Fidel Narváez: “Those who think that they will break Julian Assange are mistaken”, by Monica del Pilar Uribe Marin

This article clarifies Julian Assange’s legal and political situation and dispells much of the mainstream media mythology. From Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marín at theprisma.co.uk:

Defamed, persecuted, harassed, and since March of this year cut off from the outside world, in Flat 3B, Knightsbridge, London, the founder of Wikileaks waits to learn the fate of his asylum status. It is a position that current Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has put at risk, but Assange is built for battles of this size. The former Consul of Ecuador knows him well, and wanted to speak out.

Julian Assange – Free Photo: Wikipedia Flickr bit.ly/2MG1hJW

Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marín

Since assuming power, Moreno has made no secret of the inconvenience caused by the ‘problem he inherited’ from his predecessor, and now seems to have made up his mind to expel Assange from the embassy. It is even said that the true purpose of his recent visit to the UK was to meet with British functionaries, agree terms for the end of the asylum, and hand Assange over to British authorities.

This comes as no surprise considering that Moreno regards Assange as, among other things, a ‘hacker’ who ‘made a mistake’ that ‘could cost him his life’, and while he has stated that Assange must be protected, Moreno is undeniably sensitive to US pressures.

He recently sanctioned Assange for ‘political interference’, denying him access to the internet or telephones, and prohibiting all visits except those from his lawyers.

Today Julian Assange – who has never left the building in Knightsbridge – finds himself in total confinement, faced with the possibility that his asylum may be withdrawn at any time. He is also suffering from various physical ailments and, as of a few days ago, dealing with the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s request that he privately testify in relation to Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

In other words, conditions in the Latin American country’s embassy in Knightsbridge are now very different to those that Assange experienced during the six years beginning  19 June  2012, when he arrived seeking political asylum. Ecuador’s government at the time, and its president Rafael Correa, openly accepted his request, believing Assange’s life to be in danger and admiring his fight to defend freedom of information and expression.

At that time the Consul of Ecuador in the UK was Fidel Narváez, who was tasked with accompanying Assange from the day he first set foot in the embassy.

To continue reading: Fidel Narváez: “Those who think that they will break Julian Assange are mistaken”

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How the Global Trade Contraction Begins, by MN Gordon

Like almost all financial measures, global trade doesn’t proceed ever upward, a straight line on a graph from lower left to upper right. From MN Gordon at economicprism.com:

The world grows increasingly at odds with itself, with each passing day.  Divided special elections.  Speech censorship by Silicon Valley social media companies.  Increased shrieking from Anderson Cooper.  You name it, a great pileup’s upon us.

From our perch overlooking San Pedro Bay, the main port of entry for Chinese made goods into the USA, facets of the mounting economic catastrophe come into focus.  These elements, even for the most untrained of eyes, are impossible to miss.

To meet the relentless expansion of international trade, berths have been widened, and channels have been deepened to accommodate the definitive absurdity of perpetual credit creation: The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin.  This mega container ship, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is over 20 stories tall, the width of a 12 lane freeway, and longer than four football fields.  It has enough cargo space to hold 90 million pairs of ‘Made In China’ shoes.

The secondary distortions of this mammoth – next generation – cargo ship will provide historical evidence to future generations of a political economy that went seriously awry.  For example, at the Port of Long Beach the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement is currently being constructed at a cost of $1.5 billion.  With two towers stretching 515 feet into the sky, this will be the second tallest cable-stayed bridge in the United States.

The purpose of the bridge replacement is to provide greater clearance into the Port’s Inner Harbor for mega container ships.  As the new bridge deck goes up, it dwarfs the prior edifice like some futuristic motorway traversing up to the heavens.  We’re certainly eager to drive it when it’s complete in late-2019.

Episodes of Global Trade Contraction

The general philosophy of the bridge’s proponents appears to be that global trade expands in perpetuity.  Hence, more and more space will be needed for more and more next generation container ships.  There’s even 50-years of data to support this belief.  But that doesn’t mean what is will always be.

To continue reading: How the Global Trade Contraction Begins

The Real Reason Why US-Turkey Relations Have Hit an All-Time Low, by Jim Carey

This is an excellent survey and analysis of the US-Turkey relationship. From Jim Carey at theantimedia.com:

Over the past week, US-Turkey relations have hit an all-time low, but how did these two allies end up at odds with each other?

If you’ve been watching the news over the past week you may think the current hostility between Washington and Ankara is about the US pastor, Andrew Brunson. Brunson, who has been in police custody or under house arrest in Turkey since October 2016, has now apparently become a high priority for the Trump Regime.

