“debt bondage and the global economy”…

Fed Hubris: Central Bank Ignores That It is on Thin Political Ice

A shot across the Fed’s bow from Simon Johnson, former IMF chief economist and bank critic, on the surface looks to be a good bit of news. Johnson, in a recent Project Syndicate article, warns that the notoriously cloistered central bank is overly confident about its political position.

Although Johnson is constrained by both space limits and Project Syndicate’s anodyne style, his warning is clear: the Fed is more powerful than ever despite having been wretchedly incompetent in the runup to the crisis. Many would say it has compounded its incompetence by going into “if the only tool I have is a hammer, ever problem looks like a nail” mode with ZIRP and QE. The Fed was not only silent when its input would have mattered a great deal, in the fiscal stimulus fight of 2009, but Bernanke called for deficit cutting in 2012, even as he had his foot firmly on the not-very-effective QE accelerator. The result is a flaccid economy, bubbles in many financial assets and destabilizing hot money flows sloshing through developing economies.

As a result of this misrule, Johnson contends the central bank is much closer than it recognizes to losing its vaunted independence. Johnson points out that the right wing is keen about restricting the Fed’s freedom of action, and that they are a much more serious threat than the Fed appears to understand. What happens if the Republicans gain a majority in the Senate in the midterms?

Even though Johnson is in some ways very critical of the central bank, he if anything overstated its base of support. The hostility towards the monetary authority among conservatives is perverse, given how much the Fed has done for the wealthy by showing such solicitude about asset prices. Nevertheless, it is not just the right that is unhappy with the Fed. It is pretty much anyone to the left of mainstream Democrats. Orthodox folks tend not to recognize its existence since its members are seldom welcome in polite DC company. Remember, it was Ron Paul and Alan Grayson who teamed up on Audit the Fed. And both conservative and liberal senators were responsible for putting an unheard of five holds on Bernanke’s reappointment as Fed chairman. Obama had to whip personally to get Bernanke approved.

Vulture Funds trump Argentinian sovereignty


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“The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

A chessboard drenched in blood

The tragedy of MH17 – turned, incidentally, into a WMD – might be seen as a warped rerun of imperial policy in Iraq. No need for a memo this time. The “policy” of the Empire of Chaos is clear, and
multi-pronged; diversify the “pivot to Asia” by establishing a beachhead in Ukraine to sabotage trade between Europe and Russia; expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to Ukraine; break the Russia-China strategic partnership; prevent by all means the trade/economic integration of Eurasia, from the Russia-Germany partnership to the New Silk Roads converging from China to the Ruhr; keep Europe under US hegemony.

The key reason why Russian President Vladimir Putin did not “invade” Eastern Ukraine – as much as he’s been enticed to by Washington/NATO – to stop a US military adviser-facilitated running slaughter of civilians is that he does not want to antagonize the European Union, Russia’s top trading partner.

Crucially, Washington’s intervention in Kosovo invoking R2P – Responsibility to Protect – was justified at the time for exactly the same reasons a Russian intervention in Donetsk and Luhansk could be totally justified now. Except that Moscow won’t do it – because the Kremlin is playing a very long game.

The charge of the Atlanticist Brigade

The PRC occasionally comes in for mockery for its alleged hubris in wishing to elevate the yuan to the status of an international currency. However, I don’t think the PRC’s near term objective, or even desire, is to assume the glorious but extremely onerous burden of displacing the US dollar as the international reserve currency.

Instead, I think there are tactical as well as strategic forces in play, inspired in part by Russia’s sanctions miseries as well as the PRC’s own experiences with covert as well as overt US financial sanctions relating to China’s Iran and North Korea transactions, which date back to the George W Bush years. The PRC approach reflects the difficulty of sustaining strict capital controls on a national currency when China’s economy is increasingly open to the world; and the risk that a more freely trading Chinese currency can bring to the PRC in its current competition and incipient clash with the United States.

So the PRC internationalizes the yuan in a series of bilateral agreements with key trading partners, so that its financial transactions increasingly exit the dollar and are less vulnerable to US and Western sanctions; it tries to push its investors to look for adequate returns in friendly regions rather than dumping excess funds in Western financial centers; and it cracks down on corruption and capital flight so that its oligarchs will be less exposed to financial and legal blackmail in places like London and the United States.

And for that matter, it offers the enticement to global financial centers of profitable, high-volume trading in yuan, a fungible benefit that can be diverted somewhere else if a jurisdiction turns unfriendly.

And the Xi Jinping regime must take into account the possibility that the outrage and sanctions machine, so intensively deployed against Russia over Ukraine, will be employed against the People’s Republic of China.

