Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Washington Post's War on Peacemakers

Written by Dennis J. Kucinich

Kucinich and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in Aleppo, Syria

I have dedicated my life to peace. As a member of Congress I led efforts to avert conflict and end wars in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Iran. And yet those of us who work for peace are put under false scrutiny to protect Washington’s war machine. Those who undermine our national security by promoting military attacks and destroying other nations are held up as national leaders to admire.

War Drums: Trump's National Security Advisor Threatens Iran


It wasn't hard to see this coming. President Trump's National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, delivered a clear threat to the government of Iran today, ominously stating that "as of this day, we are officially putting Iran on notice." What is less clear is the the General's rationale for issuing the threat.

Flynn cites two justifications for bringing the US on war footing against Iran. Both are dubious. First, he blames Iran for a recent attack on a Saudi naval vessel carried out by Houthi forces in Yemen. According to Flynn, because the Houthis are backed by Iran -- itself a specious claim -- it is Iran that is actually responsible for the attack.

What Will Rex Tillerson Inherit at the State Department?

Written by Peter Van Buren


As Secretary of State, what will Rex Tillerson inherit at the State Department?

The media has been aflame recently trying to stretch the facts — personnel changes and some unhappy employees in the midst of a major governmental transition — to fit the narrative of a State Department on the verge of collapse. But while rumors of the State Department’s demise are largely exaggerated, the organization may yet find itself shunted aside into irrelevance.

'America: Please Stop Intervening in Our Affairs'


Most ordinary Americans do not have the slightest idea how much suffering, hardship, and/or (in more fortunate cases) just disappointment has been caused by the intrusive foreign policy of practically of all recent US administrations in many parts of the world, including in countries such as mine. There has been much absurd hysteria recently over allegations of Russia hacking and influencing the November presidential elections in America. These are ridiculous allegations whose sole purpose is to rekindle Washington's age-old visceral animosity towards Russia and prevent the US from normalizing its relations with Moscow.

Trump Team Gone Wild: Now UN Ambassador Threatens Russia!


What a week in US foreign policy! First President Trump approves a commando raid in Yemen that was a total fiasco, leaving one US soldier and scores of innocent women and children dead. Then Trump's Iran-obsessed National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, hijacks a White House Press conference to put Iran "on notice" over its legal testing of a missile and the false claim that it is involved in the Yemen war.

But today marks an own-goal hat trick! Today, President Trump's Ambassador to the United Nations, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley used her first appearance before the UN Security Council to condemn Russia for the renewed violence in eastern Ukraine.

Haley told the Security Council:

A Billion Dollars of Federally Funded Paranoia

Written by James Bovard


When it comes to mindless excess in the war on terror, it is difficult to compete with the 70+ fusion centers bankrolled by the Department of Homeland Security. They began to be set up around the nation shortly after 9/11 as federal-state-local partnerships to better track terrorist threats. But the centers have been a world-class boondoggle from the start.

Fusion centers have sent the federally funded roundup of data on Americans’ private lives into overdrive. As the Brennan Center for Justice noted in 2012, “Until 9/11, police departments had limited authority to gather information on innocent activity, such as what people say in their houses of worship or at political meetings. Police could only examine this type of First Amendment-protected activity if there was a direct link to a suspected crime. But the attacks of 9/11 led law enforcement to turn this rule on its head.”

Cut, Don’t Reform, Taxes


Many Americans who have wrestled with a 1040 form, or who have paid someone to prepare their taxes, no doubt cheered the news that Congress will soon resume working on tax reform. However taxpayers should temper their enthusiasm because, even in the unlikely event tax collection is simplified, tax reform will not reduce the American people’s tax burden.

'The Media Coverage on Syria is the Biggest Media Lie of our Time' -- Interview with Flemish Priest in Syria


Flemish Father Daniël Maes (78) lives in Syria in the sixth-century-old Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara, 90 kilometers north of the capital Damascus. Father Daniel has been a witness to the “civil war” and according to him, Western reports on the conflict in Syria are very misleading. In short: “the Americans and their allies want to completely ruin the country.”

Interviewer: You are very critical of the media coverage on Syria. What is bothering you?

Father Daniel: “The idea that a popular uprising took place against President Assad is completely false. I’ve been in Qara since 2010 and I have seen with my own eyes how agitators from outside Syria organized protests against the government and recruited young people. That was filmed and aired by Al Jazeera to give the impression that a rebellion was taking place. Murders were committed by foreign terrorists, against the Sunni and Christian communities, in an effort to sow religious and ethnic discord among the Syrian people. While in my experience, the Syrian people were actually very united.

Iran Peace Effort

Iran Peace Effort

Multiple lobbying groups in the US are expected to spend $100 million to force Congress to vote down the nuclear deal with Iran. Polls show that most Americans — even most American Jews — are in favor of the deal. Will Congress cave?
Ron Paul: Hello everybody, and thank you for tuning in to The Liberty Report. Daniel McAdams is with me today. Daniel, it’s good to see you today.
Daniel McAdams: Good morning, sir.
Ron Paul: One of the big items in the news right now, of course, continues to be the effort to have better relationships with Iran. It turns out that the people who despise the notion that we should even talk to the Iranians are willing to spend $100 million dollars. I wonder what’s going on here, why is there this interest. Are they saints and are doing this for the cause of peace? But $100 million dollars to lobby the American people to support this and to twist the arms of Congress to try to dampen this effort, which the President has been pursuing.

