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SOTT Exclusive: Far-right German anti-Islamization rally attracts Israeli psychologist

Avituv at the PEGIDA rally in Frankfurt Jan. 26th 2015
At a recent PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) rally in Frankfurt, Israeli psychologist Dr. Rotem Avituv gave a disturbing speech that evoked the rhetoric of the Nazi era. Wrapped in a German flag with an Israeli flag apparently fluttering close by, Avituv told the cheering crowd:
"We will stand together and deal with the real Nazis. The Nazis are inside the Islam mentality. In those who want to sell Germany for votes ... you are the true spirit of Germany, Islam wants to take you and drink from the milk of Germany. But they're not Germans, they do not love you. they love themselves. For many years I have looked at Germany...never feel ashamed of yourselves, not even because of the past, you and I are one, we are brothers! The Muslims say we are Islamophobe, yes! I am Islamophobe, because phobia is fear and I am afraid of murder, I am afraid to be raped, I want Germany to be safe...Fuck you, we are stronger, we will win!"
Bizarro Earth

Lead From Behind strategy - How the U.S. is adapting to a multipolar world

© flickr.com/ Prince of the Blue Moon
The US is constructing a global system of bilateral and multilateral alliances to assist it in more efficiently projecting power throughout the 21st century. As the world moves towards multipolarity, the US is prepared to exploit this trend to its geopolitical advantage.

Instead of 'going it alone' as Bush was prone to do, the US is now finding ways to get others to do its dirty work by convincing its 'partners' that they have a shared interest in doing so. During the 2011 War on Libya, France and the UK took the helm while the US, as it was described, "Led From Behind". A New York Times editorial at the time defined this as "discreet US military assistance with [others] doing the trumpeting". Four years later, this concept has grown out of its Libyan test tube and gone global, with the US setting up similar alliance systems all throughout the world in order to indirectly project its will in key regions. As the cynical saying goes, "Why do for yourself what others can do for you?"

'Friends' Across The World

Let's take a look at the US' Lead From Behind (LFB) partners, beginning from the Western Hemisphere and moving eastward:

Latin America:

The US works closely with the Pacific Alliance, a neo-liberal economic trading group composed of close allies Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, and Chile. Their shared goal is to counter the leftist economic vision emanating from Venezuela and to dismantle its geopolitical resistance network of Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador, and Bolivia. The end result is to surround and contain Brazil in case it ever decides to seriously counter the US' influence.

Comment: See also: GRTV Documentary - ISIL and its So-Called Caliphate: Israeli-US Tools to Divide Iraq
The US military cannot go into any country that it desires for regime change. This is why Washington has applied other techniques for regime change. In 2006, with the failure of the US to break the Resistance Bloc or Axis of Resistance in the Middle East, the US began its "redirection" policy and opted to use insurgencies, sectarianism, colour revolutions, and intensified covert operations.

Stock Down

South Korea stares into the deflationary abyss

© SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg
Hyundai vehicles at a delivery center at the company’s factory in Asan, South Korea.
As Japanese exporters enjoy an earnings boost from the weakened yen, their rivals in South Korea are struggling with a stronger won. Hyundai Motor's net income fell 14 percent in 2014, the biggest decline since 2008. The automaker's subsidiary, Kia Motors, suffered a 22 percent drop in profits, with earnings in the fourth quarter collapsing 54 percent. The picture isn't bright for Korean retailers, either. Consumers are spending less at department stores Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae.

The bad results are adding to worries that the South Korean economy may soon stumble into a Japan-style deflationary trap. Consumer prices rose just 0.8 percent in December compared with a year earlier, and Samsung Securities expects prices in 2015 to rise less than 1 percent. From last October to December, the economy grew 0.4 percent over the previous quarter, and domestic demand contracted 0.6 percent. "Korea's economic momentum faded quickly at the end of last year," Mark Walton, a senior economist with BNP Paribas, wrote in a Jan. 27 report. "The breadth of the slowdown hints at a deep-seated malaise."

Comment: A bad sign when combined with deflationary pressures in the Euro zone. Deflation can be much more dangerous than moderate inflation. Especially in an economy with as much household debt as South Korea (87% of GDP).

Shopping Bag

Preparing for real-life economic collapse - acquire new skills!

Did you ever think about what your life would be like if the stores were closed? I'm not talking about a post-apocalyptic Mad Max scenario or a winter storm that clears the shelves. I'm talking about a long-term disruption of services caused by an economic collapse.

What if you couldn't run to Wal-Mart to get soap? What if the grocery store had supplies so limited that they were rationed out to people in such small amounts that the food you got was not enough to meet your needs? What if there were no diapers for your baby or aspirin to cure a headache?

