The World’s Two Superpower Countries Are Walking On The Edge Of The Abyss In Syria

Authored by Elijah J. Magnier,

For the first time since he is in office, the US President Donald Trump has launched a clear threat in the direction of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin saying “he will pay a price”. This menace is related to the claim that the Syrian army had launched a chemical attack against the city of Duma, in eastern Ghouta, the last stronghold of Saudi Arabia’s proxies close to Damascus.

Trump is maybe thinking of bombing the Syrian Army positions spread throughout the Syrian geography, or perhaps even the Al-Muhajereen President’s palace in Damascus- of course, without necessarily saying when and where his army will strike.

On the other side, Russia is saying it won’t stand still and will respond to any threat against its soldiers. Indeed, Russian officers are deployed in every single Syrian unit on the ground and in command and control headquarters in the Levant, coordinating and participating in attacks against jihadists since September 2015. Therefore, it is almost certain that any direct hit against the Syrian Army will cause Russian casualties.

Such an act of war may trigger a Russian response by President Putin who will certainly not want to look weak in front of Russian politicians, the Russian military and in front of his own people. Russia has just returned to the international arena, not only as a country in possession of nuclear weapons, but also as a country trying to create a world balance and put an end to the US unilateral dominance that Washington enjoyed since the Perestroika in 1991.

But how could the US benefit from military action in Syria?

The mainstream media, the think tank generously financed and nourished by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrein, Trump’s team and the intelligence community- are all asking the US President to go to war in Syria to change the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and replace it with “freedom fighters” that the same Donald Trump is very familiar with and has specifically criticised.

These rely on a video by activists close to the jihadists, claiming civilians were killed by a chemical attack on the city of Duma, which has gone viral on social media.

The world chooses to believe mainstream media reporting the content of this video without proof or reference to any verified sources or neutral investigation by any reliable and international investigation committee. The lies of mainstream media during the war in Syria are too numerous to count, amplified by a journalism motivated by the “regime change” agenda, rather than by accurately reporting verifiable events.

It was perfectly possible for the world to send an international investigation team, since the jihadists of “Jaish al-Islam” have been talking for a long time with the Russians, who are coordinating the exit of these to the north of Syria. Nonetheless, this option seems unavailable and remains unused. The US thirst for waging war and seeing blood flow may not be realisable if the jihadists’ version of the “incident” were seen to be untrue.

What is more plausible is the fact that the US is not after Assad’s head to cut off, but after Putin’s hands, to cut him off from his new dominance over the Levant.Moreover, what the US would like to see ending is Russia offering the possibility of rejecting US supremacy to Middle Eastern countries (and others in far continents to reject US supremacy).

The other problem the US finds difficult to digest is the fact that both Assad and Putin have won the war with the help of Iran, and that the US failed to change the regime, and did not protect its Kurdish allies in Afrin. It was unable to stop its NATO partner, Turkey, from striking alliances with Russia and Iran.

Moreover, the Jihadists (al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” ISIS) card failed to achieve their objective to replacing a secular Syrian regime with a bloody radical Islamic regime. These Takferee were willing to eliminate the presence of all minorities (Christian, Shia, Allawite and others) and cover the Middle East with black banners. Transforming the Middle East into a sectarian arena and creating failed states like in Libya was not possible to reproduce in the Levant, thanks to the strategies pursued by Russia and Iran.

So as a winner, it would be foolish for Assad to use chemical attacks and turn the entire world against him when he is about to celebrate his total victory over Ghouta. The city of Duma was not only surrounded but thousands of Jihadists had already left.

Negotiations failed last week only because these Jihadists in Duma were buying time and were asked to hold on until the world intervened in their favour. They have presented many excuses to their Russian interlocutor asking that:

  • 1000 of these would remain in the city and take up the police role.
  • The $900 million they have accumulated throughout the years from taxes and donations should be transported outside Ghouta by those exiting to the north of Syria.
  • No Syrian intelligence services be allowed to be in Duma.

All these demands were rejected by the Russian and the Syrian government, who finally understood that the jihadists were waiting for something, a hope: a chemical attack! This is why Russia and Damascus ordered the military to resume the pressure. Today over 165,000 jihadists and civilians left eastern Ghouta and the remaining twenty to thirty thousands are expected to leave in the coming days.

