Sep 16

Today’s News 16th September 2017

  • A Glimmer Of Hope? Russia, US Officials Revive Dialogue On Arms Control

    Authored by Andrei Akulov via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

    The New Start Treaty was in focus of the talks held in Helsinki between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon on September 11-12. The parties agreed that the treaty should be implemented without exception. It was revealed that expert consultations on the future of the agreement had begun. A meeting of the US-Russian bilateral commission on implementing the New START would take place in the near future so that the two sides could continue their discussion of the technical aspects of implementation.

    In force since 2011, New START foresees the reduction of both countries' nuclear arsenals to 1,550 warheads and 700 operationally deployed launch systems by 2018. The treaty also obliges Moscow and Washington to exchange information about their nuclear weapon stockpiles. It is one of the few nuclear agreements still being honored amid the current strained relations between Washington and Moscow. The treaty is set to expire in 2021 and stipulates that the parties may agree to extend it for a period of no more than five years.

    With no negotiations in sight on a new strategic arms reduction agreement, it would be prudent to extend the treaty till 2026. True, it would be even more beneficial to have a new treaty, if possible, but there are obstacles on the way. At this level of reductions, other nuclear powers should join. This prospect is hardly feasible at present, and yet step-by-step progress toward constructive consultations on nuclear arms reductions and transparency measures is possible. The US program of creating a global missile defense is also a hindrance. There is also a problem of mistrust against the background of the relationship at its lowest ebb.

    An agreement to extend the landmark treaty is the way to stabilize the ties and prevent a competition. It would revive the hopes for saving the arms control regime, which is being eroded, to put the world back to the brink of nuclear war where it had been before the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1963. The mutual limits and the robust verification and compliance regime, including satellites, on-site inspections, required notifications, and data exchanges enhance stability and reduce incentives for engaging in an arms race. With no verification procedures in place, the leaderships of both countries would lose a critical source of intelligence, hampering policymakers’ ability to make informed decisions. By extending New START, the parties could add stability at the time of increasing tensions.

    In February, President Trump decried the New START Treaty. He said it was one-sided and «Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it's START, whether it's the Iran deal … We're going to start making good deals», he said in an interview with Reuters. He also responded negatively to Russian President Putin’s suggestion to extend that treaty in a January phone call.

    The military leaders appear to have a different view. Gen. John Hyten, the head of US Strategic Command, told Congress in March that he is a “big supporter” of the treaty. According to him, “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.” Secretaries of Defense and State, support New START. The Federation of American Scientists supports the treaty. European allies also back the idea of keeping New START in force. According to Federica Mogherini, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, “The right path is the one marked by the New START Treaty and its implementation. This is the kind of cooperation between Russia and the United States that we Europeans like to see.”

    The United States is currently pursuing a near-complete overhaul of all elements of its strategic nuclear potential. Over the next 30 years, it plans to have a new ICBM, a new strategic submarine, a new bomber, and a new nuclear cruise missile. However, none of the plans are inhibited by New START. Russia is going through modernization of its nuclear triad. It’s absolutely important to keep the limitations and verification procedures in place to ensure adequate planning.

    Extending New START could help create a positive atmosphere for improving the US-Russia relationship.

    It would help head off unconstrained nuclear arms race and global security. Failing to pursue an extension would be a major missed opportunity.

    Nobody expects spectacular breakthroughs, but it’s good news the issue of strategic stability was at last addressed during a high level Russia-US meeting. It was abnormal that the nuclear arms reductions were not part of the bilateral agenda for such a long period of time. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the fact that the dialogue is revived at the time when the entire arms control and non-proliferation regime is unraveling. Looks like at last a glimmer of light appeared at the end of the tunnel.

  • Fearful Californians Prepare For A Nuclear Attack: "A Lot Of People Will Be Killed"

    With each passing day and each new ICBM launch from a seemingly unhinged North Korean dictator, the fears of an attack on the U.S. mainland, though faint, increasingly weigh on the hearts and minds of Americans, particularly those in California.  As The Guardian points out today, those fears have even prompted a group of California public health officials and emergency responders to gather for a strategy session with Hal Kempfer, a retired marine lieutenant colonel, to discuss which areas are the most likely targets and how citizens should respond to an attack.

    Hal Kempfer, a noted international security expert, is getting a roomful of California public health officials and emergency responders to think about the unthinkable – a nuclear bomb exploding at the port of Long Beach, about four miles away.

     

    “A lot of people will be killed,” he said, “but a large percentage of the population will survive. They will be at risk and they will need help.”

     

    “If you want to mess up southern California, if you want to mess up the west coast, if you want to mess up our country – where do you attack?” Kempfer asks. “If I’m sitting in North Korea and looking at possible targets, I’m going to be looking at Long Beach very closely.”

