Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 23, 2016

NYT Finds Troubles In Russia Which Are Already Cured

The New York Times has another Schadenfreude piece to make its readers giddy about Russia's economic problems. It seems that nothing is better to divert from job losses and zero wage growth in ones own economy than to pick on some other nation.

But the piece has problems in finding real problems in Russia. It points to only one small demonstration by some elders against cuts in their transportation subsidy. The cuts were discarded. Some people in small private companies have not received their pay. Such small problems are hardly a specialty of Russia and the general "anxiety" the writer tries to find is nothing special. Where the piece goes into the wider economic discussion it lacks basic economic math. How else could one explain these numbers:

With the federal budget approved in December based on oil at $50 a barrel, Anton Siluanov, the finance minister, announced that the country faced a budget deficit of about $40 billion, and ministries were ordered to cut spending 10 percent
...
Russia has around $360 billion in foreign currency reserves and some $120 billion in two rainy day funds, down from just under $160 billion a year ago. At current spending rates, however, the two funds are expected to last only 18 months.

Two rainy day funds with $120 billion to cover a $40 billion yearly deficit before further cuts or tax increases. How does that compute into "only 18 month"?

Because of economic sanctions over Ukraine and the fall of oil prices Russia has had a bad year. But Russia's financial situation has already stabilized. Mark Adomanis dug into the numbers:

Russia’s Central Bank was bleeding reserves at an enormously quick pace as 2014 came to an end. However, this bleeding has been staunched: over the past year, reserves have stabilized at around $370 billion.
...
Russia’s current FX reserves are, depending on your assumptions, somewhere between 18 and 22 months worth of “import coverage,” substantially more than the (highly unscientific!) six month threshold that is usually considered the minimum level necessary for macroeconomic stability.
...
So, in early 2016, Russia is in a situation in which its foreign currency reserves are stable at a reasonable (if not high) level and in which its corporate sector has already undertaken a significant (if not full-scale) de-leveraging. That does not sound, to me, like a country which is on the verge of collapse.

Sure, Russia has relative high inflation and the free floating ruble lost value against the U.S. dollar as most other currencies did during the last year. But the only negative effect of that is in more expensive imports and Russia has enough resources and production capacities to hardly need any. The doom and gloom the NYT tries to find in Russia is just not there. When the oil price collapsed the Russian government acted quickly and avoided the troubles other countries will still have to go through:

The pain being experienced by Russian consumers is very real. Indeed, part of the reason that Russia’s macroeconomic position remains resilient is that it has already taken some extraordinarily painful medicine in very large doses. Most oil producers have attempted to delay adjustment to the “new normal” of low oil prices by, among other things, maintaining currency pegs at artificially high rates or running gargantuan budget deficits. Not Russia. It let the ruble float back at the end of 2014, largely so that it wouldn’t have to spend its reserves in a futile effort to protect an expensive ruble. And, given the austerity talk emanating from the Kremlin, it seems determined to limit its deficit to a modest 3-4% of GDP.
...
None of this is set in stone. Russian policy making, which to this point seems to have been largely by the economic textbook, could change in a more populist direction. There’s a lingering danger of the imposition of currency or capital controls, either of which would be a disaster. But while lots of oil producers do genuinely seem headed for an economic apocalypse, Russia does not. At least for now.

There is a danger in the false NYT depiction of Russia as an economic basket-case. Policymakers who only read such pieces will see an opportunity to push Russia over the economic edge and will try some rather reckless stunts. They will then be surprised when a strong standing Russia retaliates. Such situations can lead to unnecessary escalations.

Posted by b on January 23, 2016 at 03:40 AM | Permalink

Comments

Poor Pravda on the Hudson - ALL lies, ALL the time, unless it is not relevant.

It would seem someone in Russia has actually read John Maynard Keynes.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Jan 23, 2016 4:27:49 AM | 1

b

SOT, but speaking of basketcases and false perceptions:
"I hope that the many disagreements and conflicts between the institutions do not become the excuse for unacceptable delays that would invalidate the great opportunity for a Grecovery," Tsipras said.

Grecovery?! Is that all that it needs, says Menemite Tsipras?

"On NPR this morning a Greek man was moving his family to the Netherlands. He feared for his daugheters' education because the school they would have attended does not have teachers anymore. *According to him, a cleaning lady plays videos for kids all day.* He and others are leaving Greece in droves as refugees come in. It can't be that great."

I mention this EU colony anecdote because my sibling works in a US island colony much like Greece, much in the news, where nuns simple read the Bible to the common students all day, as the elites use private IB schools in their gated compounds. The only public hospital has it's utilities disconnection notice, while elites used Goldman public loans to underwrite a brand new private hospital for those who can pay from their special fund insurance plans. And of course the EBT/8a food and housing program is being gradually defunded through debt, as are most US health and human services.

They don't need Grecoveries, they need groceries!

Posted by: Chipnik | Jan 23, 2016 4:58:04 AM | 2

"But the only negative effect of that is in more expensive imports, and Russia has enough resources and production capacities to hardly need any."

Hardly need any? Turkey, EU and US provided the fruits and vegetables, the processed foods, and the meats and grains that RUs eat, importing ~$100B worth of food every year, (that's before the 2/3rds collapse in the price of their chief export, crude oil), which is hardly 'hardly any'.

The concommitent collapse in construction in China, US and EU, with softwood lumber being RUs other main export, has offset any fall in grain prices, sold in US$s, leaving caviar and vodka exports to feed the families of elite commissars.

So your specious claim of 'hardly any' puts the lie to the whole RU storyline. BRIC is bric'd. 404. Toast. DOA. 86'd.

Finito.

Posted by: Chipnik | Jan 23, 2016 5:12:48 AM | 3

Looking at Puerto Rico and Michigan I'd rather be poor in Russia. As well, Pepe Escobar cites Goldman Sachs


Goldman Sachs seems to be largely unconcerned. The bank is sticking with its $40 per barrel forecast for the first half of 2016 and says that it sees a new bull market in oil starting to evolve in late 2016 as market adjustments balance out supply and demand.

And Politico (Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group) on who suffers from low oil prices

Geopolitically, the impact of low oil prices is concentrated in the Middle East, where political structures are brittle and based on oil wealth-supported patronage. Across the region, there are immediate and direct security threats without any social, political or economic reform processes in place to address the challenges these regimes face from the inside. What keeps these countries together—as well as those that rely on them for support—when the oil money runs out?

and Terry Lynn Karl, professor of Political Science at Stanford University

Today’s oil glut is different from those of the past: It is due to the near-doubling of U.S. production of shale oil since 2009, as well as the response of Saudi Arabia and other petroleum exporters to this unwelcome competition. In the short term, the lifting of sanctions against Iranian oil will not help. While prices in the $20-30 per barrel range were once considered beneficial to the economy and the stock market, this is no longer the case. Low prices have led to painful budget cuts in North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Alaska and California; a $300 billion decline in capital investment in future extraction this year alone; the bankruptcies of dozens of energy companies; and the undercutting of incentives to build alternative clean energy.

and lastly

Selected Persian Gulf traders, and that includes Westerners working in the Gulf confirm that Saudi Arabia is unloading at least $1 trillion in securities and crashing global markets under orders from the Masters of the Universe – those above the lame presidency of Barack Obama.

There's plenty of disaster to go around. And it's not the disaster but how a country copes with disaster that tells the tale. I think the ordinary Russian is in better position than the ordinary American or Middle Easterner to weather the growing storm, whether there is a recover in oil prices in six months or not.

I think the US strategy of bringing about the worst possible conditions - death, devastation, and destruction along every dimension worldwide - in the belief that the US will somehow be the one left standing at the end is more likely to lead to Yet Another Surprise for the Wise Guys of Neolibraconia than to the collapse of Russia and the Russian people.

Of coures I don't know. None of us does, do we? We'll all find out together this year, it seems, doesn't it.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 23, 2016 6:47:11 AM | 4

Russia is being handed a golden opportunity to get away from the post-Soviet model of relying on exports of raw materials in exchange for imports of food and finished consumer goods.

I have very little in the way of positive things to say about Putin and his foreign and domestic policies, but if he manages to make Russia more economically independent as the result of sanctions and low oil prices, then it will be of great benefit to his country in the long term.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jan 23, 2016 6:55:14 AM | 5

Interesting report on the development and diversification of the Russian economy since 2000 (the year Putin first became President) to the present day by Jon Hellevig of Awara Group at this link: http://www.awarablogs.com/putin-midterm-interim-results/

An excerpt from the report:

"... [Awara Group's] study reveals a range of impressive indicators on the development of the economy between 2000 and 2013 and the health of the Russian economy:
- The share of natural resources rents in GDP (oil, gas, coal, mineral, and forest rents) more than halved between 2000 to 2012 from 44.5% to 18.7%. The actual share of oil and gas was 16%.
- Russian industrial production has grown more than 50% while having undergone a total modernization at the same time.
- Production of food has grown by 100% in 2000 – 2013.
- Production of cars has more than doubled at the same time that all the production has been totally remodeled.
- Russian exports have grown by almost 400%, outdoing all major Western countries.
Growth of exports of non-oil & gas goods has been 250%.
- Russia’s export growth has more than doubled compared with the competing Western powers.
- Oil & gas does not count for over 50% of state revenues as has been claimed, but only 27.4%. Top revenue source is instead payroll taxes.
- Russia’s total tax rate at 29.5% is among lowest of developed countries, non-oil & gas total tax rate is half that of the Western countries.
- Russia’s GDP has grown more than tenfold from 1999 to 2012.
- Public sector share of employment in Russia is not high in comparison with developed economies. State officials make up 17.7% of Russia’s total work force, which situates it in the middle of the pack with global economies.
- Russia's labor productivity is not 40% of the Western standards as is frequently claimed but rather about 80%.

