Saturday, March 31, 2018

Brett Steenbarger — The Spirituality of Trading

You may find this interesting. Mike strongly emphasizes "the mental game."

The Spirituality of Trading
Brett Steenbarger | Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY; performance coach for hedge fund portfolio managers and traders, and author of several books on trading psychology

Zero Hedge — In Unprecedented Move, China To Pay For Oil Imports With Yuan Instead Of Dollars

Just days after Beijing officially launched Yuan-denominated crude oil futures (with a bang, as shown in the chart below, surpassing Brent trading volume) which are expected to quickly become the third global price benchmark along Brent and WTI, China took the next major step in the internationalization of the Yuan, challenging the Dollar's supremacy as global reserve currency, when on Thursday Reuters reported that China took the first steps to paying for crude oil imports in its own currency instead of the US Dollars.
Zero Hedge
In Unprecedented Move, China To Pay For Oil Imports With Yuan Instead Of Dollars
Tyler Durden

See also

Departure ceremony of China-Europe freight train service held in Shanghai

Moon of Alabama — Hillary Clinton Ordered Diplomats To Suppress 'Novichock' Discussions

More info raises more questions.

Moon of Alabama
Hillary Clinton Ordered Diplomats To Suppress 'Novichock' Discussions
John Pilger

Brian Romanchuk — Fiscal Crisis Sighted! Break Out The Popcorn!

Apparently we are due for some excitement in Treasury market, as per the analysis in "A Debt Crisis is on the Horizon," penned by the luminaries Michael J. Boskin, John H. Cochrane, John F. Cogan, George P. Shultz and John B. Taylor. As a regular reader might suspect, I am somewhat skeptical about the claims in said article. That said, one may note that the discussion therein is not totally incompatible with a Functional Finance framework, although we would need to paraphrase what they wrote. However, the interest rate determination part of the article is pretty weak.
The article itself is not particularly interesting once we strip out the boilerplate that is designed to sell newspapers. As a writing exercise, it is fairly interesting -- they managed to hit most of the boxes for fiscal conservative scare stories....
More faux economics pushing a political agenda.

Bond Economics
Fiscal Crisis Sighted! Break Out The Popcorn!
Brian Romanchuk

Schiller Institute - How To Outflank Mad Theresa May's March to World War III

A little bit of optimism, I thought, in this interesting video, although a little dry at first, but it's worth persevering with.  

Are the neocons being cornered, is neoliberalism being outpaced and about to die with another banking cras eminent? Are the Europeans fragmented over Russia? Does great evil initiate a response of even greater good and so could peaceful China eventually subdue rotten West? Could Chinese dollars locked away unused at the fed be used to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure? A win, win, for everyone, although the US could do it itself if it caught onto MMT  KV

What can explain the lemming-like reaction of Trans-Atlantic governments, to the hysterical escalation of the British Empire against Russia, in the Skripal affair? As Helga Zepp LaRouche has emphasized, there is only one explanation, which is the desperate fear of the "elites" in power, that the days of their bankrupt empire are numbered, as the vast proportion of humanity is catching the "New Silk Road Spirit," and is being recruited into the New Paradigm represented by the "win-win" policies of China and its Belt and Road Initiative. Rather than acknowledging the failure of their system, the imperial geopoliticians pulling May's strings are falling into the Thucydides Trap, risking the danger of the annihilation of mankind in a nuclear war — all to protect a failed and dying system.  Mrs. Zepp-LaRouche discusses this and more in today's webcast.

The Daily Mirror - Russian businessman 'on Vladimir Putin death list' dramatically flees London claiming real threat comes from British secret services

A Russian businessman who claimed he was 'marked for death' by Vladimir Putin in London has fled the UK - claiming the real threat to his life comes from British secret services.

Sergey Kapchuk, 45, filmed last week flanked by two bodyguards, says he is now in hiding in fear of his life somewhere in Europe.
“Basically, they [the British] had blocked all my accounts and are forcing me to come back.”
He would not return in the near furture.
"I am not sure about my safety in London,” he told pro-Kremlin Komsomolskaya Pravda.
“My life is more precious for me than any money.
"When Glushkov was killed, journalists wrote to me and called.
“They were flagging that I was the next one.
“And when you hear something like this, if you are not an idiot, you should react . So I hired bodyguards.”
Asked if he had been afraid at that point of Putin’s secret services or the British, he replied: “When I ordered bodyguards I just did not know what was going on around me.
“But gradually, analysing everything, I understood that I was not interesting for the Russian secret service.
“They did not have any reason to deal with me, but another secret service may be interested.
“I won’t name them.
“Their aim is to darken Putin and to demonise his image, and this process is actively going on in the Western media now.”

Friday, March 30, 2018

Alexander Mercouris — Furious China ramps up support for Russia on Skripal, calls West’s actions “outrageous”


Dave Majumdar | Defense Editor


The Real News - John Bolton: 'The Most Dangerous American'

"In my 50 year of service, John Bolton is the most dangerous American I've met," says Col. Larry Wilkerson

Will the Europeans have the guts not to back Trump if he tears up the Iran nuclear deal?

Welcome to the MMT University

Opening online in Fall 2018

Welcome to the MMT University

Gordon Watts — China accuses Canada of being ‘US colony’ as trade sparks fly

Harsh. Sure looks like a brewing trade war to me.

