Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Eric Zuesse — Stephen Cohen’s Misrepresentations About the 2014 Coup in Ukraine

If Dr. Cohen has any objections to the factuality of any of the allegations that I have made here, or to any of the documentation that I have linked to as the sources for these allegations, then I publicly welcome him to state what those objections are. Otherwise, I shall continue to take strong exception to Dr. Cohen’s account of these matters.
Fair enough.

Washington's Blog
Stephen Cohen’s Misrepresentations About the 2014 Coup in Ukraine
Eric Zuesse

Alex Gorka — President Trump to Unveil New Middle East Peace Plan

Another map to nowhere if what's being floated in anywhere close to what's planned.

DJT's major flaw in dealmaking at this level is assuming that economic interests are paramount when they are not. He is out of his league here since his understanding of interest is limited at best, and his the advisors he has chosen are incompetent ideologues.
Donald Trump likes to make “deals.” Perhaps he views the Palestinian problem as essentially an economic issue, not a political one. Because of this perspective he has adopted a “you make concessions to get economic benefits in return” approach. The problem is with the PA’s leadership, which is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, its people, and also the Arab leaders who want a real political settlement instead of a trade deal, because they aren’t going anywhere. It’s really hard to imagine the Palestinians taking any offer of “limited sovereignty” seriously.

Strategic Culture Foundation
President Trump to Unveil New Middle East Peace Plan
Alex Gorka

'The U.S. President Is Destroying the American World Order' — Mathieu von Rohr and Christoph Schult interview Joschka Fischer

In an interview with DER SPIEGEL, former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer talks about the danger of war against Iran, the deterioration of trans-Atlantic relations under U.S. President Donald Trump and the serious need for Germany to invest massively in the European Union's future. 
Spiegel Online
'The U.S. President Is Destroying the American World Order'
Interview former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer conducted by Mathieu von Rohr and Christoph Schult

Alexander Mercouris — Russia’s new government: here’s why Putin chose to stick with his team

This is a long article, but it is a must-read for those interested in Russia's direction after the recent reelect of President Putin.

Russia Feed
Russia’s new government: here’s why Putin chose to stick with his team
Alexander Mercouris

See also

Also longish but an important backgrounder.

Russian and Eurasian Politics
Russia, America, and the Biases Within UsGordon M. Hahn, analyst and Advisory Board member at Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, member of the Executive Advisory Board at the American Institute of Geostrategy, a contributing expert for Russia Direct, a senior researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies, Akribis Group, and; and an analyst and consultant for Russia – Other Points of View

Tehran eyes path ahead after US withdrawal from nuclear pact — Pepe Escobar interviews Ahmad Bahmani,

The insider scoop.

Asia Times
Tehran eyes path ahead after US withdrawal from nuclear pact
Pepe Escobar interviews Ahmad Bahmani, Europe and Americas adviser to Ali Akbar Velayati, the top foreign policy adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

More on Wikipedia, Philip Cross and Wikispooks — 22 May 2018

Intel Today
Wikipedia & the Spooks — The Remake? [The Philip Cross Affair]
L (Ludwig De Braeckeleer)

Craig Murray Blog
Philip Cross Madness Part IV
Craig Murray, formerly British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector of the University of Dundee

Did the government use the Royal Wedding to cover Skripal's hospital release? | George Galloway

Fearless George is awesome again!

Why has the media not asked how it is that the Yulia and Sergei Skripal have disappeared without anyone seeing them?  All very strange. The state has lied, says George Galloway, which is not unusual, but why has the 'free press' not challenged them on it?

For some reason the RSPA did not press charges against the British police force for neglecting the Skripal's pet guinea pigs and their cat.

With the media being focused on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding, the story that Sergei Skripal was released from hospital was somehow lost in amongst the stories of the bride and groom. Former army officer and Scotland Yard detective Charles Shoebridge talks about the release with George Galloway.

Coward Boris Johnson does a runner to avoid Urgent Question on Gaza

Boris Johnson has done a runner from the Commons to avoid Emily Thornberry’s Urgent Question on Gaza.

