Ken Rogoff Warns Economic Sanctions Don’t Work; Fears Violence, Not Bargaining

Authored by Ken Rogoff, originally posted at Project Syndicate,
With Western economic sanctions against Russia, Iran, and Cuba in the news, it is a good time to take stock of the debate on just how well such measures work. The short answer is that economic sanctions usually have only modest effects, even if they can be an essential means of demonstrating moral resolve. If economic sanctions are to play an increasingly important role in twenty-first-century statecraft, it might be worth reflecting on how they have worked in the past.
As Gary Hufbauer and Jeffrey Schott note in their classic book on the topic, the history of economic sanctions goes back at least to 432 BC, when the Greek statesman and general Pericles issued the so-called ‘Megarian decree’ in response to the abduction of three Aspasian women. In modern times, the United States has employed economic sanctions in pursuit of diverse goals, from the Carter administration’s efforts in the 1970s to promote human rights, to attempts to impede nuclear proliferation in the 1980s.
During the Cold War, the US also employed economic sanctions to destabilize unfriendly governments, especially in Latin America, though they do not appear to have played more than a minor role, even where regime change eventually occurred. Economic sanctions on Serbia in the early 1990s did not deter the invasion of Bosnia. Certainly, the US government’s symbolic punishment of chess legend Bobby Fischer (for playing a match in Belgrade that violated sanctions) provided no relief for the besieged city of Sarajevo.
The old Soviet Union played the sanctions game as well – for example, against China, Albania, and Yugoslavia. It, too, did not have much success, except perhaps in the case of Finland, which ultimately bent its policies to gain relief from sanctions imposed in 1958.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 01/03/2015.

Starting on January 1, 2015, US companies with 100 or more workers must provide Obamacare insurance to at least 70% of their employees or pay heavy fines. To avoid closing their businesses, emplo…

Employers with 50 to 99 workers must comply starting in 2016, at which point all affected employers must insure at least 95% of their employees. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt – for now. To avoid closing their businesses, employers have stopped hiring and cut workers’ hours to avoid the unsustainable costs.
Obamacare’s insurance mandate on employers will quietly take effect for large companies Thursday, one year later than planned after a pair of unilateral delays fed into Republican claims the White House plays fast and loose with the implementation of its signature law.
Starting in 2015, companies with 100 or more workers have to provide affordable insurance to at least 70 percent of their employees or pay heavy fines under the ‘employer mandate,’ which was supposed to take effect at the start of this year, alongside the health care law’s other key provisions.
Employers with 50-100 workers will have to comply starting in 2016, at which point all affected employers must insure at least 95 percent of their employees.
Employers with fewer than 50 workers are exempt from the mandate.
The first days of implementation should pass without much notice.
‘For most large companies, it’s not going to be a major problem,’ said Caroline Pearson, a vice president at Avalere Health, a Washington-based consultancy, who noted most companies with more than 100 workers offer compliant insurance.

This post was published at Investment WatchBlog on January 3rd, 2015.

Worldwide Antimicrobial Resistance and Glyphosate

Antibacterial resistance. You’ve heard of it. Everyone has. Hospitals are rife with it and it makes treating diseases with antibiotics next to impossible if resistance has been acquired.
…what occurs more often than mutation-derived resistance is the spread of antibiotic resistance through horizontal gene transfer, which occurs when genetic material from bacteria, such as plasmids, transposons, or DNA are passed from cell to cell. Through this mechanism, bacteria can even develop multi-drug resistance. Even when a singular antibiotic is used for more than ten days, multidrug resistance develops to structurally unrelated drugs as the resistant bacteria recruit resistance genes from other bacteria in the environment, encouraging the development of ‘super-bugs.’
There is also another term being bandied about: Antimicrobial resistance. So, what is the difference?
The term ‘antimicrobials’ include all agents that act against all types of microorganisms – bacteria (antibacterial), viruses (antiviral), fungi (antifungal) and protozoa (antiprotozoal).
The term ‘antibacterials,’ being the largest and most widely known and studied class of antimicrobials
In a nutshell, a bacterium is in a class of microbes. If something is bacterial, then it is microbial, but not necessarily the other way around.

This post was published at FarmWars on Jan. 2, 2014.