So Damascus will be totally cleared and no force on the ground – as the US four star general Joseph Votel said – can make a change on the ground in Syria or defeat /change the regime. Therefore, there will be no one who could take advantage of the consequences of a possible US attack on Syria in the coming days.

Furthermore, a possible US war in the Middle East would cost hundreds of billions of dollars to Trump, he who is digging into the Saudi and Emirates’ pockets to take every single penny, for any excuse.

It is not a matter of cost or a question of human principle because Saudi Arabia, with US, France and UK support, has been killing tens of thousands of Yemenites for 3 years without blinking an eyelid, under the gaze of the world.

It is absolutely not a matter of “chemical attack”, because Russia warned the world about this staged excuse Jihadists were preparing, weeks before it was announced to the world in Duma. When it comes to human casualties, the US, responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths as a result of the embargo on Iraq (and indeed in many other US “adventures”), clearly has almost zero sensitivity, considering these casualties as collateral damage.

So what can hundreds of tomahawks do against the empty Presidential Palace? Are these going to create a difference on the ground? Will bombing Syrian Army airports and military bases defeat Assad? No, it will only increase the number of those killed. The Syrian war casualties are close to 400,000 men, women and children. If the number becomes 401 or 405 or 410,000 to achieve……. There is no answer here but one: to slap the face of Putin and make him look weak, a head of state incapable of defending his friends and allies.

So the aim is to create a balance in the existing equation to embarrass Russia. The US has no friends, only “common interests”, whereas ‘rising Russia’ is striking alliances yet feels impotent to react faced with an American decision to strike Moscow’s ally.

Yes, all these possibilities exist. But these other possibilities are much more dangerous:

  • What if Syria decides to react by bombing Israel with dozens of missiles? Damascus already has an excuse to retaliate against the Israeli violation of its air space this week and the bombing of a military air base at the T4 in rural Homs, killing 8 Syrian and 7 Iranian officers. Iran, at the Syrian government’s request, supports the Syrian Army in its fight against jihadists.

  • What if US destroys the Syrian air force? Not a huge change because Russia overwhelms the sky above Syria and is running the show against the Jihadists. It would be an opportunity for the Syrian Air Force to get more modern jets.

  • What if Russia decides to react and hit back at all sources firing against Syria? What if Russia executes its menace and stands against the US? Are the American people ready to die for a country only few would manage to find on the world map? Are Americans ready to receive their children in plastic bags just because Moscow’s influence in the Levant is increasing and therefore bothering Washington?

This is a very dangerous game Trump is venturing into with his head hidden in the sand, without weighing all the possible consequences.

The two superpower countries are walking on the edge of the abyss.

Will both the US and Russia fall into it or will Trump stand down, pull out of this game with his tail between his legs, accept his defeat and try to find another less dangerous arena than the Levant to face Russia? Could it be that Trump is gathering larger coalition, to make sure Russia can’t respond against several nations, and therefore avoid a wider war? The coming days will carry the answer for the world.

This Japanese Firm Is Paying Employees In Bitcoin

As Japan becomes more accepting as cryptocurrencies as a means of exchange, a Japanese company is offering its employees the option to receive some of their pay in crypto.

The company, GMO Internet Group, said it introduced the option last month, and it will gradually be extended to all of the company’s 4,000 full-time employees.

Those opting in can select what portion of their monthly salary will be received in bitcoin, between a minimum of 10,000 yen (around $88) and a maximum of 100,000 yen ($882), Fortune said.

The company is even incentivizing its employees to choose the bitcoin option by offering to tack on a bonus of 10% to whatever portion of their salary is being paid in crypto. 

While Japanese labor laws require paying salaries in yen, GMO claims it’s not breaking any laws since the optional bitcoin payment would be based on mutual consent and deducted from an employee’s monthly paycheck.

Bitcoin

GMO registers domain names and offers web hosting and other services. It also launched an exchange in May, GMO-Z.com Coin, which was later rebranded as GMO Coin. In September, GMO announced it would invest $3 million to mine bitcoin beginning in early 2018.

The firm says it believes cryptocurrencies like bitcoin will evolve into “universal currencies” available to anyone globally, leading to a “new borderless economic zone.”

Of course, many financial luminaries from Warren Buffett to Ray Dalio to Robert Shiller would disagree.

