Traders barely had time to enjoy the lull from the “Armageddon trade” – the rising possibility of a nuclear exchange between the US and North Korea, which peaked over the weekend when various US officials said a nuclear war is not imminent, echoed by a statement by N. Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA, before a new set of worries promptly took over, chief among them the ongoing slow motion train wreck in Donald Trump’s administration coupled with yesterday’s double terrorist attacks in Spain. Alas, “nuclear war” risk is about to come back with a vengeance because on Monday US and South Korea are scheduled to begin joint military exercises, a massive show of force which every time in the past has infuriated North Korea, sometimes triggering a show of force. Held every fall in South Korea, the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian war games are the world’s largest computerized command and control exercise. Some 30,000 U. S. soldiers and more than 50,000 South Korean troops usually take part, along with hundreds of thousands of first responders and civilians, some practicing for a potential chemical weapons attack. Scheduled long before the recent diplomatic fallout between Washington and Pyongyang, the U. S. and South Korean militaries will simulate warfare with North Korea from Aug. 21 to 31, well aware that North Korea could respond with another missile test, according to McClatchy. In light of this perceived provocation by North Korea, which will almost certainly prompt some reaction, Scott A. Snyder, a Korea specialist with the Council on Foreign Relations said ‘Over the course of the next two weeks I expect tensions to escalate. This is always a sensitive issue, but it is more hair-trigger as the North Koreans are very sensitive to the likely additional nuclear-capable aircraft flyovers.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 18, 2017.
Economist publisher Lynn Forrester de Rothschild was part of team Clinton #PodestaEmails36 #PodestaEmailspic.twitter.com/iYq9dHc7ST — WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 9, 2016
After a few months off from lambasting President Trump on the cover, Economist publisher, Lynn Forrester de Rothschild, has decided now is the time to go after him again… As a reminder, it was just February when The Economist turned the fearmongery amplifier to ’11’ in its latest op-ed describing the ‘insurgency in The White House’. Washington is in the grip of a revolution, The Economist begins… The bleak cadence of last month’s inauguration was still in the air when Donald Trump lobbed the first Molotov cocktail of policies and executive orders against the capital’s brilliant-white porticos. He has not stopped…
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 17, 2017.
California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Wednesday in an effort to obtain information about the source of a leak of Democratic officials’ emails. Rohrabacher told The Daily Caller in an exclusive interview Thursday that Assange is hoping to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he is currently in asylum, and that during the meeting they explored ‘what might be necessary to get him out.’ The congressman told TheDC that ‘if [Assange] is going to give us a big favor, he would obviously have to be pardoned to leave the Ecuadorian embassy.’ Assange took asylum in the embassy in August 2012 after facing sexual assault charges in Sweden. The Justice Department also reportedly wants to charge Assange for helping Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, leak thousands of classified documents. ‘He has information that will be of dramatic importance to the United States and the people of our country as well as to our government,’ Rohrabacher said. ‘Thus if he comes up with that, you know he’s going to expect something in return. He can’t even leave the embassy to get out to Washington to talk to anybody if he doesn’t have a pardon. Obviously there is an issue there that needs to be dealt with, but we haven’t come to any conclusion yet.’
While the focus on North Korea has been their improvement of missiles and a potential nuclear strike against the United States, many have missed an equally sinister weapon lingering in the rogue nation’s arsenal. And experts say that it’s time to take notice of it. Experts say there’s another weapon in Pyongyang’s arsenal the globe should keep a very close and watchful eye on. ‘Nuclear weapons are not the only threat,’ Kelsey Davenport, director of non-proliferation policy for the Arms Control Association told the McClatchy Washington Bureau. ‘North Korea could respond to a U. S. attack using chemical weapons. That would be devastating.’ And according to Fox News, Kim Jong Un’s military has been collecting large stockpiles of nerve agents, such as sarin and VX, which is the most dangerous and potent of all nerve gas agents. North Korea could always choose a chemical attack, rather than a nuclear one; one that could target U. S. military bases in the region and large cities like Seoul and Tokyo, according to a new report. Pyongyang denies that they have chemical agents, yet back in May, it was reported that the UN was helping North Korea obtain a patent for a banned nerve gas agent.