Far from relying on oil and gas, the Russian government is engaged in massive investments in all sectors of the economy, biggest investments going to aviation, shipbuilding, and manufacturing of high-value machinery and technology ..."

Well, who are you going to believe, the report or the comment above?

Posted by: Jen | Jan 23, 2016 7:00:40 AM | 6

The Russia bashing in the Westerm media has reached a point where the issues brought up look increasingly suspicious.
This goes in parallel with the demonization of Putin, a media technique that has been used "successfully" against Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein but has become obsolete and have no effect anymore on Bashar al Assad or Putin. It seems that the confirmed disaster of Iraq and Libya after the removal of the 'demons' and the surprising rehabilitation of another monster Iran, the 'demonization' scheme has lost its effectiveness. It does not work anymore and the Western media needs to find something else if they want to help their sponsors justify 'regime change'

Posted by: virgile | Jan 23, 2016 8:48:29 AM | 7

Never mind that budget deficits can be run at will. The US has run deficits for 85% of it's budgets over history. If we hadn't, we wouldn't be the Empire we have become, and most citizens would be living in poverty. The NY Times seems to be unaware of this. The deficit part of the story is just the neoliberal party line.

Posted by: paulmeli | Jan 23, 2016 8:54:16 AM | 8

"…that's before the 2/3rds collapse in the price of their chief export, crude oil), which is hardly 'hardly any'."

More propaganda from the neoliberal party line…that countries can only prosper through trade, they can't possibly produce stuff for their own consumption.

Only the 'exceptional' US is allowed to do that. We can run both trade deficits and budget deficits.

btw didn't the price of US oil exports drop by the same amount? What would happen to our trade deficit if Russia produced it's own grain instead of buying from us? That's what the NY Times (and the political establishment) is pissed about.

Posted by: paulmeli | Jan 23, 2016 9:04:03 AM | 9

Jen

i believe the report, but it ultimately constitutes an unsound argument 'cause, like almost all economic analysis, it's based on 'economic growth.'

which is a fallacy.

but yeah, still, foundationally they always have this to work with.

Posted by: john | Jan 23, 2016 9:30:23 AM | 10

It's always good to be reminded that the NYT is a worthless propaganda rag. Sadly, many people on the "left" still consider it, along with NPR, as reliable sources because most liberals and pwogwessives need something authoritative to cling to in this rapidly changing world.

As for Russia, someone I read recently said that Putin is the first post-post-modern leader of a major country. In fact, what Putin is doing is putting his country's welfare before the welfare of the "global marketplace", aka the Empire, the "international community" and so on. The main political struggle we see today is not between nation-states but between nation-states and the corporate oligarchs who run the Empire. Currently we have Putin who has revived Russian nationalism, we have Le Pen in France and perhaps Trump here all who are calling for a revival of nationalism over globalism which is rapidly turning into a nightmare world. Nationalism or some kind of connection among people in a country may be arbitrary but it is preferable to the atomism isolation that is at the center of globalist/imperial culture. Regardless of what happens the kind of ideal liberal democracy that we all hoped would bloom here and around the world may be, forever, a thing of the past--we now may have to select which kind of authoritarian political arrangement we select. For me personally, anything is better than the corporate oligarchy that exists only to create a neo-feudal structure that least directly to debt-slavery.

Posted by: Banger | Jan 23, 2016 10:59:37 AM | 11

Russia was smart enough (as well as the other countries in the Eurasian bloc) to plow their profits from the sky high oil price days into gold and currency reserves (and has been buying more gold at a furious pace, which is probably in line with the drop in paper currency reserves):

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-25/kazakhstan-russia-buy-more-gold-as-mexico-cuts-imf-data-show

charts:
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/russia/gold-reserves
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/russia/foreign-exchange-reserves

Russia can sustain itself for a prolonged period, and as mentioned by others has ample resources (and recent experience) with turning inwards if it needs too.

The US is the one that really ought to be worrying, but what better way to prevent a needed national introspection that to scream "but look at THAT guy!".

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 23, 2016 11:16:27 AM | 12

"Russia is being handed a golden opportunity to get away from the post-Soviet model of relying on exports of raw materials in exchange for imports of food and finished consumer goods."

Russia has a chance to remove itself from the list of global colonial service areas, indeed, but not because it has been "handed" anything. This is the plan of the country's leadership since that traitorous drunk bum, Boris Yeltsin, passed away (or passed out). It has always been the desire of the people since they got themselves out from under the shined boot of the czar in 1917. The people of the USSR - then as the "Post-Soviet People" - never wanted to descend to the status of a crime-ruled oil colony.

People who "dislike" Putin have usually been too busy reading all the nonsense written about him from the fakers on the right as well as the fakers on the left. People who've made no effort to understand his rule from the average Russian.

Whatever he may be to those in the West who seem demand from foreign leaders absolutely angelic behavior they never seem able to demand from their own - he is the President of Russia. And if his approval ratings are any indication, his policies are well appreciated there. Especially after decades of privation and colonization imposed by imperial intrigues from without, and fascist/oligarchical conniving from within.

One has only to compare independent Russia to poor, poor Ukraine who has never been able to shake off Western meddling or its entrenched oligarchy. One has only to compare the both of the to Belarus - the only country in the Post-Soviet sphere that never allowed the West to dismantle its social policy (probably because there were bigger fish to fry nearby) and so has never suffered the imposed social collapse that most other successor states of the USSR faced.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 23, 2016 11:31:34 AM | 13

Chipnik,

I checked "Russia food import" and it reached 25 billions in 2013, the three largest supplies were Belorus, Brazil and Ukraine. Russia is an exporter of wheat, so the balance of food trade was under 20 billions. The current policy is to boost domestic production which has wages in rubles and has quite ample land in different climate zones, so this trade balance already improved with further potential.

Before the drop in oil prices, 32% of exports were non-oil (and very little of it is timber). Russian accounts are not easy to understand, so dependent how they are presented, with cheap oil they have huge "structural deficit" or not. In particular, in 2013, during the peak of oil prices, Russia barely balanced the budget -- but that was because it deposited a lot in "sovereign funds". Now some of those funds are used to finance investments in domestic industry, bypassing foreign investments hindered by the sanctions.

The bottom line is that Russia can survive with cheap oil and steps to reorient the budget and foreign trade are already under way. KSA and GCC can also survive, but KSA may have deep problems. Right now, they liberally use the financial reserves, but in long term, they will need some type of deep re-adjustment of economy and society which currently lives from imported labor, while domestic labor lacks traditions and motivation for most of these jobs. In other words, to survive with balanced books they just need to cut unnecessary expenses, but the structure of society is built around them.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 23, 2016 11:35:15 AM | 14

"to survive with balanced books…"

What does this even mean for a government?

The debit side of the ledger emerges from thin air internally. A government only has to make sure it does't try to buy more than its citizens can produce, which is impossible, and would lead to high inflation as long as such a policy persisted.

Economies don't run on savings, they run on money creation…expansion of the money supply. Not a single country in the world can prosper with a constant money supply unless they can run a trade surplus…which some other country to print money…and then their money supply isn't constant.

Posted by: paulmeli | Jan 23, 2016 11:46:14 AM | 15

#12

Very true and no ones how much PM Russia and China have since all gold mined in the country stays in the country:)

Posted by: jo6pac | Jan 23, 2016 11:46:45 AM | 16

Albert Einstein a Sulzberger?

I researched this further and discovered the Einstein was actually directly related to the New York Sulzbergers through Sophie Einstein* (1811-1878), the wife of the family patriarch in Baden, Germany, Mayer Sulzberger (1843-1923). Mayer's parents - Sophie Einstein-Sulzberger and Abraham Sulzberger immigrated to Philadelphia, USA in 1848 - (the year of the failed first German Marxist revolution). Mayer pursued law and became an American Judge, but he was also a lifelong editor of the 'The Occident and American Jewish Advocate', the first Jewish magazine in the United States. He also co-founded the Jewish Publication Society of America. As you know the Sulzberger family is known for acquiring the New York Times since 1935. - See more at: http://henrymakow.ca/#sthash.OTRtlZpV.dpuf

Posted by: Alberto | Jan 23, 2016 12:33:31 PM | 17

The big oil price rally last week and Kerry reportedly saying Russia sanctions might be removed soon may be signalling better US Russia relations. Sub $30 oil is a disaster for the global economy, not just Russia. I despise Golman Sachs, but their forecast of $40 oil before too long makes sense.

Posted by: Andoheb | Jan 23, 2016 12:35:59 PM | 18

What surprised me the most when I investigated Russia's economy was how small it is, almost identical to Mexico in GDP. In 1989 the Russian/USSR GDP was about 1/2 of the US GDP, today it is about 1/14 of the US GDP. There have been great improvements and growth under Putin but those gains have stalled if not been reversed by recent events most importantly the End of Growth.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jan 23, 2016 12:51:07 PM | 19

So much for peak oil crowd.

Saudi Arabia Hangs Tough on Oil in Fight for its Future
http://fortune.com/2015/12/04/saudi-arabia-oil-prices-future/


This wasn’t the first time the Saudis dumped crude on the market to crash oil prices. It did the same thing in 1985, when high oil prices led to an explosion in oil production outside the Middle East, threatening the dominance of the Kingdom and the Opec cartel. The excess oil held prices down for more than a year, putting an end to the “Dallas” and “Dynasty” oil boom of the early 1980s.

snip

How long would it take for oil to become obsolete if solar powered cars become the norm or if natural gas prices continue to trade at a significant discount to its oil energy-equivalent? The Saudis don’t want to take the chance to find out.

