Aug 16

Today’s News 16th August 2017

  • Korea And Venezuela: Flip Sides Of The Same Coin

    Authored by Jacob Hornberger via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

    By suggesting that he might order a U.S. regime-change invasion of Venezuela, President Trump has inadvertently shown why North Korea has been desperately trying to develop nuclear weapons – to serve as a deterrent or defense against one of the U.S. national-security state storied regime-change operations. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Venezuela and, for that matter, other Third World countries who stand up to the U.S. Empire, also seeking to put their hands on nuclear weapons. What better way to deter a U.S. regime-change operation against them?

    Think back to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The U.S. national-security establishment had initiated a military invasion of the Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, had exhorted President Kennedy to bomb Cuba during that invasion, and then had recommended that the president implement a fraudulent pretext (i.e., Operation Northwoods) for a full-scale military invasion of Cuba.

    That’s why Cuba, which had never initiated any acts of aggression against the United States, wanted Soviet nuclear missiles installed in Cuba. Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro knew that there was no way that Cuba could defeat the United States in a regular, conventional war. Everyone knows that the military establishment in the United States is so large and so powerful that it can easily smash any Third World nation, including Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Venezuela.

    Castro’s strategy worked. The Soviet nuclear missiles installed in Cuba drove Kennedy to reject the Pentagon’s and CIA’s vehement exhortations to bomb and invade Cuba. The way the Pentagon and the CIA saw the situation was that Kennedy now had his justification for effecting a violent regime-change operation in Cuba. The way Kennedy saw the situation was that a violent regime-change operation through bombing and invasion could easily result in all-out nuclear war between the United States and Russia.

    It turned out that Kennedy was right. What the Pentagon and the CIA didn’t realize at the time is that Soviet commanders on the ground in Cuba had fully armed tactical nuclear weapons at their disposal and the battlefield authority to use them in the event of a U.S. bombing or invasion of the island. If Kennedy had complied with the dictates of the Pentagon and the CIA, it is a virtual certainty that the result would have been all-out nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States. To his ever-lasting credit, Kennedy struck a deal in which he vowed that the United States would cease and desist from invading Cuba in return for the Soviet Union’s withdrawal of its nuclear missiles from Cuba.

    The point is this: If the Pentagon and the CIA had not been trying to get regime-change in Cuba, Cuba would never have felt the need to get those Soviet missiles. It was the Pentagon’s and CIA’s commitment to regime change in Cuba that gave us the the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Equally important, the resolution of the crisis showed that if an independent, recalcitrant Third World regime wants to protect itself from a U.S. national-security-state regime-change operation, the best thing it can do is secure nuclear weapons. Thus, the current crisis over North Korea’s quest to get nuclear weapons to deter a U.S. regime-change operation is rooted in how Cuba deterred the U.S. national security establishment’s regime-change efforts in 1962.

    Americans would be wise to regime change operations in North Korea and Venezuela in the context of the U.S. government’s overall foreign policy of military empire and interventionism.

    Recall, first of all, that the U.S. government has a long history of interventionism in Latin America, where it has brought nothing but death, destruction, suffering, misery, and tyranny. Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, Panama, and Grenada come to mind.

    In fact, the situation in Chile that resulted in U.S. intervention was quite similar to today’s situation in Venezuela. In Chile, a socialist was democratically elected and began adopting socialist policies, which caused economic chaos and crisis. The CIA and Pentagon intentionally and secretly did everything they could to makes matters worse. U.S. officials even engaged in bribery, kidnapping, and assassination in Chile. They incited and encouraged a coup that succeeded in ousting the democratically elected socialist and replaced by a “pro-capitalist” military general, whose forces proceeded to round up, kidnap, torture, rape, or execute tens of thousands of people, including the murder of two Americans, all with the support and complicity of the Pentagon and the CIA.

    Haven’t we seen the same types of results with the U.S. regime-change operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere? Death, destruction, and chaos, not to mention a gigantic refugee crisis for Europe.

    And look at what the pro-empire, interventionist system has done to the American people. Constant, never-ending crises and chaos, with North Korea being just the latest example. Out of control federal spending and debt that are threatening the nation with financial bankruptcy and economic and monetary crises. Totalitarian-like powers being exercised by the president and his national-security establishment, including assassination, torture, and indefinite detention. Weird, bizarre random acts of violence that reflect the same lack of regard for the sanctity of human life that U.S. officials display in faraway countries.

