Angela Merkel has criticized Vladimir Putin’s, apparent, strategy to spread Russia’s sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. The Chancellor doesn’t acknowledge that Germany’s domination of Europe has been disastrous for some states.
Europe’s neo-liberal media are having a collective hernia at the thought that some former Warsaw Pact countries are cozying up to Moscow. Especially in Germany. On top of that Merkel’s recent speech in Australia was full of tough criticism of Russia. However, on closer inspection, what they are accusing the Kremlin of doing is exactly what the EU has been at for the past 20 years.
Do a random street poll in any eastern European capital. Prague or Bratislava, where I have been this week, for example. Ask whether life is better now, under the thumb of the EU, compared to how it was in 1989, under the Soviet jackboot. The responses I have gotten are 50-50. If you’d tried the same query a decade ago, it’d have been fairly unanimous that 2004 would have trumped ’89.
The EU is in serious trouble. Living standards are falling all over the union and political instability is fomenting from Dublin to Athens and Madrid to Zagreb. Iceland recently u-turned on a plan to join the grouping and, previously, resolute aspirants like Serbia and Montenegro are cooling their ardor for membership.
Angela Merkel thinks this is Russia’s fault. That’s akin to blaming Brazil’s strikers for their 7-1 World Cup capitulation to Germany. Pure hokum. If Merkel wants to find the real culprit, she need only look in the mirror. The Berlin government, which she has led for 9 years is sucking the continent dry. While peripheral states flounder and pivotal countries stagnate, Germany is doing just fine. This is because the entire EU system – especially the Euro currency – is propping up its largest member while choking the rest.
Of course, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and France’s Francois Mitterrand warned of this a quarter century ago, and they were both spot on. In January 1990, Mitterrand confided to his UK counterpart: “reunification will result in Germany gaining more European influence than Hitler ever had.”
It’s worth mentioning, in fairness, that the ugly Euro currency monster was Mitterrand’s, naive, attempt to curtail this eventuality. The Germans were quite content with the solid Deutschmark but Paris believed that a currency union would keep their neighbors in check and made it the price of agreeing to a united Germany.
Thatcher foresaw this and informed Mitterrand that Bonn (the then capital) wouldn’t be tamed by strengthening EC (later EU) institutions. “Germany’s ambitions would then become the dominant and active factor,” she counseled. She added: “We beat the Germans twice (in war), and now they’re back.”
Following reunification, a previously 4-pronged European elite (France. Britain, West Germany and Italy) became greatly diluted. Restored to its former capital of Berlin, the, now much larger, state began to dominate. In the early 00’s, the EU expanded massively to the east, growing by 10 members in 1 day in 2004, with a further 3 following later. What happened in all these newbies, from Estonia in the north to southern Cyprus was that German commerce rapidly swarmed their economies. If you think that’s fanciful, I’d urge you to visit a shopping center in Krakow or Brno and tell me how it, greatly, differs from one in Dresden? To my eyes, not by much.
Existing members, such as Ireland and Spain were flooded with cheap German credit. This was basically a form of captive loan-sharking. German banks handing out easy money to facilitate the purchase of German-made goods, from cars to electronics. When the scheme went wallop in 2008, the German creditors didn’t accept a haircut. Instead, the penalties were passed on to Irish and Spanish taxpayers, further enslaving them to Berlin.
Germany the winner
Meanwhile, Germany’s trade surplus continued to expand and they were happy to leave the rest of Europe to rot. Instead of showing empathy, the Hamburg and Berlin media were full of features mocking the economically wrecked nations. Ireland, apparently, had an epidemic of wild, abandoned, horses and the Spanish were delighted at the extra time for Siestas. Oh, what fun the yellow-press had in those halcyon days – and what harm they did to perceptions of Germany.
