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TBR News November 12, 2018

Nov 12 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. November 12, 2018;” A person is defined as unemployed in the United States if they are jobless, but have looked for work in the last four weeks and are available for work.

People who are neither employed nor defined as unemployed are not included in the labor force calculation. 206,629,644 is the total American population 18+ available for work and as of January, 2018, over 95 million people above the age of 16 are still out of the workforce.

That official government figures, and media reports of full employment of eligible Americans are wrong is obvious to anyone who is capable of reading official figures found on the Internet.

95 millions of unemployed present a serious stability problem for the reigning government and its agencies so the figures are deliberately fudged to lend credence to the noise made by President Trump about the fictive successes of his bizarre economic policies.

The US Navy, for example, is certainly the world’s largest but most of its ships are obsolescent and one of the Navy’s largest aircraft carriers sank in harbor, twice, because of chronic leaking propeller shafts.

The US Army is indeed large but many of the recruits have been taken from men with extensive criminal records, drug addiction problems and gang memberships.

Quality does matter, figures that are easily faked, do not.

As always, if the American tax payer will be good enough to bend over, official Washington will be more than pleased to drive him home.”

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 78
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  •    ‘King dollar’ reigns supreme in world of slowing growth, European risks
  •    No Interntional Currency is Safe
  •    What did the midterms reveal? A divided America
  •    Illusion of democracy: If US elections could change anything they wouldn’t be held

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 78

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

  • Jun 13, 2018

“Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: We give Trump broad latitude to make promises about the future impact of his diplomacy with North Korea, but this claim about the present is obviously premature. North Korea retains all of its nuclear weapons.

  • Jun 15, 2018

“We’ve done more — I don’t say this in a bragging way — actually, some of the haters actually say this — we’ve done more in 500 days, so now it’s 510 days, than any 500-day president, first term, by far.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: Trump’s critics are not saying this.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“To build a highway in this country takes 19 years of approvals. I have it down to two years.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: While some controversial and complicated infrastructure projects have taken this long to get approved, there is no basis for Trump’s suggestion that a time frame of “19 years” is standard. (Trump has sometimes been more careful with this claim, making clear he is talking about particular cases.) The Treasury Department reported under Obama: “Studies conducted for the Federal Highway Administration concluded that the average time to complete a NEPA (environmental) study increased from 2.2 years in the 1970s, to 4.4 years in the 1980s, to 5.1 years in the 1995 to 2001 period, to 6.6 years in 2011.” Trump himself used a “10 years” figure in announcing an infrastructure proposal last year: “Today it can take 10 years just to get the approvals and permits needed to build a major infrastructure project,” he said then. Further, there is no current evidence that Trump has already succeeded in reducing the standard approval time frame to two years, although he says this is his intention. The Department of Transportation changed its calculation method after 2011; it reported a median NEPA approval time of 3 years, 10 months in 2017, Trump’s first year, which was up slightly from 3 years, 8 months in 2016, Obama’s last year.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“When I was talking to President Obama, he essentially was ready to go to war with North Korea. He felt you had to almost go to war.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: There is no evidence Obama told Trump anything like this; such a remark would be a total departure from Obama’s long-held views on North Korea. Obama’s office declined to comment, but Ned Price, a former special assistant to Obama and spokesperson for the National Security Council, called Trump’s remark “absolute revisionist history,” saying, “I’ve never heard anything even remotely like that coming up during that session.” Obama’s strategy of “containment and deterrence” was “predicated in part on the understanding that a military conflict on the (Korean) Peninsula would be nothing short of catastrophic,” Price said. In the past, Trump has confirmed what news outlets have reported: Obama told him North Korea was the biggest or most urgent problem he would face, not that war was inevitable.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“She’s (press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) got a lot of the father’s genes, ’cause her father (former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee) is great. Don’t forget, he got up there on that debate stage and he said ‘nobody’s gonna beat Trump.’ And he was right. And ‘I even decided to wear a Trump tie.'”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: Mike Huckabee did not say in a debate that “nobody’s gonna beat Trump.” During the Republican primary debate in which Huckabee announced he was wearing a Trump tie, he also called Trump a “good man” and said, “Donald Trump would be a better president every day of the week and twice on Sunday rather than Hillary.” He did not predict a Trump victory.

“I gave a press conference in Singapore that was like an hour and a half.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: This is an exaggeration. Trump’s press conference ran for an hour and five minutes.

“They’re getting people (convicted of lying to the FBI) who say something a little bit off. Is it a nice day? ‘Well, you know, no it’s not a great day.’ Oops. He lied. He goes, you know, got problems.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: Nobody ensnared by the Mueller investigation has pleaded guilty for minor lies to the FBI about mundane matters like the weather. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying about their contacts with Russia. Former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates pleaded guilty to lying about the details of a meeting involving former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a lobbyist, and a congressman — falsely claiming he was told there was no discussion of Ukraine at the meeting.

“The IG report totally exonerates.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: The inspector general report released on Thursday, which assessed the conduct of the FBI during its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices, does not at all exonerate Trump on the questions of possible collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice. The report was simply not about these subjects.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“You have 13 angry Democrats. I call ’em 13 angry Democrats. And others worked for Obama for eight years. I mean, you have no Republicans.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: The person in charge of Robert Mueller’s investigation, Mueller himself, is a Republican. (If Trump wanted to refer only to people working under Mueller, he could have said that.) It is not clear who Trump was referring to when he said “others worked for Obama for eight years,” but he has previously claimed that Mueller himself was this person; in fact, Mueller served under Obama for less than five years after serving more than seven years under the Republican president who appointed him, George W. Bush.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“ICE: We’re getting MS-13 out by the thousands.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: “By the thousands” is an exaggeration; it is more like “by the hundreds,” or “by the dozens.” Immigration and Customs Enforcement told PolitiFact that its investigations division arrested 405 MS-13 members in the first quarter of fiscal 2018. The acting director of ICE, Thomas Homan, said in December that “a renewed focus on IDing and dismantling the ultraviolent MS-13 gang led to nearly 800 arrests in (fiscal year) 2017, for an 83 per cent increase over last year.” That figure is disputed, as some of the people arrested may not be actual members of the gang. Even if they are, though, that number is far from “thousands.”

