Tuesday, September 15, 2015

War and Politics - September 14, 2015

• Ukraine: The Market Does Not Care About Your Values
• The Murky Myth of the “2000 Russian War Dead” in Ukraine
• Kyiv one of the world's most unliveable cities, survey finds
• New Ukrainian Textbook Erases Crimea From Country’s List of Territories
• Land Destroyer: US Seeks Occupation as US Fighters Flood Syria
• U.S. Drops Bombs; EU Gets Refugees & Blame. This is insane.
• How Neocons Destabilized Europe
• Lebanon Protest Leaders Reveal Connections To Western Color Revolution Apparatus
• Read This Before the Media Uses a Drowned Refugee Boy to Start Another War
• "Some People Just Don't Fit In The Economy" Buffett Explains: "We'll Send Them Off To Afghanistan"

• Russia/Ukraine •

Ukraine: The Market Does Not Care About Your Values | Russia! Magazine

Kiev’s new government, for all of its aggressively pro-market rhetoric and its constant invocation of “reform,” appears to not entirely understand the way that markets actually work. Not to wax overly philosophical, but markets are wonderfully efficient at allocating scarce resources and at balancing risks and rewards. They’re not terribly effective at passing moral judgements on who is “good” or “bad.”

Bond markets, for example, present investors with extremely stark tradeoffs between security and profit: investors can get substantial returns, but in order to do so they need to expose themselves to much greater risks. It would be great if investments as safe and liquid as US Treasuries yielded 8 or 9 percent a year, but they don’t. And that’s the whole point: in order to get yields of that magnitude, you need to swim in much murkier waters, investing in countries whose abilities to repay their debts on time is much less certain.

When investors are evaluating whether or not to buy a particular country’s bonds, the only thing they care about is if the country is going to be able to make the requisite payments. Politics enters into the equation not in any kind of comparative analysis of “values,” but in an analysis of stability (i.e. “will this country’s government get overthrown before the last payment is due”). A stable autocratic government is, from the market’s perspective, greatly preferable to an unstable democratic one. And vice versa. The merits of democracy or authoritarianism are entirely beside the point, and what matters first and last is the ability to pay.

That might seem exceedingly obvious, but as basic an overview of the bond market as that is, it appears to be substantially beyond the expertise of Ukraine’s current Prime Minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk.

Yatsenyuk has, for reasons I can’t even begin to grasp, made a large number of public statements about how “unfair” it is for the country to be saddled with the debts of the old regime. In recent comments, Yatsenyuk said the following:

“Private creditors need to realize they need to contribute and support the Ukrainian people…the government will do everything in order to lift this huge debt burden that was made under the Yanukovych regime… [Investors] were all aware they can easily go into arrears as they financed an entirely kleptocratic pro-Russian president”

In an interview with CNBC, Yatsenyuk struck a broadly similar note, encouraging investors to understand that a haircut on bond payments was “their contribution to the Ukrainian people” while also whining that “the former regime of Yanukovych collected $40 billion and we succeeded in collecting only $25 billion.”

The reason why “the former regime of Yanukovych” was able to raise more money than the current one was because investors had greater faith in the ability of that government to service its debt obligations. And, on the merits, that seems like the right decision: Ukraine is currently an economic disaster area, and it is already on the brink of technical default. Why on earth would an investor have any faith whatsoever that such a government could pay its debts?

Complete story at - Ukraine: The Market Does Not Care About Your Values | Russia! Magazine

The Murky Myth of the “2000 Russian War Dead” in Ukraine | Russia! Magazine

Despite Moscow’s litany of denials, Russian regular troops – not holidaying volunteers, not Cossack patriots, not just mercenaries and adventurers – are fighting in the Donbas. That we know, and for many in the West the Kremlin’s very mendacity has become an insidious, burning irritant. Hence the time and effort some put into debunking claims, assembling intricate geolocated and photo-backed evidence proving… what everyone already knows. Perhaps no wonder then that when what seemed like evidence of Russia’s presence in Ukraine appeared, so many gleefully jumped on it. A shame that it so quickly unraveled, in some ways a depressingly perfect metaphor for the way truth has become such an uncertain and negotiable process in this miserable conflict.

