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Janet Yellen's Christmas Gift to Wall Street

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Last week we learned that the key to a strong economy is not increased production, lower unemployment, or a sound monetary unit. Rather, economic prosperity depends on the type of language used by the central bank in its monetary policy statements. All it took was one word in the Federal Reserve Bank's press release -- that the Fed would be “patient” in raising interest rates to normal levels -- and stock markets went wild. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had their best gains in years, with the Dow gaining nearly 800 points from Wednesday to Friday and the S&P gaining almost 100 points to close within a few points of its all-time high. 
 
Just think of how many trillions of dollars of financial activity occurred solely because of that one new phrase in the Fed's statement. That so much in our economy hangs on one word uttered by one institution demonstrates not only that far too much power is given to the Federal Reserve, but also how unbalanced the American economy really is.
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Cold War Spy Games Show the Moral Bankruptcy of the US National Security State

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Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, the Cuban government official who was released from prison as part of a spy trade between the US government and Cuba, is being hailed by US officials as a hero. Of course, that’s not the view of the Cuban government, which considers Sarraff a traitor.

At the same time, former US officials Walter Kendall Myers and his spouse Gwendolyn Myers, who spied for Cuba, are considered bad people by the US government. US officials say that by sending classified information to Cuba, they betrayed their country and that that’s why they’re now jailed in a federal penitentiary.

In its story yesterday about Sarraff, the New York Times referred to the “spy vs. spy drama between the United States that played on long after the end of the Cold War and years after Cuba ceased to be a serious threat to the United States.”
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Regime Change in Cuba

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Normalization of relations with Cuba is not the result of a diplomatic breakthrough or a change of heart on the part of Washington. Normalization is a result of US corporations seeking profit opportunities in Cuba, such as developing broadband Internet markets in Cuba.

Before the American left and the Cuban government find happiness in the normalization, they should consider that with normalization comes American money and a US Embassy. The American money will take over the Cuban economy. The embassy will be a home for CIA operatives to subvert the Cuban government. The embassy will provide a base from which the US can establish NGOs whose gullible members can be called to street protest at the right time, as in Kiev, and the embassy will make it possible for Washington to groom a new set of political leaders.

In short, normalization of relations means regime change in Cuba. Soon Cuba will be another of Washington’s vassal states
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US Overlooks Russia Sanctions Backlash on Own Economy

While the US pursues the "nuclear" option of a first strike on the Russian economy -- seeking to depress the price of oil while denying Russia access to international financial markets -- the economic backlash of such a move could well be as dangerous for the US economy. Already the US oil industry is feeling the pain of the price drop that many believe is the result of a US/Saudi deal to put the squeeze on the Russian economy. RPI's Daniel McAdams is on RT today to discuss the implications of the new anti-Russia legislation passed in the dead of night after Members had gone home.
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Bombs Away! Obama Signs Lethal Aid to Ukraine Bill

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President Obama made good today on his promise to sign the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which had passed Congress last week. Dubbed by former Rep. Dennis Kucinich the bill that "reignited the Cold War while no one was looking," the Act imposes new sanctions on the Russian defense and energy industries, authorizes $350 million in lethal military assistance to the US-backed government in Kiev, urges that government to resume its deadly military operations against the Russian-speaking areas of east Ukraine seeking to break away from Kiev's rule, and authorizes millions of dollars to fund increased US government propaganda broadcasts to the countries of the former Soviet Union. Just days before Christmas, this bill is a massive gift to the US defense industry from which Ukraine will be required to purchase its lethal wish list.

Perhaps as disturbing as the bill itself is the shocking process by which it passed the US House of Representatives. Three Members of the House, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), planned to be on the House Floor after the business of the day (passage of the massive omnibus spending bill) was completed and Members had left the Floor. 

Under a parliamentary move called "unanimous consent" the normal rules of the House can be suspended provided not a single other Member objects. The solution for these three Members was to ensure that no other Members were present. It would have been difficult for other Members to object anyway, as no one else in the House had even seen the bill! It had only just been introduced and the text was not available.
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Torture and the Destruction of the Human Being Shaker Aamer by the United States

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The Bush and Obama administrations have gone to extraordinary lengths to hide America’s archipelago of secret prisons and systems of torture. 