Randall Wray - The Job Guarantee and Inflation

The job guarantee won't cause inflation, says, Randolph Wray.  The government sets a floor or ceiling price for many commodities, like corn or wool, for instance, which isn't inflationary because all does is set a stabilised price, and a job guarantee just sets a minimum price for wages.

Professor L. Randall Wray discussing the Job Guarantee and inflation. Orthodox economists have enshrined the idea that there's a tradeoff between unemployment and inflation: they believe that if unemployment gets too low, it will cause inflation (because workers gain bargaining power, and fight for higher wages). Therefore, the mainstream approach is to try to keep unemployment at or above some minimum level (essentially prevent people from getting jobs, to weaken worker bargaining power) in order to fight inflation. The Job Guarantee takes a different approach. It uses something called a "buffer stock." A buffer stock scheme is a price stabilization mechanism, which works like this. Suppose that some entity (it can be public or private) would like to stabilize the price of corn. It can do so by announcing a price for corn, then buying and selling any quantity of corn at that price. So if the market price for corn is $390 per bushel (you don't even want to know how much corn that is) but I announce a target price of $400, then I will have to buy corn continuously until the price rises to $400. Or, if the market price for corn were $410, then I would have to sell corn continuously, flood the market, until the price falls to $400. So, in a buffer stock, price stays fixed while the quantity in the buffer stock (how much corn I am holding) adjusts to clear the market. This stabilizes prices. The Job Guarantee does the same thing with labor, by fixing a wage at which the government will hire workers. If the government stands ready to hire anybody who wants to work, at a wage of, say, $12 per hour, then if the market wage for comparable work is $7 per hour, everybody doing those jobs can quit their jobs and join the JG pool, until market wages rise to $12. Or, if the market wage was $15 but everybody in the JG pool was working for $12, the private sector would be able hire JG workers (essentially like buying corn out of the buffer stock) until the market wage for unskilled labor falls back to the JG wage of $12. The buffer stock stabilizes prices. (This was exactly how the gold standard worked, except instead of a buffer stock for labor or corn, it was a buffer stock of gold, whereby the government would announce a price for gold, then buy and sell in unlimited quantities to maintain that price). This is in contrast with the usual "Keynesian" or "pump-priming" method of government fiscal stimulus to create jobs, whereby the government builds infrastructure or war machines or just buys stuff, in the hopes that increased aggregate demand in the economy will create more jobs. The problem with that approach is that it leads to bottlenecks. For instance, if we try to create jobs by building bridges, then we'll need a lot of structural engineers. We might get into a situation where there are few or no more available engineers, which gives them substantial bargaining power to bid up their wages. This tends to happen before jobs are created for the lowest skilled workers, meaning the "Keynesian" "pump-priming" method does tend to be inflationary, as its critics have claimed. But the Job Guarantee by contrast takes a bottom-up approach, providing jobs directly where they're needed, in the exact quantity they're needed, and so cannot be inflationary. Watch the whole video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFSKa... Follow Deficit Owls on Facebook and Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/DeficitOwls/ https://twitter.com/DeficitOwls



In neoclassical economics inflation is controlled by creating a pool of unemployed to reduce the bargaining power of workers. But many conservatives believe that people remain unemployed due to laziness even though it is a deliberate of the ruling establishment to keep a section on the working population out of work.

There are good-for-nothing people at the bottom end, for sure, but there are also many good-for-nothing people at the top end too, who know how to work the system to steal hundreds of $billions of tax payers money, and yet many conservatives see this people as successful entrepreneurs instead. But it is these people at the top end that can cause real harm to the economy, not the poor.

Most people want to work, but they would like reasonable wages and conditions too. Some very right wing conservatives believe that the only way out of the underclass is for people to work very hard and climb the ladder which means they can also exploit those at the bottom as well, but this doesn't solve the problem of the underclass.

Think about it, if most people really worked hard and got good degrees, then those that went to the best universities would get the best jobs, and the rest would still fall to the bottom getting the worst jobs, and so you can see that for many people it would not be worth all the effort. So are they lazy, or they just being rational?