Asia Times
China accuses Canada of being ‘US colony’ as trade sparks fly
Gordon Watts

The Real News - Why Did The US Just Bar a Former British Diplomat From Entering the Country?

Why Did The US Just Bar a Former British Diplomat From Entering the Country?

Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray blew the whistle on how the Americans were using Uzbekistan's medieval torture program to produce false intelligence in the war on terror 


Craig Murray also thought that the UK was a force for good in the world until he discovered the secret US and UK torture program where people were being sent to Uzbekistan to be horribly tortured and sometimes their children were tortured in front of them too.

Craig Murray alerted to the Blair Labour government about the torture program and they told him to concentrate more on commercial interests and that he was too focused on human rights. Well, talk about a bunch of hypocrites when the British and American governments criticise Assad, or any other government they don't like.

Craig Murray says this torture program was to try to get information which could vastly exaggerate the Al-Qaeda threat so they could get a mandate to starts the wars to gain control of the oil and gas fields in Central Asia.

Craig Murray says he's not fully come to terms with how evil some people in the West are. He says he has severely criticised Putin and the Russian government on many occasions but has never been denied entry into Russia, only the US and Uzbekistan has denied him entry, which says something about these countries.

The Real News is getting better and better so I give a big thanks to Paul Jay. Watch this video and be outraged. KV

Current status of prosecution of the coup conspiracy

Best review of where we are in any media:

Brian Eno & Yanis Varoufakis: Restore Julian Assange’s access to visitors and the outside world!

It is with great concern that we heard that Julian Assange has lost access to the internet and the right to receive visitors at the Ecuadorian London Embassy. Only extraordinary pressure from the US and the Spanish governments can explain why Ecuador’s authorities should have taken such appalling steps in isolating Julian.

Only recently the government of Ecuador granted Julian citizenship and a diplomatic passport, in a bid to allow him safe passage from London. The UK government, under heavy pressure from the US government, refused to exploit this opportunity to end Julian’s detention – even after the Swedish authorities announced that no charges were, or would be, laid against him. Now, it seems that the Ecuadorian government that has been ‘leaned’ on mercilessly not only to stop attempting to provide Julian with a diplomatic route to safety but to drive him out of their London Embassy as well. In addition to US pressure, the Spanish government is also using its leverage over Ecuador to silence Julian’s criticisms of Madrid’s imprisonment of Catalan politicians and, in particular, of the arrest of Catalonia’s former premier in Germany.
Clearly, Ecuador’s government has been subjected to bullying over its decision to grant Julian asylum, support and, ultimately, diplomatic status. Naturally, Quito cannot admit that it is buckling under that pressure and it argues, in public, that Julian’s tweets over Catalonia are responsible for the decision to isolate him. Of course this is utterly unbelievable. Julian is now a citizen of Ecuador and as such enjoys the full protection of his freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Ecuador. Additionally, the only reason Julian is holed up in Ecuador’s London Embassy – and why Ecuador gave him asylum in the first place – is precisely because he empowered whistleblowers’ freedom of expression and defended our right to know the truth about practices of the US and other Western powers that the latter found ‘inconvenient’ once exposed to the light of day.
A world in which whistleblowers are hounded, small countries are forced to violate their cherished principles, and politicians are jailed for pursuing peacefully their political agenda is a deeply troubled world – a world at odds with the one the liberal establishment in Europe and the United States proclaimed as its artifact since the end of the Cold War.
With these thoughts in mind we call upon all citizens of good conscience to send a message to the Ecuadorian authorities asking that Julian’s access to the outside world be restored and another, more pertinent one, to the British authorities to end Julian’s detention.

UK Column News - 28th March 2018: The Fusion Doctrine

UK Column News describe the UK government's Fusion Report design to tackle 'terrorism'  which might be used to close down alternative news sites like UK Column News. They say this is a grave report which could close down all alternative web news sites by telling the public that they are doing this to counter terrorism.  UK Column News say how Hitler did away with democracy using the same type of propaganda. They say that the UK government is using propaganda to start a war with Russia.

Brian Gerrish, Mike Robinson and Alex Thomson with today's news update from the UK Column. START – Fusion Doctrine unleashed…the dictatorship unfolding Fake News Inquiry being used to silence alternative media 21:39 – Comparisons with the Reichstag fire… What was the Ermächtigungsgesetz of 1933…? 28:50 – Government or Parliament...who really controls the country…? Dark actors playing games… 31:41 – Britain to launch counter-propaganda war against Russia Past British government use of disinformation 35:59 – Holland now pumping out deliberate fake news… 38:25 – Who is really producing the ‘news’…? Billionaires, MOD & defence ‘establishment’ using psychological warfare on public 41:00 – Fusion Foundations…? Tories link UK security to Israel… 42:21 – Russian news analysis is on target 43:43 – UK behaviour in Skripal case is ignorant, deceitful & illegal 46:47 – The Russians are coming: quick, scrap the Navy… Local MP thinks defence cuts = more Navy Either madness or propaganda from the mouth of Tom Watson MP 52:28 – The Russians are coming: quick, break up the NHS… 53:53 – NHS conference: Dying for Good Health – 12 May, Nottingham 54:24 – Healthy Detachment event tonight at the Lugger Hotel, Penzance 19:30 55:59 – Treason May reaffirms ‘belief’ that Russia responsible for spy poisoning Plymouth has just severed all ties with Russia… UK Gov National Security Capability Review (introducing the Fusion Doctrine):

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Asher Schechter — “Globalization Has Contributed to Tearing Societies Apart”

In an interview with ProMarket, Harvard economist Dani Rodrik explained where globalization went wrong, how trade agreements serve rent-seeking by politically well-connected firms, and why the only solution to the rise of political populism is an economic populism that reimagines the institutions of capitalism.
There it is.