For all the empty talk of “transparency” being high-fived around following the Senate Report, they at first denied any of that nasty stuff even existed, then used an ever-so-compliant media to call it all necessary for our security and very survival, then shaping dumb-cow public opinion with ersatz terms like enhanced interrogation to keep the word torture out of the discourse, then having the CIA destroy videos of the brutality, then imprisoning officials, such as John Kiriakou, who sought to expose it all, then refusing to hold hearings or conduct investigations, then employing black ops to try and derail even a cursory Senate report and finally allowing the torturers at the CIA themselves the final word on the watered-down public version of a Senate report on torture. 

The Torture of Shaker Aamer by the United States 

Yet, like a water leak that must find it’s way out from inside the dark place within your walls, some things become known. Now, we can read a psychiatrist’s report which includes, in detail, the torture enacted on just one prisoner of the United States, Shaker Aamer.
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For Truly Better Relations with Cuba, Open the Door and Get Out of the Way!

President Obama today took a bold and surprising step toward ending the futile 50 year US embargo of Cuba. The president announced he would begin normalizing relations, including upgrading the diplomatic mission in Havana to embassy status. The president also said he was taking steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information between the US and Cuba.

President Obama said that the half-century US embargo of Cuba was an “outdated approach” that “failed to advance our interests.” He rightly noted that decades of US sanctions have “had little effect.”

He noted, as I have often pointed out, that the US has had economic and diplomatic relations with communist China for 35 years and has even established productive relations with a Vietnam, where the US fought a brutal war just over four decades ago.
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The Cold War Has Never Ended for the CIA

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In the midst of the CIA’s torture scandal, USAID continues its obsessive Cold War activity against Cuba, in a desperate attempt to finally, once and for all, oust the Castro regime from power and install another pro-U.S. dictatorship. 

Yes, I know how a conservative would immediately respond: “Jacob, the CIA and USAID are two separate and distinct entities. Why are you bringing them up in the same sentence?” 

Yeah, right, and I have a nice piece of fertile swampland in the Everglades I’d like to sell that conservative. USAID is one of the CIA’s favorite front organizations. By taking over some of the CIA’s regime-change operations under the guise of promoting “civil society,” USAID provides the CIA with “plausible deniability” with respect to its never-ending Cold War obsession over Cuba and other socialist regimes. 

The latest regime-change fiasco involves a pathetically comical attempt to secretly infiltrate Cuba’s hip-hop scene. According to an article in The Guardian, “The idea was to use Cuba’s rappers ‘to break the information blockade’ and build a network of young people seeking ‘social change’ to spark a youth movement against the government of Raul Castro.”
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Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking

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Late Thursday night, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a far-reaching Russia sanctions bill, a hydra-headed incubator of poisonous conflict. The second provocative anti-Russian legislation in a week, it further polarizes our relations with Russia, helping to cement a Russia-China alliance against Western hegemony, and undermines long-term America’s financial and physical security by handing the national treasury over to war profiteers.

Here’s how the House’s touted “unanimity” was achieved: Under a parliamentary motion termed “unanimous consent,” legislative rules can be suspended and any bill can be called up. If any member of Congress objects, the motion is blocked and the bill dies.

At 10:23:54 p.m. on Thursday, a member rose to ask “unanimous consent” for four committees to be relieved of a Russia sanctions bill. At this point the motion, and the legislation, could have been blocked by a single member who would say “I object.”  No one objected, because no one was watching for last-minute bills to be slipped through.
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BBC US Editor Parrots CIA, Republican Talking Points on Senate Torture Report

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The BBC is supposed to be an "impartial", "honest" and "independent" news outlet, but today its US Editor, Jon Sopel, showed very clearly whose side he is on. In a short post, "A whiff of hypocrisy about CIA report?", he regurgitates some staple Republican talking-points and makes arguments eerily similar to those presented by former CIA and Bush officials in their various self-exculpatory media appearances this past week.

His piece bears the revealingly Cheney-esque tagline: “America has not come under serious attack since 9/11 on its home soil – so you would think that would be a source of celebration.” Then, just like CIA Director Brennan at his press conference last Thursday, Sopel kicks off with the September 11 attacks. He speculates that there might eventually be two versions of 9/11, one in which "a war on terror was declared, and those responsible were hunted down and detained, and there were no further attacks on US soil", another in which "the torture tactics used to hunt down and detain those responsible brought condemnation and America lost its moral authority in the world".

Both of these versions are inaccurate. His assumption is that the CIA's interrogation and rendition program was the only factor involved in capturing terrorists. Of course there were other departments of the US government at work - most importantly the FBI (which did not use torture). And there were other methods, besides human intelligence, which yielded information (for example, signals intelligence was crucial to the hunt for Bin Laden).
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