Much of who we are is because of social conditioning, so if we can bring people out of the underclass everyone benefits. We will then get a more pleasant society with more people ready for work.

Tyler Cowen — Legalize Pot, But Don’t Normalize It

I think this is correct. 

Opponents believe, with some reason, that legalization ("decriminalization") implies or leads to normalization, as it did with alcohol and tobacco use. 

This is not a small issue, even if consider only from the perspective of public health. The cost of tobacco use and alcohol abuse is astronomical in actually medical costs and it comes with devastating social costs as well, affecting not on the individuals involved.

Now, the issue with regard to tobacco use and alcohol abuse is trying to put the cat back in the bag. It's not a simple matter. And Prohibition showed that criminalization is also ineffective.

Education and tax policy has been effective to some degree, but not to the satisfaction of the medical community and public health officials that study outcomes.

Now that the issue of legalizing cannabis looms large, there's a chance to address this before the cat gets out of the bag. And addressing it in advance could lead to a more optimal approach to tobacco use and alcohol abuse, too. 

Th other objection to legalizing cannabis is that it will then lead to legalization of other substance likely to be abused that even more dangerous.

I favor total legalization with sufficient precautions to avoid normalization, which would be a great mistake for reasons learns from tobacco and alcohol policy.

There is ample evidence that prohibit doesn't work, is expensive, can be used to disseminate, and other issues as well. It's unreasonable to continue a failed policy or to try to "fix" it, e.g. by imposing stricter penalties.

We need to think this through and there should be many inputs on it, with due deliberation before formulating policy. The Tyler Cowan piece doesn't deal with this is the degree of detail required, which would be impossible within the limited scope of a column.

There is a huge amount of money on the table now over potential legalization. Let's not get distracted by interests but rather look at the issue in term of the larger interests involved.

Bloomberg View
Legalize Pot, But Don’t Normalize It
Tyler Cowen | Holbert C. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University and serves as chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center

Monday, May 21, 2018

CGTN — The most downloaded IOS APP - why the obsession with Tik Tok videos?

...Douyin in China boasts of billions of hits each day. Its international edition has recently topped off Whatsapp, becoming the most downloaded IOS application on the market in the first quarter of 2018.…
Tik Tok videos are typically 15 seconds long, tuned to repurposed, hit music and featured special effects....
Zhi [Ying, senior Director with Tik Tok] said the app's popularity builds on what users, typically under 35, made and submitted themselves, as they've taken the format to be an essential way of expression.
Zhi told CGTN that short-video is the new way of expression and communication now, just as important as texts and photos….
The most downloaded IOS APP - why the obsession with Tik Tok videos?

Steve Keen — Some Preliminary Questions for MMT

I had an impromptu debate with Warren Mosler, the founder and still one of the leading figures of "Modern Monetary Theory" recently. We disagreed on the role of trade deficits, and this has led another MMT luminary, Bill Mitchell, to write two commentaries critiquing my position (see "Trade and external finance mysteries – Part 1" and "Trade and finance mysteries – Part 2".
This is my partial reply to Mitchell—there are more issues that I want to take up when I have time to do so....
Some Preliminary Questions for MMT
Steve Keen | Professor and Head Of School Of Economics, History & Politics, Kingston University, London

Marx links — 21 May 2018

MR Online
Meeting Marx: Chinese youth dig Marxism’s appeal

Radical Political Economy
Das Kapital after 150 years – a lecture by Riccardo Bellofiore

Immanuel Wallerstein: The Contemporary Relevance of Marx
Posted by David Fields

Links — May 21, 2018

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: GUARANTEED! -- May 20 update

Is the Job Guarantee a Ponzi Scheme?

Occasional Links & Commentary
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

Oxfam Blogs — From Poverty to Power
Links I Liked
Duncan Green

WCEG — The Equitablog
Galbraithian economics: Countervailing power edition
Brad DeLong

Zero Hedge
Supreme Court Crushes Unions By Limiting Collective Action Bargaining
Tyler Durden

Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
The Skripal Case Is Being Pushed Down The Memory Hole With Libya And Aleppo
Caitlin Johnstone

Zero Hedge
Scientists Revise Understanding Of Novichok After It Fails To Produce Expected Lethal Effects
Tyler Durden

Niskanen Center
Three More Reasons to be Cautious About a National Job Guarantee
Ed Dolan


Craig Murray on "Philip Cross" — Parts 1-3

Examination of a fake news disinformation campaign and psyop.

