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Sat, 21 Sep 2019
The World for People who Think


The good soldier: Tulsi Gabbard shooting straight on the Middle East

Tulsi Gabbard
© Fox News
Tulsi Gabbard
Most of the Democrat "leaders" and presidential candidates on offer of late are useful for little more than comedy television, if one considers hyper-political snipery (all done with proper parliamentary procedures) as comedy. It may be so, but we often find that some antacids are probably necessary after watching Jerrold Nadler's Incredibly Contrived Compleat Impeachment Fairy Tale. And, yes, my sarcasm is showing. But Tulsi Gabbard is a completely different story. She found favor with Tucker Carlson on Fox, and she has been on with Fox time and again to talk about very significant matters regarding Middle East policy, and she appears to be at least somewhat correct. She was correct enough to chagrin her interviewer in this video:

Tulsi drew two extremely significant points, one which makes a lot of sense and one which smacks of liberal progressivism. The sensible one is is that the notion that the US should commit its forces to yet another Middle East war, this one with Iran, is absolutely correct.

While it is extremely unlikely that her interpretation of President Trump's tweet is accurate, here is what she actually reacted to. Read for yourself:


Will Russia be driven from the West?

moscow flag day
© REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
American opponents of readmitting Moscow to the former G8 fail to understand the consequences.

Two years ago, I asked, "Will Russia Leave the West?" The world's largest territorial country — sprawling from its major European city St. Petersburg to its vast Far Eastern territories and long border with China — Russia cannot, of course, depart the West geographically. But it can do so politically, economically, and strategically. Indeed, where Russia belongs, where it should seek its identity, security, and future — in the East or in the West — has divided the nation's policymakers and intellectual elites for centuries.

In our times, as I also pointed out two years ago, a Russia departed, or driven, from the West would likely mean "a Russia — with its vast territories, immense natural resources, world-class sciences, formidable military and nuclear power, and UN Security Council veto — allied solidly with all the other emerging powers that are not part the US-NATO Western 'world order' and even opposed to it. And, of course, it would drive Russia increasingly afar from the West's liberalizing influences, back toward its more authoritarian traditions."


Paying the piper: Netanyahu election loss means he will now face corruption charges

Comment: Something to drink to this Friday evening...


Benjamin Netanyahu, ex-Prime Minister of Israel
As this week's election results and exit polls continue to make grim reading for Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister not only faces the possible end of his political career but also a probable court appearance and potentially even jail due to allegations of corruption.

Netanyahu had hoped to pass legislation that would prevent him from being indicted on multiple allegations of corruption — but he can only do so if he remains prime minister. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and has said he is the victim of a politically orchestrated "witch-hunt" by the media and the left. But he may have to make that case in court.

With 97 percent of the votes counted as of Thursday afternoon, both Netanyahu's right-wing bloc in the Knesset and the centrist and left-wing bloc led by the Blue and White party fell short of the 61 seats needed to form a government in the 120-seat Parliament.

Star of David

The Middle East's only Jewish ghetto

israel gaza border wall ghetto
© Enzo Apicella (RIP)
Separation Wall (A to Zion-the Definitive Israeli Lexicon)
The results from Tuesday's Israeli elections have confirmed what many of us have known for a long while. The Jewish state is an ultra nationalist right wing swamp. Israel is more hawkish than more hawkish than ever. There is not a single Jewish Israeli Left wing party. The Democratic Party is led and mentored by a war criminal. What is left of Israel's Labour Party has very little to do with peace, harmony and reconciliation. In fact, that Party is also led by a person wanted for war crimes.

As things now stand, although Bibi's right/religious block has shrunk, Israel is more right wing than ever. The longest serving Israeli PM cannot form his natural right/religious coalition. Most Israeli commentators agree that the only way out of the current political stalemate is with a wide ultranationalist government led by Likud, Blue and White and others. Such a coalition will be brokered in the coming days by the rabid nationalist zealot Avigdor Lieberman who has skillfully made himself into Israel's king maker.