Now, Merkel seems to believe that Russia is coercing some European states into doing business. Complete nonsense. It’s rather more believable that financially stressed governments have begun to see through Berlin’s practices and are hedging their bets. After all, it’s the duty of a sovereign to look after its own citizens, not the pampered bankers of Frankfurt or industrialists of Munich. Germany’s arrogant mistreatment of the rest of Europe is coming home to roost.
“Frau Nein”, as she was once known, is especially upset about Russian influence in Hungary and Serbia. Apologies if I’ve missed something but I haven’t noticed the reports of Berlin heaping goodies on them. Does Merkel seriously expect their rulers to reject advantageous deals with Moscow to keep her happy? If she does, she’s lost touch with reality.
“This is not just about Ukraine. It’s about Moldova. It’s about Georgia. If things carry on like this…. we will need to raise the issue of Serbia, of the states in the western Balkans. How can something like this happen in the middle of Europe? Old thinking about spheres of influence… must not succeed,” the Chancellor emoted last weekend.
Doing what’s right
What Merkel is trying to say, with breathtaking arrogance is “how dare Russia nose in on our patch” – as if Germany had a divine right to control these independent nations. Spheres of influence aren’t an issue once they are tilted towards Berlin or Brussels, which the former increasingly controls. Lost in all of this is the economic fact that Germany and Russia are now neck and neck economically, with Moscow poised to overtake its historic rival in the next few years. Russia has also succeeded in creating an alliance with China, Germany’s biggest export rival. This has forced Berlin into solidifying its previously waning alliance with the USA, something which isn’t uniformly popular in Germany.
However, in Budapest and Bratislava, premiers Viktor Orban and Robert Fico are doing what’s right by their electorate and striking the optimum deals for their countries. Merkel is deeply offended by such a practice as it reduces Germany’s omnipotent strangle-hold on their commerce. Orban is also committed to pushing ahead with the Southstream pipeline, in partnership with Moscow. Why? Not to undermine Berlin, but to guarantee its energy supply because Ukraine is unreliable as a transit territory. This is entirely understandable – it’s Orban’s job to look after Hungary, not to bow down before Germany.
The pro-NATO, neoliberal, media in Western Europe are presenting Russia’s trade deals with struggling eastern states as some kind of dastardly plan to undermine the EU. Such suggestions are hyperbolic nonsense. The leaders of Hungary, Slovakia and Serbia would, gladly, bite the hand off Merkel if she was willing to throw some German cash around. However, she’s not and Putin is. Consequently, these countries are doing what’s best for their current circumstances. There is nothing sinister about it.
If and when American blood is running down American streets, like Colleen Hufford’s, rest assured that Obama will vigorously protect Islamic jihad doctrine.
That’s what he does. Every time there is an Islamic attack, Obama exploits the horror to proselytize for Islam. When savages attack, Obama dawahs.
There were British, French, etc. Muslims in today’s mass beheading video. Previously moderate Muslims ….. until they became devout.
“Islamic State Threatens Slaughter on Western Streets,”
by Oliver Lane, 17 Nov 2014
Islamic State murderer and propagandist ‘Jihadi John’ has issued a graphic warning of coming slaughter on the streets of the West in the new YouTube video that features the beheading of at least nineteen men, including former American soldier Peter Kassig.
In a short speech delivered as he stands among a group of up to eighteen other terrorists, knives in hand and victims at their feet, the British killer known in the West as ‘Jihadi John’ but known locally as Abu Abdullah al-Britani called President Obama the “dog of Rome” and David Cameron his “puppet”. The video, which even for the Islamic State was unusually gruesome then showed al-Britani giving the kill order to his fellow jihadists, who then used serrated knives to saw off the heads of their captives, said to the Syrian army and air force pilots.
Speaking to the camera, al-Britani said: “To Obama, the dog of Rome, today we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar, and tomorrow we will slaughter your soldiers, and with Allah’s permission, we will break this final and last crusade, and the Islamic state will soon, like your puppet David Cameron said, will begin to slaughter your people on your streets”.