    None of this is necessary. It’s entirely possible for Americans to live normal, healthy, free lives. All it takes is a change of direction – one away from empire and interventionism and toward a limited-government republic and non-interventionism in the affairs of other nations. That’s the way to achieve a free, prosperous, harmonious, and friendly society.

  • Tucker Carlson Asks the Question: Will the Left Refute America’s Forefathers Because They Owned Slaves?

    Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

     

    I cannot see how the left cannot call for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and others to be removed from the public square, libraries, museums, universities and our currency.

    Since the left is out to get all racists, feverishly on the lookout for nazis and alt-right retards, ripping down statues of confederates, why not go to the source of all this racism, eh? America’s forefathers.

    41 out of 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence owned slaves. Therefore, and using the same logic we’re applying to the white supremacists in the streets demanding, err, nothing, we must reject the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and America, basically.

    The country is over.

    Tucker Carlson lays it out perfectly. I’d like to hear from any left wingers who disagree with my train of thought and explain to me why we should revere Thomas Jefferson.

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    Naturally, Bill Kristol attacked Tucker for his cogent analysis. Brit Hume came to his defense.

     

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    NOTE: Earlier today, the President had it out with the media over this very topic. Here is the full showdown.

  • Paul Craig Roberts On Charlottesville: "Identity Politics Always Leads To Violence, Americans Won't Be Spared"

    Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

    Listening to NPR this morning confirmed what I already knew. Charlottesville is being turned into another nail in President Trump’s coffin.

    NPR had no interest whatsoever in reporting the actual facts about what had occurred in Charlottesville. The several “interviews” with the like-minded were orchestrated to produce the desired propaganda result: It was all Trump’s fault.

    It was Trump’s fault for many reasons.

    He had stirred up White Supremacists and Nazis by appealing during the presidential election campaign to their supremacist views with his slogan “America first.”

    Of course, what Trump means by “America first,” is precisely what the voters understood him to mean—the interest of the broad American public should come before trade deals that serve the interests of other countries and the narrow profit interests of global corporations. However, the NPR propagandists put words in Trump’s mouth and twisted the meaning of the slogan to be “White America Comes First.”

    In other words, “America first” according to NPR is code language to white supremacists to take advantage of the electoral college and elect a leader over the popular vote of the heavy population densities in the narrow geographical areas that comprise the northeast and west coasts, the centers of moral rot. Thus, Trump was the candidate of white supremacists and, thereby, illegitimate.

    NPR next conveyed the message that Trump proved he was the Nazis’ candidate when he criticized both sides for the trouble in Charlottesville. NPR used its orchestrated interviews to place all blame for violence on the group that had a permit for their rally. According to NPR, the group that had no permit and formed in order to protest the rally consisted entirely of white hats defending America from free speech from alleged Nazis and racists.

    There is no doubt that a rally of what is called the “alt-right” will pull into itself all sorts of extremists and that the cause of the rally, apparently defending a statue of Robert E. Lee from demolition or perhaps simply gaining attention for the organizers, was done harm by the young, apparently unbalanced, man who drove a car into counter-marchers, after the permitted rally had ended. The nonsensical element of this act has convinced some Americans that the entire scene was an orchestration by the deep state as a weapon against Trump and civil liberty.

    Charlottesville has many aspects that are ignored by NPR and the rest of the presstitutes.

    For example, how does the Bush/Cheney/Obama/neoconservative assertion that Americans are the “exceptional people” whose country is the “indispensable country” differ from Trump’s proclamation of “America first”? No one among the liberal/progressive/left was disturbed when Obama proclaimed to the world that Americans are the exceptional, indispensable people. Doesn’t Obama use much clearer language that puts America first? If Americans are exceptional, everyone else is unexceptional. If Americans are indispensable, everyone else is dispensable.

    What is the difference?

    One difference is that Obama was elected by the good people, the non-racist, non-misogynist, non-white-supremacist people, and Trump was elected by “the deplorables,” to use Hillary’s term. Little wonder she lost, having dismissed everyone between the two coasts as “deplorables.”

     

    But she didn’t lose, right? Putin and Trump conspired to steal the election from her. Trump is illegitimate and therefore must be driven out of office. He is doubly illegitimate because white heterosexual males elected him. This bogus charge despite the fact that Hillary got 2 million less votes from women than did Obama. Either the 2 million women didn’t vote or they voted for Trump.