White Paper: the China-Russia Double Helix

Today I sharing with you a document which I personally consider as absolutely crucial: an in-depth analysis of the China-Russia Strategic Alliance (RCSA) written by somebody who looks at it from the "Chinese side".   I want to tell you a few words about how this document came into existence.
I was talking with Larchmonter 445 about the development in Russia when I realized that a lot of his arguments centered around the relationship between China and Russia and when I probed him further I realized that he knew a lot about it.  Not only that, but he had come to the exact same conclusions about the RCSA as I had, but he came to the from the other, Chinese, side.  That's when I asked him to write a short analysis of this topics, and Larchmonter 445 agreed.  Except that is as a perfectionist workaholic and his short analysis ended up 25 pages long and with 39 footnotes!  As a result, what I can now share with you is a comprehensive survey of all the officially known components of the RCSA (you can bet that there are many more which I kept secret!).
I find Larchmonter 445's image of a double helix particularly appropriate because what we are witnessing here is the birth of a new geopolitical "life form" so to speak, an informal alliance of two countries which goes much deeper than most regular alliances do: what we are seeing is the mutual agreement to establish a full-spectrum geostrategic symbiosis between two civilizational realms as both Russia and China are what used to be called 'empires' in the past but which today are what I call "civilizational realms": multi-ethnic, multi-national and multi-religious ex-empires whose influence extends beyond their current national borders and whose international strategic "weight" makes far more akin to continents then to countries.
Make no mistake, what we are seeing is something unprecedented in history and it is much more than just an "alliance".  After all, an alliance can easily be broken and country A can decide to switch from an alliance with country B to an alliance with country C.  In the case of the RCSA what we are seeing is something much more akin to the birth of Siamese twins: in a geopolitical tectonic shift, Russia and China have decided to be shared not just "at the hip", but with many "vital organs and systems" including energy and defense, of course, but also their economies and long term development policies.  Each symbiont will keep its own head and brain, but they will share "torsos".
I would argue that this is by far the single most important political development since the end of WWII and probably the most important one in this century: it is hard to overstate the implications of what this means and Obama's famous "pivot" to Asia is completely dwarfed and, really, rendered utterly irrelevant by this new reality: typically, while the Obama roared and barked, Putin and Xi Jinping quietly, but profoundly, changed the planetary equilibrium.  I wonder if somebody will dare tell the White House.

This post was published at Vineyard Saker

Obama’s Hawaiian Vacation Is Over: Here Are The Next Steps

It is with great regret we inform our readers that, following 14 consecutive days of updates – by the Associated Press no less – and others…
“First Family dining out with friends at Nobu in Waikiki, known for its new-style Japanese cuisine. Their vacation comes to an end on Sat.”. (by Mark Knoller via Tweeter)
… regarding Barack Obama’s daily activities during his Hawaiian vacation including his exercise, swimming, executive order and golfing regiment, today is the last such day of can’t miss headlines surrounding the Glorious Free World Leader’s time away from reading from the TOTUS. So what to expect next? Here is the answer via the WSJ:
After returning to Washington on Sunday from a two-week vacation in Hawaii, President Barack Obama will spend the days before his Jan. 20 State of the Union address trying to sell Americans on his coming economic policy proposals.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 01/03/2015.

Mike Whitney: Irreversible Decline? — Did the U.S. and the Saudis Conspire to Push Down Oil Prices?

Are falling oil prices part of a US-Saudi plan to inflict economic damage on Russia, Iran and Venezuela?
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro seems to think so. In a recent interview that appeared in Reuters, Maduro said he thought the United States and Saudi Arabia wanted to drive down oil prices “to harm Russia.”
Bolivian President Evo Morales agrees with Maduro and told journalists at RT that: “The reduction in oil prices was provoked by the US as an attack on the economies of Venezuela and Russia. In the face of such economic and political attacks, the nations must be united.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the same thing,with a slightly different twist: “The main reason for (the oil price plunge) is a political conspiracy by certain countries against the interests of the region and the Islamic world … Iran and people of the region will not forget such … treachery against the interests of the Muslim world.”
U.S.-Saudi “treachery”? Is that what’s really driving down oil prices?