Trump has repeated this claim 15 times

“You know what lottery is? That’s where you pick names to come into the country. When a country gives names, they’re not giving us their finest. So we’re picking people, it’s not good.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: This is, as always, an inaccurate description of the Diversity Visa Lottery program. Contrary to Trump’s regular claim, foreign countries do not “give” the names of problem citizens to the U.S. lottery in an attempt to get them to leave their home country. Would-be immigrants sign up on their own, as individuals, of their own free will, because they want to immigrate.

Trump has repeated this claim 21 times

“Most people now, really, they want The Wall.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: Polls have consistently shown that far more people oppose Trump’s proposed border wall than support it. A CBS News poll in March found 60 per cent opposed, 38 per cent in favour.

“If you notice when I came over, they were all saying about separating the families. And that’s a Democrat bill. That’s Democrats wanting to do that.” And: “That’s the law. And that’s what the Democrats gave us.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: No law, let alone a Democratic law, requires Trump’s administration to separate children from parents detained at the border. This is a Trump policy.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

“He’s (Kim Jong Un) giving us back the remains of probably 7,500 soldiers.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States estimates that the remains of 5,300 deceased U.S. soldiers who died in North Korea are unaccounted for. (More than 7,500 soldiers ni total are unaccounted for from the war, but the rest are not believed to have been in North Korea.) In addition, it is certain that not all of the 5,300 soldiers will have their remains found. The Associated Press reported: “Trump is also glossing over the surely impossible odds of locating the remains of all Americans missing from the war, more than six decades later. Several thousand are still missing in South Korea despite its close alliance and history of cooperation with the U.S…Between 1996 and 2005, joint U.S.-North Korea military search teams conducted 33 joint recovery operations and recovered 229 sets of American remains.”

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“The European Union made $151 billion on us last year.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: The U.S. had a $102 billion trade deficit with the European Union last year. The $151 billion figure counts only trade in goods and excludes trade in services. Trump, as usual, did not say he was doing so.

Trump has repeated this claim 29 times

“Each year, close to $800 billion in losses on trade.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: The U.S. has never had a $800 billion trade deficit. (Trump uses “losses” to mean deficits.) Last year’s deficit was $566 billion. It was only $800 billion — $810 billion, to be precise — if you do not count trade in services. Trump, as usual, did not say he was doing so.

Trump has repeated this claim 30 times

 

“Last year, $375 billion in trade deficit (with China).”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: The U.S. had a $337 billion trade deficit with China last year. The $375 billion figure counts only trade in goods and excludes trade in services. Trump, as usual, did not say he was excluding services.

Trump has repeated this claim 51 times

“President Xi, he’s a great man, he’s a wonderful guy, but at some point we have to straighten it out. We lost $500 billion in trade deficits last year.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: The U.S. had a $337 billion trade deficit with China last year.

Trump has repeated this claim 51 times

“I feel badly for General Flynn. He’s lost his house. He’s lost his life. And some people say he lied, and some people say he didn’t lie. I mean, really, it turned out maybe he didn’t lie.”

Source: Media scrum on White House lawn

in fact: While there was some dispute within the FBI about whether Flynn lied to the FBI, he pleaded guilty to doing so. In December, Trump himself tweeted, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice-President and the FBI.”

“We had great chemistry. He (Kim Jong Un) gave us a lot…He gave us the remains of our great heroes.”

Source: Media scrum on White House lawn

in fact: There is no evidence that Kim has actually returned any remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War. The joint statement signed by Kim and Trump in Singapore includes a North Korean commitment to repatriate these remains — “The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering PoW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified,” it says — but there is no sign that Kim has already done so.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law…that’s the Democrats’ law.” And: “The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children.” And: “The Democrats gave us the laws.”

Source: Media scrum on White House lawn

in fact: No law, let alone a Democratic law, requires Trump’s administration to separate children from parents detained at the border. This is a Trump policy

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

“Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time…he worked for me, what, for 49 days or something? A very short period of time.”

Source: Media scrum on White House lawn

in fact: Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign for 144 days, from March to August 2016.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign.”

Source: Media scrum on White House lawn

in fact: Paul Manafort served as chairman of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“I think that the report yesterday, maybe more importantly than anything, it totally exonerates me. There was no collusion, there was no obstruction, and if you read the report, you’ll see that.” And: “If you read the IG report I’ve been totally exonerated.”

Source: Media scrum on White House lawn

in fact: The inspector general report released on Thursday, which assessed the conduct of the FBI during its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices, does not at all exonerate Trump on the questions of possible collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice. The report was simply not about these subjects.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

  • Jun 16, 2018

“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Democrats did not force the Trump administration to break up parents and children detained after crossing the border unlawfully. This is a Trump administration policy.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

November 12, 2018

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.

 

Conversation No. 67

Date: Sunday, February 16, 1997

Commenced: 10:45 AM CST

Concluded: 11:15 AM CST

GD: I got your packet today, Robert, and thank you for it. I have a problem with the classification stamps on them. Would I have any problem putting these into a book with the stamps showing?

