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Sep 14

Today’s News 14th September 2017

  • Paul Craig Roberts: "Behold, A Pale Horse, And Its Rider Is Washington"

    Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

    Two of America’s most populous states, Texas and Florida, are in hurricane ruins, and Washington is fomenting more wars.

    The US national debt is now over $20 trillion, and Washington is fomenting more wars.

    The entire world is helping Washington foment wars – including two targeted countries themselves – Russia and China – both of which are helping Washington foment more wars. Believe it or not, both Russia and China voted with Washington on the UN Security Council to impose more and harsher sanctions on North Korea, a country guilty of nothing but a desire to have the means to protect itself from the US and not become yet another Washington victim like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Serbia, and Ukraine overthrown in a US coup and now poverty-stricken.

    I once thought that Russia and China were checks on Washington’s unilateralism, but apparently not.

    Both governments have been knuckled under by Washington and both voted to punish North Korea for striving to be sufficiently armed to protect its sovereignty from Washington.

    Why are Russia and China repeating their same mistake that they made when they supported Washington’s no-fly UN resolution for Libya, a resolution that Washington and NATO stood on its head when they launched air attacks that helped the CIA organized “jihadists” overthrow Libya’s progressive government and murder Gaddafi?

    Russia knows that it is surrounded by US nuclear and military bases. So does China. The question is: have Russia and China capitulated out of fear? Or is their cooperation with Washington a ruse while they prepare their own strike on Washington, or are the two misguided governments trying to cooperate with Washington a la sanctions so as to avoid having to confront a US military attack on North Korea?

    It requires much competence to confront evil, and there is probably more evil in Washington than there is competence in Russia and China, two countries interested in being rich to an extent that it might cost them their sovereignty and existence.

    When you see such potentially powerful countries as Russia and China collapse under Washington’s pressure in the UN Security Council, it makes you wonder if the various analyses of Washington’s many weaknesses are real, and if they are real, if Russia and China are aware of them.

    How does one go about explaining why two countries, whose sovereignty is in the way of Washington’s world hegemony, help their known enemy bully yet another small country, especially one in their orbit of influence? How can Russia complain of sanctions against Russia based on nothing but Washington’s propaganda when Russia supports sanctions against North Korea based on Washington’s propaganda?

    Russia and China have nothing to fear from North Korean nuclear weapons. Indeed, no one does except a country that attacks North Korea. What is the explanation for Russia and China lining up with Washington’s foreign policy against North Korea when Russia and China know that Washington’s foreign policy is hostile to Russia and China?

    Just the other day Washington announced that it was increasing its navy warships in the South China Sea to make sure China doesn’t think the South China Sea is Chinese, instead of American, territorial waters.

    Just the other day more election interfering charges were leveled against Russia.

    This time Facebook was the mechanism by which Russia stole the US presidential election.

    These positions taken by Washington are absurd.

    Yet, they are becoming the reality. The frightening development is that the entire world, the entirely of the UN and Security Council are now captured by Washington in The Matrix. It seems that not even Russia and China can any longer see their own national interest.

    Russia and China are working hand-in-hand with Washington toward their own demise.

    It is becoming biblical.

  • College Students Rejoice! Bernie Sanders Introduces Long-Awaited "Medicare For All" Bill

    After successfully leveraging promises for far-left policy reforms into a competitive challenge against frontrunner Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic primary (forcing Debbie Wasserman Schultz to intervene on her longtime friend's behalf), Senator Bernie Sanders has finally introduced a long-anticipated piece of legislation: His bill to create a single-payer health-care system, or, as his supporters know it best, “Medicare for all.”

    As expected, the proposal would offer the same suite of medical benefits required for some insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act and eliminate most out-of-pocket costs. Mr. Sanders argues that although taxes would likely rise to support the new system, families would save money by no longer needing to purchase health coverage, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    Unsurprisingly given Sanders’s well-known views on government spending, the 96-page bill offers no mechanisms to pay for the plan, which is expected to cost the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars a year. A Bernie spokesman said his office plans to release a separate white paper focusing on payment strategies, but as of now, no such plan exists.

    While the bill’s chances of passing are infinitesimal (Republicans remain vehemently opposed), as the WSJ explains, the symbolism surrounding its introduction is actually quite potent.

    As the Democratic party shifts further to the left, socialized medicine (Like they have in Canada!) is becoming a rallying cry for the party. Already, four of the top-polling contenders for the 2020 presidential nod have signed on to the plan.

    “A health-care system as Mr. Sanders envisions it remains unlikely with Republicans in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. But the idea has caught on with many Democrats since Mr. Sanders touted it on the 2016 presidential campaign trail; when he debuted a similar plan in 2013, none of his Democratic colleagues signed on.

     

    Single-payer health care is becoming a rallying cry for many Democrats much as the seven-year promise to “repeal and replace” the ACA brought together Republicans.

     

    At least four potential 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, have all signed onto the plan.”

    In a timeline chronicling the Democratic Party’s flirtations with single payer, the International Business Times explains how the idea of universal health-care coverage was first proposed by former President Harry Truman in 1945. After Democrats successfully created the Medicare and Medicaid programs during the 1960s, some progressive hoped to follow by extending coverage to all citizens. The idea slowly lost favor during the 1970s and 1980s, as Ronald Reagan criticized what he saw as “socialized medicine.”

