By Bill McKibben
[Photo: Mikael Miettien
ednesday morning, journalists at InsideClimate News
, a Website that has won the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on oil spills, published the first installment of a multi-part expose that will be appearing over the next month. The documents they have compiled and the interviews they have conducted with retired employees and officials show that, as early as 1977, Exxon (now ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest oil companies) knew that its main product would heat up the planet disastrously. This did not prevent the company from then spending decades helping to organize the campaigns of disinformation and denial that have slowed — perhaps fatally — the planet’s response to global warming.
There’s a sense, of course, in which one already assumed that this was the case. Everyone who’s been paying attention has known about climate change for decades now. But it turns out Exxon didn’t just “know” about climate change: it conducted some of the original research. In the nineteen-seventies and eighties, the company employed top scientists who worked side by side with university researchers and the Department of Energy, even outfitting one of the company’s tankers with special sensors and sending it on a cruise to gather CO2 readings over the ocean.
By 1977, an Exxon senior scientist named James Black was, according to his own notes, able to tell the company’s management committee that there was “general scientific agreement” that what was then called the greenhouse effect was most likely caused by man-made CO2; a year later, speaking to an even wider audience inside the company, he said that research indicated that if we doubled the amount of carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere, we would increase temperatures two to three degrees Celsius. That’s just about where the scientific consensus lies to this day. “Present thinking,” Black wrote in summary, “holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”
Those numbers were about right, too. It was precisely 10 years later — after a decade in which Exxon scientists continued to do systematic climate research that showed, as one internal report put it, that stopping “global warming would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion” — that NASA scientist James Hansen took climate change to the broader public, telling a congressional hearing, in June of 1988, that the planet was already warming. And how did Exxon respond? By saying that its own independent research supported Hansen’s findings? By changing the company’s focus to renewable technology?
That didn’t happen. Exxon responded, instead, by helping to set up or fund extreme climate-denial campaigns. (In a blog post responding to the I.C.N. report, the company said that the documents were “cherry-picked” to “distort our history of pioneering climate science research” and efforts to reduce emissions.) The company worked with veterans of the tobacco industry to try and infuse the climate debate with doubt. Lee Raymond, who became the Exxon C.E.O. in 1993 — and was a senior executive throughout the decade that Exxon had studied climate science — gave a key speech to a group of Chinese leaders and oil industry executives in 1997, on the eve of treaty negotiations in Kyoto. He told them that the globe was cooling, and that government action to limit carbon emissions “defies common sense.”
In recent years, it’s gotten so hot (InsideClimate’s expose coincided with the release of data showing that this past summer was the United States’ hottest in recorded history) that there’s no use denying it any more; Raymond’s successor, Rex Tillerson, has grudgingly accepted climate change as real, but has referred to it as an “engineering problem.” In May, at a shareholders’ meeting, he mocked renewable energy, and said that “mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity,” which would stand it in good stead in the case of “inclement weather” that “may or may not be induced by climate change.”
The influence of the oil industry is essentially undiminished, even now. The Obama Administration may have stood up to Big Coal, but the richer Big Oil got permission this summer to drill in the Arctic; Washington may soon grant the rights for offshore drilling along the Atlantic seaboard, and end a longstanding ban on oil exports. All these measures help drive the flow of carbon into the atmosphere — the flow of carbon that Exxon knew almost 40 years ago would likely be disastrous.
We’ve gotten so inured to this kind of corporate power that the report in InsideClimate News received relatively little coverage. The big news of the day on social media came from Irving, Texas, where the police handcuffed a young Muslim boy for taking his homemade alarm clock to school; all day people tweeted #IStandWithAhmed, and rightly so. It’s wondrous to see the power of an Internet-enabled world shining the light on particular (and in this case telling) injustice; there’s a principal and a police chief in Irving that will likely think differently next time. But we badly need the same kind of focus on the long-lasting, underlying abuses of corporate might. As it happens, Exxon is based in Irving, Texas too.