The options are overhaul or replacement. Of course, the capitalist elite will never get this, and populism will continue to rise and challenge the status quo.

As this process accelerates, the capitalist elite will rely the age-old remedy for domestic dysfunction— war — which focuses the entire attention of nations on survival.
“Globalization Has Contributed to Tearing Societies Apart”
Asher Schechter

Pepe Escobar — China taking the long road to solve the petro-yuan puzzle

Does the launch of the petro-yuan represent the ultimate deathblow to the petrodollar – and the birth of a completely new set of rules? Not so fast. That may take years, and depends on many variables, the most important of which will be China’s capacity to bend, tweak and ultimately rule the global oil market.
As the yuan progressively reaches full consolidation in trade settlement, the petro-yuan threat to the US dollar, inscribed in a complex, long-term process, will disseminate the Holy Grail: crude oil futures contracts priced in yuan fully convertible into gold.
That means China’s vast array of trade partners will be able to convert yuan into gold without having to keep funds in Chinese assets or turn them into US dollars. Exporters facing the wrath of Washington, such as Russia, Iran or Venezuela, may then avoid US sanctions by trading oil in yuan convertible to gold. Iran and Venezuela, for instance, would have no problems redirecting tankers to China in order to sell directly in the Chinese market – if that’s what it takes….
While the economic significance of this portends to be considerable, it is dwarfed by the geopolitical significance. Beijing just poked Washington in the eye.

Asia Times
China taking the long road to solve the petro-yuan puzzle
Pepe Escobar

Syria links

Is getting ready to pull out of Syria?

Trump: US Will Withdraw From Syria “Very Soon”

Or, is the US digging it for the long haul?

US Deploying Heavy Military Equipment To Consolidate Its Presence In Syria’s Al-Tanf – Russian Foreign Minsitry

Reuters — Walmart discussing closer ties with Humana, including possible acquisition: sources

Chasing Amazon.

Walmart discussing closer ties with Humana, including possible acquisition: sources

Stephanie Kelton — Use Fiscal Policy, Not the Fed, to Fight the Next Slump

Stephanie is now a contributor to Bloomberg View.
Stephanie Kelton is a professor of public policy and economics at Stony Brook University. She was the Democrats' chief economist on the staff of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee and an economic adviser to the 2016 presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders.
This is her maiden post.

Bloomberg View — Opinion
Use Fiscal Policy, Not the Fed, to Fight the Next Slump
Stephanie Kelton | Contributor

Moon of Alabama — "She Is Risen!" - Last Act Of 'Novichok' Drama Revealed: "The Skripals' Resurrection"

It seems that the 'Novichok' fairy-tale the British government plays to us provides for a happy ending - the astonishing and mysterious resurrection of the victims of a "military grade" "five to eight times more deadly than VX gas" "nerve agent" "of a type developed by" Hollywood....
Did the Brits jump the shark?

Moon of Alabama
"She Is Risen!" - Last Act Of 'Novichok' Drama Revealed: "The Skripals' Resurrection"
Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront


Global Research (Canada)
Old Pretexts for Mass-Murderous Aggression: A New War Against Russia in Ukraine Unfolding Before Our Eyes?
John Mc Murtry | Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Guelph, Canada

To my knowledge, none of the questions I wrote in my previous piece – 30 questions That Journalists Should be Asking About the Skripal Case – has been answered satisfactorily, at least not in the public domain. Yet despite the fact that these legitimate questions have not yet been answered, and many important facts surrounding the case are still unknown, the case has given rise to a serious international crisis, with the extraordinary expulsion of Russian diplomats across many EU countries and particularly the United States on March 26th.…

I pointed out in my previous piece that it is not my intention to advance some sort of conspiracy theory on this blog. It remains the case that I simply don’t have any holistic theory — “conspiracy” or otherwise — for who carried this out, and I continue to retain an open mind. But since the Government of my country has rushed to judgement without many of the facts of the case being established, and since this has led to the biggest deterioration in relations between nuclear-armed nations since the Cuban Missile Crisis, it seems to me that it is more important than ever to keep asking questions in the hope that answers will come.
And so, for what it’s worth, here are 20 more important questions that I think that journalists ought to be asking regarding this case:
To my mind, an obvious question that no one seems to be talking about is why Yulia Skripal was a target, too. It seems doubtful to me that she accidentally happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This appears to be a huge loose end that is being ignored. It's not difficult to conceive alternative scenarios that involve her closely.

There are other questions that come to mind that aren't being asked, at least publicly, but this question seems to me to be of high priority.

Rob Slane

Xuan Loc Doan — Beijing’s ‘win-win’ Korean Peninsula scenario

Diplomatic ping-pong.

China seeks a "win-win," while Washington regards geopolitics as a zero-sum game.

Asia Times
Beijing’s ‘win-win’ Korean Peninsula scenario
Xuan Loc Doan

See also

Not only Turkey.