Posted by: shadyl | Jan 23, 2016 1:59:30 PM | 20

Not too long ago, Goldman Sachs was predicting oil at $200/barrel. Can this all be just fun and games for them [or fees and commissions].

Have they now convinced the Saudis that driving down prices is to their benefit? Who is the dog, and who is the tail?

Posted by: shadyl | Jan 23, 2016 2:11:18 PM | 21

shadyl @20:

Low oil prices at that time were also thought to have contributed to the demise of the USSR (along with the military defeat in the Afghanistan 'quagmire' and the growing technological lead of the West - especially in the form of Reagan's "Star War's" initiative).

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 23, 2016 2:13:55 PM | 22

shadyl @21

And China had taken a commanding lead in production of solar panels. Low oil prices have probably devastated that business.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 23, 2016 2:16:57 PM | 23

@Jackrabbit 22, can it be various factions coming together for their mutual benefit? A perfect storm of alliances coming together for a common goal, then quickly separating once accomplished. So many games, so many players.

Posted by: shadyl | Jan 23, 2016 2:21:07 PM | 24

Iran, Saudi Arabia "Clash" Over Syria At "Secret", Closed-Door Meeting In Davos

Meanwhile, Pentagon chief Ash Carter just can't seem to understand why the Sunni powers aren't more helpful in fighting ISIS. “It’s strange that a Sunni extremist group running rampant in Iraq and Syria should attract as little Sunni Arab counterweight as it has so far,” Carter told Bloomberg TV on Friday.

No, Mr. Carter, it is not "strange", nor is it a coincidence.

There is no "Sunni Arab counterweight" because Saudi Arabia promotes a similar brand of ultra puritanical Islam as that espoused by ISIS. Once again, if the US wants help in defeating Islamic State, Ash Carter may want to look to the nations that actually have a vested interest in bringing about the group's demise, namely Iran and Russia. As long as Washington insists on keeping up this charade wherein everyone pretends to be mystified as to why the Gulf monarchies and Turkey don't seem all that interested in seeing ISIS destroyed, this ridiculous dog and pony show will continue, and Javad Zarif's contention that it is in fact the Saudis that are fomenting sectarian discord will continue to fall on deaf ears.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-23/iran-saudi-arabia-clash-over-syria-secret-closed-door-meeting-davos

.....isn't it time for Carter to GO?

Posted by: shadyl | Jan 23, 2016 3:34:47 PM | 25

Shadyl @25,

It was never time for Ashton Carter to show up in the first place but for one reality; the US foreign policy/military apparatus is in the hands of NeoCon idealogues, so another NeoCon at the helm was the only outcome to be expected. Unfortunate, but true.

Posted by: JerseyJeffersonian | Jan 23, 2016 4:18:59 PM | 26

It is strange that b has not reacted yet to the Kerry / Davutoglu declarations as far as the US and Turkey and the Syrian conflict is concerned.

That "if the coming political tractations are not successful the US and Turkey would resort to a military solution in Syria."

It sounds like an ultimatum: either Assad goes or it's WAR!

www.rt.com/news/329914-turkey-syria-us-military/

What is your take on this?

I get the impression that the world will pass but the US word will not.

Posted by: CarlD | Jan 23, 2016 4:32:43 PM | 27

Banger @ 11,

Didn't you used to post at Naked Capitalism? Guess you ultimately got crosswise of Yves & Lambert for posting alleged conspiracy theory.

Miss your perspective over there. Jackrabbit, you, too. I visit less after the Greek crisis when commentary was disabled on a number of posts. A chill in the air... Comments re-enabled now, but something is different now. A shame. But still a worthy site.

Posted by: JerseyJeffersonian | Jan 23, 2016 4:32:50 PM | 28

Shadyl @ 25: If Ashton Carter has to go, the entire US government must go with him. They all drink from the same Kool Aid Fountain of Eternal Exceptionalism and Fantasy. They are what they are because they have been surrounded by propaganda all their lives and careers. They literally live in The Matrix and The Matrix sustains them.

Posted by: Jen | Jan 23, 2016 4:35:59 PM | 29

Viz Russia. Not only is their economy a disaster, but they are also spending money they don't have funding political parties in Europe with the express intention of destabilizing that continent. Somehow I just knew that Ron was right......they are the evil empire (lol).

Posted by: Kraken | Jan 23, 2016 4:54:25 PM | 30

@27 CD ' Kerry / Davutoglu declarations as far as the US and Turkey and the Syrian conflict is concerned '

Biden, too ...

U.S., Turkey pledge closer cooperation for political solution against IS [, the Syrian regime, and Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG)]


[W]e are prepared ... to have a military solution to this operation and taking out Daesh," Biden said speaking at a joint press onference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Davutoglu said that Syrian regime, the IS and Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) constitute three biggest risks for Turkey and reiterated that Ankara was opposed to Syrian Kurdish group to take part in the next peace talks.

He noted that YPG, which is affiliated with outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), has been supporting terrorism in Turkey.

Biden praised Turkey's effort in fighting against terrorism, and described PKK as a terrorist organization, which has no intention to restore peace.

Turkish security forces have been fighting against PKK militants who seek autonomy in southeastern part of Turkey, since last June.

Biden: "U.S Ready for Military Intervention in Syria, PKK Are Terrorists"


"ISIL is not the only existential threat… the PKK is equally a threat and we are aware of that."


"The PKK has shown no desire or inclination to do that (live in peace). It is a terrorist group plain and simple. And what they continue to do is absolutely outrageous.”


I guess Biden's son has interests in Da'esh oil as well Ukrainian? Erdogan, Biden & Sons Oil Inc.?

Posted by: jfl | Jan 23, 2016 5:21:43 PM | 31

@27 Well Davutoglu got excited. But it's just Joe 'The Mouth' Biden.

Posted by: dh | Jan 23, 2016 5:21:56 PM | 32

CarlD @27

I've felt that they were leading up to this for over a month (since before UNSC 2249). They WANT an excuse to go into Syria to attack ISIS.

I'm sure that others feel the same way.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 23, 2016 5:38:00 PM | 33

Funny,just the other day one of the rags(NYTs,Wapo) were saying the low oil prices haven't helped US economy either,in our attempt to hurt Russia,among others.
The Hell Bitch calls Sanders a Commie,or one of her underlings!
That's rethuglican rhetoric. She's getting desperate.
Bloomberg says he'll enter race.
Well there goes all the Zionist support for Cruz,and the other scum,like Christie and Rubio.
At the Graun,Trimm had a funny article about Nat.Review,but not one respondent recognizes that Trumps appeal is his American nationalism,not bogus Rethug conservatism,as they think he is.
And the Nat.Review,the most bogus bunch of Americans in our history,bash Trump. Every one is a neocon Zionist toad,which only increases his appeal.What schlimiels?.

Posted by: dahoit | Jan 23, 2016 5:41:16 PM | 34

@15 PM 'Economies don't run on savings, they run on money creation…expansion of the money supply.'

KSA runs on USD$, which they cannot create. They are not alone.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 23, 2016 5:44:53 PM | 35

Posted by: JerseyJeffersonian | Jan 23, 2016 4:32:50 PM | 28

Nice to see you here. Yes Banger was at NC too. He was too conspiratorial - too focused on the "Deep State" (I don't disagree. I see the "Deep State" as a blanket that covers up power relations and is meant to cower the populate in self-defeating fear.)

I left after the storm of protest over Greek coverage. I just couldn't understand why a lefty blog was so reiterating MSM/establishment thinking.

In my view, the establishment did a superb job in scaring off progressive support for Greece. Greece was doomed to fail, they said. Without that support, Greece was toast: they would have to capitulate or leave the Euro. The media and left response was THE STORY that NC should've covered. They didn't. Instead, they piled on.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 23, 2016 5:49:55 PM | 36

@25, 26, 29

Secretary of defense provides insights into ISIL fight, 101st mission

Carter to Army’s 101st: You will prepare Iraqis to retake Mosul

SECDEF talks ISIL fight, 101st mission


United States Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter visited 101st Airborne Division Soldiers Wednesday at division headquarters.

Carter wanted to speak to Soldiers directly prior to their upcoming deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, in which they will work to train, advise and assist the Iraqi army to defeat ISIL.

“Frankly, I know the 101st has taken Mosul before, and you could do it again,” Carter said while speaking to more than 200 Screaming Eagle Soldiers set to deploy in the coming weeks. ...

He also reaffirmed that we cannot leave Syria and Iraq to their own fates.


I guess Ash Carter is the acting Commander in Chief?

Posted by: jfl | Jan 23, 2016 5:55:25 PM | 37

@36 That first link is very interesting. Reading between the lines Carter seems to be saying that the US won't be getting dragged into a ground war. The emphasis will be on training and 'awesome capabilities'.

Posted by: dh | Jan 23, 2016 6:24:47 PM | 38

@37 The locals just provide the dead bodies. The USA provides everything else. That's the plan.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 23, 2016 7:09:39 PM | 39

in re 35 --

I wonder, exactly who do you mean by "progessives" and exactly what could they have done?

Had they had any real strength or political weight, austerity would have never happened in the first place.

Maybe Jill Stein and the Greens could have covered the debts. Or the KKE could have ponied up.

Perhaps New Labour could have done for them what they've done for the English working class. Or Hollande and the Parti socialiste could have held their breath until Frankfurt relented.

The SPD, in the "Grand Coalition" with the CSU/CDU, is useless, but maybe Die Linke could have tsk-tsk'd Merkel and ECB into being nice.

Oh, wait, Gysi tried that, my bad.

Or just maybe, could it be, it was all the fault of the weak and petit-bourgeois leadership of Syriza?

They were not radical in any sense of that cliched label, neither were they "anti austerity"....

