US Increases Pressure on Iran and Hezbollah – To What End?

Elijah J. Magnier

The US has raised the level of tension with Iran without taking any concrete steps to pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal. The reason why Trump is expected to limit himself to verbal abuse and continue threatening hostile measures against Tehran without executing them is fundamentally to avoid a breach between the US and the EU.
The Nuclear deal is not bilateral, so the withdrawal of the US theoretically cannot scupper it. Nevertheless Iran is likely to consider the deal totally void if the US pulls out, with all that that implies. So the US continues its aggressive verbal campaigns against Iran, confusing the Europeans, who rightly fail to predict what decisions this US President is capable of adopting in the medium to long term.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 16, 2017.

Is Brexit dying on the vine along with England?

– The cradle of individual liberty became the cradle of the nanny State –
The deep sickness that infects England infects every large government in the world: once a people’s decision (like Brexit) is made, the leaders who carry out its provisions are the people who rule from the top, along with their sleazy, slime-ridden bureaucratic underlings.
These obstructive underlings, in a free and open market, would be selling sand in the desert, if they were lucky. They certainly wouldn’t be sitting in desks in government offices staring out of windows.
So now we have soft Brexit and hard Brexit, terms used to describe how the Brit vote to leave the European Union could be modified or adhered to. It’s a farce.
Here is soft Brexit: ‘Well, maybe England will keep all its trade connections with the EU, as before, while pretending to be independent; and oh yes, many waves of immigrants will still be let into the country, even though that was the key issue that swung voters to say LEAVE the EU (EU wants to erase all national borders and flood Europe with migrants)…’
In other words, England would say it’s left the EU, but in every measurable way it hasn’t.

This post was published at Jon Rappoport on October 16, 2017.

The Spanish Civil War, Revisited: Pepe Escobar Fears “Lethal Response” From Madrid

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,
Puigdemont’s political twist could invoke a lethal response from Madrid: suspension of Catalonia’s government
Call it theatre of the absurd – with a lethal subtext. Under pressure from all corners – even Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council – in his fateful date with destiny Carles Puigdemont, President of Catalonia, came up with some last-minute judo dialectics. He issued a non-denial denial Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Spain. What was declared was immediately suspended; the Republic of Catalonia lasted for six seconds.
The deft political gambit left Madrid predictably bewildered. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a.k.a. nano-Franco, issued an ultimatum; you have five days to say if you declared independence or not.
Independent of the answer, Madrid’s nuclear option remains on the cards; infamous article 155 of the Constitution, which calls for the suspension of Catalonia’s government and parliament from six to 12 months.
Yet that may come with a twist; a 155 in slow motion, parallel to the hazy offer of starting a process, in six months maximum, leading to Spanish constitutional reform. Madrid needs Catalonia for this reform to succeed. So, essentially, Puigdemont just needs to say ‘no’ for the train to start rolling.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 14, 2017.

Catalonia Crisis Far From Over Despite Market Surge

Hopes that Catalonia’s woes could be contained are fading.
On Tuesday night, for the briefest of moments, Catalonia’s government severed its ties with Spain. The region’s president, Carles Puigdemont, declared independence from Spain at around 7.40 p.m., Spanish time. Then, roughly ten seconds later, he put it all on hold, to the visible dismay of many of his fellow travelers.
The markets were pleased, interpreting the suspended declaration of independence as a retreat from the brink. The Spanish stock index IBEX 35 surged 1.5% on Wednesday, and is up 3.4% in five trading days, making up a big part of what it had lost over the prior four trading days. It remains 7% below its year-to-date high at the end of April.
For many other aspiring nation states, the key to independence lay in getting enough votes on the UN security council. But if Catalonia’s bid for self-determination ever made it to the UN, it probably wouldn’t garner enough support from the Security Council, for the simple reason that an independent Catalonia could encourage other separatist regions in the EU to launch similar bids.
So why did Puigdemont change the script at the very last minute? According to the Catalan government’s chief spokesperson, Jordi Turull, he did so in response to pressure from key international mediators that are insisting on dialogue between Barcelona and Madrid. ‘[They] said that if we did this they would be willing to act,’ said Turull, who refused to reveal the identity of said mediators.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Oct 11, 2017.