     

    The other difference is that Trump’s use of “America first” refers to the loss of millions of American middle class jobs and tax base for former manufacturing cities and states, whereas the Bush/Cheney/Obama/neoconservative use of “exceptional, indispensable America” refers to Washington’s right to bomb other peoples into the stone age for not complying with Washington’s orders.

    The campaign to drive Trump out of office has been going on 24/7 since Trump confounded the pundits and won the election. For the liberal/progressive/left Trump is the enemy against whom they are conducting war, and as in war, truth is crowded out by propaganda. The liberal/progressive/left gets away with this abuse of news reporting because Trump’s intent to reduce tensions with Russia is seen as threats to the income and power of the military/security complex and the hegemonic ideology of the neoconservatives. Powerful material interests, ideology, and media together comprise a very strong force against which a mere president hasn’t a chance.

    Few Americans understand the fundamental transformation of their politics and society since the 1960s when the Civil Rights Act was stood on its head by EEOC compliance chief Alfred W. Bloomrosen. The Civil Rights Act explicitly prohibited racial and gender quotas as methods to combat “discrimination,” which was mainly a product of history rather than of the motivations of white males. But it is difficult to make history a villain, and social engineering benefits from having a villain to overcome. Thus was the foundation of Identity Politics laid.

    The initial stage of the new politics was that quotas established privilege for “preferred minorities,” and preference began prevailing over merit.

    Over the decades white males have slowly but surely experienced discrimination in university admissions, hiring, promotions, university appointments, and in their ability to exercise free speech. Remember, only a few days ago a senior male engineer at Google was fired because he expressed a truthful fact—men and women have different traits—that is unacceptable to feminists.

    Perhaps somewhere at some time a woman or a black has been fired for saying something unacceptable to a white male, but I know of no such case. Indeed, it is common parlance that white heterosexual males are racists, sexists, and homophobic. This is the accepted language of Identity Politics. Few of us are brave enough to challenge it.

    The liberal/progressive/left along with the media has abandoned the working class for Identity Politics. Identity Politics teaches that women, blacks, and homosexuals are all victims of white heterosexual males who are characterized as the victimizer class, that is, those who victimize others.  The doctrine delegitimizes white heterosexual males in the same way that Nazi doctrine delegitimizes Jews and communist doctrine delegitimizes capitalists. There is no difference.

    Initially, white males, such as the University of Virginia history professor on NPR today who obligingly demonized the white males who do not accept their second class status, survive by mouthing Identity Politics and crawling on their knees. But this is a temporary respite. For Identity Politics the only acceptable white heterosexual males are those who admit their gender and sexual preference guilt and accept their punishment for being the victimizers of women, blacks, and homosexuals.

    In 1995 in our book, The New Color Line, How Quotas and Privilege Destroy Democracy, Larry Stratton and I describe how one EEOC bureaucrat by ignoring the statutory language of the Civil Rights Act, legislation the intent of which was to enforce equality before the law, reintroduced legalized discrimination into US law, thus beginning the process of delegitimizing the white male. Today some would turn their backs on this fact, not because it is invalid but because it is politically incorrect. When our book was published 22 years ago, the major media endorsed our argument:

    “A forceful and convincing case . . . vividly dramatic.” — New York Times Book Review

     

    “There are important lessons to learn . . . not least how good intentions can go badly awry.” — The Wall Street Journal

     

    “Roberts and Stratton make a strong case that the civil rights legislation of the 1960s has been distorted beyond recognition.” — The Washington Post

    The consequence of quotas wasn’t obvious at first, and there were claims that the quotas were temporary, but today the consequence is obvious. Heterosexual white males are deplorables.

    Today on NPR one male said that the views of white males who defend both themselves and dead white males from attacks should not be allowed a voice in American politics.

    The liberal/progressive/left asserts that everyone knows that Robert E. Lee was an evil racist who fought for slavery and everyone who wants to protect his statue is obviously the same. Such people deserve no voice, no vote. They must be excluded from public discussion.

    Imagine saying this about any other group, especially women, blacks, and homosexuals. How is it possible for the liberal/progressive/left to really believe that they are oppressed by powerful white male heterosexuals when they can demonize white males at will and prevent any backtalk?

    If white males are so powerful, how can they be so easily fired by feminist thought control czars for “expressing harmful gender stereotypes.” Harmful to who? How harmful is getting fired?

    As Faith Goldy and Stefan Molyneux predict, white males have had enough of their demonization and the demonization of our country’s heros. They see the writing on the wall and are organizing to defend themselves.