The leaders of Syriza are revolutionaries of a kind – but their revolution is the perverse, familiar appropriation of social democratic and parliamentary movements by liberals groomed to comply with neo-liberal drivel and a social engineering whose authentic face is that of Wolfgang Schauble, Germany’s finance minister, an imperial thug. Like the Labour Party in Britain and its equivalents among former social democratic parties such as the Labor Party in Australia, still describing themselves as “liberal” or even “left”, Syriza is the product of an affluent, highly privileged, educated middle class, “schooled in postmodernism”, as Alex Lantier wrote.

For them, class is the unmentionable, let alone an enduring struggle, regardless of the reality of the lives of most human beings. Syriza’s luminaries are well-groomed; they lead not the resistance that ordinary people crave, as the Greek electorate has so bravely demonstrated, but “better terms” of a venal status quo that corrals and punishes the poor. When merged with “identity politics” and its insidious distractions, the consequence is not resistance, but subservience. “Mainstream” political life in Britain exemplifies this.

Quite a fighter, that Tsipras. The very embodiment of the "lesser evil," no?

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 23, 2016 8:14:22 PM | 40

I have very little in the way of positive things to say about Putin and his foreign and domestic policies, but if he manages to make Russia more economically independent as the result of sanctions and low oil prices, then it will be of great benefit to his country in the long term.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jan 23, 2016 6:55:14 AM | 5

youd be alone here as Putins foreign policy is one of his strong points(ask the syrians), and given his high ratings back home, his domestic cant be too bad, raplhieboy

Posted by: brian | Jan 23, 2016 8:24:19 PM | 41

And China had taken a commanding lead in production of solar panels. Low oil prices have probably devastated that business.
Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 23, 2016 2:16:57 PM | 23

Fortunately, corporate greed trumps low oil prices.
In Oz, pump price for petrol fluctuates by ~ 40c/litre on a ~ 3 to 4 week cycle. The result is a kind of petrol-based game of Chicken where if you decided not to fill up today, the price might jump 30 to 40 cents tomorrow. Before crude price slump, max pump price was $1-60/litre. Since price slump max pump price (eg just before Xmas Hols) was $1-40. Today, for first time in years, the min price in the cycle is about to drop below $1-00/litre.

Similarly in Oz, the electricity supply chain is privatised and price adjustments are regular and above 15%. Solar is becoming more popular because everyone can see what's coming i.e. people with existing solar set-up (with excess capacity purchased by electric co, and > 3.0 kw generating capacity have the (increasingly viable) option of installing a battery pack and disconnecting from the grid.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 23, 2016 11:50:45 PM | 42

Something extremely hilarious is happening at The Guardian. Natalie Nougayrède, columnist and leader writer at The Guardian, the former executive editor of the French daily Le Monde, writes:

Europe is in crisis. Once more, America will have to step in to save us

From refugees to security to Brexit, Europeans cannot take care of themselves. The US has been indifferent so far but we need it at our side

In 1947 George Marshall, the US secretary of state, went to Europe. He was shocked by what he saw: a continent in ruins, and rampant hunger. The mood in Paris, Berlin and other capitals was resigned and doom-laden. On returning to Washington, Marshall told President Truman that something dramatic needed to be done – and very soon. The initiative would have to come from Washington, he said...

In Davos this week Joe Biden, the US vice-president, may well have had a shock similar to Marshall’s. Of course today’s gloom in Europe is not comparable to the devastation left by the second world war – but alarmist language is being heard all the same...

As always, the comments are far more interesting. Here is a listing of the five most upvoted comments order by popularity. (Choose "Order by Recommendations".)

Keith Chapman 19h ago (317 up votes)

It just shows how weak EU governance is. Merkel making unilateral decisions which impact on the whole EU is destroying what little confidence there was in European cooperation.

Manveer95 19h ago (229 up votes)

Wow, so only America can save the EU? Sounds like the job for one man with experience in business, negotiating and hair. Donald Trump: Make the EU great again

JohnNMIWelsh 18h ago (228 up votes)

So then: to 'save' the EU, the US should attempt to influence a UK referendum, take some unspecified military action against Russia, and accept many more Syrian refugees even though most migrants entering the EU are not Syrians.
Yes, that sounds like a plan.

rustyowl 18h ago (193 up votes)

I think she lives in la la land.

nobledonkey 18h ago (167 up votes)

Article summation:

We European elites have really, really screwed up, especially by pushing mass migration to the detriment of our citizens whom we choose to ignore.

AMERICA PLS HALP

When local elites have to beg foreign powers to step in to shore up their rule, you know that they've lost all legitimacy.

This piece is a keeper.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jan 24, 2016 12:12:27 AM | 43

RalphieBoy @ 5,
"Russia is being handed a golden opportunity to get away from the post-Soviet model of relying on exports of raw materials in exchange for imports of food and finished consumer goods."

You are missing one vital piece of the puzzle. Haven't you ever wondered why all of those developing countries get themselves in trouble by borrowing? This is the problem:

According to the Nikolai Starikov the IMF-Fed system mandates that countries labelled "developing" (including Russia) may not issue their own currency except in an amount equal to the amount of their exports. Nor may they spend their central bank reserves or use them as collateral. The Central Banks are "independent" of their govts, which means they are ruled by the international banking cabal.

Until Russia nationalizes the ruble and the Central Bank the Russian economy can never thrive. Countries and companies need investment capital for most development. Otherwise they must sell vast shares in their natural resources in order to gain access to the paper currencies or credits of "developed" countries-- the US, the EU or UK.

But I think that neither you nor anyone else on the site will ever trouble himself to read the relevant chapters of Starikov's free online book.
http://lit.md/files/nstarikov/rouble_nationalization-the_way_to_russia%27s_freedom.pdf

Here is Starikov's brief article which covers a little of the material. http://borisanisimov.blogspot.com/2010/10/nationalization-of-ruble.html

Posted by: Penelope | Jan 24, 2016 12:20:49 AM | 44


Try to reflect upon how different the world would be if nations controlled their own monetary, economic & trade policy-- so that those policies would at least be potentially influenced by the citizenry. If the source of wealth were not in export and in crooked deals with the international oligarchs for investment capital. When power is only national it is reachable by the citizens.

This is what the World Wars were for, so that the system that existed only in Great Britain and the US could spread over the face of the world. They invented the Iron Curtain because Stalin would not sign the agreements at Bretton Woods. It's historical record that all the Bretton Wood institutions and their policies were devised by Rockefeller's Council on Foreign Relations, who guided them through. It was all ready & waiting.

The supranational institutions are the source of the power of the oligarchs-- of the US Bankers, and Deutsche Bank and the Agnelli family of Italy and the Rothschilds. But you don't want to know anything about those institutions and how they function, so that you might educate others. No, you are still the Bull staring mesmerized at the red cape of war & aggression, when all you need do is turn your head just a little to see how vulnerable is the Planning Hand behind the cape.

Posted by: Penelope | Jan 24, 2016 12:22:52 AM | 45

The current Russian Constitution and system of government is a pure product of the US ‘advisors’ which, after the bloody crackdown against the opposition in 1993, allowed Boris Eltsin to run the country until 1999. It is paradoxical that the West now speaks of a despotic presidency about Putin when all he did is inherit a western-designed political system. The problem for Putin today is that it makes no sense to replace some of the worst people in power as long as the system remains unchanged. But the main obstacle to a reform of the political system is the resistance of the pro-Western 5th columnists in and around the Kremlin. They also the ones who are still forcing a set of “Washington consensus” kind of policies upon Russia even though it is obvious that the consequences for Russia are extremely bad, even disastrous. There is no doubt that Putin understands that, but he has been unable, at least so far, to break out of this dynamic.
http://thesaker.is/putins-biggest-failure/

Posted by: mauisurfer | Jan 24, 2016 12:33:51 AM | 46

Here we go again. Another attack from rufus.

rufus doesn't refute my thesis, he just tries to muddy the waters. His conjecture that the left couldn't do anything to help Greece is laughable. And the article that he quotes from was published on July 14 - after Tsipras' "betrayal" (and long after Yves had turned off comments).

As JerseyJeffersonian alludes to @28, there was a storm of protest over Yves coverage of Greece - which came to a head several weeks before Tsipras called a referendum. Comments were turned off on most posts (initially returning mostly on guest posts where the guest writer requested it).

<> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

I'm not sure why rufus thinks anyone should give a hoot what he has to say regarding Syriza.

He defends NC like a fanboi but supports Hillary (NC is pro-Sanders) while proclaiming himself to be a socialist (though it seems that he's really some sort of revolutionary marxist - waiting to grab power when the State fails). At the same time, he is actually pro-state with regard to Israel. So much so that he won't denounce state murder of Palestinian civilians.

No doubt he will reply with more BS that has to be refuted because he clearly has fool-in-mouth disease.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 24, 2016 1:04:15 AM | 47

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 24, 2016 1:04:15 AM | 45

I'm not taking sides. Are there any here who, won't denounce state's murders of Palestinian civilians?

Anyone thinks US the exceptionalism elite should give a nickle to any states that murders its own citizens or citizens of another state? BTW, our president murder its own citizens and even boast about it.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Jan 24, 2016 1:28:17 AM | 48

@ 7 " the 'demonization' scheme has lost its effectiveness. It does not work anymore and the Western media needs to find something else if they want to help their sponsors justify 'regime change'"


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged executives in Davos to use their influence to drive change in countries where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face repression, putting gay rights at the heart of this year's meeting.

The issue is on the official agenda for the first time at the World Economic Forum, where political leaders from countries that discriminate against gay people, such as Nigeria and Russia, schmooze business leaders and billionaire investors.

Biden told U.S. executives including Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of apartment-sharing firm Airbnb, Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca Cola Company, and Anthony Scaramucci, founder of hedge fund SkyBridge Capital, to push for change.