     

    He talks about the port and downtown Long Beach being “toast” – no exaggeration, since the blast wave is likely to vaporize everything in its immediate path. But the city health department, the Long Beach airport and fire department might not be; they are all somewhat protected by a hilly area that is likely to halt the initial blast wave. And so the city can, tentatively, think about setting up a center of emergency operations.

     

    Of course, the radioactive fallout created as the explosion gathers up tremendous quantities of dust and ocean water and spits them into the atmosphere would represent a secondary grave risk, especially in the first hours after an attack.

     

    Not to mention the electromagnetic pulse that is likely to knock out electronic systems including phones and computers, the pile-ups expected on the freeways as drivers are blinded by the flash of the explosion, the rush for food, water and gasoline as millions of Angelenos attempt to drive out of the region, and the terror triggered by even the idea of a second, follow-up attack.

    Meanwhile, lest you think this was all just a creative way for some public employees to skip work for a day, Ventura County, located just northwest of Los Angeles, has even taken the unusual step of prepping a 250-page plan on how to respond to the humanitarian crisis that would result from a nuclear attack in Los Angeles. 

    In fact, their efforts even include this truly bizarre public service announcement that instructs folks to shelter in place and cover windows with plastic.

    Of course, as we pointed out back in August, while a global nuclear confrontation is generally viewed as a bad thing, for Ron Hubbard, President of Atlas Survival Shelters in Los Angeles, it has resulted in an economic windfall as a staggering number of Californians have suddenly turned into doomsday preppers.

    “It’s crazy, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Ron Hubbard, president of Atlas Survival Shelters, told Fox11. “It’s all over the country. I sold shelters today in North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, California.”

     

    The company, based in Montebello in eastern Los Angeles, sells shelters priced from $10,000 to $100,000. Hubbard told the station that the shelters are designed to be buried 20 feet below ground and can sustain survivors for up to one year, depending on the size and model.

     

    He told the station he had sold more than 30 units in recent days, including to customers in Japan.

     

    All that said, Kempfer points out that there is a silver lining here because any attack from North Korea likely wouldn’t result in “your traditional nuclear apocalypse scenario” because Kim Jong-Un probably only has weapons capable of destroying about 1 square mile at a time.

    Rather, it’s likely to be a Hiroshima-sized bomb – large enough to obliterate everything within a square-mile radius and kill tens of thousands of people, either immediately or through the lingering effects of radiation. But still leaving millions of survivors across the region who would need help.

     

    “We’re talking about smaller North Korean things,” Kempfer emphasized, though the word “smaller” sounds very far from reassuring. “This is not your traditional nuclear apocalypse scenario.”

    So, Californians at least have that going for them, which is nice.

  • Jim Rickards' "Golden Solution" To America's Debt Crisis

    Authored by Jim Rickards via DailyReckoning.com,

    Right now, the United States is officially $20 trillion in debt. Over half of that $20 trillion was added over the past decade.

    And it looks like annual deficits will be at the trillion dollar level sooner than later when projected spending is factored in.

    Basically, the United States is going broke.

    I don’t say that to be hyperbolic. I’m not looking to scare people or attract attention to myself. It’s just an honest assessment, based on the numbers.

    Now, a $20 trillion debt would be fine if we had a $50 trillion economy.

    The debt-to-GDP ratio in that example would be 40%. But we don’t have a $50 trillion economy. We have about a $19 trillion economy, which means our debt is bigger than our economy.

    When is the debt-to-GDP ratio too high? When does a country reach the point that it either turns things around or ends up like Greece?

    Economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart carried out a long historical survey going back 800 years, looking at individual countries, or empires in some cases, that have gone broke or defaulted on their debt.

    They put the danger zone at a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90%. Once it reaches 90%, they found, a turning point arrives…

    At that point, a dollar of debt yields less than a dollar of output. Debt becomes an actual drag on growth.

    What is the current U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio?

    105%.

    We are deep into the red zone, that is. And we’re only going deeper.

    The U.S. has a 105% debt to GDP ratio, trillion dollar deficits on the way, more spending on the way.

    We’re getting more and more like Greece. We’re heading for a sovereign debt crisis. That’s not an opinion; it’s based on the numbers.

    How do we get out of it?

    For elites, there is really only one way out at this point is, and that’s inflation.

    And they’re right on one point. Tax cuts won’t do it, structural changes to the economy wouldn’t do it. Both would help if done properly, but the problem is simply far too large.

    There’s only one solution left, inflation.

    Now, the Fed printed about $4 trillion over the past several years and we barely have had any inflation at all.

    But most of the new money was given by the Fed to the banks, who turned around and parked it on deposit at the Fed to gain interest. The money never made it out into the economy, where it would produce inflation.

    The bottom line is that not even money printing has worked to get inflation moving.

    Is there anything left in the bag of tricks?