Craig Murray Blog
The Philip Cross Affair

The “Philip Cross” MSM Promotion Operation Part 3
Craig Murray, formerly British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector of the University of Dundee

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Zach Carter — Stephanie Kelton Has The Biggest Idea In Washington


Its' a very positive article, but unfortunately, the job guarantee is not presented in terms of the basic issue — the choice between a buffer stock of employed or buffer stock of unemployed, and how the former is superior using efficiency and effectiveness as criteria.

The other key issue is how the JG is an integral aspect of policy formulation that promises to reconcile the trifecta of growth, employment and price stability, previous thought to be impossible without using one as a tool to target the others.

Adoption of policy based on MMT analysis should keep the economy operating a close to optimal output and employment along with moderate inflation, with the JG playing the dual role of providing a price anchor, on one hand, and on the other, mopping up residual unemployment after the application of function finance to fiscal policy based on stock-flow consistent macro modeling.

Huffington Post
Stephanie Kelton Has The Biggest Idea In Washington
Zach Carter

'Chinese Were Prepared, EU Companies Were Not’ for US' Iran Sanctions - Analyst — Sputnik interviews Tom McGregor

China’s state-owned energy giant CNPC is ready to replace French energy company Total’s stake in the Iranian South Pars gas project. In 2017, Total and CNPC signed a 20-year contract worth 4.8 billion dollars to develop Phase 11 of Iran’s South Pars field. Sputnik spoke with political analyst Tom McGregor about CNPC’s acquisition plan.

Sputnik: How serious is CNPC about acquiring Total’s stake in the South Pars gas project in your opinion? 
McGregor: Definitely if it’s available to them they will certainly look at the deal and the way the Chinese do business is that they don’t make an announcement unless they are going to do something. They are very secretive about this kind of stuff, so unless there is some weird bluff, there’s no reason for them to make an announcement unless they are very serious. Chances are they are already taking action and they have already moved forward on it and they are just waiting to sign the deal to see what Total does. The Total energy giant in France and you do have these sanctions and then Trump has promised on campaign trail that he was going to create problems for Iran, so there should be no surprise. The European companies should have been prepared for this, years ago and I don’t know why they are overreacting. They knew what was going to happen after Trump was elected. So I think what happened was that the Chinese were prepared already and the European companies were not. ...
Sputnik International — Opinion
'Chinese Were Prepared, EU Companies Were Not’ for US' Iran Sanctions - Analyst
Sputnik interviews Tom McGregor, a political analyst and Asia-Pacific commentator for China's national TV broadcaster CNTV

Also from Sputnik

As French Total Warns It Could Leave Iran, British Pergas Enters the Game

EU States, Russia, China to Discuss New Iran Deal, Leaving US Sidelined - Report

Caitlin Johnstone — Wikipedia Is An Establishment Psyop

As we discussed last time, the only real power in this world is the ability to control the dominant narrative about what’s going on. The only reason government works the way it works, money operates the way it operates, and authority rests where it rests is because everyone has agreed to pretend that that’s how things are. In actuality, government, money and authority are all man-made conceptual constructs and the collective can choose to change them whenever it wants. The only reason this hasn’t happened in our deeply dysfunctional society yet is because the plutocrats who rule us have been successful in controlling the narrative.
Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. This has always been the case....
Push is coming to shove.

Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
Wikipedia Is An Establishment Psyop
Caitlin Johnstone

Brian Romanchuk — Principles Of Canadian Municipal Finance (And Why A Land Value Tax Is Inferior)

The fundamental question involves addressing economic rent. 

The first step is determine whether and to what degree economic rents are involved in changes in land valuation. 

Secondly, if so, how to deal with this is a manner that is socially, politically, financially, and economically feasible. 