Bill McKibben is the author of a dozen books, including The End of Nature and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, he writes regularly for Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Review of Books, among other publications. He organized the Step It Up National Day of Climate Action (2007), and co-founded of 350.org.
Source: OpEd News.
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Bill Van Auken
[Photo: Hajj 2015 by 360 NOBS
he horrific and massive death toll stemming from a stampede of Muslim pilgrims near Mecca is symptomatic of a deepening crisis of the Saudi monarchy, a lynchpin of reaction and key pillar of US policy in the Middle East.
Thursday’s catastrophe was reported by Saudi officials to have killed at least 717 people and injured 863 others, with warnings that the death toll would almost certainly rise. The head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said that the number of deaths is expected to climb to 1,500, which would make it the worst disaster at the site in recorded history, surpassing the deaths of 1,426 pilgrims in a similar incident 25 years ago.
The Saudi monarchy’s instinctual reaction to the latest tragedy was to blame the pilgrims themselves for allegedly not “respecting the timetables,” as Health Minister Khaled al-Falih told local media. Prince Khaled al-Faisal, head of the regime’s central Hajj committee, went further, blaming the stampede on “some pilgrims with African nationalities” in a clear appeal to reactionary anti-foreign and racist sentiments.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi issued a statement insisting that the catastrophe in no way discredited the country’s security forces.
Aside from a general desire to deny the obvious blame that befalls those responsible for controlling the crowds—the same armed forces upon which the power of the monarchy ultimately rests—it appears there may have been a far more specific reason for King Salman’s disclaimer, one involving his son and eventual heir, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.
The Lebanese daily Al Diyar reported late Thursday that the stampede was triggered by the arrival on the scene of a large militarized convoy transporting the 30-year-old deputy crown prince, who is also the country’s defense minister.
“The large convoy of Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the King’s son and deputy crown prince, that was escorted by over 350 security forces, including 200 army men and 150 policemen, sped up the road to go through the pilgrims that were moving towards the site of the ‘Stoning the Devil’ ritual, causing panic among millions of pilgrims who were on the move from the opposite direction and caused the stampede,” the newspaper reported.
The formal title of Saudi Arabia’s king is “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques [Mecca and Medina].” Thursday’s disaster, which follows close on the heels of another 107 deaths in a September 11 crane collapse at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, inevitably is politically damaging to the monarchy. If his son played a direct role in triggering the mass slaughter, it may well prove fatally destabilizing.
Indeed, on the eve of the latest disaster, a letter surfaced written by an unnamed grandson of King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, calling on the royal family to convene an “emergency meeting” essentially for the purpose of deposing the king and his key supporters.
The letter indicts Saudi interventionism in Yemen and Syria as “totally miscalculated” acts that have “weakened the trust of our people and [incited] other people against us.”
It points to the country’s growing economic crisis, fueled by the collapse in oil prices, which in turn has been driven in large measure by the monarchy’s decision to continue full production with the aim of inflicting damage on Iran and Russia. The result has been a sharp decline in revenues, threatening to raise this year’s budget deficit to as much as 20 percent of GDP. If the monarchy is forced to implement austerity measures, cutting back on social spending, it may well trigger an explosive revolt in a country where an estimated 40 percent of the population lives in poverty, and where 40 percent of young workers, between the ages of 20 and 24, are unemployed.
The letter concludes by asking the House of Saud to “isolate the incapable King Salaman, the extravagant and vain Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and the rotten thief Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salaman.”
As defense minister, the deputy crown prince is no stranger to mass killings and contempt for human life. He has been the monarchy’s point man in the six-month-old Saudi-led war against Yemen, pitting the monarchical dictatorships of the richest countries of the Arab world against the people of the poorest.
Saudi warplanes, supplied, armed and refueled in mid-air by the Pentagon, have carried out non-stop bombings that have killed thousands of civilians while destroying schools, hospitals, factories, residential neighborhoods and world heritage sites. More than 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes, and at least 21 million, 80 percent of the country’s population, have been left in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
The war is part of a more bellicose foreign policy pursued by the Saudi monarchy since the succession of King Salman at the beginning of this year. It is directed in the first instance against Iran and all those perceived to be in its orbit. This has included not only the Houthi rebels in Yemen, but also Syria, where Saudi money and arms have been key to the war for regime change fought by Al Qaeda-linked militias, also with US coordination and backing.