RTC: I would suggest that you use them for reference, Gregory, and would appreciate it if you did not photo copy them. As you say, there could be serious trouble for both of us if you did. What did you think of them?

GD: Amazing. I had no idea the blessed Republicans were so underhanded and vicious.

RTC: The Democrats, and my father was an active one, are more interested in social issues, but the GOP wants unfettered economic power and to get and keep it, they have no scruples. Clinton may be left of center, but he’s economically pretty sound. The Republicans, and I used to be the man for connections with really big business, don’t forget, have two goals and two only. They want to establish an ideological police state that is anti-black, anti-Mexican, anti-intellectual and in this category, anti-Jew. Once they have this, their next goal would be to allow unfettered capitalism to rage unchecked throughout the land so that they and their friends can get rich quick on crooked businesses like the huge fraud now going on in the electronics stock. It goes up, Gregory, because it’s rigged and I just know it will go higher and higher.

GD: Yes, and what goes up, must come down. And if it goes up too fast, when it crashes, it takes legitimate businesses with it. My grandfather got out of the market in September of ’29 because it was going up too fast and businesses were heavily overcapitalized. This electronic business is not genuine?

RTC: No, it’s rigged. How it works is this way: The stock fraud people grab some engineering student from MIT, set him up in a nice office in San Francisco and then incorporate him with some fancy, arty name. Next step is to get the stock listed on the New York board. After that, a ring of very reputable stock brokers call up their friends with an offering. They tell them they are going to buy a certain stock at ten dollars for them and then sell it when it gets to, let’s say, twenty. The client goes along with this and when this is repeated across the country, the stock shoots up. The original investors get double their money back, minus brokerage fees, and then the brokers do it again, and again. This forces almost all technology stock up into the heavens. Maybe some of the initial investors gripe when they see stock they bought at ten and sold at twenty up at two hundred, but when all of it will come crashing down, they are satisfied that they have a safe return.

GD: Well, gravity works on the market as well as fat women’s tits.

RTC: (Laughter) There you go again, Gregory, illuminating a serious economic lecture with lewd remarks.

GD: A little levity to offset crude capitalism.

RTC: Oh, if the Republicans have their way, all the restrictions on Wall Street would be lifted and everything would shoot up. Some of it rigged and the rest just being copycats.

GD: You’re not a Republican?

RTC: No, a relatively modest Democrat, but not a poor one.

GD: It’s none of my business, Robert, but what do you have your money in?

RTC: Not communications stock, I can tell you that. Very conservative investments. And you?

GD: I’m almost broke, Robert. I don’t make that much money on the books and now that the rodent brigades from the CIA are starting to squeal that I am a really terrible liar, the sales are slowing down some. But I have an idea that might pay off. I told you about the gold Jimmy Atwood and I dug up in ’90. Well, I have some old gasbag down in Florida who wants me to go over with him to Austria in the future and dig up more. Only this one doesn’t want to dig up gold. He wants to put a party together and get the money from them and come back with me later to get the money which we can split up.

RTC: The concentration camp money?

GD: Oh, yes and lots of it. We had to quit in ’90 because one was sick and the other a total asshole. And Atwood, being one of your people, tried all kinds of transparent tricks to cheat me. Didn’t work. But this Florida phony wants to work with me. I could always go back with him, or stay there after his rich friends went home, and dig up more money. Of course, this time he could have a boating accident and fall into the lake. It’s very deep and very cold. What goes down into it Robert, does not come up.

RTC: And how would you get the loot back?

GD: I would keep it in Europe and invest it.

RTC: Probably not a bad idea. How much did you get last time?

GD: About five million and there must be five times that still left. Yes, I think a boating accident. Sort of like Colby’s assisted departure. If he has any family, I can tell them he ran off to Sofia with a Bulgarian whore instead of being refrigerated at the bottom of a deep lake in Austria. Well, we will see. I have a friend in the electronics business. How long before the stock boom busts?

RTC: I have no idea but eventually. Two years, three years…who knows? You don’t have any electronics stock, do you?

GD: God no. If I did have money, I would stay as far away as I can from the trendy stocks that the press loves to shill for. No, if I had a lot of money, I would put it in gold and property.

RTC: Anything left from your late jaunt?

GD: I invested it in long-term property and kept some of the gold. Of course I got the wedding rings and had to melt them all down and put them into bullet molds I bought in Klagenfurt. Poor Aunt Minnie’s ring is gone forever.

RTC: I wouldn’t let the Jews find out about that, Gregory. They would be very angry with you.

GD: Well, who is to prove that this ring or that gold coin came from such and such a person? The people who owned this are long dead and mostly forgotten. So what?

RTC: For God’s sake, Gregory, don’t even hint at this in your books. Hell hath no fury like a Jew deprived of money.

GD: Well, his own or someone else’s? Jimmy and I got all kinds of gold crucifixes, wedding rings, coins and other material and I melted most of it down. Used a portable acetylene torch and bullet molds working in an Italian hotel room. Cheap hotel and no one complained about the smell of melting metal. Took two weeks to melt it all down. Just think, so many precious memories, gone forever and all mine, Robert, all mine.

RTC: Well, just be discreet.

GD: I don’t mind the concept of screeching and imploring Hebrews, so I invest elsewhere because I would mind the screeching and other problems of the IRS.

RTC: Yes, that would be different, wouldn’t it?

GD: Oh, yes. Now Atwood could get away with it because he belongs to your agency, but I have no such cover. Jimmy got bagged for all kinds of thefts but your people got him off the hook…I think it was in ’62. Anyway, we make our own way in life, don’t we? And remember, we have a pool on how long it will be before the Company ices poor Jimmy for his loud mouth.

RTC: Yes, I remember.

