Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Douglas A. Irwin — Stigler on Monopolies: “Competition is a Tough Weed, Not a Delicate Flower”

Many of Stigler’s views on monopoly and antitrust were consistent through the decades. Even after his concerns of monopoly began to recede, he continued to believe that monopolies and oligopolies were still prevalent in the American economy and that they “should be a source of serious concern for public policy.”...
ProMarket — The blog of the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Stigler on Monopolies: “Competition is a Tough Weed, Not a Delicate Flower”
Douglas A. Irwin | John French Professor of Economics in the Social Sciences in the Department of Economics at Dartmouth College and Visiting Professor at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Robert Parry — Sorting Out the Russia Mess

Getting some perspective that the US media is not only not providing but is also constructing a narrative based on inference and insinuation rather than evidence.

Consortium News
Sorting Out the Russia Mess
Robert Parry

See also

Making stuff up.

Wall Street On Parade
Russia Probe: New York Times Writes Its Own Indictment
Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Russia’s criminal prosecution authorities have expressed their appreciation for the indictments published in Washington on Monday of the alleged US criminals Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, and the admitted criminal, George Papadopoulos. 
The Russians have also requested cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and special prosecutor Robert Mueller III to identify three Russian criminals who are suspected, according to the US court papers, of the crimes of pretending to be a niece of President Vladimir Putin; of inventing their acquaintance with the Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko; and of fabricating a Foreign Ministry invitation to Donald Trump to make an official visit to Russia during run-up to the presidential election of 2016....
Dances with Bears
John Helmer

Edward Harrison — The global economy is hitting its stride right now

Most of the recent economic news from developed economies has been good. European growth, in particular, seems to have accelerated. Nothing I see in the economic data causes me worry. So I am cautiously optimistic that this upturn will last at least through 2018. So let me go through the data, my outlook and my concerns....
Credit Writedowns
The global economy is hitting its stride right now
Edward Harrison

BBC News — Wall of Grief: Putin opens first Soviet victims memorial

At the opening ceremony, Mr Putin said: "An unequivocal and clear assessment of the repression will help to prevent it being repeated."
"This terrible past must not be erased from our national memory and cannot be justified by anything."
BBC News
Wall of Grief: Putin opens first Soviet victims memorial

See also
Yesterday (30 October), Vladimir Putin attended the unveiling of the ‘Wall of Grief’, a monument erected in Moscow to the victims of communist repression. This is the third major such monument constructed in Moscow this year, the other two being the Sretenskii Monastery (about which I wrote earlier) and a memorial at the former Butovo firing range.
You might imagine that these strong signals of disapproval of communism would have some effect on how the media represents Putin and the state he leads. For instance, you might imagine headlines like ‘Putin condemns Stalinism’, or ‘Russian state turns it back on communist past’, combined with some analysis of how this connects to other similar official condemnations of the Soviet Union. Well, if so you’d be wrong. For the most part, Western media haven’t bothered covering the story at all, but let’s look at those which have....
It’s interesting to see how this works. Putin unveils a monument to Stalin’s victims, but Western reporting doesn’t focus on that, nor link it to other memorials which repudiate communism (Butovo, Sretenskii, etc), but instead uses the event as what journalists call a ‘hook’ to write a story about political repression under Putin and the Russian state’s alleged rehabilitation of Stalin. And the sources it cites are the likes of Sobchak and Kasparov.ru, who represent a tiny and extreme fringe of Russian public opinion. Unfortunately, this is all too typical of how Russia is reported....
Wall of Grief
Paul Robinson, Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa

TASS — Russia underestimates new package of US sanctions — think tank

Ha ha. What former finance minister Alexey Kudrin thinks is a bug is actually a feature.

Sanctions will result in Russia having to rely one its power as a sovereign currency issuer, which it should have been using from day one.
According to ex-minister, the country will be forced to widen the use of the national currency in payments. "This sanctions story creates huge risks for transactions in more stable currencies. This will trigger the use of the ruble even if it turns out more expensive," he said.
Russia should look east to China rather than looking west. China has this figured out.

Russia underestimates new package of US sanctions — think tank

Dan Goodin — A surge of sites and apps are exhausting your CPU to mine cryptocurrency

Coinhive harnesses the resources of 500 million people with no questions asked.
Ars Technica
A surge of sites and apps are exhausting your CPU to mine cryptocurrency
Dan Goodin | Security Editor at Ars Technica

Yves Smith — What Do Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Dick Cheney, Oprah Winfrey, Erin Brockovich, Stephen Hawking, Harrison Ford, Robert Kennedy, Jr., Jon Krakauer, Michelle Obama, Dan Rathers, Malcolm Gladwell, and Yours Truly Have in Common? Smeared by a Soros-Funded Think Tank for Appearing on RT

The New McCarthyite program of demonizing anyone and anything associated with Russia continues apace. A Soros-funded think tank called European Values has put out a screed (no exaggeration, read the hyperventilating tone of the “report”) which has as its major aim chilling the participation of guest speakers on RT, per its title, The Kremlin’s Platform for ‘Useful Idiots’ in the West.
This self-styled think tank posted a list of people who had appeared on RT on a series of its shows since 2013. Despite its claims of being comprehensive, the former producer of the RT show Boom Bust, Ed Harrison, quickly identified some names that were missing, and I am sure if he thought further, he could come up with more.

The list is so lengthy and includes so many highly respected people that I doubt including will hurt them in any way. But some were mighty annoyed anyhow:

Naked Capitalism
What Do Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Dick Cheney, Oprah Winfrey, Erin Brockovich, Stephen Hawking, Harrison Ford, Robert Kennedy, Jr., Jon Krakauer, Michelle Obama, Dan Rathers, Malcolm Gladwell, and Yours Truly Have in Common? Smeared by a Soros-Funded Think Tank for Appearing on RT
Yves Smith

Graham E. Fuller — Washington Does Have a Clear ME Policy—It’s Just the Wrong One

What, then, is US policy in the Middle East—under Trump, Obama, Bush and Clinton (and even earlier)? When all the rhetoric has been stripped away, we can identity quite clear, precise, and fairly consistent major strategic policy positions.
First, Washington accedes to almost anything that Israel wants. This is an untouchable posture, a third rail, beyond any debate or discussion lest we anger the powerful Zionist lobby of AIPAC and end up being labelled “anti-Semitic.” The New York Times does not even allow us to know that In Israel itself these issues are indeed seriously debated—but never in the US. Small tactical issues aside, there is zero American discussion about whether the far-right government of Israel should be the lode-star of US policy-making in the Middle East.
-Second, we oppose all Iranian actions and seek to weaken that state. Not surprisingly this reflects a key Israeli position on the Middle East as well. Admittedly the US has its own grudges against Iran going back a long way, while the Iranians bear grudges against the US going back well before that....
But what about “American values” that are often invoked as goals—such as support for democracy and human rights? Yes, these values are worthy, but they receive support in practice only as long as they do not conflict with the paramount hierarchy of the main goals stated above. And they usually do conflict with those goals....
Graham E. Fuller
Washington Does Have a Clear ME Policy—It’s Just the Wrong One
Graham E. Fuller | adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University, formerly vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, and a former senior political scientist at RAND

Bill Mitchell — Europhile Left deluded if it thinks reform process will produce functional outcomes