Earlier this week, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller compared bitcoin to a “contagion” with rapid price fluctuations reflecting the “intensity of the epidemic”. He said this despite Fed officials’ insistence that the crypto market isn’t large enough to have an impact on the broader financial system.

According to Japanese bitcoin monitoring site Jpbitcoin.com, yen-denominated bitcoin trading reached a record 4.51 million bitcoins last year – or nearly half of the volume on the world’s major exchanges.

America 2.0

Authored by “Dr.D.” via Raul Ilargi Meijer’s Automatic Earth blog,

Herbert Stein’s Law states “What Can’t Go On Forever, Doesn’t.” 

This is a neat summary of the present trade and currency imbalance. China makes real goods and the U.S. consumes them by typing digits on a keyboard. This is the very definition of what cannot go on forever.

  • How long do you expect a nation can make nothing and consume everything?

  • How long do you expect a nation without manufacturing, without a workforce, and now without a viable military to remain pre-eminent?

  • How long does wealth and influence remain in a nation that makes nothing, does nothing, and knows nothing?

Reminds me of that other Law: “A fool and his money should be parted as soon as possible”, for to be wealthy, and helpless, and dumb, is not a combination that lasts for very long.

Since China cannot send the U.S. free goods forever, ergo, they won’t. That means slowly or quickly, now or later, they will cut us off. Right now it appears that can never happen, but I assure you it will very soon. And what will the U.S. do then?

Actually, that’s very simple: the U.S. will have to close a $600B trade deficit instantly. Roughly, that means the U.S. will no longer import $600B worth of goods and be $600B/year poorer, or $2,000/year per person. Nor is this unusual. History is rife with examples of nations that once were prosperous and were suddenly cut off: Spain and Greece come immediately to mind. So how does this happen?

The Core nation, the trading hub has failed dozens of times in history, from Venice to Holland, Spain to England, and although most of history was on a gold standard, nevertheless the same thing happened: repudiation and devaluation of the currency. That’s why a U.K. Pound is no longer a troy pound of pure silver ($192) and why the U.S. Dollar is no longer 1/20th ounce of gold ($267). So let’s run down how this might unfold.

Like other empires, the U.S. rose to prominence with hard work and industry. Like other empires, this personal and physical industry was the foundation of an effective military. This military eventually stood alone, leaving the U.S. to set the rules of trade, the rules of diplomacy, and the rules of conduct. Like other nations, the U.S. bent those rules in its own favor, both early and late. Like other nations, the natural way to take advantage was to run an overvalued currency, which draws in capital from all trading partners worldwide, creating a 100-year spiral of wealth and influence that seems truly endless.

However math, the cruelest of Mother Nature’s laws, is not fooled. If you bend the rules to create market distortions, those distortions are indeed created. If there were fair trade, a gold standard, a nation that increases their wealth would find its currency rise. A rising currency would dampen manufacturing and efficiency, the gold would flow back out, and the unfair advantage would be corrected. But only in a free market. Any market on Earth has an Army, and that Army’s job day and night is to make sure that unfair advantage does NOT end. Ask Smedley Butler.

Mother Nature is never deterred. However long it takes, she waits. Lacking fair trade, an abnormally strong currency does the only other thing it can: destroy the Core nation’s industry, totally and completely. More certain than a nuclear explosion, economics will not miss a single spot until the wrong is righted and the truth is out. At first the low-gain commodity industries go: mining, shipping, smelting; then their sooty kinsmen: heavy rail, ships, ports, transportation.

After that go the lighter industries: manufacturing, stamping, autos, and so on up to mainframes, silicon chips and phones, and with them, their children, manufacturing processes and R&D. However, as London and NY showed, you can forestall currency correction even now by moving market distortions into services and financial engineering. At this point, however, the Core nation has nothing left but Banks, Universities, and the Government/Military, and no underlying economy to support them.

However, what Charles Hugh Smith calls the fiefdoms of monopoly cartels and apparatchiks of the 1% now lead an empty parade, horse-whipping the uncompliant 99% into supporting an economy that exists only in their minds. And then “What can’t go on, doesn’t.” The empire collapses from within, to the total surprise of historians of the 1%, and the total lack of interest of the 99%, for whom it had already collapsed decades before.