GD: Ah, well, I am going to leave you, Robert, and go to church and see what sort of really awful pornography I can slip into the hymnals.

RTC: Now that’s not Christian, is it?

GD: Disagree, Robert. Quintessentially Christian, absolutely

 

(Concluded at 11:15 CST)

 

‘King dollar’ reigns supreme in world of slowing growth, European risks

November 11, 2018

by Sujata Rao

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar surged to nearly 17-month highs on Monday against a basket of major currencies as investors sought out the liquid and high-yielding asset against a backdrop of global growth worries and rising political risk in Italy and Britain. World stocks fell 0.3 percent for a third straight day in the red, receiving no respite from a rise in oil prices, while initial European equity gains fizzled amid growing fears for Italian lender Carige whose shares were suspended after reports of a capital hole.

While Shanghai was lifted one percent by regulators’ promise to simplify share buybacks, Asian markets broadly weakened following Friday’s weak Wall Street close. New York trade will likely be thinned by the Veterans Day holiday and futures indicated the S&P500 and Dow Jones flat to lower but Nasdaq futures are marginally.

Investors are fretting about signs of slowing growth worldwide but especially in China where e-commerce giant Alibaba was the latest to raise alarm bells, with the slowest ever annual sales growth during its Singles Day shopping event.

Many also reckon that U.S. President Donald Trump could turn up the heat over trade, further damaging China’s economy.

All that, coupled with European political risks, conspired to push the dollar 0.5 percent higher against a basket of currencies by 1230 GMT.

World stocks fell 0.3 percent for a third straight day in the red, receiving no respite from a rise in oil prices, while initial European equity gains fizzled amid growing fears for Italian lender Carige whose shares were suspended after reports of a capital hole.

While Shanghai was lifted one percent by regulators’ promise to simplify share buybacks, Asian markets broadly weakened following Friday’s weak Wall Street close. New York trade will likely be thinned by the Veterans Day holiday and futures indicated the S&P500 and Dow Jones flat to lower but Nasdaq futures are marginally.

Investors are fretting about signs of slowing growth worldwide but especially in China where e-commerce giant Alibaba was the latest to raise alarm bells, with the slowest ever annual sales growth during its Singles Day shopping event.

Many also reckon that U.S. President Donald Trump could turn up the heat over trade, further damaging China’s economy.

All that, coupled with European political risks, conspired to push the dollar 0.5 percent higher against a basket of currencies by 1230 GMT.

“King dollar has staged a return,” Valentin Marinov, head of G10 FX strategy at Credit Agricole, said, adding that investors had piled back into the dollar after last week’s U.S. Federal Reserve meeting confirmed a rate-tightening path.

“Euro and pound are both hurt by political risk and that is aggravating underperformance versus the dollar,” Marinov said.

Sterling lost more than one percent at one point, holding near a 10-day low hit earlier, while the euro, comprising more than 50 percent of the dollar index, fell 0.7 percent to its lowest since July 2017.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy came under attack from all sides, increasing the risk that her plan for leaving the European Union will be voted down by parliament, thrusting the United Kingdom toward a potentially chaotic “no-deal” Brexit.

The opposition Labour Party said that if May’s Brexit deal was voted down in parliament, it would push for a national election and possibly also another referendum.

Latest futures data showed net short sterling positions registered their biggest weekly rise in 1-1/2 months

Deutsche Bank analysts, however, predicted more pain, telling clients: “not enough risk is priced into sterling given the parliamentary problems ahead”.

In the euro zone, Italy faces a Tuesday deadline to submit a revised budget to the EU, but its refusal so far to cut the draft deficit sets the stage for a collision with Brussels.

Markets were also spooked by reports that Banca Carige would need around 400 million euros ($451 million) to plug a hole in its capital base and Italy’s deposit protection fund could fill only part of it.

That raises the specter of a banking crisis in the euro zone’s third-biggest economy, lifting Italy’s bond yield spread over Germany – the risk premium attached to Italian assets – back above the psychologically key 300 basis-point mark. Italian bank shares fell 1.2 percent.

Bernd Berg, global macro strategist at Woodman Asset Management, predicted the euro would tumble below $1.10 from the current $1.126 “as renewed eurozone and Brexit angst and a diverging economic outlook with a strong U.S. economy versus a weakening eurozone economy will trigger further euro selling pressure.”

All of this has been good news for dollar bulls, who have benefited from safe-haven flows. Speculators’ net long dollar positions rose last week to the highest since January 2016, calculations by Reuters and Commodity Futures Trading Commission, show.

The other big move was in commodities, where Saudi Arabia’s energy minister jolted Brent crude futures around 2 percent higher with comments that Riyadh could reduce supply to world markets by 500,000 barrels per day in December, a global reduction of about 0.5 percent.

Brent is trading around $71.4 per dollar, off seven-month lows touched last week.

But slowing world growth could make supply cuts a temporary solution to falling oil prices. Two of the world’s biggest economies – Germany and Japan – are expected to report a contraction in output in coming days.

Reporting by Sujata Rao, additional reporting by Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai and Tom Finn in London; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Toby Chopra

 

No Interntional Currency is Safe

November 12, 2018

by Christian Jürs

The root cause of all warfare is economics. Whether it is the seizure of a weaker tribe’s grazing land or the destruction of a rival power’s production capacity, war, to elaborate on Clausewitz, is a logical extension of political and economic aims. War launched against an unpopular head of state or a political system is war commenced solely for economic gains; the common rationale of a holy crusade is merely window dressing for popular historians to postulate.

The hatred engendered against Hitler by the American and British official propaganda machinery before the outset of World War II was due more to the success of Hitler’s barter system than to his personal dislike of Jews or threats to putative democracies in Central Europe.

