The US is abusing its power in lifting a ban on lawsuits against the Cuban government, according to Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell. He also lashed out at Washington’s “cowboy” intervention threats against Venezuela.
8 May, 2019
Borrell roasted US President Donald Trump’s administration policies in Latin America during a TV interview on Wednesday. He was particularly fired up about Washington’s decision last month to begin enforcing the 1996 Helms-Burton act, which essentially allows Cuban-Americans to sue the Cuban government over property confiscated during the 1959 Socialist revolution.
“This is further proof of a lack of cooperation on the part of the US administration,” Borrell said, adding that Spain opposes the measure and considers it “an abuse of power.”
This is going to open a legal battle, we will go to the WTO [World Trade Organization].
The US is taking the controversial step in order to put pressure on Havana over their alleged role in assisting the embattled Venezuelan government during a coup attempt by opposition forces backed by Washington.
While Spain has called for the formation of a group composed of EU and Latin American governments aimed at facilitating new elections in Venezuela, the US has been saber-rattling, saying that military options to enforce regime change are still on the table.
The contact group which we are part of is not on the same wavelength as the US administration, which is like a cowboy who says ‘look at me, I will draw my gun.’
Although stressing that Spain does not consider it a mistake to have recognized Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, he emphasized the need for a “peaceful, negotiated and democratic solution” to the crisis gripping the country.
“In America today the population is drowning in unpayable debts—student loan debt, credit card debt, home mortgage debt, state and local government debt, and business debt—but policymakers have reserved forgiveness only for the debt associated with the bad and irresponsible investments of the big banks and financial institutions. The Federal Reserve printed $4 trillion to buy up the banks’ bad debt while permitting ten million homeowners to be foreclosed.”
America Needs A Debt Jubilee
Paul Craig Roberts
May 7, 2019
As school children my friends and I were very interested in archaeology and ancient civilizations. We read all the available books. My best friend intended to become an archaeologist and to explore ancient ruins about which we imagined more than we actually knew.
As far as I can discern these days no one in the general population has any thoughts of Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria, Ur. For the American young the 1940s, not 2,500 BC, is the ancient past.
A time so long ago that it predates the Old Testament by 2,000 years is probably imagined as a brutal and politically incorrect time of inhumanity and human sacrifice. In short, a script for a horror fantasy movie or a video game.
In actual fact, these civilizations were more advanced and more humanitarian than our own. They were more advanced because the rulers were focused on ensuring the society’s longevity by maintaining a livable balance between debtors and creditors. It has all been downhill ever since.
The rulers maintained social balance and, thereby, the life of the society by periodically cancelling debts. The rulers understood that compound interest resulted in debt growing faster than the economy. The consequence would be foreclosures on agricultural land, which would shift riches and power into a small oligarchy of creditors. The ruler and the society would be deprived of a self-supporting population on the land which provided tax revenues, soldiers for the military, and corvee labor to maintain public infrastructure. Disaster would follow. A grasping oligarchy could overthrow the ruler or the dispossessed population could flee to a potential invader offering their military services in exchange for debt forgiveness.
To protect their societies from dissolution by unpayable debts, rulers periodically cancelled agrarian debts owed by the citizenry at large, but not mercantile debts among businessmen.
The reason for debt forgiveness was stability, not egalitarianism.
We know this fascinating story of the Bronze Age’s successful economic policy because Michael Hudson spent 30 years as a research fellow at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum working with scholars of the ancient word. The study resulted in the organization of five colloquia over a decade and in the recent publication of Hudson’s book, “. . . and forgive them their debts.”
In America today the population is drowning in unpayable debts—student loan debt, credit card debt, home mortgage debt, state and local government debt, and business debt—but policymakers have reserved forgiveness only for the debt associated with the bad and irresponsible investments of the big banks and financial institutions. The Federal Reserve printed $4 trillion to buy up the banks’ bad debt while permitting ten million homeowners to be foreclosed. Student loan debt prevents university graduates from forming independent households. Mortgage and credit card debt prevents households from having discretionary income with which to drive retail sales. But modern day economics has no prescription for preventing our society from failing from debt overload.
America long ago lost its independent farmers to debt overload. All it took was a drought, or a dustbowl, or the Fed driving up interest rates on loans, and farmers were foreclosed and the farm properties passed to corporate farming. Today the same thing is happening to dairy producers. Canada’s response to Trump’s tariffs is to place tariffs on US dairy products. The earnings drop leaves American dairy farmers overburdened with debt service. This business, too, seems destined to be concentrated in a few hands. Economic independence is being driven out of American society.
