Asia Pacific shares plunge into bear territory amid fears over global economy

Markets fall from Sydney to Shanghai as analyst warns that broad selloff could turn into a ‘capitulation’

Shares in Asia Pacific have plunged into bear market territory and wiped billions off the values of companies as one analyst warned that the losses could be a harbinger of a wholesale “capitulation”.

After the worst day for tech stocks on Wall Street for seven years, markets were in retreat from Sydney to Shanghai as concerns about the global economy and rising borrowing costs were compounded by local factors.

Related: Dow Jones falls 600 points as market volatility continues –as it happened

There are many symptoms but no one can diagnose the illness.

Geopolitics, rising bond U.S. bond yields, a more hawkish looking U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed), slowing Chinese growth, a strong U.S. dollar and the already well known problems in some emerging economies have all contributed to the market unease.

…and the VIX spiked to over 26, a level last seen in February.This similarity obfuscates two (related) differences. First, less enthusiasm on the part of #investors to buy the dip. Second, accumulated evidence that the #Fed no longer has the #markets back covered as in the past

Bad day for Aussie stocks with #ASX200 down to lowest in a year. Now on longest losing streak since Sept. 10. Financials have entered a bear market. #ausbiz #auspoll @BloombergAU @markets

Chart: South Korea’s stocks in bear-market territory –

If the month ended today, it would be the worst monthly decline for the S&P 500 Total Return Index since February 2009: -8.8%. $SPX

Related: Stock market investors are finally facing up to global turmoil

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To trust each other again, we need to become more equal | Larry Elliott

The gap between rich and poor has been widening for decades, driving a climate of mistrust that harms us all

From Adam Smith onwards, economists have recognised that trust is the glue that binds societies together. Nations in which people trust each other have stronger institutions, are more open, have less corruption, grow faster and are nicer places to live. Trust is notable by its absence in police states.

So it is a matter of concern that trust has become an increasingly rare commodity. In the US, there has been a precipitous drop in faith in the government. Almost four out of five Americans trusted Washington to do the right thing when Eisenhower and John F Kennedy were in the White House. Under Donald Trump, that has fallen to one in five. In Britain, Theresa May is trying to finesse a Brexit deal at a time when parliament is even less trusted than the banks. By a distance, the most trusted institution in the UK is the military. We don’t trust big business, we don’t trust the City, we don’t trust the newspapers – and we certainly don’t trust politicians.

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‘Bloggers’ Blasted For Questioning Establishment ‘White Helmets’ Narrative

Authored by Rick Sterling via Oriental Review,

The October 16 issue of NY Review of Books has an article by Janine di Giovani titled “Why Assad and Russia Target the White Helmets”. The article exemplifies how western media promotes the White Helmets uncritically and attacks those who challenge the myth.

Crude & Disingenuous Attack

Giovani’s article attacks several journalists by name. She singles out Vanessa Beeley and echoes the Guardian’s characterization of Beeley as the “high priestess of Syria propaganda”. She does this without challenging a single article or claim by the journalist. She might have acknowledged that Vanessa Beeley has some familiarity with the Middle East; she is the daughter of one of the foremost British Arabists and diplomats including British Ambassador to Egypt. Giovanni might have explored Beeley’s research in Syria that revealed the White Helmets founder (British military contractor James LeMesurier) assigned the name Syria Civil Defence despite the fact there is a real Syrian organization by that name that has existed since the 1950’s. For the past several years, Beeley has done many on-the-ground reports and investigations in Syria. None of these are challenged by Giovanni. Just days ago Beeley published a report on her visit to the White Helmets headquarters in Deraa.

Giovanni similarly dismisses another alternative journalist, Eva Bartlett. Again, Giovanni ignores the fact that Bartlett has substantial Middle East experience including having lived in Gaza for years. Instead of objectively evaluating the journalistic work of these independent journalists, Giovanni smears their work as “disinformation”. Presumably that is because their work is published at alternative sites such as 21st Century Wire and Russian media such as RT and Sputnik. Beeley and Bartlett surely would have been happy to have their reports published at the New York Review of Books, Newsweek or other mainstream outlets. But it’s evident that such reporting is not welcome there. Even Seymour Hersh had to go abroad to have his investigations on Syria published.

The New McCarthyism

Max Blumenthal is another journalist singled out by Giovanni. Blumenthal is the author of three books, including a NY Times bestseller and the highly acclaimed “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel”. Giovanni describes his transition from “anti-Assad” to “pro-Assad” and suggests his change of perspective was due to Russian influence. She says, “Blumenthal went to Moscow on a junket to celebrate RT’s tenth anniversary. We don’t know what happened during that visit, but afterwards, Blumenthal’s views completely flipped.” Instead of examining the facts presented by Blumenthal in articles such as “Inside the Shadowy PR Firm that’s Lobyying for Regime Change in Syria”, Giovanni engages in fact-free McCarthyism. Blumenthal explained the transition in his thinking in a public interview. He also described the threats he experienced when he started to criticize the White Helmets and their public relations firm, but this is ignored by Giovanni.