A recent twitter exchange with some Europhiles who believe that it is better to wait for some, as yet unspecified, incremental reform process for the Eurozone rather than precipitate exit and the restoration of currency sovereignty was summed up for me by one of the tweets from Andrew Watt. In trying to defend the abandonment of sovereignty and make a case for continuing with the so-called reform dialogue, he wrote (October 27, 2017): “Unemployment in “periphery” was v hi before €. Fell rapidly. Then rose sharply, has now fallen somewhat. So picture very mixed.” I found that a deeply offensive claim to make and responded: “It is not a mixed picture at all. Youth unemployment has never been as high. Greek unemployment was never > 12%. Now > 20% indefinitely.” I also attached a graph (see over). I think this little exchange captures the essence of the delusion among many in the Left that we document in our new book – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, 2017). The Europhiles maintain a blind faith in what they claim to be a reform process, which when carried through will reduce some of the acknowledged shortcomings (I would say disastrously terminal design flaws). They don’t put any time dimension on this ‘process’ but claim it is an on-going dialogue and we should sit tight and wait for it to deliver. Apparently waiting for ‘pigs to fly’ is a better strategy than dealing with the basic problems that this failed system has created. I think otherwise. The human disaster that the Eurozone has created impacts daily on peoples’ lives. It is entrenching long-term costs where a whole generation of Europeans has been denied the chance to work. That will reverberate for the rest of their lives and create dysfunctional outcomes no matter what ‘reforms’ are introduced. The damage is already done and remedies are desperately needed now. The so-called ‘reforms’ to date have been pathetic (think: banking union) and do not redress the flawed design. And to put a finer point on it: Germany will never allow sufficient changes to be made to render the EMU a functioning and effective federation. The Europhile Left is deluded if it thinks otherwise.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Europhile Left deluded if it thinks reform process will produce functional outcomes
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics, University of Newcastle, New South Wales, and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE)

Member Bank deposits at the CB

Never saw this data taken back so far before.

If this data is accurate, you can see how this CB policy of creating abnormally large amounts of risk-free bank assets caused the Great Depression and WW2 in addition to our more recent GFC in 2008 and resultant chaos.

The 2008/2009 policy was faster to reach the apex while the 1930's policy took a longer time to max and causued the much longer grind of what became known as the Great Depression.

The twitter poster claims that the decade of non-risk asset reduction directly following this damaging policy resulted in 2.4% annual "real!" growth in GDP per capita while a commenter states the stock market averaged a 16% compound annual growth rate over the same period of policy reversal. This period became the one harkened back to via the "again" in Trump's current 'make America great AGAIN' slogan...

Monday, October 30, 2017

Patrick J. Buchanan — The Plot to Bring Down Trump

Inquiring mind want to know just who is "colluding" here?

The American Conservative
The Plot to Bring Down Trump
Patrick J. Buchanan

See also

Scott Ritter pulls out his magnifying glass and looks at the Democratic side of the story. It's not pretty.

Scott Ritter, former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD

Before this is over the Clinton Democrats may be very sorry they brought it up. The "plausible deniability" is not plausible.

Tyler Durden — Minsky Cycle 2017: Where Are We Now

Over the weekend, DB's credit strategist Aleksandar Kocic discussed what Minsky Dynamics for the "New Normal" look like based on a matrix that charted the various progressions of Leverage vs Volatility, with four possible end states. However, since that graphic explanation proved too problematic for some, another Deutsche macro analyst, Alan Ruskin, released a far simpler representation of the current (and historical) Minsky cycle, which compartmentalizes the world's various assets in their 7 discrete states along the Minsky cycle (as defined in Charles Kindelberger's ‘Manias, Panics and Crashes – A History of Financial Crises’). These start with the 1) macro shock ‘displacement’, move to 2) ‘healthy expansion’, to 3) ‘leveraged driven gains’, to 4) ‘euphoria’, 5) ‘insider profit-taking’, 6) ‘liquidation and panic’ and onward and downward to 7) ‘revulsion and discredit.’

Where are we now?
Zero Hedge
Minsky Cycle 2017: Where Are We Now
Tyler Durden

Nicolas J. S. Davies — How America Spreads Global Chaos

U.S. Air Force Colonel Fletcher Prouty was the chief of special operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1955 to 1964, managing the global military support system for the CIA in Vietnam and around the world. Fletcher Prouty’s book, The Secret Team: The CIA and its Allies in Control of the United States and the World, was suppressed when it was first published in 1973. Thousands of copies disappeared from bookstores and libraries, and a mysterious Army Colonel bought the entire shipment of 3,500 copies the publisher sent to Australia. But Prouty’s book was republished in 2011, and it is a timely account of the role of the CIA in U.S. policy.
Prouty surprisingly described the role of the CIA as a response by powerful people and interests to the abolition of the U.S. Department of War and the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947. Once the role of the U.S. military was redefined as one of defense, in line with the United Nations Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of military force in 1945 and similar moves by other military powers, it would require some kind of crisis or threat to justify using military force in the future, both legally and politically. The main purpose of the CIA, as Prouty saw it, is to create such pretexts for war.
The CIA is a hybrid of an intelligence service that gathers and analyzes foreign intelligence and a clandestine service that conducts covert operations. Both functions are essential to creating pretexts for war, and that is what they have done for 70 years.
Prouty described how the CIA infiltrated the U.S. military, the State Department, the National Security Council and other government institutions, covertly placing its officers in critical positions to ensure that its plans are approved and that it has access to whatever forces, weapons, equipment, ammunition and other resources it needs to carry them out.
Many retired intelligence officers, such as Ray McGovern and the members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), saw the merging of clandestine operations with intelligence analysis in one agency as corrupting the objective analysis they tried to provide to policymakers. They formed VIPS in 2003 in response to the fabrication of politicized intelligence that provided false pretexts for the U.S. to invade and destroy Iraq.
But Fletcher Prouty was even more disturbed by the way that the CIA uses clandestine operations to trigger coups, wars and chaos.... 
As he explained, such clandestine operations always take on a life of their own that is unrelated, and often counter-productive, to any rational U.S. policy objective.
“The more intimate one becomes with this activity,” Prouty wrote, “The more one begins to realize that such operations are rarely, if ever, initiated from an intent to become involved in pursuit of some national objective in the first place.”...
Douglas Valentine has probably studied the CIA in more depth than any other American journalist, beginning with his book on The Phoenix Program in Vietnam. He has written a new book titled The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World, in which he brings Fletcher Prouty’s analysis right up to the present day, describing the CIA’s role in our current wars and the many ways it infiltrates, manipulates and controls U.S. policy....
Consortium News
How America Spreads Global Chaos
Nicolas J. S. Davies, investigative reporter and author


Tomgram: Nick Turse, A Red Scare in the Gray Zone

Jeff Brown — How Can Western Capitalism Beat This?

