The Eagle, The Dragon, And The Bear

Authored by Robert Gore via Straight Line Logic blog,

Does Trump recognize the limits of US power?

Trump’s new world order comes straight from The Godfather. There are three global powers: the US, Russia, and China. None of these powers can militarily defeat either of the other two, and even an alliance among two of them would have trouble defeating the third.

Like Don Corleone, Trump is dividing up the larger territory into smaller, great-power controlled sub-territories. He is tacitly recognizing Russia and China’s dominance in their own spheres of influence, and holding them to account in their territories. The implicit agreement among the three is apparently that each power will, in their, “sphere of influence…enforce peace.”

Trump’s New World Order,” SLL 3/20/18

In one week President Trump confirmed that his first concern is the United States, that he has what may be a workable vision for its place in the world, and he loathes globalism and the globalists.

A good measure of his efficacy is the outrage he generates. By that measure, that week was his finest hour… so far.

Europe won’t have a seat at Trump’s great-power table. Its welfare states are addicted to their handouts, deeply in debt, rely on uneven trade arrangements with the US, and have below-replacement birth rates. They are cowed by Soros-sponsored propaganda—Immigration is the answer!—and haven’t shut off the immigrant invasion. Refusing to spend on their own militaries, they’ve used what they save on defense to subsidize welfare spending and state bureaucracies.

They’re ignoring a lesson from history: nations that rely on other nations for their defense generally come to regret it. Instead, they’re wedded to the globalist acronyms: NATO, EU and UN. They have frittered away their power and their glory—Europe’s heritage and civilization—opting for overrun masquerading as assimilation by dogmatic and implacable foes.

Trump is all about power and despises weakness. There isn’t always strength in numbers. A confederation of weaklings doesn’t equal strength, especially when the weaklings’ premises and principles are fundamentally wrong. Strongest of the weaklings is Germany, a trade powerhouse but a US military vassal. It’s hard to say if Trump’s dislike of Angela Merkel is business—she’s one of the world’s most visible and vociferous proponent of globalism, or personal—it’s always her way or the highway. Probably both, and it looks like Germany may finally be rejecting her way on immigration.

Trump clearly relished snubbing her and her G-6 buddies, particularly boy toys Trudeau and Macron, who may actually believe his bone-crushing handshakes intimidated Trump. When you’re paying for a continent’s defense and you’re giving them a better deal on trade than they’re giving you, that’s leverage, and Trump knows it. He’s not intimidated.

US Atlanticists have used that leverage to cement Europe into the US’s confederated empire. That Trump is willing to blow off Europe suggests that he may be blowing off empire.

America’s imperialists equate backing away from empire with “decline,” but such a sea change would be the exact opposite. Empires require more energy and resources to maintain than can be extracted from them. They are inevitably a road to ruin.

Nothing is as geopolitically telling as Trump leaving Europe’s most “important” heads of state early to meet with the leader of one of Asia’s most impoverished backwaters. Europe’s time has passed, the future belongs to Asia. Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia may look like the same recognition, but it was not. That pivot was designed to encircle China diplomatically, economically, and militarily. That thinking persists among much of the US military, but Trump may have something different in mind.

China has its problems. Much of its economy, especially its financial sector, is state-directed, despite the capitalistic gloss. There will be a reckoning from its debt binge. The repressive social credit system typifies the government’s immoral objective: keeping China’s people compliant but productive drones. However, enforced docility and innovation—the foundation of progress—mix as readily as oil and water, and theft of others’ innovations can’t fill the void.

Notwithstanding its issues, China is a major power and is not going to be encircled or regime changed by the US. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) it cosponsors and finances with Russia is the centerpiece of a basket of initiatives designed to further those countries’ influence and leadership within Eurasia and among emerging market countries. BRI is an apt symbol of the movement towards multipolarity, with competition shifting from the military to the economic and commercial sphere.

Trump tacitly accepts Russian and Chinese dominance in Eurasia. However, Trump doesn’t give without receiving; he’s going to extract concessions. Number one on the list is North Korea and its nuclear weapons. We’ll probably never know what has gone on behind the scenes between Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, and perhaps Vladimir Putin, but Kim may have received an offer he couldn’t refuse. Both China and Russia would be well-served by a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons and US troops. Whatever transpired, Kim came around. Trump ameliorated any potential humiliation, journeying to Kim’s neck of the woods, laying on an inspirational movie video, and flattering the North Korean leader and his country. Kim the farsighted leader may be able to reach a deal; Kim the browbeaten puppet couldn’t. If he tried, he’d probably be deposed, always a danger for dictators.

As global competition moves from military to economic, Trump is also going to make sure he tilts, as much as possible, the rules of that competition back towards the US. There are the existing trade arrangements with Europe, Canada, and Mexico that he’s willing to blow up, presumably to obtain better arrangements.

China is in a league of its own when it comes to gaming trade, and it’s getting the Trump treatment as well. Much of the Chinese “advantage” stems from Chinese overcapacity, fueled by below market interest rates in China and around the globe. Trump can’t do much about that “advantage.” The low-interest regime will eventually crash and burn, but it’s going to take a depression to clear overcapacity in China and elsewhere.

Innovation and intellectual property are America’s one indisputable comparative economic advantage. It will be a tough nut, but Trump is bent on curbing China’s acquisitions, by fair means and foul, of US know how. If he succeeds it will slow, but not stop, the Chinese economic juggernaut. It has millions of smart, well-educated, industrious people who will continue to fuel indigenous innovation (notwithstanding state-enforced docility).

Three realities confronted Trump when he assumed office. The US empire is unsustainable, so too is the trajectory of its spending and debt, and the government is fundamentally corrupt. It would be foolish to bet Trump doesn’t understand these issues and the linkages between them.

“Trump’s New World Order”

If Trump has recognized that first reality and is implementing Don Corleone’s spheres of influence concept, he may get some breathing room to address the intractable second and third realities: the trajectory of US spending and debt, and the fundamentally corrupt government. On the debt, all the breathing room in the world isn’t going to save him. The US keeps adding to principal, which is compounding at rising rates. Cutting imperial expenditures would help some, although transfer payments are the biggest enchilada. To make even the first step on the thousand mile journey to solvency, however, the US government will have to run a bona fide surplus for many years. That prospect is not on the horizon.