War abroad has been combined with the intensification of hideous repression at home. The Saudi regime is already on track to double its number of executions compared to last year. According to an Amnesty International tally issued in late August, the regime put to death, either by beheadings or firing squads, at least 175 people over the previous 12 months. This is more than triple the number of state killings carried out during the same period in the US, which has 10 times the population of the Saudi kingdom.
In the face of international outrage, the despotic monarchy is preparing to execute Ali al-Nimr, who was arrested as a 17-year-old high school student for taking part in a 2011 protest. He is sentenced to death by beheading, with his headless corpse to be publicly crucified. Like most sentenced to die, he was convicted in a drumhead trial, based on a confession extracted through torture.
Incredibly, Saudi Arabia has recently been selected to chair a key UN human rights panel. A State Department spokesman this week said that Washington “welcomes” this grotesque move, because Saudi Arabia is a “close ally.”
As the proverb says, “by your friends shall ye be known.” That Saudi Arabia is Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world is the clearest exposure of the predatory and criminal character of US imperialism’s protracted intervention in the Middle East.
It likewise is an undeniable refutation of every propaganda claim made to justify the successive US wars of aggression. Washington has supposedly waged a “war on terrorism,” while allied with a Saudi regime that is the principal font of Islamist ideology and main paymaster for Islamist militias throughout the region. It has claimed to wage proxy wars for regime change in Libya and Syria in the name of “human rights” and “democracy”, while giving its unconditional backing to one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies, infamous for its beheadings, floggings and torture.
In the final analysis, however, that Washington counts on Saudi Arabia as a pillar for its drive for hegemony over the Middle East only underscores the fact that US imperialism’s policy resembles nothing so much as a house of cards, set to collapse into new and ever greater debacles in the face of inevitable crises and mounting social struggles.
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By Lauren McCauley
[Photo: Jimmy Carter speaking at the Commonwealth Club in 2013, wikimedia
ommenting on the political landscape, now six years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United
ruling, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter laments that Washington D.C. has become corrupted by the influence of money.
“We’ve become, now, an oligarchy instead of a democracy,” Carter told Oprah Winfrey in an interview excerpt released on Tuesday. “I think that’s been the worst damage to the basic moral and ethical standards to the American political system that I’ve ever seen in my life.”
When asked if he would be able to become president today, the Nobel Peace Prize winner answered: “Absolutely not.”
“There’s no way now for you to get a Democratic or Republican nomination without being able to raise $200 or $300 million, or more,” Carter continued. “I would not be inclined to do that, and I would not be capable of doing it,” he added.
The current presidential campaign has seen an unprecedented amount of money flow into both the candidates’ own coffers as well as into the super PACs that support them.
What’s more, this tidal wave of cash is coming from a handful of the nation’s wealthiest donors. Reportedly half of the $388 million contributed so far to campaigns on both sides of the political spectrum came from fewer than 400 families, with 62 donors giving at least $1 million.
Carter’s interview, which will be aired on Sept. 27 on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday program, was reportedly taped just before the the 91-year-old announced last month that he would be undergoing treatment for stage 4 melanoma.
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By Eric Draitser
[Photo: Syrian refugees in Hungary September 4, 2015 (wikimedia
s the refugee crisis in Europe has come to dominate western media headlines, it has predictably given rise to a complex web of theories, analyses, and politically and ideologically charged omissions and distortions. The corporate propagandists of ‘acceptable journalism’ have presented the issue in a purely humanitarian and cultural light, with little to no political context in terms of the refugee influx as the fruit of imperial wars in Africa and Asia.