This post was published at shtfplan on August 17th, 2017.
Current mutual hostility threatens an explosive confrontation *** Improving the dangerously unstable U. S.-Russia relationship will be very difficult, but it is important for U. S. national security. Current mutual hostility threatens an explosive confrontation that could destroy American (and Russian) civilization as we know it. Short of that, Russia can do much more than it is today to damage U. S. interests and values without taking extreme risks. Accordingly, the United States should explore normalizing its interaction with Russia. Washington should do so without illusions, and from a position of strength. Today, America and Russia are adversaries with different approaches to key international issues, different systems of government and, in many respects, different values. Each confronts domestic obstacles to efforts to establish better relations. These obstacles are particularly challenging in the United States, where Congress, the mainstream media and much of the American public view Vladimir Putin’s Russia as a vicious enemy akin to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, if not Hitler’s Germany. Unlike China, Russia has only limited economic interaction with America – and therefore few Americans see a practical positive side to contacts with Russia. President Putin has much greater latitude in shaping his country’s foreign policy, including exploring a new beginning with Washington. Yet in a period of economic difficulty before Russia’s 2018 presidential election, Putin is loath to appear weak under foreign pressure.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 16, 2017.
With geopolitical uncertainties injecting more volatility into the markets, Financial Sense Newshour sat down with Todd Mariano at Renaissance Macro to get his thoughts on North Korea and other hot spots around the globe, including Turkey, which, he said, is one of the greatest and overlooked concerns right now. Here’s what he had to say in our recent podcast, which aired Saturday on our site and on iTunes (see Art Hill on Technicals; Todd Mariano on N. Korea, China, and Geopolitics for audio). Is Nuclear War Imminent? The short answer is that no, it isn’t, believes Mariano. What we’re observing is that markets are reacting to uncertainty, specifically due to the shifting approach Washington is using to engage with North Korea, he noted. However, the situation really hasn’t changed all that much from a policy perspective, even under the new administration in Washington. ‘What markets are really reacting to amounts to headline risk because of the comments that the president made,’ he said. ‘The way I think this goes is certainly not a preemptive strike by North Korea. No one understands better than the North Korean military and Kim Jong Un that a preemptive strike coming from them would spell the end of the regime.’
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is getting more confident in his nuclear weapon arsenal. And now some say Kim is showing signs of war, as he’s vanished from the public eye for two weeks. The last time Kim went days without being seen was prior to the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) test launch in late July. At that time, Kim remained in hiding for two weeks before making another grandiose public appearance. But the timing of this disappearance is a little unsettling, as tensions between North Korea and the United States are almost at a breaking point. Nuclear war tensions continue to mount between Washington and Pyongyang, and on the heels of theleader’s threat to attack the U. S. island territory of Guam, analysts think the rogue dictator’s disappearance is a bad sign.
A day after US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford promised him that the US would exhaust all diplomatic options, including another round of UN sanctions, before resorting to a ‘military solution’ in its simmering conflict with North Korea, South Korean President Moon Jae-in reminded Washington during a forceful Tuesday speech that the US would need to seek, and receive, South Korea’s consent before risking another armed conflict on the Korean peninsula, signaling his country will no longer stay quiet as tensions escalate with its northern neighbor. As Bloomberg summarizes, “Moon asserted the right to veto any military action against Kim Jong Un’s regime, saying that decision should be made by ‘ourselves and not by anyone else.’ He vowed to prevent war at any cost – a statement that drew a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump, who has warned of ‘fire and fury’ if North Korea continues to threaten the U. S.” Some highlights from his speech: “Without South Korea’s consent no one can determine military actions on the Korean peninsula” South Korea govt will prevent war at any cost; “There will be no war repeated on the Korean peninsula” South Korea will work closely with U. S. to overcome security threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear missiles South Korea govt will “strengthen diplomatic efforts in order not to shake principles for a peaceful resolution” Sanctions and talks should go together; “Sanctions are not to heighten military tensions but to bring North Korea to talks” Moon’s speech coincided with the Korean independence-day holiday on Tuesday, which is celebrated in both the North and the South. The holiday commemorates the defeat of the Japanese during World War II. According to Yonhap news agency, Moon marked the occasion by visiting the graves of independence fighters. Meanwhile, Moon’s counterpart, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, “”celebrated by backing off his threat to launch a nuclear strike against Guam, a US territory in the Pacific Ocean that’s about 2,000 miles away from the Korean Peninsula – well within the range of the North’s missiles. According to KCNA, the North Korean news agency, Kim has received a report from the army about its plans to strike the area around Guam and said, “he will watch the actions of the United States for a while longer before making a decision.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 15, 2017.