As for corruption, thousands of articles by bloggers and commentators, including SLL, may have less instructional value for the populace at large than one simple demonstration: most of America’s rulers and its captive media are speaking out against a peace initiative, not on the merits of the initiative itself, but because Donald Trump was one of its initiators.

That tells those Americans who are paying attention all they need to know about their rulers and their captive media. Whether they do anything about it is another question.

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Presenting America’s 20 Best And Worst Paying Jobs

While we fail to see any occupations listed for “insider trading hedge fund managers” or “high frequency market manipulators” in the recently released list by the BLS listing the number of workers and wages earned for all official US occupations, we supposed it will have to do, incomplete as it may be.

Below, sorted by average annual wage, are the Top 20 best paying jobs in the US including the average hourly wage and also showing the number of people the BLS believes are employed in each,  seasonally adjusted of course.

And here are the bottom 20, or worst-paying, US jobs. It is here the the minimum-wage debate is most acute… As is the debate just how motivated the workers in these 20 occupations really are.

Curious how many total workers are employed in the Top and Bottom 20 jobs according to the BLS? Here is the answer:

What may be more surprising is that while there are 6 times as many workers in the worst paid bucket as best-paid, the total compensation paid to the far smaller group of best paying jobs, is roughly 30% higher.

Moral of the story: Don’t become line cooks, kids, unless of course when one adds up all the welfare and insolvent state benefits provided to line cooks, the after tax cash flow matches or beats that of anesthesiologists.

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Sexy Metal: The Missing Element In The Korean Puzzle

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo knows the importance of rare earth elements, and North Korea has reportedly found one of the world’s biggest deposits 150km from Pyongyang; is this another factor behind the recent thaw with the US?

This may not be about condos on North Korean beaches after all. 

Arguably, the heart of the matter in the Trump administration’s embrace of Kim Jong-un has everything to do with one of the largest deposits of rare earth elements (REEs) in the world, located only 150 km northwest of Pyongyang and potentially worth billions of US dollars.

All the implements of 21st century technology-driven everyday life rely on the chemical and physical properties of 17 precious elements on the periodic chart also known as REEs.

Currently, China is believed to control over 95% of global production of rare earth metals, with an estimated 55 million tons in deposits. North Korea for its part holds at least 20 million tons.

Rare earth elements are not the only highly strategic minerals and metals in this power play. The same deposits are sources of tungsten, zirconium, titanium, hafnium, rhenium and molybdenum; all of these are absolutely critical not only for myriad military applications but also for nuclear power.

Rare earth metallurgy also happens to be essential for US, Russian and Chinese weapons systems. The THAAD system needs rare earth elements, and so do Russia’s S-400 and S-500 missile defense systems.

It’s not far-fetched to consider ‘The Art of the Deal’ applied to rare earth elements. If the US does not attempt to make a serious play on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK’s) allegedly vast rare earth resources, the winner, once again, may be Beijing. And Moscow as well – considering the Russia-China strategic partnership, now explicitly recognized on the record.

The whole puzzle may revolve around who offers the best return on investment; not on real estate but sexy metal, with the Pyongyang leadership potentially able to collect an immense fortune.

Is Beijing capable of matching a possible American deal? This may well have been a key topic of discussion during the third meeting in only a few weeks between Kim Jong-un and President Xi Jinping, exactly when the entire geopolitical chessboard hangs in the balance.

So metals are not sexy?

Researcher Marc Sills, in a paper titled ‘Strategic Materials Crises and Great Power Conflicts’, says:

Conflict over strategic minerals is inevitable. The dramas will likely unfold at or near the mines, or along the transportation lines the materials must travel, and especially at world’s strategic chokepoints the US military is now generally tasked to control. Again, the power equation is written to include both control of possession and denial of possession by others.”

This applies, for instance, to the Ukraine puzzle. Russia badly needs Ukraine’s titanium, zirconium and hafnium for its industrial-military complex.

Earlier this year Japanese researchers discovered a deposit of 16 million tons of rare earth elements (less than the North Korean reserves) beneath the seabed in the Western Pacific. But that’s unlikely to change China’s – and potentially the DPRK’s – prominence. The key in the whole rare earth element process is to devise a profitable production chain, as the Chinese have done. And that takes a long time.

Detailed papers such as ‘China’s Rare Earth Elements Industry’, by Cindy Hurst (2010), published by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) or ‘Rare Earth in Selected US Defense Applications’, by James Hedrick, presented at the 40th Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals in 2004, convincingly map all the connections. Sills stresses how minerals and metals, though, seem to attract attention only in mining trade publications:

“And that would seem to explain in part why the REE contest in Korea has eluded attention. Metals just ain’t that sexy. But weapons are.”

Metals are certainly sexy for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It’s quite enlightening to remember how Pompeo, then CIA director, told a Senate Committee in May 2017 how foreign control of rare earth elements was “a very real concern.”

Fast forward to one year later, when Pompeo, taking over at the State Department, emphasized a new “swagger” in US foreign policy.

And fast forward again to only a few weeks ago, with Pompeo’s swagger applied to meetings with Kim Jong-un.

Way apart from a Netflix-style plot twist, a quite possible narrative is Pompeo impressing on Kim the beauty of a sweet, US-brokered rare earth elements deal. But China and Russia must be locked out. Or else. It’s not hard to visualize Xi understanding the implications.

The DPRK – this unique mix of Turkmenistan and post-USSR Romania – may be on the cusp of being integrated to a vast supply chain via an Iron Silk Road, with the Russia-China strategic partnership simultaneously investing in railways, pipelines and ports in parallel to North-South Korean special economic zones (SEZs), Chinese-style, coming to fruition.

As Gazprom’s Deputy CEO Vitaly Markelov has revealed: “The South Korean side has asked Gazprom” to re-start a key project – a gas pipeline across North Korea, an umbilical cord between South Korea and the Eurasian landmass.