"You can change the terms of debate," he said. "You actually put governments on notice."

He said he and President Barack Obama privately raise the issue of repression of the LGBT community when they meet political leaders.

"I have had some run-ins with at least four heads of state already on this," said Biden.

Banging his fist on the table, Biden said there was no national cultural justification to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

National cultures themselves will become the target of demonization. The nations who resist assimilation into the western borg are already denounced as racist, now add anti-LGBQT to the propaganda toolbox. We've already seen this with Russia in the preliminary Putin hate-fest between Sochi Olympics and the Maidan coup. Now it looks like whole cultures are to be targeted. The US propaganda machine will find any weasley way to justify it's domination of the Earth

Posted by: Ben Zanotto | Jan 24, 2016 2:25:07 AM | 49

@ Petri Krohn

Used to write for Libération, became an editor at Le Monde, lost her job in a crisis lacking support for her policy and writes opinion pieces now. Doesn't adhere to her own policy of investigative reporting, covering the facts. Instead, lacking insight and knowledge on topics just provides articles as a commenter or as op-eds.

The west must resist playing Putin’s game in Syria. That way calamity lies by Natalie Nougayrède

"At a time when we know we're being flooded with information from all sorts of sources, when PR agencies are very active in political and economic fields, it's really important there's a reference out there," she says. "It's very important for me that as we produce original news stories and original analysis, we be extremely strong on facts. There will be no approximations, I want everything that we produce to be checked, solid. "This might sound like a banal rule to the Anglo-American press, but I think it's always useful to strengthen this kind of approach here in France where there's a strong tradition of commenting. The history of French newspapers has been very much about taking side in politics and commenting a lot. Without abandoning the notion that we will also be taking sides and giving our opinion on certain issues, I want Le Monde's first focus to be on strong, authoritative news, verified facts."

New crisis for Le Monde as seven editors resign en masse | May 7, 2014 |

What on earth went wrong so brutally swiftly? French anarchy as usual did for Nougayrède after a mere 14 months at the top. Le Monde, although the journalists don't control its ownership any longer, still basically allows the editorial team to select (and thus, in logic, effectively deselect) an editor. Nougayrède wanted to change a lot of things on the design and digital front. But no dice, and no agreement. Staff moaned about her "Putinesque tendencies". She went.

She would be better placed writing op-eds for the FT or WSJ.

Posted by: Oui | Jan 24, 2016 3:09:21 AM | 50

But soft, friend Penelope - #43 & #44 - some of us I'm sure have read the good Starikov, and do understand the sovereign nature of money.

Why else would the US Secret Service have the role of protecting the executive and the currency, if money were not the highest expression of sovereignty? Why has counterfeiting always been a capital crime?

But look at how the 5th column inside Russia subverts Putin's directives even now, to this day? How simple a thing do we think it will be to nationalize anything to do with our own money creation, in any country? Are we really able to calculate the energy, force and timing that must be brought to such a task? Especially in Russia, which contains many potentially explosive ingredients that Putin only makes seem easy to handle because of his great skill and the backing of the security services.

How well did Saddam manage to change even his petrodollars into petroeuros? Even more chilling (and horrifying), how well did Qaddafi manage to make fully sovereign the money of Libya?

I'm always surprised at how easy people seem to think it would be to defeat the millennia-old power that has coiled itself around the foundation of this world like a python, squeezing tribute. This is the lord of this world, the hunger unabating, the root of all evil. I haven't studied the source records, but I always heard that Jesus Christ threw the money changers out of the temple and within one week was dead.

We only think we see the forces arrayed against Russia as all the puppets make their dictated moves (I include even Israel as a puppet in this context). Who can imagine the force that can arise from all the families and powers that are immune to media reporting and are never heard of, if Russia should try to buck the system?

I actually think that the Russian security culture in its academic depths has a working handle on all this. But I don't know how strongly it comes to the surface. Certainly we don't see it just from looking.

I always love to see your comments, anywhere they appear. Please keep them coming, and don't despair at us slow folk.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 24, 2016 4:30:23 AM | 51

6

RUs "Top revenue source is -- payroll taxes." BRILLIANT!

"Russia’s GDP has grown more than tenfold from 1999 to 2012," which is exactly the period from Saddam's Oil For Food at $15 a barrel to the very peak of the QEn ZIRP commodity bubble, from which the world has since delevered some 1/4th, and crude oil some 2/3rds. Let's see the 2012 to 2015 actuals!

"Production of food has grown by 100% in 2000 – 2013." Which is the point at which the Ukraine foodbasket was overthrown by the West and today, three years of sanctions later, RUians are starving without Turkey, Ukraine EU and US food imports.

If you have a milkshake, and I have a straw stretching alllll the way over here -- I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! I DRINK IT UP!!

Posted by: Chipnik | Jan 24, 2016 5:14:01 AM | 52

7

You are still at the first stage of grief, so good for you!

"The last time oil prices dropped so low and stayed there, in the 1980s, the Soviet Union disintegrated. Steadily rising prices since 2000 have lifted Russia out of poverty and economic chaos, buoying the (economy) but (Putin) now faces an extended decline, with real incomes shrinking.

With the federal budget approved in December based on oil at $50 a barrel, Anton Siluanov, the finance minister, announced that the country faced a budget deficit of about $40 billion, and ministries were ordered to cut spending 10 percent. Budgets were similarly guillotined last year.

In Krasnodar, Titov, 64, braced for harder times. “I do not know what they will cut, but I know it will affect us,” he said. “We are watching all this with alarm. It is clear that the government lacks the necessary resources to give us a normal life.”

Food prices rose +20 percent last year, according to official statistics, but often Russians say their grocery tab is up by a third or more.

“Nobody is starving yet, but incomes are definitely down,” he said, noting that homes are colder, that neighbors turn on just two lamps after dark where they once used five and that people have stopped buying new clothes. Retail sales across Russia were down by -13.1 percent for the year ending in November, according to official statistics, with car sales off nearly -40 percent."

The Jim Rogers George Soros 'Big Lie' about 'Buy BRIC!!' has been completely exposed as a FOREX fraud that suckered whole new legions of Mom and Pops to the Chosen's slaughterhouses.

30% food cost increases (with drastically reduced choice and availability) and -40% sales loses are hardly 'propaganda'. I correspond with two RU businessmen who say this winter is similar to the whirlwinds that shattered the Soviet economy, the loans are not being repaid, equipment orders are frozen, nobody is buying more than a few kopeks at a time, sitting around at night with frost on the inside of their windows.

The only good thing RU has going for it is their memory of the horror of 1998 keeps them hunkered down to next spring, and the fact it's all rent-free public housing they live in. RU will ride this out better than the US, but that's not the same as pretending everything in RU is roses and chocolates.

Posted by: Chipnik | Jan 24, 2016 5:42:55 AM | 53

Posted by: Chipnik | Jan 24, 2016 5:14:01 AM | 50

Not really. Russia is a huge country, they don't need Ukraine.

Russian pork now spoiling prices in the US and Europe.

They did government expenditure cuts.

But

The cutbacks will exclude several areas of government spending, including public obligations such as pensions, and pay for government employees.

And this here is the pensioners' protest on the loss of free transportation

The municipal transport benefit program for pensioners was amended in January to include only those pensioners with an income below 7,722 rubles ($100), the report said.

The city's mayor, Anatoly Pakhomov, came out of City Hall to meet the protesters and explain the cuts, according to the TASS news agency.

Pakhomov told the protesters that local authorities were working on a program to compensate those affected, TASS said.

Very different situation from - European - Greece.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 24, 2016 5:59:36 AM | 54

@49 Grieved

In addition to the Starikov, whose advice applies not only to Russia and the Ruble, Sergey Glazyev, called upon to present his ideas to Putin's advidors, presented About urgent measures to counter threats to the existence of Russia (in its English translation, by KA, Elona, Seva, Eugenia) posted at Saker's site. These are the sorts of radical decisions that are more easily laid out than accomplished. Easy for us to lay down our most recently discovered prescriptions, we have all the answers, cast our pearls in disgust before our fellow swine.

I read and enjoyed very much - and have posted a link here - to Creating Money, which goes over much of the same territory from the US/UK perspective.

It's easy constantly to point out - the IMF, World Bank, Private Finance - the authors of our demise, quite another thing to actually do something about it. But that's what we're all here for, after all, isn't it? To talk about change ... makes us feel as though we're actually effecting it.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 24, 2016 6:08:57 AM | 55

Hope

The book starts with the example of the International Space Station, an effort ultimately involving the cooperation of over a billion people on three continents. “That’s at least three orders of magnitude greater than the population base of a Gothic cathedral. Quite a shift, isn’t it?” Turchin writes.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 24, 2016 7:11:55 AM | 56

Just to clarify:

The issue isn't personal beliefs and opinions. It is a question of credibility when those beliefs and opinions are contradictory.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 24, 2016 11:37:52 AM | 57

@54 somebody

Turchin picks up where Graeber* left off (debt 1st 5,000 years). Graeber* best remembered for his kiss of death during occupy wall street.

Cooperation in mid-60's u.s. municipal government, involved unlimited opportunities but was subject to local public agency sanction.
Cooperation in mid-70's u.s. model cities programs, involved unlimited opportunities but was used to throttle the poor, imprison blacks.
Cooperation in mid-80's u.s. off-shore oil rig labor, involved unlimited opportunities when reagans deregulation led to, imprison blacks.
Cooperation in mid-10's u.s. has eliminated middle class, sold fat is good to citizens, indebted the unwary, privatized prisons for blacks.

