowhere good…

    First, consider the fact that every time it appears that the Syrian government seems to be making headway in destroying ISIS, there is suddenly another chemical attack which places Assad under suspicion. Anyone who read my article ISIS Is Being Aimed At The West By Globalists — Here’s What We Can Do About It, published in 2015, has seen the extensive evidence I outlined which shows U.S. government complicity and even direct aid in the creation of ISIS. I compared the rise of ISIS to Operation Gladio, a massive false flag project undertaken by U.S. and European governments in Europe from the 1950s to the 1990s.

    ISIS is useful as a perpetual boogeyman, and sadly, the Muslim religion has one foot stuck in the dark ages and will remain fertile ground for generating extremist groups for decades to come. The elites have every intention of protecting certain factions of ISIS in Syria, which means that ISIS will continue to spread from the area into the EU and the U.S. and terrorist attacks will continue to multiply.

    Second, we have learned that the Trump administration is perfectly willing to fast-track certain longstanding establishment projects that involve kinetic action (i.e. destruction and death). If they were happy to move so quickly to strike Syria without supplying any evidence to support the measure, then it should come as no surprise if they are willing to strike North Korea, a country with ACTUAL means to threaten American targets or our interests in the Pacific. A precedent is being set today for an ongoing program of fast moving preemptive strikes. I believe this will go even beyond Barack Obama’s notorious penchant for trigger pulling to destabilize regions.

    Third, I think many people also forget that Syria continues to maintain a mutual defense pact with Iran. Why does this matter? Syria is NOT Libya; Assad is not going to go down like Gaddafi at the hands of insurgent groups like ISIS. Regime change in Syria is going to require numerous U.S. boots on the ground. This, in turn, will invite hundreds of thousands from the Iranian Guard to intercede. If you study military preparedness around the world you know that a country like Iran or North Korea will offer far greater resistance than what we saw in Afghanistan or Iraq.

    While they are still very poor nations militarily (in terms of defense spending), they are still relatively well-trained, and the technology gap is less expansive. Many American men will die in such a fight. If ground invasion becomes an option in Syria, expect Iran to be next, and expect the option of a new “draft” to return to the U.S.  Also keep in mind that Americans will never accept military conscription today unless we suffer a massive attack on U.S. soil, or on U.S. forces abroad.  So, expect some shock and awe to occur in short order…

    Fourth, there is, of course, the ongoing question as to when U.S. and Russian forces will “stumble” over each other and someone on either side gets killed? The majority of analysts in the liberty movement expect that this is inevitable. I suppose I agree, but I do not believe the elites have been entrenching billions of dollars in control grid technology in every major city in the world just to vaporize them in a chain of mushroom clouds (this control grid includes Russian cities — just look up Putin’s Yaroslavl laws, which might make the NSA envious).

    It seems to me that the natural progression of these tensions will end in economic retaliation from the East against the West, not nuclear retaliation. The thing is, this is actually the worst case scenario.

    With nuclear conflagration comes immediate loss of full spectrum awareness for the elites. They lose their surveillance grid, they lose the means to maintain a healthy standing military, they lose the means to dictate the narrative because the mainstream media will not be functioning at that point, etc. During an economic crisis, they can shift wealth easily to safe havens, they can weaken certain militaries while strengthening others. They retain their control grid apparatus and use it effectively against the citizenry as long as there is not substantial civilian resistance, and the list goes on.

    With nuclear war there would be total chaos. With economic crisis there is controlled chaos. The establishment prefers the latter option.

    Eastern nations and their allies still hold considerable U.S. Treasury bonds in their coffers, and they still use the dollar for the most part as the world reserve currency (though they have been preparing the ground for a dollar dump since at least 2008). On top of this, many of these nations also have the option of dumping the dollar as the petro-currency and crushing our monopoly on how oil is traded globally. If any of these measures are taken by countries like Russia, China and Saudi Arabia, the U.S. economic structure will lose the last pillar holding it above water. We will effectively move into third-world status in the course of a few years.

    These are not hypothetical dangers, these are very real dangers which have already been mentioned publicly by Eastern interests in their own media. They are also dangers which SERVE the globalist agenda in the long run. As I have noted time and time again in the past with ample evidence, Eastern governments including Russia and China openly and avidly support the International Monetary Fund and continue to call for the IMF to take over global management of all monetary policy to form a single world currency system. They may be “anti-U.S." in rhetoric, but they are NOT anti-globalist.