    As anti-white male propaganda is apparently the only mental activity of which the liberal/progressive/left is capable, Faith Goldy and Stefan Molyneux are probably correct that America, broken into pieces by Identity Politics, is heading into civil war.

    I wonder which side will control the nukes and bio-chemical weapons.

    If the white heterosexual males lose, I wonder who will protect the white women. Are they destined for the same rape and butchery as befell German women from the Russians and Americans once the Wehrmacht surrendered?

    Of course, this is an impermissible question.

    The liberal/progressive/left are incapable of understanding that by demonizing white heterosexual males they are demonizing all whites and, thereby, themselves.

    They should go ask the liberal whites in Rhodesia how well they are faring in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe. They should ask South African whites how secure they believe themselves to be now that they have turned over power and a second black political party has risen, forcing political competition between black politicians into which black party hates whites the most.

    These also are impermissible questions.

    Identity Politics always leads to violence, and Americans will not be spared.

  • Visualizing The Diversity Of The Tech Industry

    With the recent leak of the “Google Manifesto” and the maelstrom of media backlash that followed, Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes that it seems that concerns around diversity in the technology industry have finally reached a boiling point.

    Today’s infographic from Information is Beautiful breaks down the demographics of 23 major tech companies, based on statistics from 2016. It also provides comparisons to the composition of the U.S. population in general, the top 50 U.S. companies, Congress, and Fortune 500 CEOs.

    Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

     

    WHICH COMPANIES EMPLOY THE MOST WOMEN?

    With just a focus on the major companies on this list, here is a breakdown that shows which companies employ the most women:

    The above list already illustrates why diversity is such a concern for many observers of the industry: even the companies with the most women on their rosters have proportions lower than U.S. population average of 50%.

    In contrast, here are the companies on the list that employ the fewest women, as a proportion of their workforce:

    Google, which is at the center of debate right now, did not make the list of the companies with the fewest women – but it’s not far off with a workforce comprised of 31% women.

    WHAT’S CHANGED IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?

    According to Information is Beautiful, here is what has changed in the last 12 months as of their last update (April 2017):

    • Facebook, Apple, eBay, and Microsoft all had their ratio of women increase by 1%.
    • LinkedIn had their ratio of women increase by 3%.
    • Google’s gender ratio stayed the same.
    • Microsoft increased the ratio of non-white employees by 3%, and Facebook by 2%.
    • Google, Apple, and eBay increased ratio of non-white employees by 1%.
    • LinkedIn lost 3% of its non-white employees.
    • Asian staff accounted for the majority of increases in ethnic diversity, while the ratio of Hispanic employees remained static.

    To get an even better sense of the data, we recommend visiting the interactive version of Information is Beautiful’s graphic, which shows numbers for 2014 and 2015 as well.

  • Brien Lundin: If They Don't Want You To Own It, You Probably Should

    Authored by Adam Taggart via PeakProsperity.com,

    We're living through the most extraordinary period of monetary manipulation in all of human history. It’s as widespread as it is delusional.

    One of the most perplexing mysteries to us is that right as the Federal Reserve embarked on QE3 — which was a huge, enormous, $85 billion a month experiment — commodities began a multiyear decline within two weeks of that announcement. Concurrently, the world’s central banks plunged the world into steeply negative real interest rates, a condition that has almost always resulted in booming commodity prices — but not this time. Today, the ratio between commodity prices and equities is at one of, if not the most, extreme points in history.

    To explain that gap, we talk this week with Brien Lundin, publisher of Gold Newsletter and producer of the New Orleans Investment Conference (where Chris and Adam are speaking on Oct 25-28):

    Gold Newsletter was started in 1971 by my mentor in the business, Jim Blanchard. That's the same year that the United States had closed the gold window, closed the convertibility of dollars into gold by other nations. Jim realized that now the US could print money with full abandon, it could print as much money and create as much debt as it wanted.

     

    And at that time still, and until we managed to get gold legalized in 1974, you couldn’t own gold legally, except in the form of jewelry or rare coins. It was up there with plutonium and heroin as substances you weren't allowed to own.

     

    So it should be little surprise that, today, we're seeing a synchronous rise in equity markets across the globe. It corresponds almost exactly with the unprecedented rise in debt, in liquidity, in all of these developed nations. If you look for example at the rise in the Fed's balance sheet since 2008 and the corresponding rise in the S&P 500, the correlation is 97%. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. That’s where all of this reflation, this monetary reflation went, into those markets — which is why you really need to up your allocation to the uncorrelated assets [such as the precious metals] that are at historic lows in relation to financial assets.

