How Britain fell out of love with the free market

Under Thatcher and Blair, it looked unassailable. But now both Britain’s main parties are turning away from unfettered capitalism. By Andy Beckett

Twelve years ago, shortly after winning his third consecutive general election, Tony Blair gave the Labour party a brief lecture on economics. “There is no mystery about what works,” he said, crisply, speaking from a podium printed with the slogan “Securing Britain’s Future” at the party conference in Brighton. “An open, liberal economy prepared constantly to change to remain competitive.”

Blair rounded on critics of modern capitalism: “I hear people say we have to stop and debate globalisation. You might as well debate whether autumn should follow summer. They’re not debating it in China and India.” He went on: “The temptation is … to think we protect a workforce by regulation, a company by government subsidy, an industry by tariffs. It doesn’t work today.” Britain should not “cling on to the European social model of the past”.

Related: The day the credit crunch began, 10 years on: ‘the world changed’

Related: Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world

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PCR: “The Witch Hunt For Donald Trump Surpasses Salem”

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

We should be scared to death that Sally Q. Yates served as a prosecutor in the Justice (sic) Department for 27 years. In the New York Times, Sally takes high umbrage to Trump’s criticism of his attorney general, Sessions, and blows Trump’s disappointment with Sessions into an attack by Trump on the rule of law.

Sally has it backwards. The rule of law is being attacked by the appointment of a special prosecutor to find something on Trump in the absence of any evidence of a crime.

In 1940 US attorney general Robert Jackson warned federal prosecutors against “picking the man and then putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him.

 

It is in this realm – in which the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass, or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense – that the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies.

 

It is here that law enforcement becomes personal, and the real crime becomes that of being unpopular with the predominant or governing group, being attached to the wrong political views or being personally obnoxious to, or in the way of, the prosecutor himself.”

Robert Jackson has given a perfect description of what is happening to President Trump at the hands of special prosecutor Robert Mueller. Trump is vastly unpopular with the ruling establishment, with the Democrats, with the military/security complex and their bought and paid for Senators, and with the media for proving wrong all the smart people’s prediction that Hillary would win the election in a landslide.

From day one this cabal has been out to get Trump, and they have given the task of framing up Trump to Mueller. An honest man would not have accepted the job of chief witch-hunter, which is what Mueller’s job is.

The breathless hype of a nonexistent “Russian collusion” has been the lead news story for months despite the fact that no one, not the CIA, not the NSA, not the FBI, not the Director of National Intelligence, can find a scrap of evidence. In desperation, three of the seventeen US intelligence agencies picked a small handful of employees thought to lack integrity and produced an unverified report, absent of any evidence, that the hand-picked handful thought that there might have been a collusion. On the basis of what evidence they do not say.

That nothing more substantial than this led to a special prosecutor shows how totally corrupt justice in America is.

Furthermore the baseless charge itself is an absurdity. There is no law against an incoming administration conversing with other governments. Indeed, Trump, Flynn, and whomever should be given medals for quickly moving to smooth Russian feathers ruffled by the reckless Bush and Obama regimes. What good for anyone can come from ceaselessly provoking a nuclear Russian bear?

The new Russian sanctions bill passed by Congress is an act of reckless idiocy. It was done without consulting Europe which will bear the cost of the bill and might reject it, thus sending shock waves through the fragile American empire.

Congress’ thoughtless bill is a violation of the separation of powers. Foreign policy is the executive branch’s arena. The feckless Obama put the sanctions on. Obviously, if a president can put sanctions on, a president can take sanctions off.

Trump should take his case to the American people, not via Twitter, but with a major speech. Fox News and Alex Jones, either of which has a larger audience than CNN and the New York Times, would broadcast Trump’s speech. Trump should make the case that Congress is over-reaching its constitutional authority and also preventing a reduction in dangerous tensions between nuclear powers. Trump should ask the American people forthright if they want to be driven into war with Russia by gratuitous provocation after provocation.

Because of the powers that Bush and Obama thoughtlessly gave the presidency, Trump can declare a national emergency, cancel Congress, and arrest whomever he wishes. Of course, the presstitute media would do everything possible to sway the people and the US military against the state of emergency, but if there were a real “Russian collusion,” Trump would have Putin initiate a major crisis that would bring the people and the military to Trump’s side. That no such thing will happen is total proof that there is no “Russian collusion.”