But why did this take so long? Vice President Mike Pence has known about Brunson since day one of the administration thanks to his ties to the US evangelical community but neither he or the President have previously expressed this level of outrage. There have already been low key talks between Washington and Ankara in the past concerning the return of Brunson to the US, but what the Western media isn’t reporting now is how these talks to return a US national fit into the bigger geopolitical picture of US-Turkey relations.

Andrew Brunson and Fethullah Gulen: “A Pastor for a Pastor”

Behind the general request by the US to return Andrew Brunson is a several-year-long process involving several closed-door meetings about the pastor between US and Turkish officials. During all of these meetings, the US demand was the same as it is now, but they weren’t the only one who wanted something out of the negotiations.

You aren’t hearing much about Ankara’s demands right now but Turkish President Recep Erdogan has previously said he would be willing to return the US pastor in exchange for Turkey’s own expat “pastor,” Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan made this perfectly clear at a rally for Turkish police officers in March, saying that the trade should be a no-brainer since “the one that we have [in our hands – Brunson] is being tried, the one you have [in your hands – Gulen] is not being tried.”

Gulen is the exiled cleric and former-Erdogan ally alleged to be behind a failed coup in July 2016 with supposed US assistance. Turkey has been asking for the return of Gulen since before the dust even settled after the coup attempt but the US has so far refused to extradite the charter-school magnate and religious leader.

To continue reading: The Real Reason Why US-Turkey Relations Have Hit an All-Time Low

The Obama Center Can Afford More Than $1 Rent, by Mark Glennon

The Obama Center is not going to a presidential library, it’s going to be Obama’s base for his continuing political operations. So why are taxpayers subsidizing it? From Mark Glennon at WirePoints via zerohedge.com:

It’s a political ‘institute,’ not a presidential library. So taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for anything…

When Barack Obama announced he would forgo a presidential library, the news was trumpeted as a win for good government. Instead, Mr. Obama would open an official center on Chicago’s South Side, funded entirely with private money. One author at Politico, who called presidential libraries a “scam,” wrote that Mr. Obama “will rip off the band-aid, removing government from what it has no business paying for.”

Now comes news that Illinois taxpayers will put up at least $174 million for roadway and transit reconfigurations needed to accommodate the Obama Center. If you don’t live in Illinois, you may be smirking – but you’ll be footing the bill, too. Eighty percent of such spending is generally reimbursed by the federal government, and Illinois officials confirmed to me that they expect to receive $139 million from Washington if they request it.

All that taxpayer money – and for what? Originally, Chicagoans imagined they’d be getting a true presidential library, akin to those they might have visited for Ronald Reagan in California or John F. Kennedy in Boston. But unlike those libraries, the Obama Center won’t be run by the National Archives and Records Administration. It won’t even house Mr. Obama’s records, artifacts and papers, which will be digitized and available online. Instead the center will be owned and operated by the Obama Foundation.

This wasn’t always the plan. In a 2014 request for proposal, the Obama Foundation said that the planned presidential library “will include an Institute that will enhance the pursuit of the President’s initiatives beyond 2017.” This institute now seems to have taken over the project. As the Chicago Tribune reported in February: “Obama said he envisions his center as a place where young people from around the world can meet each other, get training and prepare to become the next generation of leaders.” No doubt, his definition of “leaders” will be political.

To continue reading:

Why Trump Cancelled the Iran Deal, by Eric Zuesse

Trump is aligning with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Israel to maintain US economic and financial preeminence, which means opposing Iran at every juncture. From Eric Zuesse at strategic-culture.org:

The following is entirely from open online sources that I have been finding to be trustworthy on these matters in the past. These sources will be linked-to here; none of this information is secret, even though some details in my resulting analysis of it will be entirely new.

It explains how and why the bottom-line difference between Donald Trump and Barack Obama, regarding US national security policies, turns out to be their different respective estimations of the biggest danger threatening the maintenance of the US dollar as the world’s leading or reserve currency. This has been the overriding foreign-policy concern for both Presidents.

Obama placed as being the top threat to the dollar, a breakaway of the EU (America’s largest market both for exports and for imports) from alliance with the United States. He was internationally a Europhile. Trump, however, places as being the top threat to the dollar, a breakaway of Saudi Arabia and of the other Gulf Arab oil monarchies from the U.S. Trump is internationally a Sunni-phile: specifically a protector of fundamentalist Sunni monarchs — but especially of the Sauds themselves — and they hate Shia and especially the main Shia nation, Iran.