Thirdly, how to optimize this, given the tradeoffs.
The funding of Canadian municipal governments is not normally thought of as interesting topic; even Canadian fixed income investors are not particularly excited about it. However, there are two side issues that are of general interest. The first question is: what happens to Canadian municipalities if the housing bubble pops? (As a spoiler, not very much.) The second question is the feasibility of a Land Value Tax (LVT) which is a concept that gets some people on the internet very excited. I will then outline why a LVT is inferior to the Canadian property tax system (which is not that different than the American system for that discussion)...
Bond Economics
Principles Of Canadian Municipal Finance (And Why A Land Value Tax Is Inferior)
Brian Romanchuk

Jonathon Pie - Wedding of the year

I'm fed up with being politically correct, here Jonathon Pie just comes straight out with it.  KV

Even in Australia, Pie can't avoid the "celebrations"

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Sandwichman — Jobs, Jobs, Jobs -- GUARANTEED!

Some useful history as background, but still no addressing the basic issue directly — buffer stock of employed or buffer stock of unemployed.

Absent a truly socialistic system, this is the key issue to address. The rest is detail.

Based on efficiency and effectiveness, a full employment economy is optimal. Redefinition of "full employment" to include millions of people out of work or not working full time when they desire a full time job is a lame excuse for a buffer stock of unemployed or underemployed.

Once it is admitted that idling works as a tool to target inflation based on NAIRU is bad idea, then the question becomes how to craft a bill to address this successfully

Actually, it was already addressed and passed in Humphrey-Hawkins, but that bill was ineffective.

The US needs an effective law to address chronic unemployment and underemployment.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs -- GUARANTEED!

Glenn Greenwald — The FBI Informant Who Monitored the Trump Campaign, Stefan Halper, Oversaw a CIA Spying Operation in the 1980 Presidential Election

An extremely strange episode that has engulfed official Washington over the last two weeks came to a truly bizarre conclusion on Friday night. And it revolves around a long-time, highly sketchy CIA operative, Stefan Halper.
Four decades ago, Halper was responsible for a long-forgotten spying scandal involving the 1980 election, in which the Reagan campaign – using CIA officials managed by Halper, reportedly under the direction of former CIA Director and then-Vice-Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush – got caught running a spying operation from inside the Carter administration. The plot involved CIA operatives passing classified information about Carter’s foreign policy to Reagan campaign officials in order to ensure the Reagan campaign knew of any foreign policy decisions that Carter was considering....
But now, as a result of some very odd choices by the nation’s largest media outlets, everyone knows the name of the FBI’s informant: Stefan Halper. And Halper’s history is quite troubling, particularly his central role in the scandal in the 1980 election. Equally troubling are the DOJ and FBI’s highly inflammatory and, at best, misleading claims that they made to try to prevent Halper’s identity from being reported.
To begin with, it’s obviously notable that the person the FBI used to monitor the Trump campaign is the same person who worked as a CIA operative running that 1980 Presidential election spying campaign.…
In 1980, the Washington Post published an article reporting on the extremely unusual and quite aggressive involvement of the CIA in the 1980 presidential campaign. “Simply put, no presidential campaign in recent memory — perhaps ever — has attracted as much support from the intelligence community as the campaign of former CIA director Bush,” the article said.…
So as it turns out, the informant used by the FBI in 2016 to gather information on the Trump campaign was not some previously unknown, top-secret asset whose exposure as an operative could jeopardize lives. Quite the contrary: his decades of work for the CIA – including his role in an obviously unethical if not criminal spying operation during the 1980 presidential campaign – is quite publicly known.…
Whatever else is true, the CIA operative and FBI informant used to gather information on the Trump campaign in the 2016 campaign has, for weeks, been falsely depicted as a sensitive intelligence asset rather than what he actually is: a long-time CIA operative with extensive links to the Bush family who was responsible for a dirty and likely illegal spying operation in the 1980 presidential election. For that reason, it’s easy to understand why many people in Washington were so desperate to conceal his identity, but that desperation had nothing to do with the lofty and noble concerns for national security they claimed were motivating them. 
Intel has been politicized for a long time. And as Greenwald observes, it is not illegal under US law.