The story is quite well known by now. Of all places a Forbes blog seemed, as near as I can tell, to be the first place which splashed that “Russia Inadvertently Posts Its Casualties In Ukraine: 2,000 Deaths, 3,200 Disabled.” The story was that the website of the Delovaya zhizn’ (no, I’d never heard of it, either, but it’s one of those conveniently anonymous names everyone thinks they might) accidentally leaked a document on payments for dead and disabled servicemen that proved a year’s fighting had led to 2,000 Russian soldiers on duty dying and 3,200 being disabled. The page was quickly removed, apparently because of censorship – after all, disclosing data on losses is a crime.

Not so fast

So far, so smoking gun, and not surprisingly it then did the rounds as mainstream news outlets jumped on the story. And yet, soon enough different people from different angles were beginning to question it.

The ever-perceptive Leonid Bershidsky quickly called it a fake, not least because of a grammatical slip and the actual registration of the website: “Bs-life.ru – come on, are you serious?”

AP’s Nataliya Vasilyeva noted that “two days of Western officials retweeting a Forbes report quoting a Ukrainian web-site quoting a non-existent Russia news web-site re Ukraine” simply demonstrated that “the ease of spreading rumors in the digital world is astonishing.”

Ruslan Leviev’s WarInUkraine team unequivocally labeled it a fake. They noted that the report referred to a special government decree on supporting the victims which was unnecessary and dug into the Delovaya zhizn’ website to demonstrate its…questionable foundations.

Complete story at - The Murky Myth of the “2000 Russian War Dead” in Ukraine | Russia! Magazine

bne:Chart - Kyiv one of the world's most unliveable cities, survey finds | Business New Europe

Kyiv is one of the worst cities in the world to live in, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual Liveability Ranking.

The Ukrainian capital recorded the second-biggest fall in its liveability score over the last five years out of all 140 countries measured in the study, with a 25.8-point fall in its score since 2010. Its overall rank of 132nd placed it eighth-from-bottom overall.

Despite the ongoing conflict with pro-Russian separatists taking place on the opposite side of the country in eastern Ukraine, the disruption of last years’s sometimes violent Euromaidan street protests that ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych and worsening economic hardship pushed Ukraine’s liveability score down.

Complete story at - bne:Chart - Kyiv one of the world's most unliveable cities, survey finds | Business New Europe

New Ukrainian Textbook Erases Crimea From Country’s List of Territories

Very unusual textbooks were given to school students in Kiev on September 1, Obozrevatel reports.
To congratulate schoolchildren with the new school year, a number of presents were given away, including a textbook from the city mayor. The problem is that the chapter "Administrative and territorial division of Ukraine" reads that the country comprises 24 regions, with Crimea left out of the list.

"Is this official? Or is this a mistake?" a journalist for Obozrevatel wonders.

A picture of the ill-fated page from the textbook was also published online.

Following a 96-percent vote in March 2014, Crimea reunified with Russia after over 60 years of Ukrainian rule.

The republic’s secession – declared illegitimate by the West and Kiev – and the subsequent conflict in southeast Ukraine has drawn several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions from the United States, the European Union and other allied nations.

Complete story at - New Ukrainian Textbook Erases Crimea From Country’s List of Territories

• Middle East •

Land Destroyer: US Seeks Occupation as US Fighters Flood Syria

US policy paper called for the occupation of northern Syria with special operations forces. Now Foreign Policy reports northern Syria is being flooded by "volunteers" from America.