    But it was revived in 1992 when California’s once-and-future governor Jerry Brown campaigned on it during the Democratic primary. He was defeated by Bill Clinton who decided to institute reforms that preserved the existing private-insurance system after failing to muster support for “Hillarycare” – the Clintonian plan for a single-payer system.

    Moving ahead to the Obama era, the former president famously flip-flopped on the issue, saying he “never supported single payer” even though there were records of him speaking favorably about the policy dating back to 2003, when he was a state senator in Illinois.

    During the formulation of what would become Obamacare, some Democrats pushed to include a so-called “public option” in the bill – a measure for which the president's support wavered. It was eventually killed by then-Democratic Sen. (and former vice presidential candidate) Joe Lieberman.

    Which brings us back to today.  

    If enacted, Sanders’s bill would begin extending Medicare-like coverage to people over a four-year transition period, with the eligibility age for the program—currently 65 and older—slowly lowered over time until it covers the entire population, according to WSJ. And while private insurers wouldn’t be permitted to compete with the government’s plan for basic coverage, consumers could purchase supplemental health policies.

    The plan would also authorize the universal government health system to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs, an idea that conservative have said is tantamount to price fixing. The Sanders plan would also require abortion to be covered – an idea that will outrage evangelicals. Federal funds are presently prohibited from paying for abortions.

    While hundreds of thousands of college students would probably rejoice at its passage (having free health-care coverage for life would certainly ease the psychic burden of not working), as author and former trader Nassim Taleb notes, “America is not Canada.”

    As of Wednesday, 15 Democratic senators have signed on to support the bill. They are:

    Tammy Baldwin (WI)

    Richard Blumenthal (CT)

    Cory Booker (NJ)

    Al Franken (WI)

    Kamala Harris (CA)

    Mazie Hirono (HI)

    Martin Heinrich (NM)

    Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)

    Ed Markey (MA)

    Jeff Merkley (OR)

    Brian Schatz (HI)

    Tom Udall (NM)

    Elizabeth Warren (MA)

    Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)

    Speculation about how Sanders will propose payment for the bill, which will likely be used as a template by Democrats in legislative battles for years to come, is already mounting. Here are a few ideas, courtesy of Axios.

    • A 7.5% income-based premium paid by employers, which his paper claims will raise $3.9 trillion over 10 years. This would exempt certain small businesses.
    • 4% income-based premium paid by households, which his paper claims will raise $4.2 trillion over 10 years. This would not affect low-income families.
    • Savings from health tax expenditures, which his paper claims will raise $4.2 trillion over 10 years.
    • Make the personal income tax and the estate tax more progressive, including limiting deductions for the wealthy. His paper claims this will raise $1.8 trillion and $249 billion over 10 years, respectively.
    • "Establish a Wealth Tax on the Top 0.1 percent," which his paper claims will raise $1.3 trillion over 10 years.
    • Add a fee on large financial institutions, which his paper claims will raise $117 billion over 10 years.

    Of course, not all Democrats are so fond of Sanders’s plan. Shockingly, it’s least popular among the party’s leadership. Nancy Pelosi has said she wouldn’t endorse the bill because she’s focused on protecting Obamacare. Schultz’s successor, DNC Chairman Tom Perez, said something similar. In summary, single-payer has gained enough political momentum within the party to force its opponents to at least couch their position in an excuse.

    Because if the 2016 election cycle taught the Democrats anything, it’s that they oppose populist movements at their own peril. 

  • Amid 2017's Fascist Disinformation Mania, Brandon Smith Fears "Something Larger Afoot"

    Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

    Years ago in 2012, I published a thorough examination of disinformation tactics used by globalist institutions as well as government and political outfits to manipulate the public and undermine legitimate analysts working to expose particular truths of our social and economic conditions.

    If you have not read this article, titled Disinformation: How It Works, I highly recommend you do so now. It will act as a solid foundation for what I am about to discuss in this article. Without a basic understanding of how lies are utilized, you will be in no position to grasp the complexities of disinformation trends being implemented today.

    Much of what I am about to discuss will probably not become apparent for much of the mainstream and portions of the liberty movement for many years to come. Sadly, the biggest lies are often the hardest to see until time and distance are achieved.

    If you want to be able to predict geopolitical and economic trends with any accuracy, you must first accept a couple of hard realities. First and foremost, the majority of cultural shifts and fiscal developments within our system are a product of social engineering by an organized collective of power elites. Second, you must understand that this collective is driven by the ideology of globalism — the pursuit of total centralization of financial and political control into the hands of a select few deemed as "superior" concertmasters or "maestros."

    As globalist insider, CFR member and mentor to Bill Clinton, Carroll Quigley, openly admitted in his book Tragedy And Hope:

    "The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank … sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

    The philosophical basis for the globalist ideology is most clearly summarized in the principles of something called "Fabian Socialism," a system founded in 1884 which promotes the subversive and deliberate manipulation of the masses towards total centralization, collectivism and population control through eugenics. Fabian Socialists prefer to carry out their strategies over a span of decades, turning a population against itself slowly, rather than trying to force changes to a system immediately and outright.  Their symbol is a coat of arms depicting a wolf in sheep's clothing, or in some cases a turtle (slow and steady wins the race?) with the words "When I strike I strike hard."