Even the Washington Post, an initiator and leader of the breathless “Russian collusion” lie has now published an article, “The quest to Prove Collusion is Crumbling,” that concludes that the entire orchestration is a hoax. 

As the Washington Post article says, “the story that never was is not happening.”

So the great “superpower America,” the “exceptional, indispensable country,” has wasted 7 months of a new presidency in a hoax when it could have been repairing the relations with Russia and China that were seriously damaged by the criminal Bush and Obama regimes. What are the utter fools that comprise the American Establishment thinking? Why do the morons want high tensions with the two powers that can remove the United States and its impotent European and British vassals from the face of the earth in a few minutes? Who gains from this? What is wrong with the American people that they cannot understand that they are being driven to their destruction? Insouciant America is clearly not a sufficiently strong term.

To come back to the ridiculous Sally Q. Yates, clearly Sally is the embodiment of the Insouciant American. She says she spent 27 years as a Justice (sic) Department prosecutor. Yet, she is able to write this utter nonsense: “I know from first hand experience how seriously the career prosecutors and agents take their responsibility to make fair and impartial decisions based solely on the facts and the law and nothing else”

Where was Sally Q. Yates when US attorney Rudy Giuliani used the presstitute media to frame up Michael Milken and Leona Helmsley? Giuliani never had any valid indictment against Milken but used the media and FBI harassment of Milken’s relatives to force Milken into a plea bargain and then had Milken double-crossed by the bimbo judge, who was denied her reward to the Supreme Court because it came to light that she illegally employed illegal aliens.

Today, thanks to the corrupt American media, 99.9% of people who remember the Milken case think that Milken was convicted of insider trading, a charge for which no evidence was ever presented and which was totally absent from the coerced plea bargain that the media helped Giuliani secure.

As best I remember my investigation of the Helmsley case, Rudy dropped charges against a corrupt accountant in exchange for false testimony against Helmsley. As I remember, both Judge Robert Bork and Alan Dershowitz, attorneys in the case, told me that the charge of tax evasion against Helmsley was preposterous. The Helmsley hotels were fully depreciated and were surviving by guest rentals alone. If the Helmsleys had wanted to reduce their income tax, all they needed to do was to sell their existing depreciated holdings and purchase other hotels in order to crank up the depreciation that reduces income tax.

Whatever Justice (sic) Department case you look at, it stinks to high heaven. It is extremely difficult to find any justice in America.

But Sally is certain that President Trump’s criticism of his weak AG means the end of the rule of law in the US.

As many on the left would say, the US has never had a rule of law. It has a rule of power. How else do we explain the enormous war crimes of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama regimes, and the war crimes to come from the Trump or successor Pence regime, that never will be tried at Nuremberg?

China Unveils Emergency Drill To “Shut Down Harmful Websites”

China's 19th National Congress of the Communist Party – the quinquennial confab where the party selects new members of the Politburo, its ruling council – is expected to begin this fall (official dates have not yet been publicly announced). And in an effort to guarantee that the leadership reshuffle goes off without a hitch, President Xi Jinping is tightening the government’s grip on the internet to help protect the official narrative that Xi's "Chinese Dream" remains intact.

According to Reuters, China held a drill on Thursday with internet service providers to practice taking down websites deemed harmful.

“Internet data centers (IDC) and cloud companies – which host website servers – were ordered to participate in a three-hour drill to hone their "emergency response" skills, according to at least four participants that included the operator of Microsoft's cloud service in China.

 

China's Ministry of Public Security called for the drill "in order to step up online security for the 19th Party Congress and tackle the problem of smaller websites illegally disseminating harmful information", according to a document circulating online attributed to a cyber police unit in Guangzhou.”

The Communist Party “protects” China’s 1.4 billion citizens from the influence of subversive foreign using nationwide system of internet censorship known as the “Great Firewall.” But as the country’s financial regulators grow increasingly concerned about the country’s dangerously overleveraged economy, which is threatening to sink the country’s fragile stock market, it’s likely that the government sees local business media as a threat. Two years ago, following the spectacular runup and collapse of the Shanghai Composite, authorities arrested one of China’s most respected financial journalist and forced him to make an on air “apology” after the government blamed his reporting for triggering the crash.

Earlier this year, authorities began a crackdown on VPNs like the Tor network which can allow mainland residents to circumvent the “great firewall.”