Comment: Since this was written, Netayahu was defeated and Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party will need to form a coalition to take power in Israel. Sadly, nothing Gilad has said above will change.

Card - VISA

Desperate central bankers grab for more power (and hint at ousting Trump)

Conceding that their grip on the economy is slipping, central bankers are proposing a radical economic reset that would shift yet more power from government to themselves.
trump federal reserve
© Ben Garrison / grrrgraphics.com
Central bankers are acknowledging that they are out of ammunition. Mark Carney, the soon-to-be-retiring head of the Bank of England, said in a speech at the annual meeting of central bankers in August in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, "In the longer-term, we need to change the game." The same point was made by Philipp Hildebrand, former head of the Swiss National Bank, in an August 2019 interview with Bloomberg. "Really there is little if any ammunition left," he said. "More of the same in terms of monetary policy is unlikely to be an appropriate response if we get into a recession or sharp downturn."

"More of the same" meant further lowering interest rates, the central bankers' stock tool for maintaining their targeted inflation rate in a downturn. Bargain-basement interest rates are supposed to stimulate the economy by encouraging borrowers to borrow (since rates are so low) and savers to spend (since they aren't making any interest on their deposits and may have to pay to store them). But over $15 trillion in bonds are now trading globally at negative interest rates, yet this radical maneuver has not been shown to measurably improve economic performance. In fact new research shows that negative interest rates from central banks, rather than increasing spending, stopping deflation, and stimulating the economy as they were expected to do, may be having the opposite effects. They are being blamed for squeezing banks, punishing savers, keeping dying companies on life support, and fueling a potentially unsustainable surge in asset prices.

Comment: Trump is irate at the US central bank for its apparent attempt to induce economic recession in time for next year's election season, while the banksters are maneuvering to thwart all such 'economic nationalist' leaders by formalizing their decades-long encroachment on all key areas of government. So there's a lot more to Trump's Twitter attacks against Fed chairman Jay Powell than meets the eye...

Brown is right; the banksters are correct that monetary policy ought not be separated from fiscal or overall government policy... but the obvious solution in that case is for the banksters to give up their faux 'independence' and return the issuance of money from the shadows to open national oversight.

Instead, they're moving in to take it all...


Breaking The Media Blackout on the Imprisonment of Julian Assange

© Frank Augstein | AP
The role of journalism in a democracy is publishing information that holds the powerful to account — the kind of information that empowers the public to become more engaged citizens in their communities so that we can vote in representatives that work in the interest of "we the people."

There is perhaps no better example of watchdog journalism that holds the powerful to account and exposes their corruption than that of WikiLeaks, which exposed to the world evidence of widespread war crimes the U.S. military was committing in Iraq, including the killing of two Reuters journalists; showed that the U.S. government and large corporations were using private intelligence agencies to spy on activists and protesters; and revealed how the military hid tortured Guantanamo Bay prisoners from Red Cross inspectors.

It's this kind of real journalism that our First Amendment was meant to protect but engaging in it has instead made WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange the target of a massive smear campaign for the last several years — including false claims that Assange is working with Vladimir Putin and the Russians and hackers, as well as open calls by corporate media pundits for him to be assassinated.


Pepe Escobar: Houthi rebels overturned the chessboard

© Hani Al-Ansi/dpa
A Yemeni Shiite man holds his weapon and a flag with an Arabic inscription reading 'Disgrace is far from us,' as he takes part in a religious procession held by Houthi rebels to mark the first day of Ashura.
We are the Houthis and we're coming to town. With the spectacular attack on Abqaiq, Yemen's Houthis have overturned the geopolitical chessboard in Southwest Asia - going as far as introducing a whole new dimension: the distinct possibility of investing in a push to drive the House of Saud out of power.

Blowback is a bitch. Houthis - Zaidi Shiites from northern Yemen - and Wahhabis have been at each other's throats for ages. This book is absolutely essential to understand the mind-boggling complexity of Houthi tribes; as a bonus, it places the turmoil in southern Arabian lands way beyond a mere Iran-Saudi proxy war.