Stripped of her colonies and gold reserves after the First World War, Germany had to incur massive, interest-bearing loans with both the United States and England to pay for needed imports. When Hitler came to power, he paid off the existing loans and instituted a barter system in which, for example, Germany would trade locomotives to Argentina for their beef and wheat. Previously, both countries had borrowed money from international banks at high-interest rates to pay for their respective imports.

The barter system, therefore, represented a serious threat to international banking interests that complained loudly and effectively to their respective governments, demanding intervention and relief. Many economists referred to a boycott of German products, which was instituted in the United States and England as economic warfare, as indeed it was. The British were past-masters in creating economic warfare and experts in ruining the currency of their rivals by flooding the marketplace with counterfeit currency. During the American Revolutionary War, the British dumped so many counterfeit Continental notes into the economy that American currency became virtually worthless, and the phrase, “not worth a Continental” became common. Angered by French support of the American Revolution, the British counterfeited adulterated gold French Louis coins.

As a means of economic retaliation against Napoleon for his support of a French-dominated continental system which excluded England, the British counterfeited French assignats and franc notes. Napoleon retaliated by forging British currency. Later in the same century, the US federal government forged Confederate money in huge quantities.

The Soviet forgery of American currency in the 1930s, on the other hand, was not designed to destroy the US economy. Rather, the counterfeit gold certificates were manufactured to pay their agents. Since many of these agents were highly placed and expensive members of the Roosevelt Administration, Stalin’s experts concentrated on the manufacture of $100 gold certificates. As the duplication of official US banknote paper was a problem, smaller denomination bills were bleached and over-printed.

At the outbreak of World War II, economic advisors to the leaders of England and the United States urged their respective governments to forge German marks and flood the international market which would cause a collapse of confidence in that currency and, therefore, create tremendous inflation in Germany. The British did counterfeit German military scrip but used the blank reverse for propaganda messages. These were scattered by aircraft over Germany where their impact on the population was nil, but the impact on German leadership was considerable.

Exactly who in the Third Reich initiated the program for the counterfeiting of British currency is not known. One man, Alfred Naujocks, an SS-Sturmbannführer (or Major) in the SD, has taken credit for the inception of the plan in 1940. Naujocks was a longtime acquaintance of Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the SD and it was Heydrich who initially authorized the reproduction of British pound notes. The initial code name for the operation was “Andreas.”

It has been stated that the original purpose of “Andreas” was to falsify pound notes and drop them over England to create economic havoc. However, a more believable scenario, and one supported by period documents, is that the SS leadership envisioned the possibility of raising funds for their organization.

The SS was an official branch of the NSDAP and its funding came from the Party coffers, although the Waffen-SS  drew on government funding for much of its military requirements. One of Himmler’s best assets in this economic struggle was his complete control of the KZ (or concentration camp system). Based on the institutions introduced by Lord Kitchener in South Africa during the Boer War to control the civil population, the KZ system encompassed a wide spectrum of inmates, ranging from professional criminals, communists, and political opponents of the government, including Jews and other ethnic and religious groups.

At the beginning of the war, there were 21,300 concentration camp inmates, housed in six camps. During the course of the war, the total number of inmates rose to over 400,000 lodged in an enormous network of camps scattered throughout Europe and the East. SS General Oswald Pohl and his deputy Richard Glücks organized a huge, free labor pool which would provide a major source of revenue for the SS. It was this system of forced labor that the SD turned to when “Andreas” was superseded by “Bernhard.” The “Andreas” attempts to forge British notes floundered in technical problems and contributed to personality conflicts within the RSHA.

The proper paper was nearly impossible to initially produce since, unlike the original, it did not properly fluoresce under ultraviolet light. Also, a proper numbering system proved extremely difficult to develop. In 18 months, “Andreas” had only produced a half-million pounds worth of counterfeit notes, many of which, however, were authenticated by the Bank of England when submitted by unsuspecting Swiss banks. Personal rivalry between Heydrich and Naujocks created so many problems that “Andreas” was eventually terminated

“Bernhard” was named for the new head of the scheme, SS-Hauptsturmführer Bernhard Krüger of the SD. Krüger, born in Reise, Saxony on November 26, 1904, was a specialist in forging documents and was assigned to Section VI F4 of the RSHA where his section assembled a large library of foreign documents of all kinds which were copied for intelligence operations.

The second project, “Bernhard,” began only after Heydrich was assassinated by British agents in the summer of 1942. At that time, SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Dörner of the RSHA began to assemble a team of specialists from the ranks of concentration camp inmates. This initial cadre was originally constituted at Oranienburg concentration camp north of Berlin, and on August 23, 1942, it was permanently established at Blocks 18 and 19 at nearby Sachsenhausen camp.

Major Krüger promised his inmate workers good housing, better and regularly served meals, no physical abuse, tobacco, newspapers, good clothing, and packages from outside sources. Most importantly, he assured them of survival. In return, he required full cooperation in the counterfeiting projects and the maintenance of strict security.

By the end of 1942, the 200-pound-pressure Stentz Monopel Type 4 press was moved to Sachsenhausen from its former location in the Berlin forgery center. Aside from the manufacture of the highest quality intaglio plates, the most important factor in the production of undetectable counterfeit pound notes was reproduction paper. British notes were printed on a high rag content paper and manufactured by the Portal, England firm of Laverstoke, which had been producing this paper for the Bank of England since the first quarter of the 18th century.

Paper used in the production of American currency was a 17- pound bond manufactured for the U.S. Treasury by the Crane Company. As the SD turned its attention to the counterfeiting of American currency in 1943, the same German firms that duplicated the Portal paper, Spechthausen and Schlichter, and Schall, successfully duplicated the Crane paper.