China has been tightening its grip on the internet, including a recent drive to crack down on the usage of VPNs to bypass internet censorship, enlisting the help of state-owned telecommunication service providers to upgrade the so-called Great Firewall.

Apple last week removed VPN apps from its app store, while Amazon's China partner warned users not to use VPNs.”

During the drill, the country’s internet data centers were asked to practice shutting down target web pages and report relevant details to the police, including the affected websites' contact details, IP address and server location, according to Reuters. With five of the seven Politburo members retiring, this year’s National Congress presents President Xi with his best opportunity yet to consolidate power. And as tensions escalate between China and several of its geopolitical rivals (notably the US, which is theatening a trade war, and India, which could instigate a real war), expect the crackdown to continue.

Russia Sanctions And The Coming Crackdown On Americans

Authored by Daniel McAdams via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

Last week I wrote an article and did an interview explaining that in my reading of the new Russia sanctions bill just signed by President Trump, there is a measure opening the door to a US government crackdown on some of the non-mainstream media. In particular, Section 221 of the "Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act" would punish "persons" who are "engaging in transactions with the intelligence or defense sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation."

At first one might think this is reading too much into the text, however as a twelve year Capitol Hill veteran bill-reader I can assure you that these bills are never written in a simple, expository manner. There is always a subtext, and in this case we must consider the numerous instances where the Director of Central Intelligence and other senior leadership in the US intelligence community have attempted to establish the idea that foreign news channels such as RT or Sputnik News are not First Amendment protected press, but rather tools of a foreign intelligence organization.

You can see in the current atmosphere, where anti-Russia hysteria has spread like typhoid, how readily-accepted such a notion would be by many. The reds are under our beds and the Russkies have taken over our airwaves.

I don't think the crackdown will stop at Russian government funded news organizations like RT and Sputnik, however. Once the initial strike is made at the lowest hanging fruit, the second wave will target Russia-focused organizations not funded by governments but that challenge the official US government line that Russia is our number one enemy and its government must be overthrown. Popular private alternative websites like The Duran and Russia Insider will likely be next on the list for prosecution.

Sound farfetched? Think of it this way (I can assure you the neocons do): if the Russian government and RT are opposed to sanctions and you operate a website that also takes a line in opposition to Russia sanctions are you not doing the work of Russian intelligence? Are you not seeking to influence your readers in a manner that Russian intelligence would want? Are you not "engaging in transactions" even over the airwaves?

And after this second wave you can be sure there will be a push to move on other alternative media that has nothing to do with Russia but that opposes US interventionist foreign policy: ZeroHedge, Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul Institute, ConsortiumNews, etc.

Crazy, you say? Don't forget: this war against us already started last year when the Washington Post ran a front page article accusing all of the above of being Russian agents!

What would be next? Do you read any of these alternative news sites? Do you pass along articles that oppose US sanctions policy toward Russia? You are engaging in transactions. You will be subject to "sanctions" as described in the "Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act," which is now the law of the land.

This would never happen, you might say. The government would never compile, analyze, and target private news outlets just because they deviate from the official neocon Washington line.

Perhaps not yet. But some US government funded "non-governmental" organizations are already doing just that.

The German Marshall Fund has less to do with Germany these days than it did when founded after WWII as a show of appreciation for the US Marshall Fund. These days it's mostly funded by the US government, allied governments (especially in the Russia-hating Baltics), neocon grant-making foundations, and the military-industrial complex. Through its strangely Soviet-sounding "Alliance for Securing Democracy" project it has launched something called "Hamilton 68: A New Tool to Track Russian Disinformation on Twitter."

This project monitors 600 Twitter accounts that the German Marshall Fund claims are "accounts that are involved in promoting Russian influence and disinformation goals." Which accounts does this monitor? It won't tell us. How does it choose which ones to monitor? It won't tell us. To what end? Frighteningly, it won't tell us.

How ironic that something called the German Marshall Fund is bringing Stasi-like tactics to silence alternative media and opinions in the United States!

So what does the "Hamilton 68" project do? In its own words it firstly "shows tweets from official Russian propaganda outlets in English, and a short post discussing the themes of the day. This is Russia’s overt messaging."

But it goes further than that. It tracks and stores information about others who have no connection to Russia but who "on their own initiative reliably repeat and amplify Russian themes." This is what the German Marshall Fund calls a "network" of second tier disinformation distributors.