    There is actually. The Fed could actually cause inflation in about 15 minutes if it used it.

    How?

    The Fed can call a board meeting, vote on a new policy, walk outside and announce to the world that effective immediately, the price of gold is $5,000 per ounce.

    They could make that new price stick by using the Treasury’s gold in Fort Knox and the major U.S. bank gold dealers to conduct “open market operations” in gold.

    They will be a buyer if the price hits $4,950 per ounce or less and a seller if the price hits $5,050 per ounce or higher. They will print money when they buy and reduce the money supply when they sell via the banks.

    The Fed would target the gold price rather than interest rates.

    The point is to cause a generalized increase in the price level. A rise in the price of gold from $1,350 per ounce to $5,000 per ounce is a massive devaluation of the dollar when measured in the quantity of gold that one dollar can buy.

    There it is — massive inflation in 15 minutes: the time it takes to vote on the new policy.

    Don’t think this is possible? It’s happened in the U.S. twice in the past 80 years.

    The first time was in 1933 when President Franklin Roosevelt ordered an increase in the gold price from $20.67 per ounce to $35.00 per ounce, nearly a 75% rise in the dollar price of gold.

    He did this to break the deflation of the Great Depression, and it worked. The economy grew strongly from 1934-36.

    The second time was in the 1970s when Nixon ended the conversion of dollars into gold by U.S. trading partners. Nixon did not want inflation, but he got it.

    Gold went from $35 per ounce to $800 per ounce in less than nine years, a 2,200% increase. U.S. dollar inflation was over 50% from 1977-1981. The value of the dollar was cut in half in those five years.

    History shows that raising the dollar price of gold is the quickest way to cause general inflation. If the markets don’t do it, the government can. It works every time.

    But what people don’t realize is that there’s a way gold can be used to work around a debt ceiling crisis if an agreement isn’t reached in the months ahead.

    I call it the weird gold trick, and it’s never seen discussed anywhere outside of some very technical academic circles.

    It may sound weird, but it actually works. Here’s how…

    When the Treasury took control of all the nation’s gold during the Depression under the Gold Reserve Act of 1934, it also took control of the Federal Reserve’s gold.

    But we have a Fifth Amendment in this country which says the government can’t seize private property without just compensation. And despite its name, the Federal Reserve is not technically a government institution.

    So the Treasury gave the Federal Reserve a gold certificate as compensation under the Fifth Amendment (to this day, that gold certificate is still on the Fed’s balance sheet).

    Now come forward to 1953.

    The Eisenhower administration actually had the same debt ceiling problem we have today. And Congress didn’t raise the debt ceiling in time. Eisenhower and his Treasury secretary realized they couldn’t pay the bills.

    What happened?

    They turned to the weird gold trick to get the money. It turned out that the gold certificate the Treasury gave the Fed in 1934 did not account for all the gold the Treasury had. It did not account for all the gold in the Treasury’s possession.

    The Treasury calculated the difference, sent the Fed a new certificate for the difference and said, “Fed, give me the money.” It did. So the government got the money it needed from the Treasury gold until Congress increased the debt ceiling.

    That ability exists today. In fact, it is exists in much a much larger form, and here’s why…

    Right now, the Fed’s gold certificate values gold at $42.22 an ounce. That’s not anywhere near the market price of gold, which is about $1,330 an ounce.

    Now, the Treasury could issue the Fed a new gold certificate valuing the 8,000 tons of Treasury gold at $1,330 an ounce. They could take today’s market price of $1,330, subtract the official $42.22 price, and multiply the difference by 8,000 tons.

    I’ve done the math, and that number comes fairly close to $400 billion.

    In other words, tomorrow morning the Treasury could issue the Fed a gold certificate for the 8,000 tons in Fort Knox at $1,330 an ounce and tell the Fed, “Give us the difference over $42 an ounce.”

    The Treasury would have close to $400 billion out of thin air with no debt. It would not add to the debt because the Treasury already has the gold. It’s just taking an asset and marking it to market.

    If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, this gold certificate trick could finance the government for almost an entire year, because we have about a $400 billion deficit.

    It’s not a fantasy. It was done twice. It was done in 1934 and it was done again in 1953 by the Eisenhower administration. It could be done again. It doesn’t require legislation.

    Is the government working on this gold trick I just described? I don’t know.

    But it’s suspicious that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin recently went to inspect the Fort Knox gold. He was only the third Treasury secretary in history to visit Fort Knox, and the first since 1948. The visit was highly, highly unusual.

    I’ll be keeping an eye on this space, but the real message is that the solutions to current debt levels are inflationary.

    They involve a dollar reset, or a dollar reboot. That means revaluing the dollar either through a higher gold price or marking the gold to market and giving the government money.

    There’s a lot of moving parts here, but they all point in one direction, which is higher inflation. It’s the only way to keep America from going broke. Unfortunately, it will also make your money worth less.