This is exactly what happens in a serious economic collapse. It happened a couple of years ago in Greece, and it's happening right now in Venezuela. Bloomberg.com reports a scene of desperation:
Long lines, some stretching for blocks, formed outside grocery stores in the South American country's capital as residents search for scarce basic items such as detergent and chicken.

"I've visited six stores already today looking for detergent - I can't find it anywhere," said Lisbeth Elsa, a 27-year-old janitor, waiting in line outside a supermarket in eastern Caracas. "We're wearing our dirty clothes again because we can't find it. At this point I'll buy whatever I can find."

Comment: Once the economy collapses, all bets are off! It's a good suggestion to try to improve skills for self-reliance as long as there is still some time left to do.

Also cleaning up your diet and thus reinforcing your immune defence is part of being prepared:


Syriza's shame: Greece backs extension of Russian sanctions

© Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko

A man walks past a shop which was recently damaged by shelling, at a local market in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, January 29, 2015.
European Union foreign ministers extended existing sanctions against Russia on Thursday, holding off on tighter economic measures for now but winning the support of the new left-leaning government of Greece, whose position had been in doubt.

The ministers agreed to extend until September travel bans and asset freezes imposed last year that had been due to expire. They also agreed to list the names of additional people who could be targeted with sanctions when they meet again on Feb. 9.

They dropped language, however, about drawing up "further restrictive measures" that had appeared in a pre-meeting draft. The bloc's foreign policy chief said a decision on such measures would be left to EU leaders meeting next month.

Comment: Well that was fast. Greece had the chance to take an effective, moral stand and they blew it. Perhaps they're just 'playing it safe', but voting to continue a present evil is little better than adding another evil (more sanctions) on top of it.


Loophole USA: The vortex hole in global financial transparency

bengal in boat
© www.tovima.gr
Reciprocity adrift in upcoming storm, an offshore problem!
If people stash their wealth or earn income overseas, that is fine with us - just as long as their tax authorities get the information they need to tax that wealth or income according to the law, and as long as money laundering and financial crimes can be effectively tracked, and so on. Where there are cross-border barriers to the instruments of democratic societies, then there is an offshore problem.

The only credible way to provide the necessary information is through so-called automatic information exchange (AIE), where governments make sure the necessary information is available across borders, as a matter of routine.

For years we at the Tax Justice Network were ridiculed for advocating AIE: pie in the sky, many people said. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the club of rich countries that dominates international rule-making on tax and tax-related information sharing, was for years pushing its so-called Internationally Accepted Standard which was, well, the internationally accepted standard for cross-border information exchange, despite being only slightly better than useless. The message was that we should just accept this, and move on.

How the world has turned since a couple of years ago. The OECD is now in the middle of putting in place a system - known as the Common Reporting Standards (CRS) - to implement automatic information exchange (AIE). The CRS is the first ever potentially global system of AIE, and although it has major shortcomings and loopholes, it's potentially a giant step forwards from a largely transparency-free past.

Meanwhile the European Union had been moving ahead with plans to beef up its own, older plans for AIE, notably through amendments to tighten up its loophole-ridden Savings Tax Directive and other initiatives. The United States, for its part, has been rumbling forwards with its Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which is, at least technically speaking from a self-interested U.S. perspective, fairly strong. In fact, the OECD's CRS is modeled on FATCA.

But - and here comes a big 'but' - how do these different initiatives mesh together? Might anything fall between the cracks?

The European Union, for its part, seems to be working hard and in fairly straightforward fashion to get its ducks in line with the CRS, the OECD's emerging global standard. It will be incorporating a lot of the OECD technical standards into EU law, in cut-and-paste fashion, and will add categories to include in the mix: such as covering the all-important insurance sector more comprehensively than the CRS does, and covering other categories of income and capital including income from employment, directors' fees, pensions, and ownership of and income from immovable property.

But the United States' position on meshing FATCA with the global standards? Well, now there's a story.

Comment: A lot has been made of the USA's failure to reciprocate. Reciprocation is not the intent. In fact, it will be a revenue detriment. The ability of the U.S. to house and shelter foreign money is akin to a secret business venture. It accumulates wealth at home by enticing foreigners looking for a tax haven. What the U.S. is trying to bring to transparency (and tax ramifications) in offshore holdings for its own citizens, it offers in secrecy, free of charge or disclosure, to non-resident individuals, corporations and other entities. It charges zero rate on some categories of income (including interest paid by banks and savings institutions to non-residents or foreign corporations and on certain types of corporate and government debt).