Contrary to Giovanni’s assumptions, some western journalists and activists were exposing the White Helmets long before the story was publicized on Russian media. In spring 2015 the basic facts about the White Helmets including their origins, funding and role in the information war on Syria were exposed in my article “Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators”. The article showed how the White Helmets were a key component in a campaign pushing for a “No Fly Zone” in Syria. It confirmed that the White Helmets is a political lobby force.

In spring 2016, Vanessa Beeley launched a petition “Do NOT give the Nobel Peace Prize to the White Helmets”. That petition garnered more support than a contrary petition urging the Nobel Prize committee to give the award to the White Helmets. Perhaps because of that, the petition was abruptly removed without explanation from the website. It was only at this time, with publicity around the heavily promoted nomination of the White Helmets for a Nobel Peace Prize that RT and other Russian media started to publicize and expose the White Helmets. That is one and a half years after they were first exposed in western alternative media.

White Helmets and Chemical Weapons Accusations 

Giovanni ignores the investigations and conclusions of some of the most esteemed American journalists regarding the White Helmets and chemical weapons incidents in Syria.

The late Robert Parry published many articles exposing the White Helmets, for example The White Helmets Controversy and Syria War Propaganda at the Oscars. Parry wrote and published numerous investigations of the August 2013 chemical weapons attack and concluded the attacks were carried out by an opposition faction with the goal of pressuring the US to intervene militarily. Parry also challenged western conclusions regarding incidents such as April 4, 2017 at Khan Shaykhun. Giovanni breathlessly opens her article with this story while Parry revealed the impossibility of it being as described.

“Buried deep inside a new U.N. report is evidence that could exonerate the Syrian government in the April 4 sarin atrocity and make President Trump look like an Al-Qaeda dupe.”

Legendary American journalist, Seymour Hersh, researched and refuted the assumptions of Giovanni and the media establishment regarding the August 2013 chemical weapons attacks near Damascus. Hersh’s investigation, titled The Red Line and Rat Line, provided evidence the atrocity was carried out by an armed opposition group with active support from Turkey. A Turkish member of parliament provided additional evidence. The fact that Hersh had to go across the Atlantic to have his investigation published suggests American not Russian disinformation and censorship.

In addition to ignoring the findings of widely esteemed journalists with proven track records, Giovanni plays loose with the truth. In her article she implies that a UN investigation blamed the Syrian government for the August 2013 attack. On the contrary, the head of the UN investigation team, Ake Sellstrom, said they did not determine who was responsible. We do not have the evidence to say who did what ….The conflict in Syria is surrounded by a lot of rumors and a lot of propaganda, particularly when comes to the sensitive issue of chemical weapons.”

First Responders or Western Funded Propagandists?

Giovanni says, “But the White Helmets’ financial backing is not the real reason why the pro-Assad camp is so bent on defaming them. Since 2015, the year the Russians began fighting in Syria, the White Helmets have been filming attacks on opposition-held areas with GoPro cameras affixed to their helmets.”

In reality, the ‘White Helmets” have a sophisticated media production and distribution operation. They have much more than GoPro cameras. In many of their movie segments one can see numerous people with video and still cameras. Sometimes the same incident will be shown with one segment with an Al-Qaeda logo blending into the same scene with a White Helmets logo.

Giovanni claims “The Assad regime and the Russians are trying to neutralize the White Helmets because they   are potential witnesses to war crimes.” However the claims of White Helmet “witnesses” have little credibility. The White Helmet “volunteers” are paid three times as much as Syrian soldiers. They are trained, supplied and promoted by the same western states which have sought to regime change in Syria since 2011. An example of misleading and false claims by a White Helmets leader is exposed in Gareth Porter’s investigation titled “How a Syrian White Helmets Leader Played Western Media” . His conclusion could be directed to Giovanni and the NYReview of Books:

“The uncritical reliance on claims by the White Helmets without any effort to investigate their credibility is yet another telling example of journalistic malpractice by media outlets with a long record of skewing coverage of conflicts toward an interventionist narrative.”

When the militants (mostly Nusra / Al-Qaeda) were expelled from East Aleppo, civilians reported that the White Helmets were mostly concerned with saving their own and performing publicity stunts. For example the photo of the little boy in east Aleppo looking dazed and confused in the back of a brand new White Helmet ambulance was essentially a White Helmet media stunt eagerly promoted in the West. It was later revealed the boy was not injured, he was grabbed without his parent’s consent. Eva Bartlett interviewed and photographed the father and family for her story “Mintpress Meets the Father of Iconic Aleppo Boy and says Media Lied About his Son”.