  • Apple's New "FaceID" Could Be A Powerful Mass Spying Tool

    Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

    On Tuesday, Apple revealed their newest phone. The new line was anticipated by Apple users and is another cult favorite.  But many are rightly skeptical of the “FaceID” feature.

    FaceID, is a tool that would use facial recognition to identify individuals and unlock their phones for use. Unsurprisingly, this has generated some major anxiety about mass spying and privacy concerns. Retailers already have a desire for facial recognition technology. They want to monitor consumers, and without legally binding terms and Apple could use FaceID to track consumer patterns at its stores or develop and sell data to others.

    That seems minor on the surface, but the ramifications could be enormous. 

    It’s also highly possible that police would be able to more easily unlock phones without consent by simply holding an individual’s phone up to his or her face, violating the rights of the person to privacy.

    But FaceID should create fear about another form of government surveillance too. And this one is a rights violation of every person on earth: mass scans to identify individuals based on face profiles. Law enforcement is rapidly increasing their use of facial recognition; one in two American adults are already enrolled in a law enforcement facial recognition network, and at least one in four police departments has the capability to run face recognition searches. This could make Apple the target for a new mass surveillance order.

    While Facebook has a powerful facial recognition system, it doesn’t maintain the operating systems that control the cameras on phones, tablets, and laptops that stare at us every day.

    Apple’s new system completely changes that. For the first time, a company will have a facial recognition system with millions of profiles, and the hardware to scan and identify faces throughout the world.

    According to Wired, this is a system already ripe for government abuse. The government could issue an order to Apple with a set of targets and instructions to scan iPhones, iPads, and Macs to search for specific targets based on FaceID, and then Apple would provide the government with those targets’ location based on the GPS data of devices’ that receive a match. Apple has a good record of fighting for user privacy, but there’s only so much the company could do if its objections to an order are turned down by the courts. And the government is already looking into how this could benefit them, but are hiding behind the guise of “privacy.” On Wednesday Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) released a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, asking how the company will handle the technology’s security and privacy implications.

    But this type of sleazy “Big Brother” activity by the government is not new.

    Over the last decade the government has increasingly embraced this type of mass scan method. Edward Snowden’s disclosures revealed the existence of Upstream, a program under FISA Section 702 (set to expire in just a few months). With Upstream, the NSA scans all internet communications going into and out of the United States for surveillance targets’ emails, as well as IP addresses and what the agency has called cybersignatures. And last year Reuters revealed that Yahoo, in compliance with a government order, built custom software to scan hundreds of millions of email accounts for content that contained a digital signature used by surveillance targets. –Wired

    Mass facial recognition scans are unconstitutional and a gross violation of human privacy rights. But that has yet to stop the overreaching government from its pursuit of an even more effective method of their goal of dystopian mass surveillance.

  • Syria's President Exposed A Flaw In US Foreign Policy That No One Wants To Talk About

    Authored by Darius Shahtahmasebi via TheAntiMedia.org,

    In an interview with RT in 2015, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uttered perhaps one of his most intriguing statements since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011. Assad stated:

    “Western propaganda has, from the very beginning, been about the cause of the problem being the president. Why? Because they want to portray the whole problem in Syria lies in one individual; and consequently the natural reaction for many people is that, if the problem lies in one individual, that individual should not be more important than the entire homeland. So let that individual go and things will be alright. That’s how they oversimplify things in the West.”  [emphasis added]

    He continued:

    Notice what happened in the Western media since the coup in Ukraine. What happened? President Putin was transformed from a friend of the West to a foe and, yet again, he was characterized as a tsar…This is Western propaganda. They say that if the president went things will get better. [emphasis added]

    Putting aside Assad’s vast and extensive list of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Assad highlighted one of the major flaws in Western thinking regarding America’s hostile policies toward a number of independent states.

    Just look at the current to-and-fro-ing between North Korea and the United States to gather an accurate picture of what is being referred to here. The problem of North Korea is consistently portrayed in the media as caused by one person (current leader Kim Jong-un), a narrative that ultimately ignores the role America and its allies have played in this current crisis. As Anti-Media previously highlighted:

    “…the problem [North Korean crisis] is constantly framed as one caused by North Korea alone, not the United States. ‘How to Deal With North Korea,’ the Atlantic explains. ‘What Can Trump Do About North Korea?’ the New York Times asks. ‘What Can Possibly Be Done About North Korea,’ the Huffington Post queries. Time provides 6 experts discussing ‘How We Can Solve the Problem’ (of North Korea). ‘North Korea – what can the outside world do?’ asks the BBC.”

    What the media is really advancing here – particularly when one talks about a military option as a response to dealing with North Korea’s rogue actions – is the notion that if the U.S. could only take out Kim Jong-un, the problem of North Korea would disappear.