And of the other side? Thanks to the overly-high currency of the Core nation, the perimeter nation has an artificially LOW currency. They didn’t do that, because they are by definition small and weak and aren’t using an army to set the rules. The artificially low currency leads to low costs, low labor, high enterprise, and in the mirror image of the Core nation, the constant INCREASE in manufacturing. The increase in wealth, and the addition of commodity goods, then heavy industry, then manufacturing, then R&D. Whose fault is that? Who used a worldwide army to enforce the very rules that gutted their homeland? Not the Vandals; not China. It was Rome; it was D.C.

What is this whole imbalance based on? In our case, the artificially strong dollar, backed by a worldwide U.S. military. So how must it end? With a weak dollar, falling real markets, and a U.S. military returning home.

You say this can’t happen? Yet it must happen. To say otherwise means China will give us free goods for 10,000 years, and the U.S. will get always weaker that whole time. So how does the transition go?

The U.S. financial bulwark cracks, being highest and most based on psychology, not reality, very likely in conjunction to a military failure or withdrawal, as in empire finance, the military and currency are equivalent. Slowly, then rapidly, the tide flows out, the U.S. dollar gets weaker, the Chinese Yuan gets stronger, and the whole process reversed as it should have done years ago.

(mind the log scale)

Mother Nature isn’t fooled, and those 70 years of repression and manipulation are made up in a few years.

Down on the ground, what happens is not that China shuts off free imports to the U.S. directly, with a political embargo, what happens is the U.S. is seen as a has-been and the U.S. dollar falls in purchasing power on the world market, raising the price of foreign goods in a “free” and “open” marketplace. Lacking manufacturing and the military power to stop it, the U.S. can’t hold off Mother Nature and the laws of physics any more.

Knowing this to be inevitable, how would a nation prepare? For one thing, you would need to kick-start your industry, post-haste. Anything that can be made internally will find its prices stabilize and not rise. Yet before the currency rates are corrected this face overwhelming headwinds. Second, as income will be lost and the borders will be shut off, you need to switch the focus of taxation from income to tariffs, from finance to real goods.

Third, you need to open your pipelines, ports, and infrastructure, and expand the required steel, oil by any means necessary, even armed standoffs. Fourth, you’ll need to shove the culture away from government support and subsidies that will soon disappear, and into self-reliance and productivity. Firth, you’ll need to downsize the government and especially the military, which will and must return home. Any of those platforms sound familiar?

Despite what you read, it’s not all bad. Just as “The arrogant people will be brought down, and high and mighty people will be humbled”, “Every valley shall be raised up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth.”

This is a master reversal of all manipulations, of all imbalances that have reached extremes. As the U.S. – China trade deficit must balance, we know that Chinese goods must rise. But that also means the cost of production for U.S. goods must fall. This cost-advantage puts Americans back to work just as it did the Chinese, while the rise of the Yuan will make China rich, but less productive.

What’s more, as matters reverse, the U.S. will raise prices on their exports: food and oil, two things China must have and cannot get elsewhere. Agriculture is at an all-time, 1,000 year low and must rise. Stocks and housing are at an all-time high and must fall. In a reversal, the high prices fall, the low prices rise, that’s obvious. That’s what “reversal” means, that’s what “extreme” means.

As for manufacturing, the world is changing fast. Even China is opening “dark” factories that employ no people, only robots. That will be true here as well, which undercuts any labor savings they once had. There’s a few problems, however: robotic mega-factories only work with very large scale of identical goods that can source reliable, high-quality inputs. If oil is too high, and/or shipping or marketing fractures, those factories scale down, retool more, and therefore require more people than presently.

How is China going to have huge robotic mega-factories if half their export market can no longer afford them? If the U.S. and China split the market, aren’t all those factories half the size of present? Since the U.S. will now have low-cost people and raw materials, what advantage does China bring to offset shipping and tariffs? The “market” isn’t uniform. There was worldwide mass-integration of manufacturing between India and England and the world in 1910 too, yet it’s didn’t persist; it changed.

One way it can change is to leapfrog China. We hear about how the U.S. is a has-been as we are supporting legacy copper telephones while the 3rd world goes directly to fiber and cell, and this is true. However, China has mainlined on low-price, low-profit, mass-manufacturing. Why would anyone compete with them there? It’s irrational. Build a baseline and let them have all the low-profit, environment-destroying work they want, the U.S. can’t and won’t beat them there.

