Reflections on a World Gone Mad and Pushing Back against Neocolonialist Thuggery

The following is an interview with ANDRE VLTCHEK by ALESSANDRO BIANCCHI, Chief Editor of the Italian political magazine Anti-Diplomatico:
ALESSANDRO BIANCHI: Self-determination of peoples and respect for the borders and sovereignty of a country. This is of the most complicated issue for international law. How can it be articulated for the case of Catalonia?
ANDRE VLTCHEK: Personally, I’m not very enthusiastic about smaller nations forming their own states, particularly those in the West, where they would, after gaining ‘independence’, remain in the alliances that are oppressing and plundering the entire world: like NATO or the European Union.
Clearly, the breaking of the great country of Yugoslavia into small pieces was a hostile, evil design by the West, and particularly of Germany and Austria. The dissolution of Czechoslovakia after the so-called ‘Velvet Revolution’ was a total idiocy.
But Catalonia (or Basque Country), if it became independent, would become one of the richest parts of Europe. I don’t think it would have any great positive or negative impact on the rest of the world. As an internationalist, I don’t really care if they are separate from Spain or not, or whether they are even richer than they already are, as I care much more about what is happening in places such as Afghanistan, Venezuela or North Korea.
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This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 14, 2017.

How Socialism Ruined Venezuela

In order to understand the disaster that is unfolding in Venezuela, we need to journey through the most recent century of our history and look at how our institutions have changed over time. What we will find is that Venezuela once enjoyed relatively high levels of economic freedom, although this occurred under dictatorial regimes.
But, when Venezuela finally embraced democracy, we began to kill economic freedom. This was not all at once, of course. It was a gradual process. But it happened at the expense of the welfare of millions of people.
And, ultimately, the lesson we learned is that socialism never, ever works, no matter what Paul Krugman, or Joseph Stiglitz, or guys in Spain like Pablo Iglesias say.
It was very common during the years we suffered under Hugo Chvez to hear these pundits and economists on TV saying that this time, socialism is being done right. This time, the Venezuelans figured it out.
They were, and are wrong.
On the other hand, there was a time when this country was quite prosperous and wealthy, and for a time Venezuela was even referred to as an ‘economic miracle’ in many books and articles.
However, during those years, out of the five presidents we had, four were dictators and generals of the army. Our civil and political rights were restricted. We didn’t have freedom of the press, for example; we didn’t have universal suffrage. But, while we lived under a dictatorship, we could at least enjoy high levels of economic freedom.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Oct 13, 2017.

MYANMAR: A Confrontation Between China and ‘Political’ Islam

You are probably aware that you are incompletely informed about what is brewing in Myanmar, and you probably haven’t heard about the military coalition that is preparing to attack that country. And yet, as Thierry Meyssan reveals here, these current events have been in preparation by Riyadh and Washington since 2013. Don’t take sides before you read this article and digest the information.
Pursuing its Grand Strategy of extending the theatre of war [1], the Pentagon is at the same time preparing the instrumentation of the Kurds in the Greater Middle East, a civil war in Venezuela and a war of attrition in the Philippines. However, these conflicts will have to wait for the implementation of a fourth theatre of operations – namely Burma, China’s next-door neighbour.
During the meeting of the UN Security Council on 28 September, the US ambassador and several of her allies accused Myanmar’s coalition government of genocide [2]. This loaded word – which, in European law, designates the massacre of a great number of people, but in US law applies to a method of killing, even if the criminal kills only one person – is enough for Washington to justify a war, with or without the backing of the Security Council, as we saw in Yugoslavia [3]. The meeting of the Security Council was held at the request of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
In order to make the facts correspond to their narrative, the United States, the United Kingdom and France, which had celebrated Aung San Suu Kyi and the Buddhist monks for their non-violent resistance to the dictatorship of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) during the Saffron revolution in 2007 [4], simply redefined the Burmese army, Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi [5], and all the Buddhists in the country [6] as ‘the bad guys’.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 8, 2017.

Venezuela Prepares For A War With The United States

The socialist nation of Venezuela has called on its military and asked them to prepare to go to war with the United States. Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro is bracing for war just days after the Trump administration banned Venezuelan officials from entering the nation.
‘We have been shamelessly threatened by the most criminal empire that ever existed and we have the obligation to prepare ourselves to guarantee peace,’ said Maduro, who wore a green uniform and a military hat as he spoke with his army top brass during a military exercise involving tanks and missiles. ‘We need to have rifles, missiles, and well-oiled tanks at the ready….to defend every inch of the territory if needs be. The future of humanity cannot be the world of illegal sanctions, of economic persecution,’ Maduro said.