What does this "network" of people with no connection to Russia but who amplify Russian "themes" do?

It "reflects Russian messaging priorities, but that does not mean every name or link you see on the dashboard is pro-Russian. The network sometimes amplifies stories that Russia likes, or people with like-minded views but no formal connection to Russia."

So, according to the self-proclaimed alliance for securing democracy you might not even know it when you are pushing Russian state propaganda!

Do you see what they are doing here? They are using US and other government money in an effort to eliminate any news organization or individual who deviates from the official neocon foreign policy line on Russia, Syria, Ukraine, etc. They are trying to eliminate any information that challenges the neocon line. To criminalize it.

In fact they admit that they are seeking to silence alternative viewpoints:

Our objective in providing this dashboard is to help ordinary people, journalists, and other analysts identify Russian messaging themes and detect active disinformation or attack campaigns as soon as they begin. Exposing these messages will make information consumers more resilient and reduce the effectiveness of Russia’s attempts to influence Americans’ thinking, and deter this activity in the future by making it less effective.

The very Soviet-sounding "Alliance for Securing Democracy" project description ends with a suitably authoritarian warning, ripped from the pages of 1984, Darkness at Noon, or Erich Honecker's "how-to" guide:

We are not telling you what to think, but we believe you should know when someone is trying to manipulate you. What you do with that information is up to you.

Chilling, no? And much of it is being done with your money by your government and in your name.

That is why the neocons and their myriad think tanks (government-funded in many cases) would like nothing more than to shut down our upcoming Peace and Prosperity 2017 Conference, to be held right at their front door! They cannot stand an open debate about Washington's hyper-interventionist foreign policy. They don't want to talk about all their failed wars — and they really don't want to talk about the wars they have planned and are pushing.

We are not the anti-Americans. They are. They hate the First Amendment. They hate debate. They hate us.

These Are The Cities Where Rent Hikes Leave The Most People Homeless

The idea that rising rents beget increases in a city’s homeless population is nothing new. But in a recent study, Zillow, the online real-estate database company, used a mix of government and proprietary data to examine how much influence an increase in the first variable has on the second.

The result was surprising.

Using a mix of government data and its own proprietary databases, the company found that the magnitude of rising rents’ impact on local homeless population varies widely between cities, even when two of those cities both have worsening homelessness problems.

For example, when the rent rises 5 percent in Atlanta, another 83 people become homeless. In New York, about 3,000 do, according to a Bloomberg analysis of the data.

“That 5 percent rent hike in Atlanta can be expected to boost the homeless population by 1.5 percent—in New York, by 3.9 percent. Cities such as Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and Detroit may have smaller homeless populations, but theirs are also sensitive to rising rents."

The key variable here, as Skylar Olsen, a senior economist at Zillow, explains is the amount of slack, or rental vacancy rate, in a given market.

“Rent hikes are likelier to force more people into homelessness in housing markets with less slack, said Skylar Olsen, a senior economist at Zillow. Cities such as Houston and Tampa, she added, have been more successful in preventing rising rents from forcing people out of their homes. The study used the geographic definitions that HUD uses to count homeless populations, she said.

 

The U.S. is short more than 7 million housing units that extremely low-income households can afford, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which defines such households as earning less than 30 percent of area median income. Such low-income renters may not be living in homes with the area’s median rent, but a median rent hike can boost prices for even the cheapest market-rate units.

 

‘There’s an overarching supply of units that’s becoming a real problem,’ Olsen said. ‘People move down the ladder, and it pushes everyone else down, and eventually the bottom rung falls off.’”

Of course, rent isn’t the only factor affecting rates of homelessness; government-assistance programs funded by Housing and Urban Development keep hundreds of thousands of borderline Americans in their own homes.

Now, the White House is proposing legislation that would strip $7.4 billion from HUD’s 2018 budget. Those cuts would eliminate 250,000 rental-assistance vouchers from the Section 8 housing program, according to Bloomberg. The cuts mean that the local housing officials who distribute the vouchers will need to reduce, or in some cases remove, their assistance.

Some of those cuts will be cushioned by regular turnover, since some voucher recipients move out of the program every year, for one reason or another. But the level of proposed cuts means many local housing authorities will have to reduce how much assistance they supply to voucher holders—or, in some cases, take it away entirely. According to data from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, the US economy is already short 7 million affordable homes. A policy change like this one would likely cause that number to rise.