     

    Every time in history, before we’ve had a great upset in the financial markets, people have said: This time is different. And every time, it’s proven not to be. You have to have a correction. You have to have things return to the mean and, usually, overshoot a bit.

     

    Alan Greenspan just a couple of days ago made the point that we’re in a bond market bubble and that's what’s eventually going to burst. The risk inherent in bonds is not being priced into the markets now. When that bond bubble bursts, it’s going to take equities down with it. And there’s still tremendous liquidity out there; massive amounts of money will start suddenly looking for a safe haven.

     

    The gold market is miniscule. It’s so small relative to the funds that are in bonds, interest bearing securities, equities, that it won’t take much of an allocation at all to send gold to record levels. That’s going to happen at some point. We can get fuzzy on the actual timescale and the timing of when it’s going to happen. But the fact that it will happen is inevitable, these trends are absolutely irreversible at this point.

     

    So…What’s so special about gold? If it's what they tell us: that it’s a barbaric relic and it has no use in society, then why be so secretive about it? Why be so reluctant to have your citizens own it? That alone tells you all you really need to know.

     

    If they don’t want you to know about it, if they don’t want you to own it, you probably should.

    Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Brien Lundin (46m:01s).

  • Realtors Warn Of "Another Housing Crash" If Mortgage Tax Deductions Are Scrapped

    After failing miserably if their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, Republicans are set to shift their legislative agenda to focus on tax reform when they get back from their generous month-long August recess (taxpayers are such great employers).  Among other things, proposed changes to the personal tax code would include eliminating nearly all tax write-offs, including those for state and local taxes, and instead doubling the standard deduction.

    Of course, potentially no industry would be more impacted by such a move as the housing market which has sparked a slight panic at the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  As Reuters points out this morning, roughly 30 million taxpayers taxpayers claim mortgage interest deductions totaling some $70 billion each year which provides a huge incentive to own a home.   

    The National Association of Realtors issued an “August Recess Talking Points” circular imploring members to remind lawmakers that “Homeowners must be treated fairly in tax reform” to avoid “another housing crash.”

     

    The group cited a report it commissioned from PwC that estimated home values could quickly dive more than 10 percent if the tax plan becomes law.

     

    Currently, about 30 million taxpayers claim the mortgage interest deduction, with about $70 billion in total claims, according to Robert Dietz, an economist with the National Association of Homebuilders.

     

    Estimates suggest more than half of taxpayers would stop itemizing under the proposed plan, Dietz said, warning that this would create a large ripple effect through the economy. He said people in early years of a mortgage would suffer most, along with prospective home buyers.

    House

     

    Meanwhile, talking points distributed by NAR, intended to give realtors around the country ammunition against their elected officials while they’re ‘vacationing’ in their districts, warns that tampering with the mortgage deduction could cause “home values everywhere to plunge” resulting in many homeowners once again going “under water” on their primary asset.

    –  Proposals limiting tax incentives for homeownership would cause home values everywhere to plunge. Estimates provided by PwC show that values could fall in the short run by more than 10 percent if a Blueprint-like tax reform plan were enacted. The drop could be even larger in high-cost areas.   It may take years for home values to rebound from such a significant decrease.

     

    –  With a reduction in values of this size, homeowners with relatively small amounts of equity would again see their mortgages go under water, finding they owe more than what their home is worth. For many, this will lead to defaults, foreclosures, or short sales, creating havoc for families, neighborhoods and communities.

     

    –  The home is the most valuable asset for most owners. Millions of families have built equity for years with the hope of using it to help pay for retirement or college for children. Many of these dreams would evaporate.

    But it’s not just the housing market that would be impacted as the CEO of the American Red Cross warned that removing charitable deductions would be “devastating” for non-profit organizations that currently collect some $13 billion worth of tax-deductible donations annually.

    Charitable organizations are not arguing against increasing the standard deduction. But they are asking members of Congress to consider creating a “universal deduction,” so taxpayers taking the standard deduction can get additional credit for donations without itemizing.

     

    Taxpayers claim an estimated $13 billion each year in charitable deductions. Charities fear giving would plummet if the standard deduction were doubled without creating a universal deduction.

     

    Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, said reducing charitable deductions would be “devastating.”

    But it’s probably no ‘yuge’ deal…the U.S. housing stock is only worth about $30 trillion so we’re sure the homebuilders and lenders can absorb a small $3 trillion valuation loss, right?