In order to understand China and how the world works, I am very lucky to have lived here during two very different time periods. It started 1990-1997. In the first book of The China Trilogy, 44 Days Backpacking in China, I called this period the Wild East Deng Xiaoping Buckaroo Days. It was intense, crazy and addictive at the same time. I commented that it was like a “Nat King Cole five-pack-day nicotine habit”. I knew it was bad for me, but I just couldn’t get enough of it.
Then, after five years in less and less socialist France and nine years in libertarian capitalist Bush-O-Bomb-America, I came back to China, where I have continued to live since 2010. Having these four different and very unique experiences, spanning 28 years has radically transformed my outlook on humanity, history, economics, geopolitics and the future – while making me much, much wiser.
The Unz Review
How Can Western Capitalism Beat This?
Jeff J. Brown | China Rising


Asia Times
Why globalization is seen as a failure in the West
Ken Moak | Associate Professor and Department Chair at Tarrant County College, Dallas/Fort Worth Area

Claire Connelly — Black lists matter: the betrayal of democratic liberalism

Democracy 2.0 is having its own modern-day McCarthy moment: Millionaire [sic, should be "billionaire"] George Soros has published a blacklist of thousands of politicians, journalists, academics and celebrities ever to appear on Russian state broadcaster, RT, designed to intimidate anyone from ever appearing on the network which has already been defunded by NatWest, demonetised by social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter which have rapidly become privately outsourced state regulators. This campaign of censorship and content control is further proof of an establishment fast losing control of the narrative....
The not-so open society.

Everything that George Soros touches is now suspect.

Renegade Inc.
Black lists matter: the betrayal of democratic liberalism
Claire Connelly


Zero Hedge
Chris Whalen: "Glad I Am On A George Soros-Funded Blacklist Of Journalists"
Tyler Durden

Moscow Times — Majority of Russians Ready to Hand Putin Fourth Term – Levada Center poll

Asked who they’d vote for if the elections were held this Sunday, 53 percent named Putin.... he Levada Center’s poll showed that 2 percent would vote for opposition leader Alexei Navalny.... Fewer than 1 percent said they’d vote for celebrity Ksenia Sobchak, who announced her candidacy last week. The former reality television presenter topped a separate poll on Thursday of Russia’s least trusted public figures.... 
Levada conducted its survey in 137 towns and cities across 48 Russian regions between Oct. 20 and Oct. 24. Its margin of error doesn’t exceed 3.4 percent.
The Levada Center and The Moscow Times are private organizations with a liberal orientation.

The Moscow Times
Majority of Russians Ready to Hand Putin Fourth Term – Levada Center poll

See also

Russia Feed
US-backed polling center says Russians want to keep Vladimir Putin

Paul Robinson — First Arrest in Russia Scandal – for Being an ‘Unregistered Agent’ of Ukraine!

Counting on most Americans not knowing the difference between Russia and Ukraine?

First Arrest in Russia Scandal – for Being an ‘Unregistered Agent’ of Ukraine!
Paul Robinson, Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa

Jonathon Cook - Balfour Declaration: How Britain broke its feeble promise to the Palestinians

There is more than a little irony in Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to attend a “celebration” dinner this week in London with his British counterpart, Theresa May, marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.
Palestinian objections to the 1917 document are well-known. Britain’s Lord Balfour had no right to promise a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, on the land of another people.
But Israelis have been taught a different history in which they, not the Palestinians, were betrayed.
In 1939, Britain appeared to revoke its pledge, stating “unequivocally” that it would not establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Limits on Jewish immigration were imposed, at a time when Europe’s Jews were fleeing the Nazi Holocaust.
It was for this reason that nearly a quarter of a century ago, in his book A Place Among the Nations, Mr Netanyahu accused Britain of perfidy.
One can understand the reluctance of Israelis today to concede the pivotal role provided by Britain. The Balfour Declaration is an embarrassing reminder that a Jewish state was the fruit of a transparently colonial project.
Israel has consistently rejected for Palestinians the very self-determination it once demanded from the British.
Mr Netanyahu’s government is preparing this week to nullify any lingering hopes of Palestinian statehood with the most significant move towards annexation of Palestinian territory in 40 years, when Jerusalem was annexed. The plan is to greatly expand Jerusalem’s boundaries to include large Jewish settlements in the West Bank like Maale Adumim.

Asher Schechter — UN Study Warns: Growing Economic Concentration Leads to “Rentier Capitalism”

Earlier this year, a Stigler Center paper by Luigi Zingales [Faculty Director of the Stigler Center and one of the editors of this blog] argued that market concentration can lead to a vicious circle, in which companies use market power to gain political power that in turn allows them to gain more market power, and vice versa. Zingales called this the “Medici vicious circle”: “Money is used to gain political power and political power is then used to make more money.”

A new UN report shows that this vicious circle is now a prominent feature of the global economy. Thirty years of hyperglobalization, according to the report, have led to sharp increases in global market concentration and a proliferation of rentierism, whereby the world’s largest corporations attempt to protect their market power through a variety of rent-seeking activities, such as lobbying or systematic abuse of intellectual property laws. While many of these companies are headquartered in the United States, the “endemic rent-seeking that stems from market concentration, heightened corporate power, and regulatory capture” has spread much further, leading to the emergence of “global rentier capitalism.”...
Neoliberalism = rentier capitalism
UNCTAD’s research is among the first to assess the rise in market concentration on an international scale. It also attempts to measure the growth of rents—that is, the income that large companies derive solely from the ownership and control of assets, rather than from innovation.

In order to do that, UNCTAD built a database comprised of financial statements made by publicly traded non-financial companies in 56 developed and developing countries between 1995 and 2015. Measuring the size of corporate rents is difficult due to the scarcity of data and the wide variety of rent-seeking activities companies can engage in, but the UNCTAD research team tries to approximate their magnitude by estimating surplus profits within specific sectors. Using the median value of firms’ rate of return on assets (ROA), they estimate the median performance of firms within a given industry. The difference between this estimate and the actual profits firms made is the surplus profit....
Market power begets political power, which begets further market power....
Throughout history, Blankenburg notes, economists and political theorists, from Adam Smith to John Maynard Keynes, have raised concerns that capitalism has a tendency to be captured by rentiers. The UNCTAD report echoes these historical concerns. “Rentier capitalism means that there isn’t just a few annoying rentiers in some countries that a bit of government intervention can rein in or neutralize,” says Blankenburg. “It is becoming an endemic part of capitalism, a new normal—at least for powerful corporations.”
The authors offer several remedies to tackle the rise of market power, among them tougher antitrust enforcement, the revision of existing trade agreements (and avoidance of signing new ones), and labor market interventions that focus on reducing inequality. “A good start,” they write, “would be to recognize that both knowledge and competition are first and foremost global public goods, and that their manipulation for private profit should be effectively regulated.”
ProMarket — The blog of the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
UN Study Warns: Growing Economic Concentration Leads to “Rentier Capitalism”
Asher Schechter

Boyd Cohen — Post-Capitalist Entrepreneurship

The Occupy Movement perhaps first raised global awareness of the growing dissatisfaction with market-based capitalist economy. Banks too big to fail, government bailouts, and rising income inequality drew the ire of millions around the globe. Since then, the calls for a rethink of our economic paradigm have grown louder. One potential framing which has gained followers is Postcapitalism, popularized by Paul Mason in a book of the same name. Postcapitalism is not a return to Marxism, but instead, driven by the understanding that a third way that is not focused on heavy handed government control, nor on proprietary, venture-capital backed and publicly traded goliaths. Instead a postcapitalist economy would be driven more by collective, cooperative or even autonomous organizations, frequently leveraging non-government backed (fiat) currencies as well.
To date, however, there has been insufficient discussion about the role of entrepreneurship in a postcapitalist economy. While it may seem like an oxymoron to discuss entrepreneurship in a postcapitalist economy, I argue that is only because we have a narrow view of what entrepreneurship is. In Post-Capitalist Entrepreneurship (PCE) I highlight several emergent entrepreneurial forms including commons-based peer production, platform cooperatives, alternative currencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) and blockchain-enabled distributed autonomous organizations among others....
Post-capitalism is an entrepreneurial activity. It has to be if the the system is to transform itself from within through adaptation that takes advantage of return in increasing coordination, decentralization of power and decision making as well as economic activity, and seizing emergent opportunities while addressing emergent challenges.

