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Obama Tries to Ram His TTIP Down Europeans’ Throats

In trade and economic as in political matters, Europe’s leaders do Washington’s bidding regardless of the interests or opinions of their people.

Eric Zuesse

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Like the foie gras producer ramming food down ducks’ throats in order to create diseased super-fatty livers that some humans find acceptable to eat, Barack Obama (via his friend and trade-negotiator Michael Froman) is trying to ram dictatorship down Europeans’ throats, for the benefit of billionaires. And, like the sweet words of the foie-grass lobbyists who say it’s all just the ‘free market’ at work, Obama’s commercial-treaties salesman is saying it’s all being done in order to support ‘free trade’.

Thus, on May 31st, a big promoter of ‘free trade’, Britain’s Economist, headlined “Europe and US in race to keep TTIP on track”, and ‘reported’ (i.e., stenographically transmitted) the U.S. President’s propaganda; they provided to Mr. Froman their (unjustifiably respected) platform, as an unpaid ad (‘news’ story) for the Obama Administration’s work-product, this treaty: “Speaking in Stockholm on a European tour to push TTIP, Michael Froman, US President Barack Obama’s trade tsar, warned that there was no ‘Plan B’ if talks were not concluded this year.

‘We either work together to help set the rules of the world or we leave that role to others.’” In other words: Obama, via Froman, via this freebie publicity provided by the Economist, is telling the Economist’s readers, that the way to advance free trade is by imposing the rules that govern it, so as to supply advantage to the people who impose the rules and sign Obama’s document, and so as thereby to disadvantage everybody else — all people who are outside the blessed self-selected closed circle of power-holders.

Naturally, being good propagandists, the Economist provides no real counter-argument to that (such as by pointing out that Obama is actually trying to replace “the rules of the world” that have already become established during decades by the far less partial World Trade Organization or WTO — replace those global rules by the discriminatory treaty-based trading-blocs rules that he wants in order for international corporations to be placed directly into the driver’s seat), but instead the Economist continues immediately with this caricature of such:

“TTIP’s supporters have also been blindsided by increasing opposition to trade deals in the US, where Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has built his campaign around an antitrade message and Democrat Hillary Clinton, facing a challenge from the left, has abandoned her support for a similar Pacific trade pact.”

In other words, according to the Economist: the domestic opposition to Obama’s trade-deals is comprised of two categories: of ‘antitrade’ populists, and of leftist yahoos who don’t know that Marxism is dead and ended ever since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990 — both categories of yahoos are simply behind-the-times, according to the Economist. Pity those non-subscribers to mega-corporate propaganda such as this.

Then, this Economist ‘news’ ‘report’ (a.k.a.: propaganda) continues:

With the clock running out on Mr Obama’s presidency, officials on both sides now believe that the window is closing for a deal to be reached and approved in legislatures in Europe and the US before the end of the year. EU officials stress that they want to agree a working text by July.

A failure to complete the agreement before a change in US administration could condemn the pact to years of drift.
Get it done now, is the propaganda message. But, the intelligent reader will still be asking: should it be done at all? Viewed in narrowly economic terms alone, the three independently done (as opposed to mega-corporate funded) studies indicate that the major stockholders in international corporations (especially ones that are based in the U.S.) would benefit from these deals, at the expense of everyone else and especially at the expense of consumers, and of employees. However, that’s only the economics of it. More broadly, what Obama’s treaties will do if they become passed into law is to achieve internationally the dream of fascists ever since the time of Mussolini: to transfer sovereignty away from the public in a democracy, to, instead, as Mussolini himself sometimes called his fascist ideology, “corporationism,” which he defined as:

“The corporation plays on the economic terrain just as the Grand Council and the militia play on the political terrain. Corporationism is disciplined economy, and from that comes control, because one cannot imagine a discipline without a director. Corporationism is above socialism and above liberalism. A new synthesis is created.” 

Earlier, he had said (and even legislated), tellingly:

“Labor in all forms, intellectual, technical and manual, is a social duty. In this sense, and in this sense only, is it protected by the State. From the national point of view all production is a unit; its objects are unitary and can be defined as the wellbeing of the producers and the development of national strength.”

He didn’t mention there “the wellbeing of the workers,” nor “the wellbeing of consumers,” because his ideology wasn’t concerned about those matters. He even asserted that labor “is a social duty. In this sense, and in this sense only, is it protected by the State,” so that workers’ rights have no protection in fascism. Only workers’ duties do. “National strength” was his goal, just as it is Barack Obama’s, and they don’t believe that workers’ rights are part of this. That’s why it’s ignored in Obama’s proposed treaties.

