Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Zaid Jilani — GOP Senator Wants to Ban State Single Payer In New Health Care Bill

Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy plans to use the most recent effort to repeal and replace portions of the Affordable Care Act to push an amendment that would bar states from enacting their own single-payer systems, he told reporters on Monday.
When asked by The Intercept on Tuesday about the status of his legislation, Kennedy said that the bill’s co-sponsors, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., told him that the measure already bans single payer, but that he was welcome to offer his amendment either way.
“I don’t think states should have the authority to take money from the American taxpayer and set up a single-payer system,” Kennedy said. “Now some people think that that’s inconsistent with the idea of flexibility. But that’s what the United States Congress is for. I very much believe in flexibility, and I know the governors want flexibility. But it’s our job to make sure that that money is properly spent.”
Kennedy’s amendment is similar to pre-emption laws many states have passed to prohibit municipalities from controlling their own minimum wages or enacting municipal broadband. These laws have emanated from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a policy network funded by corporations.…
The Intercept
So Much for States’ Rights — GOP Senator Wants to Ban State Single Payer In New Health Care Bill
Zaid Jilani

RT — Putin orders to end trade in US dollars at Russian seaports

Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed the government to approve legislation making the ruble the main currency of exchange at all Russian seaports by next year, according to the Kremlin website.
Russia using its monopoly power as a currency soverign.

Putin orders to end trade in US dollars at Russian seaports

Vesti — Putin: "Technological independence is key task of the military-industrial complex"

Russia is gearing up technologically with military leading the way.

Fort Russ
Putin: "Technological independence is key task of the military-industrial complex"
Izvestia - translated by Inessa Sinchougova

Robert Parry — Trump Falls in Line with Interventionism

In discussing President Trump, there is always the soft prejudice of low expectations – people praise him for reading from a Teleprompter even if his words make little sense – but there is no getting around the reality that his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly must rank as one of the most embarrassing moments in America’s relations with the global community. 
Trump offered a crude patchwork of propaganda and bluster, partly delivered as a campaign speech praising his own leadership – boasting about the relatively strong U.S. economy that he mostly inherited from President Obama – and partly reflecting his continued subservience to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 
However, perhaps most importantly, Trump’s speech may have extinguished any flickering hope that his presidency might achieve some valuable course corrections in how the United States deals with the world, i.e., shifting away from the disastrous war/interventionist policies of his two predecessors. 
Before the speech, there was at least some thinking that his visceral disdain for the neoconservatives, who mostly opposed his nomination and election, might lead him to a realization that their policies toward Iran, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere were at the core of America’s repeated and costly failures in recent decades. 
Instead, apparently after a bracing lecture from Netanyahu on Monday, Trump bared himself in a kind of neocon Full Monte:
 Parry: "there is no getting around the reality that his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly must rank as one of the most embarrassing moments in America’s relations with the global community." 

Emabarassing to whom? It's been obvious for quite a while that America has no shame. The leadership of a country reflects its collective consciousness.
Then, with a seeming blindness to how much of the world sees the United States as a law onto itself, Trump added: “The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based.”
Of course, in the U.S. mainstream media’s commentary that followed, Trump’s hypocrisy went undetected. That’s because across the American political/media establishment, the U.S. right to act violently around the world is simply accepted as the way things are supposed to be. International law is for the other guy; not for the “indispensible nation,” not for the “sole remaining superpower.”
While this may seem to be hypocritical, many Americans do not see it that way. They believe that they are fighting evil and therefore the end justifies the means.
So, what Trump made clear in his U.N. address is that his “America First” and “pro-sovereignty” rhetoric is simply cover for a set of policies that are indistinguishable from those pushed by the neocons of the Bush administration or the liberal interventionists of the Obama administration. The rationalizations may change but the endless wars and “regime change” machinations continue.
Consortium News
Trump Falls in Line with Interventionism
Robert Parry

Peter Cooper — State Monies are Fundamental to Modern Monetary Economies

What is the most appropriate entry point to the study of a monetary economy in which government is currency issuer? Is it “the market”? Is it the definition: total spending equals total income? Is it real exchange? Real production? Is it total output? Total employment? Total value? Distribution of income? The origin of profit? Price formation? Competition?

I would answer “no” to all these suggestions. They are all important aspects of the subject, but they are all embedded in something else. They are all embedded in a social context that is put in place through collective action. In modern monetary economies, this collective action is conducted through currency-issuing government and its instrument, state money.
The operation of markets requires various collective arrangements already to be in place, which can be summarized as the laws and regulations governing property rights and their transference, along with supportive social institutions.
Spending, in a modern economy, is monetary, and is received by somebody else as monetary income. But where does this “money” come from?
The weakeness of conventional economic is that it assumes away the social basis for a modern economy, e.g.,  by beginning with the Robinson Crusoe model of barter exchange in Econ 101.

Modern economies are nothing like that.

Modern economies, even relatively ancient ones, presume an existing institutional basis, e.g., in law. Property, for example, is a legal matter. Law ariese out of custom. Even the most ancient socieites were regulated by custom.

There is no "natural" field in economics that is anything like the natural sciences. Presuming there is skews the investigation from the outset.
A small mistake in the beginning is a big one in the end, according to the Philosopher [Aristotle] in the first book of On the Heavens and the Earth.Thomas Aquinas, De ente et essentia
State Monies are Fundamental to Modern Monetary Economies
Peter Cooper

Nick Johnson — The ‘organised hypocrisy’ of US industrial policy

Maintaining the core-periphery dichotomy of imperialism and colonialism under neoliberalism, Neo-imperialism, and neocolonialism.
The Political Economy of Development
The ‘organised hypocrisy’ of US industrial policy
Nick Johnson

Wendell Potter — Even Business Leaders Are Realizing Health Insurance Companies Serve No Purpose

Klepper wrote that this way of doing business has been "spectacularly successful" for the health insurance industry. As he noted, between May 2009 and May 2017, the stock prices of the five largest investor-owned health insurers -- Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana and United -- increased between 387 percent and 748 percent, much more than the Dow Jones average.
The CEOs of those companies have become spectacularly wealthy as shareholder value has skyrocketed. They undoubtedly have to be concerned to hear that a growing number of business leaders are saying it's time to give serious thought to single-payer health care in the United States.

Not long before I left my job in the insurance industry in 2008, a coworker asked our CEO during a company leadership meeting what kept him up at night. He responded with a single word that most of us, I suspect, had to look up. That word was, you guessed it, "disintermediation."
He said he worried that someday a majority of Americans -- and more specifically, a majority of business leaders -- might begin to question the value proposition of insurance companies and reach the conclusion that they are little more than unnecessary middlemen....
Even Business Leaders Are Realizing Health Insurance Companies Serve No Purpose
Wendell Potter, formerly vice president of communications for Cigna

Jason Ditz — US Establishes First Permanent Military Base in Israel as Tensions With Iran Rise

The US no longer trusts Turkey?

This is a game-changer. No one doubts that the US will intervene on Israel's behalf, but until now it has not been directly from Israel. This move changes US relations with Islamic states significantly.