Since key discussions at the Far East Summit in Vladivostok in September 2017, the roadmap is set for South Korea, China and Russia to attach the DPRK to Eurasia integration, developing its agriculture, hydropower and – crucially – mineral wealth.

As much as the Trump administration may be late in the game, it’s unthinkable Washington would abandon a piece of the (metal) action.

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Here’s How Erdogan Plans To Steal Sunday’s Election

As Turks prepare to head to the polls Sunday in a snap election called by incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Policy has published what is essentially a summary blueprint outlining the ways Erdogan could steal the election, noting “Sunday’s vote is one he can’t afford to lose.”

As we previously commented, though the man who has dominated the nation’s politics for almost two decades is not expected to lose, a consensus is emerging that the vote should be regarded as a referendum on his person and leadership.

And now, a visible surge in popularity for the rival secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate has pundits declaring the opposition actually has a chance. 

AKP President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Republican People’s Party (CHP) challenger Muharrem Ince.  Image via Hurriyet

Erdogan has often boasted that he has never lost an election and, as recent polls indicate, he is unlikely to lose this time either (but likely by a thin margin). Since 2002, he and his AKP (Justice and Development Party) have won five parliamentary elections, three local elections, three referendums and one presidential election. 

The president moved elections that weren’t supposed to be held until 2019 forward by more than a year in hopes of smashing an unprepared opposition, but there’s yet a possibility this could backfire.  

Ironically, the move could blow up in Erdogan’s face as he called for the early elections at a moment when the economy appeared strong, but which in the interim began tanking — giving all but die-hard AKP supporters reason for serious pause as the opposition’s message becomes louder. 

His legacy has already been established as ushering in Turkey’s transformation from a parliamentary to a presidential system, giving a disproportionate share of power to the president, and should he win he’ll assume even greater executive powers after last year’s referendum which narrowly approved major constitutional changes related to the presidency. 

But Erdogan’s main opposition candidate, Muharrem Ince, is this week drawing immense crowds according to a variety of reports, and gaining support from a cross-section of Turks increasingly fed up with Erdogan’s power-grabbing.

Ince, a former high school physics teacher widely seen has having much more charisma, has mirrored Erdogan’s firebrand and combative rhetoric while taking direct aim at the Islamic conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader’s enabling corruption and nepotism, and his further overseeing an economy in tailspin with the lira having lost nearly 20% of its value since the year began, inflation at 12%, and interest rates at 18%.

Muharrem Ince’s simple yet pointed appeal goes something like this: “Erdogan is tired, he has no joy and he is arrogant,” he told hundreds of thousands of supporters at an Izmir rally on Wednesday. CNN noted the rally presented “what looked like the largest crowd in the elections period yet.”


Muharrem Ince’s Wednesday rally in Izmir as shown on Turkish television. Crowd size estimates ranged from 250,000 up to millions, depending on who was commenting.

Sunday’s election is being widely described the most important in recent Turkish political history — a crossing the Rubicon moment for Erdogan as he stands to inherit an unprecedented and likely irreversible level of sweeping executive authority. 

As Foreign Policy explains, he has carefully put the architecture in place for this moment, and the outlook remains bleak for the future of democracy in Turkey:

The current Council of Ministers, all members of parliament, will cease to exist and the president will appoint advisors and deputies to run the country. Parliament, especially if it remains in the hands of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), will be nothing but a rubber stamp. Erdogan over the years has amassed an enormous amount of power by molding state institutions to his liking and by eliminating anyone from his entourage who can even minimally challenge him. Every single member of the party owes his or her position directly to Erdogan. This patronage system permeates all levels of the bureaucracy, which has lost its independence.

So again, on June 24 losing is not an option for Erdogan.

* * *

Here are ways Erdogan can steal the election, according to Foreign Policy:

1) He’s already engineered electoral law for less oversight of ballots:

He has engineered several changes to the electoral law, two of which could be game-changers. The first is the elimination of the requirement that all ballots be stamped by officials. This practice will open up the system to abuse in obvious ways — it was precisely such a last-minute change that allowed the government to claim victory in 2017 during the constitutional referendum.

2) Erdogan’s own party cronies will manage and appoint officials for Sunday’s election process:

Erdogan’s second change to the electoral law concerns the ballot box overseers: Whereas in the past political parties nominated candidates who were chosen by a draw, under the new rules overseers are to be chosen among local officials whose jobs are ultimately determined by the government and the state. 

3) Switching ballot locations especially in Kurdish areas:

Suppressing the Kurdish vote is critical for the government… one can expect more shenanigans in Kurdish-majority areas, because Erdogan needs to push the Peoples’ Democratic Party below the 10 percent threshold to ensure that his party wins a majority of seats in parliament. 

4) Erdogan now essentially owns the judicial system, the military, and media – all of which will be leveraged:

The Supreme Electoral Council, the judicial system, and the military — until recently Erdogan’s most dedicated nemesis — are all now under Erdogan’s control. The military was completely denuded of its higher ranks following the July 2016 failed coup attempt…

…The national press, meanwhile, is completely dominated by Erdogan’s acolytes. The results are unsurprising: In the last two weeks of May, a study demonstrated that the president and his party received far more coverage on three government-owned television stations, including a Kurdish-language one. 

5) No detail has been left untouched, but last minute “shenanigans” will ensure victory if it’s close:

Erdogan, the consummate politician, is not leaving anything about this election to chance; no detail has been too small to escape his attention.

…Still, it is quite doubtful that he will allow anything but a total victory for himself — one should expect a great deal of shenanigans on the part of the ruling party in the final run-up to the June 24 vote.

 

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America’s Military Drops A Bomb Every 12 Minutes, And No One Is Talking About It

Authored by Lee Camp via TruthDig.com,

We live in a state of perpetual war, and we never feel it. While you get your gelato at the hip place where they put those cute little mint leaves on the side, someone is being bombed in your name. While you argue with the 17-year-old at the movie theater who gave you a small popcorn when you paid for a large, someone is being obliterated in your name. While we sleep and eat and make love and shield our eyes on a sunny day, someone’s home, family, life and body are being blown into a thousand pieces in our names.