Geopolitics Alert
Turkey Breaks with NATO, Refuses to Expel Russians
Jim Carey

RT - On path to de-dollarization: World tired of funding US military adventurism – Max Keiser

The imminent introduction of oil trading in yuan is a very bold move by the Chinese, because the US will not give up the basis of its hegemony – the dollar as the world’s reserve currency – without a fight, Max Keiser, host of RT’s financial program ‘Keiser Report’ has said.
The Chinese plan to roll out a yuan-denominated oil contract before the end of this year is a very brave move, since countries who “tried to exit the oil-dollar matrix have met terrible ends,” Keiser pointed out.
“Saddam Hussein wanted to trade oil in Euros and he was killed, Muammar Gaddafi wanted to trade his energy in something other than the US dollar – he was killed,” Keiser said.
China, however, has the resolve and the resources to pull-off the de-dollarization, and besides, it’s backed by several major countries which are “resistant to America’s financial cartel,” namely Russia and Iran, Keiser said.
“Kudos to China for taking this project on and of course they are rumored to be a big buyer in the Aramco offering of their state oil facilities coming down the pike,” Keiser said, referring to the anticipated sales of shares in the Saudi Aramco state oil company.
“This makes sense, geopolitical sense, in terms you’ve got China and Russia and the Saudis looking to escape the US dollar, US dollar hegemony.”
Saudi Arabia was pushed to the de-dollarization crowd only recently by the US itself, which, last year, allowed survivors and relatives of the victims of the 9/11 attack to sue the kingdom over its alleged role in the terrorist acts, Keiser stated.
“There’s decently motivation for the Saudis. They want to float Aramco, they are deeply in debt and they are running out of cash. And they wanted to do an APO [alternative public offering] of Aramco either on London or American exchange, but they prevented from doing so from the legal actions of the 9/11 survivors, who rightly pointed at Saudis as the cause of 9/11,” Keiser noted.
Countries worldwide are tired of funding the America’s “military adventurism by being a party to the ‘Empire of Debt,’ as it’s known around the world – the US dollar,” and therefore, will likely join the de-dollarization movement, Keiser said.
The US financial sector and its military-industrial complex are unlikely to give up the dollar hegemony without a fight, though, as the dollar is both the basis and the main product of America. And the US will use its other favorite tool for it – war, Keiser believes.“Maybe they will start a war between Japan and China, and maybe they will start a war with North Korea. America will do anything to keep the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency,” Keiser said.
“They will invade the countries, like Afghanistan, they will stop at nothing. Because this is the basis of the US empire. It’s not land-based, it’s not based on material goods, it’s based on rent-seeking. It’s based on landing dollars, getting out income and when countries can’t pay they dismantle the assets and take them over. We saw it in Latin America, South America, this is how America built its empire.”

Alastair Crooke — The Geo-Political Poker Game: Where’s the 'Off-Ramp'?

“At the moment, it’s a game of chicken with no off-ramp,” Tom Pickering, another former US Ambassador to Russia, has said. “And we need to be looking at the off-ramp.”
While this piece is mostly about Russia and Putin, this observation about about China is also noteworthy:
Regime change may not be being spoken of in terms of China, but the latter fully understands that it is at the top of the Bolton-Pompeo-Trump ‘hit list’, and that its standing as ‘revisionist threat, number one’ enjoys bipartisan support in America.
 As I've been saying.
Sic Semper Tyrannis
Alastair Crooke
How do you know when a politician is lying?
Their lips move and words come out.
How do you know when the United States is at a disadvantage in a geopolitical quagmire?
Our diplomats and Presidents want to ‘open up talks.’...
Russia InsiderYou Know the US Is Losing; We’re Willing to Talk
Tom Luongo


Touché. Lavrov trolls May and Johnson.

Russia to UK: Prove Your Spies Did Not Poison Our Citizens or Face Consequences


Life mimics art.

Russia Feed
Do you think this is where the Brits got the idea to expel Russian Diplomats? [VIDEO]

Seraphim Hanisch

Stephen F. Cohen — Unproven Allegations Against Trump and Putin Are Risking Nuclear War

“Russiagate” and the Skirpal affair have escalated dangers inherent in the new Cold War beyond those of the preceding one.
Playing with fire while playing politics. The irresponsibility of this is great enough to disqualify for leadership or official capacity.

The Nation
Unproven Allegations Against Trump and Putin Are Risking Nuclear War
Stephen F. Cohen | Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies, History, and Politics at New York University and Princeton University

See also

Let’s Not Fall Into the Cold-War Arms-Control Trap
Patrick Lawrence

Duncan Green — What does the public think about inequality, its causes and policy responses?

When it comes to inequality, a growing body of evidence shows that people across countries underestimate the size of the gap between the rich and poor, including their wages. This can undermine support for policies to tackle inequality and even lead to apathy that consolidates the gap.
But how exactly are existing perceptions of inequality measured by social scientists?...
Irene Bucelli, of the LSE and Franziska Mager, of Oxfam GB, summarize the results from an Oxfam volunteer research project....