A Brilliant Marketing Success

The media and political impact of the White Helmets shows what money and marketing can do. An organization that was founded by a military contractor with funding from a western governments was awarded the Rights Livelihood Award. The organization was seriously considered to received the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize just three years after its formation.

The Netflix infomercial “The White Helmets” is an example of the propaganda. The scripted propaganda piece, where the producers did not set foot in Syria, won the Oscar award for best short documentary. It’s clear that lots of money and professional marketing can fool a lot of people. At $30 million per year, the White Helmets budget for one year is more than a decade of funding for the real Syrian Civil Defence which covers all of Syria not just pockets controlled by armed insurgents.

Unsurprisingly, it has been announced that White Helmets will receive the 2019 “Elie Wiesel” award from the heavily politicized and pro-Israel Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. This, plus the recent “rescue” of White Helmets by the Israeli government, is more proof of the true colors of the White Helmets. Vanessa Beeley’s recent interview with a White Helmet leader in Deraa revealed that ISIS and Nusra terrorists were part of the group “rescued” through Israel.

The Collapsing White Helmets Fraud

Giovanni is outraged that some journalists have successfully challenged and put a big dent in the White Helmets  aura. She complains, “The damage the bloggers do is immense.”

Giovanni and western propagandists are upset because the myth is deflating. Increasing numbers of people – from a famous rock musician to a former UK Ambassador – see and acknowledge the reality.

As described in Blumenthal’s article, “How the White Helmets Tried to Recruit Roger Waters with Saudi Money”, rock legend Roger Waters says, “If we were to listen to the propaganda of the White Helmets and others, we would encourage our governments to start dropping bombs on people in Syria. This would be a mistake of monumental proportions…”

Peter Ford, the former UK Ambassador to Syria, sums it up like this:

 “The White Helmets are jihadi auxiliaries… They are not, as claimed by themselves and by their supporters… simple rescuers. They are not volunteers. They are paid professionals of disinformation.”

Giovanni claims her article is a “forensic take down of the Russian disinformation campaign to distort the truth in Syria.” In reality, Giovanni’s article is an example of western disinformation using subjective attacks on critics and evidence-free assertions aligned with the regime change goals of the West.

Cartel Chaos: Tijuana Murders Top 2,000; US Offers $10mln For Cartel Boss ‘El Mencho’ 

As a dangerous cartel war erupts in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, a total of 2,000 homicides were reported by government officials in the first ten months of 2018, said, a local Mexican news agency. 

As of Saturday, a total of 126 homicides were recorded for October, with the new total coming in at 2,005 killings for the year, as per the Attorney General’s Office of the State (PGJE) report. 

“I believe that there is still a lack of coordination of the authorities of the three orders of the government; this coordination requires the political will and the main one must be the Governor of the State, that the corresponding work be done to have results also in the matter of homicides (translated in English via Google Translator),” said the head of the Citizen Council of Public Security of the State (CCSP), Juan Manuel Hernandez Niebla. 

Niebla said the record number of homicides for the Tijuana region had caused citizens to seek shelter as the cartel drug war spirals out of control. 

Tijuana homicides per month during 2018: 

  • January – 191 
  • February -177
  • March – 184
  • April – 212
  • May – 216
  • June – 221
  • July – 253
  • August 211
  • September – 214
  • October – 126 (as of Oct. 20th)

The Secretary of Municipal Public Safety, Marco Antonio Sotomayor Amezuca, reiterated that a spike in murders is due to a power struggle between two drug cartels: the Sinaloa cartel and the Jalisco Nueva Generacion. 

“What has been happening in this time is the empowerment of a criminal group that has gained more strength; they began to hear the presence of a foreign cartel and even the authorities do not have much information, it was said that there was no presence and suddenly we realized that there was a presence, even before this administration (translated into English via Google Translator),” Amezuca explained. 

Last week, the U.S. Government offered an unprecedented $10 million bounty for the leader of the Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel. 

Nemesio Ruben Oseguera Cervantes, 52, known as “El Mencho,” is a fugitive and labeled as a major “Kingpin” under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in April 2015. 

The cartel’s primary business is running methamphetamines into Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta.  

Experts have said, “El Mencho” is primarily the reason for the violent flare-up in Tijuana. Drug cartels have recently launched a cartel war for control of Tijuana because of its strategic importance of transporting drugs into the U.S.