Nigel Farage: “This Is The Clearest Proof Yet That The Great Brexit Betrayal Is Under Way”

Authored by Nigel Farage, originally published in the Telegraph
Theresa May is now the EU’s Stepford Wife: subservient and submissive to their every whim
So there we have it. Theresa May does not believe in Brexit. In an interview with Iain Dale on LBC, she completely collapsed, proving incapable of answering the question of how would she vote if there was a referendum now. She simply would not answer if she would support Leave.
Everyone listening to that interview knows that the reality is that May is still a Remainer. I don’t believe it’s possible to carry out this great, historic change against a huge amount of international criticism unless you truly believe in it. Nor, as it happens, does May: in a speech on June 1 she herself said: ‘To deliver Brexit you have to believe it’. This is the clearest proof yet that the Great Brexit Betrayal is under way.
It is only the latest piece of evidence in a whole procession. On Monday we also found out that Boris Johnson – supposedly Brexit’s loudest cheerleader in the Cabinet – has bottled it. Last month the Foreign Secretary stated in print his demand that the UK must leave the wretched European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Day One of our exit from the EU in March 2019. But then folded like a cheap suit by backing to the hilt Theresa May’s House of Commons Brexit statement – a speech which was itself further confirmation of the great betrayal.
This came to light in her answer to the rapier-like question from Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, in which she said that the UK will still be bound by ECJ rulings during the Brexit transition period, Jacob looked somewhat deflated by this answer. She also would not deny that any new EU laws would be applicable to us, simply trying to ignore the question by saying it was ‘highly unlikely’ this this would occur.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 11, 2017.

Germany Moves Ahead with Nord Stream II

EU lawyers have sided with Germany and effectively told the European Commission their bid to regulate a new Russia-Germany gas pipeline known as- Nord Stream 2 (NS2) is seriously flawed. The now former German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder is working with the Russians to push this project forward. This clearly demonstrates that Germany has the upper-hand in Brussels.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Oct 11, 2017.

Iran and North Korea Demonstrate the Trouble With International Agreements

For over two decades, the American response to North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons has been to seek a diplomatic solution that would give the North Koreans an incentive to abandon their quest. The North Koreans agreed to suspend production of nuclear material, took the money and other incentives, and then proceeded to develop nuclear weapons anyway. This policy of diplomacy, concessions, and betrayal lasted through the administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, and has now been handed to the Donald Trump administration.
The story with Iran is somewhat similar. Iran, the US, the EU, China, and Russia negotiated a deal in which the Iranians agreed not to develop a nuclear weapon in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. It is unclear whether the Iranians have truly discontinued their nuclear program, but they assuredly have continued to develop missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons to targets.
The US claims that the development of these missiles constitutes a problem worthy of new sanctions; Iran counters that the missiles are not intended to carry nuclear weapons. Either way, Trump is on the verge of declaring that the Iranians are not complying with the agreement and imposing new sanctions and other measures.
A Contract’s Real Value
This is hardly unique to international relations. How often has each of us negotiated an agreement only to find that the other side interprets its meaning differently than we do? Sometimes there is genuine confusion; sometimes there is a deliberate attempt to gain an advantage. In international relations, sometimes the market conditions have changed, or sometimes the relative strength of the signatories has changed.
Whatever the reason, there are those who regard a signed contract as the beginning of the negotiating process and not the end. The outcome frequently rests less on the facts and more on how important the issue is to each side and how deep their pockets are. In business and in diplomacy, a contract’s value rests in the ability to enforce it.

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on OCTOBER 9, 2017.

Catalan ‘Independence’ – A Tool of Capital Against Labour

Dear Catalonians, what are these nation destroyers Qaeda lovers doing here?! Kick them out in order to protect your protest.. pic.twitter.com/skX8rXeROW
— Fares Shehabi (@ShehabiFares) October 4, 2017

Spain’s rich Catalan region has erupted in violence. After a much-disputed referendum on independence where less than 40 percent of the Spanish region’s inhabitants voted, Catalan’s local government has said it will declare independence this week. Many on the left support Catalan independence. In fact, they claim that those who oppose it are Francoists and fascists.
Communists understand fascism to be rule by the dictatorship of financial oligarchy and it is in such a context that one must view events in Spain in terms of the class alliances behind the independence movement. In order to see whether the Catalan independence movement represents the interests of labour or capital, we need to place Catalan nationalism in the context of capitalism’s global power configuration.
Eurotopia
In 1992 billionaire and EU activist Freddy Heineken designed a map of a federal Europe. The new map proposed dividing European states up into 75 regions or state-lets under the central control of a European federal government.
The idea came from economist and philosopher Leopold Kohr who taught at the London School of Economics. Kohr advocated a form of anarcho-capitalism. He believed that the smaller the polity, the more democratic its institutions. Kohr proposed a return to Europe’s medieval micro-states as the best way of creating a supranational European federation.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 4, 2017.