Once every 12 minutes.

The United States military drops an explosive with a strength you can hardly comprehend once every 12 minutes. And that’s odd, because we’re technically at war with—let me think—zero countries. So that should mean zero bombs are being dropped, right?

Hell no! You’ve made the common mistake of confusing our world with some sort of rational, cogent world in which our military-industrial complex is under control, the music industry is based on merit and talent, Legos have gently rounded edges (so when you step on them barefoot, it doesn’t feel like an armor-piercing bullet just shot straight up your sphincter), and humans are dealing with climate change like adults rather than burying our heads in the sand while trying to convince ourselves that the sand around our heads isn’t getting really, really hot.

You’re thinking of a rational world. We do not live there.

Instead, we live in a world where the Pentagon is completely and utterly out of control. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the $21 trillion (that’s not a typo) that has gone unaccounted for at the Pentagon. But I didn’t get into the number of bombs that ridiculous amount of money buys us. President George W. Bush’s military dropped 70,000 bombs on five countries. But of that outrageous number, only 57 of those bombs really upset the international community.

Because there were 57 strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen—countries the U.S. was neither at war with nor had ongoing conflicts with. And the world was kind of horrified. There was a lot of talk that went something like, “Wait a second. We’re bombing in countries outside of war zones? Is it possible that’s a slippery slope ending in us just bombing all the goddamn time? (Awkward pause.) … Nah. Whichever president follows Bush will be a normal adult person (with a functional brain stem of some sort) and will therefore stop this madness.”

We were so cute and naive back then, like a kitten when it’s first waking up in the morning.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that under President Barack Obama there were “563 strikes, largely by drones, that targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. …”

It’s not just the fact that bombing outside of a war zone is a horrific violation of international law and global norms. It’s also the morally reprehensible targeting of people for pre-crime, which is what we’re doing and what the Tom Cruise movie “Minority Report” warned us about. (Humans are very bad at taking the advice of sci-fi dystopias. If we’d listened to “1984,” we wouldn’t have allowed the existence of the National Security Agency. If we listened to “The Terminator,” we wouldn’t have allowed the existence of drone warfare. And if we’d listened to “The Matrix,” we wouldn’t have allowed the vast majority of humans to get lost in a virtual reality of spectacle and vapid nonsense while the oceans die in a swamp of plastic waste. … But you know, who’s counting?)

There was basically a media blackout while Obama was president. You could count on one hand the number of mainstream media reports on the Pentagon’s daily bombing campaigns under Obama. And even when the media did mention it, the underlying sentiment was, “Yeah, but look at how suave Obama is while he’s OK’ing endless destruction. He’s like the Steve McQueen of aerial death.”

And let’s take a moment to wipe away the idea that our “advanced weaponry” hits only the bad guys. As David DeGraw put it, “According to the C.I.A.’s own documents, the people on the ‘kill list,’ who were targeted for ‘death-by-drone,’ accounted for only 2% of the deaths caused by the drone strikes.”

Two percent. Really, Pentagon? You got a two on the test? You get five points just for spelling your name right.

But those 70,000 bombs dropped by Bush—it was child’s play. DeGraw again:

“[Obama] dropped 100,000 bombs in seven countries. He out-bombed Bush by 30,000 bombs and 2 countries.”

You have to admit that’s impressively horrific. That puts Obama in a very elite group of Nobel Peace Prize winners who have killed that many innocent civilians. The reunions are mainly just him and Henry Kissinger wearing little hand-drawn name tags and munching on deviled eggs.

However, we now know that Donald Trump’s administration puts all previous presidents to shame. The Pentagon’s numbers show that during George W. Bush’s eight years he averaged 24 bombs dropped per day, which is 8,750 per year. Over the course of Obama’s time in office, his military dropped 34 bombs per day, 12,500 per year. And in Trump’s first year in office, he averaged 121 bombs dropped per day, for an annual total of 44,096.

Trump’s military dropped 44,000 bombs in his first year in office.

He has basically taken the gloves off the Pentagon, taken the leash off an already rabid dog. So the end result is a military that’s behaving like Lil Waynecrossed with Conor McGregor. You look away for one minute, look back, and are like, “What the fuck did you just do? I was gone for like, a second!”

Under Trump, five bombs are dropped per hour – every hour of every day. That averages out to a bomb every 12 minutes.

And which is more outrageous—the crazy amount of death and destruction we are creating around the world, or the fact that your mainstream corporate media basically NEVER investigates it? They talk about Trump’s flaws. They say he’s a racist, bulbous-headed, self-centered idiot (which is totally accurate) – but they don’t criticize the perpetual Amityville massacre our military perpetrates by dropping a bomb every 12 minutes, most of them killing 98 percent non-targets.

When you have a Department of War with a completely unaccountable budget—as we saw with the $21 trillion—and you have a president with no interest in overseeing how much death the Department of War is responsible for, then you end up dropping so many bombs that the Pentagon has reported we are running out of bombs.

Oh, dear God. If we run out of our bombs, then how will we stop all those innocent civilians from … farming? Think of all the goats that will be allowed to go about their days.

And, as with the $21 trillion, the theme seems to be “unaccountable.”

Journalist Witney Webb wrote in February, “Shockingly, more than 80 percent of those killed have never even been identified and the C.I.A.’s own documents have shown that they are not even aware of who they are killing—avoiding the issue of reporting civilian deaths simply by naming all those in the strike zone as enemy combatants.”

That’s right. We kill only enemy combatants. How do we know they’re enemy combatants? Because they were in our strike zone. How did we know it was a strike zone? Because there were enemy combatants there. How did we find out they were enemy combatants? Because they were in the strike zone. … Want me to keep going, or do you get the point? I have all day.

This is not about Trump, even though he’s a maniac. It’s not about Obama, even though he’s a war criminal. It’s not about Bush, even though he has the intelligence of boiled cabbage. (I haven’t told a Bush joke in about eight years. Felt kind of good. Maybe I’ll get back into that.)