    Again, it is important to acknowledge that these people are NOT unified by loyalty to any one nation, culture, political party, mainstream religion or ethnic background.

    In fact, they will happily sacrifice any country or any group of people if it will get them closer to their goal.

    They are not defenders of the free market as the idiots on the extreme left like to claim. In fact, they abhor any business model that is not dominated by a government and a bureaucracy designed to give them an unfair advantage through legislation. Anyone who thinks free markets are the cause of our economic ailments in the past decade has lost sight of the fact that we have not had anything even remotely resembling free markets for more than a century. The corporations leftists and common socialists constantly wail about could not exist without government charter and the legal loopholes surrounding limited liability. So please, socialist warriors, shut up about free markets. You have no idea what you are talking about.

    The globalists are also not loyal acolytes of any particular theological tradition (at least not any that are clearly identified). Meaning, they are NOT organized around Judaism or even loyalty to Israel as is the common claim of the clowns that make up what some are now calling the "Alt-Right." Globalists do not care about Jewish people or Jewish beliefs even though some of them are genetically Jewish.

    While a minority of globalists are associated with the political extremist faction known as "Zionism," Zionists are just another exploitable group to them, and their greater objective has nothing to do with the elevation of Israel. They will gladly fund Islamic extremist groups, for example, that desire and will willingly carry out the obliteration of Israel or the murder of Jewish people. They also exploit elements of the Israeli government to trigger chaos on the other side of the chess board.

    Those who argue that all our ills are engineered by "the jeeeewwws!" or "the tribe" are poorly informed and have chosen an overly simplistic broad-brush explanation for a much more complex enemy they have no ability to fathom. They tend to cite "evidence" that is highly unverified and poorly sourced.  They think the Rothschilds are the root of all globalism when the Rothschilds are just one element of a greater cabal.  Ask them which globalist institutions actually argue for Jewish or Zionist supremacy and they won't be able to produce evidence of any, unlike the numerous globalist institutions and champions that OPENLY argue for GLOBALISM even at the expense of Jews and the nation of Israel (i.e. Barack Obama's consistent support of Islamic extremist groups and the Arab Spring).  In fact, ask them for evidence that Jews or Zionists are the core of the globalist agenda and they will copy and paste the same list of perhaps two dozen Council on Foreign Relations members that are Jewish while ignoring the thousands of other members that are not.

    They also tend to argue that the fascist movements of the past century were actually "doing battle with the globalist agenda" — i.e. they were the "good guys."  Sorry to break it to the "Alt-Right" crowd, but almost everything they believe is wrong.

    I have noticed a disturbing trend within liberty movement and conservative circles; a kind of invasion, if you will. A minority of disinformation agents and useful idiots are operating within liberty outlets to push an ideological revolution oddly similar in tactics to those used by Soros funded groups overtaking the political left. It is my belief that while some globalist created movements are meant to provoke the left to zealotry and cultural Marxism, other globalist created movements are meant to provoke the right to zealotry and a misplaced adoration for fascism.  Divide and conquer is the game here.

    As I noted in my last article 'Globalists Will Throw Antifa To The Wolves To Further Their Agenda', the left is essentially a lost cause. Any semblance of the so called "classical liberal" that is so commonly linked back to certain American revolutionaries and founding fathers was snuffed out long ago. They don't exist anymore. Conservatives (not necessarily Republicans) have taken up the mantle of individual liberty and small government. The labels may have changed, but the principles remain the same. Conservatives are the natural enemy of globalists. The ideals of conservative thought and the globalist agenda are mutually exclusive — both cannot exist within the same space at the same time. One of them has to go for the other to function.

    So, what are elitists with aspirations of becoming god-kings to do? Well, they could try to attack conservatives directly, but this does not mean our ideals will disappear. The ideals might even spread and flourish in reaction to a crackdown, which is the opposite effect that social engineers desire. Instead, 4th generation warfare is in order. That is to say, conservatives must be bamboozled into embracing actions contrary to their principles.

    They must be conned into applauding big government instead of fighting against it. They must be tricked into rationalizing violations of the Constitution instead of exposing said violations as a spreading cancer. They must be cajoled into cheering for even more expensive and ill conceived war efforts that do not serve the interests of Americans. They must be fooled into praising the relationship between corporations and government instead of working to dismantle the government framework that coddles corporations and protects them from free markets.

    While globalists cannot destroy conservatism from without, they might be able to use 4th Gen tactics to destroy conservatism from within. Conservatives have to be convinced that conservative values are weaknesses that must be abandoned for the "greater good." At this point, conservatives would no longer be conservative; they become something else entirely.

    While the liberty movement in particular has been hyper-focused on the dangers of cultural Marxism and communism, the real danger is the psyop being played within the political right. Both communism and fascism serve globalist interests. It is to their advantage to promote both and to even pit one against the other. The key is to use the left to drive conservatives to desperate measures and then link conservatives to ideals that are counter to their natures until the original ideals are forgotten.