This post was published at Counterpunch

2015 Will Be All About Iran, China And Russia

Fasten your seatbelts; 2015 will be a whirlwind pitting China, Russia and Iran against what I have described as the Empire of Chaos.
So yes – it will be all about further moves towards the integration of Eurasia as the US is progressively squeezed out of Eurasia. We will see a complex geostrategic interplay progressively undermining the hegemony of the US dollar as a reserve currency and, most of all, the petrodollar.
For all the immense challenges the Chinese face, all over Beijing it’s easy to detect unmistakable signs of a self-assured, self-confident, fully emerged commercial superpower. President Xi Jinping and the current leadership will keep investing heavily in the urbanization drive and the fight against corruption, including at the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Internationally, the Chinese will accelerate their overwhelming push for new ‘Silk Roads’ – both overland and maritime – which will underpin the long-term Chinese master strategy of unifying Eurasia with trade and commerce.
Global oil prices are bound to remain low. All bets are off on whether a nuclear deal will be reached by this summer between Iran and the P5 1. If sanctions (actually economic war) against Iran remain and continue to seriously hurt its economy, Tehran’s reaction will be firm, and will include even more integration with Asia, not the West.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 01/02/2015.

NSA Parody Website More Real than the Real NSA Website

Although it looks pretty official, it didn’t take too long for me to realize it was a fake… only because – unlike our government that uses everything from weak semantic arguments to usurp the Constitution to obfuscation and outright lies to continue our already heavily centralized agencies on their path to total fascist oligarchy at every turn – the parody site was by contrast so honest.
‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate: Defending our nation. Securing the citizens,’ the page begins.
The site explains:
What if we could build a national data warehouse containing information about every person in the United States? Thanks to secret interpretations of the PATRIOT ACT, top-secret Fourth Amendment exceptions allowed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and broad cooperation at the local, state, and federal level, we can!
It even comes complete with lovely graphics showing how our government is illegally sucking up all of our data into a big brother vacuum:

The parody also includes a list of all data which is currently being (or will soon be) collected by the NSA, you know, ‘in the spirit of openness and transparency’:

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on January 2nd, 2015.

Yesssss! Maybe There Is Karma…

In the words of good friend of mine who spent time on Capitol Hill as a Congressional aide: ‘Harry Reid is possibly one of the most corrupt politicians of this era…’
‘Reid broke several ribs and bones in his face when a piece of exercise equipment broke and he fell’ LINK
I guess the best we can hope for is that he suffers some kind of serious infection… We know for damn sure he received a lot better care than he would have had been forced to sign up for the Obamacare crap he fully supported but was allowed to side-step.

This post was published at Investment Research Dynamics on January 3, 2015.

Land of the Spied On? Army Surveillance Blimps Launching over MD as 30,000 Cameras Watch D.C. Schools

America is the ‘land of the free, home of the brave’ in name only.
The majority of us who have long ago realized that ignorance is not bliss have known this for quite a while now. In reality, we’re living in an increasingly sophisticated electronic concentration camp the likes of which would make George Orwell spin in his grave fast enough to cause spontaneous combustion.
Some have suggested America is now ‘the most surveilled society in human history,’ and on what possible basis could anyone disagree?
Surveillance devices are everywhere – from the cell phones in our hands, to the cameras positioned on our street corners, to the satellites floating around our planet in space. In some states, we’re expected to give all ten of our fingerprints for what we are told is the state-regulated ‘privilege’ of driving, and more and more states will be moving toward this model out of what officials will say is security necessity in the 21st century.
Our police are using everything from drones and license plate readers to pre-crime algorithms to assign us a ‘threat score’ based on all of our data (including our purchases and social media posts) before an officer even lays eyes on someone. Utility companies are installing smart meters by the hundreds of millions across the nation, so that eventually every time we use even the smallest bit of energy inside the supposed ‘privacy’ of our own homes, someone somewhere will be analyzing our data in real time.
The list goes on and on. A member of the EU parliament openly accused Obama’s administration of using ‘American-style Stasi methods,’ to no real disagreement. Our government is now running a top secret three-billion-dollar surveillance hub out of the Utah desert that Fox News reported, ‘could hold as many as 1.25 million 4-terabyte hard drives, built into some 5,000 servers to store the trillions upon trillions of ones and zeroes that make up your digital fingerprint.’
Oh goody! No wonder one of the Bilderberg Group’s big agenda points at last year’s meeting was, ‘Does privacy exist?’ (Of course, they already know the answer…)

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on January 2nd, 2015.

Scott Faber: ‘No one is seeking to ban GMO crops.’ W-h-a-t?