His words will not ring hollow to many in the West, who have recently witnessed the murder by Islamist agents on the streets of Western cities of Soldiers such as Drummer Lee Rigby and Corporal Nathan Cirillo.
The make-up of the murder squad was of a distinctly international nature, deliberately chosen to gain maximum effect as a recruiting tool with the killers being picked from ISIS members from all over the world. At least two Britons have been identified in the squad, as have French and German passport holders.
The video itself played heavily upon the favoured ISIS narrative of epic conflict between the Christian West and Islamic East, referring constantly to “crusaders” and “cross worshippers”. A 3D-graphic map of the world shows the ‘white’ Islamic State spreading over the Middle East, North Africa, through India to China, and West through Italy and Spain, and finally the Americas.
As the Islamic State is shown spreading over the Middle East and North Africa, ISIS leader al-Baghdadi, who is believed to have been badly injured in a recent air strike tells listeners: “We give you good news, by announcing the expansion of the Islamic State to new lands”.
The final segment of the film shows al-Britani standing over the severed head of American soldier and aid worker Peter Kassig, in a shot designed to goad Western forces into action. Filmed in Dabiq, a town central to the core myths surrounding the Islamic State, al-Britani accuses America of continuing to occupy Iraq despite an official withdrawal with “hidden forces”.
ISIS believes a great battle will occur in the town of Dabiq, and it will be there they will triumph over the West. Alluding to this, while standing on a hill overlooking the town with the head of Kassig, al-Britaini says: “and here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive”.
“I have only one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine.”
by ZERO HEDGE | NOVEMBER 16, 2014
Following last week’s (humiliating for the US) APEC meeting in Beijing, in which the BRIC nations clearly distanced themselves from the “developed world” and the topic of the “Russian invasion of Ukraine” was largely missing as it is clearly not in the interest of the Pacific nations to warmonger when the two key nations, Russia and China are obviously not complying with the western media ‘straight to populism‘ narrative, it was time for another major world summit, this time in the quite “western” Brisbane, Australia.
It was here that the G-7 part of the G-20 nations seized the opportunity to quickly pivot against Moscow and remind Europe that the reason why Europe is in a triple-dip recession (if one removes the GDP “boost” from hookers and blow) is because of Russia’s “take over” of east Ukraine, ignoring the reality that it was the US State Department’s Victoria Nuland that incited the Kiev coup and the west that imposed the “costly” sanctions on Russia which have hurt Germany and Europe just as badly. This was all largely lost on the local, as outside the summit, Ukrainian Australians staged an anti-Putin protest, wearing headbands reading “Putin, Killer”.
It was a full court press from the start: as the NYT reports, “at a speech at a university in Brisbane, Mr. Obama called Russia’s aggression against Ukraine a “threat to the world, as we saw in the appalling shootdown of MH-17, a tragedy that took so many innocent lives, among them your fellow citizens,” a reference to the Australian citizens and residents who were killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 went down in eastern Ukraine.
“As your ally and friend, America shares the grief of these Australian families, and we share the determination of your nation for justice and accountability,” Mr. Obama said.”
This charade was set to continue Sunday, when leaders from the European Union planned to meet with Mr. Obama to discuss Ukraine, among other issues, said Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council. He said the European Union was committed to finding a political solution to the crisis.
“We will continue to use all the diplomatic tools, including sanctions, at our disposal,” he said.
Indeed, as Reuters adds “Western leaders warned Vladimir Putin at a G20 summit on Saturday that he risked more economic sanctions if he failed to end Russian backing for separatist rebels in Ukraine.”
But perhaps the best confirmation that all the G-20 meeting was nothing but a giant populist photo-op comes from Bloomberg which reports that “Russian President Vladimir Putin got a blunt message when he approached Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a handshake at today’s Group of 20 summit in Brisbane, Australia.
“I guess I’ll shake your hand but I have only one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine,” Harper told Putin, the prime minister’s spokesman Jason MacDonald said in an e-mail.