    Would the death of one man rid every single North Korean of the hostility and hatred they harbor toward the United States when many know full well that in the early 1950s the U.S. bombed North Korea so relentlessly they eventually ran out of targets to hit — that the U.S. military killed off at least 20 percent of the civilian population?

    If Kim Jong-un is removed, will North Koreans suddenly forget that nearly every North Korean alive today has a family relative that was killed by the United States in the 1950s?

    In the simple corporate media narrative, yes they will. Killing that one person and removing them from office will not only save the country they brutalize but will also provide security and stability for the rest of the world.

    Never mind that prior to the U.S.-NATO onslaught of Libya in 2011, Libya had the highest standard of living in the African continent. The Times once admitted that its healthcare system was the “envy of the region.” Now, the country has completely collapsed, with well over two million children out of school, countless migrants drowning in its waters, extremism running unchecked and unchallenged, and traders openly selling slaves like a commodity.

    Let’s suppose every single accusation against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was true (they weren’t); how can it be said that destroying a country’s infrastructure and assassinating its leader in flagrant disregard of international law is a realistic solution to any problem? If you oppose Donald Trump, would a Russian-led military intervention solve your problems with the country he rules over?

    Forget what you think you know about Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Kim Jong-un, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro – the narrative Western governments and their media mouthpieces have promulgated for the last few decades remains completely nonsensical. You can’t solve Syria’s or Venezuela’s problems by removing their current leaders, especially if you attempt to do it by force. Anyone who claims this is possible is lying to you and is also too naïve and indolent to bother researching the current situations in Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Iraq – to name a few.

    The fact that the U.S. evidently doesn’t want to solve any problems at all – that it merely seeks to overthrow leaders that don’t succumb to its wishes – is a topic for a separate article but is certainly worth mentioning here as well.

    The same can ultimately be said of Donald Trump. Since his election victory, many celebrities, media pundits, and members of the intelligence community have sought to unseat and discredit him. Yet Donald Trump is merely a horrifying symptom of America’s problems; to think he alone caused them and that by removing him from office the U.S. would suddenly become a safe-haven of freedom and liberty is nothing short of idiotic.

    If you agree with the latter sentiment, you must also concede that the problems facing North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and elsewhere could never be solved by the U.S. forcibly removing their leaders.

    If Assad was removed from Syria, would extremism disappear or would it thrive in the political vacuum as it did in Iraq? Could Syria’s internal issues — which are much more extensive than the corporate media would have us believe — be solved by something as simple as removing its current leader? Can anyone name a country where this has been tried and tested as a true model for solving a sovereign nation’s internal crises? Anyone who truly believes a country’s problems can be solved in this facile way needs to do a bit more reading.

    If you can recognize this dilemma, you can agree that it’s time for the media to completely undo the simplicity in its coverage of these issues and start reporting on the genuine diplomatic options that could be pursued, instead.

  • Irma's Aftermath: "For The First Time In 300 Years, There's Not A Single Living Person On Barbuda"

    Exactly one week ago, Prime Minister Gaston Browne surveyed the damage on his tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda and declared that Hurricane Irma had completely devastated the island and left 90% of all dwellings leveled.  Browne went on to say that Irma’s “absolute devastation” meant that Barbuda was “basically uninhabitable” for the 1,800 people who called it home.

    Now, according Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Ronald Sanders, the entire island has been evacuated for the first time in 300 years leaving “not a single living person on the island of Barbuda.”  Per the USA Today:

    “The damage is complete,” says Ambassador Ronald Sanders, who has served as Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the U.S. since 2015. “For the first time in 300 years, there’s not a single living person on the island of Barbuda — a civilization that has existed on that island for over 300 years has now been extinguished.”

     

    “This was a huge monster,” he says. “The island and the people on the island had absolutely no chance.”

     

    “We’ve had most of the people we’ve brought over to Antigua in shelters,” says Sanders. “We’ve tried to make living accommodations as good as humanly possible in these circumstances. Fortunately, we had planned ahead for this hurricane, and we had ordered supplies in from Miami and the United States before the hurricane hit.”

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    As the following aerial footage from the BBC shows, not a single structure was left untouched by Irma’s 185 mph winds.

     

    Meanwhile, even though Barbuda residents have been evacuated to safety on Antigua, Sanders says the mass evacuation has resulted in an unsustainable situation with massively overcrowded schools and unsanitary living quarters in government facilities.

    Though Barbudan evacuees are safe, Sanders says the situation is not ideal — people are living in cramped quarters in government facilities and nursing homes, including some 500 school-aged children. Now that school is back in session, Antigua must find room for these students.

     

    “The situation is unacceptable, and it’s costly,” he says. “We’re going to have to keep this going for sometime because Barbuda’s not going to be rebuilt in a hurry, and when we do rebuild it, we’re going to have to rebuild to massive hurricane standards. This is going to take a while. There is no electricity there, there is no potable water anymore, there is no structure in which people can survive. We have a mammoth task on our hands.”