    There are some core weakness to the propaganda campaign that gut the narrative completely. The fact that the establishment is grasping at such methods to me seems desperate, but then again, I make a rule never to underestimate people's laziness or their ignorance. So, lets look at the primary argument popping up in every liberty comment thread and chat board: "Globalists are purely communists, and fascism is a misunderstood and necessary counterpunch."

    This assertion falls apart fantastically when historical fact is applied and one realizes that BOTH communism and fascism were movements funded and supported by the very same financial elites. Yes, that's right, fascism cannot be opposed to globalism, because globalists created fascism to serve their purposes.

    To find the most comprehensive evidence compiled on the relationship between the financial elites and the rise of fascism and communism, one of the best sources is the work of Professor Antony Sutton. Here Sutton answers questions on some of these ties, including the elitist funding and technological development of the Nazis as well as the Soviet Union:

    Let's not forget about the Bush family legacy of financial support for the Third Reich – yet some people are attempting to feed a growing argument that the globalists were opposed to Hitler or vice versa…?

    Globalist conglomerates like the Rockefeller's Standard Oil were even exposed during the Nuremberg trials as having funded and aided Nazi technological advancements throughout the war using close relationships to IG Farben. This is made clear in the 'Von Knieriem Documents' within the Nuremberg and WWII congressional investigative record, which can be read in full in Elimination Of German Resources For War, starting on page 1302.

    This means that the disinfo-argument that "perhaps the elites funded fascism in the beginning but turned against it later" is a no-go. Of course, these revelations were ultimately buried and no one of import was ever prosecuted.

    So, to be absolutely clear – Fascist movements are NOT a counterweight to communism, they are controlled opposition to communism.  If you want to join a real opposing movement to cultural marxists and communists, then the only answer is a movement that supports individual liberty and the reduction of government power.  Fascism does not support either.

    Beyond general cash flow and technological backing for fascist governments, the globalist ideology is almost identical to fascist models. Mainstream assumptions aside, fascists are not true nationalists, rather, they are ideologues seeking to spread globally — their propaganda base just happens to begin with national pride. As mentioned earlier, globalism is best understood through the lens of Fabian Socialism, and Fabian Socialism is essentially fascism; though fascism tends to add a frontman dictator as a figurehead rather than an open cabal of oligarchs.

    Fabian Socialists (globalists) are so fond of fascism that they have in the past presented unabashed defense of the Third Reich. George Bernard Shaw, a celebrity member of the Fabians, is notorious for praising the methods of both the Nazis and Stalin, including the mass murder of undesirables.

    The difference between the communist model and the Nazi model? Nazis believed in population control based on genetic origin, while communists believed in population control based on labor potential. Both standards appeal to globalists.

    Bottom line – fascists are slaves for globalists, just as communists are slaves for globalists. Both support big government power, both undermine personal freedoms. There is little more than cosmetic differences between them when one knows the true history behind each movement.

    The disinformation brigade drumming up the pro-fascist/pro-Hitler dialogue on conservative forums may be part of a funded agenda to demonize liberty movements by false association. Or, it may be an attempt to lure conservatives into thinking the only way to counteract the insanity of the extreme left is to become more like their classic enemy, the fascist. And, perhaps it is simply a gaggle of morons with zero historical reference parroting what they have been hearing in their online echo chambers for years, but now they see an opportunity generated by the fear surrounding the mania of cultural Marxists.

    They will seethe in the comments of this article, that is certain. I will be accused of being a "Zionist agent," with zero proof of course. They will froth at the mouth about how "something must be done" about the cultural marxists as if our only other choice is to adopt even more egregious methods.  They will gather a dozen of their friends from their favorite online haunts and "mob up" to flood forums with angry discord to make it appear that there are more of them out there than really exist (much like social justice warriors do), but it is unlikely they will produce any hard evidence countering anything I have presented here. Their opinions might be loud, but they are also irrelevant.

    My concern is that there is something larger afoot.

    That maybe, just maybe, the conservative right is being tenderized in preparation for radicalization, just as much as the left has been radicalized. For the more extreme the social divide, the more likely chaos and crisis will erupt, and the globalists never let a good crisis go to waste. Zealots, regardless of their claimed moral authority, are almost always wrong in history. Conservatives cannot afford to be wrong in this era. We cannot afford zealotry.  We cannot afford biases and mistakes; the future of individual liberty depends on our ability to remain objective, vigilant and steadfast. Without self examination, we will lose everything.

  • Facebook Promises To Censor All Material That Makes Zuckerberg Sad

    Earlier this morning, Facebook Vice President of Media Partnerships shared a new blog post on the company’s website detailing precisely how they intend to censor content with which they happen to disagree.  Apparently all content providers who share “clickbait or sensationalism, or post misinformation and false news” will be deemed ineligible to monetize their efforts over Facebook.

    To use any of our monetization features, you must comply with Facebook’s policies and terms, including our Community Standards, Payment Terms, and Page Terms. Our goal is support creators and publishers who are enriching our community. Those creators and publishers who are violating our policies regarding intellectual property, authenticity, and user safety, or are engaging in fraudulent business practices, may be ineligible to monetize using our features.