This is about a runaway military-industrial complex that our ruling elite are more than happy to let loose. Almost no one in Congress or the presidency tries to restrain our 121 bombs a day. Almost no one in a mainstream outlet tries to get people to care about this.

Recently, the hashtag #21Trillion for the unaccounted Pentagon money has gained some traction. Let’s get another one started: #121BombsADay.

One every 12 minutes.

Do you know where they’re hitting? Who they’re murdering? Why? One hundred and twenty-one bombs a day rip apart the lives of families a world away – in your name and my name and the name of the kid doling out the wrong size popcorn at the movie theater.

We are a rogue nation with a rogue military and a completely unaccountable ruling elite. The government and military you and I support by being a part of this society are murdering people every 12 minutes, and in response, there’s nothing but a ghostly silence. It is beneath us as a people and a species to give this topic nothing but silence. It is a crime against humanity.

*  *  *

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Meet Mystery FBI “Agent 5” Who Sent Anti-Trump Texts While On Clinton Taint Team

A recently unmasked FBI agent who worked on the Clinton email investigation and exchanged anti-Trump text messages with her FBI lover and other colleagues has been pictured for the first time by the Daily Mail

Sally Moyer, 44, who texted ‘f**k Trump,’ called President Trump’s voters ‘retarded’ and vowed to quit ‘on the spot’ if he won the election, was seen leaving her home early Friday morning wearing a floral top and dark pants. 

She shook her head and declined to discuss the controversy with a DailyMail.com reporter, and ducked quickly into her nearby car in the rain without an umbrella before driving off. –Daily Mail

Moyer – an attorney and registered Democrat identified in the Inspector General’s report as “Agent 5” is a veritable goldmine of hate, who had been working for the FBI since at least September of 2006.

When Moyer sent the texts, she was on the “filter team” for the Clinton email investigation – a group of FBI officials tasked with determining whether information obtained by the FBI is considered “privileged” or if it can be used in the investigation – also known as a taint team.

Moyer exchanged most of the messages with another FBI agent who worked on the Clinton investigation, identified as ‘Agent 1’ in the report.

Moyer and Agent 1 were in a romantic relationship at the time, and the two have since married, according the report. Agent 1’s name is being withheld. –Daily Mail

Some of Moyer’s greatest hits:

  • “fuck Trump” 
  • “screw you trump”
  • “She [Hillary] better win… otherwise i’m gonna be walking around with both of my guns.” 
  • Moyer also called Ohio Trump supporters “retarded” 

“Agent 1” who is now married to Moyer, referred to Hillary Clinton as “the President” after interviewing the Democratic candidate as part of the email investigation.

Another FBI official, Kevin Clinesmith, 36, sent similar text messages. A graduate of Georgetown Law, Clinesmith – referred to in the Inspector General’s report as “Attorney 2,” – texted several colleagues lamenting the “destruction of the Republic” after former FBI Director James Comey reopened the Clinton email investigation.

In response to a colleague asking he had changed his views on Trump, Clinesmith responded “Hell no. Viva le resistance,” a reference to the Trump opposition movement that clamed to be coordinating with officials inside the Trump administration. 

Two high-ranking FBI officials – Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page, were discovered by the Inspector General to have sent over 50,000 text messages to each other – many of which showed the two harbored extreme bias aginst Trump and for Hillary Clinton. Like Moyer and “Agent 1,” Strzok and Page worked on the Clinton email investigation.

Don’t worry though – none of their bias made its way into the Clinton email investigation…

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Ike Was Right!

Authored by Bill Bonner via Bonner & Partners,

We wait for the world to fall apart.

The Dow is still more than 1,000 points below its high; so we presume the primary trend is down. Treasury yields – on the 10-year note – are near 3%… twice what they were two years ago. So we presume the primary trend for bonds is down, too.

If we’re right, we are at the beginning of a long slide… down, down, down… into chaos, destitution, and destruction.

Faked Out

Our working hypothesis is that General Eisenhower was right.

There were two big temptations to the American Republic of the 1950s; subsequent generations gave in to both of them.

  1. They spent their children’s and grandchildren’s money. Now, the country has a government debt of $21 trillion. That’s up from $288 billion when Ike left the White House.

  2. And they allowed the “unwarranted influence” of the “military/industrial complex” to grow into a monster. No president, no matter how good his intentions, can stop it.

A corollary to our major hypothesis is that the rise of the Deep State (the military/industrial/social welfare/security/prison/medical care/education/bureaucrat/crony complex) was funded by the Fed’s fake-money system.

Now, investors, businesses, households, and the feds themselves have all been “faked out” by a fraudulent money system. None of them can survive a cutback in credit.

For nearly 30 years, central banks have backstopped markets and flooded the world with liquidity.

But last week, the Fed turned the screws a little further. It now targets a 2% Fed Funds Rate and claims to be on the path of “normalization.”

And the European Central Bank (ECB) made it official, too; it hasn’t quite begun tightening, but it’s got its toolbox open. And command of the ECB work crew is set to change hands next year anyway, passing on to a German engineer.

Scarred Psyche

The German psyche has been scarred by its awful experience in the last century. Even though today’s Germans didn’t live through it themselves, the entire country seems to have a race memory of it.

Still preparing for hard times, the household savings rate in Germany is at least three times higher than in the sans souci U.S.

Germany’s apocalypse, too, can be described in Eisenhower’s terms – too much debt (arising from World War I)… and too much influence in the hands of the military/industrial complex.

Debt led to hyperinflation. But the damage done by Germany’s hyperinflation of the early ’20s lead to far more than just wiped-out mortgages and billion-dollar cigars.

It discredited the traditional elite of the country – its institutions, its culture, and its politics. Germany had the world’s finest artists, composers, and philosophers. Its writers, engineers, and scientists were second to none.

Even in the early ’30s, Germans could still look to the East – to the madness, purges, and famines of Russia – and say to themselves: “Ah, that couldn’t happen here; we are so much more civilized.”

But by then, civilization was on the run, from the Rhine all the way to Siberia. And in Germany, the old elite was being chased out of leading posts in academia, the military, and the government.