“National strength” is, of course, largely a military phenomenon. Here is Obama speaking on 28 May 2014 to graduating cadets at America’s academy for its future military leaders, West Point:

“Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. And even as developing nations embrace democracy and market economies, 24-hour news and social media makes it impossible to ignore the continuation of sectarian conflicts and failing states and popular uprisings that might have received only passing notice a generation ago. It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world. …
America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership.”

This was a statement that America’s economic competitors are to be addressed not only by economic means (such as his economic sanctions against Russia) but also by military means, and that these cadets are therefore to think of their nation’s economic competitors as additionally being also America’s enemies. He even said there that all nations except the U.S. are dispensable; and his precise words to assert this type of American exceptionalism were that “the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” Consequently, for example, Russia and China (like any other enemy) are ‘dispensable’ (because only one is not: America).

Of course, some fascist leaders, such as Francisco Franco, haven’t similarly held their nation to be the only ‘indispensable’ nation. Not all fascist leaders do, but Adolf Hitler certainly did believe that his was, and he too was a fascist, though not a member of Mussolini’s party, the Fascist Party, because Hitler had his own fascist party, the Nazis. Obama is a member of the Democratic Party, which has existed ever since the beginning of the American republic. Fascism didn’t even exist back then. Furthermore, U.S. President FDR was passionately anti-fascist, and he led the Democratic Party during the time of Mussolini and Hitler, and went to war against them. However, there is evidence that Obama is a fascist in the sense that Mussolini initiated as not merely the Fascist Party, but more germane here, in the more basic sense, as the fascist ideology.

For example, Michael Froman has insisted that a country which systematically and regularly ignores whenever a labor union organizer gets murdered, isn’t therefore disqualified from being included in trade agreements such as the U.S. is now proposing. Obama, quite evidently (from his proposed trade treaties) feels that it’s quite okay for American workers to be competing against workers in foreign countries where labor union organizers are like free-fire-zone targets for corporations that want them to be (mysteriously) eliminated.

Of course, Obama’s rhetoric doesn’t say any such thing; he’s far more genteel than was Mussolini. But Obama’s actions, and the people whom he appoints to run the federal offices for him and who carry out his policies (such as Froman), show the real person, not merely the verbal front, and his agents make quite clear that, where the ideological rubber actually hits the policy highway, Barack Obama is, in fact, a classic fascist, in the sense that the first fascist leader, Mussolini, was. Obama’s concept of ‘free trade’ is the fascist version, not the democratic one.

previously noted that,

“Mussolini … had learned his fascism from the economist Vilfredo Pareto, whose teachings had inspired the young Mussolini
As Pareto himself said, 1 September 1897, in his essay “The New Theories of Economics”: “Were I of the opinion that a certain book would contribute more than any other to establish free trade in the world at large I would not hesitate an instant to give myself up heart and soul to the study of this particular work, putting aside for the time all study of pure science.” But what the international corporations call “free trade” isn’t quite the same thing that supporters of democracy would mean by that phrase.”

The same article also documented extensively that Pareto specifically condemned “the empty words of meaning of the famous Declaration of the Rights of Man,” and that he rejected equality of rights. He set forth the ideology upon the basis of which (for example) Michael Froman might ‘justify’ American workers competing against ones in countries where labor union organizers can be murdered with impunity: only the corporation’s owners should have the right to collective bargaining (via their management, lobbyists, etc.). Pareto was very big on the rights of owners, but that’s all.

Barack Obama’s ‘free trade’ is entirely in keeping with fascism. It’s simply extending that, globally, and excluding from the mega-trading-blocs that he is creating, the BRICS nations (now just the RICS nations, because of the successful coup in Brazil). This is in accord with his having told West Point cadets that they might be called upon by their nation to treat those nations where “rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums,” as being America’s enemies, to be killed or captured — conquered. Perhaps this is to be the new gunboat diplomacy.

Irrespective of Obama’s rhetoric, which is often in accord with the tradition of America’s Founders, his proposed trade treaties are in blatant violation even of the U.S. Constitution itself, as well as of the very clearly expressed intentions of the chief individuals who drafted it and who led this nation during its earliest years.

All knowledgeable people are aware that Obama is pushing not only for a locked-in American domination of the world, but for U.S. corporate dictatorship. As I previously headlined, “UN Lawyer Calls TTP & TTIP ‘a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments call the shots’.” But, what the UN’s legal expert on these matters has to say about them, doesn’t receive nearly as much freebie promotion as is provided to even just one of the U.S. White House’s fascist puff-pieces; so, the UN’s expert gets drowned out by the fascist cacophony.