     

    Creators and publishers must have an authentic, established presence on Facebook — they are who they represent themselves to be, and have had a profile or Page on Facebook for at least one month. Additionally, some of our features like Ad Breaks require a sufficient follower base, something that could extend to other features over time.

     

    Those who share content that repeatedly violates our Content Guidelines for Monetization, share clickbait or sensationalism, or post misinformation and false news may be ineligible or may lose their eligibility to monetize.

    Ironically, the biggest peddlers of “clickbait or sensationalism, or misinformation and false news” these days seems to be the largest, and ‘most respected’ mainstream media outlets…presumably there is a carve out for the likes of CNN, NYT and Wapo?

    Zuck

    Of course, we first noted the efforts of Facebook to combat the spread of “fake news” over social media back in December 2016 when they first introduced a filter intended to flag ‘fake’ content so that users wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of critically analyzing information on their own.  As we noted at the time, it was a genius plan, except for one small issue:  who determines what is considered “fake news” and how exactly do they draw those conclusions?  From our prior post (see “Facebook Launches Campaign To Combat “Fake News”“):

    The first problem, however, immediately emerges because as NBC notes, “legitimate news outlets won’t be able to be flagged”, which then begs the question who or what is considered “legitimate news outlets”, does it include the likes of NYTs and the WaPos, which during the runup to the election declared on a daily basis, that Trump has no chance of winning, which have since posted defamatory stories about so-called “Russian propaganda news sites”, admitting subsequently that their source data was incorrect, and which many consider to be the source of “fake news”.

     

    Also, just who makes the determination what is considered “legitimate news outlets.”

    Luckily, Zuckerberg cleared up all the confusion in a subsequent post in which he basically admitted that all ‘fact-checking’ would be outsourced to disaffected Hillary voters and the completely impartial, ‘myth-busting’ website Snopes.com.

    Historically, we have relied on our community to help us understand what is fake and what is not. Anyone on Facebook can report any link as false, and we use signals from those reports along with a number of others — like people sharing links to myth-busting sites such as Snopes — to understand which stories we can confidently classify as misinformation. Similar to clickbait, spam and scams, we penalize this content in News Feed so it’s much less likely to spread.

    Keep in mind folks, this entire Facebook witch hunt has been prompted by $50,000 worth of ads that MAY have been purchased by Russian-linked accounts to run ‘potentially politically related’ ads. 

  • De-Dollarization Spikes – Venezuela Stops Accepting Dollars For Oil Payments

    Did the doomsday clock on the petrodollar (and implicitly US hegemony) just tick one more minute closer to midnight?

    Source: The Burning Platform

    Apparently confirming what President Maduro had warned following the recent US sanctions, The Wall Street Journal reports that Venezuela has officially stopped accepting US Dollars as payment for its crude oil exports.

    As we previously noted, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said last Thursday that Venezuela will be looking to “free” itself from the U.S. dollar next week. According to Reuters,

    “Venezuela is going to implement a new system of international payments and will create a basket of currencies to free us from the dollar,” Maduro said in a multi-hour address to a new legislative “superbody.” He reportedly did not provide details of this new proposal.

    Maduro hinted further that the South American country would look to using the yuan instead, among other currencies.

    “If they pursue us with the dollar, we’ll use the Russian ruble, the yuan, yen, the Indian rupee, the euro,” Maduro also said.

    *  *  *

    And today, as The Wall Street Journal reports, in an effort to circumvent U.S. sanctions, Venezuela is telling oil traders that it will no longer receive or send payments in dollars, people familiar with the new policy said.

    Oil traders who export Venezuelan crude or import oil products into the country have begun converting their invoices to euros.

     

    The state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA, known as PdVSA, has told its private joint venture partners to open accounts in euros and to convert existing cash holdings into Europe’s main currency, said one project partner.

     

    The new payment policy hasn’t been publicly announced, but Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who has been blacklisted by the U.S., said Friday, "To fight against the economic blockade there will be a basket of currencies to liberate us from the dollar."

    There is no major market reaction for now – a modest bid to Bitcoin and some weakness in EUR and Gold (seems someone wants this to look like nothing).

    However, as Nomura debt analyst Siobhan Morden warns:

    “You can say whatever you want for your domestic propaganda and make it look like you’re retaliating against the U.S…. This political posturing will only be to their detriment.”

    So what happens if Europe also sanctions Venezuela? Will Rubles or Yuan… or Gold be the only way to buy Venezuela's oil?

    *  *  *

    This decision by the nation with the world's largest proven oil reserves comes just days after China and Russia unveiled the latest Oil/Yuan/Gold triad at the latest BRICS conference.

    It’s when President Putin starts talking that the BRICS reveal their true bombshell. Geopolitically and geo-economically, Putin’s emphasis is on a “fair multipolar world”, and “against protectionism and new barriers in global trade.” The message is straight to the point.

    “Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.”

    “To overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies” is the politest way of stating what the BRICS have been discussing for years now; how to bypass the US dollar, as well as the petrodollar.

    Beijing is ready to step up the game. Soon China will launch a crude oil futures contract priced in yuan and convertible into gold.