The counterfeit paper for pounds had to have not only the correct texture and appearance, but had to be properly and exactly watermarked and fluoresce with the exact shade as the original paper. The Germans solved the latter problem by a careful analysis of water used in the preparation of the original British paper.

The actual manufacturing of the pound note plates was preceded by a thorough study of thousands of original examples of the British pound in German hands. The Bank of England had 156 identifying points on their plates and the forgers were able to duplicate every one of them.

Copying the lettering and numbering of the original currency presented few serious problems to Krüger’s experts, but the vignette of Britannia, common to all denomination pound notes, proved to be extremely difficult to copy—a similar problem which had occurred with the portraits on American currency. On the pound notes, the vignette consisted of a crown-surmounted wreath enclosing a seated Britannia holding a spear in her left hand and a floral spray in her right. However, constant reworking eventually produced an exact copy. The correct numbering system for the pound notes was developed by German mathematicians, and the numbering system for the U.S. bills came from American published sources. As the British used German-made ink for their currency, this aspect of the project presented no problems.

The first run of counterfeit pound notes inspected by senior officials at the RSHA in Berlin was declared a technical success, but lacked the overall visual appearance of original, circulated currency. This was solved by the addition of Soloman Somolianov, a highly competent forger, to the Sachsenhausen crew. Somolianov, a Russian Jew, specialized in the forgery of British pound notes and was successful in adding the proper patina of age to the new pounds and later, U.S. dollars.

After the notes had been printed and aged, they were sent to the RSHA and SS-Oberführer Walter Schellenberg, head of Section VI of the RSHA and SD foreign intelligence, distributed the British pounds to various outlets—many of which are still officially unknown.

For many years the old rhyme, “A Pound’s a Pound the World Around,” recalled the preeminence of British currency throughout the world. The final product of “Bernhard” had been tested by passing it through the Swiss banking system and through them eventually pronounced genuine by the Bank of England. Armed with these bonafides, Schellenberg’s agents glutted the world’s currency markets with over 300 million British pound notes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pounds, in varying degrees of perfection.

First-class quality notes that defied any detection were used to purchase gold, jewels and safe currency through neutral banking systems, while lower quality notes were used for less exacting customers such as Tito’s partisans from whom the SS purchased huge amounts of weaponry supplied to the Yugoslavs by British and American clandestine services.

In early 1943, full-scale production of U.S. currency began at Sachensenhausen. First, the $100 gold certificate was printed, followed by the $50 and $20 dollar silver certificates. Although specific information on the amount of U.S. bills counterfeited by “Bernhard” from 1943 has never been released by the U.S. Treasury Department, a conservative estimate based on German documents and other information puts the overall total at $50 million.

As the Soviet Army approached Berlin in 1945, the unit at Sachsenhausen was moved to Mauthausen in the Ostmark on March 12, 1945 and again on March 21, to Redl-Zipf, north of Salzburg.

Finally, on April 24, Krüger ordered the prisoners transferred to Ebensee where they were liberated by the Americans. Krüger had kept his word to the inmates and at one point, in November of 1943, had secured official permission from Berlin to award twelve War Service Medals and six War Service Crosses, 2nd Class without Swords, to more deserving counterfeiters. They were permitted to wear their decorations inside the camp area and since most of them were Jewish, the attitude of the camp commandant can only be imagined.

The liberated “Bernhard” people were free to follow whatever course they chose. There is reason to believe that a number of them continued their artistic endeavors but under different management.

Soviet and American intelligence agencies were extremely eager to locate Bernhard Krüger. Their interest had to do with American dollars.

As retreating SS units threw huge sums of counterfeit pounds into Austrian lakes and streams, the acres of floating and waterlogged notes put an effective end to the usefulness of the once-mighty British pound. It is interesting to note that not a single American bill has ever been identified as a counterfeit of the Sachsenhausen project.

The Soviets and Americans were eager to locate not only the finished U.S. bills but the plates and paper as well. Since the “Bernhard” people and their baggage fell into American hands, the Soviets ran a poor second in the race. They only managed to locate some of the workers but none of their products. Neither the plates, paper, nor German documentation relating to the counterfeiting of American money ever officially surfaced. It is noted that large sums of dollars suddenly appeared in the Mid-East as funding for various U.S. intelligence operations in Lebanon controlled by Haj Amin-El Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem. Many of the funds were in $100 dollar gold certificates.

The Germans were not the only country to liberally finance their intelligence agencies and assist their countrymen in building personal fortunes through the use of counterfeit currency. The basic difference is that the Germans did not manufacture their own currency.

This form of economic warfare has certainly not ceased with the downfall of the Third Reich. The Iranian government has, by all serious accounts, been forging nearly perfect U.S. $100 bills which have circulated throughout the world and caused the U.S. Treasury Department to issue newly formatted bills. The U.S. Treasury Department will eventually recall all outstanding older bills and carefully inspect them before making exchanges.

In 1984, over 2,000 extremely rare, nearly mint condition, ancient Greek silver coins, dating from 465 BC, were unearthed near Elmali in Turkey. The hoard of coins, in violation of Turkish law, quickly circulated into the international marketplace, and many coins sold for huge sums of money. Discovering that their national treasures had apparently been looted, the irate Turkish government forced the return of most of the horde through legal and diplomatic means. The British Museum inspected some of the rarer specimens and concluded that the entire collection had been recently manufactured at the Bulgarian State Mint in Sofia by that country’s intelligence agency to raise much-needed Western currency. Following this revelation, the value of rare Greek coins toppled as quickly as the British pound had fallen in 1945.

The irony of the “Bernhard” operation is that their 5 pound counterfeits are now worth more on the collector’s market than they were during the war.