In August, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unveiled a few strategies to combat drug cartels with the Mexican government, military, and the federal police. These plans called for attacking cartels’ financial structure and the creation of a new enforcement program based in Chicago that monitors international investigations of cartels. 

As long as the American addiction crisis continues to spur demand of low-cost drugs from Mexican drug cartels, the war over US market share between cartels will only get worse.


US Must Protect Itself Against China Cyber War

Authored by Richard Fisher via The Epoch Times,

The storm of controversy has yet to subside following the Oct. 4 Bloomberg Businessweek blockbuster story that San Jose, California-based Super Micro Computer Inc.’s made-in-China computer motherboards were secretly “hacked” by the People’s Liberation Army over a two-year period. Another episode in the China cyberwar saga.

This particular hack potentially enabled back-door access to the computers of companies such as Apple and Amazon and U.S. government agencies including the Department of Defense, CIA, NSA, and the Navy.

Immediate security implications for the United States and many other countries are enormous, so it’s not surprising that, weeks later, denials of the report far exceed affirmations.

The day the story was released, Super Micro, Amazon, and Apple denied being affected, and on Oct. 18 Apple CEO Tim Cook asked Bloomberg to retract its story.

Officials from the NSA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security have expressed doubts.

During a U.S. Senate hearing Oct. 9, Kirstjen Nielsen, DHS director, said while DHS did not have evidence to support Bloomberg’s contention of computer supply chain interference, she also said, “It is a very real and emerging threat that we are very concerned about.”

Also on Oct. 9, Bloomberg reported that “a major U.S. telecommunications company” had removed Super Micro computer hardware deemed “manipulated” by China, citing Yossi Appleboum, cybersecurity expert and former Israeli Army intelligence officer.

He also told Bloomberg that he has seen similar Chinese manipulations of computer hardware made by various Chinese vendors, noting there are “countless” points in the Chinese supply chain where manipulations can be introduced.

China Wants to Control Global Cyberspace

This controversy will continue, but we can pause to consider its first major message: China is engaged in a war to control global cyberspace.

This is a vital part of its driving ambition to eclipse the United States as the principle global military power and to impose military control over the Earth-Moon system. Furthermore, until the United States can revive Cold War-era-like cooperation among the democratic allies which protects their military dual-use technology and fights back against China’s cyber war, China increasingly will pervert and weaponize the life-enhancing potential offered by digital technologies in its effort to contain and eventually dominate us.

A stark lesson in the pitfalls of cyber-hubris was offered by former President Bill Clinton, who in an October 2000 speech argued for China to be allowed to join the World Trade Organization. He stated the internet would “change China,” suggesting it would weaken Chinese Communist Party (CCP) control.

Today, CCP totalitarianism is enhanced by its control over its internet Great Wall, which isolates Chinese from the global web; allows increasingly intimate control over them via “smart cities” that record their physical movement; and enables future “social credit scores” that will grade their online support for the CCP in order to determine access to better cities, education, and jobs.

Could China someday assign similar social credit scores to everybody who works or plays online?

The China-Super Micro Connection

To do so, China would require the kind of global backdoor access to computer systems said to have been provided by the Chinese contractors making the hardware for Super Micro.

This past January, it was reported that for five years the new African Union headquarters built by China also has been hacked to send confidential information back to China.

Governments increasingly ban or discourage relying on Chinese telecommunication equipment vendors like Huawei or ZTE, while since October 2016 the Pentagon has warned against using Chinese-made Lenovo computers.

Add to this China’s pervasive 24-7 mining of global computer networks, and its specific attacks against companies and databases to amass military, economic, political, and personal data.

This becomes deadly serious considering that in late 2015 the People’s Liberation Army created a new military service, the Strategic Support Force, to ensure China wins in new battlefields dominated by cyber warfare, databases, electronic warfare, energy weapons, and space warfare.

If China can stealthily “manipulate” their computer hardware, it might also be able to turn against us our future unmanned weapons, made deadlier with advances in artificial intelligence.

Thinking of waging a war against an interest of China’s? It may not be unreasonable to expect your officers, soldiers, and their families to receive dissuasive robocalls from China as the opening move in a much more destructive cyber assault. Imagine how China might seek to manipulate your future “brain chip,” especially if it was made in China.

Consequently, as the Trump administration has sought to illustrate in an Oct. 5 report on the U.S. manufacturing and defense industrial base, the United States must invest in reviving domestic American sources for military-critical industries, including those feeding our electronic infrastructure.

Washington also must go on the offensive. It should seek to revive proven institutions like the former Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls to better control China’s access to Western military technology.

There is also a need for a multilateral cyber and information campaign that exploits China’s cyber weaknesses. For example, obtaining the ability to manipulate the internet social credit scores of 300 million Chinese could turn up the political heat on the 90 million members of the CCP.