    This means that Russia – as well as Iran, the other key node of Eurasia integration – may bypass US sanctions by trading energy in their own currencies, or in yuan.

    Inbuilt in the move is a true Chinese win-win; the yuan will be fully convertible into gold on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges.

    The new triad of oil, yuan and gold is actually a win-win-win. No problem at all if energy providers prefer to be paid in physical gold instead of yuan. The key message is the US dollar being bypassed.

    RC – via the Russian Central Bank and the People’s Bank of China – have been developing ruble-yuan swaps for quite a while now.

    Once that moves beyond the BRICS to aspiring “BRICS Plus” members and then all across the Global South, Washington’s reaction is bound to be nuclear (hopefully, not literally).

    Washington’s strategic doctrine rules RC should not be allowed by any means to be preponderant along the Eurasian landmass. Yet what the BRICS have in store geo-economically does not concern only Eurasia – but the whole Global South.

    Sections of the War Party in Washington bent on instrumentalizing  India against China – or against RC – may be in for a rude awakening. As much as the BRICS may be currently facing varied waves of economic turmoil, the daring long-term road map, way beyond the Xiamen Declaration, is very much in place.

    *  *  *

    Having threatened China today with exclusion from SWIFT, we suspect Washington is rapidly running out of any great ally to sustain the petrodollar-driven hegemony (and implicitly its war machine). Cue the calls for a Venezuelan invasion in 3…2..1…!

  • What Could Go Wrong? New 'Robotic Smart Crib' Will Stop Your Baby Crying

    Authored by Jake Anderson via TheAntiMedia.org,

    Would you trust a robot to rock your baby to sleep?

    The question likely elicits the chilling vision of a Terminator cradling your child. However, a new product – the Snoo – is, in fact, an automated crib, a high-tech bassinet perfectly calibrated to ‘swaddle’ infants and lull them into slumber. It’s an early entry of automated child care in an age that promises to integrate robotics into the daily fabric of human life.

    So, back to the question at hand:

    Would you trust a robot to swaddle your child while she sleeps?

    The Snoo was developed by renowned pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, MIT-trained engineers, and Yves Behar, who runs a tech-savvy industrial design firm. The team’s goal was to recreate the sensations of being in the womb by swaddling the infant — restricting their limb movement, a practice some have criticized — and inundating them with white noise. This is accomplished with a sleeper outfit that one mother, Samantha Murphy Kelly, referred to as a “straight jacket” that safely secures the child as the bassinet rocks her to sleep.

    Samantha, who wrote about the experience of entrusting the Snoo to care for her baby, describes her trepidation disappearing as she watched her child fall asleep within minutes. However, she admits that a creeping anxiety never fully went away.

    “As I became comfortable with the product — even relied on it — I found new things to worry about,” she writes. 

     

    “When the city experienced a storm in the middle of the night, I sprinted out of bed to unplug it.”

    The Snoo senses when a child is stirring and modulates its speed accordingly. In this way, it is part of a new tech trend of automated devices designed to coddle children. In 2009, a Japanese company released Suima, the first fully automatic baby crib. Earlier this year, Ford, in advertising its new Max line of cars, developed a crib that simulates the ‘soothing’ vibrations of a car ride. One can imagine there will be many more products and services like these as automation in the household becomes more ubiquitous — and profitable.

    But will this cottage industry be challenged by the uncanny valley? This is an aesthetics theory supposing that humans feel a kind of revulsion when faced with a human replica. It is most commonly applied to androids, robots, and dolls, humanoid manifestations that come close to approximating our form, expression, or sound — but that remain eerily incongruent.

    In entrusting robotic consumer products with caring for our infants, we must overcome a feeling that something is slightly off. Even if a product has a perfect safety record, a queasy doubt will still linger. While robotics, artificial intelligence, and automation make many aspects of our lives vastly more efficient, there remains a sense that the simulacrum is untrustworthy.

    Will we overcome this sense in the coming decades? Will we merge seamlessly with our new robotics creations, as Elon Musk believes? Will the 2020s bring us smart cribs and infant monitoring microchips? Or will the feeling of unease cause a Luddite rift? Only time — and money — will tell.

  • Schumer, Pelosi Announce Deal With Trump: DACA For Border Security But No Wall; White House Denies

    Update: there appears to be some post-dinner confusion, because while the top Democrats issued a statement saying there was a deal on DACA, White House press sec. Sarah Sanders said that “While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.

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    And then this:

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    yet at the same time this:

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    Or, in other words, deal but no deal at the same time. Hopefully by tomorrow morning someone will know what really happened.

    * * *

    Shortly after concluding their dinner with president Trump at the White House, top Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi announced they have reached a deal with Donald Trump which will preserve DACA and shield about 800,000 young “Dreamers” from deportation, while agreeing to border security but  without the president’s proposed border wall as a condition.

    Schumer and Pelosi issued the following joint statement following a dinner with President Trump in the White House:

    “We had a very productive meeting at the White House with the President. The discussion focused on DACA. We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.

     

    “We also urged the President to make permanent the cost-sharing reduction payments, and those discussions will continue.”

    Among the other items discussed were tax reform, border security, infrastructure, trade and the DACA program, which Trump rescinded last week, but now appears to have been reincarnated.