We can beat them by leapfrogging into technology that’s out there, but no one is revealing yet, things they haven’t done, but Americans are good at doing: innovating, high-tech, medical. Much as I hate high-tech and its panacea as an answer, yet I believe there are goods, ideas out there that can transform the way things work.

Look at the rapid development and uptake of LEDs for example. The patent office is filled with them, and an outsized number are American. We have superconducting maglev, field physics, material science of no-weight foam, color-shifting paint, hyperconducting graphite, and transparent concrete to name a few. All there, all unused. Let’s make an example case in a very large, very quiet investment.

Medical and Biotech are to some extent used up, with overpriced, mass-market pharmaceuticals being rejected by price and form even by the wider population. But that’s so last-century. The new biotech is going to take a blood or DNA sample and synthesize a drug specifically for your blood and DNA. They are going to create another organ, a blood transfusion no one but you can use.

In one way, this may be more expensive, and that’s good for profits, but in another way, they will work for you, much better and guaranteed, and therefore fix your health faster, spare you useless drugs, bad side effects, and actually work, and therefore be cheaper. What does it take to make them? A complete revolution in drug manufacturing. Multi-billion dollars’ worth of equipment, extremely unique development and patents, a 20 year head start.

Could you sell such a thing to the Chinese? You bet. Could they get off retail manufacturing and scoop us on it? Not a chance. So you see how such a thing could happen, even with a U.S. dollar falling and a hard readjustment ahead. And that’s just one.

If boutique and robotic goods are the new industries, what do we do with 200 million unemployed? We won’t have 200 million. That’s a consequence of the distorted extreme of our finance, our centralization, our currency. For one thing, we have only 100 million now and a lower dollar will definitely restore the competitive advantage of highly-productive U.S. workers. At the same time, if work requires fewer workers, we will find a solution. Why?

Because you can’t have 200 million unemployed. Not even 100 million. The resulting inequity and income disparity can and has caused a revolution. Faced with that, any nation will adjust because they must or perish. As difficult as Americans can be, they are a practical people above all. This has happened to dozens of nations in the past: Spain, France, Germany, England, China, Japan, and they all still exist. Things rotated out in the big wheel of time. New things were made and the old ones faded away, and we will too.

We’re going back to being just one of many nations, and a fair and productive one too. There are ways and we will find them. How can I be so sure? Because “What Can’t Go On Forever, Doesn’t,” and it won’t this time either.

Four CBS Producers “Terrified” Over Upcoming Charlie Rose Sex Scandal Exposé

CBS has been scrambling to have employees sign NDAs in order to silence potential sources ahead of an upcoming Exposé on Charlie Rose in the Washington Post, reports Page Six.

We’re told that CBS News president David Rhodes, “CBS This Morning” executive producer Ryan Kadro, “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager and former “CBS This Morning” executive producer Chris Licht are all terrified about a looming Washington Post investigation that’s now been in the works for months.

There are a lot of executives looking around corners, hoping they’re not named in the story,” an industry insider told us. “[CBS is] trying to suppress [the story] by using the NDAs.” Meanwhile, said the source, “Jeff, Ryan and David are all waiting for the other shoe to drop.”  –Page Six

Page Six notes the hypocrisy of CBS News framing alleged Donald Trump mistress Stormy Daniels as “brave” for breaking her NDA, while forcing their own employees to sign them. 

Rose, a veteran journalist and paragon of the MSM saw his nearly half-century career end within hours of eight women coming forward in a November 2017 Washington Post Exposé  accusing him of predatory “casting couch” behavior similar to Harvey Weinstein. 

Eight women have told The Washington Post that longtime television host Charlie Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.

The women were employees or aspired to work for Rose at the “Charlie Rose” show from the late 1990s to as recently as 2011. They ranged in age from 21 to 37 at the time of the alleged encounters. Rose, 75, whose show airs on PBS and Bloomberg TV, also co-hosts “CBS This Morning” and is a contributing correspondent for “60 Minutes.” –WaPo

*POOF* …end of the road Charlie. 

Rose issued an “I’m sorry and ashamed for walking around with my dick out and groping women” statement before his dishonorable discharge into a shame-filled retirement full of country-club whisperings and fewer holiday parties, we imagine. 

It looks, however, like the Washington Post isn’t done with Rose – as those previously in his orbit who may have enabled his behavior appear to be firmly in the crosshairs of JEFF BEZOS (and his robot dog).