Posted by: sevenleagueboots | Jan 24, 2016 11:45:41 AM | 58

@47

"Banging his fist on the table, Biden said there was no national cultural justification to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

National cultures themselves will become the target of demonization. The nations who resist assimilation into the western borg are already denounced as racist, now add anti-LGBQT to the propaganda toolbox. We've already seen this with Russia in the preliminary Putin hate-fest between Sochi Olympics and the Maidan coup. Now it looks like whole cultures are to be targeted. The US propaganda machine will find any weasley way to justify it's domination of the Earth"

Yes, gay rights are just a Trojan Horse for the West to come in and take over your economies (and the minds of your impressionable youth). You have seen through the rainbow veil of deceit and treachery.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jan 24, 2016 11:53:27 AM | 59

Posted by: sevenleagueboots | Jan 24, 2016 11:45:41 AM | 56

Sounds like there was no cooperation with the black and the poor ...

I would say GOP populists (Sarah Palin) talking about and Democrats hopefully eliminating the "donor class" via poor people cooperation could be a start.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 24, 2016 12:27:12 PM | 60

in re 47

Well, at least I don't suffer from recto-cranial inversion.

I asked questions and raised issues, as I always do. YOU responded with a personal attack, as you always do.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 24, 2016 1:36:51 PM | 61

56

Turchin writes:

The 1 percent are not evil people at all,...

while all along i was thinking, 'the 1 percent are not all evil people'

Posted by: john | Jan 24, 2016 2:31:04 PM | 62

Further to 61 --

Well, what do I know about Greece? Let's see what I learned yesterday, since I was hoping that you might actually deign to discuss the question at hand.

But nah, you went with highlights from your fantasy football victory laps. No surprises there.

Over at the Greek Reporter I found this gem, describing how Hope Has Turned to Despair One Year After Syriza’s Historic Rise to Power. Author C.J. Polychrondiou is also not impressed by the quality of Syriza's leadership.

Syriza’s message for hope has turned to despair. Indeed, the country is at present in the grips of massive protests against the Syriza-led government’s plan for pension reform and its continuation with harsh austerity measures and additional tax increases when the economy remains in a coma and an ever-increasing percentage of Greek people have seen their living standards decline to 1960s levels....

[T]he party had never developed an alternative plan for the country’s crisis, confining itself to a critique of austerity and adopting in the process a useless and possibly defunct “social democratic” approach which envisioned Europe changing its mind on the Greek debt problem on moral and economic grounds.

The end result of Syriza’s strategy was total capitulation to Greece’s international creditors, i.e., to the infamous troika on all fronts. Tsipras became yet another obedient Greek Prime Minister to the euromasters, signing in August 2015 a new bailout agreement and enforcing bigger doses of the same medicine that had put the Greek economy in coma and converted the country into a German protectorate.

Indicative of Syriza’s pathetic political somersaults, Tsipras even turned his back on the outcome of the July 5th referendum when an incredible 63% of those who voted said “oxi” to austerity....

Unfortunately, things have turned out under a Syriza government according to many people’s worst fears. Not only hasn’t Tsipras and his crowd tackled the fundamental issues confronting Greece, but his government has gone on to imitate PASOK on so many issues (from Andreas Papandreou’s own betrayal of promises to Greek voters over NATO, the EU, American bases in Greece and the social reorganization of the economy to practicing cronyism and nepotism) that it is little wonder why hope has turned to despair in less than a year after Syriza’s rise to power. And if the ongoing protests and demonstrations against the Syriza-led government tell us something, it is most likely that the current government has lost its political legitimacy in record time.

So it's quite seemly that one asks, is there A hard-right turn for Greece’s radical left? The answer would seem to be "yes."

Author Stamatis Giannisis notes that Syriz began by governing in coalition with "the ultra-conservative populist party of the Independent Greeks, rather than with more ideologically compatible groups like the social liberal “River Party”, the social democratic “PASOK”, or even the Communists."

After betraying his supporters by tossing aside their victory in the July referendum, Tsipras and Syriza moved to fasten the chains of austerity more firmly on the Greek working and middle clases.

To the surprise of no-one, such unpopular measures caused great dissatisfaction to the people and demonstrations have become part of the daily routine in the Greek capital in the last couple of months.

To add to Tsipras concerns, his ultra-conservative allies in parliament appear unwilling to support any social reforms that might “sweeten the pill” for the more liberal- progressive part of the electorate....

This has been causing more headaches for the ruling party strategists who now see the political tide beginning to turn against them. To add to their dismay, the recent protests against government policies are being spearheaded by occupational groups who until recently were the main supporters of SYRIZA; civil servants, local authority employees, industrial workers, farmers and pensioners of all sorts are apparently beginning to turn their backs on the party of the radical left, following the implementation of the provisions of the last bailout agreement with the country’s creditors.

After a year of successive victories in two general elections and a referendum, the odds now seem to be turning against Tsipras and his party.

Meanwhile, our principled leader of the Greek left and fighter for the proletariat got to spend some quality time at Davos with his buds at the ECB, EU, and IMF.

Unless Mr Tsipras can persuade key creditors, especially Germany, to show flexibility, the recent period of relative calm in Greece's debt crisis could soon come to an end, senior Greek officials fear. "A storm is brewing," says one.

The biggest differences between Athens and the IMF are over the health of Greece's budget outlook, and how aggressively the country must cut its pension spending. The government also fears that some of their reform promises -- including scrapping tax perks for farmers -- could fracture their tiny majority in parliament. The IMF thinks Greece needs a radical overhaul of its overstretched pension system that saves as much as 5 per cent of gross domestic product. Otherwise Greece has little chance of achieving the budget surpluses its needs to bring its debt under control, the IMF believes. Since Greece spends close to 17 per cent of GDP on pensions, and the IMF thinks Greek taxes are already too high, that would entail cutting retirement benefits by nearly a third, on top of pension cuts of around 40 per cent in recent years.

In a country exhausted by economic depression, no Greek government could do that and survive, analysts say. The pragmatic premier is caught between the IMF's pessimistic forecasts and pressure for cuts, and mounting unrest in the ruling Syriza party, where many lawmakers want to revive a more authentically left-wing ideological program.

So I'm thinking, bull shit beats jack shit.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 24, 2016 4:03:33 PM | 63

And here's today's news: Thousands protest in Athens over pensions and welfare cuts

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 24, 2016 4:10:18 PM | 64

A Greek conspiracy: How the ECB crushed Varoufakis’ plans

Re Syriza-I think it takes more than one man to betray a country.

Posted by: Nana2007 | Jan 24, 2016 4:32:53 PM | 65

Nana2007 at 65 --

Point taken. Tsipras has a big share of the market, but he's got nowhere near a monopoly of the blame.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 24, 2016 4:46:03 PM | 66

I asked questions and raised issues, as I always do. YOU responded with a personal attack, as you always do.

You raised bogus questions/issues. The fact that you make no attempt to defend them after my response confirms this to be true.

I don't really want to interact with you because I think your excusing of Israeli state murder is deplorable. As you no doubt recall, I thought you should be banned for that. Since the New Year, you seem to be keen on attacking me.

I referred to things that you have said to highlight your lack of credibility.

Well, what do I know about Greece?

The issue isn't what you know about Greece. Lots of people follow Greek developments. The issue is the legitimacy and soundness of your opinions.

You link to material about Greece but you have little, if anything, original to add. And I haven't forgotten your plagiarism.

Your links highlight the suffering of the Greeks from the neolib establishment but you support Hillary! You attack Tspiras as a betrayer but you are blithely unconcerned that Sanders might be a 'sheepdog'.

And I have to wonder what your real interest in Greece is. IIRC, you once compared the plight of the Palestinians to the Greek people under austerity as a means of excusing Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. And you like to distort what I have said about Greece in various attempt to attack me.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 24, 2016 6:01:55 PM | 67

Mauisurfer @ 46,

It is continually said that Putin is not free to change the economic system, etc due to the 5th column. However Nabiullina is his protege whom he picked as head of the Central Bank. It appears he has full control of the military and high approval by the people. In March of 2014 a unanimous Duma vote permitted Russian military to use stabilizing force on Ukrainian territory. The Duma vote to start the Syrian military action was nearly unanimous too. Since the Syrian action especially is "s'posed" to be a daring act against the West I find somewhat contradictory the ability to do that while not being able to submit the monetary system to the control of the Russian govt rather than the international bankers thru the Fed & IMF.

I personally reconcile this contradiction by assuming that the "Obama faction" of the US govt during those extended Iran nuke negotiations made a deal for Russia to defeat ISIS . It is not uncommon historically for States to enter into secret deals, sometimes to avoid enraging their allies (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Gulf states--and especially the Zionist/neocon faction at home). Also the US wishes to hide its betrayal of ISIS from all the fundamentalist Islamists whom US NGOs continue to support as international proxies in other theatres.

I find it credible that this Obama faction lacked the ability to control the military sufficiently to defeat ISIS while leaving Assad standing. I do not mean by this that the Obama faction is the good guys, but only that there is disagreement between those who want to complete the global oligarchy via fundamentally military force, and those who wish to lean more heavily on legal/economic/ trade agreement techniques to continue usurping the sovereignty of nations, as has been so wildly successful with their control of central banks.

It is a deep game that the international oligarchs play & purposely full of contradictions, since a primary means in their psychological control of people is to create tension and conflicts between groups as a means of creating change via the resolution of tensions.

If Putin is indeed prevented from controlling Russia's monetary system, then it's very problematical indeed to judge the degree to which he is coerced. Sometimes entirely patriotic leaders have to settle for damaging circumstances. I think that we understand only a fraction of what is occurring. And that our knowledge is scarcely enhanced by saying "there's a fifth column." Whoever it is who tells us this must know SOMETHING about it-- who it is, what it's powerbase is, something.

Control by the West & the bankers & their sanctions-- that's at least understandable.