Post-Capitalist Entrepreneurship: Basic Income, Blockchain Cities, and Local Currencies — Towards a new, local, but globally interconnected, digital, collaborative, urban economic model of shared prosperity.
Boyd Cohen, Ph.D. in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the University of Colorado who has been teaching, researching and participating in sustainable entrepreneurship for 15 years

Ray McGovern — The Deep State’s JFK Triumph Over Trump

That the CIA and FBI are still choosing what we should be allowed to see concerning who murdered John Kennedy may seem unusual, but there is hoary precedent for it. After JFK’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, the well-connected Allen Dulles, whom Kennedy had fired as CIA director after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, got himself appointed to the Warren Commission and took the lead in shaping the investigation of JFK’s murder.
By becoming de facto head of the Commission, Dulles was perfectly placed to protect himself and his associates, if any commissioners or investigators were tempted to question whether Dulles and the CIA played any role in killing Kennedy. When a few independent-minded journalists did succumb to that temptation, they were immediately branded – you guessed it – “conspiracy theorists.”
And so, the big question remains: Did Allen Dulles and other “cloak-and-dagger” CIA operatives have a hand in John Kennedy’s assassination and subsequent cover-up? In my view and the view of many more knowledgeable investigators, the best dissection of the evidence on the murder appears in James Douglass’s 2008 book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.
After updating and arraying the abundant evidence, and conducting still more interviews, Douglass concludes that the answer to the big question is Yes. Reading Douglass’s book today may help explain why so many records are still withheld from release, even in redacted form, and why, indeed, we may never see them in their entirety....
Going "there." Pretty incendiary for an ex-CIA officer. You've probably heard it all before, but when an high ranking former CIA officer says it, it's no longer just a "conspiracy theory."

Consortium News
The Deep State’s JFK Triumph Over Trump
Ray McGovern | CIA analyst who prepared the President’s Daily Brief for Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, and conducted the one-on-one morning briefings from 1981 to 1985

William J. Astore — Relentlessly Building Potency: The U.S. Military Encircles Russia

With ever bigger military budgets, and ever growing ambitions, the U.S. military is relentlessly building up potency, which is nevertheless always framed as defensive, even benign.
Something tells me the Russians don’t see it this way.
Bracing Views
Relentlessly Building Potency: The U.S. Military Encircles Russia
William J. Astore, retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and history professor who has taught at the Air Force Academy, the Naval Postgraduate School, and the Pennsylvania College of Technology

Richard D. Wolff — The Political Economy of Obama/Trump

US capitalism is again careening down blind alleys. Earlier it had crashed into the Great Depression from 1929 to 1933 before lurching into the New Deal. After 1945 it concentrated on rolling back the New Deal until it turned sharply to neoliberalism and “globalism” in the 1970s. That provided the comforting illusion of a few decades of “prosperous normalcy.” When the second major crash in 75 years hit in 2008, it exposed the debt-dependent reality of those decades. It also sent capitalism careening through a new depression followed by a devastating austerity regime. The economic careening provokes the political: its establishment center cannot hold....
Wolff analyzes what happened and where the US is going.
In this new period, the major corporations, the top 1% they enrich, and the top 10 % of managers and professionals they employ will no longer provide the rest of us anywhere near the number of well-paid jobs and generous government policies of the post-1945 period. Given this reality for them, they could hypothetically reduce, more or less equally across the board, the jobs, incomes, and public services available to the bottom 90 % of the US population. But at least in the short run, this is politically too dangerous.
The only other option they see is to divide the bottom 90% into two groups. For the favored one, jobs, incomes, and standards of living will be only marginally reduced or perhaps, if possible, marginally improved. For the other group, their economic situation will be savaged, reduced to conditions formerly associated with seriously underdeveloped parts of the planet. The time has thus arrived in the US for a major struggle – economically, politically, and ideologically – over just who will be in those two groups....
US capitalism used up the Obama diversion to get through most of the first decade after the 2008 crash. It is fast using up the Trump diversion. The social groups kept from system critique by Obama have become noticeably more interested in it since he departed the White House. Trump only accelerates that process. Meanwhile, Trump’s followers keep waiting for the promised protection from decline, but it does not appear. They get lots of symbolism but little substance. He and they blame their usual others, but their frustrations may soon open them too to system critiques. Meanwhile, those critiques proliferate and mature across the society.
There are essentially four critiques, two on the right and two on the left — on the right, the alt right and conservative critiques, and on the left, the liberal and progressive critiques. The conservative and liberal critiques are basically mainstream and pundit-led, whereas the alt right and progressive critiques are radical and more grassroots.

Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the US at present and Donald Trump the least popular according to the latest Harvard-Harris poll, conducted between October 14 and October 18. The same time, the liberal faction of the Democratic Party is doing its best to exclude progressives.

Steve Bannon has declared war on the GOP establishment, promising a fight at the primaries.
"It's not my war, this is our war and y'all didn't start it, the establishment started it," Bannon said. He also said, "Right now, it's a season of war against a GOP establishment."
Political foment over what is largely a distributional problem.

Defend Democracy Press
The Political Economy of Obama/Trump
Richard D. Wolff | American Marxian economist, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and now Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School

See also
For insight in this we can turn to the sociologist C. Wright Mills, whose famous book The Power Elite was published the same year as Whyte’s The Organization Man.Mills’s work narrows the world’s ruling bureaucracies to government, military and top economic corporations. Those who make their careers within these entities, especially the military and the government, are ideologically conditioned to identify their well-being with the specific goals of their chosen organizations. That means they must bind themselves not only to the goals, but also to the ethics of their workplace.
Those who balk are eventually punished and cast out of the organizations. Those who guide these organizations, and essentially decide how rules and ethics will be interpreted and applied, are Mills’s “power elite.”...
Running for and holding office in countries like the United States and Canada often requires one to “take the vows of organization life.” Does this support democracy or erode it? Here is one prescient answer: the way we have structured our party politics has given us “an appalling political system which is a step-by-step denial of democracy and a solid foundation for a ‘soft’ dictatorship.”

Those are the words of the late Rafe Mair, a Canadian politician, broadcaster, author and a good friend of this writer. Rafe spent years in Canadian politics, particularly in his home province of British Columbia, and his experience led him to the conclusion expressed above. How does this translate into practice?...
Consortium News
The Political Organization Men
Lawrence Davidson | professor emeritus of history at West Chester University in Pennsylvania

David Glasner — Larry Summers v. John Taylor: No Contest

Mostly about John Taylor who seems to have made the final cut for Trump's short list to replace Janet Yellen, along with Jerome Powell, who is now a member of the Fed Board of Governors.

Should Fed policy be rule-based (Taylor) or discretionary (Powell)?

David Glasner argues against John Tayor and in doing so, gives us a close look at Taylor and his rule-based approach to monetary policy.