  • Iran Threatens Trump With Restart Of Nuclear Program "Within Hours"

    One day after Iran announced it was preparing to send a flotilla of warships to the western Atlantic Ocean following the announcement of a massive $500 million investment in war spending, the Iranian regime is fast emerging as the latest potential geopolitical headache for the Trump administration, after it warned on Tuesday that Iran could abandon its 2015 nuclear deal signed with Obama with world powers “within hours” if the United States imposes further sanctions on Tehran, president Hassan Rouhani said in his first address to Iran’s parliament since being sworn in to a second term, and hinted that Iran could quickly boost enrichment up to levels even higher than before it signed the nuclear accord.

    “Those who try to return to the language of threats and sanctions are prisoners of their past delusions,” Rouhani said in the address. “If they want to go back to that experience, definitely in a short time — not in weeks or months, but within hours or days — we will return to our previous [nuclear] situation very much stronger.”

    He also said Iran prefered to stick with the nuclear deal, which he called “a model of victory for peace and diplomacy over war and unilateralism” but that this was not the “only option“. In response, the US warned it would continue to punish Iran’s “non-nuclear destabilising activities.”

    Rouhani’s statement comes as Obama’s sole diplomatic achievement, the Iran Nuclear deal, finds itself under mounting pressure after Tehran carried out missile tests and strikes, and Washington imposed new sanctions, with each accusing the other of violating the spirit of the agreement. Rouhani has warned that Iran was ready to walk out of the deal, which saw the lifting of most international sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme, if Washington persisted.

    As a reminder, last month Iran tested a powerful new ballistic missile that resulted in new US sanctions, and as reported last night, Iran’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to increase budget spending to $260 million for the ballistic missile programme, which is not limited by the nuclear deal. The vote also covered  a further US$260 million spending on regional operations of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ foreign wing, the Quds Force, which is leading a range of militias in Syria and Iraq.

    Rouhani warned that a reconstituted nuclear program would be “far more advanced” the NYT reports, a veiled threat that the country could start enriching uranium up to the level of 20%, a step toward building a nuclear weapon. Such enrichment activities were a major concern before 2015, when Tehran signed a landmark agreement with the United States and other world powers that lifted crippling economic sanctions in return for severe limits on Iran’s nuclear activities

    Separately, Rouhani said Trump had shown he was an unreliable partner not just for Iran but for US allies.

    Joining pretty much every other world leader in mocking the US president, Rouhani said that “in recent months, the world has witnessed that the US, in addition to its constant and repetitive breaking of its promises in the [nuclear deal], has ignored several other global agreements and shown its allies that the US is neither a good partner nor a reliable negotiating party,” he said, highlighting Trump’s decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and international trade deals.

    State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert refused to address Rouhani’s comments directly, insisted Washington was in full compliance with its side of the nuclear deal, however she did confirm the US administration was reviewing its policy towards Iran and that it believes the nuclear deal did not put an end to Tehran’s other “destabilising activities” in its region. Rouhani’s warning was also sharply criticized by Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, who said in a statement that the warning amounted to an Iranian attempt at blackmail.

    “Iran cannot be allowed to use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage,” Ms. Haley said in the statement, titled “Ambassador Haley on Iran’s Threats to Quit the JCPOA.”

     

    The new United States sanctions on Iran, she said, were not a violation of the nuclear deal but part of an effort to “hold Iran responsible for its missile launches, support for terrorism, disregard for human rights, and violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

    Which begs the questions: what’s the point of the deal, how much longer will it remain in place, and what happens to the price of oil if and when some 2-3 million barrels per day of Iranian oil exports are again taken out of the global market, crippling Iran’s economy.

    Of course, Iran is aware what the devastating consequences of such an escalation – the bottom line is tens of billions in lost oil revenue – could do to its economy, which is why some analysts cited by The National, cautioned that Rouhani’s remarks on the nuclear deal do not indicate that Iran is close to, or even considering, pulling out of the deal. It is much more likely a tactical move to protect the moderate president’s political flank on the right from the IRGC and other hardliners who oppose the cultural and economic opening that the deal is intended to facilitate, but which could weaken their grip on society and on the economy.

    “I clearly do not think it is alarming,” said Marc Martinez, Iran analyst at the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi. “It is a political speech for a domestic audience and a display of unity” as Washington steps up pressure. 