US Establishes First Permanent Military Base in Israel as Tensions With Iran Rise
Jason Ditz

Moon of Alabama — "Sovereign Nations" Is Main Theme Of Trump's UN Speech

The aim of such language and threats is usually to goad the other party into some overt act that can than be used as justification for "retaliation". But none of the countries Trump mentioned is prone to such behavior. They will react calmly - if at all.
There was essentially nothing in Trump's threats than the claptrap the last two U.S. presidents also delivered. Trump may be crazy, but the speech today is not a sign of that.
The stressing of sovereignty and the nation state in part one was the point where Trump indeed differed from his interventionist predecessors.
But its still difficult to judge if that it is something he genuinely believes in.
I think Trump genuinely believes in sovereignty and the Westphalian order, as do China and Russia. But President Xi is in charge in China and President Putin is in charge in Russia. President Trump is not in charge in the US, and the people that are charge don't believe in it. US policy ahs been and is international interventionism, and Donald Trump is not a position to change that. So the good portion of the speech rings hollow. 

I doubt that anyone in power abroad thinks that the US ruling elite has any intention of backing away from longstanding US interventionist policy, President Trump's words notwithstanding. Previous US presidents mouthed similar "liberal" sentiments, while intervening to "preserve the liberal world order." President Trump's threat in the speech indicate that he is of the same mind, regardless of the hype he dispensed. And no, the US is not going to recognize spheres of influence other than its own, in spite of the danger of not doing so.

Zero Hedge — Wikileaks Publishes "Spy Files Russia" Detailing Russia's Mass Surveillance System

In its summary of the cache of mostly Russian-language documents, Wikileaks claims they show how a long-established Russian company which supplies software to telcos is also installing infrastructure - with the government's blessing - that enables Russian state agencies to tap into, search and spy on citizens’ digital activity, suggesting a similar state-funded mass surveillance program to the one utilized by the U.S.’s NSA or by GCHQ in the U.K. (both of which were detailed in the 2013 Snowden disclosures).
Zero Hedge
Wikileaks Publishes "Spy Files Russia" Detailing Russia's Mass Surveillance System
Tyler Durden

SouthFront — Nearly 1,000 US Troops in Syria Are Currently Under Attack by Russians

The fight for the Syrian oiil fields begins.
Never letting the nuisance that is the law get in the way of the American military, it seems as though the U.S. may continue pursuing this strategy, which will ultimately bring the American air force and the Russian air force together to bomb the same territory with complete polar opposite intentions while supporting rival forces on the ground.
This is easily one of the biggest geopolitical events in recent times, taking place right under our very noses. Yet it is not even headline news on any of the corporate media outlets’ home pages right now (seriously, check for yourself).
Nearly 1,000 US Troops in Syria Are Currently Under Attack by Russians
Meanwhile, as seen in the above Murasalon map, the Syrian Army are pushing their offensive against ISIS directly to oilfields they control. This is in the hope to reach the oilfields before the US-backed forces do so, who only launched their operations in Deir Ezzor once the Syrian Army made rapid progress against the terrorist group.
Fort Russ
Syrian Army within 2km of US-backed forces in Deir Ezzor, race to ISIS-held oil fields intensify
Paul Antonopoulos

Asia Unhedged — China represents ‘unprecedented’ threat to world trading system, says US trade czar

US declares economic war on China.
“The sheer scale of their coordinated efforts to develop their economy, to subsidize, to create national champions, to force technology transfer, and to distort markets in China and throughout the world is a threat to the world trading system that is unprecedented,” Lighthizer said.
“We must find other ways to defend our companies, workers, farmers, and indeed our economic system,” he implored. “We must find new ways to ensure that a market-based economy prevails.”
Asia Times
China represents ‘unprecedented’ threat to world trading system, says US trade czar
Asia Unhedged

Steve Holland and Jeff Mason — At U.N., Trump warns U.S. may have to "totally destroy" North Korea

U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Tuesday that the United States will be forced to “totally destroy” North Korea unless Pyongyang backs down from its nuclear standoff, mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.

Loud murmurs filled the green-marbled U.N. General Assembly hall when Trump issued his sternest warning yet to North Korea, whose ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests have rattled the globe.

Unless North Korea backs down, he said, “We will have no choice than to totally destroy North Korea.”

“Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime,” he said....
Boom! Donald Trump just totally destroyed what was left of American soft power. The mask is off.

At U.N., Trump warns U.S. may have to "totally destroy" North Korea
Steve Holland and Jeff Mason

See also

The war against Islam is on, too.

The Daily Caller
Trump Calls Out ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’ By Name At UN
Saagar Enjeti
Trump faces high stakes in his speech before the U.N., where he's charged with selling his "America first" agenda to world leaders, many of whom have chafed at his criticism of international institutions and agreements.
The Hill
Trump: I will always put America First
Max Greenwood

Boris Dzherelievsky — Ukrainian general admits the truth about Lugansk and Donetsk

Why the Minsk 2 agreement is so important.

Fort Russ
Ukrainian general admits the truth about Lugansk and Donetsk
Boris Dzherelievsky, in kolokolrussia.ru, translated by Tom Winter

Stephen Lendman: Trump’s UN Address to Call for Action Against Nonexistent Threats

In his Tuesday General Assembly address, Trump is expected to call for international action against nonexistent North Korean and Iranian threats.

According to an unnamed White House source, he’ll focus on “world regimes that threaten security,” adding:

“Obviously one of the chief regimes that will be singled out in this regard is the regime of North Korea and all of its destabilizing hostile and dangerous behavior, as well as of course…Iran.”

“And in those two cases as well as others, an appeal to other nations to do their part in confronting these threats, and understanding it is a shared menace and that nations cannot be bystanders in history.”

“And if you don’t confront the threats now, they will only gather force and become more formidable as time passes.” Venezuela will also be addressed, according to the White House source.

Fact: North Korea, Iran and Venezuela are sovereign independent states threatening no one – opposing war, promoting peace and stability, polar opposite how America and its rogue allies operate.

Fact: US rage for unchallenged global dominance, supported by Israel and other rogue allies, is humanity’s greatest threat – the most important issue Trump’s General Assembly speech won’t address.

Fact: America’s geopolitical strategy needs enemies to justify unprecedented militarism and warmaking. None exist so they’re invented.

Trump’s address may be similar in some respects to George Bush’s 2002 state of the union speech, designating North Korea, Iran and Iraq an “axis of evil.”

In March 2003, war on Iraq was waged on the pretext of nonexistent WMDs. War plans against Iran were prepared, similar ones readied to attack North Korea, neither implemented so far.

Trump is hostage to hawkish generals running his administration’s geopolitical agenda. Instead of being a peace and stability leader, he’s the latest in a long line of US warrior presidents – at war in multiple theaters, threatening more conflicts, risking possible nuclear confrontation with North Korea, Russia, and/or China.

Trump’s UN address will likely heighten world tensions, not ease them. War is America’s favored geopolitical strategy. Who’s next on its target list?


Dalia Marin — The China shock: Why Germany thrived while the US struggled

Previous research has shown that China's entry into the WTO in 2001 has had a profound impact on jobs and wages of low-skilled workers in the US in sectors exposed to Chinese imports. The same is not true for Germany. This column argues this is because the import-side trade adjustment to low-cost competition had already happened before the rise of China, because the rise of Eastern Europe offered new export opportunities for German firms, and because China’s love for product quality found a perfect match in German products.
The China shock: Why Germany thrived while the US struggled
Dalia Marin | Chair in International Economics, University of Munich; CEPR Research Fellow

Dom Galeon — This study suggests we are still evolving as a species

A study that analyzed large-scale genetic data from more than 200,000 people showed that the human genome is still evolving. Researchers form Columbia University found that a natural selection process weeds out mutations that shorten human life.…
Don’t imagine, however, that it’s the kind of evolution you see in X-Men — sorry, no mutant powers just yet. However, it’s the type of evolution that could occur in one or two generations, and can prolong human life....