This post was published at shtfplan on September 27th, 2017.

Maduro To Generals: Prepare For War With “Criminal Empire” US

After barely managing to scrape together the nearly $200 million needed to make a bond payment earlier this month (the country made the payment a week late), Embattled Venezeulan President Nicolas Maduro is refocusing his attention on the US, warning military leaders Tuesday to begin preparing for war with the US. Maduro’s call to arms comes after the US has repeatedly tightened sanctions against Maduro’s regime and the country’s state-run oil company; earlier this week, the Trump administration blocked Venezeulan officials from entering the US as part of the White House’s new ‘targeted’ travel ban. Trump has also repeatedly threatened a military intervention if Maduro doesn’t leave voluntarily.
Maduro is probably still brooding over Trump’s call for the world community to help restore ‘democracy and political freedoms’ to Venezeula by ousting Maduro (to which Maduro reportedly responded in typical leftist fashion by comparing Trump to Hitler). Trump made those remarks last week during his first address to the UN General Assembly. Earlier this year, Trump said he wouldn’t rule out a military option for dealing with Venezuela, adding that the US has an obligation to take of the country because it’s “our neighbor.”
Maduro said Trump’s threats were the reason for him ordering the military to be on alert.
“We have been shamelessly threatened by the most criminal empire that ever existed and we have the obligation to prepare ourselves to guarantee peace,” said Maduro, who wore a green uniform and a military hat as he spoke with his army top brass during a military exercise involving tanks and missiles. “We need to have rifles, missiles and well-oiled tanks at the ready….to defend every inch of the territory if needs be,” he added.
Over the summer, the US announced sanctions to prevent PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-owed oil company, from issuing new debt (sanctions that conveniently avoided existing bonds held by Goldman Sachs), while also preventing Citgo, the US subsidiary of PDVSA, from repatriating dividends. The US has also passed sanctions against many top Venezuelan officials. Tensions between Maduro and Trump started escalating shortly after Trump’s inauguration, when the US blacklisted Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami for drug trafficking.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 27, 2017.

Dark Humor From Socialist Hellhole Venezuela

Back in 2015, I mocked Venezuelan socialism because it led to shortages of just about every product. Including toilet paper.
But maybe that doesn’t matter. After all, if people don’t have anything to eat, they probably don’t have much need to visit the bathroom.
The Washington Post reports that farmers are producing less and less food because of government intervention, even though the nation is filled with hungry people.
Venezuela, whose economy operates on its own special plane of dysfunction. At a time of empty supermarkets and spreading hunger, the country’s farms are producing less and less, not more, making the caloric deficit even worse. Drive around the countryside outside the capital, Caracas, and there’s everything a farmer needs: fertile land, water, sunshine and gasoline at 4 cents a gallon, cheapest in the world. Yet somehow families here are just as scrawny-looking as the city-dwelling Venezuelans waiting in bread lines or picking through garbage for scraps.
…’Last year I had 200,000 hens,’ said Saulo Escobar, who runs a poultry and hog farm here in the state of Aragua, an hour outside Caracas. ‘Now I have 70,000.’ Several of his cavernous henhouses sit empty because, Escobar said, he can’t afford to buy more chicks or feed. Government price controls have made his business unprofitable…the country is facing a dietary calamity. With medicines scarce and malnutrition cases soaring, more than 11,000 babies died last year, sending the infant mortality rate up 30 percent, according to Venezuela’s Health Ministry.
… Child hunger in parts of Venezuela is a ‘humanitarian crisis,’ according to a new report by the Catholic relief organization Caritas, which found 11.4 percent of children under age 5 suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition… In a recent survey of 6,500 Venezuelan families by the country’s leading universities, three-quarters of adults said they lost weight in 2016 – an average of 19 pounds. This collective emaciation is referred to dryly here as ‘the Maduro diet,’ but it’s a level of hunger almost unheard-of… Venezuela’s disaster is man-made, economists point out – the result of farm nationalizations, currency distortions and a government takeover of food distribution. … The price controls have become a powerful disincentive in rural Venezuela. ‘There are no profits, so we produce at a loss,’ said one dairy farmer.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 27, 2017.