     

    Sanders says the world must step up and help Barbuda.

     

    “We are a small island community — the gross domestic product of Antigua is $1 billion a year,” he says. “We cannot afford to take on this responsibility by ourselves. Barbuda is not just a disaster, it’s a humanitarian crisis. We are hopeful that the international community will come to our aid, not because we’re begging for something we want, but because we’re begging for something that is needed.”

    Finally, Sanders took the opportunity to remind us all that, in his scientific opinion as an Ambassador, Hurricane Irma was the direct result of all of our contributions to global warming….

    “We believe climate change is here to stay — it’s a reality, despite all of the naysayers,” he says. “We know that these things have occurred as a result of the profligacy of the countries that are rich, and have abused the system. We, unfortunately, who contribute less than naught point naught percent of pollution of the world’s atmosphere, are the world’s greatest victims.”

    …except this…

    Hurricanes

    …and this…

    Globa;

    Oh well, we probably just don’t understand the math…

  • Germany Launches Probe After Pentagon's Syrian Arms Smuggling Story Goes Viral

    The German government has opened an probe into an illegal Pentagon arms trafficking operation after a bombshell investigative report on the secret program went viral this week.

    On Wednesday we reported on the continuing Pentagon arms pipeline to Syria which runs through Europe, the Balkans, and Caucuses, and which is based on a shady network of private contractors and altered US government paperwork. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) produced conclusive evidence and internal memos proving that not only is the Pentagon currently involved in shipping up to $2.2 billion worth of (mostly old Soviet) weapons from private dealers to US-backed Syrian militants, but is actually manipulating paperwork such as end-user certificates in order to conceal the ultimate destinations of the weaponry (in this case Syria).

    The new investigation also confirms Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva's prior findings, which exposed the role of Azerbaijan-operated Silk Way Airlines in the weapons airlifts. Though independent journalists and regional monitoring groups have been digging into the Pentagon arms shipments throughout the summer, mainstream European and American press were reluctant to cover the story, even as a steady flow of incontrovertible proof emerged online in the form of documents, photos, and videos of mysterious cargo planes being loaded with weapons. Over the past two weeks WikiLeaks has also highlighted the emerging details of a developing story which saw at least one journalist come under scrutiny by European security officials.

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    After a week of the story picking up momentum, it appears we may finally be seeing the beginnings of public and governmental investigations forming as European governments perhaps reluctantly take stock of Pentagon arms pipelines in their territories now coming under public attention and outrage. As Stripes reports, Germany announced a new legal inquiry early Friday:

    The German prosecutor’s office in Kaiserslautern said Friday it is looking into a report that the Pentagon used Ramstein Air Base to transport weapons covertly to rebel fighters in Syria — an allegation, that if true, might have broken German law.

     

    …The weapons transfer through Ramstein would have required permission from the German government, the report stated.

     

    Officials with Germany’s Economic Affairs Ministry told Stars and Stripes that the ministry did not give the U.S. military permission to transport weapons to Syria through the country. They denied having any knowledge of such activities.

    Part of the OCCRP and BIRN investigation spotlighted Ramstein as one of the many key transport hubs used in the Syria weapons trafficking program. The arms monitoring groups jointly published a side report on the Pentagon's questionable activities at the German US installation as part of its broader findings on Tuesday.

    That report included a newly unearthed internal email authored by the Pentagon’s US Special Operations Command Mission (SOCOM) instructing its partnering contractors to, as BIRN summarizes, "stop trucking Soviet-style weapons from the Balkans through Germany" because "officials in Berlin became concerned about the deliveries."

    The closing line of the SOCOM email explicitly acknowledges that, "Germany has become very sensitive to these requests."


    SOCOM email published by BIRN's Balkan Insight on Tuesday: 
    "Germany has become very sensitive to these requests."

    BIRN questioned the German government over the findings this week and immediately caught German officials lying about their knowledge of the Pentagon weapons transfers. According to the BIRN/OCCRP summary of the exchange:

    The German government earlier declined to comment on the nature of its “sensitivities”, and at a press conference on Thursday, continued to insist it has no knowledge of the movement of weapons to Syria.

     

    German laws, however, dictate that licences to transport weapons must be accompanied by end user certificates which states the final destination of the shipment and who will be using the equipment.

     

    According to the German government, no such licence has been issued for deliveries to Syria or neighbouring countries since 2010.

     

    This claims jars with a report in the Serbian press in December 2015, revealing that a number of US air force C-17 cargo planes had delivered Serbian weapons to the Ramstein airbase.

     

    The report was backed up by one of SOCOM’s most important contractors on its Syrian contract, Global Ordnance, which shared the story on Facebook adding: “Glad Global Ordnance could contribute to support our military!”