Ashley Rodriguez — Google has made it official: The internet is now mobile-first

This may go down in history as the week the mobile web became the web.
On Monday, Google began indexing and ranking pages on its search engine based on the mobile versions of websites rather than the desktop ones, the company announced. The change may seem minor, but it underscores how Google views and presents the web to the world—as mobile first.
"The medium is the message" — Marshall McLuhan

Google has made it official: The internet is now mobile-first
Ashley Rodriguez

Bill Mitchell — My response to a German critic of MMT – Part 2

This is the second part of my response to an article published by the German-language service Makroskop (March 20, 2018) – Modern Monetary Theory: Einwände eines wohlwollenden Zweiflers (Modern Monetary Theory – Questions from a Friendly Critic) – and written by Martin Höpner, who is a political scientist associated with the Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung (Max Planck Institute for Social Research – MPIfG) in Cologne. In this part we discuss bond yields and bond issuance. I had originally planned a two-part series but the issues are detailed and to keep each post at a manageable length, I have opted to spread the response over three separate posts. In Part 3 (next week) we will discuss inflation and round up the evaluation of his input to the debate....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
My response to a German critic of MMT – Part 2
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Impact Assessment Of $60B China Trade Tariffs

The purpose of this article is to show how the proposed $60B trade tariffs on China will impact macro fiscal flows and investment markets. To assess this regulatory change, a balance of sectoral flow analysis has been used (following British economist Professor Wynne Godley's work)….
Seeking Alpha
Impact Assessment Of $60B China Trade Tariffs
Alan Longbon

Reuters — China warns U.S. not to open Pandora's Box, unleash trade ills on world

The take-away: "Negotiations must be equal, and China will not accept any consultation under unilateral coercion,” Gao said."

China (and Russia) demand to be treated as equals, which would mean the US accepting multipolarity. 

Is the US willing to go to the mat to maintain unipolarity?

Stay tuned.

China warns U.S. not to open Pandora's Box, unleash trade ills on world
Se Young Lee and Yawen Chen

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Kimberley Yoo — When Minsky Meets Complexity

Dissertation summary.

Progress in Political Economy
Kimberley Yoo is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney researching computational modeling and complexity theory.

Zero Hedge — Kyle Bass's Bet Against The Yuan Led To 19% Loss Last Year

Another flash in the pan.

Zero Hedge
Kyle Bass's Bet Against The Yuan Led To 19% Loss Last Year
Tyler Durden

Brian Romanchuk — The Curious Notation Of DSGE Models

This article is an appendix to my earlier articles on dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model accounting (here and here). The problem with my understanding of DSGE appears to be that I assumed that the DSGE modellers were using mathematical notation in a standard fashion. I now realise that the secret sauce to DSGE modelling is a blatant disregard to mathematical notation. I had pointed out that I was missing something; my assumption that there were some super important theorems from microeconomics that everyone was invoking, but not formally specifying. Instead, the answer is much simpler: the notation used was misleading, if not outright incorrect.

(I have been hit with a number of projects recently -- including a MMT presentation at Concordia University last night. As a result, this article is relatively brief and tentative. I will return to a more meatier conclusions when I discuss the treatment of the governmental sector. Note that my earlier articles hinted at what I discuss here, but I had not gone to far in formalising this. The formalisation is a key step; if the notation is wrong, the only way to deal with the problem is to fix the notation.)…
Bond Economics
The Curious Notation Of DSGE Models
Brian Romanchuk

Kara Love — If John Bolton Is Right, Pearl Harbor Was Perfectly Legal

"Preemptive war."

If John Bolton Is Right, Pearl Harbor Was Perfectly Legal
Kara Love, attorney

RT — Spread of Wahhabism was done at request of West during Cold War – Saudi crown prince

The Saudi-funded spread of Wahhabism began as a result of Western countries asking Riyadh to help counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the Washington Post.

Speaking to the paper, bin Salman said that Saudi Arabia's Western allies urged the country to invest in mosques and madrassas overseas during the Cold War, in an effort to prevent encroachment in Muslim countries by the Soviet Union.

Note: Some may wonder why the link is to RT rather than to the Washington Post where the story appeared. I choose not to link to the Washington Post, the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal.

Spread of Wahhabism was done at request of West during Cold War – Saudi crown prince

Ted Galen Carpenter — The Real Problem with Gina Haspel's CIA Nomination

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche expressed the cautionaryadmonition: “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster.” Too often, we have ignored that warning. Gina Haspel’s defenders assert that her behavior conformed to procedures that senior CIA officials (and presumably the Bush White House) had approved. The international community rejected the “just following orders” defense that defendants invoked at the Nuremberg trials. Haspel’s defense is no more valid or persuasive. We should not accept a female version of the Marquis de Sade to lead the CIA. A refusal to do so would be a modest, but important, first step in reclaiming America’s soul.
The foundation of liberalism is the rule of law regarding human rights and constitutional liberties. I would say that the real problem with respect to liberalism is failure to observe the rule of law, along with failure to hold those violating the law to account.

Liberalism is idealistic, whereas politics and economics are realistic. This leads to paradoxes of liberalism that affect liberal democracy.

Good article. Worth reading the whole thing.

The National Interest
The Real Problem with Gina Haspel's CIA Nomination
Ted Galen Carpenter | senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest


A Chilean reports on women torturers under Pinochet.

It’s Time the United States Accounts for Its History of Torture
Ariel Dorfman
Article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times

Dylan Curran — Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you

The harvesting of our personal details goes far beyond what many of us could imagine.
The Guardian
Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you
Dylan Curran


Making Earth Great Again!  More winning!  (I don't know if I can take much more winning!)

Took Xi long enough... also had to consolidate his power as President for life and Trump had to make credible threats of a big trade war (USD zombies are so predictable...)  to get it done but we'll take it...

China (finally) getting one leg into its big boy pants...