These bastions of journalistic truth have managed to flush down the memory hole nearly all evidence published in their own pages of the overlapping strategies of regional and international powers that have conspired to wage war in Syria, openly colluded in wars of aggression in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen, and prolonged and capitalized from seemingly endless conflicts in Somalia and elsewhere. All of these very conscious decisions by the ruling class and its political establishment in the US-NATO (plus Israel and GCC), have led directly to the “crisis” as it exists today. And yet, if they’re mentioned at all, it is merely in passing bemusement, the way one might refer to a stupid comment made after one too many tequila shots at a margarita happy hour.
The refugee issue then becomes less a product of political conflict, and more a cultural battlefield with trenches dug along racial and ethnic lines: the struggle to maintain European ‘civilization’ against the barbaric hordes of uncivilized brown-skinned invaders arriving as a “swarm,” to borrow the unintentionally honest expression used by British Prime Minister David Cameron to describe the refugees. This is of course the neocolonial, supremacist position espoused most vocally by the far right throughout Europe, from Marine Le Pen and the Front National in France, to Hungary’s conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban whose heavy-handed tactics – building fences, mobilizing troops and the unemployed, convicts, and fascists of various stripes – to block the refugee influx, have been both praised and condemned by various elements in Europe.
While there is clearly an attempt to rewrite recent history to scrub the role of imperialism in fostering this crisis, there is also a deafening silence on the role of certain regional and international actors in manipulating it for political advantage. For instance, there is virtually no discussion in mainstream (and much of the alternative) media regarding the role of Turkey in redirecting refugees from its country to Greece and into Europe. There has yet to be even one substantive investigative piece in any establishment media on the collusion between the human traffickers of the Islamic State and other terror groups and criminal gangs, and their backers in the US, Europe, and Middle East. Equally, there has been virtually zero discussion of how the strategy of manipulated migration is part of a broader effort to further the goals of the Empire in the Global South.
Indeed, such questions and debates are critical to understanding the political, economic, and socio-cultural implications of this issue. However, in asking such questions, one almost immediately encounters the virulent strains of racism, bigotry, and outright fascism whose pernicious influence has become pervasive in nominally anti-imperialist circles. Sometimes such ideology is manifested in centuries-old reactionary conspiracy theories in which cabals of Jews, Jesuits, freemasons, or reptilian overlords (as the case may be) conspire to destroy white Christendom. Other times it is simply a rehashing of the ‘barbarian invader’ trope, a product of both European history and good old fashioned Euro-supremacism.
Why are these questions critical? Simply put, the discourse on the refugee crisis is essential to undermining the entire imperialist agenda in Africa and the Middle East. Leftists must be cautious not to take the bait on the liberal versus conservative culture war narrative rooted in a neocolonial worldview, while at the same time remaining vigilant about both the real geopolitical machinations driving the crisis, and the fascistic memes that pass for “telling the truth” in the quagmire of social media and online activism.
A Conspiracy of Silence
There are two distinct ways in which the corporate media, in its role as propaganda appendage of the Empire, has deliberately confused the refugee issue. On the one hand, they have shielded the narrative from penetration by uncomfortable questions regarding the role of the West and its proxies in initiating, fomenting, and expanding the wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, and beyond. By doing so, the media removes the refugees from their politico-historical context, transforming them into so-called “migrants” – an elusive term designed to obscure the reality of who these people are, and why they’re desperately trying to get into Europe – as if they’re simply poor people looking for work, rather than victims of imperialism looking to protect their families and escape wars and destabilizations initiated by the West.
On the other hand, the media has simply refused to critically examine exactly the relationship between the flow of refugees and the policies, both overt and covert, of the countries participating either directly or indirectly in these wars. There is virtually no investigation into the facilitation of refugee travel by the Turkish government despite the literally countless reports of the Islamic State, al-Qaeda groups, and myriad criminal organizations engaging in human trafficking in Syria and Libya specifically.