Scott Faber (twitter) testifies before Congress. Wobbly drum roll, sour cymbal crash.
Faber is the executive director of Just Label It (twitter), a group that wants mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs. He’s also the VP of Governmental Affairs for the powerful Environmental Working Group (twitter).
As the representative of all Americans who want labeling (really??), Faber recently testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, about the Pompeo Bill (‘The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014′ (HR4432)), which, if enacted into law, will put an end to mandatory GMO labeling everywhere in the US.
So what did Faber do? After finding 10 or 20 different ways to say the American people have a right to know what’s in their food, he figuratively went down on his knees and offered this sopping wet olive branch:
‘We do not oppose… genetically modified food ingredients. We think there are many promising applications of genetically modified food ingredients… I am optimistic that the promises that were made by the providers of this technology will ultimately be realized…that we will have traits that produce more nutritious food that will see significant yield…’ (see the 2h29m05s mark here)

This post was published at Jon Rappoport on Jan 2, 2015.

Murdoch, Scaife and CIA Propaganda

The Reagan administration pulled right-wing media executives Rupert Murdoch and Richard Mellon Scaife into a CIA-organized ‘perception management’ operation which aimed Cold War-style propaganda at the American people in the 1980s, according to declassified U. S. government records.
Although some records relating to Murdoch remain classified, several documents that have been released indicate that he and billionaire Scaife were considered sources of financial and other support for President Ronald Reagan’s hard-line Central American policies, including the CIA’s covert war in Nicaragua.
A driving force behind creation of Reagan’s extraordinary propaganda bureaucracy was CIA Director William Casey who dispatched one of the CIA’s top covert action specialists, Walter Raymond Jr., to the National Security Council to oversee the project. According to the documents, Murdoch was brought into the operation in 1983 – when he was still an Australian citizen and his media empire was much smaller than it is today.
Charles Wick, director of the U. S. Information Agency, arranged at least two face-to-face meetings between Murdoch and Reagan, the first on Jan. 18, 1983, when the administration was lining up private financing for its propaganda campaign, according to records at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California. That meeting also included lawyer and political operative Roy Cohn and his law partner Thomas Bolan.
The Oval Office meeting between Reagan and Murdoch came just five days after NSC Advisor William Clark noted in a Jan. 13, 1983 memo to Reagan the need for non-governmental money to advance the project. ‘We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding,’ Clark wrote, as cited in an unpublished draft chapter of the congressional Iran-Contra investigation.

This post was published at Lew Rockwell on January 2, 2015.

It IS Happening Here: ‘Permanent Gun Confiscation’ Ordered After Veteran Sought ‘Voluntary’ Treatment for Insomnia

For those who have always believed that it can’t happen here, think again, because it IS happening, and things are only going to get worse as data surveillance becomes a way of life.
Gun confiscation at the hands of medical records sharing is now officially a reality, with serious consequences for the individuals involved.
Now, under ObamaCare, the United States is on pace to swiftly become a snitch societythat would make East Germany and Soviet Russia blush.
One former Navy man and 30-year police force veteran is suing the relevant authorities in New York after four of his legally registered firearms were confiscated as a result of his seeking voluntary treatment for insomnia.
Despite the fact that he has no criminal record, was diagnosed with only ‘mild depression’ and his record explicitly noted that there was no concern for violence, the man was listed as a ‘mental defective.’ And thanks to New York’s ‘SAFE Act’ for Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, his weapons were seized by the local sheriff’s office after his records were shared and New York State Police made repeated requests for confiscation, as American Thinker reported:

This post was published at shtfplan on January 2nd, 2015.

Boehner on the Way Out?

John Boehner, the current Republican Speaker of the House, just may be thrown out. He wages war against the Tea Party and threw off every financial committee anyone who supported Ron Paul. This guy is serious bad news for he is old-world country-club style Republican who should have been hosting a game show – Let’s Make a Deal. He stands for nothing and if you made him dictator, he would not change anything in Washington. Boehner is from Ohio’s 8th congressional district. If Ohio keeps sending the obstructionist to Washington, they should pay everyone’s tax bills.
Currently more than 50% of the Republicans want him gone. He has to stand for election as Speaker and we could at least get some reform if he is kicked out in House elections.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on January 2, 2015.

CIA admits to being the source of UFO hysteria during Cold War: ‘It was us’

The CIA released an admission that it was responsible for the majority of the reports of Unidentified Flying Objects during America’s Cold War with Russia. ‘It was us,’ the agency posted on social media, along with a declassified document from the 1990s.
The heavily-redacted 272-page report, entitled ‘The CIA and the U-2 Program, 1954-1974,’ describes various aspects of the CIA’s top secret U-2 program, which was used for high-altitude spy missions over Russian airspace…

This post was published at Police State USA on January 1, 2015.