Ruined by hyperinflation and chaos – and hounded by extremists – thousands emigrated from Germany to England and America. Those left yielded to mob spirits and rabble-rousing upstarts – communists, anarchists, and national socialists – who fought it out in the streets.

The national socialists – the Nazis – won. Even though it was prohibited by the Versailles Treaty, they quickly began building up the military/industrial complex.

Then, as Madeleine Albright phrased it, “What good is it having such a powerful military if you can’t put it to use?”

As it transpired, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. By then, the average Russkie may have hated Stalin, but he rallied to defend Mother Russia.

By the end of World War II, eight million Germans would be dead, with millions more condemned to die in prisoner-of-war camps or from starvation.

By 1945, Germany had been bombed so thoroughly that nothing much was left of its once-impressive industrial capacity.

Its farms had been starved of investment (the money went to the military) for the previous 10 years. And the country had been cut in half, with foreign troops ruling over every aspect of life.

Runaway Money

And today, 73 years later… there are still foreign troops garrisoned on German soil… and the Germans still fear letting the money system get out of control.

They’re right to be wary of runaway money. It turns honest wage-earners into paupers, while the speculators get rich.

Worse, it gives the meddlers a source of almost unlimited financing. Then, there’s no telling what mischief they will get up to. Revolution? War? Or simply a complete economic collapse?

News also came last week that the inflation rate in Venezuela has reached 24,600%. In other words, if you bought a pack of cigarettes for $5 last June, you could expect to pay $1,230 for the same pack today.

When the money goes, everything seems to go with it. The economy, government, order, morality, right and wrong – all sink into a greasy stew where you don’t know which parts are edible and which are poisonous.

This year’s rise in oil prices was supposed to give Venezuela a little break. Oil is the country’s biggest asset and its major export. And the state-owned oil giant PDVSA was supposed to rescue the nation.

But it is too late.

The vernacular – the vast web of thoughts and deals that make up everyday life for everyday people – has been so corrupted and distorted that it can’t react normally. Venezuela can no longer take advantage of opportunities or respond to crises. The New York Times reports:

Desperate oil workers and criminals are also stripping the oil company of vital equipment, vehicles, pumps and copper wiring, carrying off whatever they can to make money. The double drain – of people and hardware – is further crippling a company that has been teetering for years yet remains the country’s most important source of income.

Wages could not keep up with inflation. The NYT highlights the case of a typical rig worker who stayed on the job for the entire month of May, yet earned only enough to buy one chicken.

No longer able to feed their children, workers walk off the job. Or drive off.

Trucks disappear. So do wrenches and copper pipes. Even with a higher oil price, income falls for the company… the state… and the remaining employees.

What’s a man to do?

Leave! Venezuelans are rushing the borders to escape, often taking little more than the clothes on their backs with them.

But wait… Americans are civilized people with full employment, a solid dollar, and a military that is bringing order to a troubled world. What possible significance could Germany 1920–1945 or Venezuela 1999–? have for us?

And Eisenhower was just an old worrywart, wasn’t he?

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How Much Money Do You Save by Cooking at Home?

Submitted by Priceonomics

Intuitively, we all know there are benefits to cooking at home. You can use healthier ingredients, set portions to a reasonable size, avoid food allergies, and of course you can save money compared to ordering restaurant delivery or using a meal kit service.

But just how much money do you save by cooking at home? We decided to analyze our recipe data to find out the true cost of cooking at home from scratch, compared to delivery from a restaurant or a meal kit service. 

We analyzed data from Priceonomics customer wellio, a platform that breaks down millions of recipes into single ingredients and matching those to grocery items from local stores. That allows us to measure the ingredient cost for a wide variety of recipes. For 86 popular dinner recipes, we decided to look at the average cost per serving of cooking from scratch and compare it to the cost per serving of ordering from a restaurant or a meal kit delivery service.

We found on average, it is almost five times more expensive to order delivery from a restaurant  than it is to cook at home. And if you’re using a meal kit service as a shortcut to a home cooked meal, it’s a bit more affordable, but still almost three times as expensive as cooking from scratch.

When cooking at home, you’ll save a substantial amount of money on carb-based meals like pasta or pizza, and you’ll save the most on protein-based meals when compared to ordering from a restaurant or meal kits.

***

Before diving into the results, let’s spend a moment on the methodology of this analysis. We looked at 86 popular meals and examined how much it would cost to acquire them as: groceries for home cooking, restaurant delivery or meal kit delivery. For home cooking, we’ve calculated the price per serving based on the consumed portion of ingredients. For example, you purchase a whole onion for the recipe, which requires half an onion per serving, so the price per serving is ½ of the onion. To be clear, this is an analysis of your costs and isn’t about looking at opportunity costs of time associated with cooking.

For restaurant delivery, we looked up menu prices on the websites of the following national restaurant chains: Applebee’s, Cheesecake Factory, Chevy’s, Chili’s, Lyfe Kitchen, Maggiano’s, and P.F. Chang’s. Then added an average $5 delivery fee based on delivery prices from Caviar, UberEats, and Grubhub. Since meals sold within a meal kit are usually part of a bundle, we took the average price of a meal across the bundle and then allocated a $2.50 delivery fee per meal. For home cooking, we looked at the cost of ingredients according to wellio, based on Whole Foods Market, a national grocery chain with quality products.

First, let’s look at the average costs of the meals we analyzed depending on if you acquired them from a restaurant versus meals kits versus cooking at home from scratch.

By far, getting dinner delivered from a restaurant is the most expensive meal option. 

At over $20 per serving on average, a restaurant delivered meal is almost three times as expensive as a meal kit and five times as expensive as cooking at home from scratch. Obviously when you cook at home, you’ll spend more time but you usually end up with a healthier meal because you’re the one to decide what exactly goes into it. 

Next, let’s look at the cost of getting specific meals delivered via restaurant delivery versus making the meal from scratch. Of course, there are “cheaper” places to buy these restaurant meals, but these are the prices published on restaurant websites in our sample of mostly national chains. 