    Syria remains a highly useful catalyst for the globalists to achieve the crisis they need to push their great reset forward. Being that they have tried to thrust Americans into that quagmire so many times over the past few years, I think it is safe to say they plan to use Syria as trigger point whether we cooperate or not.

  • "Probably Nothing"

    Yesterday we highlighted the “scariest chart in the world” – we may have been premature…

    https://ssl.gstatic.com/trends_nrtr/981_RC01/embed_loader.js//

    It seems pretty clear that the neocon warmongery is working – the world is fearful, and needs government to save it…

  • Is This The End Of The Trump Presidency?

    Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

    On April 4 2017 in the Syrian city of Khan Shaykhun, a city controlled by western-backed terrorists, chemical weapons killed more than eighty civilians. Immediately, local and foreign sources (the White Helmets and Syrian Observatory, respectively, dubiously linked to Al Qaeda groups) blamed the Syrian Arab Army, accusing them of employing chemical agents. In the following forty-eight hours, the mainstream media flooded print media and the airwaves with information that alleged that Assad used chemical weapons. As is known, it is not the first time that the legitimate government of Syria has been accused of attacking its own people with weapons of mass destruction.

    In all similar events in the past, it has been later discovered that the chemical agents in question were used by the Al Nusra Front and Al Qaeda terrorists. In 2013, Obama tacitly rejected the argument that the Syrian Army used chemical weapons in Ghouta, deciding not to succumb to internal pressure to bomb Syria in response. Donald Trump required little confirmation before taking the initiative to cross the red line, openly attacking the Syrian army, even though his same intelligence community strongly doubted that the chemical attack took place according to the narrative advanced by the media.

    There are several hypotheses regarding what may have happened in Khan Shaykhun. The first one points to a false flag by rebels and terrorists supported by Israeli, British, Saudi and Qatari intelligence. Alternatively, it could have simply been an accident. Assad's forces could have hit a terrorist weapons cache without knowing that it was dedicated to the production and storage of chemical weapons. Another theory offers that foreign intelligence agents may have provided accurate information to the terrorists in Khan Shaykhun about what buildings were going to be targeted by Assad’s air force, thereby allowing them to move chemical weapons into the targeted locations in order to bring about a civilian massacre.

    Whatever the case may be, it is unthinkable that Assad and the Syrian army would use chemical agents against their own civilians. There is no rational reason for them to use such weapons which do not guarantee any tactical advantage and which, besides, would incite an obvious, vehement reaction from the international community — a counterproductive move from any way you look at it. This is not to mention that two days before the accident (?), Trump and Tillerson had publicly opened up to Assad, broaching a Syrian future with the president still in office. Once again, the use of chemical weapons proved to be of no tactical gain, spelling full-blown political suicide. From whatever perspective one observes the incident; an intentional chemical attack by Syrian forces is not credible and should be therefore ruled out. Furthermore, Russia saw its request for an independent investigation in the Khan Shaykhun chemical incident blocked by almost all nations belonging to the UN council, with the exception of Syria, Bolivia, China and Russia. What do the US and its allies have to hide? We all know the answer to that.

    An important factor to consider in order to understand the events surrounding the incident with chemical gases concerns the immediate American response. The bombardment with cruise missile, which caused a dozen deaths and some slight damage to Shayrat Air Base, needed at least a couple of months of preparation. This consideration helps clarify the scope of the chemical attack along with the attendant rationale and motivations.

    Notably, over the past two months, Trump has received all kinds of pressure to continue the neocon-inspired aggression against Syria. The main cheerleaders of this attack certainly fall into that category of players that includes the intelligence community, the military-industrial complex, neoconservatives, the Saudis, the Israelis, the Turks and the Qataris. It is not unthinkable that the chemical attack was an act needed in order to allow a US military response. One must not neglect to consider the very positive outcome of the meeting between Trump and the Saudi prince, the latter of whom is a major supporter of aggression against Syria. The summit between the King of Jordan and the American president the day after the events in Khan Shaykhun ought to be viewed in the same light. At the same time, other events look more than suspicious in terms of timing and motives, such as the permanent exclusion of Trump adviser Steve Bannon in favor of General H. R. McMaster (appointed by Trump). McMaster is a protégé of General Petraeus, a leading exponent of the interests of the neoconservatives. This is not to mention the exclusion of Flynn a month ago, another person who for years has advised against aggression against Syria, mainly thinking of the consequences that such a move would entail at the international level.