September 8, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - US corporate-funded policy think-tank, the Brookings Institution, published a June 2015 paper titled, "Deconstructing Syria: Towards a regionalized strategy for a confederal country." The signed and dated open-conspiracy to divide, destroy, invade, then incrementally occupy Syria using no-fly-zones and both US and British special forces is now demonstrably underway.

The paper would lay out in no uncertain terms that (emphasis added):

The idea would be to help moderate elements establish reliable safe zones within Syria once they were able. American, as well as Saudi and Turkish and British and Jordanian and other Arab forces would act in support, not only from the air but eventually on the ground via the presence of special forces as well. The approach would benefit from Syria’s open desert terrain which could allow creation of buffer zones that could be monitored for possible signs of enemy attack through a combination of technologies, patrols, and other methods that outside special forces could help Syrian local fighters set up.

Were Assad foolish enough to challenge these zones, even if he somehow forced the withdrawal of the outside special forces, he would be likely to lose his air power in ensuing retaliatory strikes by outside forces, depriving his military of one of its few advantages over ISIL. Thus, he would be unlikely to do this.

Not only does Brookings lay out an open conspiracy to invade and occupy Syria, it does so with the open admission that the goal is not to degrade the fighting capacity of the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS or ISIL), but rather to undermine and eventually overthrow the Syrian government. In fact, Brookings makes a point of stating that the goal would be to seize and hold Syrian territory to further advance American ambitions toward regime change, and would move quickly to degrade the Syrian government's ability to resist ISIS if any attempts were made by Damascus to stop the US invasion.

Complete story at - Land Destroyer: US Seeks Occupation as US Fighters Flood Syria

• EU Death Watch •

U.S. Drops Bombs; EU Gets Refugees & Blame. This is insane.

Starting in 2011 in Libya, the United States dropped bombs on Libya in order to replace its pro-Russian dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. The EU is now tearing itself apart with guilt-feelings at European nations’ responses to the refugee-crisis that was caused by this American bombing-campaign in Libya, and then by the one in Syria. Europe has also received refugees from the American-sponsored bombing-campaign in eastern Ukraine (the bombing-campaign that the 2014 American-installed anti-Russian Ukrainian government calls an ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation,’ or ‘ATO,’ which labels the residents in that pro-Russian area — where the residents reject the February 2014 U.S. coup — as ‘Terrorists’ and thus as being suitable to be bombed, and even firebombed).
And yet, despite these millions of U.S.-caused refugees into Europe, European nations still permit U.S. troops to remain stationed on European soil decades after the entire reason for NATO’s very existence (which was protection of Europe against a communist invasion from the east) ended. (The Soviet Union’s equivalent Warsaw Pact had dissolved and ended in 1991, when the Soviet Union itself did — yet NATO continued on, and constantly touts ‘the Russian threat,’ just as it did the Soviet threat, as if there were no change when communism collapsed, as if the ideological reason for the Cold War had been fake all along. There is no justification whatsoever for “the New Cold War.”) Russia is now responding to this new American-created hostility of Europeans against Russia, by its matching this newly transformed now anti-Russian NATO’s war-games against Russia, with similar Russian defensive maneuvers to prepare for an increasingly possible NATO invasion into Russia.
So: the current refugee-crisis was, in fact, caused by America’s continuing obsession to destroy Russia — an obsession that the EU goes along with, and now suffers greatly from, not only because of loss of their Russian trading-partner, but because of the influx into Europe of millions of refugees that were caused by this New Cold War. This crisis was not caused by Russia’s defensive measures against an increasingly aggressive NATO. It was caused by U.S. aggressions, which the EU continues to endorse.