The United States is backing off from its stated “honest broker” position in the South China Sea to a tilt toward China’s adversaries, offering the possibility of direct confrontation over the PRC’s maritime claims and use of the sanctions regime to punish PRC misbehavior. Taiwan is inexorably bumping along to a political confrontation between the pro-mainland KMT and pro-independence DPP and student forces, which will offer the US government, if so inclined, a chance to ditch the One China policy and stand up to the PRC militarily and with sanctions.

State Dept Contradicts Intel Community, Says Putin Directly to Blame for MH17

Determined not to let the US intelligence community’s open admission that they have “no evidence of direct Russian involvement” in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines MH17, the State Department has once again insisted Russian President Vladimir Putin is “directly” to blame for it.

Puzzlingly, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf cited the exact same intelligence community briefing as proving Putin’s guilt, even though the officials delivering that briefing said the exact opposite of it. Harf also claimed to be privy to even more secret evidence that had not gone public yet, which also pinned the whole thing on Putin.

Interestingly enough Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R – GA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee and privy to all the same evidence the State Department saw, said that while there was some “circumstantial” evidence pointing to Russia, he saw no smoking gun.

Not that thinks like evidence and proof really matter to the administration, which made up its mind before the smoldering wreckage of MH17 was even cold, determined to use this as another truncheon with which to bludgeon Russia, and worsen US-Russia ties. The Pentagon is now said to be planning, in the next few weeks, to send “military advisers” to Ukraine, meaning the US will be getting itself directly involved in the war against ethnic Russians along the Ukraine-Russia border.

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“Climate change: It is real, the science is true.” Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith, May 13.

The Brink of Mass Extinction

March through June 2014 were the hottest on record globally, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. In May – officially the hottest May on record globally – the average temperature of the planet was .74 degrees Celsius above the 20th century baseline, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The trend is clear: 2013 was the 37th consecutive year of above-average global temperatures, and since the Industrial Revolution began, the earth has been warmed by .85 degrees Celsius. Several scientific reports and climate modeling show that at current trajectories (business as usual), we will see at least a 6-degree Celsius increase by 2100.

In the last decade alone, record high temperatures across the United States have outnumbered record low temperatures two to one, and the trend is both continuing and escalating.

While a single extreme weather event is not proof of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), the increasing intensity and frequency of these events are. And recent months have seen many of these.

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Anonymous v. Israel…

Getty Images

Hacker Group Anonymous launches #OpSaveGaza, an intensive online offensive against Israel

Even as Israel has intensified its ground offensives against Hamas in Gaza, killing over 312 Palestinians, Gaza finds an unlikely ally in the international hacker’s group Anonymous.

The group, known for its clandestine vigilante activities, primarily done in anonymity of the web, launched an online offensive against the Israel government, whom they accuse of oppressing the Palestinians.

In what is now being referred to as cyber revenge, the hacker group, on July 11 and 17, put out a call for #OpSaveGaza—a large scale coordinated cyber attack against the various arms of the Israeli government. “This is an urgent call for all hackers, human right organisations and activists all around the world to unite again and start campaign against Israhell, share what is really going on there, expose their terrorist activity to the world,” it said.

What is Anonymous?

The hacker group has a history of purporting cyber violence, popularly known as ‘hacktivism’ against organisations, corporates and governments they deem to be violating human rights. They are known to have openly supported Wikileaks campaigns, directing frequent attacks towards corporates, including MasterCard and PayPal, for blocking Wikileak accounts.

It appealed to human rights activists and hackers to join them in pulling down the Israel’s online machinery, “If you are a hacker, activist, a human right organisation then hack Israel websites and expose to the world their crimes, show to the world how much blood is on their hands, blood of innocent children and women. We will never remain silent against Israhell war activity.”

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taking back the Internet…

Edward Snowden urges professionals to encrypt client communications

The NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has urged lawyers, journalists, doctors, accountants, priests and others with a duty to protect confidentiality to upgrade security in the wake of the spy surveillance revelations.

Snowden said professionals were failing in their obligations to their clients, sources, patients and parishioners in what he described as a new and challenging world.

“What last year’s revelations showed us was irrefutable evidence that unencrypted communications on the internet are no longer safe. Any communications should be encrypted by default,” he said.

The response of professional bodies has so far been patchy.

A minister at the Home Office in London, James Brokenshire, said during a Commons debate about a new surveillance bill on Tuesday that a code of practice to protect legal professional privilege and others requiring professional secrecy was under review.

Snowden’s plea for the professions to tighten security came during an extensive and revealing interview with the Guardian in Moscow.

I, spy: Edward Snowden in exile

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