     

    “Rouhani’s remarks are a classic act of political bravado, but the president’s intentions [and] Iran’s intentions are quite evident when we consider that Javad Zarif was reappointed minister of foreign affairs,” Mr Martinez said. “Iran is highly benefiting from the JCPOA, and it makes the calculus that the international community will not support Trump’s adventurism.”

    Which is spot on, and yet one can’t help but think that Iran is, perhaps worried about Trump’s unpredictable decision-making nature, hedging its bets. It would expain why on Monday night Rouhani spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, vowing to build on their joint military efforts across the region.

    Tehran welcomes the active presence of Russia’s investors… in major infrastructure projects including in the fields of industry and energy,” his office said as Putin, no longer busy manipulating several tens of millions of middle class Americans to vote against Hillary Clinton, smiled in the background.

    It’s not just the Kremlin that Tehran is building up close ties: the European Union, which initially supported global sanctions against Iran under President Barack Obama, has started to invest heavily in the country since the nuclear deal was signed, and it is not likely to support new penalties. China has also been a partner to the Iranians for many years.

  • Pat Buchanan Asks "If We Erase Our History, Who Are We?"

    Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

    When the Dodge Charger of 20-year-old Nazi sympathizer James Alex Fields Jr., plunged into that crowd of protesters Saturday, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, Fields put Charlottesville on the map of modernity alongside Ferguson.

    Before Fields ran down the protesters, and then backed up, running down more, what was happening seemed but a bloody brawl between extremists on both sides of the issue of whether Robert E. Lee’s statue should be removed from Emancipation Park, formerly Lee Park.

    With Heyer’s death, the brawl was elevated to a moral issue. And President Donald Trump’s initial failure to denounce the neo-Nazi and Klan presence was declared a moral failure.

    How did we get here, and where are we going?

    In June of 2015, 21-year-old Dylann Roof gunned down nine Christians at an evening Bible study in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. A review of Roof’s selfies and website showed him posing with the Confederate battle flag.

    Gov. Nikki Haley, five years in office, instantly pivoted and called for removal of the battle flag from the Confederate war memorial on the State House grounds, as a “deeply offensive symbol of a brutally offensive past.”

    This ignited a national clamor to purge all statues that lionize Confederate soldiers and statesmen.

    In Maryland, demands have come for removing statues and busts of Chief Justice Roger Taney, the author of the Dred Scott decision. Statues of Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson, President Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee have been pulled down in New Orleans.

    After Charlottesville, pressure is building for removal of the statues of Lee, Jackson, Davis and Gen. “Jeb” Stuart from historic Monument Avenue in Richmond, capital of the Confederacy.

    Many Southern towns, including Alexandria, Virginia, have statues of Confederate soldiers looking to the South. Shall we pull them all down? And once all the Southern Civil War monuments are gone, should we go after the statues of the slave owners whom we Americans have heroized?

    Gen. George Washington and his subordinate, “Light Horse Harry” Lee, father of Robert E. Lee, were slave owners, as was Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and Andrew Jackson. Five of our first seven presidents owned slaves, as did James K. Polk, who invaded and annexed the northern half of Mexico, including California.

    Jefferson, with his exploitation of Sally Hemings and neglect of their children, presents a particular problem. While he wrote in the Declaration of Independence of his belief that “all men are created equal,” his life and his depiction of Indians in that document belie this.

    And Jefferson is both on the face of Mount Rushmore and has a memorial in the U.S. capital.

    Another term applied to the “Unite the Right” gathering in Charlottesville is that they are “white supremacists,” a mortal sin to modernity. But here we encounter an even greater problem.

    Looking back over the history of a Western Civilization, which we call great, were not the explorers who came out of Spain, Portugal, France, Holland and England all white supremacists?

    They conquered in the name of the mother countries all the lands they discovered, imposed their rule upon the indigenous peoples, and vanquished and eradicated the native-born who stood in their way.

    Who, during the centuries-long discovery and conquest of the New World, really believed that the lives of the indigenous peoples were of equal worth with those of the colonizers?

    They believed European Man had the right to rule the world.

    Beginning in the 16th century, Western imperialists ruled much of what was called the civilized world. Was not the British Empire, one of the great civilizing forces in human history, a manifestation of British racial superiority?

    And if being a segregationist disqualifies one from being venerated in our brave new world, what do we do with Woodrow Wilson, who thought “Birth of a Nation” a splendid film and who re-segregated the U.S. government?

    In 1955, Prime Minister Churchill, imperialist to the core, urged his Cabinet to consider the slogan, “Keep England White.”