With respect to Syria, Turkish intelligence is directly implicated in collusion with jihadis of the Nusra and ISIS variety, smuggling both fighters and weapons into Syria in the ongoing attempt to implement regime change against the Syrian government. According to Cumhuriyet, a popular Turkish daily:
a group of jihadis were first brought to the Turkish border town of Reyhanli on January 9, 2014 from Atme refugee camp in Syria in a clandestine operation. From there, they were smuggled into Tal Abyad, a border town used by ISIS as a gateway from Turkey, on two buses rented by the MIT [Turkish intelligence]…which it said were stopped by police a day after the operation following a tip-off that they were smuggling drugs into Syria. It was revealed that the buses had been used to smuggle jihadis after investigators found bullets, weapons and ammunition abandoned in the buses. The drivers of the buses, who were briefly arrested, said in their testimony they were told that they were carrying Syrian refugees and the vehicles were rented by the MIT.
Two important points should be immediately apparent in reading the reports. First, and perhaps most obvious, is the direct relationship and contact between Turkish intelligence and terrorist fighters intent on waging war in Syria. Secondly, and most important to this examination, is the fact that, as the bus drivers’ testimony clearly indicates, they were told by Turkish authorities that they were carrying Syrian refugees. It seems then that Turkish intelligence openly facilitates the transit of refugees throughout Turkey, and has a direct chain of custody over their movements. Taken in tandem with the knowledge that Turkish intelligence is also working with ISIS and Nusra then, it is not at all far-fetched to assume that they are also colluding in the human trafficking networks.
This is an important point because it is these smuggling organizations which are directly implicated in funding ISIS in places like Libya. According to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, the value of refugee smuggling in Libya alone reached $323 million in 2014, “dwarf[ing] any existing trafficking and smuggling businesses in the region… [it]has particularly strengthened groups with a terrorist agenda, including the Islamic State.”
But while media has noted this important phenomenon, they have almost entirely buried the fact that those same ISIS (Islamic State) networks in Libya are being run by US-NATO asset Abdelhakim Belhadj, the man touted as a hero and great revolutionary by the imperialists in their war on Libya in 2011. Indeed, Belhadj served the US cause in Libya so well that he can be seen receiving accolades from Sen. John McCain, never one to shy away from a photo op with a terrorist or fascist. Belhadj was initially rewarded after the fall of Gaddafi with the post of military commander of Tripoli, though he was forced to give way to a more politically palatable “transitional government” which has since evaporated leaving in its wake ISIS, run by the very same Belhadj.
It must be said that the refugee issue is far bigger than just US-NATO wars in Libya and Syria. Indeed, the refugees have come from countries that have been directly impacted by other imperialist policies, such as the ongoing economic war against Eritrea. As WikiLeaks cables revealed, there has been a concerted effort by the US to promote and facilitate the migration of Eritrean youth to the West using the lure of “educational opportunities” funded by the US government. Many of these young Eritreans, duped as they are, are then sadly caught up in the same human trafficking networks, often becoming victims of kidnapping or worse.
Similarly, many of the refugees come from Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries still being devastated by US wars of aggression. They come from Pakistan where terror groups have waged genocidal campaigns against Shia muslims of the Hazara ethnic group, among others. They come from Somalia, a country still embroiled in a seemingly endless state of chaos facilitated by US policy. In short, the refugees are unmistakably victims of US-NATO (plus Israel and GCC) imperial policies. And there is almost no mention of any of this.
What does get traction in the corporate media however is the potential need for still more war, this time to “help the refugees.” In short, the political and military establishment in the US makes the insidious, and deeply cynical, argument that the only way to help the people of Syria is to bomb them and destroy their country further, just as it argued in Libya in 2011. And again, there is almost no critical debate in the major media. Essentially, the corporate press acts as the de facto public relations wing of the ruling class, setting the parameters of how the refugee issue is to be discussed. As Noam Chomsky famously said, the media acts to “strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”
Racism, Refugees, and the Rothschild-Jew-NWO-Illuminati-Muslim-Freemason-Reptilian Conspiracy™
As soon as one begins to interrogate the issues by asking questions such as those above, immediately one is confronted by the most exasperatingly tiresome, hackneyed, and utterly discredited conspiracy theories which still worm their way into far too much online discourse. In fact, according to such internet buffoonery, nearly every political development and conflict in the world can be chalked up to some illusory master plan enacted generations ago by a secret cabal of [insert demonized group of choice], rather than the complex political, economic, and social factors that give rise to human phenomena; so, too, with the refugee issue.