    Earlier on Wednesday evening, Paul Ryan told House Democrats Wednesday that there’s no chance Republicans will pass a replacement for DACA without including border security provisions. President Trump and Ryan have both said Congress should act on DACA, the Obama-era program that allows some illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to remain and apply for work permits, leading to some speculation that leadership would support a “clean” bill restoring those protections. Ryan made clear that’s not going to happen. According to Axios, none of the Democrats pushed back against the border security proposal.

    Still, there may be complications. Here are some hot takes on the “deal” from Politico’s Jake Sherman:

    keep in mind that Pelosi and Schumer are both in the minority and need cooperation from ryan/McConnell.

     

    House leaves tomorrow and doesn’t return till last week of the month so we’ll have to see how this progresses.

     

    This will pose challenges for ryan and McConnell. Ryan has said he would not pursue immigration legislation without majority of Rs.

     

    There will be internal pressure for ryan and McConnell to resist turning over majority to a president who has decided to work w minority.

     

    You have a speaker who has been under fire from the right who will now be pressured to take up a deal cut between trump and Dems.

     

    Not passing judgement on whether this will happen. Just noting the obvious crosscurrents on the hill right now.

     

    Big question for ryan: will 121 republicans support a deal to reinstate DACA protections w border security and no wall.

     

    One other dynamic to keep in mind: regular order. Conservatives are obsessed w it. They’ll want hearings, to feel involved. Buy in.

    Assuming the answer is year, and now that Trump has fully conceded on DACA in the spirit of the “deal”, the question is whether the Democrats will also do the same, and support Trump’s tax reform, potentially overriding opposition from within the Republican party.

  • Chinese Economic Data Misses Across The Board As Credit Impulse Slump Kicks In

    The brief encounter with a 'recovery' that China's economic data enjoyed in the first half of 2017 has evaporated as the reality of a collapsing credit impulse strikes across the board. Retail Sales, Fixed Asset Investment, and Industrial Production all missed expectations  and slowed dramatically.

    Tonight's big China data dump to ignore includes:

    • Retail Sales +10.1% YoY (+10.5% exp), well below July's 10.4% gain
    • Fixed Asset Investment +7.8% YoY (+8.2% exp), well below July's 8.3% rise
    • Industrial Production +6.0% YoY (+6.6% exp), drastically weaker than July's 6.4% gain

    The first half bounce is officially dead…

     

    China's macro data disappointments are just beginning…

     

    In fact China's credit impulse is the worst in the world…

    Yuan continues to tumble (3rd day in a row of weaker fix)…

    Is China back in the currency war game now that credit is no longer holding up the economy?

  • Is Amazon To Blame The Fed Can't Hit Its Inflation Target

    It’s been a bad year for inflation forecasters: every month this year, economist consensus has expected core CPI to rise by 0.2% and every month since March, that figure has proven to be too high, resulting in 5 consecutive inflation misses and the weakest stretch of core inflation growth since 2010.

    Tomorrow’s CPI print, however, should finally break the spell: following a stabilization in cell phone plan costs, a rebound in hotel prices, and the ongoing weakness in dollar, should make tomorrow’s 0.2% core CPI forecast easier to achieve. And while year-over-year core growth is expected to slow to just 1.6% , the weakest since January 2015, Fed officials – having telegraphed a December rate hike – have indicated they’re looking more closely at the month-to-month trends for hints on what inflation will do next.

    “Inflation matters for the December decision, which is still very much up in the air,’’ Jonathan Wright, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins University and former Fed economist told Bloomberg. If core price gains remain low through the end of the year, “it would be too hard to insist that inflation is still on track.’’

    Headline inflation is also expected to come in a tad stronger: 0.3% M/M the highest since January, and 1.8% year-over-year due largely to a jump in gasoline prices following hurricane Harvey. “The core inflation numbers are going to be some of the lesser-affected of the key data between now and December,” said Stephen Stanley of Amherst Pierpont.

    And yet, while countless algos will react within nanoseconds of tomorrow’s CPI print, with a laser focus on whether tomorrow’s US core CPI will come out at 0.1%, 0.2% or 0.3%, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger inflation story. Simply put, inflation has been trending down across the major economies for decades. Take the US, each decade has seen inflation average as follows:

    • 1970s: 7.1%
    • 1980s: 5.6%
    • 1990s: 3.0%
    • 2000s: 2.6%
    • 2010s: 1.7%

    A similar pattern can be seen in Europe and Japan, though the latter seems to have settled around zero for the past two decades. Returning to the US, a big contributor has been a strong decline in goods inflation to around zero since the early 2000s. Meanwhile, services inflation has fallen but at a much slower pace and seems to be settling around 2%

    As Nomura’s Bilal Hafeez writes, it comes as no surprise that the early 2000s saw a major expansion in US (and world) trade with China. Indeed, President Clinton with the help of Republicans in Congress passed legislation to normalise trade relations with China in 2000. Soon after that, trade with China increased substantially, which helped put downward pressure on goods inflation. While there has been rhetoric from the current administration about reversing some of these measures, nothing has passed. Moreover, US trade is also increasing with other low-cost Asian producers, such as Vietnam, which is now the fifth largest net goods exporter to the US. Vietnam has not so far featured in any anti-trade rhetoric.