Uneasy Money
Larry Summers v. John Taylor: No Contest
David Glasner

AFP — Education or indoctrination? China gets ‘Xi Thought’ institutes

At least 20 universities have established research institutes which will advocate the incorporation of Xi's ideology into all aspects of daily life
Imitating the Koch Brothers and other business leaders in the US? Not just the US either; UK too.

David P. Goldman — Three key economic policy themes sounded at China’s Party Congress

Important economic policy themes identified at this month’s 19thNational Congress of the Communist Party of China are largely amplifications of policies already announced in various forms.
  1. “Supply-side” reforms
  2. Deleveraging
  3. Belt and Road Initiative

David F. Ruccio — The gilded age: a tale of today

The timing could not have been better, at least for me. It just so happens I’m teaching Thorsten Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class this week. It should become quickly obvious to students that, as I have argued before on this blog, we’re now in the midst of a Second Gilded Age.
This is confirmed in a new report by UBS/PwC, according to which, after a brief pause in 2015, the expansion in billionaire wealth around the world has resumed.
This is an inevitable result of a system that prioritizes growth regardless of distribution and assumes that optimal growth necessitates favoring capital formation over the other factors of production, labor and land, that is, people and the environment.

The priorities need to change and that involves changing the system in the direction of one that integrates the factors.

Failure to do is resulting in social unrest, political dysfunction, and fouling the nest. This direction is unsustainable.

Occasional Links & Commentary
The gilded age: a tale of today*
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics University of Notre Dame Notre Dame

Tyler Cowen — That was then, this is now, Soviet-Russian media subsidies edition

$100,000 is exactly the amount the Comintern gave in the 1920s to organize a campaign against John L. Lewis leading the mine union. No, I am not adjusting for inflation, so in real terms the sum in the 20s was much higher. The Comintern also gave at least $35,000 to start the Daily Worker, again that is a nominal figure from the 1920s. The American Communist Party received subsidies too. Many other communist subsidies, media and otherwise, remain hidden or at least uncertain.
Furthermore, those earlier expenditures helped convert a large number of Americans and American intellectuals to actual belief in communism, or at least fellow traveler sympathies.
What is left unsaid is the amounts the US has "invested" in subsidizing the opposition in targeted countries and also in maintaining in power governments favorable to the US. See, for example, The United States spent $5 billion on Ukraine anti-government riots by Katie Sanders at PunditFact, March 19, 2014. This was to fund a coup d'etat led in part by neo-Nazis that was successful in ousting a democratically elected government. 

Let's get some perspective here.

Marginal Revolution
That was then, this is now, Soviet-Russian media subsidies edition
Tyler Cowen | Holbert C. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University and serves as chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center

William R. Cline — Treasury plan to weaken capital rules has real economic costs

In the wake of the financial crisis, new regulations on bank capital and stress tests strengthened the ability of the major U.S. financial institutions to withstand shocks. The Trump administration’s plans to weaken capital requirements threaten to undo these gains. If they go forward, the financial system could again be dangerously vulnerable.

The right amount of capital is a question of insurance: how much output to sacrifice in return for reducing the expected loss from a crisis. Equity capital is the buffer that enables banks to absorb losses without being forced into bankruptcy and damaging the wider economy. But extra capital, as my examination of the evidence shows, comes at a cost, and involves an output penalty. The challenge is to get this balance right....
American Banker | BankThink 
William R. Cline | senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Jayati Ghosh — The Golden “Diwali Gift”

The Modi government made its supposed determination to end corruption in India its signature theme. The massive damage done by demonetisation as well as the continuing chaos produced by the flawed introduction of the Goods and Services Tax have all been justified on the grounds of reducing possibilities of corruption and tax avoidance. Similarly, the imposition of Aadhaar requirements on the population for access to all manner of publicly provided goods and services is regularly justified on the grounds of reducing “leakages” and misappropriation of benefits. The Prime Minister has sought to burnish his image of anti-corruption crusader through emotional appeals and dramatic public claims that he is willing to be sacrificed for the larger good of “cleaning up” the country.
Yet, like so many other policy initiatives of this government, the heavily publicised anti-corruption moves also were mostly about optics and hype rather than substantive change, since the quiet, careful and systematic measures that could have dented various types of corrupt practices at different levels were rarely undertaken....
Real-World Economics Review Blog
The Golden “Diwali Gift”
Jayati Ghosh | Professor of Economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Bill Mitchell — US growth performance hides very disturbing regional trends

Last Friday (October 27, 2017), the US Bureau of Economic Analysis published their latest national accounts data – Gross Domestic Product: Third Quarter 2017 (Advance Estimate), which tells us that annual real GDP growth rate was 3 per cent in the September-quarter 2017, slightly down on the 3.1 per cent recorded in the June-quarter. As this is only the “Advance estimate” (based on incomplete data) there is every likelihood that the figure will be revised when the “second estimate” is published on November 29, 2017. The US result was driven, in part, by a continued (but slowing) contribution from personal consumption expenditure which coincided with record levels of household indebtedness. How long consumption expenditure can be kept growing as the debt levels rise is a relevant question. At some point, the whole show will come to a stop as it did in 2008 and that will impact negatively on private investment expenditure as well, which has just started to show signs of recovery. Governments haven’t learned that relying on personal consumption expenditure for economic growth in an environment of flat wages growth means that household debt will rise quickly and reach unsustainable levels. How harsh the correction will be is as yet unclear. But when it comes, the US government will need to increase its discretionary fiscal deficit to stimulate confidence among business firms and get growth back on track.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
US growth performance hides very disturbing regional trends
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics, University of Newcastle, New South Wales, and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Zoe Williams — How the actual magic money tree works

Shock data shows that most MPs do not know how money is created. Responding to a survey commissioned by Positive Money just before the June election, 85% were unaware that new money was created every time a commercial bank extended a loan, while 70% thought that only the government had the power to create new money.

The results are only a shock if you didn’t see the last poll of MPs on exactly this topic, in 2014, revealing broadly the same level of ignorance. Indeed, the real shock is that MPs still, without embarrassment, answer surveys.
Yet almost all our hot-button political issues, from social security to housing, relate back to the meaning and creation of money; so if the people making those choices don’t have a clue, that isn’t without consequence....
The Guardian
How the actual magic money tree works
Zoe Williams

Peter Cooper — Some Macro Effects of a Job Guarantee

A recent post considered one way of including a job guarantee in the income-expenditure model. Doing so makes it possible to represent various macro effects of a job guarantee within the model. An obvious effect is that the program would deliver a degree of demand stabilization. An effect that is perhaps not quite so obvious is the way in which a job guarantee would ensure supply-side changes in the economy automatically impact on demand, actual output and employment. Before illustrating a few of these effects, the modified income-expenditure model will be briefly outlined and tailored to present purposes. A fuller discussion of the model is provided in the earlier post....
Some Macro Effects of a Job Guarantee
Peter Cooper

Joe Lauria — The Democratic Money Behind Russia-gate

The worm turns.

Consortium News
The Democratic Money Behind Russia-gate
Joe Lauria, foreign-affairs journalist

Gilad And All That Jazz - Film by Golriz Kolahi

I film about Gilad Atzmon, his life, his music, and his controversial views on Palestine. He's an amazing guy who passion is so strong he doesn't seem to fear death. His critics say he is a narcissist, but I tend to believe that he is just a lot more intelligent than them. Some of his stuff i don't agree with him on, but I need to learn more about him and his ideas. I do agree with him about Palestine.