The conversation often can sound something like, “Have you noticed that the Muslims and Africans flooding into Europe are mostly young males? It’s not a coincidence that the Jewish globalist plan is to destroy national boundaries and pervert the white Christian world with a fifth column in the quest for total global control through the destruction of nations and consolidation of the rule of Jewish bankers. #WhiteGenocide.” One could be forgiven for thinking that that is satire and hyperbole for comedic effect; sadly, no. That is taken almost verbatim from multiple memes and various written pieces circulating in the morass of social media.
Normally, one would be quick to dismiss such idiocy as simply the childish ramblings of fascist nitwits whose study of history is confined to the Alex Jones School for Racist Lunacy. However, it is important to note that such discourse has an increasingly strong presence in nominally anti-imperialist and leftist circles, where opposition to Israel’s genocidal policies, and the supremacist ideology of Zionism, provide cover for outright fascist tendencies to cloak themselves in the flag of anti-Zionism. When the unhinged blather of David Icke and Alex Jones becomes acceptable discourse, it is cause for any anti-imperialist to worry. For this reason, the refugee issue has caused many of us to worry.
The late author and journalist Alex Cockburn, a co-editor of CounterPunch for many years, in examining the allure of conspiracism generally (9-11 trutherism specifically), brilliantly wrote in 2011:
[Conspiracism has] penetrated deep into the American left…These days a dwindling number of leftists learn their political economy from Marx. Into the theoretical and strategic void has crept a diffuse, peripatetic conspiracist view of the world that tends to locate ruling class devilry not in the crises of capital accumulation, or the falling rate of profit, or inter-imperial competition, but in locale (the Bohemian Grove, Bilderberg, Ditchley, Davos) or supposedly “rogue” agencies, with the CIA still at the head of the list.
Though speaking of 9-11, Cockburn could easily have broadened that critique to include the growing number of people on both left and right, who subscribe to the Rothschild-Illuminati-New World Order worldview (if it can be called that). His argument, entirely correct in my view, is that in place of real historical-materialist analysis, or substantive analysis of any kind, be it anti-capitalist or the like, a sort of quasi-mystical belief in irrational and unseen forces has taken root in the collective imagination of many so-called activists.
Cockburn quoted philosopher and CounterPunch contributor Michael Neumann who succinctly noted that such thinking “probably comes from the decline of Western power. Deep down, almost everyone, across the political spectrum, is locked in a bigotry which can only attribute that decline to some irrational or supernatural power. The result is the ascendency of magic over common sense, let alone reason.” Indeed, it is bigotry, or perhaps more correctly a reactionary racist and fascistic worldview, that owes much to tsarist and Nazi propaganda, and the right wing extremist scribes who preserved it in the post-war period.
Such thinking is, sadly, not only alive, but thriving, in allegedly anti-imperialist circles. No doubt these memes have been wet-nursed by Zionism and Israeli policies which, in point of fact, are fascist and in many ways indistinguishable from the Nazism they allegedly abhor, as this author has argued numerous times. In effect, Zionism has contributed in no small part to the proliferation and normalization of fascist sentiment on both left and right.
And it is precisely this sort of thinking that is now coloring the debate on refugees. Suddenly, the refugee crisis becomes a conspiracy to destroy ‘White Europe,’ rather than an outgrowth of imperialist wars undertaken by the US-NATO powers. Suddenly, the refugees become invaders, while the aggressors become the victims. This inversion is at once insidious and incredibly disheartening for those activists and analysts (this author included) who dedicate much of their time and effort to exposing the machinations of the Empire and its hegemonic agenda.
To again quote Cockburn, “There are plenty of real conspiracies…Why make up fake ones?” Exactly! The conspiracy of regional and international actors needs to be unraveled, the evidence made public, the guilty prosecuted for war crimes. The conspiracy of silence in the corporate media needs to be exposed for what it is: still more evidence of how the propaganda matrix actually operates, how it serves the Empire. These are the conspiracies that matter. Let’s leave the Rothschilds, Illuminati, and lizard people to the darker recesses of internet irrelevance.