    Much ambiguity also remains when one considers the absence of members of the American intelligence community in the war room during the bombing of Syria on April 6. Rumors suggest that these American agencies would have recommended that Trump not act on the basis of partial or false information regarding the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun. Trump, contrary to what he stated during the presidential campaign, has dismissed the advice of his intelligence community, preferring instead to act unilaterally under pressure from McMaster and other neocons in the administration.

    The bombardment, involving the use of 59 cruise missiles (23 hit the base, others went missing, according to the Russian ministry of defense), caused little damage to the Shayrat Air Base, thanks to the prompt evacuation of Syrian personnel, and no injuries were reported amongst the Russian contingent. The Pentagon claims to have warned the Russians of their intentions, but it is more likely that there were no alternatives, and that this act was mostly political and at no cost. Rather than reading this as a hypothetical US courtesy to the Russians (and the Syrians, because Moscow immediately warned Damascus), we must consider that a few seconds after the launch of the first cruise missile by the two destroyers in the Mediterranean, Russian forces in the area were already fully aware of the path and destination of the missiles, thereby alerting Damascus. It is also possible that the generals close to Trump advised him to alert Moscow because of the danger of a Russian reaction if hit by US missiles.

    Some doubts still remain as to the intentions and purpose of the attacks. In recent days, a hypothesis has emerged implying some sort of connivance between Russia and the United States in these attacks, apparently staged to appease the interventionists of the US deep state. There is no evidence to support this hypothesis, and the relatively limited damage to the Shayrat military airport may rest either with the high defense capabilities of the Syrian and Russians, or to the marked inefficiency of Raytheon’s cruise missiles, rather than any purposeful intention to do limited damage. In coming days, with more information available, it will be important to analyze what exactly happened to the cruise missiles that did not hit their target. As many know, it is taboo in the United States to criticize the military-industry complex, given the importance and influence it enjoys. In this sense, it is no surprise that in the United States, the press has been talking about the complete success of the attack, with 58 out of 59 missiles apparently being advertised as hitting their targets.

    For Trump it may well be the beginning of the end. The intention may have been to make a once-off attack to appease the deep state, lowering in the process the heat stemming from Russiagate, in order to allow for the implementation of national policies in line with the proclaimed America-First doctrine that has thus far been sabotaged by opponents and detractors. These same detractors now applaud Trump for what they see as his first presidential act, which involves killing civilians with missiles.

    What Trump does not appear to understand is that he has opened up a Pandora's Box that implicitly encourages foreign intelligence and terrorists in Syria to rely on American help by simply playing the chemical-gas-attack card. Trump seems unaware that he is now under the complete control of the media, the intelligence agencies, Al Qaeda, and the neocons, who are all the time working towards the involvement of the United States in ever more wars, such as with the one in Syria. Trump has intentionally sold out to the deep state in the hope of saving his presidency. However, in so doing, he is doomed to becoming a puppet of the deep state. Now let us speculate for a moment about what may happen in the coming weeks.

    In response to US aggression, Russia, Syria and Iran will increase cooperation against terrorists in Syria without any further cooperation with the United States. In this regard, we have already seen the suspension of channels of communication between Russia and the United States. The most likely reason for this is to avoid revealing to the United States the whereabouts of Russian troops in Syria. This hopefully causes huge concern for Washington, as the next American attack on Syria may impact on Russian troops. Regardless, it now seems clear that in the case of a new attack on Syria, there will be a firm and proportionate response from Moscow that could even lead to the sinking of the ships that launched the cruise missiles. It constitutes a dangerous escalation that could involve nuclear superpowers. Trump is probably betting that Moscow, in the case of another attack on Syria, would not dare attack American ships. Unfortunately for Trump and the rest of the world, his calculations are dead wrong, pushing the world to the brink of disaster in the event of another American bombardment of Syria. If Russia sinks American naval ships, and Trump does not respond, he is done. If he responds, then the world is done. Let us hope that the US does not do stupid shit (an Obama quote).