Bill Mitchell — When relations within government were sensible – the US-Fed Accord – Part 1

The topic centres on an agreement between the US Federal Reserve System (the central bank federation in the US) and the US Treasury to peg the interest rate on government bonds in 1942. What the agreement demonstrated is that a central bank can always control yields on government bonds, which includes keeping them at zero (or even negative in the current case of Japan). What it demonstrates is that private bonds markets, no matter how much they might huff and puff about their own importance or at least the conservatives who are ‘fan boys’ of the bond markets), the government always rules because of its currency monopoly….
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
When relations within government were sensible – the US-Fed Accord – Part 1
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Francesco Sisci — The forbidden questions about the Korea crisis

The sensible approach. But it's off the table. Sisci asks why.

Asia Times
The forbidden questions about the Korea crisis
Francesco Sisci

Monday, September 18, 2017

Zero Hedge — PBOC Researcher: China Should Start Its Own Sovereign Digital Currency "As Soon As Possible"

Much more than the title suggests. Government is assserting its currrency sovereignty.

Zero Hedge
PBOC Researcher: China Should Start Its Own Sovereign Digital Currency "As Soon As Possible"
Tyler Durden

Stephen Kinzer — America’s slow-motion military coup

In a democracy, no one should be comforted to hear that generals have imposed discipline on an elected head of state. That was never supposed to happen in the United States. Now it has.

Among the most enduring political images of the 20th century was the military junta. It was a group of grim-faced officers — usually three — who rose to control a state. The junta would tolerate civilian institutions that agreed to remain subservient, but in the end enforced its own will. As recently as a few decades ago, military juntas ruled important countries including Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece.

These days the junta system is making a comeback in, of all places, Washington. Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the secretary of defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff; and General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser....
It is no great surprise that Trump has been drawn into the foreign policy mainstream; the same happened to President Obama early in his presidency. More ominous is that Trump has turned much of his power over to generals. Worst of all, many Americans find this reassuring. They are so disgusted by the corruption and shortsightedness of our political class that they turn to soldiers as an alternative. It is a dangerous temptation.
No, this is not RT or Sputnik.

The Boston Globe
America’s slow-motion military coup
Stephen Kinzer | senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University

Reuters — Senate backs massive increase in military spending

"Affordability"? No problem.

Senate backs massive increase in military spending

The Hill News
Senate passes $700B defense bill
Jordain Carney

One of the most controversial proposals put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign was a pledge to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Critics from both parties howled that the pie-in-the-sky idea would bankrupt the country. Where, after all, would the money come from?
Such concerns were brushed aside on Monday night, as the Senate overwhelmingly approved an $80 billion annual increase in military spending, enough to have fully satisfied Sanders’ campaign promise....
To put that in further perspective: if the package becomes law, U.S. military spending would exceed the total spending of its next 10 rivals put together, going off of 2016 military spending estimates from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Put another way, with a $700 billion military budget, the U.S. would be spending more than three times as much as China on its military, and ten times as much as Russia.

According to SIPRI, the U.S. already accounts for more than a third of all military spending:The share of world military expenditure of the 15 states with the highest spending in 2016. (Credit, SIPRI)
Or, to think about it another way, with $80 billion a year you could make public colleges and universities in America tuition-free. In fact, Sanders’ proposal was only estimated to cost the federal government $47 billion per year....
The Intercept
The Senate’s Military Spending Increase Alone Is Enough to Make Public College Free
Alex Emmons

Zero Hedge — Hillary Clinton May Challenge Legitimacy Of Presidential Election

This is s joke, right?

Zero Hedge
Hillary Clinton May Challenge Legitimacy Of Presidential Election

Russia Feed — Russia not willing to be a part of US-proposed UN reforms

Russia rejects US rejection of UN as chief guarantor of the international order.

The UN has long been in the sights of the American right, and Donald Trump is a true believer in that position.
Chairman of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs Leonid Slutksy … said that Russia views the UN Trump Reform as a major step in the “US coordinate system” towards a unipolar world order and toward a reduced role for the UN in the architecture of the 21st century.

Russia Feed
Russia not willing to be a part of US-proposed UN reforms

Sputnik International — The Boeing-Bombardier Feud

Boeing claims huge Canadian government subsidies allowed them to sell a new fleet of planes at substantially less than the market price.
​But David Collins, a professor of international economic law at City University of London, said the case smacked of "double standards."
"It's a bit rich of the United States to say that Canada is subsidizing Bombardier, because the US has been doing the same for Boeing for years," Professor Collins told Sputnik.
"Lots of industries are subsidized. The convention is that everybody is doing it and you just turn a blind eye to it. Now there is a worry that this could escalate," he added....

Moon of Alabama — How The Military Defeated Trump's Insurgency

Trump's success as the "Not-Hillary" candidate was based on an anti-establishment insurgency. Representatives of that insurgency, Flynn, Bannon and the MAGA voters, drove him through his first months in office. An intense media campaign was launched to counter them and the military took control of the White House. The anti-establishment insurgents were fired. Trump is now reduced to public figure head of a stratocracy - a military junta which nominally follows the rule of law....
The soft coup is in effect complete. If Donald Trump is a good boy, he will be allowed to stay.
This is no longer a Coup Waiting to Happen The coup has happened with few noticing it and ever fewer concerned about it. Everything of importance now passes through the Junta's hands….
POTUS has been put in a bubble and relegated to the position of twitterer-in-chief.
Other countries noticed how the game has changed. The real decisions are made by the generals, Trump is ignored as a mere figurehead:
Asked whether he was predicting war [with North Korea], [former defence minister of Japan, Satoshi] Morimoto said: "I think Washington has not decided ... The final decision-maker is [US Defence Secretary] Mr Mattis ... Not the president."
Where I disagree with b is over this:
It is doubtful that Trump will be able to resist the policies imposed on him. Any flicker of resistance will be smashed. The outside insurgency which enabled his election is left without a figurehead, It will likely disperse. The system won.
No doubt the system has won, but I do very much doubt that the insurgency is over and will just disperse. The question is, as I said some time ago, who will be the next figurehead. It could be someone like Bernie Sanders but it is just as likely and perhaps more likely that it could be someone like David Duke.

Incidentally, Ravi Batra predicted the rise of the warrior class in America around this time in The New Golden Age: A Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos. But so far, the manifestation is not in line with Batra's prediction of the result.
In 2008 [Batra] published his book, The New Golden Age: The Coming Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos, where he analyzes the present day economic downturn and the forces behind it. After some significant struggle, Batra predicts a "swift and stunning" revival of American ideals based on true democratic principles that will quickly spread around the world:

The United States does not export much, but it does export ideas, which today mainly emit hedonism and materialism. A new standard exalting martial qualities and magnanimity will soon replace the currently dominant American ethos. It will also sound the death knell for tricklism which is creating poverty around the world. America's revolutionary ideas will quickly captivate the globe; they will spread like wildfire and eradicate poverty within a generation. The internet will make sure that the renaissance spreads its fragrance all over the planet. Verily, for the first time in history, there will be a Golden Age.(Pg. 204)[16] — Wikipedia
Moon of Alabama
How The Military Defeated Trump's Insurgency

Gregory Clark — Former Japanese Diplomat Hitoshi Tanaka Fears War on Horizon

Another backgrounder on Korea.