Venezuelan Women Turn To Prostitution To Afford Food

All twelve women who work at the ‘Show Malilo Night Club’ brothel in Arauca, Colombia are from Venezuela. As Venezuela’s socialist economic crisis continues, many Venezuelan women have turned to the sex trade in neighboring Colombia to eat and provide for their families.
‘We’ve got lots of teachers, some doctors, many professional women and one petroleum engineer,’ brothel owner Gabriel Snchez said of the women who sell their bodies for $25 an hour. ‘All of them showed up with their degrees in hand.’ Sanchez who is 60 years-old, started the brothel in Arauca, Colombia after he lost his job in a car repair shop in Venezuela thanks to the government’s socialist policies.
Snchez and others in the sex industry say Venezuelans dominate the trade now because they’re willing to work for less pay. ‘I would say 99 percent of the prostitutes in this town are Venezuelan,’ he said. Amid food shortages, hyperinflation, rampant poverty driven by socialism, and U. S. sanctions, waves of economic refugees have fled the country. Those with the means to do so have gone to places like Miami, Santiago, and Panama. But those who are less fortunate, have had to sink low to simply eat.
A recent study suggested as many as 350,000 Venezuelans had entered Colombia in the last six years. With jobs scarce in the country though, many young (and some not so young) women are turning to the world’s oldest profession to make ends meet. According to the Miami Herald, prostituting for money to buy basic necessities has become commonplace for Venezuelan women.

This post was published at shtfplan on September 25th, 2017.

Muslim Ban 3.0 blaimed on ICAO passport standards and ‘ID management’

Invoking memes that we’ve seen and warned about before under both Democratic and Republican administrations, President Trump has attributed the latest version 3.0 of his ‘Muslim ban’announced today (proclamation, FAQ, explainer) with the need to comply with ICAO and INTERPOL standards for passport issuance, ‘identity management’, and data sharing about travelers – as though US immigration and asylum policy should be determined by an international technical body for aviation operations, as though such a body has the authority to override US treaty obligations to freedom of movement and ‘open skies’, and as though predictive pre-crime profiling based on ‘biographic and biometric data’ can be substituted for judicial fact-finding as a basis for denial of the right to travel.
Today’s Presidential proclamation extends the blacklisting-by-citizenship of the Muslim Ban 1.0 and Muslim Ban 2.0 to include a few token non-Muslim North Koreans and Venezuelan government officials, in an unsuccessful attempt to render its underlying Islamophobia less blatant.
In practice, the Muslim Ban 3.0 is similar in effect and intent to its predecessors. But in response to court decisions that have voided many of the provisions of the previous ‘Muslim Ban’ Executive Orders, the White House is making a new set of excuses for travel restrictions on citizens of certain countries that begins by ascribing them to other countries’ failure to implement ‘recommendations’ of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and INTERPOL for passports, ID management, and globalized traveler surveillance (‘data sharing’):
Q: What was the basis for the requirements?
A. The… report submitted by the Secretary of Homeland Security… established baseline requirements for 1) identity management practices and 2) information sharing….. The requirements reflect a combination of long-standing U. S. Government goals, as well as standards established by international bodies such as… the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and INTERPOL They incorporate best practices derived from… identity management practices, law enforcement practices, and national security initiatives, such as the adoption of ePassports…..

This post was published at Papers Please on Sept 24, 2017.

Iran President Rouhani’s ‘Clear and Calm’ Rebuttal to Trump’s UN Neocon Rant

21st Century Wire says…
This week, US President Donald Trump did what every US President before has done – he read from his teleprompter script provided to him by his handlers.
As far as this year’s United Nations General Assembly was concerned, Trump’s address is now widely recognized as perhaps the worst such address made by a US leader to a world body. If one breath, he all but declared war on at least four countries; Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Syria.
While Trump vowed to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea, he branded Iran as a ‘rogue nation,’ while threatening Venezuela saying that the United States was ‘prepared to take further action’ against the embattled South American nation.
When Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani took the podium at the UN headquarters in New York City, his delivery was measured and sober – a stark difference to the reckless US leader’s suicidal neoconservative rant on Tuesday…
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has addressed the General Assembly in a short speech that primarily covered Iran’s foreign policy outlook, its specifically goals for peace and an unambiguous warning against anyone who seeks to undermine the 2013 JCPOA (aka the Iran nuclear deal).

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on SEPTEMBER 20, 2017.