    In case al Qaeda once again uses chemical weapons, Trump will be requested to answer with force, as he has already done. If he refuses to do so, he will be immediately pilloried as Obama was in 2013, thereby committing political suicide. Trump has already lost his most loyal supporters, who had voted for him to stop US military adventures abroad. By deciding to bomb Syria, he has opened the door to either an early termination of his presidency or for a large-scale conflict. Whatever the case may be, the United States begins a new phase of conflict in the Middle East, in direct contrast to the claims made by Trump throughout the presidential campaign. It represents a 180-degree reversal in policy that reveals the real intentions of the American presidency, namely continuing the preservation of the American unipolar world, in spite of lacking the necessary operational and military capabilities. After all, Obama resisted for six years the pressure to bomb Syria coming from the extremist wing of the deep state. Trump took only eighty days to voluntarily go along with plans to attack Syria. Whatever the hidden truth of these two events, it is clear that from now on that nothing will be as before.

  • Visualizing Korea's North-South Military Divide

    North Korea warned the United States that it would respond to "reckless acts of aggression" after a carrier battle group led by the 97,000-ton USS Carl Vinson was deployed to the Korean peninsula. As Statista's Niall McCarthy reports, the aircraft carrier is being escorted by a guided-missile cruiser and two destroyers equipped with Aegis technology capable of shooting down any future North Korean test missiles.

    Is North Korea's nuclear program going to be next? That's the question many experts are asking themselves after American cruise missiles struck a Syrian airbase last week. If the U.S. does carry out a pre-emptive strike, Pyongyang is likely to launch a substantial military retaliation against the south. If that nightmare does one day come to pass, how well equipped is the South Korean military to repel an offensive from the North?

    Infographic: The Military Balance On The Korean Peninsula  | Statista

    You will find more statistics at Statista

    The North Korean military has substantially more active (and reserve) troops than the South, though large numbers of its soldiers are underpaid and malnourished. The North also has outdated equipment and its airforce is known to still use 1950 Korean War-era MIG-15 fighters for training purposes.

    The South Korean military on the other hand boasts state of the art technology including cutting-edge tanks, warplanes and attack helicopters.

    However, Seoul is only 35 miles from the DMZ and due to North's superority in artillery, it's highly likely that the South Korean capital would suffer massive damage in a war. Even if the South repelled an invasion, success would come with substantial military and civilian casualties.

  • Assange Reminds The World: "The Potential For The Disastrous Rise Of Misplaced Power Persists"

    Authored by Julian Assange, editor of WikiLeaks, published op-ed via The Washington Post,

    On his last night in office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered a powerful farewell speech to the nation — words so important that he’d spent a year and a half preparing them. “Ike” famously warned the nation to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

    Much of Eisenhower’s speech could form part of the mission statement of WikiLeaks today. We publish truths regarding overreaches and abuses conducted in secret by the powerful.

    Our most recent disclosures describe the CIA’s multibillion-dollar cyberwarfare program, in which the agency created dangerous cyberweapons, targeted private companies’ consumer products and then lost control of its cyber-arsenal. Our source(s) said they hoped to initiate a principled public debate about the “security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”

    The truths we publish are inconvenient for those who seek to avoid one of the magnificent hallmarks of American life — public debate. Governments assert that WikiLeaks’ reporting harms security. Some claim that publishing facts about military and national security malfeasance is a greater problem than the malfeasance itself. Yet, as Eisenhower emphasized, “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

    Quite simply, our motive is identical to that claimed by the New York Times and The Post — to publish newsworthy content. Consistent with the U.S. Constitution, we publish material that we can confirm to be true irrespective of whether sources came by that truth legally or have the right to release it to the media. And we strive to mitigate legitimate concerns, for example by using redaction to protect the identities of at-risk intelligence agents.

    Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, defended publication of our “stolen” material last year: “I get the argument that the standards should be different if the stuff is stolen and that should influence the decision. But in the end, I think that we have an obligation to report what we can about important people and important events.” David Lauter, Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, made a similar argument: “My default position is democracy works best when voters have as much information as possible . . . And that information often comes from rival campaigns, from old enemies, from all sorts of people who have motives that you might look at and say, ‘that’s unsavory.’ ”

    The media has a long history of speaking truth to power with purloined or leaked material — Jack Anderson’s reporting on the CIA’s enlistment of the Mafia to kill Fidel Castro; the Providence Journal-Bulletin’s release of President Richard Nixon’s stolen tax returns; the New York Times’ publication of the stolen “Pentagon Papers”; and The Post’s tenacious reporting of Watergate leaks, to name a few. I hope historians place WikiLeaks’ publications in this pantheon. Yet there are widespread calls to prosecute me.