 

What did the midterms reveal? A divided America

The US is split into two separate nations, with two different election verdicts – and positive new for Trump supporters

November 12, 2018

by Henry Olsen

The Guardian

Last week’s midterms look like a strong Democratic victory. Democrats have gained seven governorships, a minimum of 32 House seats (and more likely closer to 40), and hundreds of state legislative seats. To all appearances, they look to have swept the nation and put Donald Trump and the Republicans on the ropes.

But that’s assuming there was a nation to sweep. In fact, a close look at the returns show that the US is really two very separate nations, with two very different election verdicts to be read. On that view, the election actually contains very positive news for Trump’s re-election hopes.

The first nation, the US’s large cities and suburbs, was Democratic before last week and became much more Democratic on Tuesday. A whopping 30 of the Democrats’ 32 current House pickups came in seats dominated by large cities or their suburbs. The second, the US’s smaller cities and towns and countryside, was Republican before last week and remained Republican on Tuesday. Both seats picked up by House Republicans, Minnesota’s first and eighth districts, are dominated by the small cities of Rochester and Duluth and rural territory beyond.

This split decision can be seen in the county-level returns in the contested Senate races. In each, we can compare the Democratic percentage in 2012 with that in 2018. In Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota – all states where incumbent Democrats were defeated – the state’s major cities and suburbs backed the Democrat by enough compared with six years earlier to allow the incumbent to win. But the story was different in the small city and rural counties. There the Democrats’ vote share collapsed, giving the incumbents’ Republican challengers more than enough votes to win comfortably.

This pattern was repeated in states that Democrats won, too. In Montana, incumbent Democrat Jon Tester won by 3%, slightly less than his 4% win in 2012. He improved his margin in four large counties that cast nearly 40% of the vote – Missoula, Gallatin, Flathead, and Lewis and Clark – by between 3% and 13%. His margin dropped by only 5% in the three other large counties – Yellowstone, Cascade, and Ravalli – that cast another quarter of the total vote. He nearly lost, however, because his margin plummeted in the state’s smaller counties that the other third of the vote by as much as 15%.

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema’s apparent victory in Arizona is entirely due to her performance in the state’s primary metro area, Phoenix. Sinema is currently ahead in Phoenix’s Maricopa County, the first Democrat to carry that county in a contested Senate or gubernatorial race in decades. She is also running about as well as the Democratic Senate candidate six years ago, Richard Carmona, in the next two largest counties. Her Republican opponent, Martha McSally, is significantly outpacing the 2012 margins of the man she is trying to replace, Jeff Flake, in the more rural counties of Mojave, Cochise, and Pinal. But unlike her peers in the Midwest, Arizona is dominated by its cities rather than the countryside.

This divide extends to the old rust belt industrial counties as well. Indiana’s Joe Donnelly carried four traditionally Democratic counties in the state’s north-west by large margins in 2012. He carried them again in 2018, but by 62,100 fewer votes than six years earlier. The same thing happened in neighboring Ohio. Democrat Sherrod Brown won his re-election by a much narrower than the forecast 6%. One reason for that was dramatically smaller margins than he had received six years ago in the depressed rust belt counties in the state’s north-east, where his victory margins decline by between 8% and 16%. In both cases, these regions were places where Donald Trump surged in 2016.

These divides provide an overlooked silver lining for Trump. The large majority of Trump Democrats voted for their hero’s new party even though he was not on the ballot. One can reasonably presume they will come out in greater numbers and provide larger margins for the man himself two years hence. That suggests that Trump will again be competitive in the Midwestern purple states of Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and perhaps even Pennsylvania where two weak candidates this cycle depressed GOP vote share. Should Trump be able to improve only a small amount on his party’s 2018 results in these states, he will again prevail in the Electoral College even as he again loses the popular vote.

The Democrats’ suburban swing, meanwhile, won’t likely move any state in their direction. They fell short in Georgia, Texas, and Florida and only narrowly prevailed in Arizona. As with the Midwest, only the tiniest of improvements over the GOP performance in these states will permit Trump to prevail.

Benjamin Disraeli, the great 19th century British prime minister, spoke of his country’s divide in his novel, Sybil. He spoke of a country divided between rich and poor, but otherwise his description fits America’s class and urban divides. Like in Disraeli’s Britain, we have: “Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets.”

The midterms show that our two nations have even less in common with one another than they did in 2016. Until that divide is breached, by Trump or his Democratic opponent, our elections will continue to deliver split verdicts and do more to separate than unite Americans.

  • Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and he studies and provides commentary on American politics

 

We have some news … (from the Guardian)

… three years ago, we knew we had to try to make The Guardian sustainable by deepening our relationship with our readers. The revenues from our newspaper had diminished and the technologies that connected us with a global audience had moved advertising money away from news organisations. We knew we needed to find a way to keep our journalism open and accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live or what they can afford.

And so, we have an update for you on some good news. Thanks to all the readers who have supported our independent, investigative journalism through contributions, membership or subscriptions, we are starting to overcome the urgent financial situation we were faced with. Today we have been supported by more than a million readers around the world. Our future is starting to look brighter. But we have to maintain and build on that level of support for every year to come, which means we still need to ask for your help.

Ongoing financial support from our readers means we can continue pursuing difficult stories in the challenging times we are living through, when factual reporting has never been more critical. The Guardian is editorially independent – our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. This is important because it enables us to challenge the powerful and hold them to account. With your support, we can continue bringing The Guardian’s independent journalism to the world.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, enjoys it, helps to support it, our future would be so much more secure. For as little as $1, you can support The Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

 

Illusion of democracy: If US elections could change anything they wouldn’t be held

November 12, 2018

by Neil Clark

RT

Last week’s US midterm elections received saturated media coverage. Why? The reality is that elections in the US don’t change much, if anything, because America has a regime and is not a genuine democracy.