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Dave Majumdar — Russia Just Revealed How It Will Fight the Wars of the Future (And Its Shocking)

More arms race stuff. Should be worth a few trillion.
The big concern for United States and NATO is that if Russia realizes its vision, it will have the ability to precisely strike deep inside alliance territory. That means that Russian force will be able to strike at infrastructure such as air bases deep inside alliance territory.
“The U.S. must plan to counter a wide variety of UASs along with space-based assets,” Bendett said. “Not to mention countering potential deep-strike capability by Russian technologies currently in development.”
The National Interest
Russia Just Revealed How It Will Fight the Wars of the Future (And Its Shocking)
Dave Majumdar | Defense Editor

See also by the same author.

Mattis is blinded by cognitive bias if he believes the stuff he is spouting, putting all the blame on Russia. He is simply in denial of US and NATO actions over the last 25 years that resulted in Russia's coming to regard the US and NATO as an adversary and taking steps to respond, as Putin set forth in 2008.

Mattis: Russia Has Chosen To Be a "Strategic Competitor"


There's a new kid on the block.
Satellite images taken Monday show a huge carrier-led fleet of Chinese ships in formation for spring exercises off the coast of Hainan Province in the South China Sea.
One of the images, gathered by the company Planet Labs, shows almost 40 ships sailing two abreast in a row, with China’s first aircraft carrier, the Russian-built Type 001 Liaoning, near the center.
The Chinese navy recently announced that it would be holding spring training exercises in the South China Sea to test its combat readiness.
“The South China Sea and East China Sea will be primary battlegrounds,” Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the state-run Global Times newspaper on Sunday. “The [People’s Liberation Army] is committed to be battle-ready through simulated combat training.”
Song said that unlike previous years in which exercises have been held in spring and fall, navy drills will be held each month in 2018....
Stars and Stripes
Satellite photos show large Chinese fleet in South China Sea for drills
Gillian Wong And Kim Tong-Hyung | Associated Press

D. Parvaz — The one thing all the countries expelling Russian diplomats have in common

Western (white-dominant).
All the countries who have expelled diplomats so far are Western nations. Indeed, there’s not a single country in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, or Latin America participating in this diplomatic purge.
Theodore Karasik, project investigator for the Russia in the Middle East Project at the Jamestown Foundation said what’s happening now represents a “bifurcation between Russia and the West.”
The East-West split coming isn’t about religious or cultural differences of course, but about Russia — with China — creating a sphere of influence that counters the West.
This much is correct. The rest of the article is poor analysis based on wishful thinking, as typical of the West, which sees everything through its own biases.

The US views what is happening as being instigated by Russia and China, along with Iran and others,  when it is a dialectical reaction to the consequences of US attitude, behavior, and policy.

The article is interesting for the further reason that Think Progress is a site that aligns with American "liberals" versus American "conservatives," and the major spokesperson quote is from the Jamestown Foundation,  a very conservative institution. Bipartisanship?

Think Progress
The one thing all the countries expelling Russian diplomats have in common
D. Parvaz

See also

Almost everyone but the West, although a few Western governments are included.

Nearly 160 countries outside 'Western bloc' want to see proof in Skripal case – Russia’s UK embassy

Patrick Cockburn — It’s wishful thinking to blame Clinton’s loss on Cambridge Analytica; Cambridge Analytica has now joined Russia at the top of a list of conspirators who may have helped Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016, leaving the real reasons unexamined

Many people who hate and fear Donald Trump feel that only political black magic or some form of trickery can explain his election as US President. They convince themselves that we are the victims of a dark conspiracy rather than that the world we live in is changing, and changing for the worse.
Cambridge Analytica has now joined Russia at the top of a list of conspirators who may have helped Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. This is satisfactory for Democrats as it shows that they ought to have won, and delegitimises Trump’s mandate.
In the Russian and Cambridge Analytica scandals, dodgy characters abound who claim to have a direct line to Putin or Trump, or to have secret information about political opponents or a unique method of swaying the voting intentions of millions of Americans.
The most doubtful evidence is treated as credible....
The Independent (UK
It’s wishful thinking to blame Clinton’s loss on Cambridge Analytica; Cambridge Analytica has now joined Russia at the top of a list of conspirators who may have helped Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016, leaving the real reasons unexamined
Patrick Cockburn

Andrew Buncombe — US Defence Secretary says it 'kinda looked like' Kim Jong Un made secret visit to China as North Korea train leaves Beijing

At present I have no understanding of the situation you mention. If there is news we will release it'
So we are supposed to believe that the US intelligence services know what Putin is thinking when they don't know whether Kim went to China and if he did, what he transpired there?

Really? Either Mattis is not being forthcoming about this, is not in the intel loop, or there's something fishy with the narrative about Russia.

And apparently, the US was taken by surprise by the revelation of Russia newest weapons. Are the US intel services asleep at the switch or too busy pursing the Steele dossier to take the Russian military-industrail complex into account?

Too many loose ends in the narrative but it doesn't matter since US and Western journalists don't stray from the script and stick to the playbook.