Golriz Kolahi (http://www.lidf.co.uk/film/gilad-and-... Gilad Atzmon is one of modern music's best saxophonists, and one of the most controversial public opponents of Israel. A gentle giant, warm, charismatic and somewhat shy, Gilad is a complex character. Born into a pro-Zionist family and serving briefly in the first Lebanon War, Gilad had a dramatic turnaround; he quit the army, picked up his sax and exiled himself to London, declaring himself an enemy to the Israeli state. Since then he has produced some of the modern era's greatest Jazz albums, and collaborated with Ian Drury, Paul McCartney and Sinead O' Connor . In music he is a 'feisty improviser' as one critic put it, comparing him to the likes of Charlie parker. In his political and philosophical ideas, he is blunt and outspoken. His ideas on Israel and "Jewishness" have upset many people, to the extent that he has been labelled a holocaust denier and an anti-Semite. In Gilad's life, music and politics are inseparable. The film follows Gilad in the most flourishing time of his career, as he records albums with Robert Wyatt, the blockheads, and gigs with Nigel Kennedy; gets invited to TV programs and panel events all over the globe; pleases his supporters and admirers, while seriously pissing off his opponents to the point of receiving death threats and intimidation against the venues he plays and speaks in. "Gilad and All That Jazz offers a unique insight in to the life, ideas, music and motivations driving the great Saxophonist.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Robert Parry — Guardians of the Magnitsky Myth

In pursuit of Russia-gate, the U.S. mainstream media embraces any attack on Russia and works to ensure that Americans don’t hear the other side of the story, as with the Magnitsky myth, reports Robert Parry....
This is to journalism as ignoring data, historicity, and operations is in economics.

Consortium News
Guardians of the Magnitsky Myth
Robert Parry

John Quiggin — The end of fossil fuels: some data and quick calculations

Until relatively recently, the decline of coal was the result of competition with gas, while new renewables weren’t even enough to cover the growth in demand. But a quick calculation shows that renewables will soon be taking out a bigger bite. Global electricity generation is currently about 20000 terawatt-hours (TWh) a year, growing at around 1.5 per cent, or 300TWh a year. Installations of solar PV and wind (I haven’t checked on hydro and other renewables) for 2017 look set to come in around 150 gigawatts (GW). Assuming 2000 hours of operation per year, that’s just enough to offset demand growth.... 
The end of fossil fuels: some data and quick calculations
John Quiggin

James Stafford — How Many Barrels Of Oil Are Needed To Mine One Bitcoin?

The Bitcoin mining industry consumes 22.5 TWh of energy annually, which amounts to 13,239,916 barrels of oil equivalent. With 12.5 bitcoins being mined every 10 minutes, that means the average energy cost of one bitcoin would equate to 20 barrels of oil equivalent....

Bitcoin transactions are secured by computer miners, who are competing for rewards in the form of coins from the network. The more computation power they use, the better their chances. The drill rig is a computer, and hydraulic fracturing is done with the tip of your fingers. It’s a phenomenally energy-intensive process.
To put this in perspective, the total energy consumption of the world’s Bitcoin mining activities is more than 40 times greater than that required to power the entire Visa network....
Some, Chris Cook for example, argue that the optimal parameter for measuring economic data is energy rather than a monetary unit of account or a weight of precious metal like gold.

How Many Barrels Of Oil Are Needed To Mine One Bitcoin?
James Stafford | Editor of Oilprice.com

See also

Zero Hedge
Bill Miller Put 30% Of His Fund's Assets In Bitcoin
Tyler Durden

KtovKurse — Communist leader dispels new Russian budget as "oligarch orientated"

Communist Party leader, Gennady Zyuganov, called the draft federal budget for 2018-2020 "a budget of the oligarchy", which will increase stagnation and poverty....
According to Zyuganov, the current budget policy "creeps of the old Gaidar-Chubais [liberal] reforms [under Yeltsin that plunged ordinary Russians into poverty]. It does not smell of modernization, nor a breakthrough for the future. "...
Zyuganov's Communist Party enjoys the second most popular rating in the Russian political sphere, after United Russia (Vladimir Putin.)
Fort Russ
Communist leader dispels new Russian budget as "oligarch orientated"
KtovKurse - translated by Inessa Sinchougova

Jason Smith — Corporate taxes and unscientific economists

Another takedown.
But let's take this result at face value. So now we have a largely model-independent finding that to first order the effect of corporate tax cuts is increased wages. The scientific thing to do is not to continue arguing about the model, but to in fact compare the result to data. What should we expect? We should a large change in aggregate wages when there are changes in corporate tax rates — in either direction. Therefore the corporate tax increases in the 1993 tax law should have lead to falling wages, and the big cut in corporate tax rates should have lead to even larger increase in wages. However, we see almost no sign of any big effects in the wage data...
Now you may say: Hey, there are lots of other factors at play so you might not see the effect in wage data. This is the classic "chameleon model" of Paul Pfliederer: we trust the model enough to say it leads to big wage increases, but when they don't appear in the data we turn around and say it's just a toy model....
And this is the problem with economics — because what if Mankiw's and Cochrane's derivations and definitions of "static" analysis were mathematically and semantically correct? Would they just say I guess you're right — corporate tax cuts do raise wages. Probably not. They'd probably argue some on some other tack, much like how Cochrane and Mankiw would argue on a different tack (in fact, probably every possible tack). This is what happens when models aren't compared to data and aren't rejected when the results are shown to be at best inconclusive....
Data is the great equalizer in science as far as models go.
Conventional economists remind of the well-known Texan putdown, "All hat and no cattle."

Information Transfer Economics
Corporate taxes and unscientific economists
Jason Smith

Zero Hedge In Shocking, Viral Interview, Qatar Confesses Secrets Behind Syrian War

A television interview of a top Qatari official confessing the truth behind the origins of the war in Syria is going viral across Arabic social media during the same week a leaked top secret NSA document was published which confirms that the armed opposition in Syria was under the direct command of foreign governments from the early years of the conflict.
And according to a well-known Syria analyst and economic adviser with close contacts in the Syrian government, the explosive interview constitutes a high level "public admission to collusion and coordination between four countries to destabilize an independent state, [including] possible support for Nusra/al-Qaeda." Importantly, "this admission will help build case for what Damascus sees as an attack on its security & sovereignty. It will form basis for compensation claims."
As the war in Syria continues slowly winding down, it seems new source material comes out on an almost a weekly basis in the form of testimonials of top officials involved in destabilizing Syria, and even occasional leaked emails and documents which further detail covert regime change operations against the Assad government. Though much of this content serves to confirm what has already long been known by those who have never accepted the simplistic propaganda which has dominated mainstream media, details continue to fall in place, providing future historians with a clearer picture of the true nature of the war.
This process of clarity has been aided - as predicted - by the continued infighting among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) former allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with each side accusing the other of funding Islamic State and al-Qaeda terrorists (ironically, both true). Increasingly, the world watches as more dirty laundry is aired and the GCC implodes after years of nearly all the gulf monarchies funding jihadist movements in places like Syria, Iraq, and Libya....
"Shocking" refers to the admission rather than the events, which were widely suspected, with some evidence already available.