21st Century Wire says… This is a potentially incredible breakthrough in the painful 7 year-long Syrian conflict. As 21WIRE has pointed out previous, aside from Turkey’s key part in facilitating the creation and supply of anti-Syrian terrorist enclaves over the last 7 years, it has also played the central role in the dismantling of Syria’s manufacturing sector centered around the now devastated industrial hub of Aleppo. That’s what makes this latest news almost unbelievable. Since 2011, the leadership in Ankara has committed much of its southern territory, a good portion of financial and military resources, as well as nearly all of its diplomatic credibility… for one goal: to destabilize its neighbor and achieve regime change in Damascus. Perhaps its renewed dialogue and a lucrative Southstream energy partnership with Russia, along with the relative success so far in the Astana Peace Process – and Washington’s disruptive military and financial backing of a prime Turkish arch-enemy, the Kurdish militia in northern Syria, has made Turkish President Erdogan and his inner circle realize that it’s time to reverse course on a 7 year failure, and immeasurable social, civil and economic destruction of their southern neighbor.
As the war of words between the US and North Korea continues to mount, an increasingly angry and worried China has given Washington and Pyongyang a clear public hint of where its red lines are. The hint came in an editorial in Global Times, a newspaper owned by the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper the People’s Daily, which is often used by the Chinese government to express opinions it holds but which it feels it might be too provocative to air officially. Editorials in Global Times do not therefore have quite the same weight as editorials in the People’s Daily or the official Xinhua news agency or of course public statements by the Chinese government. However they do reflect official Chinese thinking and should be read as such, especially since their wording is carefully chosen in advance. The editorial in Global Times in which China has hinted at its red lines downplays the risk of war. It says the angry rhetoric Washington and Pyongyang are hurling at each other is foolish grandstanding. About that it is almost certainly. However it also says that this grandstanding risks war because both sides risk humiliation if they back down.
A couple of weeks ago the lovely Miss Puddy accompanied me to our downtown club for dinner and a talk by Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report. Mr. Cook gives an insiders view of Washington DC. His current view of the situation is that none of Trump’s agenda is going to get through congress. The fact that he has never held a public office helps him with his base but does not help him with getting his agenda through the congress. Only 9% of his appointments have been approved but only 13% of the possible appointments have been submitted. Trump’s approval rating is around 45% which is quite low for the honeymoon period when he should be getting his agenda pushed through. If Mr. Cook is indeed correct than there is a chance nothing will really happen until after the mid term elections. Depending on how those go nothing may happen for the entire 4-year term. One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a US president is for his domestic policy to be thwarted by congress and then he shifts focus to foreign policy where he has more latitude to implement policy unhindered. Add to that the 4th turning (from the book ‘The Fourth Turning by Strauss & Howe) and a major war could be forthcoming. The cycle is here and it appears the table is all set for major war(s) in the coming years. Richard Mabury is delighted with this gridlock in government and sites several instances in his latest newsletter where congressmen brandished firearms in 1836; and where Senator Summner was severely beaten on the Senate floor in 1856 and the full on brawl by 30 congressmen in 1858. Maybury is delighted that the federal government is no longer working together as in most of the 20th century when explosive government growth took place. He reflects that as long as the federal government is in gridlock they will be irrelevant while the private sector can flourish and the citizens will be able to enjoy more freedom. I can only hope that he is correct.
This post was published at GoldSeek on Monday, 14 August 2017.