While the racists cry from the mountaintops that their precious White Europe is under siege, let us recognize that the discourse of anti-imperialism is also under siege; that the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-fascist space must be reclaimed and must be defended, whatever the cost.
Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.org and host of CounterPunch Radio. He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By Stefan Gleason
[Cartoon: helicopter dropping money in Lewes Delaware Angler’s Marina. (RKVC
quietly panicking Janet Yellen and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decided the U.S. economy still isn’t ready for an interest rate hike last week and left the Fed funds rate at essentially zero – the same level to which the Fed’s credibility has now sunk.
After incessantly hyping the notion an economic recovery would allow the “normalization” of interest rates, the decision not to act suggests the economy is much weaker than they have attempted to persuade us.
And it may be getting worse.
Injecting monetary stimulus is easy – any old fool can do it. Removing the extraordinarily easy money after cultivating an addiction in bond and equity markets over most of the past decade, turns out to be hard. Maybe downright impossible.
In any event, precious metals, which were shunned in the futures markets throughout the summer, finally got some love. Silver gained nearly 4%, and gold prices rose nearly 3% for the week.
Stock prices also rallied initially on the Fed’sdecision not to hike rates. But equity markets relinquished all of those gains on Friday. Wall Street has begun grappling with the possibility of a worldwide recession.
Citibank Fears a “Global Recession” Looms
The Chinese economy is sputtering and close to an outright stall. Brazil, Russia, and India – the other BRIC nations – are already in serious trouble. The malaise in emerging markets may well spread to Europe and the U.S.
Queue up the Keynesians…
According to Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citibank, “A global recession starting in 2016 led by China is now our Global Economics team’s main scenario. Uncertainty remains, but the likelihood of a timely and effective policy response seems to be diminishing.”
Here in the U.S., investors are once again taking note of storm clouds on the horizon. The S&P 500 fell 8% from its highs this summer. Buiter would like to see central bankers pouring on more monetary stimulus. In fact, he is calling for central bankers to pull out all the stops this time:
Helicopter money drops in China, the euro area, the UK, and the U.S. and debt restructuring… can mitigate and, if implemented immediately, prevent a recession during the next two years without raising the risk of a deeper and longer recession later.
Central Bankers Looking for Cover to Implement Extreme Measures
But, for the moment at least, it appears unlikely central planners will act before recession strikes in developed economies. Perhaps officials need cover from a sharp economic downturn, and the attendant screams for help, before they can once again ride back out to the rescue.
With interest rates already at zero, the next step – be it negative interest rates, a renewal of quantitative easing, or dropping cash from helicopters – is a doozy.
Not something officials can do casually.
With central bankers across the world already weakening their currencies in a race to the bottom, investors should not be surprised to see the consensus for rate hikes in the U.S. completely vanish in the coming months.
Particularly if America plunges into another recession. That consensus could be replaced by expectations of a brand new stimulus program, either by Congress or the Fed. Or both.
Perhaps the central planners will even start mailing us all checks – early tax rebates or the like – so we go out and spend. Buiter’s call for shoving money down everyone’s throat is representative of the philosophy that pervades the Federal Reserve and Washington DC: There can never be too much stimulus or money creation. If stimulus is failing, it is simply because it is inadequate. It is time to double down.
Couple Buiter’s request for “helicopter money” with his recent modest proposal to abolish cash – an idea gaining real traction with policy makers and the major banks – and you have everything you need to know about why it is important to hold physical gold and silver.
Stefan Gleason is President of Money Metals Exchange, the national precious metals company named 2015 “Dealer of the Year” in the United States by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of the University of Florida, Gleason is a seasoned business leader, investor, political strategist, and grassroots activist. Gleason has frequently appeared on national television networks such as CNN, FoxNews, and CNBC, and his writings have appeared in hundreds of publications such as the Wall Street Journal, TheStreet.com, Seeking Alpha, Detroit News, Washington Times, and National Review.
Source: Activist Post.
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