Let’s go back to the very beginning of the current crisis:

The great investigative journalist Christof Lehmann headlined on 7 October 2013 at his nsnbc news site, “Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria,” and he opened: “Evidence leads directly to the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, CIA Director John Brennan, Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, and Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry.” (The U.S. has been allied with the Saudi royal family since 1945.) Lehmann discussed the chemical-weapons attack “in the Eastern Ghouta Suburb of Damascus on 21 August 2013,” which attack U.S. President Barack Obama was citing as his reason for planning to bomb to bring down Syria’s pro-Russian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, whom Obama was blaming for the chemical attack. However, much like another great investigative journalist Seymour Hersh subsequently reported (using different sources) in the London Review of Books on 17 April 2014, Lehmann’s even-earlier investigation found that the U.S. had set up the chemical attack, and that it was actually carried out by Islamic jihadists that the U.S. itself was supplying in Syria, through Turkey. Lehmann reported:

Complete story at - U.S. Drops Bombs; EU Gets Refugees & Blame. This is insane.

How Neocons Destabilized Europe | Consortiumnews

Exclusive: The neocon prescription of endless “regime change” is spreading chaos across the Middle East and now into Europe, yet the neocons still control the mainstream U.S. narrative and thus have diagnosed the problem as not enough “regime change,” as Robert Parry reports.

By Robert Parry

The refugee chaos that is now pushing deep into Europe – dramatized by gut-wrenching photos of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey – started with the cavalier ambitions of American neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks who planned to remake the Middle East and other parts of the world through “regime change.”

Instead of the promised wonders of “democracy promotion” and “human rights,” what these “anti-realists” have accomplished is to spread death, destruction and destabilization across the Middle East and parts of Africa and now into Ukraine and the heart of Europe. Yet, since these neocon forces still control the Official Narrative, their explanations get top billing – such as that there hasn’t been enough “regime change.”

For instance, The Washington Post’s neocon editorial page editor Fred Hiatt on Monday blamed “realists” for the cascading catastrophes. Hiatt castigated them and President Barack Obama for not intervening more aggressively in Syria to depose President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime neocon target for “regime change.”

But the truth is that this accelerating spread of human suffering can be traced back directly to the unchecked influence of the neocons and their liberal fellow-travelers who have resisted political compromise and, in the case of Syria, blocked any realistic efforts to work out a power-sharing agreement between Assad and his political opponents, those who are not terrorists.

Complete story at - How Neocons Destabilized Europe | Consortiumnews

• Empire Watch •

Lebanon Protest Leaders Reveal Connections To Western Color Revolution Apparatus

By Brandon Turbeville

Over the past few weeks, Lebanon has found itself embroiled in protests and social unrest the likes of which it has not experienced since 2005. The original issue, legitimate as it may be, surrounded the issue of lack of garbage disposal, yet the protests were soon infiltrated and morphed into an exercise of public rage over shadowy issues like “government corruption.” These protests have gone from peaceful demonstrations to violent clashes between demonstrators and police, with “infiltrators” largely responsible for provocative behavior.

Sectarian tensions are now beginning to surface, a very real fear and dangerous proposition in Lebanon, with members of the “movement” typically resorting to association with tribal identity groups (Christians with Christians, Sunni Muslims with Sunni Muslims, etc.) even during the protests.

As I mentioned in my article, “Color Revolution In Lebanon Designed To Weaken Hezbollah, Syria, Iran,” all of these aspects – shadowy reasons like “government corruption” for protesting, lack of demands, violence, and infiltrators – are hallmarks of a color revolution. So are the clever marketing strategies of “Branding” that see a protest movement, allegedly organic and spread across so many differing and various sectarian groups, develop a mutually agreed upon name for itself so early on.
The most telling aspect of whether or not a movement is actually a color revolution, however, is the “leadership” of that movement and the connections that leadership may have to the color revolution apparatus.

In the case of the You Stink! Movement, those connections are becoming increasingly visible.
Assadd Thebian is represented as one of the leaders of the You Stink! Movement by a number of Western press outlets and, in the Lebanese Press outlet, the Daily Star, he is described as being the “co-founder” of You Stink! Yet, far from being a truly organic Lebanese revolutionary, Thebian is closely connected to the United States Department of State.