Putin’s response to the comment wasn’t positive, MacDonald said, without elaborating. Putin and Harper talked briefly, according to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“Indeed Harper told Putin that Russia should leave Ukraine,” Peskov said by phone today in Brisbane. “Putin told him that this is impossible because they are not there.”
Asked about the tone of the meeting between the two leaders, Peskov said “it was within the bounds of decency.”
Say no more.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, walks past Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper, left, during a welcoming ceremony at the G-20 summit in Brisbane.
Yet at the end of the day, captioned photo-op or not, one wonders how much of all the front-page drama is even remotely real when every single time the west goes on the “offensive” against Putin with “costs” just to have a convenient scapegoat for Europe’s ongoing depression, one hears in the back of one head the following exchange:
Obama: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir”
Brent crude has fallen more than 30% since June
BY RICHARD LEONG
(Reuters) – U.S. stock prices rose on Thursday, hovering near record highs, while crude fell below $80 a barrel for the first time in four years on further signs of a slowdown in China’s economy.
Brent crude has fallen more than 30 percent since June, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said demand for its members’ oil could drop by about a million barrels per day in 2015 due to the U.S. shale boom.
Data from Beijing showed below-forecast factory output and investment growth hitting a near 13-year low, reinforcing signs that the world’s second-biggest economy would see its weakest growth for almost 24 years this year.
Falling energy costs, while a positive for consumers, have raised concerns about profits of major oil companies and their capital spending, analysts said.
“$80 is the pain threshold,” said Alexandre Baradez, chief market analyst at IG France.
Brent crude was last down $1.43 or 1.78 percent at $78.95 a barrel, while U.S. oil futures fell $1.46 to $75.72.
Top European shares fell 0.2 percent to 1,346.39, erasing an earlier gain as an index on regional oil and gas shares shed 1.8 percent.
Encouraging sales results from Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, offset weakness in the energy sector on Wall Street.
In early trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 56.13 points, or 0.32 percent, to 17,668.33, the S&P 500 was up 5.47 points, or 0.27 percent, to 2,043.72 and the Nasdaq Composite added 26.10 points, or 0.56 percent, to 4,701.23.
Earlier, Tokyo’s Nikkei index raced to fresh seven-year highs after Jiji news agency reported Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to have decided to call an early election amid mounting expectations he would postpone a planned sales tax hike.
Worries about weak price growth in the euro zone were evident in a European Central Bank survey of forecasters released Thursday which intensified speculation the ECB would embark on more action to avert deflation.
The yield on 10-year German Bunds slipped over 1 basis point to 0.796 percent.
Speculation about a snap election in Japan pulled the yen toward a recent seven-year low against the dollar before the greenback retreated on a bigger-than-expected rise in weekly domestic jobless claims. The dollar was last down 0.04 percent at 115.43 yen.
The dollar was mixed against other major currencies. The euro gained 0.2 percent at $1.2463, while sterling hit a 14-month low at $1.5733.
Safe-haven gold rose 0.2 percent to $1,162.23 an ounce, holding above Friday’s 4-1/2-year low of $1,131.85.
by MICHAEL SNYDER | ECONOMIC COLLAPSE | NOVEMBER 13, 2014
Barack Obama is secretly negotiating the largest international trade agreement in history, and the mainstream media in the United States is almost completely ignoring it. If this treaty is adopted, it will be the most important step toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen. The name of this treaty is “the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and the text of the treaty is so closely guarded that not even members of Congress know what is in it. Right now, there are 12 countries that are part of the negotiations: the United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These nations have a combined population of 792 million people and account for an astounding 40 percent of the global economy. And it is hoped that the EU, China and India will eventually join as well. This is potentially the most dangerous economic treaty of our lifetimes, and yet there is very little political debate about it in this country.
Even though Congress is not being allowed to see what is in the treaty, Barack Obama wants Congress to give him fast track negotiating authority. What that means is that Congress would essentially trust Obama to negotiate a good treaty for us. Congress could vote the treaty up or down, but would not be able to amend or filibuster it.