Growing tensions between Washington and Pyongyang escalated dramatically this week with North Korea laying out plans to target the American island territory of Guam in a missile strike. News reports have shown intercontinental ballistic missiles being tested that have the potential to reach the continental U. S. while intelligence sources believe the regime has now managed to miniaturize a nuclear weapon to fit one of those missiles.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 13, 2017.
By pushing the Russia-gate ‘scandal’ and neutering President Trump’s ability to conduct diplomacy, Democrats and Congress have encouraged his war-making side on North Korea… There was always a logical flaw in pushing Russia-gate as an excuse for Hillary Clinton’s defeat – besides the fact that it was based on a dubious ‘assessment’ by a small team of ‘hand-picked’ U. S. intelligence analysts. The flaw was that it poked the thin-skinned Donald Trump over one of his few inclinations toward diplomacy. We’re now seeing the results play out in a very dangerous way in Trump’s bluster about North Korea, which was included in an aggressive economic sanctions bill – along with Russia and Iran – that Congress passed nearly unanimously, without a single Democratic no vote. Democrats and Official Washington’s dominant neocons celebrated the bill as a vote of no-confidence in Trump’s presidencybut it only constrained him in possible peacemaking, not war-making.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 13, 2017.
The magazine that helped the Tsarnaev brothers pull off the Boston Marathon bombing – while also purporting to teach wannabe jihadis how to ‘make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom’ – is homing in on its next target: America’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. ‘Inspire,’ the Al Qaeda propaganda magazine, will dedicate its next issue to America’s passenger and commuter trains. The focus on rail transportation comes at a time of great anxiety over the scarcity of resources devoted to repairing America’s vulnerable trains, which is advantageous to a group aiming to reestablish maximum relevance. *** Derailments in the Bronx, Philadelphia and New York City’s Penn Station have made commuters anxious. The effort to rescue New York City’s deteriorating subway system has been one of the most closely followed stories of the summer, according to the Washington Times. ‘Issue No. 17 is headlined, ‘Train Derail Operations,’ and will spell out ways to create rail disasters in a transportation system that lacks the stiff security procedures of airline travel. It’s competing Sunni extremists group, the Islamic State, for more than a year has advocated using vehicles to mow down innocents. Its murderous followers have weaponized vehicles in Nice, Berlin and London, creating hundreds of deaths and injuries. Adding trains to the terrorist’s priority list would put at risk virtually every mode of transportation and placed added pressure on the U. S. Department of Homeland Security.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 12, 2017.
As if there weren’t enough geopolitical stress points in the world to fill a lifetime of “sleepy, vacationy” Augusts, late on Friday night President Trump spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping and told him that he’s preparing to order an investigation into Chinese trade practices next week, according to NBC. Politico confirms that Trump is ready to launch a new trade crackdown on China next week, citing an administration official, a step that Trump delayed two weeks ago under the guidance of his new Chief of Staff Gen. Kelly, but now appears imminent. It is also an escalation which most analysts agree will launch a trade war between Washington and Beijing. As Politico details, Trump on Monday will call for an investigation into China over allegations that the nation violated U. S. intellectual property rights and forced technology transfers, the official said. While it’s unclear how much detail Trump will get into in the announcement, administration officials expect U. S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open an investigation against China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The ordering of the investigation will not immediately impose sanctions but could lead to steep tariffs on Chinese goods. Trump has expressed frustration in recent months over what he sees as China’s unfair trade policies. As we discussed two weeks ago, Trump had planned to launch the trade investigation more than a week ago, but he delayed the move in favor of securing China’s support for expanded U. N. sanctions against North Korea, the senior administration official said.
This post was published at Zero Hedge by Tyler Durden /Aug 12, 2017.