Strategic Culture Foundation
Former Diplomat Fears War on Horizon
Gregory Clark

See also

The US successfully dealt with rising nuclear powers China and Russia using diplomacy under the umbrella of deterrence. No reason that this would not work with Korea, too. The US media pictures Kim Jong Un as a madman on one hand and as evil personified on the other. This makes it difficult for the US leadership to use diplomacy. 

The reality is that like all other states, North Korea has interests and it has signaled that it want to make a deal. 

A major problem is that the US imposes unacceptable conditions that are non-negotiable as a precondition for negotiations, which is a non-starter. It's time to take a different tack. One that could be be successful. This would involve giving North Korea security guarantees. That remains unacceptable to the US leadership, however, and US public opinion has been whipped up against it.

Insider Sources
Time to Deal With North Korea
John Feffer

Pam and Russ Martens — Obama Has the Same Retirement Plan as the Clintons: Lavish Speaking Fees from Wall Street

The “Wall Street Democrats” is the wing of the party created by the Clintons and nurtured further by Barack Obama. It takes money hand over fist from Wall Street for political campaigns, wags a warning finger at Wall Street from the public podium while stuffing its administrations with Wall Street execs, then its leadership reaps millions of dollars in personal speaking fees from the robber barons after leaving office. As of this morning, there’s no longer any debate that Obama is firmly entrenched in this cozy world of money.
Sums up what wrong with the Democratic establishment. They are on make and on the take.

Wall Street On Parade
Obama Has the Same Retirement Plan as the Clintons: Lavish Speaking Fees from Wall Street
Pam Martens and Russ Martens

See also

Regardless of the degree of agreement or disagreement with Professor Davidson's analysis, just about everyone will acknowledge that a wide setgment of American voters, approaching 40% on the right are extrememly disaffected with American politics. The supporters of Bernie Sanders represent the same rejection of the status quo on the left.

This is more anti-establishmentarianism than tradition American populism. In Trump's terminology the establishment is "the swamp," and establishment figures are swamp critters that need to be removed from positions of power and influence. Bernie takes a similar stand on the left, although not in as colorful terms.

This trend promises to influence American politics for the foreseeable future, and the ruling elite and its cronies and minions are not going to go quietly.

As a result, American politics is truining into a reality show, and Donald Trump is just the person to be a major player in it. It could not have been better cast from this perspective.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania

William J. Astore — The Climate Change War

It seems Americans can’t rally support for something without declaring a “war” on it. The war on poverty. On drugs. On gangs and crime. On terror. And these wars have become open-ended, or “generational” in Pentagon-speak, with a dynamic of crisis-surge-“progress”-new crisis-new surge-repeat that sustains large bureaucracies and huge government spending.
To these “wars” we must add a new one, notes Michael Klare at TomDispatch.com: the climate change war....
So, two things are most definitely certain: the climate change war will be generational. And, much like that other generational war — the war on terror — our military won’t win it. For no one wins a war against Mother Nature — not when we’re going out of our way to piss her off.
Bracing Views
William J. Astore, Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) USAF, Professor of History, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport, PA

Spengler — Western contempt for China turns to panic

Interesting article by a American economist on the Chinese economy, showing how most US economists misread events there.

Goldman is on the side of the US maintaining hegemony but his analysis shows how and why this is just wishful thinking if the current trend persists, and there is not much the US can do about it without confronting the Thyudicides trap.

Asia Times
Western contempt for China turns to panic
Spengler (David P. Goldman)

Poking sticks into the dragon's liar is a dumb move guaranteed to result in lose-lose.

Threats against China could result in another Great Depression
Ken Moak | Associate Professor and Department Chair at Tarrant County College, Dallas/Fort Worth

Charlotte Edmond — Justin Trudeau wants to raise his sons as feminists. New research backs him up

Why is this important in economics? First, women now control a signficant slice of the pie, and secondly, women have an increasingly strong political voice to match their growing economic power.

This is chiefly a political battle between liberals and traditionalists. Identity politics is here to stay.

Economics is strong influenced by policy.
On the programme, scientists argue there is no obvious neurological explanation for the gender divide, with no significant difference between male and female brains. Both are highly plastic and largely influenced by childhood experiences.
World Economic Forum
Justin Trudeau wants to raise his sons as feminists. New research backs him up
Charlotte Edmond

Bill Mitchell — Jean-Claude Juncker in denial and somewhat delusional

Last week (September 13, 2017), the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, presented his State of the Union Address 2017 in Strasbourg before the European Parliament. My only query arising from the speech was which Member State has left, given that the President began his speech by thanking “the 27 leaders of our Member States” (joke). He opened by saying how unity among the Member States had “showed that Europe can deliver for its citizens when and where it matters”. I wonder which Planet he was referring to. I thought Europe was on the Mother Earth and it certainly hasn’t been delivering for its citizens, if the usual measures are considered. Juncker’s speech just continues what I considered to be ‘Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale’, which was the subtitle of my 2015 book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale. It is amazing that the denial continues after 10 years and that guys like Juncker can still command an audience and a salary.…
Translation of the speech: The European elite is doing very well. The little people don't count. Welcome to capitalism, which is the system that favors capital formation and the accumulation of capital as foundational and the ultimate criterion.

Capitalism is oppsed to socialism as the priority of all the people, and environmentalism as the priority of land. These are means for increasing capital under capitalism, and their use is based on the priorities of capital.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Jean-Claude Juncker in denial and somewhat delusional
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Sunday, September 17, 2017

David Orrell — Economyths: The Five Stages of Economic Grief

Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a pioneer in the field of grief counselling, identified the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This extract from Economyths draws on her model of grief as inspiration to chart the long, arduous, but ultimately healthy and healing (we hope, it’s not over yet) process as the economics profession slowly comes to terms with its role in the Great Financial Crisis....
Economyths: The Five Stages of Economic Grief
David Orrell, applied mathematician

Daniel Little — Worker-owned enterprises as a social solution

There are several forms of socialism, just there there are of capitalism. One form of socialism is public ownership of the means of production, and another is worker-owned ("cooperatively owned") means of production.
Consider some of the most intractable problems we face in contemporary society: rising inequalities between rich and poor, rapid degradation of the environment, loss of control of their lives by the majority of citizens. It might be observed that these problems are the result of a classic conundrum that Marx identified 150 years ago: the separation of society into owners of the means of production and owners of labor power that capitalism depends upon has a logic that leads to bad outcomes. Marx referred to these bad outcomes as "immiseration". The label isn't completely accurate because it implies that workers are materially worse off from decade to decade. But what it gets right is the fact of "relative immiseration" -- the fact that in almost all dimensions of quality of life the bottom 50% of the population in contemporary capitalism lags further and further from the quality of life enjoyed by the top 10%. And this kind of immiseration is getting worse....
The central insight of Marx's diagnosis of capitalism is couched in terms of property and power. There is a logic to private ownership of the means of production that predictably leads to certain kinds of outcomes, dynamics that Marx outlined in Capital in fine detail: impersonalization of work relations, squeezing of wages and benefits, replacement of labor with machines, and -- Marx's ultimate accusation -- the creation of periodic crises. Marx anticipated crises of over-production and under-consumption; financial crises; and, if we layer in subsequent thinkers like Lenin, crises of war and imperialism.