Of course now the Republicans control both houses of Congress. If they are foolish enough to blindly give Barack Obama so much power, they should all immediately resign.
And it is critical that people understand that this is not just an economic treaty. It is basically a gigantic end run around Congress. Thanks to leaks, we have learned that so many of the things that Obama has deeply wanted for years are in this treaty. If adopted, this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, healthcare, copyright and patent protection, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. This treaty includes many of the rules that alarmed Internet activists so much when SOPA was being debated, it would essentially ban all “Buy American” laws, it would give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and it would force even more domestic manufacturing offshore.
In other words, it is the treaty from hell.
In addition to imposing Obama’s vision for the world on 40 percent of the global population, it is also being described as a “Christmas wish-list for major corporations”. Of the 29 chapters in the treaty, only five of them actually deal with economic issues. The rest of the treaty deals with a whole host of other issues of great importance to the global elite.
The following list of issues addressed by this treaty is from a Malaysian news source…
• domestic court decisions and international legal standards (e.g., overriding domestic laws on both trade and nontrade matters, foreign investors’ right to sue governments in international tribunals that would overrule the national sovereignty)
• environmental regulations (e.g., nuclear energy, pollution, sustainability)
• financial deregulation (e.g., more power and privileges to the bankers and financiers)
• food safety (e.g., lowering food self-sufficiency, prohibition of mandatory labeling of genetically modified products, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease)
• Government procurement (e.g., no more buy locally produced/grown)
• Internet freedom (e.g., monitoring and policing user activity)
• labour (e.g., welfare regulation, workplace safety, relocating domestic jobs abroad)
• patent protection, copyrights (e.g., decrease access to affordable medicine)
• public access to essential services may be restricted due to investment rules (e.g., water, electricity, and gas)
Why can’t we get this type of reporting in the United States?
And if this treaty is ultimately approved by Congress, we will essentially be stuck with it forever.
This treaty is written in such a way that the United States will be permanently bound by all of the provisions and will never be able to alter them unless all of the other countries agree.
Are you starting to understand why this treaty is so dangerous?
This treaty is the key to Obama’s “legacy”. He wants to impose his will upon 40 percent of the global population in a way that will never be able to be overturned.
Of course Obama is touting this treaty as the path to economic recovery. He promises that it will greatly increase global trade, decrease tariffs and create more jobs for American workers.
But instead, it would be a major step toward destroying what is left of the U.S. economy.
Over the past several decades, every time a major trade agreement has been signed we have seen even more good jobs leave the United States.
And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this is happening. If corporations can move jobs to the other side of the planet to nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, they will make larger profits.
Just think about it. If you were running a corporation and you had the choice of paying workers ten dollars an hour or one dollar an hour, which would you choose?
Plus there are so many other costs, taxes and paperwork hassles when you deal with American workers. For example, big corporations will not have to provide Obamacare for their foreign workers. That alone will represent a huge savings.
Any basic course in economics will teach you that labor flows from markets where labor costs are high to markets where labor costs are lower. And at this point it costs less to make almost everything overseas. As a result, we have already lost millions upon millions of good jobs, and countless small and mid-size U.S. companies have been forced to shut down because they cannot compete with foreign manufacturers.
Later this month, consumers will flock to retail stores for “Black Friday” deals. But if you look carefully at those products, you will find that almost all of them are made overseas. We buy far, far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and that is a recipe for national economic suicide.
We consume far more wealth that we produce, and anyone with half a brain can see that is not sustainable in the long run. The only way that we have been able to maintain our high standard of living is by going into insane amounts of debt. We are currently living in the largest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and at some point the party is going to end.
Please share this article with as many people as you can. We need to inform people about what Obama is trying to do.
If Obama is successful in ramming this secret treaty through, it is going to do incalculable damage to what is left of the once great U.S. economy.