In a glimmer of hope that a military conclusion to the North Korean crisis may yet be averted, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that “Russia does not accept a North Korea that possesses nuclear weapons”, cautioned that there is an “overwhelming amount of over-the-top belligerent rhetoric on North Korea’s nuclear and rocket programs from Washington and Pyongyang”, but most importantly said that there is a joint Russian-Chinese plan to defuse the North Korean crisis, according to which North Korea would freeze its missile tests, while the US and South Korea would stop large scale exercises. “Russia together with China developed a plan which proposes ‘double freezing’: Kim Jong-un should freeze nuclear tests and stop launching any types of ballistic missiles, while US and South Korea should freeze large-scale drills which are used as a pretext for the North’s tests.” It was not clear if Russia or China, had floated this plan with the US or S. Korea prior; the most likely answer is no. Hoping that “common sense will ultimately prevail“, Lavrov said that North Korea had once signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but then withdrew from it. The result is a nuclear-armed N. Korea which Russia refuses to accept: “Now North Korea claims that it has legal rights to make nuclear weapons and has already done so,’ he said. ‘But you know our position: we don’t accept the fact that North Korea could possess nuclear weapons.” He added that both Russia and China have a ‘range of proposals’ aimed at preventing what could become ‘one of the deepest conflicts’ and a ‘crisis with a big number of casualties.’ Still, Lavrov said that Moscow is worried about Washington’s remarks on a preemptive strike on North Korea, and said that Russia is doing its best to prevent this from happening.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 11, 2017.
While senior U. S. officials led by President Trump and media pundits sound the alarm over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, America has been dealing with a series of nuclear leaks domestically that are already exposing the public to radioactive material. The most recent case is in Washington State, where a radioactive leak at the Hanford Site nuclear facility that began on June 8 was kept secret for two months while contaminating the surrounding area. Plutonium particles detected as far as three miles away from the decommissioned nuclear Hanford Site in Washington state left workers with headaches and coughs, but officials insist that the nearby public highway is not at risk of contamination. The radioactive air contamination was recorded on June 8 but wasn’t made public until two months later, when, on Tuesday, Seattle NBC-affiliate KING obtained an internal Hanford memo detailing the findings. As part of a government-contracted project to clean up and demolish the deactivated plutonium production plant, hundreds of workers travel daily on Rattlesnake Barricade, a turnoff from Highway 240. That is where plutonium and americium, both highly toxic heavy metals, were found, about three miles from the Hanford Site’s contaminated Plutonium Fishing Plant (PFP).
21st Century Wire says… It’s no longer any secret that the US have planned and orchestrated ‘regime change’ in dozens of developing countries over the last century. Washington’s primary tool is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which has ousted democratically elected governments like Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973), Nicaragua (1982), Haiti (2006), Honduras (2009), Libya (2011), Ukraine (2014) and still working on Syria (2011-present), to name only a few. Next is Venezuela.
So why is this level of ‘meddling’ justified by the US media and most of its public? This month sees some significant anniversaries in the struggle against old-style colonialism. The trouble is that colonialism didn’t go away after countries in the developing world formally achieved their independence from Europe’s ‘Great Powers.’ It was replaced by a new form which proved to be more destructive and immeasurably more dishonest than what went before. At least the British Empire – which at its peak covered almost a quarter of the world’s land surface, acknowledged it was an Empire. Today’s more shadowy Empire of Globalized Monopoly Finance-Capital does no such thing. Entire countries, such as Yugoslavia, Libya, and Iraq, are destroyed for not toeing the line, while those which continue to defy the neocon/neoliberal elites, such as Venezuela, are under a state of permanent siege.
While President Trump is more than willing to tweet or comment ad hoc his feelings about any of several crucial geopolitical hotspots, the Chinese prefer the more subtle approach. With their India border tensions, officials pen ‘threatening’ articles; but with North Korea, it appears the government prefers a well known mouthpiece – The China Global Times – to send a message to America – simply put, back off the rhetoric before this goes pear-shaped because North Korea has nothing to lose… US President Donald Trump on Tuesday gave a harsh warning to North Korea that if it makes more threats to the US, “they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” A few hours later, Pyongyang responded by saying that it is examining its operational plans for attacking Guam. US B-1B bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula from Anderson Air Force Base on Guam. This is the latest escalation of the war of words between Washington and Pyongyang. The US can’t usually gain the upper hand in this war of words, as Pyongyang chooses whatever wording it likes, and what Washington says may not be heard by North Korean society. But US opinion has paid great attention to everything North Korea says.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 10, 2017.