The Catalan Question and the Future of Europe

It is 5 AM in Lisbon, and I am sitting in an airport lounge with wifi, writing this week’s OTB on my iPad, clumsily. GaveKal has written a very candid analysis of the Catalonia vote/debacle, which was a hot topic at the conference where I was speaking – Spain is right next door. There were numerous past and current foreign ministers and other parliamentary leaders here, all very pro-EU, and they were aghast at Rajoy’s heavy-handed response.
Howewver, they all agreed that Catalonia could never be recognized as a new country in the EU, as this week’s OTB notes. Allowing Catalonian independence would fuel the flames of the numerous separatist movements all over Europe and disintegrate the movement to a closer EU – something that all here agreed would be a bad thing. Remember, Catalonia is much bigger than Greece – it’s 20% of the Spanish economy and Spain’s strongest region. Not a small deal. But I think the outcome will be a deal like the Basques got – more independence, and they get to keep more of their tax revenue. But the referendum was a great negotiating tactic. And Rajoy, with his clumsy police action, actually gave the separatists the upper hand.
I may at some point write a full letter on what I heard at this confernce. There were some very different viewpoints than you hear in the US (even from my close friend George Friedman). When you spend a great deal of time with Jean-Claude Trichet, former president of the ECB (who was extraordinarily polite and gracious) and hear him advocate for a stronger European NATO, and hear as well from far-left German Politician Joschka Fischer, who also espoused a hard line against Russia and China and a stronger NATO – almost sounding like Trump – you wonder what rabbit hole you have fallen down. Herr Minister Fischer was however not amused when I pointed out the similarity between his views and Trump’s. He swears he has no interest in ever being a politician again. But his talk, which I oddly found myself agreeing with much of, certainly sounded like a stump speech. My new friend may have protested his reluctance too vigorously. Oddly, the greatest disagreement I stumbled into was with a fellow American who is a friend of Hillary. Which made for a couple very lively dinner debates – which I hoped amused our hosts.

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on OCTOBER 4, 2017.

Escobar: The Future Of The EU Is At Stake In Catalonia

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,
Fascist Franco may have been dead for more than four decades, but Spain is still encumbered with his dictatorial corpse.
A new paradigm has been coined right inside the lofty European Union, self-described home/patronizing dispenser of human rights to lesser regions across the planet:
‘In the name of democracy, refrain from voting, or else.’ Call it democracy nano-Franco style.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

Erdogan Says Turkey No Longer Needs EU Membership, Son Slams European “Infidels”

Via KeepTalkingGreece.com,
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey no longer needs EU membership.
His son Bilal who plays an important role in Turkey’s politics went even further and described the Europeans as ‘gavur’ (indifels).
The comments come after 12-year-long accession talks with Brussels grind to a halt. ‘We will not be the side which gives up. To tell the truth, we don’t need EU membership anymore,’ Erdogan said. Turkey’s 12-year-long accession talks have ground to a halt, with the EU especially critical of Ankara’s crackdown following a failed coup last year. Tens of thousands of people including teachers and journalists have been detained.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

ExxonMobil Dethroned As World’s Top Energy Company

Gazprom dethroned ExxonMobil as the top energy company in the world, according to the 2017 S&P Global Platts Top 250 Global Energy Company Rankings. The rankings measure the financial performance of energy firms on four key metrics: asset worth, revenues, profits, and return on invested capital. The list only includes companies that have assets greater than $5.5 billion.
***
For 12 years, ExxonMobil was second to none. But that changed this year – Exxon was ejected from the top spot, and fell all the way to ninth place.
Gazprom’s surge reflects its state ownership, its captured market in Europe for its natural gas, as well as the fall of some of its peers. But the Russian gas giant’s ability to weather sanctions, regulatory threats from the EU, low oil and gas prices, and the rise of competition from new supplies of LNG is impressive.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 2, 2017.

The Odd Calm of EU Officials

Imagine the following scenario: Texas votes to secede from the United States, sparking bitter negotiations between Austin and Washington. A neo-Nazi party wins seats in the California legislature. Cook County, home to Chicago, threatens to break away from Illinois to form its own state, while government officials, worried about losing such an economically vibrant region, furiously try to prevent the election from taking place. The federal government, meanwhile, vows to suspend North Carolina’s voting rights in Congress simply because it didn’t approve of its behavior. It considers doing likewise for Arizona.
In such a scenario, one might rightly conclude that something is terribly wrong with the United States.
The thing is, this is pretty much what is happening in Europe. The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, and the negotiations over its departure are unpleasant, to put it mildly. Alternative for Germany, a party whose members have been compared to neo-Nazis, has won a surprising number of seats in Germany’s parliament. Catalonia, which is home to Barcelona, a large and economically vital city in Spain, held an independence referendum Oct. 1, something the government in Madrid has tried to stop. (Early reports indicate physical altercations between regional and national forces.) And the European Commission has threated to suspend Poland’s voting rights over actions taken by the Polish government, and has previously attacked the Hungarian government.