Tax Reform is a Shell Game

by Ron Paul

Tax reform is back in the news, brought to the political forefront by a recent meeting of the president’s advisory panel on tax reform. Once again, politicians and former politicians are lamenting the complexity of our tax laws, as though their own spending measures have nothing to do with it. But we’ve heard this song before. In fact, we’ve been promised a simpler, fairer, and better income tax system many times, most recently in 1997 and 1986 when Congress made relatively significant changes to the tax code. Yet the federal tax system remains an embarrassment, both in terms of the tax burden itself and the outrageous compliance costs engendered by its complexity. One tax reform idea tacitly endorsed by Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan calls for a national retail consumption tax to replace the existing income tax

Monday, February 6, 2017

Debt Apocalypse Beckons As U.S. Consumer Bankruptcies Do Something They Haven’t Done In Almost 7 Years

Debt Apocalypse Beckons As U.S. Consumer Bankruptcies Do Something They Haven’t Done In Almost 7 Years

Bankrupt - Public Domain
When debt grows much faster than GDP for an extended period of time, it is inevitable that a good portion of that debt will start to go bad at some point.  We witnessed a perfect example of this in 2008, and now it is starting to happen again.  Commercial bankruptcies have been rising on a year-over-year basis since late 2015, and this is something that I have written about previously, but now consumer bankruptcies are also increasing.  In fact, we have just witnessed U.S. consumer bankruptcies do something that they haven’t done in nearly 7 years.  The following comes from Wolf Richter
US bankruptcy filings by consumers rose 5.4% in January, compared to January last year, to 52,421 according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. In December, they’d already risen 4.5% from a year earlier. This was the first time that consumer bankruptcies increased back-to-back since 2010.
However, business bankruptcies began to surge in November 2015 and continued surging on a year-over-year basis in 2016, to reach a full-year total of 37,823 filings, up 26% from the prior year and the highest since 2014.

Here Come The Robots – And They Are Going To Take Almost All Of Our Jobs

Here Come The Robots – And They Are Going To Take Almost All Of Our Jobs

Robot Human Hand - Public Domain
What is going to happen to society when robots are able to do just about everything better, faster and cheaper than human workers can?  We live at a time when technology is increasing at an exponential pace.  Incredible advancements in robotics, computer science and artificial intelligence are certainly making our lives more comfortable, but they are also bringing fundamental changes to the workplace.  For employers, there are a lot of advantages to replacing human workers with robots.  Robots don’t surf around on Facebook when they are supposed to be working. Robots don’t need Obamacare, lunch breaks or vacation days. Robots never steal from the company and they never complain.  Up until fairly recently, human workers could generally perform many tasks more cheaply than robots could, but now that is rapidly changing.

Common Objections to Skeptics of Trump’s Immigration Ban, Answered

Common Objections to Skeptics of Trump’s Immigration Ban, Answered

Trump's Immigration Ban
A protest against Donald Trump’s immigration ban (WFDD)
My article Monday, objecting to Trump’s immigration ban, generated a massive response. Below is a Q&A responding to common objections and expanding on the context in Middle Eastern history.
Q: Did you know, Trump was not the first President to restrict immigration from Iran? In fact, in response to the Iranian hostage crisis, President Jimmy Carter also halted Iranian immigration.
A: Why yes, I have known that for years, thanks for asking.
Q: Well, why didn’t you oppose Carter doing so? Got something in uniquely for Trump, partisan punk?
A: Actually, I was not alive during Carter’s presidency. Also, embassies issue visas, so Iranian terrorists controlling an embassy has a direct relationship to the visa process and makes such a restriction, if not necessary, at least tolerably understandable for the duration of the embassy’s capture.

How Economic Freedom Helps Chile Withstand Earthquakes and Tsunamis

By: Andrea Kohen - 

Saldo final, un par de casas destruidas, muy antiguas y hechas de materiales deficientes, sin moradores en el interior, además se abrió un camino hacia el costado del mismo en un rango de 400 metros. (Naturaleza)
Chile is a country that shakes every day, so it does not seem to be an ideal place to live. However, its immigration rates tell another story.
A few days ago, a 7.7 earthquake shook the south of Chile. Its epicenter was 67 kilometers northwest of Melinka, in Aysén, and generated a tsunami alert in certain coastal sectors of Los Lagos. It was felt in five regions of the country, but it was the southern area of Chiloé was the most affected.
In the end, there were no victims. Only a couple of very old houses were destroyed, and a highway near the area was damaged as well.
An earthquake of this magnitude would cause total destruction in other areas of the world that are not prepared. A 7.0 earthquake was enough to wipe out 90 percent of Haiti’s infrastructure back in 2010.
Chile is a special country. It is long and narrow, with more than 4,000 kilometers of coastline. It has a mountain range that separates it from the continent, pushing it toward the sea.

Mexico’s Oil Company Defends Higher Gas Prices, Claims Inflation Due to Other Factors

By: Elena Toledo - 

Mexico's Oil Company defends higher gas prices
José Antonio González General Director of Pemex (Vanguardia).
EspañolThe increase in gasoline prices in Mexico does not explain the increase in basic living expenses, according to General Director of Pemex José Antonio González Anaya in an interview with Milenio
Fuel expenses are deductible when it comes to cargo shipment, he said, meaning that the cost of products should not be effected. On the other hand, he did say gasoline is not the only factor in the price of transportation, so there could be other reasons that the price of basic living expenses are going up.

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