Xinhua — Truth behind China-U.S. trade 'imbalances'

Deconstructing the aggregates.
The gap resulted mainly from differences in statistical approaches, such as whether or not to include transit trade in the calculations, according to Zhang Monan, researcher with China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
Such discrepancies have inflated the U.S. calculation of its trade deficit with China by about 20 percent every year, according to Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan.
The United States is home to many multinational companies that have a global supply chain, but the current total value statistical method has distorted reality, analysts said.
An iPhone, for example, uses components made in different countries around the world and is only assembled and manufactured in China, but the calculation of trade statistics attributed most of the value to China.
"In this case, China is taking the blame for others," Zhang said.
She added that most of the profits actually went to U.S. companies but the value of the products was reflected in Chinese exports, resulting in inaccurate statistics.
What's more, when talking about the deficit with China, the United States always played down trade of services, according to Tu Xinquan, professor at the University of International Business and Economics.
Data from China's Ministry of Commerce showed that the country has a service trade deficit with the United States, and the gap has been widening.
Official data showed China's service trade deficit totaled 255.4 billion U.S. dollars last year, with the United States as a major contributor. From 2006 to 2016, China's service trade deficit with the United States increased by more than 30 times..
Statistical differences aside, the fact that the United States is not only running a trade deficit with China, but many other countries means the root cause of the imbalance is the U.S. economic structure, which features low savings and high consumption.
In the past decades, U.S. businesses transferred their manufacturing bases to countries with cheap labor and low costs, which helped drive up their profits and benefited consumers.
In a world whose prosperity has been built on the free flow of trade and investment, price-sensitive consumers largely decided the directions of trade, either for exports or imports.
"China has been a major market where the United States enjoyed its fastest export growth, and an important cause of the trade imbalance is the fact that many U.S. goods are less competitive in the Chinese market," said Long Guoqiang, deputy director of the Development Research Center of the State Council.
Solutions to the U.S.-China trade deficit do not come from cutting imports from China, but from U.S. enterprises making their products more competitive, he said.
Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens AG, held the same view.
"I believe people should not confuse the lack of competitiveness with unfair trade. If companies lack competitiveness, they need to invest in innovation and people development in order to catch up," he told reporters at the China Development Forum in Beijing.
As China has repeatedly stressed, the trade imbalance between the two countries is mainly a result of different economic structures, industrial competitiveness, and international division of labor, and China has never sought a trade surplus as the flow of trade is determined by the market.
Another factor that has often been overlooked is that U.S. control of high-tech exports to China contributed a lot to trade deficit with China, Minister Zhong said earlier this month, quoting one U.S. research report which estimated a 35-percent fall in trade deficit with China if the United States relaxed export restrictions.... 

See also

The West gangs up on China, even though Germany runs a chronic trade surplus, as have US allies Japan and South Korea.

Trump talks China trade with Merkel, Macron
Megan Cassella

The Trump administration is considering a crackdown on Chinese investments in technologies the U.S. considers sensitive by invoking a law reserved for national emergencies, among other options, according to people familiar with the matter.

Treasury Department officials are working on plans to identify technology sectors in which Chinese companies would be banned from investing, such as semiconductors and so-called 5G wireless communications, according to four people with knowledge of the proposal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
What will happen when China declares rare earths a strategic resource and prohibits export?

U.S. Weighs Use of Emergency Law to Curb Chinese Takeovers 
Andrew Mayeda, Saleha Mohsin, and David McLaughlin

But, deal must clear Treasury committee, which killed Broadcom's bid for Qualcomm.
Ars Technica
Foxconn snaps up Belkin—including Linksys, Wemo brands—for $866 million
Cyrus Farivar

Edward Harrison — Links: De-dollarization, top down US policy and the new Cold War

I have a lot more links, especially on financial markets. And I probably will add a few later. But I want to get this post out. So I am going to stop here for now.
Credit Writedowns
Links: De-dollarization, top down US policy and the new Cold War
Edward Harrison

See also
Two European elections – in Germany on 24 September 2017 and Italy on 4 March 2018 – warn that the peoples of Europe are drifting apart. Much of the recent deepening of these divisions can be traced to Europe’s single currency, the euro. This column argues that the political divide in Europe may now be hard to roll back absent a shift in focus to national priorities that pay urgent attention to the needs of those being left behind.
The euro area’s deepening political divide
Ashoka Mody

RT — Act of enslaved govt: Center-right coalition to take power in Italy slams Russian diplomat expulsion

The politician hoping to be Italy’s next prime minister blasted the decision to expel Russian diplomats from the country. A fellow coalition member criticized the outgoing government for “serving the will of foreign states.” 
Act of enslaved govt: Center-right coalition to take power in Italy slams Russian diplomat expulsion

Eric Schliesser — A note on Weber's famous definition

The state is the form a human community that (successfully) lays claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical violence within a given territory. --- Max Weber, "Politics as Vocation," (33), translated Rodney Livingstone.
In context, Weber claims that the monopoly is a consequence of a historical process in which intermediary powers and institutions lose their capability for independent use of physical violence. He leaves it a bit ambiguous if it is appropriate to call earlier 'states,' which lacked the monopoly, 'states' or if the use of 'state' has shifted (and that his definition is, thus, context specific). While the idea of a monopoly of physical violence arguably goes back to Bodin or Hobbes, I suspect Weber is the first to use the economic language; this is no coincidence. Throughout the famous lecture, Weber treats the corporation and the state as analogies (in the way that Hobbes uses the family as the relevant analogy for the state). Weber does not address the question why such a political monopoly is a good thing....

A note on Weber's famous definition
Eric Schliesser | Professor of Political Science, University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

See also

While the summary doesn't mention it, this applies to stereotypes and stereotypical thinking, which is a form of cognitive-affective bias.