Posted by: Penelope | Jan 24, 2016 6:26:54 PM | 68

Grieved @ 51,

I am not now criticizing Putin for not bucking the international bankers. I am criticizing us-- myself included-- for not striving to understand the supranational institutions by which the world is being converted into a global oligarchy. It is not enough to be au courant w the latest war or aggression and to speculate endlessly on the next step. We need to understand and promote the understanding of the institutional steps by which the oligarchs extend their control, because that is where they are vulnerable. And I don't mean just how money is created. That barely scratches the surface; probably most of us get that.

There seems to be no understanding that the US & EU economies are being purposely taken down. They want the crisis of economic collapse so that they can reduce the sovereignty of nations further-- probably by bringing in the global currency or digital money, which is the same thing. A truly catastrophic step. Everyone seems foolishly to believe that the collapse of the US economy/dollar will make the oligarchs helpless, will signal their failure, reduc their power. The MSM tells us how hard the Fed & banks are working to revive the economy & avoid a collapse-- and even the supposedly awake believe it.

Posted by: Penelope | Jan 24, 2016 7:00:56 PM | 69

in re 67 --

So, I'm still thinking, bull shit beats Jack shit.

I'm more interested in socialist politics and proletarian leadership than in economic and financial minutiae. I became interested in Greece when Tsipras blew off the referendum and precipitated the split in Syriza by signing on to enforce austerity. "Re-elect me, I'll give you a kinder, gentler austerity" was the substance of his platform. Your boy Tsipras is exactly the sort of "lesser evil" you affect to heresy hunt others for.

I think it a very good set of questions, since you seem to want to blame everybody but the party most responsible for Greece's parlous state -- who are your vaunted "progressives," and what exactly would you have had them do?

You decline to answer my questions because you don't have any answers, just poses. I don't recall that you ever answered any question I put to you.

Frankly, my point was not especially original -- Tsipras sucked in July, he sucked in September, he sucks now. QED. I thought what the local observers had to say was far more relevant than anything I might add.

Keep on believin' in your fantasies. They are quite original, for what they're worth, I'll grant you that.

If you don't want to interact, then why do you address remarks at me? Can I look forward to no further droppings sent in my direction, then? Or are you again going to try to get me banned?

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 24, 2016 7:12:54 PM | 70

@Penelope #68:

If Putin is indeed prevented from controlling Russia's monetary system, then it's very problematical indeed to judge the degree to which he is coerced. Sometimes entirely patriotic leaders have to settle for damaging circumstances.

Yes, you raise the most vexing question about Russia today. Why are the people who pillaged the Russian economy still in power?

Liberals Like Chubais, Kudrin Who Destroyed the Country Have No Place in Russia

mauisurfer #46 links to the Saker's recent post in which he suggests that as with Ukraine, Putin is waiting for the right moment to make his move.

But there is a third pocibility which I fear may be true: that Putin is really an economic liberal. This is the impression I get, because Putin uses neoliberal rhetoric although he does not have to. Also, Russian economic policy is wildly out of sync with perhaps the main theme of Putin and Lavrov's foreign policy discourse, that what is now paramount in the international system is that nations be sovereign, which requires multipolarity.

It could be that because Putin is weak in economics, he can not muster enough confidence to make a decisive move against the liberals to implement an appropriate economic policy for Russia.

And yes, as you observed, doing so would induce more fury from the "West" than the reincorporation of the Crimea did.

Posted by: Demian | Jan 25, 2016 1:14:03 PM | 71

@Penelope #68:

If Putin is indeed prevented from controlling Russia's monetary system, then it's very problematical indeed to judge the degree to which he is coerced. Sometimes entirely patriotic leaders have to settle for damaging circumstances.

Yes, you raise the most vexing question about Russia today. Why are the people who pillaged the Russian economy still in power?

http://russia-insider.com/en/business/liberal-economic-policies-devour-russia-cancer/ri12409

mauisurfer #46 links to the Saker's recent post in which he suggests that as with Ukraine, Putin is waiting for the right moment to make his move.

But there is a third possibility which I fear may be true: that Putin is really an economic liberal. This is the impression I get, because Putin uses neoliberal rhetoric although he does not have to. Also, Russian economic policy is wildly out of sync with perhaps the main theme of Putin and Lavrov's foreign policy discourse, that what is now paramount in the international system is that nations be sovereign, which requires multipolarity.

It could be that because Putin is weak in economics, he can not muster enough confidence to make a decisive move against the liberals to implement an appropriate economic policy for Russia.

And yes, as you observed, doing so would induce more fury from the "West" than the reincorporation of the Crimea did.

[Edit: I had to remove hard links too keep this post from getting blocked. Barbaric. TinyURL didn't help.]

Posted by: Demian | Jan 25, 2016 1:32:36 PM | 72

@rufus

I responded to you in Open Thread #4.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 25, 2016 4:16:29 PM | 73

"In 1989 the Russian/USSR GDP was about 1/2 of the US GDP, today it is about 1/14 of the US GDP."

Shall we chalk this up to the amazing productive dynamism of neo-liberal capitalism, then?

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 25, 2016 6:25:17 PM | 74

further to my 70 --

So sadly, alas, I am not to be left in peace....

What an odd place to post the reply. And no link. Almost like you wanted to respond, but didn't want too many to see it. But I did leave a question there for you to ignore.

Let me start with what you almost got right -- my ongoing references to your failed attempts at getting me banned is less taunting than mocking. BTW, did you ever produce your list of "Approved Thoughts and Sites that Support Them?"

On your repeated allegation of support for Isreali repression -- there are any number of self-styled sensitive "anti-zionists" here at the bar. But none seem to have picked up the ball and run with it. I made a smart-ass remark in response to loose allegations of the Israelis conducting a "Final Solution," which you elected to misconstrue.

If you don't support Tsipras, why did you defend his political virtue back in the summer, when I touted the Left Platform/Popular Unity split? You seemed to view him as some sort of defender of the proles, who was honestly going to work to reduce the burdens on the masses.

And so who do you support in Greece? I like the KKE; you might recall that Louis Proyect thought they would have been an improvement. And what do you think will happen? I think Syriza is going to loose its slender, three-vote majority, perhaps over the pension issue, and I think the Troika is going to insist upon the full pound of flesh.

It was in this context I taunted you with "Meaningful Debt Relief (TM) - New & Improved - Now With More Foreclosures!" We may have to update this include "And Smaller Pensions!" I used the phrase in the same thread you introduced it, then backed away from it, and then edged closer to it again. I knew you would recognize it, and you did.

You have absolutely no sense of humor, and are exactly the sort of grim, petty, dour, self-important and self-righteous boor of a "pwogwessive" Cockburn mocked so relentlessly. IF it is BS, it all beats bunny droppings. You continue to own up to jack shit. It is convenient and appropriate that this phrase just happens to contain part of your nom de plume

I'll lay off once you drop the bad faith allegations and straw men. But sadly, I don't see it as happening.

You have that same pattern with everyone who disagrees with you. Plenue decried your "filter" that lets you see whatever you wish. Tom Murphy was a little more charitable, attributing you attitude to poor reading comprehension.

I freely admit -- I throw inside, and expect the same back. But I always address the issues. You never really do.

I started questioning your bad thinking when you sided with a particularly vicious troll (later banned) who was indulging in personal attacks, not only on myself, but pretty much everybody here. You affected neutrality, and that got my goat, frankly.

Again, you show your ignorance of actual socialist and progressive politics. We hard-left sectarians are as a rule quite dismissive of the "pwogwessive" community (as the late Alexander Cockburn used to refer to the soft left). We see the Greens, for example, as a petit-bourgeois formation, sowing reformist illusions in electoralism.

I do not support Mrs. Clinton. I have never voted for any Democratic presidential candidate. I have never called for such a vote. Can you quote me as ever saying the actual words, "vote for Bill's wife"?

Expressing understanding and sympathy for those who might vote Democratic, out of fear of our current crop of Tea Party ammosexual proto-fascists, is not endorsing this position. You get more flies with honey than vinegar. I use honey-lemon, so it's a bit tart.

I have said repeatedly, understanding reality is not endorsing it. A clear understanding of political, social and economic realities is fundamental if one intends to change them. As you understand nothing, you will change nothing.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 25, 2016 8:36:05 PM | 75

And what do you know, St. Noam of the Charles speaks. Republicans, bad. Very bad. Dangerously bad.

Chomsky said the GOP and its presidential candidates are “literally a serious danger to decent human survival” and cited Republicans' rejection of measures to deal with climate change, which he called a “looming environmental catastrophe"....

"What they are saying is, let's destroy the world. Is that worth voting against? Yeah...."

Chomsky advised 2016 voters to cast their ballots strategically. He said the U.S. is essentially “one-party” system -- a business party with factions called Republicans and Democrats. But, he said, there are small differences between the factions that can make a “huge difference in systems of enormous power” -- like that afforded to the president.

"I’ve always counseled strategic voting," Chomsky said. "Meaning, in a swing state, or swing congressional district, or swing school board, if there is a significant enough difference to matter, vote for the better candidate -- or sometimes the least bad.”

Chomsky said if he lived in a swing state, he’d vote for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

By no means should this be viewed as an endorsement of Clinton. Chomsky has been a vocal Clinton critic, saying her presidency would resemble that of President Barack Obama, who Chomsky has condemned for using drone strikes to kill individuals the president deems worthy of execution.

In an ideal world, Chomsky might vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who Chomsky has called an "honest and committed New Dealer" who has “the best policies,” despite some criticisms....

“The likely candidates are, in my opinion, extremely dangerous, at least if they mean anything like what they are saying,” Chomsky said. “I think it makes good sense to keep them far away from levers of power.”