At various times in the past century or two social reformers have looked to cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises as a solution for the problems of immiseration created by capitalism....
Understanding Society
Worker-owned enterprises as a social solution
Daniel Little | Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Philosophy at UM-Dearborn and Professor of Sociology at UM-Ann Arbor

Dennis J Bernstein — The Push for a Medicare-for-All Plan

Sen. Bernie Sanders has unveiled a new single-payer healthcare plan which would provide all Americans with government-sponsored health coverage. Sanders’s plan, supported by some 16 Democrats in the Senate, calls for an overhaul of the healthcare system with what would essentially be a tweaked and revitalized version of Medicare-for-all.
“Today we say that a function of a rational healthcare system is to provide quality care to all in a cost-effective way,” declared Sanders, an independent from Vermont, “and not to continue a system which allows insurance companies and drug companies to make hundreds of billions in profits each year and makes healthcare industry CEO’s extremely wealthy.”
Flanked by supporting senators in making his Wednesday announcement, Sanders also noted that a Medicare-for-all program would end “the complexity of a system which adds enormous stress at a time when people need it the least.”...
Consortium News
The Push for a Medicare-for-All Plan
Dennis J Bernstein

Brian Romanchuk — DSGE Wars (Again)

Although this sounds extremely harsh, it is the only way to describe aspects of DSGE macro such as the assumption that the level of interest rates is a key determinant of economic behaviour. In practice, this assumption is built into all mainstream models, and the empirical methodologies have no way of rejecting the assumption. It is not entirely an accident that the consensus has been shocked by the slow pace of recovery after modern recessions -- after all, it was believed that the level of interest rates was "unsustainably low." Indeed, the natural rate of interest had to be revised lower in order for the data to fit the theory.
In other words, the whole panoply of mathematics used is a gigantic red herring.

From the perspective of wanting to understand how the economy functions, there is only one real question: are the desired theoretical outcomes of DSGE macro practitioners useful? The fact that DSGE macro is roundly ignored by everyone whose job depends upon being right about the economy is probably the best answer to that question. (In theory, central bankers are supposed to care about being right about the economy, but in practice, even the raw incompetence displayed heading into 2007 did not cut into retired senior central bankers' subsequent speaking fees.)

From the perspective of academic economics, it is an obvious problem that this methodology has to be used in the "top journals." This is only a surprise if you assume that the academic system shows a tendency to progress towards the truth.…
Fitting the world to a model doesn't work so well.

The key criticsm from the POV of logical analysis and philosophy of science is this:
In Section 7.3, recursive competitive equilibrium is defined. It starts with a lot of mathematics, but even then, some economist hand-waving sneaks into the definition. They use terms that do not appear to correspond to standard mathematical concepts, and hope the reader knows what they mean. Mathematics largely consists of statements about sets and the property of sets; it is unclear what set properties they are describing at key sections of their definition.
Math may look impressive but it says nothing that is not contained in the stipulations — definitions and axioms that relate them. In represesntational models these stipulation establish the semantic connection with the "world" that the model purports to represent. That world provides the objective criteria for assessing the how representative a model actually is in application.

Problems at this foundational level result in GIGO. There is no room for lack of specificty in mathematical reasoning.

Bond Economics
DSGE Wars (Again)
Brian Romanchuk

Politnavigator — Ukrainian army to change into Russian uniform, commit provocation

The "art" of war.
On the eve of the UN resolution on the introduction of a peacekeeping contingent into the Donbass, the Ukrainian side plans to commit provocation in order to discredit Russia.
Thus, according to the intelligence of the DPR, the Ukrainian special forces have received the Russian military uniform models. It is planned to carry out a provocation in the Mariupol direction with subsequent recording of this 'fact' by the OSCE Mission.
This is reported by the correspondent of "Political Navigator" with reference to the representative of the defense ministry of the Democratic People's Republic of Edward Bazurin.
"According to the information we have, the special operations forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have begun to receive Russian uniforms for conducting provocations near the contact line in the Donetsk and Mariupol directions....
Fort Russ
Ukrainian army to change into Russian uniform, commit provocation
Politnavigator - translated by Inessa Sinchougova

See also

NATO ex-Secretary General: "Russia is trembling, let's finish it off with force"


Zero Hedge
Haley Warns World: Mattis Will "Take Care" Of North Korea If Diplomacy Fails
Tyler Durden

Russia Insider
Inside N. Korea - How the US Under-Estimates Them - Excellent Russian TV Report
Charles Bausman


The Duran
6 MAJOR US foreign policy failures of the post-Cold War era
Adam Garrie

Michael Roberts — Blockchains and the crypto craze

Are blockchain and cryptocurrencies as over-hyped? Michael Roberts thinks so and explains why.

Michael Roberts Blog
Blockchains and the crypto craze
Michael Roberts

Lars P. Syll — Putting predictions to the test

Proof of uncertainity.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Putting predictions to the test
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

North Korea faces poor food harvest

Could be a source for all the recent belligerence; doesn't look good for NK if the photo is real...

Venezuela Just Stopped Accepting US Dollars for Oil As Countries Join Forces to Kill US Petrodollar

The DC War Party’s petrodollar imperialism, which funds the US war machine and allows for a constant war footing, is quickly running out of allies to maintain its global hegemony 

In what is the latest move to undermine the imperial world order maintained by the United States, which is underpinned through use of the petrodollar as the world reserve currency, the Wall Street Journal reports that Venezuelan President Maduro has officially followed through on his threat to stop accepting US Dollars as payment for crude oil exports in the wake of recent US sanctions.

Last Thursday, President Nicolas Maduro said that if the US went ahead with the sanction, Venezuela would “free” itself from the US Dollar.
According to Reuters:

“Venezuela is going to implement a new system of international payments and will create a basket of currencies to free us from the dollar,” Maduro said in a multi-hour address to a new legislative “superbody.”

Unsurprisingly, Maduro noted that his country would look to the BRICS countries, and begin using the Chinese yuan and Russian ruble instead — along with other currencies — to bypass the US Dollar stranglehold.

“If they pursue us with the dollar, we’ll use the Russian ruble, the yuan, yen, the Indian rupee, the euro,” Maduro said.

Rather than work diplomatically with other nations, the United States often uses sanctions to force compliance. Due to the dollar being accepted as the world’s reserve currency, almost all financial transactions are denominated in dollars. This phenomenon gives the US a powerful weapon to wield against states that refuse to follow US directives, and underpins the unipolar model of global domination exercised by the US.