Consequently, though the publics both in the U.S. and EU are opposed to these ‘free trade’ treaties (notwithstanding all the PR for them), the governments can just go ahead and sign them. This is Western ‘democracy’. The publics are the ducks, and the people who control things need to fatten up our livers a bit more, regardless of what we think. Obama and his allies are preparing this meal, and the people who paid them to do it are hungry, and are demanding to be served this feast, ASAP. The ducks (despite all the pretty sounds about how nutritious this food will be) might squawk about it, but, after all, the ducks don’t own the farm, and the people who do are the actual decision-makers — in accord with what Mussolini and his teacher Pareto said should be the case.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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Saudi Arabia trying to squirm free of Khashoggi murder (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 2.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Saudi Arabia’s possible admission to killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi…accidentally, while they were torturing the man inside the consulate in Istanbul.

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Via Zerohedge

Even before the publication of last night’s Saudi trial balloon hinting that the kingdom would soon acknowledge that the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi – the insider-turned dissident journalist who walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week and never walked back out – was the result of a “botched” kidnapping attempt carried out by “rogue killers” (despite reports that the US intelligence community knew that Khashoggi was being “targeted”), two realities had become increasingly clear. One: That the Saudis would avoid responsibility for the killing by pinning it on some unfortunate underling, and two: that there would be few, if any, lasting diplomatic repercussions.

And as more media organizations confirmed reports about Saudi’s plans to spin Khashoggi’s murder as a botched interrogation (we can only imagine what was said in that room to justify the use of such extreme violence), CNN calculated the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh for approximately 15 minutes early Tuesday, following his 12-hour-plus flight to the kingdom.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia lasted no more than 15 minutes, CNN estimates based on the time the top US diplomat’s motorcade arrived at the royal court and departed.

The motorcade arrived at the royal court at 11:42 a.m. (4:42 a.m. ET) and left 26 minutes later. There is a fair distance to walk from where the motorcade dropped Pompeo off to where he met the king.

While Trump said on Monday that Pompeo would travel to Turkey “if necessary”, the Saudi’s decision to “come clean” about Khashoggi’s death pretty much rendered Pompeo’s fact-finding mission unnecessary.More important are developments in Turkey, where the joint Saudi-Turkish “investigation” is turning its attention toward the home of the Saudi consul, where a black diplomatic van that departed the Saudi consulate just under two hours after Khashoggi entered was captured on camera disappearing into a garage. Some speculate that this is where the killers finished disposing of Khashoggi’s body. This comes after a “nine-hour” search of the Saudi consulate building that, according to leaks published in Al-Jazeera, turned up “evidence of tampering” by the Saudis. On Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign minister clarified that Saudi had yet to admit its role in Khashoggi’s disappearance and probable death.

Turkish investigators will carry out a search of the Saudi Consul General’s residence on Tuesday as the probe into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.

CCTV footage released to the media from the day the Washington Post writer vanished show movement of vehicles from the consulate building to the Consul General’s residence nearby.

As speculation mounts that the incident could unseat the increasingly authoritarian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (who has already marginalized or incapacitated nearly every threat to his rule), it’s looking more likely that neither the US nor the rest of the Western world will do much to punish the world’s most important oil exporter, which can “weaponize” the oil market seemingly on a whim.

Any punishment for this flagrant violation of human rights will need to come, therefore, from the private sector, which, according to Bloomberg, could sabotage MbS’s grand Vision 2030 plan, which aims to remake the Saudi economy via a flood of foreign direct investment:

The economic strategy of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, known as MBS, is to make investment the main engine of economic growth instead of government spending, but the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could frustrate these ambitions. Foreign direct investment, a key part of the plan to reinvent Saudi Arabia’s economy, declined sharply in 2017 and is unlikely to return to previous levels, leaving the government’s target for 2020 beyond reach, according to analysis by Bloomberg Economics. Increased policy uncertainty and, after the Khashoggi incident, the risk of reputational damage to foreign companies working in Saudi Arabia won’t help.

 

 

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Defeat in Bavaria delivers knockout punch to Merkel’s tenure as Chancellor (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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The stunning CSU defeat in Bavaria means that the coalition partner in Angela Merkel’s government has lost an absolute majority in their worst election results in Bavaria since 1950.

In a preview analysis before the election, Deutsche Welle noted that a CSU collapse could lead to Seehofer’s resignation from Merkel’s government, and conceivably Söder’s exit from the Bavarian state premiership, which would remove two of the chancellor’s most outspoken critics from power, and give her room to govern in the calmer, crisis-free manner she is accustomed to.