    Both leaked and public documents confirm Serbia to be another key logistical hub in the Syria weapons transport program. Multiple weapons end-user certificates were proven to be falsified or altered by the Pentagon, which is likely exactly what the newly announced German probe will look into. One of the weapons trafficking investigators told Foreign Policy this week that, “The Pentagon is removing any evidence in their procurement records that weapons are actually going to the Syrian opposition.”

    Yet it appears that some of the very contracting companies and individuals involved in the shadowy scheme have over the years taken to Facebook and other social media platforms to brag about their role in the program and huge profits that resulted. BIRN's Balkan Insight has just today published a trove of photographs and postings it culled from social media which connect various arms dealers – some of them with known links to organized crime – to the Pentagon weapons program.

    Arms dealer and Pentagon contractor for the Syria covert program, Marc Morales, uploaded photos on January 29, 2015 from the Zastava factory, Kragujevac, Serbia. He openly bragged about the contracts he procured: 'Another day in the office,' he wrote.

    As the latest BIRN report notes, what is depicted in the Hollywood film War Dogs is sadly not at all a thing of the past or mere of recent history, but is current and ongoing. And unlike in the movies, real people – specifically Syrians and Iraqis – are dying as a result. But with the new German government probe just announced which was surely the result the story going viral this week, there is perhaps some hope that public outrage could continue to shine a light on such disgusting US government criminality.

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  • High-Ranking CIA Agent Blows Whistle On The Deep State And Shadow Government

    Authored by Aaron Kesel via ActivistPost.com,

    A CIA whistleblower, Kevin Shipp, has emerged from the wolves den to expose the deep state and the shadow government which he calls two entirely separate entities.

    “The shadow government controls the deep state and manipulates our elected government behind the scenes,” Shipp warned in a recent talk at a Geoengineeringwatch.org conference.

    Shipp had a series of slides explaining how the deep state and shadow government functions as well as the horrific crimes they are committing against U.S. citizens.

    Some of the revelations the former CIA anti-terrorism counter intelligence officer revealed included that “Google Earth was set up through the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and InQtel.” Indeed he is correct, the CIA and NGA owned the company Google acquired, Keyhole Inc., paying an undisclosed sum for the company to turn its tech into what we now know as Google Earth. Another curious investor in Keyhole Inc. was none other than the venture capital firm In-Q-Tel run by the CIA according to a press release at the time.

    Shipp also disclosed that the agency known as the Joint Special Ops Command (JSOC) is the “president’s secret army” which he can use for secret assassinations, overturning governments and things the American people don’t know about.

    FBI warrantless searches violate the Fourth Amendment with national security letters, which Shipp noted enables them to walk into your employer’s office and demand all your financial records and if he or she says anything about them being there they can put your supervisor in jail or drop a case against themselves using the “State’s Secret Privilege law.”

    “The top of the shadow government is the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency,” Shipp said.

    Shipp expressed that the CIA was created through the Council on Foreign relations with no congressional approval, and historically the CFR is also tied into the mainstream media (MSM.) He elaborated that the CIA was the “central node” of the shadow government and controlled all of other 16 intelligence agencies despite the existence of the DNI. The agency also controls defense and intelligence contractors, can manipulate the president and political decisions, has the power to start wars, torture, initiate coups, and commit false flag attacks he said.

    As Shipp stated, the CIA was created through executive order by then President Harry Truman by the signing of the National Security Act of 1947.

    According to Shipp, the deep state is comprised of the military industrial complex, intelligence contractors, defense contractors, MIC lobbyist, Wall St (offshore accounts), Federal Reserve, IMF/World Bank, Treasury, Foreign lobbyists, and Central Banks.

    In the shocking, explosive presentation, Shipp went on to express that there are “over 10,000 secret sites in the U.S.” that formed after 9/11. There are “1,291 secret government agencies, 1,931 large private corporations and over 4,800,000 Americans that he knows of who have a secrecy clearance, and 854,000 who have Top Secret clearance, explaining they signed their lives away bound by an agreement.

    He also detailed how Congress is owned by the Military Industrial Complex through the Congressional Armed Services Committee (48 senior members of Congress) giving those members money in return for a vote on the spending bill for the military and intelligence budget.

    He even touched on what he called the “secret intelligence industrial complex,” which he called the center of the shadow government including the CIA, NSA, NRO, and NGA.

    Shipp further stated that around the “secret intelligence industrial complex” you have the big five conglomerate of intelligence contractors – Leidos Holdings, CSRA, CACI, SAIC, and Booz Allen Hamilton. He noted that the work they do is “top secret and unreported.”

    The whistleblower remarked that these intelligence contractors are accountable to no one including Congress, echoing the words of Senator Daniel Inouye when he himself blew the whistle on the shadow government during the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987.