Imperfect Cognitions — Blog on delusional beliefs, distorted memories, confabulatory explanations, unrealistically optimistic predictions, and implicit biases
Conceptual Centrality and Implicit Bias
Posted by Kathy Puddifoot


  1. Persian Empire
  2. Roman Empire
  3. Mongol Empire
  4. Caliphate
  5. British Empire

The author draws lessons for the inchoate American Empire that emerged post WWII.

The National Interest
These Are the 5 Most Powerful Empires of All Time
Akhilesh Pillalamarri

Keith A. Spencer — Thomas Piketty Sees Only One Way to Defeat the Rise of the Radical Right

In a new paper, French political economist Thomas Piketty, author of the bestselling 2013 book "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," argues that Western political parties on the right and left have both become parties of the "elites."
Yet the 65-page paper from the notoriously punctilious economist — titled "Brahmin Left vs. Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict" — is more surprising for the lessons it has for the political left in the Western world. Indeed, the left-populist wing of Western political parties, including the American progressive movement restarted by Bernie Sanders, has reason to celebrate: Piketty's paper aligns with their somewhat counterintuitive strategy that shifting the Democratic Party platform more to the left is actually a winning electoral strategy that can help bring back disenfranchised working-class voters and less educated voters who currently may not vote at all or identify with right-wing populism.…
Thomas Piketty Sees Only One Way to Defeat the Rise of the Radical Right
Keith A. Spencer, Salon

Samuel Hammond — Why Not A Job Guarantee?

The U.S. government could commit to full employment by offering any willing and able person a job in public service. But should it? Known as a job guarantee, the once heterodox idea went mainstream last year with the endorsement of the Center for American Progress. While the specifics of any particular plan vary, CAP proposes “a large-scale, permanent program of public employment and infrastructure investment—similar to the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression but modernized for the 21st century.”

Proponents argue that involuntary unemployment is a major source of social instability, and that public service employment, in particular, would help bring the country together. Nevertheless, here are three quick reasons why I don’t think a job guarantee is the way to go....
Conservative objections based on conservative ideology and values.

Niskanen Center
Why Not A Job Guarantee?
Samuel Hammond

Zero Hedge — Bank Sector In Peril As Refi Activity Crashes Amid Rising Rates

As Black Knight writes, it looks at the – quite dramatic – effect the mortgage rate rise has had on the population of borrowers who could both likely qualify for and have interest rate incentive to refinance. It finds that the number of potential refinance candidates has tumbled to the lowest since December 2008....
To be sure, it is hardly a shock that after a decade of record low rates, the current rise in rates means a collapse in refi activity: after all anyone who could, and would, refinance, already has, while the universe of those who have yet to take advantage of lower rates and are eligible to do so, has collapsed.
Which is bad news not only for homeowners, but also for the banks, whose refi pipeline - a steady source of income and easy profit - is about to vaporize....
Zero Hedge
Bank Sector In Peril As Refi Activity Crashes Amid Rising Rates
Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge — US Demands China Keep Importing American Garbage

This is not a joke.

Zero Hedge
US Demands China Keep Importing American Garbage
Tyler Durden

Asia Unhedged — Russia, China eclipse US in hypersonic missiles: Pentagon

Arms race.
Others have noted to Asia Unhedged that the US defense establishment’s goal when speaking to lawmakers is to drum up support for more funding. Exaggerating threats, or short comings, instills a sense of urgency for additional investment in arms development.
Asia Times
Russia, China eclipse US in hypersonic missiles: Pentagon

Paul Robinson — Moving forward

Yesterday Germany expelled four Russian diplomats. But today it gave the go-ahead for North Stream 2 – a symbolic slap on Russia’s wrist, followed by a extremely valuable decision in Russia’s favour. If I was Russian, I’d be far more pleased by the latter than annoyed by the former. Perhaps, when it comes to what really matters, things aren’t quite as bad as they seem. The West is willing to stamp its foot and shake its fist, but it isn’t willing to put its money where its mouth is....
Economics supervening over geopolitics. Same with China.

From what I am reading from intel insiders, the expulsions were of spooks rather than "diplomats." Their assessment is that Russia will just reciprocate, leaving the West blind on the ground in Russia.

Moving forward
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

SouthFront — SDF Confirms Reports That US Establishes Military Base In Vicinity Of Syria’s Largest Oil Field

The US is building a large military base in the vicinity of Syria’s largest oil field – the Omar oil field, Mehdi Kobani, a press secretary of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Deir Ezzor confirmed to Sputnik Turkiye.
“The US is building a large military base in the oil-rich Al Omar region of Deir ez-Zor province. Due to security concerns we cannot provide information about the acreage of this new installation. There is currently construction machinery working in the vicinity of the base, and security is being provided by SDF forces,” Kobani said thus confirming earlier reports on the issue.
The Omar oil field was captured by the US-backed SDF during its anti-ISIS campaign in eastern Syria. According to Syrian sources, the military installation in the area is aimed to allow the US to consolidate control of the oil resources in the eastern part of the country setting ground for further occupation of the area. These oil resources will also be used to strengthen the influence of the US proxies – the SDF – in the area.…
Here, follow the money = follow the oil. US true intent? "It's our oil."

SDF Confirms Reports That US Establishes Military Base In Vicinity Of Syria’s Largest Oil Field

Jake Anderson — 10 Social Media Networks to Use Instead of Facebook (STEEMIT)

Russia Insider
10 Social Media Networks to Use Instead of Facebook (STEEMIT)
Jake Anderson