    Nor is a belief in the superiority of one’s race, religion, tribe and culture unique to the West. What is unique, what is an experiment without precedent, is what we are about today.

    We have condemned and renounced the scarlet sins of the men who made America and embraced diversity, inclusivity and equality.

    Our new America is to be a land where all races, tribes, creeds and cultures congregate, all are treated equally, and all move ever closer to an equality of results through the regular redistribution of opportunity, wealth and power.

    We are going to become “the first universal nation.”

    “All men are created equal” is an ideological statement. Where is the scientific or historic proof for it? Are we building our utopia on a sandpile of ideology and hope?

    Nevertheless, on to Richmond!

  • Dick's CEO: "The Retail Industry Is In Panic Mode"

    With Dick’s stock crashing after reporting dreadful results this morning, in which both comp sales and EPS missed as the company slashed its full year guidance below even the lowest sellside forecast (it now sees full year EPS of $2.80 to $3.00, below the previous guidance of $3.65 to $3.75 and the Wall Street estimate of $3.62 ), the management team had no reason to hold back on today’s earnings call, and luckily – unlike many other retailers who still hold out hope that the worst is behind them – it did not, for an unvarnished look into the retail space.

    Confirming just how little pricing power retailers have, CEO Ed Stack said “we have conducted extensive consumer research, and the customers have told us they feel our prices are not competitive in today’s environment” in which everyone is slashing price to capture market share, and as a result the company is “intentionally joining this battle, and we will aggressively be promoting our business to drive market share to our stores and online.”

    Stack said he observed heavier promotions and price cuts particularly on athletic apparel, electronics, and hunting, fishing and camping gear which started as early as Father’s Day. “We started to see this happening a little bit before Father’s Day, and it continued to be very promotional, not only from retailers but also from some of the brands on a direct-to-consumer basis.”

    Having no other choice, Dicks has joined the battle of the “deep discounters”, and has also launched a “best price guarantee” in which it promises customers that if they find a lower price on a product, Dick’s will match it. Of course, by doing so, the retailer assures that both Dick’s and its peers margins and net income shrink even more in the coming quarters.

    Another major concern on the call – and to management – was the recent partnership between Amazon and Nike. Asked “how can you ensure that your positioning is still differentiated from that of the Amazon offering” the CEO responded: “We’ll see how this goes. They’ve been transparent talking to us about this test, and I suspect it will probably go well, and then Nike will decide what they want to do about it and how they want to handle the balance of the market. Our relationship with Nike has been – has always been very good. It continues to be very good. We continue to work with them on shops, on our footwear decks and exclusive products. They are a strategic vendor of ours and we’ve got great relationship and what we’re going to test and what they’ll do ultimately we’ll deal with that when it happens.”

    Speaking to CNBC, SW Retail Advisors’ Stacey Widlitz said that “Dick’s is another example of Amazon becoming the new middleman… Here we go down the gross margin rabbit hole just in time for the holidays.”

    Of course, if Nike ultimately decides to go exclusively with Amazon at least Dick’s terminal suffering will be greatly shortened. Meanwhile, as the call went on, there was the following striking admission by the CEO:

    There’s a lot of people right now, I think, in retail and in this industry in panic mode. There’s been a difficult environment. I think people, I’m not going to speculate what they’re thinking, but they seem to be in panic mode with how they’re pricing product, and we think it’s going to continue to be promotional and at times, irrational going forward.

    * * *

    Just in case the message was not clear the first time, there was more panic: “People need to get rid of the inventory, and then some people are panicked as to what’s going to happen with their business from a growth standpoint.

    * * *

    And then, to top it off,  just a little more: “What’s going on in the marketplace right now is that it’s just very promotional, almost panicked in some cases, I think, especially in the hunt, fish categories. There’s a lot of inventory in the pipeline, and people need to move it out, and it’s going to continue to be promotional until this inventory gets moved out of the pipeline”

    * * *

    Finally, one can’t possibly use the word “panic” 4 times in a conference call without also adding the occasional “perfect storm”, and sure enough:

    “So I think it’s just a perfect storm right now in retail, and I think sporting goods is in the center of it right now. There’ll be further consolidation. We’re seeing Gander Mountain closing right now. We’ll see what happens with some other retailers, but it’s a perfect storm right now. We’re not particularly happy that we’re in it.”

    Meanwhile, as the legacy retail sector implodes and as US households drown under a record amount of debt (the two may be connected), the Fed is confused why credit card defaults as mysteriously surging at a time when the US economy is supposed to be recovering

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