Which meals save you the most when you roll up your sleeves and cook instead of picking up your phone to order?

At the top of the list, the meals you can save the most money by cooking at home are heavily protein based entrees. As it turns out, restaurants charge a lot of money for meals that have beef, pork, and chicken. When you factor in a delivery cost, your price per meal can easily exceed $20 per person (and sometimes even more than $30 per person!).

To better understand this comparison, let’s look at an example of the price per serving breakdown for Pork Tenderloin, one of the top money-saving meals when cooking at home from the list above.

Also appearing throughout the list are pasta-based meals like Broccoli Alfredo, Pad Thai, Pasta Bolognese and Soba Noodles. If you buy these from a restaurant you will pay “entree” prices of about $20. However you can easily make these meals at home and save 80-90% per serving. 

Restaurant delivery, however, isn’t the only alternative to cooking at home. You can also have meal kits delivered to your house. These kits are sold at a premium compared to cooking from scratch because the raw ingredients are pre-assembled and pre-portioned for you.

If you’re looking to save money, when should you avoid meal kits and instead cook from scratch at home?

For vegetable and pasta-based meals, frankly, it’s really cheap to make them at home while meal kits still charge a lot for them. 

In the above list, for example, making a Cheese Pizza, Mac & Cheese, Cauliflower or Quinoa bowl is incredibly inexpensive to make at home — it only costs about a dollar per serving! However, these are the type of meals where meal kits are the worst value since you’ll be paying around $12 for them as part of the “bundle” you’re required to purchase (that also includes delivery fee). 

Eating meat through a meal kit is about half as expensive as ordering it from a restaurant, but still much more expensive than making it yourself. A few meat-based meals stand out as being much more expensive with a meal kit than home cooking — Cilantro Lime Chicken, Chicken Soup, and Teriyaki Chicken make the top ten worst meal kit deals compared to home cooking.

Lastly, let’s look at all the data. The below chart shows the prices of all 86 meals we analyzed from a meal kit service, a restaurant, or making it at home from scratch.

What rules of thumb can be gleaned from looking at all this data? 

First, If meat is involved, you can save a lot of money by making the dish at home instead of ordering it from a restaurant. These types of dishes are the most expensive entrees on the menu at restaurants but don’t cost you that much to cook from scratch.

Second, if the ingredients are items like flour, cheese, and pasta, which are very inexpensive at the grocery store, avoid getting them from a meal kit service. On the other hand, meal kits can be a pretty good option if you want to cook more complicated meals with many ingredients, especially a meal like Curry Chicken which has many spices.

Lastly, cooking at home saves you money across the board. Although you will spend more time then ordering delivery from a restaurant, you will get a nutritious and delicious meal for about $4 a person.

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Strzok Subpoenaed, Must Appear Before Congress In Five Days

FBI special agent Peter Strzok is having a very bad June. After being physically escorted out of his FBI office last Friday and losing his security clearance this week, per Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the anti-Trump “lovebird” has been subpoenaed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-IA).

Strzok agreed to testify earlier, however Grassley issued the subpoena to appear on June 27 at 10:00 a.m. after the FBI agent would not commit to a date.  

Strzok, was in charge of both FBI investigations into both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, harbored extreme animus towards the latter – as revealed within a batch of 50,00 text messages he sent to his mistress – FBI attorney Lisa Page, including one in which Strzok says he will stop Trump from becoming President.

Special counsel Robert Mueller removed Strzok from his investigation into Russia’s election meddling after the texts were discovered – many of which contained overt bias against then candidate Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton, which was documented in a DOJ Inspector General report released last week. 

While Strzok’s career at the FBI now finally appears over (with possible disciplinary consequences to follow), many questions remain including some revelations made later in day by the Inspector General Horowitz, who during a hearing on Tuesday said that he’s no longer convinced the FBI was collecting all of Strzok’s and Page’s text messages even outside the 5-month blackout period when it archived none of the texts due to a technical “glitch”, which means a number of other Strzok responses to Page are likely missing.

Maybe Grassley will get to the bottom of that and much, much more…


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Singapore, Trade, And Geopolitics: “Nothing Short Of A Nuclear War Can Stop This”

Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com,

The Western media was incredulous. The Donald had disregarded diplomacy, scuttled out of the G7 meeting in Canada without endorsing the G7 agreement, and ended up shaking hands with a previously avowed enemy in Singapore. The formally leisurely pace of global diplomacy, where all is pre-agreed before the photo-op showing unanimity of leadership, was ditched in favour of the Art of the Deal. Foreign correspondents for the established media were confused and obviously out of their depth, particularly over the deal with President Kim Jong-un.

As a female journalist pointed out at the press conference after the meeting, Kim has proven to be ruthless and untrustworthy, killing members of his own family and imprisoning and torturing his own people. How could Trump possibly come to terms with him, and concede, apparently without consulting South Korea, to suspend joint exercises, and agree to the objective of a complete denuclearisation of the peninsular, which is the implication of the eventual withdrawal of American forces entirely from the South?

The Singapore deal was in fact not a deal, but an endorsement of the earlier agreement between the two Koreas at Panmunjom on 27th April. And this is the point, Singapore was the US confirming it accepted Panmunjom.

The razzmatazz of a Singaporean summit plays well to Trump’s electoral base, as did his disdain for G7 and his trashing of Trudeau, who he described as “very dishonest and weak” over trade. Trump’s supporters also buy into his fake-news accusations, conveniently placing him beyond criticism so far as they are concerned. Now they are seeing concrete results from the man they elected President, ahead of the mid-term elections in November.

We need to look into the North Korean situation with greater objectivity, before commenting on recent trade policy developments.

Korea and its economic role in Asia

The Panmunjom Agreement was an agreement between the two Koreas only. No other powers are a party to it. That was why Singapore had to endorse it, China having already done so. Essentially, it was the graceful way for everyone to back out of an intractable position, dressed up as a victory for Trump, whereas in truth it is also a thorn in China’s side being removed.