Without the requirement for income earned locally by non-residents to be reported to the U.S. government, it doesn't have the info available to exchange. In addition, gaps in U.S. money laundering allow U.S. financial institutions to handle the proceeds of a long list of crimes, as long as those crimes are committed outside the U.S. Also, several states provide shell companies, secret arrangements, and non-reported income that is kept secret from foreign home countries. These policies attract foreign dirty money. It causes untold damage to ordinary citizens of foreign countries whose 1% use the U.S. as their offshore hideaway, including tax-free investments directly into U.S. markets. One of the most notable is the case of U.S. bank Wachovia that helped Mexican drug gangs launder the proceeds of hundreds of billions of dollars. As stated by Time Magazine: "Suddenly America has become the largest and possibly the most alluring tax haven in the world."

See also:
EU Savings Tax Directive overview
Financial Secrecy Index: Narrative Report on USA
FINCEN new rules


Hackers claim to reveal true number of Ukrainian army casualties, official censorship

ukrainian troops
© Sputnik/Andrei Stenin
Ukraine's subversive hacker group CyberBerkut has published documents allegedly exposing dreadful situation with the Kiev's troops attacking separatist forces in the East: war crimes, tremendous loss of lives and wholesale desertion of entrapped troops.

The anti-government activists claim they have hacked personal computer of Ukraine's Judge Advocate General and copied a number of classified documents. These documents are allegedly exposing some dark secrets of Kiev's authorities regarding the real state of things in the zone of the so-called 'anti-terrorist operation' in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the country.

The price of the warfare resumed by President Petro Poroshhenko in the east is terrifying. The hacked documents claim at least 1,100 servicemen of the Ukrainian army have lost their lives over the period of the last two weeks. Many dozens Ukrainian soldiers gave up to separatist forces. Ukrainian army has lost over 100 tanks and the armored vehicles.

Comment: Real? Faked? Either way, the figures wouldn't be surprising, given all the reports coming out of Ukraine in the past couple weeks. Here's South Front's latest update, with a section on the leaked documents:

Take 2

White House official says Afghan Taliban not a terrorist group but an 'armed insurgency'

© Reuters
Taliban fighters
A White House spokesperson preferred to talk of the Taliban as "an armed insurgency" rather than a terrorist organization during a press briefing, when a reporter pressed him about Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release.

Responding to a question posed by ABC's chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, deputy press secretary Eric Schultz argued the US can swap prisoners with the Taliban because the group is not a terrorist organization but "an armed insurgency."

During the Wednesday briefing, Karl asked how the US decision to swap Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay differs from the Jordanian government's trade of a convicted terrorist for the release of an Air Force pilot held by the Islamic State.

Comment: All these names given for the 'enemy' - enemy combatant, armed insurgency, terrorist group - sure can cause confusion for what seems like the same thing. Could that be the idea so plans can change when ever it suits them?


Afghan children bear brunt of NATO's unexploded bombs

© Reuters / Omar Sobhani
Ordnance left by parting international troops kills or injures about 40 people a month - the vast majority children.

International troops pulling out of Afghanistan have left behind a lethal legacy of unexploded bombs and shells that are killing and maiming people at a rate of more than one a day. The vast majority are children.

Bombs dropped from the air coupled with munitions left behind in makeshift firing ranges in rural Afghanistan have made parts of the countryside perilous for locals who are used to working the land for subsistence and raw materials.

Since 2001, the coalition has dropped about 20,000 tonnes of ammunition over Afghanistan. Experts say about 10% of munitions do not detonate: some malfunction, others land on sandy ground. Foreign soldiers have also used valleys, fields and dry riverbeds as firing ranges and left them peppered with undetonated ammunition.

Foreign troops in Ukraine? Of course! But they're not Russian

US-backed president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, was among the elites gathering in Davos, Switzerland this week to attend the 2015 World Economic Forum. During his speech he made the remarkable claim that 9,000 Russian troops were currently fighting in Ukraine on behalf of the independence-seeking areas of the country. These 9,000 troops have brought with them tanks, heavy artillery, and armored vehicles, he claimed. "Is this not aggression?" he asked the gathered elites.

Comment: Oh puhleeze, Poroshenko! This is the first trick in the propagandist's playbook: asking questions loaded with implied but unfounded premises. The question is not "is this aggression?", but "is this true?" And no, it's not. It it were there would be that thing people in the reality-based world like to call 'evidence'.

The US was quick to amplify Poroshenko's claims, with US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power Tweeting today:

State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked whether the US might at least admit that the missiles fired by the Kiev authorities into residential areas in eastern Ukraine this week were a violation of the September ceasefire agreed upon in Minsk, Belarus. She refused to admit as much, and in fact she refused to even admit that the shells killing scores of civilians this past week were fired by the US-backed regime in Kiev. "Russia is not complying" with the agreement was all she would say.

Comment: That is just low, Psaki. But then again, it's hard to stick to your scripted talking points and admit simple facts at the same time. That just shows how inhuman your talking points are - that you cannot acknowledge the illegal killing of civilians because it might expose your 'official' policy' as having absolutely no moral bearing.