Venezuela Just Stopped Accepting US Dollars for Oil

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ramaa Vausdevan — The Significance of Marx’s Theory of Money

Link to paper by Ramaa Vausdevan

Radical Political Economy
The Significance of Marx’s Theory of Money
Posted by David Fields

Branko Milanovic — How I lost my past

Yet it is very difficult to tell these other stories. History is written, we are told, by the victors and stories that do not fit the pattern narrative are rejected. This is especially the case, I have come to believe, in the United States that has created during the Cold War a formidable machinery of open and concealed propaganda. That machinery cannot be easily turned off. It cannot produce narratives that do not agree with the dominant one because no one would believe them or buy such books. There is an almost daily and active rewriting of history to which many people from Eastern Europe participate: some because they do have such memories, others because they force themselves (often successfully) to believe that they have such memories. Others can remain with their individual memories which, at their passing, will be lost. The victory shall be complete.…
Global Inequality
How I lost my past
Branko Milanovic | Visiting Presidential Professor at City University of New York Graduate Center and senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), and formerly lead economist in the World Bank's research department and senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Sputnik — US Sanctions Continue to Backfire: China Opens $10 Billion Credit Line for Iran

Assisting Tehran with sidestepping an ongoing Washington sanctions regime against the country, China has opened a $10 billion line of credit intended to finance energy, transportation, water and other key Iranian infrastructure projects.…
The significant credit line will primarily use euros and yuan to bypass the US sanctions....

Zero Hedge — Even Bernie Sanders Thinks "Medicare For All" Would Bankrupt America

This is an illustration of the political cost of Bernie not understanding and embracing MMT. He should have paid closer attention to MMT economist Stephanie Kelton when she was his economic adviser.

1. A currency sovereign cannot "go bankrupt." A currency issuer can always issue currency to cover its obligations in the currency of issue. In this case, default is a political choice rather than a financial necessity.

2. The only actual constraint on a currency soveriegn is the availability of real resources. This implies a financial constraint if effective demand created exceeds the capacity to supply real resources to meet it. Then accelerating inflation could result.

3. The United States government is a currency soveriegn. Affordability is never an issue.

4. A sovereign currency issuer has a monopoly on the issuance of the currency and can exercise this monopoloy by setting the prices the government will pay, including the interest rate.

Lars P. Syll — Stiglitz and the full force of Sonnenschein-Mantel-Debreu

Just why is anyone still going to these people for policy advice, let alone putting some of them in charge of setting policy?

The power of elite discourse to persuade is dangerous when an elite controls the frame and there is no accountability for results.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

AP: Tax cuts quiet once-deafening GOP call for fiscal discipline

Definitely moving this way as we head into Q4; you just knew this was going to happen.

GOP starting to salivate over the tax cuts; the appeal of this USD windfall is starting to overcome the "debt!" phobia. GOP libertarian "Freedom!" Caucus (35 members max) still will be somewhat of an obstacle Ryan/Trump have to get around.

teleSUR — China to Teach ‘Core Socialist Values’ in Schools

"Learning the core values can make the younger generation better understand their responsibilities. It is a moral impetus to make students become better people," Li Shenghui, a middle school math teacher in Guangzong, North China's Hebei Province told the Global Times.
The ethical codes were first defined at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012.
There are 12 in all, which are written in 24 Chinese characters.
According to the People's Daily, the values include prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, the rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendship.
China to Teach ‘Core Socialist Values’ in Schools

J. Barkley Rosser — On The Relationship Between Wahhabism And Salafism

Backgrounder. "You can't tell the players without a scorecard."

On The Relationship Between Wahhabism And Salafism
J. Barkley Rosser | Professor of Economics and Business Administration James Madison University

See also

An account by an orthodox Sunni.

As-Sunnah Foundation of America
Zubair Qamar, condensed and edited by ASFA staff

Then there is the Sunni-Shi'a divide.

Al-Islam.org  — Shiite Encyclopedia
The Major Difference Between the Shi’a and the Sunni

Islam Awareness (Sunni)
Sunnis vs. Shi'ites —An Outline Of The Differences Between The Sunnis and The Shi'ite in Matters of Faith And Doctrine

Friday, September 15, 2017

Jason Ditz — Gallup Poll: US Majority Backs Attacking North Korea

A new poll from Gallup shows that a majority of Americans, 58%, are in favor of attacking North Korea militarily if the US “cannot accomplish its goals by more peaceful means first.” Americans were split more or less evenly on whether sanctions and diplomacy could work.

This is the first time Gallup has asked about attacking North Korea since 2003. At the time, only 47% favored an attack. The shift in the last 14 years appears to have been greatly along political lines, with an overwhelming 82% of Republicans now backing war, compared to just 37% of Democrats....
Couldn't win in Korea. Couldn't win in Vietnam. Couldn't win in Somalia. Can't win in Afghanistan, Can't win in Iraq. Can't win in Libya. Can't win in Syria.

Now the American public is ready for a land war in Asia?

Isn't this the definition of insanity?

Gallup Poll: US Majority Backs Attacking North Korea
Jason Ditz

Robert Parry — The NYT’s Yellow Journalism on Russia

But the Times’ behavior over the past several years suggests something even more sinister than biased reporting. The “newspaper of record” has slid into yellow journalism, the practice of two earlier New York newspapers – William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World – that in the 1890s manipulated facts about the crisis in Cuba to push the United States into war with Spain, a conflict that many historians say marked the beginning of America’s global empire.
Except in today’s instance, The New York Times is prepping the American people for what could become World War III. The daily message is that you must learn to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putin so much that, first, you should support vast new spending on America’s Military-Industrial Complex and, second, you’ll be ginned up for nuclear war if it comes to that....
The question naturally arises about just who is behind this propaganda onslaught, and for what reason.

Consortium News
The NYT’s Yellow Journalism on Russia
Robert Parry

Jerry Taylor — How To Change Public Opinion

Today, we have empirics, and what we know can best be found in John Zaller’s The Nature & Origins of Mass Opinion. In brief, Zaller summarizes the academic literature on public opinion:
  • There is a high variance in political awareness around a very low mean.
  • Public opinion is extremely unstable on matters large and small. Wildly different findings can result from the same survey sample by simply ordering or framing questions differently.
  • There are numerous examples of dramatic shifts in public opinion over very short periods of time.
  • The vast majority of people have no discernable ideology and don’t even posses “true attitudes” about most political matters. Instead, they are ambivalent and have a myriad of partially independent and contradictory ideas and beliefs that co-exist comfortably with one another—which Zaller terms “considerations”—pertaining to most matters of political interest.
  • Elite discourse is the most important driver of public opinion. After a particularly powerful account of how this was the case in white America’s about-face on the matter of racial equality, Zaller writes “If elite cues can change racial opinions, which appear to be among the most deeply felt of mass opinions, they can probably affect most other types of opinions as well.”
  • Even so, individual political predispositions matter; they are “the critical intervening variable between the communications people encounter in the mass media, on one side, and their statements of political preferences, on the other.” Political predispositions are rooted in life experiences, childhood socialization, direct involvement in the raw ingredients of policy issues, social and economic status, inherited personality factors, and tastes.
  • Elite discourse does not play an important role in the formation of political predispositions in the short run, but over the long run, exposure to elite discourse makes one more susceptible to it and likely has some effect on underlying predispositions.
In an attempt to synthesize these and several other observations about public opinion, Zaller constructs what he calls the RAS (Receive-Accept-Sample) Model to explain the formation of public opinion. The mathematical model is built upon four axioms:
Doesn't speak well for democracy.

Niskanen Center
Jerry Taylor
ht BDL at Grasping Reality

'War Crime': Ex-US Army Officer Slams Pentagon's Alleged Arms Supplies to Syria

The reported US supplies of Soviet-era munitions to Syrian rebels not only "openly violates" legal norms against financing terrorism, but also risks igniting a greater conflict across the Middle East, Scott Bennett, former US Army psychological operations officer and State Department counterterrorism contractor, told Sputnik.