Trump’s UN Speech

I listened to part of Trump’s UN speech this morning. I was so embarrassed for him and for my country that I had to turn it off.
I wonder if whoever wrote the deplorable speech intended to embarrass Trump and inadvertently embarrassed America as well, or whether the speechwriter(s) is so imbued with the neoconservative arrogance and hubris of our time that the speechwriter was simply blind to the extraordinary contradictions that stood out like sore thumbs all through the speech.
I am not going to describe all of them, just a couple of examples.
Trump went on at great length about how America respects the sovereignty of every country and the people’s will of every country, and how the US, despite its overwhelming military power, never tries to impose its will on any country. What was the administration thinking, or can it think? What about Yugoslavia/Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Crimea, Ukraine, Venezuela, Honduras, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, just to mention countries in the 21st century that have been subjected to US military attacks, government overthrows, and removals of political leaders who did not conform to US interests?

This post was published at Paul Craig Roberts on September 19, 2017.

More Thoughts on Trump’s UN Declaration of War Against Iran and North Korea

Trump’s UN speech makes it clear that Trump’s presidency, in terms of his campaign promise to remove Washington from the ‘policeman of the world’ role, exit the Middle East, and repair the damaged relations with Russia, is over. The CIA and the military/security complex are in full control of the US government. Trump has accepted his captivity and his assigned role as the enforcer of Washington’s hegemony over every other country. Washington uber alles is the only foreign policy that Washington pursues.
At the UN Trump actually threatened to wipe North Korea off of the face of the earth. He added to this threat threats against Venezuela (and Iran. He demonized these countries as ‘rogue states,’ but it is Washington that is playing that role. Washington has destroyed in whole or part eight countries in the young 21st century and has 3 to 5 more in its crosshairs.
One question is: why did not the UN audience shout Trump down, a man standing before them telling obvious lies? The answer, of course, is money. The US taxpayers pay roughly one-quarter of the UN’s annual budget, leaving the other 130+ countries a light load. Washington is succeeding in driving the world to Armageddon, because the world’s leaders prefer money to truth, to justice, to survival. The UN diplomats see in their cooperation with Washington the opportunity to make money by sharing in the West’s exploitation of their own countries.

This post was published at Paul Craig Roberts on September 19, 2017.

US Sanctions Against Venezuela Will Hurt Americans

After fifty years of imposing embargoes and other sanctions, the United States never managed to topple Cuba’s communist regime. After forty years of the same in Iran, the US met with similar amounts of success. Ongoing sanctions against North Korea have not toppled to regime there.
But, some people in Washington won’t let decades of failure dissuade them.
Last week, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced new legislation to bar Americans from importing oil products from Venezuela. The Washington Examiner reports:
[T]he Protecting Against Tyranny and Responsible Imports Act, or the PATRIA Act … would target Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after he stripped the country’s democratically elected national assembly of its power and authority. According to the bill, the proposed ban on imports would last until the assembly’s power is fully restored.
“The goal is to change the conduct, the character of the Venezuelan government under Maduro. I think the window is closing,” Coffman told the Washington Examiner. “They are dependent upon the export of oil really to fund their government, and without that, they can’t pay their security forces.”

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on September 19, 2017.

Thanks to Markets, Houston’s Disaster Isn’t as Bad as it Might Have Been

A political economy of natural disasters does not exactly exist yet. There are no classes in it that I know of. A dearth of writing attempts to define it. Yet, some of its lessons cry out following Hurricane Harvey’s wall banger into the coast of Texas.
One is the role of capital formation in minimizing death. At the time of this writing, 26 Harvey-related deaths have been confirmed in the United States. That’s 26 too many, but imagine what the death toll would have been if a similar storm slammed into comparable population centers in the Pacific Rim, Venezuela, or other outposts of the Third World. No doubt: They would be in the thousands, devastation even more widespread, and massive stores of foreign aid and charity mobilized.
What makes Houston different has to do with property rights institutions taking root and developing there over decades, making it a center for capital investment, because capital always flows to those areas where it is most secure. The continued increase in the quantity and quality of capital over time increases wealth, allowing its owners to afford better infrastructure and safety, relative to more benighted areas that attract less capital over time. To get an idea about the effects of decades of capital formation on Houston in 2017, consider the devastation that befell Galveston in 1900, when another Category 4 hurricane swept the Texas coast and claimed about 8,000 lives.
Another lesson is the emergent insecurity of the state when disasters strike. We saw this following Katrina, when government officials stopped convoys of aid – privately organized and funded – that were attempting to enter New Orleans just hours after Hurricane Katrina passed. Other efforts to deliver aid were squelched when a flotilla of ships were turned away at the Port of New Orleans. It was as though FEMA would not allow credit for aiding the suffering to go anywhere but itself.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on August 31, 2017.