    At the time Inouye expressed that the “shadow government had its own funding mechanism, shadowy Navy, and Air Force freedom to pursue its own goals free from all checks and balances and free from the law itself.”

    Shipp further added that the shadow government and elected government were in the midst of a visible cold war.

    So who is Shipp and is he credible as a whistleblower, does he have credentials for the CIA? Aim.org wrote:

    Shipp held several high-level positions in the CIA. He was assigned as a protective agent for the Director of Central Intelligence, a counterintelligence investigator, a Counter Terrorism Center officer, a team leader protecting sensitive CIA assets from assassination, a manager of high-risk protective operations, a lead instructor for members of allied governments, an internal staff security investigator, and a polygraph examiner. He was tasked with protecting the CIA from foreign agent penetration and the chief of training for the CIA federal police force.  Mr. Shipp functioned as program manager for the Department of State, Diplomatic Security, and Anti Terrorism Assistance global police training program.  He is the recipient of two CIA Meritorious Unit Citations, three Exceptional Performance Awards and a Medallion for overseas covert operations.  He is the author of From the Company of Shadows–CIA Operations and the War on Terrorism.

    Shipp noted he was working with former NSA whistleblower William Binney but didn’t state what the two were working on together. Shipp is highly credible and may just be the highest level whistleblower. This leak is huge. He has been previously mentioned in the New York Times for blowing the whistle on the mistreatment of him and his family when they were put in a mold-contaminated home. He is also mentioned in a WikiLeaks cable during the GiFiles that I was able to dig up. Is this the beginning of whistleblowers coming forward to end the shadow government and deep state? You can watch Shipp’s full explosive presentation below.

  • "Unprecedented Thefts" Force Baltimore Bike-Sharing Program To Suspend Operations

    In 2016, the city of Baltimore partnered with Bewegen Technologies to launch North America’s largest electrical-assisted cycling (or pedelec) bike sharing program. The system is located in Baltimore’s metropolitan area with over 25 stations available. Fast forward one-year later, this grand “sharing economy” experiment in America’s most dangerous city has imploded due to what the company’s CEO says is a level of theft he has never experienced before.

    As of today, Baltimore officials have suspended all operations of the bike fleet until October 15, 2017. According to the Baltimore Sun, the temporary shutdown is due to “thieves ripping the bicycles out at an unprecedented pace”, said Alain Ayotte, CEO of Bewegen Technologies, the Canadian manufacturer. The manufacturer of the $2.36 million Baltimore Bike Share system said his company has “never experienced the level of theft” that caused officials to announce a temporary shutdown of the program to allow additional locking devices to be installed to the bike docks.

    Per Baltimore Sun,

    We don’t have this issue anywhere else, not at this level,” Ayotte said Wednesday. “Our locking system is recognized [as] very, very up to industry standard, but due to the issues that occurred in Baltimore this summer, we did add additional security.”

     

    The bike-share program launched last fall with 200 bicycles at 20 stations and was supposed to grow to 500 bicycles at 50 stations in the spring. Instead, it has suffered so many thefts and maintenance backups that most of the bicycles are out of service. The program will close Sunday and reopen Oct. 15.

    Unwittingly, some bicycle stations were placed in areas of extreme wealth inequality and high violent crime. Even though, each bicycle is outfitted with GPS, it did not deter thieves. Baltimore is suffering from a racial wealth divide according to JPM. The report highlights African Americans are 63% of the total 620k population with nearly 1/3 having a net worth of zero.

    At one point, the thefts became so rampant, maintenance employees spent a majority of time searching for stolen bikes. The Department of Transportation had to apologized for misleading millennials about the true nature of the bicycle problem calling it a ‘rebalancing issue’.

    In particular, a citizen named Brian Seel, wrote a Medium piece titled: “Baltimore Bike Share Only Has Four Bikes”. Recently, he rode to all 25 bike sharing docks and only found four working bikes. In the article, he explains how the ‘real problem’ is communication issues with the bike sharing company…

    Mr. Steel rode to all 25 stations. In his first finding, he stopped at Baltimore City where there were no bikes, but 5 listed on the APP.

    At Baltimore Visitors Center there were no bikes, but 7 listed on the APP.

    In Baltimore’s financial district there were no bikes, but 6 listed on the APP.

    Baltimore Bike Sharing’s twitter plays it cool….

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    It’s a ‘manageable situation’

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    The last one is hilarious: “This is not unusual”…..

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    Baltimore is a shrinking city with a population at a 100-year low. Officials are unwittingly throwing money at anything, such as a bike-sharing system, to attract millennials. Unfortunately, there is too much overhang in a city where 50-years of democrat-controlled leadership, in-conjunction with decades of deindustrialization. This should be a big clue to millennials that the narrative of city life continues to crack.

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