The Intercept
The FBI Informant Who Monitored the Trump Campaign, Stefan Halper, Oversaw a CIA Spying Operation in the 1980 Presidential Election
Glenn Greenwald

Also at The Intercept

The Untold Story of Japan’s Secret Spy Agency
Ray Gallagher

See also

It's even worse than Greenwald reports. This is big, and you can bet that Donald Trump is going to magnify it bigly.

Zero Hedge
FBI Spy-Op Exposed, Trump Campaign Infiltrated By Longtime CIA And MI6 Asset
Tyler Durden

Alex Gorka — Brussels Rises in Revolt Against Washington: a Turning Point in the US-European Relationship

There you have it. But let's wait and see if actions back the words. So I would put a question mark at the end of the post title.

Strategic Culture Foundation
Brussels Rises in Revolt Against Washington: a Turning Point in the US-European Relationship
Alex Gorka

See also
  • The left-wing Five Star Movement and the far-right Lega released their plans for the next executive Friday morning.
  • The plan would potentially end more than two months of political instability in the third largest euro zone economy.
  • The agreement, revealed Friday, also called for an end to EU sanctions on Russia.
Italy’s incoming government wants to lift Russia sanctions and rewrite EU rules
Silvia Amaro

Intel Today — CIA Director Mike Pompeo: “War on Terror as a Cosmic Divine Battle”

Another nut case.

The Bible according to Tim LaHaye

Intel Today
CIA Director Mike Pompeo: “War on Terror as a Cosmic Divine Battle”

More Marx, socialism, and ecology

MR Online
Marx and Metabolism: lost in translation?
Ian Angus | editor of Climate and Capitalism

MR Online
On the eve of Venezuela’s elections, the U.S. empire isn’t sitting idly by

MR Online
Ten Marxist ideas that define the 21st century
Sergio Alejandro Gómez

The So-called Labour Fund

Radical Political Economy
Capitalism and the Expropriation of Nature: The Strategic Discourse of Ecosocialism
John Bellamy Foster

Naked Capitalism
Frank Block | Research Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis

Friday, May 18, 2018

TASS — Russia to notify WTO of plans for retaliation against US for steel, aluminum duties

The United States has refused to hold consultations with Russia on the WTO platform over the introduction of restrictions on steel and aluminum import, saying such measures were not special protectionist ones, the Ministry of Economic Development told TASS on Friday. With this in mind Russia is going to notify the WTO of its intention to take retaliatory measures to limit the import of steel and aluminum.
"In response to Russia’s request for consultations the United States said that it did not regard its restrictions as special protectionist ones and was unprepared for consultations with Russia within the framework of WTO procedures on special protectionist measures. All other WTO members that had requested such consultations received the same reply," the ministry told TASS.
"In this connection we plan to notify the WTO Council on Trade in Goods of our intention to take such steps. Thirty days after such notification Russia will have the right to take retaliatory measures proportionate to the damage from US restrictions on the Russian export of steel and aluminum," the ministry said....
Following the rules.

Caitlin Johnstone — The Friendly Mask Of The Orwellian Oligarchy Is Slipping Off

Another good rant.

Caitlin Johnstone — Rogue Journalist
The Friendly Mask Of The Orwellian Oligarchy Is Slipping Off
Caitlin Johnstone

Bloomberg — Leading Democrats Are Backing One of the Most Radical Economic Plans in Years

About what one would expect from Bloomberg.

Leading Democrats Are Backing One of the Most Radical Economic Plans in Years 
Katia Dmitrieva with assistance by Sahil Kapur, and Jordan Yadoo

Mike Whitney — Foreign Policy Insiders Try to Scuttle Trump-Kim Nukes Deal

Good points. The best part is in the final several paragraphs.

The Unz Review

Matthew Stewart — The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy

The class divide is already toxic, and is fast becoming unbridgeable. You’re [readers of the Atlantic] probably part of the problem.
Well-written article. Long.

The term "aristocracy" implies feudalism, and America is in a neo-feudal era similar to the Gilded Age.

The Atlantic
The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy
Matthew Stewart