On the other hand, a heavy loss and big resignations in the CSU might well push a desperate party in a more volatile, abrasive direction at the national level. That would further antagonize the SPD, the center-left junior partners in Merkel’s coalition, themselves desperate for a new direction and already impatient with Seehofer’s destabilizing antics, and precipitate a break-up of the age-old CDU/CSU alliance, and therefore a break-up of Merkel’s grand coalition. In short: Anything could happen after Sunday, up to and including Merkel’s fall.

The Financial Times reports that the campaign was dominated by the divisive issue of immigration, in a sign of how the shockwaves from Merkel’s disastrous decision to let in more than a million refugees in 2015-16 are continuing to reverberate through German politics and to reshape the party landscape.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the stunning Bavarian election defeat of the CSU party, and the message voters sent to Angela Merkel, the last of the Obama ‘rat pack’ neo-liberal, globalist leaders whose tenure as German Chancellor appears to be coming to an end.

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Via Zerohedge

Voters in Germany’s economically dominant southern state of Bavaria delivered a stunning rebuke to the ruling Christian Social Union, in an election that delivered another crushing blow for the parties in Angela Merkel’s grand coalition in Berlin.

With all eyes on Sunday’s Bavaria election, moments ago the first exit polls showed a historic collapse for the ruling CSU party, which has ruled Bavaria continuously since 1957, and which saw its share of the vote collapse from 47.7% in the 2013 election to just 35.5%, losing its absolute majority and suffering its worst result since 1950, as voters defected in their droves to the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany.

German newspaper Welt called the election “the most painful election defeat of the past 50 years for the CSU”. As predicted in the polls, the CSU experienced a “historic debacle” in the Bavarian state elections, according to Welt. The CSU was followed by the Greens which soared in the election, more than doubling to 18.5% from 8.6% in 2013, the Free Voters also rose to 11% from 9.0%, in 2013.

Meanwhile, the nationalist AfD are expecting to enter Bavaria’s parliament for the first time ever with 11% of the vote, and as such are setting up for their post-election party. Party leader Alice Weidel already is having the first beer in the small community of Mamming in Lower Bavaria.

Establishment party, left-of-center SPD also saw its support collapse from 20.6% in 2013 to just 10% today.

The full initial results from an ARD exit poll are as follows (via Zerohedge):

  • CSU: 35.5 %
  • Grüne: 18.5 %
  • FW: 11.5 %
  • AfD: 11.0 %
  • SPD: 10.0 %
  • FDP: 5.0 %
  • Linke: 3.5 %
  • Sonstige: 5.0 %

The breakdown by gender did not show any marked variations when it comes to CSU support, although more women voted for the Greens, while far more men supported the AfD:

There was a greater variation by educational level, with highly educated voters tending more towards the green GRÜNE (G/EFA) and liberal FDP (ALDE) then the average, while low/middle educated voters tended more towards CSU (EPP) and AfD (EFDD).

This was the worst result for the CSU since 1950.

Zerohedge further reports that alarmed by the rise of the anti-immigration, populist AfD, the CSU tried to outflank them by talking tough on immigration and picking fights with Ms Merkel over asylum policy.

But the strategy appeared to have backfired spectacularly by alienating tens of thousands of moderate CSU voters and driving them into the arms of the Greens.

Meanwhile, as support the CSU and SPD collapsed, the result confirmed the Greens’ status as the rising force in German politics. Running on a platform of open borders, liberal social values and the fight against climate change the party saw its support surge to 18.5%, from 8.4% in 2013. Meanwhile the AfD won 11%, and for the first time entered the Bavarian regional assembly.

“This is an earthquake for Bavaria,” said Jürgen Falter, a political scientist at the University of Mainz.

The CSU had governed the state with an absolute majority for most of the last 60 years. “It was Bavaria and Bavaria was the CSU. That is now no longer the case.”

The latest collapse of Germany’s establishment parties highlights the shaky ground the grand coalition in Berlin is now resting on as all three parties in the alliance, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the CSU and the SPD, are haemorrhaging support. Some are now questioning whether the coalition, already frayed by personal rivalries and near constant bickering over policy, can survive a full term in office.

“This outcome throws ever more doubt on the future of the grand coalition,” said Heinrich Oberreuter, head of the Passau Journalism Institute and an expert on the CSU. “Based on current polls, if an election were held now, the CDU, CSU and SPD would not even command a majority in the Bundestag.”

The CSU will now be be forced to form a coalition government — a humiliating outcome for a party that has run Bavaria single-handedly for 49 of the last 54 years. Its preference is probably for a three-party coalition with the Free Voters, a small party that is mainly focused on local politics. It could also team up with the Greens, though it would be highly reluctant to do so: the two parties are deeply divided over immigration, transport and environmental policy.

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