Untraceable Weapons 

Earlier, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) revealed in a report that Washington is allegedly running a $2.2 billion Soviet-era weapons pipeline for Syrian rebels.

The Pentagon is reportedly working with contractors and subcontractors in Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet bloc. The munitions are being delivered to US allied forces in northern and southern Syria.

The Pentagon is providing Syrian rebels with Soviet-era weapons because "they are essentially untraceable, have an endless shelf life, and are also a financial currency that can be used to continue all conflicts," Bennett pointed out.

Sputnik: Ex-US Army Officer Slams Pentagon...

Ramaman — UNCTAD On The Case For A Global New Deal

Link to report.

The Case for Concerted Action
UNCTAD On The Case For A Global New Deal
V. Ramaman

Paul Craig Roberts: Behold a Pale Horse, and its Rider is Death

This made me laugh, Sir Michael Fallon, the British Defence Secretary, told the BBC:

“The US is fully entitled to defend its own territory, to defend its bases and to look after its people, but this involves us, London is closer to North Korea and its missiles than Los Angeles.” 

But US bases are all over the world in far off lands pointing missiles at any country that is not a vassal state of the US, so who's the threat to world peace?

Paul Craig Roberts had this to say:

Behold a Pale Horse, and its Rider is Death

Two of America’s most populous states, Texas and Florida, are in hurricane ruins, and Washington is fomenting more wars.

The US national debt is now over $20 trillion, and Washington is fomenting more wars.
The entire world is helping Washington foment wars—including two targeted countries themselves—Russia and China—both of which are helping Washington foment more wars. Believe it or not, both Russia and China voted with Washington on the UN Security Council to impose more and harsher sanctions on North Korea, a country guilty of nothing but a desire to have the means to protect itself from the US and not become yet another Washington victim like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Serbia, and Ukraine overthrown in a US coup and now poverty-stricken.

I once thought that Russia and China were checks on Washington’s unilateralism, but apparently not. Both governments have been knuckled under by Washington and both voted to punish North Korea for striving to be sufficiently armed to protect its sovereignty from Washington.

Why are Russia and China repeating their same mistake that they made when they supported Washington’s no-fly UN resolution for Libya, a resolution that Washington and NATO stood on its head when they launched air attacks that helped the CIA organized “jihadists” overthrow Libya’s progressive government and murder Gaddafi?

Russia knows that it is surrounded by US nuclear and military bases. So does China. The question is: have Russia and China capitulated out of fear? Or is their cooperation with Washington a ruse while they prepare their own strike on Washington, or are the two misguided governments trying to cooperate with Washington a la sanctions so as to avoid having to confront a US military attack on North Korea?

It requires much competence to confront evil, and there is probably more evil in Washington than there is competence in Russia and China, two countries interested in being rich to an extent that it might cost them their sovereignty and existence.

When you see such potentially powerful countries as Russia and China collapse under Washington’s pressure in the UN Security Council, it makes you wonder if the various analyses of Washington’s many weaknesses are real, and if they are real, if Russia and China are aware of them.

How does one go about explaining why two countries, whose sovereignty is in the way of Washington’s world hegemony, help their known enemy bully yet another small country, especially one in their orbit of influence? How can Russia complain of sanctions against Russia based on nothing but Washington’s propaganda when Russia supports sanctions against North Korea based on Washington’s propaganda?
Russia and China have nothing to fear from North Korean nuclear weapons. Indeed, no one does except a country that attacks North Korea. What is the explanation for Russia and China lining up with Washington’s foreign policy against North Korea when Russia and China know that Washington’s foreign policy is hostile to Russia and China?

Just the other day Washington announced that it was increasing its navy warships in the South China Sea to make sure China doesn’t think the South China Sea is Chinese, instead of American, territorial waters. Just the other day more election interfering charges were leveled against Russia. This time Facebook was the mechanism by which Russia stole the US presidential election.

These positions taken by Washington are absurd. Yet, they are becoming the reality. The frightening development is that the entire world, the entirely of the UN and Security Council are now captured by Washington in The Matrix. It seems that not even Russia and China can any longer see their own national interest.

Russia and China are working hand-in-hand with Washington toward their own demise.
It is becoming biblical. Washington the anti-Christ is subverting all good on earth.


Zero Hedge — Venezuela Begins Publishing Oil Basket Price In Yuan

Fast forward to today, when according to a statement on the Venezuela oil ministry, the country's weekly crude oil and petroleum basket "will be published in Chinese Yuan" - oddly, not in Euros as the WSJ hinted - going forward. We can only assume that Venezuela avoided the European currency on concerns that Brussels may follow in D.C.'s footsteps and impose financial sanctions on the Maduro regime next. Which meant that the only "safe" currency to transact in, was that of the country's two big sources of vendor (and commodity) financing: China and Russia. For now Venezuela has picked the former....
This means that Russia – as well as Iran, the other key node of Eurasia integration – may bypass US sanctions by trading energy in their own currencies, or in yuan. Inbuilt in the move is a true Chinese win-win; the yuan will be fully convertible into gold on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges.
The new triad of oil, yuan and gold is actually a win-win-win. No problem at all if energy providers prefer to be paid in physical gold instead of yuan. The key message is the US dollar being bypassed....
Zero Hedge
Venezuela Begins Publishing Oil Basket Price In Yuan
Tyler Durden

Russia Feed — Russia’s Central Bank cuts key rate to 8.5%

This is about the Russian economy, not just the rate reduction. Significant for those following Russia, the Russian economic outlook, and the RUB.

Russia Feed
Russia’s Central Bank cuts key rate to 8.5%


Russia’s Central Bank says oil price could sink in 2018

Paul Goncharoff — Russia Is in Much Better Economic Shape Than Your Are Being Told

The post fails to distinguish between public and private debt, but otherwise of interest.

One of the reasons that the Russian economy "looks better" is the conservative monetary policy run that the central bank is running and the conservative fiscal policy that the government is running. Putin backs both.

Russia could be doing a whole lot better running a looser monetary and fiscal stance, but then it would not "look as good" to international investors, which Russia has no need to depend on anyway since it is a currency sovereign. Russia would actually look a lot better if it were booming and that is possible to achieve through more enlightened (MMT-based) economic policy.

Timothy B. Lee — It looks like China is shutting down its blockchain economy

Looks like the central bank (PBOC) is asserting its control of currency.

As Yves Smith says, "prosecution futures."

Ars Technica
It looks like China is shutting down its blockchain economy
Timothy B. Lee

TRNN — Economic Development for Transformative Structural Change

Four-part series. Video and transcript.

Economic Development for Transformative Structural Change


Every child begins their journey through life with an incredible potential: a creative mindset that approaches the world with curiosity, with questions, and with a desire to learn about the world and themselves through play.
However, this mindset is often eroded or even erased by conventional educational practices when young children enter school.