    Still, tomrrow’s numbers matter particularly for what the Fed will do next: with core inflation stubbronly below the Fed’s 2.0% core traget, FOMC members have been scrambling to justify they ongoing rate hike in light of persistent price weakness. “Fed policy makers seem to believe that inflation weakness is temporary, and they are probably right on that,” said Roberto Perli of Cornerstone Macro LLC in Washington. “But the more weak data we get, the more uncertain they will be about that interpretation and therefore the higher the likelihood of a postponement.”

    One key factor, however, which may spoil the party and keep inflation prints depressed is the deflationary impact of technology in general, something even the Fed has admitted in recent months, and the role of tech giants like Amazon in particular.

    Discussing this issue, Nomura writes that while globalisation was the meme of the 2000s, this decade’s has to be the “Amazonisation” of commerce. Hafeez takes the argument further, and while ascribing  to Amazon much of the good disinflation in recent years, suggests that one solution would be to weaken the dollar, i.e., go back to square 1 and either cuts rates or engage in QE…. just to offset the effect of Amazon!

     Given the bulk of the cost of goods is distribution costs, Amazon’s unique distribution model and widening range of products could impart a new disinflationary impulse on goods prices. There may already be signs of that if we compare the expected growth at Amazon with that of more conventional retail outlets as expressed through their relative share prices (Figure 3).

     

    So what can policymakers do to generate inflation? Services inflation is already around 2% – with the bulk of services accounted for by housing, medical and education costs, further increases may not be politically viable. That leaves raising goods inflation. But the forces of global trade and Amazonisation are unlikely to turn soon, barring some kind of breakthrough for President Trump in accomplishing political goals.

     

    The most obvious step, then, could be to weaken the nation’s currency. It worked for Japan when Abenomics was first launched with a weak yen in 2012 (inflation rose as high as 1.7% by 2014), and recently the weak pound has helped propel UK inflation to close to 3%. For the US, it’s noteworthy that goods inflation appears fairly tied to the dollar cycle – so a weak dollar in the 2000s saw inflation rise, while dollar strength since 2012 has seen goods inflation fall (Figure 4).

     

    But is it really Amazon’s fault the Fed can’t hit its inflation target

    Conveniently, that is just the question posed recently by Capital Economy in a recent research report. What it found is that, contrary to FOMC members seeking an easy scapegoat, it’s not Jeff Bezos’ fault why the Fed has failed at one of its two key mandates for nearly a decade. As Capital Eco’s Paul Ashworth writes:

    The drop back in core inflation to well below the Fed’s 2% target this year has prompted claims that prices are being held down by structural changes linked to the growing importance of online sales. With Amazon also regularly in the news recently thanks to its surging revenues and stratospheric stock price, it is understandable that people have put two and two together. Unfortunately, the data simply don’t support the theory that competition between online sellers and traditional bricks and mortar stores explains the low level of inflation.

    A breakdown of his argument:

    • The shift to online sales is having a transformative effect on the retail industry, but does not explain the weakness in core inflation, either this year specifically or the Fed’s more general failure to hit the 2% target in recent years.
    • Online retailing should be boosting productivity, since it eliminates the cost of running expensive stores in prime locations and reduces staffing needs. Those productivity gains should be reflected in lower prices. But goods prices have been falling since the early 2000s, when production was first outsourced to low-cost developing countries and behemoths like Walmart unleashed their own efficiency revolution in the retail sector.
    • Thanks to the rapid growth in non-store retail sales, the proportion of total retail sales accounted for by e-commerce has doubled since 2010. But it still accounts for a relatively minor 8.4%. Looking at Amazon specifically, its recent performance has been undoubtedly impressive. Nevertheless, Amazon’s importance within the overall US retail market still pales in significance to more traditional retailers. Even after years of strong growth, Amazon’s revenues are still only one-fifth of Walmart’s.
    • The biggest categories for online sales are clothing, furniture & home furnishings and electronics. Looking at price inflation for those top three categories, a mixed picture emerges. There is little evidence that clothing prices are falling more rapidly now. In contrast, there is perhaps some evidence that prices for household furnishings and sporting goods have been falling at a slightly faster pace over the past five years. Before we conclude that is due to structural shifts in online versus bricks and mortar stores, however, it is worth bearing in mind that the dollar’s strength has also probably played a role.
    • In the services sector, e-commerce now accounts for almost a third of revenues in air transportation and travel agencies. But airline fares are still being driven almost entirely by fuel prices. Despite the explosion in private short-term rentals through sites like Airbnb, hotel room rates continue to rise.

    In short, CapEco finds that “the drop off in core inflation this year is mainly due to transitory factors”, not Amazon, and as a result, “it will rebound next year as those factors fade and the dollar’s weakness begins to feed through.”

    Or at least it should.

    Meanwhile, if tomorrow’s CPI is the 6th consecutive miss, the Fed would be better advised to look at its own erroneous decision-making, its faulty models, and the flawed CPI basket construction, the before trying to once again pin the blame on some external force.

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