Now Legal, Declassified Documents Reveal How CIA ‘Develop’ Covert Propaganda ‘Themes to Push ‘Hot Buttons’ of Americans’

This article was originally published at Washington’s Blog.
Editor’s Note: Do all too many things in the news cycle just make you mad? Irritate you? Make you swear? Push your buttons? Likely enough, it happens all the time, and there’s a good reason why.
We are continually lied to and deceived by the mass media and our government institutions. Professionally-crafted propaganda techniques to frame the story and, in many cases, to advance totally fabricated events, have been used to goad on the population and gain support for the State, even at the expense of what is best for the people.
Is not just that secretive agencies including the CIA are institutional liars, or that our elected representatives and selected officials operate as professional liars, there is a concerted effort to use ‘psyops’ or psychological warfare against the people – to use emotion and distorted facts to control the opinions, and therefore the public attitude of of what is permissible among the general population. This has always been used by those in power, but technology and better understanding of mass psychology has made this very targeted. With a lifting of the ban on propaganda in 2013 it has also become officially legal in the age of the ‘cyber war’ and ‘information operations’ in which military and other personal consider public perception as part of their battlefield.
As 1984 author George Orwell declared, ‘In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.’ Lies are the foundation of the establishment, and the officials of that system operate based on lies.

This post was published at shtfplan on January 2nd, 2015.

Shut Up Officer

Time to start picketing these so-called “memorial” funds and funerals if this sort of mindless fearmongering nonsense doesn’t stop.
“With the increasing number of ambush-style attacks against our officers, I am deeply concerned that a growing anti-government sentiment in America is influencing weak-minded individuals to launch violent assaults against the men and women working to enforce our laws and keep our nation safe,” said Craig Floyd, chairman and CEO of the memorial fund.
“Enough is enough,” he said in a statement. “We need to tone down the rhetoric and rally in support of law enforcement and against lawlessness.”
Bite me Craig.
Here are the facts. There were 126 on-duty deaths reported among all officers in 2014. There are approximately 1 million sworn officers between federal, state, county and local government entities (and another couple of million employees who are not sworn; that is, they are not officers and do not have arrest powers, such as dispatchers and clerks.)
This is a rate of fatality of 12.6 per 100,000. Sounds bad, right?
If you’re a logger, you have a fatality rate ten times that of a cop…

This post was published at Market-Ticker on January 2, 2015.

Income Inequality Author Turns Down Prestigious Award; Can you Solve a Problem When You Don’t Know the Cause?

French economist Thomas Piketty, author of the surprise best-selling Capital in the 21st Century turned down France’s top award, the Legion D’Honneur.
“I do not think it is the government’s role to decide who is honourable”, said Piketty.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman called it “the most important economics book of the year – and maybe of the decade”.
Krugman likely says that because he believes in Piketty’s socialist solutions to income inequality.
Thomas Piketty’s Capital Review
Piketty’s book is a massive 696-page slog. Fortunately, Harvard Business Review offers this synopsis: Piketty’s ‘Capital,’ in a Lot Less than 696 Pages.
The argument. Capital (which by Piketty’s definition is pretty much the same thing as wealth) has tended over time to grow faster than the overall economy. Income from capital is invariably much less evenly distributed than labor income. Together these amount to a powerful force for increasing inequality.
The method. Piketty does not offer his own theory of what drives economic growth, or what the optimal ratio of capital to labor income might be. In fact, a recurring theme of his book is that the theory-first approach of modern economics is a dead-end.
The evidence. The richest source of data for the book is France, thanks to the country’s long tradition of excellent record-keeping and an estate tax that was enacted a couple of years after the 1789 Revolution. What the French numbers show is that the ratio of capital to income remained steady at about seven-to-one for centuries, plummeted around the start of World War I, and began recovering after World War II.

This post was published at Global Economic Analysis on January 02, 2015.

Oliver Stone’s New Movie: “Ukraine: The CIA Coup” Coming To A Theater Near You

US filmmaker Oliver Stone is currently engaged in production of a documentary about Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country following the February coup last year. As Sputnik reports, Stone’s Facebook page notes, “[I] Interviewed Viktor Yanukovych 4 hours in Moscow for new English language documentary produced by Ukrainians. He [Yanukovych] was the legitimate President of Ukraine until he suddenly wasn’t on February 22 of this year.” The outspoken director then added, “the truth is not being aired in the West… many believe foreign elements were introduced by pro-Western factions with CIA fingerprints on it.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 01/02/2015.