Thebian is a participant in the Middle East Partnership Initiative, a program directed by the US State Department for the purposes of directing NGOs in foreign countries in order to facilitate US foreign policy. In other words, the MEPI is yet another program and initiative in the color revolution apparatus.

Complete story at - Lebanon Protest Leaders Reveal Connections To Western Color Revolution Apparatus

Read This Before the Media Uses a Drowned Refugee Boy to Start Another War

Dan Sanchez September 8, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) A baby boy turned to flotsam. Washed up on the shore, face down in the mud. His family, refugees from Syria’s civil war, had tried to reach Greece, but their over-crowded raft overturned in the Mediterranean Sea and he drowned along with his brother and mother. The viral image of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless little body on a Turkish beach has shaken the conscience of the West and wrenched America’s attention to the refugee crisis now rocking Europe.

Newsflash to the oblivious citizenry of the power-projecting “free world”: this is what war looks like. This times ten million. That which is mere “foreign policy” to you and your government is desperation and death to those on the receiving end of it.

Children just as innocent and precious as Aylan are being driven into the sea in Libya, incinerated by drone in Pakistan, or starved to death in Yemen all the time, and it is all on your dime. And every single instance creates a sight just as achingly forlorn and horrifically tragic as the one above, even if it isn’t photographed and seen by millions.

Aylan drowned in the arms of his father, who had been desperately trying to keep his head above water. The prelude to the disaster probably looked something like this photo of another Syrian refugee family.

It actually shows an arrival and not a departure. Still, especially for anyone with young children, the picture is a punch in the gut. It only takes a shred of empathy to instantly imagine how the father must feel. Overwhelmed and near the end of his rope. His daughter’s arms wrapped around his neck. His son’s face buried in his chest. Both looking to him for protection and provision he ultimately might not be able to give. It is no wonder this visceral photograph has also gone viral.

Complete story at - Read This Before the Media Uses a Drowned Refugee Boy to Start Another War

• Miscellaneous •

"Some People Just Don't Fit In The Economy" Buffett Explains: "We'll Send Them Off To Afghanistan" | Zero Hedge

Not to be outdone by his partner Charlie Munger (who offended many with his comments that "gold is a great thing to sew onto your garments if you're a Jewish family in Vienna in 1939,"), Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett - having already taken on Europe, comparing Greece to a "dog peeing on the carpet" of Europe, suggesting Germany stop "rewarding behavior you want to get rid of" - takes aim at the military. Speaking on Bloomberg TV, the octagenerian oracle of offense just unfriended every American veteran...

"You want everybody educated to their potential. You want people to reach their potential. That still won't work for some people in a highly developed market system.

I mean if this were a sports-based system, you could give me a PhD in football, and I could practice eight hours a day, and I might be able to carry the water from, not onto the field, but from the locker room to the bench. There's just some people don't fit well into a highly skilled market-based economy.

They're perfectly decent citizens. We'll send them off to Afghanistan, but they are not going to command a big price."

* * *

So just the words of a funny old man who is losing his marbles, or an elitist "crony" oligarch who knows there are no consequences for his words or actions?

On the bright side, at least he did not mention illegal immigrants.

Complete story at - "Some People Just Don't Fit In The Economy" Buffett Explains: "We'll Send Them Off To Afghanistan" | Zero Hedge

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Recommended Reading via Amazon

If you're seeking more information about how the world really works, and not how the media would want you to believe it works, these books are a good start. These are all highly recommended.

If you don't see pictures above, you likely have an adblocker running.  If so, here are the links.

1. The Shock Doctrine - Naomi Klein
2. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man - John Perkins
3. Manufacturing Consent - Edward Herman, Noam Chomsky
4. Gladio - NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe - Richard Cottrell
5. Profit Over People - Noam Chomsky
6. Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives - Stephen Cohen
7. The Divide - American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap - Matt Taibbi

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