Now that the war seems to be winding down, the question of who is going to pay to rebuild Syria arises. Syria will be seeking compensation.

Zero Hedge
In Shocking, Viral Interview, Qatar Confesses Secrets Behind Syrian War
Tyler Durden

Andrew Gelman — My favorite definition of statistical significance

From my 2009 paper with Weakliem:
Throughout, we use the term statistically significant in the conventional way, to mean that an estimate is at least two standard errors away from some “null hypothesis” or prespecified value that would indicate no effect present. An estimate is statistically insignificant if the observed value could reasonably be explained by simple chance variation, much in the way that a sequence of 20 coin tosses might happen to come up 8 heads and 12 tails; we would say that this result is not statistically significantly different from chance. More precisely, the observed proportion of heads is 40 percent but with a standard error of 11 percent—thus, the data are less than two standard errors away from the null hypothesis of 50 percent, and the outcome could clearly have occurred by chance. Standard error is a measure of the variation in an estimate and gets smaller as a sample size gets larger, converging on zero as the sample increases in size.
Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
My favorite definition of statistical significance
Andrew Gelman | Professor of Statistics and Political Science, and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University

Dániel Oláh — If You Look Behind Neoliberal Economists, You’ll Discover the Rich: How Economic Theories Serve Big Business

The road to serfdom – sponsored by big business.
Some history of economics.


See also

Naked Capitalism
Gaius Publius: Defining Neoliberalism

UN REPORT — External Attack Probably Caused Dag Hammarskjold’s Plane to Crash

Still no determination of who was responsible.

Intel Today
UN REPORT — External Attack Probably Caused Dag Hammarskjold’s Plane to Crash

Cameron K. Murray — Decent criticisms of economics? Here are 111 of them.

Just about any one of them is fatal.

Fresh Economic Thinking
Decent criticisms of economics? Here are 111 of them.
Cameron K. Murray

Friday, October 27, 2017

John Robb — Delaying Chinese Global Dominance

How strategists think.

Global Guerrillas
Delaying Chinese Global Dominance
John Robb

Michael Stephens — Watch Live: A New New Deal and the Job Guarantee

Today at the New School, L. Randall Wray and Stephanie Kelton take part in a public workshop organized by the National Jobs for All Coalition that is focused on developing a “A New ‘New Deal’ for NYC and the USA....
Multiplier Effect
Watch Live: A New New Deal and the Job Guarantee
Michael Stephens

Kaivey- The Guardian view on conspiracy theories: convenient fictions

The Guardian wrote a disparaging editorial about conspiracy theories and it smirked at people who believe in them, so I wrote this in the Guardian's Comment is Free section underneath:

'The biggest conspiracy theory going about at the moment is that the Russians hacked the US general election.'

The Guardian moderators soon afterwards removed my comment. You see, only silly people hold conspiracy theories, not sensible lefties like The Guardian. But where are the facts for the Russian hack, The Guardian, and how did my comment not abide by community standards?

Jonathon Freedland has just wrote an article called:

Conspiracy theories such as JFK distract from the real threats we face

So I put out my comment again. I will see how long it lasts.

Super-Rich Fear Their Financial Details Will Be Exposed Following Bermuda Cyber Hack

This could be interesting:
Many of the world’s richest and most powerful people are bracing themselves for a huge leak of their information.
The Bermuda hack – which could be something like a repeat of the Panama Papers – may be about to lead to a major examination of the financial, corporate and tax affairs of the most important people on the planet.
High net worth individuals and the world’s biggest companies are gearing up with legal firms and PR companies for the huge drop. But here’s exactly what it means, who will be affected and how.

TASS — TASS Russia’s Central Bank cuts key rateRussia’s Central Bank cuts key rate

The board of directors of Russia’s Central Bank decided to cut the key rate by 25 basis points to 8.25% per annum at the meeting on October 27, 2017, the regulator reported Friday.
The board notes that inflation holds close to 4%. Its downward deviation against the forecast is driven mainly by temporary factors, the regulator said, while the economy continues to grow.

The regulator left open the option of further rate reduction at its upcoming meetings. It also noted a gradual transition from moderately tight to neutral monetary policy....
The Central Bank forecasts GDP growth in Russia in 2017 in the range of 1.7-2.2%. In the future, the GDP growth rate above 1.5-2% per year will be achievable with structural transformation, the regulator said.
Russia’s Central Bank cuts key rate

Sputnik — Secret Surveillance Gives CIA Power to Subvert US Domestic Political Process

Many Americans still believed that the CIA was prohibited by law from operating within its own country, but that had not been the case in at least 36 years since President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12333 in December 1981, Blunden recalled.
"It's a common misconception that the CIA is prohibited from launching domestic campaigns within the United States. One look at the General Provisions detailed in Executive Order 12333 demonstrates that this is not the case," he said.
 Potential for abuse?
Obama had reiterated his full personal confidence in Brennan even after it was discovered that the CIA had spied on the US Senate Intelligence Committee, Blunden commented.
Not to mention NSA chief James Clapper lying to Congress and getting caught.

Sputnik International
Secret Surveillance Gives CIA Power to Subvert US Domestic Political Process

Adam Jezard — Finland thinks it has designed the perfect school. This is what it looks like.

The walls are coming down in Finland’s schools – but not just the physical barriers between classrooms. Also going are divisions between subjects and age ranges, and students have more of a say over what will be learnt than children in many other countries.

According to CityLab, an architecture website, the country is undergoing an ambitious national redesign of its 4,800 schools. Some 57 new schools began construction in 2015 and 44 in 2016. Others are being refurbished using open-plan principles...
Education for life rather than a job.
Proponents of PBL [phenomenon-based teaching and learning] say it helps to equip students with the critical thinking skills they need to flourish today. Kirsti Lonka, a professor of educational psychology at Helsinki University, told the BBC: “When it comes to real life, our brain is not sliced into disciplines ... we are thinking in a very holistic way. And when you think about the problems in the world – global crises, migration, the economy, the post-truth era – we really haven’t given our children the tools to deal with this inter-cultural world.”...
World Economic Forum
Finland thinks it has designed the perfect school. This is what it looks like.
Adam Jezard | Senior Writer at Formative Content.

RT — Twitter’s multi-million dollar US election pitch to RT revealed in FULL

RT was thereby forced to reveal some details of the 2016 negotiations during which Twitter representatives made an exclusive multi-million dollar advertising proposal to spend big during the US presidential election, which was turned down.
Having since been banned, and in order to set the record straight, we are publishing Twitter’s presentation and details of the offer in full.
Twitter’s multi-million dollar US election pitch to RT revealed in FULL

Reuters — After Iran shock, nervous Europe girds for next Trump salvo

But the Iran decision, taken despite personal appeals from France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s Theresa May, has changed the calculus in Europe, according to diplomats, politicians and analysts.

No longer is there an underlying confidence that Europe can muddle through three more years of Trump without fear of major, and possibly lasting, disruptions to the relationship. Nor is there faith that Trump, when the stakes are high, will listen to what his advisers and partners tell him....
After Iran shock, nervous Europe girds for next Trump salvo
Noah Barkin

IMF Worried that High Inequality Could Threaten Global Capitalism — Sharmini Peries interviews Michael Roberts

MICHAEL ROBERTS: I think the IMF, and that clip shows it, is worried that the huge increase in inequality of income and wealth in many countries, like the US and the UK, over the last 20 or 30 years is reaching such extreme levels that there is serious danger of social and political unrest. The great status quo of globalization and neoliberal policies and international activity in the direction of big business is being threatened by this high inequality. Their economists have now started to switch round and have found evidence to show that it doesn't really make a lot of difference to growth if big corporations and CEOs at the top of big companies who are earning fat salaries are taxed more in order to redistribute income effectively to those people who need it more and can be more productive.