Just so you know, I think Chomsky spreads illusions about electoralism and non-revolutionary change. But he makes a good point here, though not good enough for me to change my vote. "Socialism or barbarism." I'm for the former, not the latter.

So as I have said before, in objective reality, if you can't get reasonably sane, mildly delusional is better than bat-shit crazy.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 25, 2016 10:49:17 PM | 76

First, I replied to your question in the Open Thread #4.

What an odd place to post the reply.

That was b's choice. I had replied in both places.

I made a smart-ass remark...which you elected to misconstrue.

Yet in the extensive back-and-forth at the time and in the 5 or 6 times that I have raised it since, you have never clarified your position on Israeli state murder. And here, once again you dance around it instead of simply denouncing it.

I do not support Mrs. Clinton...

You just approve of her as the lesser-evil - making good use of what your "honey-lemon" rhetorical skills.

As for your characterization of me. It is biased, off-base and not worthy of a reply.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 26, 2016 12:44:47 AM | 77

in re 77 --

You said above, “I replied on the open thread.” So I found it and provided a convenient link.

I don’t know that “b” is in the habit of moving things around.

Uh, so you don’t recall, you demanded that I state my views on Palestine, which I did. Removal of the settlements are what we call “Transitional Demands,” their defense drives much of the brutality of Israeli security policy. Long terms in detention for children throwing stones at men in body armor is an outrage. The right of return and the withdrawal to the 1967 borders are non-negotiable. I condemned the death in question, though not in strident enough terms to suit you.

But you blew all that off.

I’ve not repeated myself since it would have been a waste of time (your filter) and I preferred to stay focused on more recent events. And as you were thoughtful enough to post links, I thought the interested parties would see for themselves.

In objective reality, any Democrat is going to be better for workers then any Republican, especially with this year’s clown car minibus of candidates. As I keep saying, describing reality is not endorsing it.

So, take a look at my 75 above, and go get on Prof. Chomsky’s case then, OK?

He typically peddles a touching faith in electoralism and non-revolutionary change that you seem to share, but that does not make him wrong on this point. He makes a fair case, but one that does not convince me to alter my long-standing practice of voting as far, far left as is possible on the ballot.

Honey-lemon is rather like the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down. With tea and brandy, quite medicinal.

So Innkeeper, if you would, a cuppa Irish Breakfast, Hennessy chaser, for the gentleman. Dewar's straight, no ice, club soda on the side for me.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 26, 2016 6:48:36 PM | 78

My bad, see nr. 76. Mildly delusional is good.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 26, 2016 6:51:01 PM | 79

My bullsh*t filter is working just fine, and I see quite a lot of it in what you wrote.

I condemned the death in question

Link?

Only a few weeks ago, in Open Thread #1 I mentioned your excusing Israeli state murder and/or your avoiding the issue in 7 different comments (at: 74, 76, 81, 103, 107, 111, 120). Each time you avoided the issue, and in one reply you tried to excuse your original comment as "snark". You never said anything about having condemned anything.

All you really needed to do in that thread, or the few others before it where the issue was raised, is say that you condemn Israeli state murder. Simple and easy - for most people. But you haven't done that.

Now you go on about unrelated Palestinian issues as you lead up to a very nondescript, "I condemned the death in question". Furthermore, as you well know, your initial remark framed the issue in terms of the Israeli state - not just a single murder. We have discussed the issue in those terms ever since.

Here is the original exchange (on 11/12):

jfl: Israeli SS attends to Israel's Final Solution to its Palestinian Problem in Palestine ...
(with link to an article describing the killing of an innocent Palestinian man in a hospital)

rufus: Did I just wander into a hyperbolic chamber? One down, just under 12 mil. to go.... If they [Israel] expect to beat the jihadis, they will need to pick up the pace.

Jackrabbit:Did rufus just excuse murder? Yup, @152.


What occurred after that was a long exchange in which you tried to justify what you said, which concluded with this comment of mine (on 11/19).

I have no wish to press this matter unfairly. I would NOT continue if I thought that you had actually condemned Israeli state murder. As I have said, I do not care to interact with you. But I will not simply shrug at your repeated attempts to cover up, make light of, or justify your bias and insensitivity.

any Democrat is going to be better for workers then any Republican

You've said that your not a Sanders supporter. And you've made comments that are supportive of Hillary.

... describing reality is not endorsing it... go get on Prof. Chomsky’s case then, OK?

When you defend Hillary, compare her favorably to Trump, and refer to those that support voting for her, you are supporting her yourself.

Discussing how you have voted or will vote is really irrelevant (as I'm sure you are aware).

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 26, 2016 10:19:02 PM | 80

in re 80 --

Perhaps you mean "detector"? Because a filter would largely leave you silent.

No, I think my record is quite relevant. Actions speak louder than words.

No, I don't support the reformist social-democrat, who would of course be better than the either a Wall St. flunky or loud-mouthed property speculator. But I have said that hopefully other, more radical tendencies can use the opening offered by Sanders's increasing the profile of socialism generally.

I totally fail to understand how factual analysis somehow translates to support. Chomsky, the linguist, says his more approving position is not support, so I fail to see how I make the cut. Except if you're trying to cut a switch in attempt to beat me with it. That ain't happening.

The Oxford Dictionary Online offers this definition of the verb: "give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act." I certainly haven't given her money, and I'm quite sure her apparat is quite able to function without my aid.

So I can't really see how a casual "Sure hope we don't get fucked too hard" translates to support. It's kinda like the Super Bowl -- I don't want Manning to win so much as I want the Panthers to lose. But I've got no money riding on the game, and I'll cope with either eventuality.

On the unfortunate death of Abdallah Azzam Shalaldeh -- I refuse to have my beliefs dictated to me (hence my continuing riff on "List of Approved Thoughts;" see my comment at 59, in the same thread as the 19 Nov. fantasy football victory lap). Especially when the demanded text is incorrect.

Interested parties might consult my 168, from 14 Nov. 2015, on this Open Thread.

I would add, Amnesty International did think it an extrajudicial killing, but their only evidence was wounds to the head and chest. Isn't this where all soldiers and police are trained to aim? And if you wanted to off someone arbitrarily, wouldn't you go for the guy you wanted to arrest?

And the Israelis are not alone in their invasion of hospitals. Amnesty International reported that Hamas 'tortured Palestinian collaborators' in Gaza hospital.

Hamas’s actions are “spine-chilling” and “in some cases amount to war crimes”, said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

“In the chaos of the conflict, the de facto Hamas administration granted its security forces free rein to carry out horrific abuses including against people in its custody”.

I'm against all murder and thuggery, whether by states or not. At times, armed struggle is an appropriate and legitimate response. But one should limit attacks to actual military or political targets.

If one desires a world without arbitrary death and violence, one should not alibi it, regardless of victim or perp. As I've said several times, the innocent victims are no more or less dead.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 27, 2016 1:04:03 AM | 81

I would refer people to my reply to the comment that you refer to (168, from Open Thread of 14 Nov. 2015) which points out that:

1) you disputed that the killing was an extra-judicial murder only after defending your excusing of Israeli state murder.

2) your comments excused the Israeli state of any wrongful deaths simply because they have killed far fewer people than Jihadis or the Nazis. In that formulation, the circumstances of a particular death is irrelevant.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 27, 2016 12:04:13 PM | 82

Cannonfire has recently described more deplorable behavior by Israelis/Israeli security services. The Israeli response? Demanding that Youtube remove the videos.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 27, 2016 8:13:15 PM | 83

in re 82 --

Hey, you do have a bullshit filter! It's on here, 'cuz it be pure, steamy, stinky man-u-ray.

But apparently it malfunctioned here at 162 in OT 2016-04. You admit that you "don't have a 'smoking gun'." You just have speculation and opinion. Pretty much sums up you M.O. "Evidence! We ain't got no evidence. We don't need no evidence! You give us your agreement!"

I rejected your false accusation from the first; see e.g., nr. 155 in OT 2015-42 I did not excuse Israeli repression. I considered the Holocaust accusation unfounded and inappropriate, having originally accepted the accusation of extrajudicial execution levelled in jfl's extract from Telesur. Did I excuse murder, you asked? No, I said; I merely noted plenty of it around, and ISIL and other jihadis doing much more of it at the present time.

But from the facts that I later had the time and energy to discover here, I could not sustain that agreement.

The particular point that caused me to doubt the veracity of the account originally offered was about withholding of treatment. It was alleged that the Israelis prevented medical personnel from seeing to Abdallah Azzam Shalaldeh's wounds. But the medical director of the Hospital, Dr. Jihad Shawar, is quoted as saying "When they left, the man was found bleeding and (staff) tried to save his life, but he died."

Further, he was not the object of his raid, but rather his cousin, Azzam Shalaldeh, who would have been a much more logical candidate for such treatment.

You then demanded I state my position on the Middle East at 158, and I responded at 159, saying that I supported an
"immediate end to all settlements...." I have elsewhere noted, several times, that the defense of the settlements drives the bulk of Israeli repression.

But that didn't matter. And clearly, it still doesn't. And that I have a job, a life, and other interests, and did not explain myself promptly and in enough detail for your refined and infallible taste -- well tough fuckin' noogies.

"No go away, or I will taunt you a second time."

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 27, 2016 9:32:50 PM | 84

You wrote a blanket excuse for Israeli state murder before looking into the details of the murder itself.

You've been obfuscating and stonewalling ever since. Never addressing the offense, only talking around it.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 27, 2016 11:47:57 PM | 85

Piss off, mate.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 28, 2016 12:12:14 AM | 86

Back in 2007... when the emir was an actor?
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/us-says-iraqi-rebel-head-is-an-invention/2007/07/19/1184559957228.html

Posted by: Mina | Jan 28, 2016 4:44:22 AM | 87

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