President Assad and the Syrian Armed Forces have Shaken US Hegemony to the Core

In this article, Thierry Meyssan distinguishes the analysis and strategy of President Assad on the one hand and Maduro and Morales on the other. His aim is not to place these leaders in competition, but rather to call upon each of them to remove themselves from political catechisms and to pay due attention to the lessons learnt from the most recent wars.
In May 2017, Thierry Meyssan appeared on Russia Today and explained where the South American elites were going wrong in their fight against US imperialism. He insisted that there has been a sea-change in the way the US now wages armed conflicts and we now need to radically rethink how we should defend our homeland.
The operation to destabilize Venezuela continues. The first phase: violent gangs demonstrating against the government killed passers by, as if citizenship created no bonds between them. The second phase: the major food suppliers organized food shortages in the supermarkets. Then some members of the forces attacked several ministers, called for a rebellion and now have retreated into hiding.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on 21stcenturywire.com.

Warning From The U.S. Infrastructure Council, 9/11-Level Cyber Attack Imminent – Episode 1365b

The following video was published by X22Report on Aug 28, 2017
Ron Paul has been censored by social media. News reporters have now reported that Antifa is responsible for the violence. Trump will allow the police to have military weaponry. Congress signed a bill that violates the 4th Amendment. China invites more nations to join the BRICS system. Russia and China denounce the sanctions on Venezuela. North Korea fire missiles and the explode during take off. Ukraine release video showing North Koreans missile spies. Afghanistan ambassador to Russia says that Afghanistan would like to work with Russia and not the US. Syrian army pushes towards the Syrian border. The IS retreats from the Syrian Border. The US council warns that there is a 911 Cyber Attack headed our way and it is imminent.

China Slams White House For Latest Sanctions On “Close Ally” Venezuela

Shortly after the White House unveiled new sanctions last Friday against Venezuela while prohibiting U. S. trading in various bonds issued by the country (while exempting the notorious Goldman “Hunger Bonds”), Venezuela’s “close ally” China slammed the latest diplomatic crackdown and said on Monday that external interference and unilateral sanctions only make things “more complicated and will not help resolve problems.”
Asked by reporters about the new U. S. measure, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China’s position had consistently been to respect the sovereignty and independence of other countries and not to interfere in their internal affairs. “The present problem in Venezuela should be resolved by the Venezuelan government and people themselves.”
‘The experience of history shows that outside interference or unilateral sanctions will make the situation even more complicated and will not help resolve the actual problem,’ Hua told the daily news briefing.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 28, 2017.

US Sanctions May Play into China’s and Russia’s Hands

Venezuela is going to have one heck of an ‘Oil Fire Sale’
Venezuela is now on the brink of total collapse. As you’ve seen before here in Oil & Energy Investor, most recently only last weekend, national oil company PDVSA looms large in this unfolding crisis. The focus is the company’s ability to pay bond interest due in two months. Doing so is crucial. But as of this morning, that prospect is dwindling.
Along with it goes the ability of the central government to administer an entire population and avoid the country descending into outright civil war. And PDVSA is at the center of it all. Now, there’s talk of U. S. sanctions on PDVSA in particular. Here’s how that may play right into Russia’s and China’s hands…
This is Venezuela’s Oil Supermarket
PDVSA is the vehicle for about 90% of Venezuela’s trade revenue and has served as a primary outside purchaser of all manner of staple commodities essential for the literal survival of a domestic economy rapidly sliding into oblivion.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Kent Moors ‘ Aug 24, 2017.

Big Oil Nervous As Venezuela’s Maduro Seizes More Power

The pro-government constitutional assembly loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro seized the powers of the opposition-led congress today, in a move that necessarily has Big Oil nervous that Trump will make good on his economic sanctions threat.
Maduro’s bold political move on Friday means further intensifies the dramatic decline of democracythat led Trump last week to threaten economic sanctions that could remove Venezuelan oil from the U. S. refining market.
It also comes right after Trump indicated that a ‘military option’ was not off the table.
The government has accused opposition leaders of conspiring with Washington to overthrow Maduro.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 21, 2017.