The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking is often cited as an example of how children’s divergent thinking diminishes over time. 98% of children in kindergarten are “creative geniuses” – they can think of endless opportunities of how to use a paper clip.
This ability is reduced drastically as children go through the formal schooling system and by age 25, only 3% remain creative geniuses....
The World Economic Forum has just released its Human Capital Report with the subtitle “Preparing People for the Future of Work”.... It goes on to underline how schools tend to focus primarily on developing children’s cognitive skills – or skills within more traditional subjects – rather than fostering skills like problem solving, creativity or collaboration. 
This should be cause for concern when looking at the skill set required in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity are the three most important skills a child needs to thrive, according to the Future of Jobs Report....
Complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity are different aspects of the same skill. Karl Popper wrote a book entitled, All Life Is Problem Solving, which sums it up. And it is not just about human capital and job qualifications.

The ability to combine creative and critical thinking are necessary conditions for the multifaceted types of problem solving one will need for life both personally and socially. While creativity is natural for children, ciritical thinking has to be acquired. And after childhood creativity has to be fostered with nurture or the natural impulse may decline and studies show that it does in the case of most people.

This requires emphasizing active learning over passive learning.

This realization is nothing new. John Dewey was famous for his pragmatic educational philosophy decades ago. He also emphasized that education is a necessary condition for a healthy democracy.

Unfortunately, the Human Capital Report is about "preparing people for work" rather than preparing people for life in a comprehensive way. That is a recipe for failure, both for individuals and society owing to its misdirected emphasis on a part of life rather than the whole. Education must be holistic, and therefore it must be systems-based.

World Economic Forum
This is the one skill your child needs for the jobs of the future
Mirjam Schöning, Head of Learning through Play in Early Childhood programme, The Lego Foundation, and Christina Witcomb, Senior Communication Manager, The Lego Foundation

See also
Over the past few years, Bill Gates, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings have all endorsed a teaching method known as "personalized learning."
It involves students guiding their own lessons with the help of technology, while teachers take on more of a coaching role if problems emerge. For its apparent benefits in getting kids up to speed in reading and math, advocates have claimed it could — and should — become the future of US education.
But personalized learning is so new, many teachers still need to learn how it works....
Business Insider
There's a teaching method tech billionaires love — here's how teachers are learning it
Chris Weller

UK Price Index

Let''s get a 3. handle on this and see how the monetarists react.  They have to start raising and asset reductions sooner or later, but these 2. handles on their "inflation!" have not been enough to lead them to significant action so far.

Boeing's Pension plan in red since the GFC

Yeah let's keep rates at permanent ZIRP good idea!

Help from higher risk free rates is on the way this effect of the moron ZIRP policy should start to go away soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Xinhua — Russia to become world's second largest gold producer after China

Russia will become world's second largest gold producer with the launch of a major mining and smelting facility in the Far East, said the press service of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East Wednesday.
After the facility was launched by Russia's gold producer Poluys to develop the Natalka gold deposit in the country's Magadan Region, the volume of ore processing will exceed 10 million tons per year, while the volume of gold production will be 13 tons per year, which increases the country's gold production by 5 percent, the ministry said.
This will make Russia the second largest gold producer in the world after China, the press service quoted Polyus CEO Pavel Grachev as saying.... 
Russia to become world's second largest gold producer

Mike Whitney — The Russian Hacking Story Continues to Unravel

A new report by a retired IT executive at IBM, debunks the claim that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign by hacking Democratic computers and circulating damaging information about Hillary Clinton. The report, which is titled “The Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge“, provides a rigorous examination of the wobbly allegations upon which the hacking theory is based, as well as a point by point rejection of the primary claims which, in the final analysis, fail to pass the smell test. While the report is worth reading in full, our intention is to zero-in on the parts of the text that disprove the claims that Russia meddled in US elections or hacked the servers at the DNC....
The Russian Hacking Story Continues to Unravel
Mike Whitney
Note: Skip Folden is a Private Intelligence analyst and a retired IBM Program Manager for Information Technology. His report has been submitted to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, the Office of Special Council (Robert Mueller), and the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein. The report was released on September 13, 2017 
Read the whole report here: “Non-Existent Foundation for Russian Hacking Charge“, Skip Folden, Word Press.

China, Venezuela decouple oil from US dollar

The world’s top oil importer, China, is preparing to launch a crude oil futures contract denominated in Chinese yuan and convertible into gold, potentially creating the most important Asian oil benchmark and allowing oil exporters to bypass U.S.-dollar denominated benchmarks by trading in yuan, Nikkei Asian Review reports.
The crude oil futures will be the first commodity contract in China open to foreign investment funds, trading houses, and oil firms. The circumvention of U.S. dollar trade could allow oil exporters such as Russia and Iran, for example, to bypass U.S. sanctions by trading in yuan, according to Nikkei Asian Review. To make the yuan-denominated contract more attractive, China plans the yuan to be fully convertible in gold on the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges....
China Readies Yuan-Priced Crude Oil Benchmark Backed By Gold
Tsvetana Paraskova

Apparently confirming what President Maduro had warned following the recent US sanctions, The Wall Street Journal reports thatVenezuela has officially stopped accepting US Dollars as payment for its crude oil exports....

Zero Hedge
De-Dollarization Spikes - Venezuela Stops Accepting Dollars For Oil Payments
Tyler Durden

Scott Adams — I Explain the Persuasion Techniques President Trump is using on The Wall and DACA

The Master Persuader redux.

Scott Adams' Blog
I Explain the Persuasion Techniques President Trump is using on The Wall and DACA
Scott Adams

James T. Kloppenberg — The three principles of democracy [excerpt]

Whether or not true democracy can ever be achieved remains uncertain. Historian James T. Kloppenberg argues that while democracy can be defined as an ethical ideal, the practical definition of democracy is too contentious to be adopted as a political system. The following shortened excerpt from Toward Democracy analyzes three contested principles of democracy: popular sovereignty, autonomy, and equality.
The three principles of democracy [excerpt]
James T. Kloppenberg | Charles Warren Professor of American History, at Harvard University

Pepe Escobar — The Russia-China plan for North Korea: stability, connectivity

The sane path in contrast to the insane one.

Asia Times
The Russia-China plan for North Korea: stability, connectivity
Pepe Escobar

Matias Vernengo — Marx Capital turns 150

Some links of interest.

Naked Keynesianism
Marx Capital turns 150
Matias Vernengo | Associate Professor of Economics, Bucknell UniversiTy

Nick Bunker — Markups, macroeconomics, and the changing U.S. economy

The two authors [Jan De Loecker of Princeton University and Jan Eeckhout of University College London] find a large increase in the average markup from 1980 to 2014—specifically an increase by a factor of 3.65. In 1980, the average markup was 18 percent and by 2014, the average was 67 percent. But interestingly, the increase is concentrated at the top of the markup distribution: The firm at the 90th percentile in 2014 had a markup of about 160 percent, compared to a markup of 40 percent for the 90th percentile firm in 1980. The markup at the median didn’t change much at all. In order to tie these increased markups with rising market power, the economists show how increases in markups are associated with higher profit levels, higher dividend payments, and a higher average market value—all of which would correspond to more market power in the economy....
Asymmetry in market power is increasing. This implies that economic rent is increasing.

Alex Gray — Finland has created a digital money system for refugees

MONI has developed a prepaid debit card that circumvents the need for a bank account or identity papers. The card is linked to a unique digital identity stored on a blockchain – the same technology that underpins Bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Two years ago, MONI partnered with the Finnish government to provide refugees with their monthly allowance, which until then had been paid in cash....
World Economic Forum
Finland has created a digital money system for refugees
Alex Gray