Still, it's always important to consider that Arab Shiites in the Eastern province - working in Saudi oil installations - have got to be natural allies of the Houthis fighting against Riyadh.

Comment: See also: US oil reserve sell off and decrepit facilities revealed following Saudi oil plant attack

RT's interview with Professor Marandi mentioined in the article:
If Iran behind attack, 'US military worthless' - Tehran prof


Illiberal Undemocrats say 'boll**ks' to the people in the name of 'liberalism' and 'democracy'

Liberal Democrats
© Getty Images / PA Images / Jonathan Brady
Chuka Umunna at the Liberal Democrats conference in Bournemouth.
The Liberal Democrats conference in Bournemouth has shown us where 'liberalism' is today, and it's a pretty dark place. If you have the wrong (i.e. unenlightened) views, the party which preaches 'tolerance' will not tolerate you.

Britain in 2019 presents a topsy-turvy political landscape straight out of a Gilbert and Sullivan Savoy Opera. 'Conservatives' who don't conserve anything. 'Luxury communists' who oppose communism. And Liberal Democrats who aren't very liberal, or very democratic.

The Lib Dem conference had to be seen to be believed - and even then it was scarcely believable.

First, there was the party's decision to cancel Brexit, without even a second referendum.

In saying 'Boll**ks' to Brexit, and pledging to scrap Article 50 on their 'first day in power' - if that ever happens - the Lib Dems are effectively saying 'Boll**ks' to the 17.4 million people who, rightly or wrongly, voted to leave the European Union in 2016, a large percentage of whom were working class and/or elderly.

Comment: See also: And check out SOTT radio's:

Snakes in Suits

The United States is run by psychopaths for psychopaths

Ryan Murphy, an economist at Southern Methodist University, recently published a working paper in which he ranked each of the states by the predominance of — there's no nice way to put it — psychopaths. The winner? Washington in a walk. In fact, the capital scored higher on Murphy's scale than the next two runners-up combined.

"I had previously written on politicians and psychopathy, but I had no expectation D.C. would stand out as much as it does," Murphy wrote in an email...

On a national level, it raises the troubling question as to what it means to live in a country whose institutions are set up to reward some very dubious human traits. Like it or not, we're more likely than not to wind up with some alarming personalities in positions of power.

- From last year's Politico article, Washington, D.C.: the Psychopath Capital of America
One of the most frustrating aspects of modern American politics — and the culture in general — is our all encompassing fixation on the superficial. It's also one of the main reasons I have very little interest in presidential politics, which basically consists of a bunch of billionaire friendly puppets auditioning to become the next public face of imperial oligarchy. Though I understand the desire for quick fixes, our focus on highlighting and mitigating only the symptoms of societal decay as opposed to the root causes, ensures we'll never achieve the sort of positive paradigm-level shift necessary to bring humankind forward.


Pepe Escobar: Trapped between East and West, Hong Kong protestors are really protesting hyper-capitalism

Hong Kong protesters
© AFP/Anthony Wallace
Protestors run past a fire during clashes with riot police in Hong Kong on Sunday, September 15. Hong Kong riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at hardcore pro-democracy protesters who were hurling rocks and petrol bombs on September 15, tipping the violence-plagued city back into chaos after a brief lull in clashes.
Fringe practicing wanton destruction for destruction's sake surely have learned tactics from European black blocs

What's going on deep down in Hong Kong? For a former resident with deep cultural and emotional ties to the Fragrant Harbor, it's quite hard to take it all in just within the framework of cold geopolitical logic. Master filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai once said that when he came up with the idea for Happy Together, he decided to shoot the story of his characters in Buenos Aires because that was as far away from Hong Kong as possible.

A few weeks ago I was walking the streets of far away Buenos Aires dreaming of Hong Kong. That Hong Kong that Wong Kar-Wai refers to in his masterpiece no longer exists. Unfortunately deprived of Christopher Doyle's mesmerizing visuals, I ended up coming back to Hong Kong to find, eventually, that the city I knew also no longer exists.