North Korea has a far longer border with China than with South Korea. Having a totalitarian state on her eastern flank was never ideal, even though it acted as a buffer between China and the Americans in South Korea. The similarities with the earlier case of the Iron Curtain in Europe in the late eighties are striking. On one side there was growing capitalist prosperity, widening the gulf with socialist stagnation on the other. China could tolerate it today, but Kim would have been increasingly aware that time was running out for his government, just as Secretary-General Gorbachev recognised it when he proposed the historic meeting in Reykjavik with President Reagan in October 1986.

Events at that time moved quickly, even though the Reykjavik meeting ended without a formal agreement. Twenty-five months later, the Berlin Wall dramatically fell, symbolically marking the end of seventy years of Soviet communism. Those same economic tensions exist between China and North Korea today. North Korea’s bankruptcy means that it has not the economic resources to continue with its nuclear program to credible effect. Kim was forced to come to an agreement with China as a way out of his difficulties, and that is why he visited Beijing to meet President Xi one month before Panmunjom.

Trump’s Singaporean summit was an admission that China holds the winning cards over Korea, and that America will be forced to withdraw its military from the East Asian landmass. It signals something else, and that is the neo-cons have lost much of their influence in Washington. Trump is succeeding in bringing the administration under his control with respect to foreign policy. We see this with the court cases over Russian interference in the presidential election fizzling out, and attention switching towards allegations against the Clintons. Rather cleverly, Trump is manoeuvring himself into a convincing position ahead of the mid-term elections.

So far as China is concerned, it is also a strong win. In the east, at least, she has secured herself against a US military presence, which will retreat to Japan and her islands. And even Japan realises her future is increasingly China-related. The industrialisation of North Korea will bring significant economic benefits to China as well, just as the development of Eastern Europe did to Germany.

Trade tariffs

There seems little doubt that Trump is playing the trade tariff card strongly, because of the mid-term elections. Recently I was on a television panel with Steve Malzberg, the American journalist and TV presenter close to the Republican camp, who was adamant that Trump was just delivering on his election promises.

It is important to understand this is his overriding motivation, but it is not necessarily the advice he gets from Larry Kudlow, his economic adviser.

Kudlow was an economist in the Reagan administration, with Professor Steve Hanke of John Hopkins University. Hanke wrote a Forbes article at the time of Kudlow’s appointment, pointing out that he, Kudlow (and also Reagan) were free-traders. Hanke’s knowledge of Kudlow’s true understanding of economics is personal. We can therefore assume that Kudlow would have informed Trump of the errors of tariffs, which are not difficult to explain and understand.

Trump’s spats with Canada and the EU over tariffs at the G7 were interesting in this regard. Trump was talking about tariffs imposed against America being an obstruction to free trade, a subtle but important difference from his protectionist trade policy originally set out as central to his mandate to Make America Great Again. There is further evidence of this from part of the transcript of an interview Kudlow gave on CNN on 10th June:

TAPPER: We acknowledge that free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and investment, while creating reciprocal benefits, are key engines for growth and job creation. We strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies. We call for the start of negotiations this year to develop stronger international rules on market-distorting industrial subsidies and trade-distorting actions by state-owned enterprises.

That is what President Trump believes in.

KUDLOW: Yes.

There can be little doubt, based on the events at G7 and Kudlow’s comments, that Trump has indeed quietly modified his position on trade. And it is notable that his intended introduction of tariffs against China focuses on products that the Chinese will support under their “Made in China 2025” policy. This policy, which has similarities with Germany’s “Industry 4.0” plan adopted in 2013, is broader. Germany’s plan was to encourage SMEs to interconnect in their production chains in order to improve output, quality and production efficiency. China’s plan is to do the same, and also to improve intellectual property protection for SMEs. The state will provide up to 40 innovation hubs, but companies will be encouraged to operate on more market-based standards. In the context of a mercantile economy, this policy is designed to ensure the country’s industrial sector is world-standard for not only China’s growing middle classes, but also competitive abroad in terms of quality rather than on price.

The problem with it is America’s suspicion that the 2025 policy is intended to be protectionist. A target in the plan is for 70% “self-sufficiency” in components in advanced technologies. Foreign-owned manufacturers may feel shut out of production chains except for minor roles. Chinese corporations are also actively acquiring foreign-owned businesses for their technology, which can then be transferred to China. Allegations over state-sponsored behaviour include forced technology transfer agreements, commercial espionage and patent infringements.

Trump is promoting his trade war with China as against trade that is not free, whereas the issue is considerably more complex. Trump was elected on a protectionist ticket, while China has benefited from free trade. Trump was elected as a nationalist, while China merely has a national strategy. That strategy is to evolve her economy from being a manufacturer of standard goods to become the Germany of the East – hence the interest in Germany 4.0. By 2025, China intends to have only a residual interest in her current export lines to the US, and all foreign manufacturers will have relatively free market access to China’s markets for finished products. But with China’s 45%-50% savings rate, even if the 2025 plan did not have the 70% self-sufficiency target in place, it is hard to imagine in practice it would be any less.

The Chinese could therefore easily concede this target and be persuaded that aggressive moves to transfer technology and infringe international patents are unnecessary. That is the climb-down Trump presumably aims to achieve. But he has to be careful, because American corporations have much to lose. Already, US based manufacturers of goods incorporating tariffed steel and aluminium have been placed at a disadvantage against foreign competition. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler may now find it more profitable to beef up their Mexican operations for export-related production, relative to existing facilities in the US.

By 2025, the really serious game on the world stage will be a Eurasia-wide infrastructure play with a market currently covering 4.62 billion souls (67% of the global total), where China and Russia will be the ringmasters. There is nothing, short of a nuclear war, the US Government can do to stop it. That is the reality that is now accepted in Washington, and perhaps in Langley as well, given that the stuck-in-the-mud neo-cons are now being side-lined.

That being the case, will America retreat into isolationism,

or does she, through realistic foreign policies, maximise the opportunities for US-owned businesses in Asia?

These outcomes are very different.

That make-your-mind-up-time for America is rapidly approaching, and surely, the Donald knows it. He needs to back down from trade wars even more than China.

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