Here’s how that change, to Saudi Arabia as being America’s main ally, has happened — actually it’s a culmination of decades. Trump is merely the latest part of that process of change. Here is from the US State Department’s official historian, regarding this history:

By the 1960s, a surplus of US dollars caused by foreign aid, military spending, and foreign investment threatened this system [the FDR-established 1944 Bretton Woods gold-based US dollar as the world’s reserve currency], as the United States did not have enough gold to cover the volume of dollars in worldwide circulation at the rate of $35 per ounce; as a result, the dollar was overvalued. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson adopted a series of measures to support the dollar and sustain Bretton Woods: foreign investment disincentives; restrictions on foreign lending; efforts to stem the official outflow of dollars; international monetary reform; and cooperation with other countries. Nothing worked. Meanwhile, traders in foreign exchange markets, believing that the dollar’s overvaluation would one day compel the US government to devalue it, proved increasingly inclined to sell dollars. This resulted in periodic runs on the dollar.

To continue reading: Why Trump Cancelled the Iran Deal

 

Latest Sanctions Against Russia Show Trump Not in Control of his Administration, by F. Michael Maloof

The Skripal poisoning story is full of holes, but that’s not stopping the Trump administration from levying additional sanctions against Russia. From F. Michael Maloof at rt.com:

US President Donald Trump is not in control of his own administration, as evidenced by the latest round of sanctions imposed against Russia for the alleged involvement in the poisoning of the Skripals in the UK in March.

The sanctions came the same day that US Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced on a trip to Moscow that he had handed over a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin from Trump calling for better relations between the two countries.

For that reason, the timing appears to be suspect, suggesting strongly that Trump has his own foreign policy while the Trump administration, comprised mainly of bureaucrats referred to as the Deep State, have their own. Right now, they appear to be in control, not President Trump, over his own administration, and it is having the adverse effect of further alienating Washington and Moscow.

The neocons, led by National Security Advisor John Bolton, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, comprise the Trump “war cabinet” ostensibly aimed at directing a harder line toward Syria, North Korea, Iran but also Russia.

Bolton, in particular, has been outspoken in calling for regime change in some of  these countries. Trump not so much so. In fact, he has said just the opposite. Nevertheless, their anti-Russian flair in Washington has breathed new life into the neocons who, along with the Democrats, Deep State and much of the mainstream media, have pushed the false narrative of collusion between Russia and Trump.

This persistent anti-Russian rant and repeated sanctions which have been imposed have had the effect of leading to further threats of sanctions for questionable reasons, raising the potential prospect of suspension of diplomatic ties.

To continue reading: Latest Sanctions Against Russia Show Trump Not in Control of his Administration

Gun Owners Should Fear the Deep State, by James Bovard

The price of gun freedom, or some semblance of it, is eternal vigilance. From James Bovard at lewrockwell.com:

Unfortunately, the deep state could increasingly focus on gun owners in the coming years. The number of Americans who are violating firearm laws and regulations is increasing by tens or hundreds of thousands almost every year. This is not the result of a violent crime wave, but because politicians are continually criminalizing the possession of items that were previously legally owned.

Five years ago, the Connecticut legislature decreed that all owners of so-called “assault weapons” (which included any semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip) must register their firearms. Perhaps as few as 15 percent of gun owners bothered to comply with the new law—meaning that Connecticut had up to 100,000 “criminals” living within its border. A 2016 Albany Times Union editorial lamented that 96 percent of roughly 1 million New Yorkers who owned so-called “assault weapons” failed to comply with registration requirements. California gun bans have been met with similar, massive non-compliance. Undeterred, local governments have begun jumping on the bandwagon. Deerfield, Ill., recently decreed a $1,000-a-day penalty on anyone who fails to surrender or disable their semi-automatic firearms with cosmetic features that frighten politicians and editorial writers.

While such laws were made by elected officials, it is unelected bureaucrats who are largely left in charge of enforcement, and that can cause big problems for gun owners. Just before press time for this issue, it was reported that a California farmer who was simply trying to meet the state’s ever-changing restrictive gun laws by registering his rifle is being charged with 12 felonies after the state DOJ determined his AR-15 to be “illegally modified.” That determination served as grounds for the agency to raid the man’s home and confiscate 12 firearms, 230 rounds of ammunition and two suppressors. He was later released on $150,000 bond, and at press time the case was still pending.

To continue reading: Gun Owners Should Fear the Deep State