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on OCTOBER 2, 2017.

Spanish PM Rajoy Blasts Catalans’ “Mockery Of Democracy”, Says Spain “Responded With Firmness, Calm” Injuring 761 People

Update: With the injury count now at 761, according to El Mundo, here are the headlines from Rajoy’s address as he bagen: Catalonia’s unauthorized independence referendum “is a mockery of the very essence of democracy,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says.
Speaking from the Palace of Moncloa, his official residence in Madrid, Rajoy said “there has been no referendum of self-determination in Catalonia today”.
*RAJOY SAYS MAIN OBLIGATION IS TO FULFILL LAW *REFERENDUM ON SELF-DETERMINATION DIDN’T TAKE PLACE: RAJOY *CATALAN POLITICAL DEMANDS MUST BE MET THROUGH DIALOGUE: RAJOY *MAJORITY OF CATALANS HAVE SHOWN THEY RESPECT LAW: RAJOY *SPANISH GOVT RESPONDED WITH FIRMNESS, CALM: RAJOY *SPAIN HAS FULFILLED DUTY ACCORDING TO LAW: RAJOY *RAJOY THANKS SUPPORT OF EU, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY (which is now over!) *SPAIN SHOULD SEEK TO REBUILD COEXISTENCE: RAJOY *RAJOY THANKS POLICE FORCES FOR LOYALTY TO SPANISH STATE *RAJOY TO SUMMON PARLIAMENTARY PARTIES TO REFLECT ON FUTURE A total of 761 people were injured in violent clashes with police during Sunday’s disputed referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain, the Catalan regional government reports.
Four days after meeting with President Trump, who ‘hoped’ Spain would stay ‘united’ and that “secession would be foolish,” Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy is set to address the nation to explain why he sent his brutish military into Catalonia to stop people of his nation from exercising their free will to vote, injuring over 400 in the meantime.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 1, 2017.

Spain Reveals EU Does Not Stand For Human Rights & Making Revolution Inevitable

The Spanish state police violence have turned against the people showing that they are clearly still a fascist reign supported by troops. Riot officers have been firing rubber bullets at crowds protesting in a Barcelona street, sending people running for cover. Countless are injured. This demonstrates that Spain is not a place for investment and one should be very cautious about even buying a house in Spain after this display of ruthless authoritarianism. The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy has demonstrated he is a fascist and this is EXACTLY the type of person that caused the American Revolution.
We should all take pause and read just the first two paragraphs of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. The King sent a whole army to his house to kill him for writing these words. He was warned the army was coming and told to flee into the hills which he did. I fully disagree with Donald Trump for supporting Rajoy. That has been a total disgrace and Trump needs to study history.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Oct 1, 2017.

Rajoy Shuts Down Airspace & Orders Google to Stop Assisting Separatists

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy who is becoming a disgrace to the image of a free society and is illustrating what governments do in a Private Wave – they become authoritarian whenever they lose power. Rajoy has gone way too far showing the world that Spain is itself a country risk for there is no human right or standard of international law. The Catalan supporters are now occupying poll points to protect their right to vote, while Rajoy has now blocked airspace over Barcelona as he wants to prevent the referendum in Catalonia by all means.
Rajoy had his puppet Spanish Supreme Court order that Google had to delete an app that had been used by the operators of the referendum to communicate with each other. The corrupt Spanish court ruled that the ‘On Votar 1-Oct’ application on the Google Play smartphone app shop violated the ban imposed by Spain to conduct the referendum. Rajoy is totally out of control and is illustrating everything that is wrong about the EU and how it claims to stand for human right with the refugees but crushes anyone Europe who disagrees with the politic elite.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Sep 30, 2017.

Britain to be Subordinate to European High Court Even After 2019

Prime Minister Teresa May has walked into a hornet’s nest. By trying to drag out BREXIT into 2021 or beyond, the European Parliament has responded that it is set to demand that Britain will have to still be subject to all EU regulations and be subordinate to the European Court. That means trading in London will be seriously harmed by the anti-short selling policies of the EU and the ban on selling government bonds short.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Sep 29, 2017.