In fact, their evidence shows that a higher rate of marginal tax has little or no effect on growth, and you could raise it from the levels which, Donald Trump's talking about knocking it down to God knows where, 15% or lower. Well, the marginal rate according to the IMF economists in their latest report could be as high as 60% or 70% and it would make little difference to growth, but it will make a significant difference to improving the redistribution of income....
IMF Worried that High Inequality Could Threaten Global Capitalism
Sharmini Peries interviews Michael Roberts

Josh Jones — How the CIA Funded & Supported Literary Magazines Worldwide While Waging Cultural War Against Communism

The Chilean coup is one of many CIA interventions into the affairs of Latin America and the former European colonies in Africa and Asia after World War II. It is by now well known that the Agency “occasionally undermined democracies for the sake of fighting communism,” as Mary von Aue writes at Vice, throughout the Cold War years. But years before some of its most aggressive initiatives, the CIA “developed several guises to throw money at young, burgeoning writers, creating a cultural propaganda strategy with literary outposts around the world, from Lebanon to Uganda, India to Latin America.” They didn’t invent the burgeoning post-war literary movements that first spread through the pages of magazines like The Partisan Review and The Paris Review in the 1950s. But the Agency funded, organized, and curated them, with the full knowledge of editors like Paris Reviewco-founder Peter Matthiessen, himself a CIA agent.

The Agency waged a cold culture war against international Communism using many of the people who might seem most sympathetic to it. Revealed in 1967 by former agent Tom Braden in the pages of the Saturday Evening Post, the strategy involved secretly diverting funds to what the Agency called “civil society” groups. The focal point of the strategy was the CCF, or "Congress for Cultural Freedom,” which recruited liberal and leftist writers and editors, oftentimes unwittingly, to “guarantee that anti-Communist ideas were not voiced only by reactionary speakers,” writes Patrick Iber at The Awl. As Braden contended in his exposé, in "much of Europe in the 1950s, socialists, people who called themselves ‘left’—the very people whom many Americans thought no better than Communists—were about the only people who gave a damn about fighting Communism.”
No doubt some literary scholars would find this claim tendentious, but it became agency doctrine not only because the CIA saw funding and promoting writers like James Baldwin, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Richard Wright, and Ernest Hemingway as a convenient means to an end, but also because many of the program's founders were themselves literary scholars. The CIA began as a World War II spy agency called the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). After the war, says Guernica magazine editor Joel Whitney in an interview with Bomb, “some of the OSS guys became professors at Ivy League Universities,” where they recruited people like Matthiessen....
Whitney’s book, Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers, documents the Agency’s whirlwind of activity behind literary magazines like the London-based Encounter, French Preuves, Italian Tempo Presente, Austrian Forum, Australian Quadrant, Japanese Jiyu, and Latin American Cuadernos and Mundo Nuevo. Many of the CCF’s founders and participants conceived of the enterprise as “an altruistic funding of culture,” Whitney tells von Aue. “But it was actually a control of journalism, a control of the fourth estate. It was a control of how intellectuals thought about the US.”
The CIA also has a public-funded venture capital firm named In-Q-Tel.

Open Culture
How the CIA Funded & Supported Literary Magazines Worldwide While Waging Cultural War Against Communism
Josh Jones

Philip Giraldi: US Missile Defense Is a Scam That Could Get Us All Killed

I read an article years ago written by a physicist who said that the US Missile Defense Shield was a giant scam and wouldn't work. As the article is over ten years old I never posted it here because technology would have moved on from then, but no it hasn't, says Philip  Geraldi. Even the contractors who make the missile defense shield proudly boast that it will hit 97% of missiles coming into the USA. Gee! If Russia sends over a hundred missiles three will get through and blow the US to smithereens. That doesn't feel so good! Anyhow, Giraldi says that the shield will more than likely only hit about 3% of any incoming missiles.  So, another con from the Industrial-Military Complex.

Sometimes it is possible to read or view something that completely changes the way one looks at things.
I had that experience last week when I read an article at Lobelog entitled “A Plea for Common Sense on Missile Defense,” written by Joe Cirincione, a former staffer on the House Armed Services Committee who now heads the Ploughshares Fund, which is a Washington DC based global foundation that seeks to stop the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
The article debunks much of the narrative being put out by the White House and Pentagon regarding missile defence.

To be sure, it is perfectly reasonable to mistrust anything that comes out of the federal government justifying war given its track record going back to the War of 1812.
And the belligerent posture of the United States towards Iran and North Korea can well be condemned based on its own merits, threatening war where there are either no real interests at stake or where a diplomatic solution has for various reasons been eschewed.

Even using the finest radars and sensors as well as the most advanced guidance technologies, the variables involved make it much more likely that there will be a miss than a hit. Cirincione observes that “…the only way to hit a bullet is if the bullet cooperates.”
Second, the tests carried out by the Pentagon to determine reliability are essentially fraudulent. Contrary to the Donald Trump comment, the 97% accuracy is an extrapolation based on firing four anti-missile missiles at a target to make up for the fact that in the rigged tests a single interceptor has proven to be closer to only 56% accurate, and that under ideal conditions.
This statistic is based on the actual tests performed since 1999 in which interceptors were able to shoot down 10 of 18 targets. The conclusion that four would result in 97% derives from the assumption that multiple interceptors increases the accuracy but most engineers would argue that if one missile cannot hit the target for any number of technical shortcomings it is equally likely that all four will miss for the same reason.
The tests themselves are carefully scripted to guarantee success. They take place in daylight, preferably at dusk to ensure maximum visibility, under good weather conditions, and without any attempt made by the approaching missile to confuse the interceptor through the use of electronic countermeasures or through the ejection of chaff or jammers, which would certainly be deployed.

The targets in tests have sometimes been heated to make them easier to find and some have had transponders attached to make them almost impossible to miss. As a result, the missile interceptor system has never been tested under realistic battlefield conditions.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sputnik — Twitter’s RT Ad Ban Violates First Amendment - Former Deputy Attorney Gener

Brian Becker and John Kiriakou of Sputnik Radio's Loud & Clear spoke to journalist and author Max Blumenthal and former Assistant Attorney General of the United States Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer, to discuss Twitter's announcement....
Sputnik International
Twitter’s RT Ad Ban Violates First Amendment - Former Deputy Attorney General

US ‘Empire of Debt’ will go to war to stop emergence of petro yuan

Superb commentary by Max Keiser. The Saudi's also want to de-dollarize.

Beijing is ready to step up the game. Soon China will launch a crude oil futures contract priced in yuan. This means that Russia – as well as Iran, the other key node of Eurasia integration – may bypass US sanctions by trading energy in their own currencies, or in yuan. Inbuilt in the move is a true Chinese win-win; the yuan - according to some - will be fully convertible into gold on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges. The new triad of oil, yuan and gold is actually a win-win-win. No problem at all if energy providers prefer to be paid in physical gold instead of yuan. The key message is the US dollar being bypassed.