    President Thomas Jefferson had a modest proposal to improve the press: “Perhaps an editor might begin a reformation in some such way as this. Divide his paper into 4 chapters, heading the 1st, ‘Truths.’ 2nd, ‘Probabilities.’ 3rd, ‘Possibilities.’ 4th, ‘Lies.’ The first chapter would be very short, as it would contain little more than authentic papers, and information.” Jefferson’s concept of publishing “truths” using “authentic papers” presaged WikiLeaks.

    People who don’t like the tune often blame the piano player. Large public segments are agitated by the result of the U.S. presidential election, by public dissemination of the CIA’s dangerous incompetence or by evidence of dirty tricks undertaken by senior officials in a political party. But as Jefferson foresaw, “the agitation [a free press] produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.”

    Vested interests deflect from the facts that WikiLeaks publishes by demonizing its brave staff and me. We are mischaracterized as America-hating servants to hostile foreign powers. But in fact I harbor an overwhelming admiration for both America and the idea of America. WikiLeaks’ sole interest is expressing constitutionally protected truths, which I remain convinced is the cornerstone of the United States’ remarkable liberty, success and greatness.

    I have given up years of my own liberty for the risks we have taken at WikiLeaks to bring truth to the public. I take some solace in this: Joseph Pulitzer, namesake of journalism’s award for excellence, was indicted in 1909 for publishing allegedly libelous information about President Theodore Roosevelt and the financier J.P. Morgan in the Panama Canal corruption scandal. It was the truth that set him free.

  • Former GM Vice Chair Trashes Tesla: "Musk Is A Great Salesman But They're Doomed. It's Going To Fail"

    For those who may have missed it, GM’s former Vice Chairman Bob Lutz dropped a whole lot of reality on some unsuspecting Tesla cheerleaders on CNBC this morning.  A rather blunt Lutz shared his views, as have we on several occasions, that Tesla’s constant cash burn combined with a barrage of competitive models that are about to hit the market likely indicate that the company is “doomed.”  As for Tesla’s gravity-defying stock price, Lutz attributed the company’s soaring market cap solely to Musk being the “greatest salesman in the world” along with his being “aided and abetted by some analysts.”

    “I am a well known Tesla skeptic.  Somehow it’s levitating and I think it’s Elon Musk is the greatest salesman in the world. He paints this vision of an unlimited future, aided and abetted by some analysts.  It’s like Elon Musk has been beamed down from another planet to show us mortals how to run a company.”

     

    “The fact is it’s a constant cash drain. They’re highly dependent on federal government and state incentives for money which constantly flows in.  They have capital raises all the time.”

     

    “Even the high-end cars that they build now cost more to build than they’re able to sell them for.”

     

    “Mercedes, BWM, Volkswagen, GM, Audi and Porsche are all coming out with 300-mile [range] electric luxury sedans…I think they’re doomed.” 

    At that point, an incredulous CNBC host was forced to step in asking “what does doomed mean?”

    “What does doomed mean?  Their stock price comes in?  They go out of business?  They have regular competition like other companies?  What do you mean by doomed?”

    Fortunately, Lutz was happy to entertain the question and explained to the shocked CNBC hosts that when your variable production costs exceed your products sales price…well, that’s a problem.

    “Their upside on pricing is limited because everybody else sells electric vehicles at a loss to get the credits to be able to sell the sport utility vehicles and the pickup trucks.  So that puts a ceiling on your possible pricing.”

     

    “And if he can’t make money on the high-end Model S and Model X’s which sell up to $100,000, how in the world is he going to make money on a $35,000 small car?  Because I have news for you, 42 years of experience, the cost of a car doesn’t come down proportional to it’s price.”

     

    “If you have a situation where the cost of producing a car, labor and materials, is higher than your sell price, your business model is flawed.  And it’s doomed and it’s going to fail.” 

    Finally, the stunned CNBC anchors offered up one more defense by highlighting the massive value of Tesla’s battery and solar operations, but were once again shut down in epic fashion…

    “The battery plant, in my estimation, is a joke.  There are no cost savings from making a lithium ion plant bigger than other people lithium ion plants, because making lithium ion cells is a fully automated process anyway.  So, whether you got full automative in a small building or 10x full automation in a big building, you’re not saving any money.” 

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