The US midterms – and you’d have to have been locked in a wardrobe all week to have avoided hearing about them – reminded me of a great song by the 1980s indie-rock band The Smiths. No, not ‘This Charming Man’, in reference to Donald Trump, but ‘What Difference Does it Make?’ Remember that one? It should be played on a loop every time America goes to vote.

Because every couple of years, whenever ‘big’ elections come along in the US of A, we are treated to the same spectacle. Ordinarily intelligent people making fools of themselves in the belief that the elections are ‘tremendously important’. When will they ever learn that the best thing to do on a US election night is to go to bed early with a nice hot water bottle and a good book.

Let’s take presidential contests first.

In 1992, Bill Clinton was hailed as ‘the president for the people’ after 12 years of Republicans in the White House. Bill deregulated the financial sector and Wall Street enjoyed a bonanza. In 2000 George W. Bush was billed as ‘the president who wouldn’t meddle’, after Clinton had bombed Yugoslavia, Iraq and Sudan. Bush then invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. His successor Barack Obama was going to stop the wars – and was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He bombed Libya and helped set fire to Syria. The ‘reset’ in relations with Russia ended with Russia being sanctioned. The closure of Guantanamo Bay never happened. See the pattern? Then in 2016 Donald Trump was going to be ‘the president who drained the swamp’. But he’s appointed swamp dwellers to his inner circle. He was also going to stop bombing countries and rebuild relations with Russia. Well, he’s carried on bombing and US-Russian relations are at an all-time low. The president who was going to tell the neocons where to go in no uncertain terms has told them ‘Join my team, partners – let’s do Iran!’

I was one of those who, very naively, believed two years ago that Trump would be preferable to Hillary Clinton, due to her record of warmongering. The sad truth is that it made no difference. On the campaign trail Trump repeatedly referred to his opponent as ‘Crooked Hillary’ and promised that if he won, Clinton would be investigated by a special prosecutor. However, on getting elected he said “I don’t want to hurt them (the Clintons). They’re good people.” He’s made fresh calls since then, but can anyone see Clinton ever being prosecuted?

It’s hard to escape the conclusion it was all a charade, like everything else connected with American politics. The rich people who attack each other in public for the benefit of the voters all know each other and their families are all friends. They attend the same weddings.

English writer G.K. Chesterton got it right when he said: “When the Founding Fathers talked about democracy they did indeed mean, doubtless, the government of the people, by the people, for the people. But they meant the government of the people they knew, by the people they knew, for the people they knew.”

The midterms again saw people invest enormous emotional energy on trying to ‘stop Trump’ – as if he was an aberration – instead of being just a typical US President (albeit with different hair coloring), increasing profits for Wall Street and threatening other countries who don’t pay Danegeld to the Empire. Yes, we do need to stop Trump, but we can only do that if we understand that The Donald is not the root cause of the problem. The utterly corrupt American political system is.

The Democrats, the other, slightly more ‘liberal’ half of the ‘Permanent War Party’, are an integral part of that system. They were hailed last week as ‘saviours of democracy’ for capturing the House. But on the issues that really matter there’ll be no major change.

Because if things could be changed in a significant way via elections in the US then they simply would not be held. Elections serve a valuable function in that they give the public the illusion of democracy. They’re a safety valve which stop people marching on Capitol Hill with torches and pitchforks, crying ‘Enough is Enough!’ They keep people compliant.

Political power lies not with the voters, but with the powerful lobby groups who ‘buy’ elected representatives, who then act in their interests, and not the people’s. It’s not those we see at election time who really call the shots, but those we don’t. Those hidden behind the curtain. Those who write the cheques.

That’s why whoever wins we’ll never get any meaningful gun control, no matter how many mass shootings take place. It’s why neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will introduce an American National Health Service. Why the power of Wall Street and finance capital won’t be curbed. And why in foreign policy, presidents and Congress will always do the bidding of the military-industrial complex and Israel. It is absolutely revealing that the US’ only real ‘breach’ with Israel in recent decades came in December 2016, when the Obama administration did not veto an anti-settlements UN resolution. Obama had just literally days left in the White House.

Identity politics enhances the ‘democratic’ charade. We’re all meant to be terribly excited by the fact that a record number of women have been elected to the House.

Of course sexual equality is a good thing, but the crucial question is: Will these new women in Congress mean the US following different policies? Don’t forget two of the worst and most pro-war US Secretaries of State in recent years have been women, namely Madeline Albright and Hillary Clinton.

The color of legislators and their sexual orientation is another great diversion. What did America’s first black president do for Afro-Americans?

What did Obama do for Africa – save bomb Libya, the country with the highest Human Development Index in the whole of the continent, back to the Stone Age.

When I see claims that ‘#First indicates change is coming’, I am automatically reminded of that classic line from the Italian historical novel Il Gattopardo (The Leopard): “Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga come è, bisogna che tutto cambi,” meaning “if we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

Some are trying hard to convince us that the Democrats have ‘moved to the left’. Don’t believe it. Licensed radicals are needed to keep genuine radicals onboard. Those behind the curtain know that. But they’ll never let the licensed radicals succeed.

By playing the Tweedledum/Tweedledee ‘Republicans are better than Democrats/Democrats are better than Republicans’ game we are helping to maintain the status quo. Only when we break out of the existing Establishment-constructed paradigm and acknowledge that the US has a de facto one-party system, will there be any prospect of moving forward towards real democracy. To make that happen we need to keep singing The Smiths, every first Tuesday in every second November. So, what difference does it make? It makes none.

 

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