The problems of monopoly, monopsony, oligopoly are real. Especially so when indebted Americans have their high productivity, high value-added jobs offshored and then face robotics displacing the lower paid domestic service jobs that are their current employment. The profit maximizing activities of corporations reduce Americans’ incomes but not their debts. Thus, debt service becomes more difficult.
In the US today we have a situation in which the New York banks control Federal Reserve policy and financial legislation—the deregulation of the banking system and its subsequent bailout, for example. We have a situation in which monopolies, monopsonies, and oligopolies are stronger than the central government, which is unable to rein them in or act against them in any way. Corporations dispossess citizens of their jobs by offshoring the jobs. Creditor demands prevent university graduates from forming households. Debt service preempts retail demand except by further debt expansion.
This is an economy headed down, not up. Clearly, Hammurabi did far better for the Babylonians than Washington can do for Americans.
A UN rights expert expresses concerns about the negative impacts of unilateral US sanctions against people in Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.
May 7, 2019
A UN rights expert has slammed unilateral US sanctions against Iran, Cuba and Venezuela, saying the use of economic measures for political purposes violates human rights and international law.
In a statement released on Monday, Idriss Jazairy, UN special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures, warned that the US bans against the trio might precipitate man-made humanitarian catastrophes.
“Regime change through economic measures likely to lead to the denial of basic human rights and indeed possibly to starvation has never been an accepted practice of international relations,” he said.
“Real concerns and serious political differences between governments must never be resolved by precipitating economic and humanitarian disasters, making ordinary people pawns and hostages thereof,” he added.
Jazairy also voiced worries about Washington’s termination of sanctions waivers for major Iranian crude buyers, saying the move harms not only the Iranian nation, but also their trade partners.
“The extraterritorial application of unilateral sanctions is clearly contrary to international law,” he said.
“I am deeply concerned that one State can use its dominant position in international finance to harm not only the Iranian people, who have followed their obligations under the UN-approved nuclear deal to this day, but also everyone in the world who trades with them,” he noted, referring to the landmark 2015 agreement — officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Recently, the US ended six months of waivers which allowed Tehran’s eight largest customers to continue importing limited volumes. It also threatened the buyers of Iranian oil with sanctions if they fail to stop their purchases.
The anti-Iran American sanctions had been lifted under the JCPOA, but they returned in place last year when the US abandoned the multilateral accord.
Elsewhere in his statement, the UN rights expert denounced the economic hardship caused by the US sanctions in Cuba and questioned Washington’s claim that its sanctions against Venezuela were aimed at “helping” its people.
He further called on the international community to “challenge” Washington’s restrictive measures against sovereign countries which amount to “a threat to world peace and security.”
“I call on the international community to engage in constructive dialogue with Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and the United States to find a peaceful resolution in compliance with the spirit and letter of the Charter of the United Nations before the arbitrary use of economic starvation becomes the new ‘normal’,” Jazairy said.
This is the closest that the U.S. has been to a war with Iran in decades, and yet most Americans are either clueless or they don’t seem to believe that it could actually happen. And I certainly don’t think that President Trump wants a war, but he is surrounded by war hawks that have been pushing an extremely aggressive “get tough” policy with Iran. The Trump administration just canceled the waivers that were allowing other nations to continue purchasing Iranian oil, and the goal of that move is to reduce Iranian exports to zero. But oil exports are 40 percent of the Iranian economy, and the Iranians understand that this move could absolutely cripple their economy. The Iranians have threatened to close the straight of Hormuz in retaliation, and that would almost certainly provoke a U.S. military response. In addition, it is being reported that on Wednesday the Iranians will announce that they are taking steps to restart their nuclear program…
On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to announce small steps to resume his country’s nuclear program. According to the New York Times, that will include conducting research on centrifuges that can make nuclear fuel, and curbing nuclear inspections from observers.
Of course the truth is that the Iranians never fully abandoned their nuclear program in the first place, but that is supposed to be a big secret.
In any event, tensions between the U.S. and Iran have now reached frightening levels.
On Sunday, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln and four B-52 bombers are being sent to the Middle East as a message to Iran…
Apparently there was some intelligence which indicated that Iran was planning a possible attack on U.S. forces in the region, and Bolton said that these deployments would make it very clear that any assault would be “met with unrelenting force”…
The deployments would “send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States’ interests, or on those of our allies, will be met with unrelenting force,” he said in a statement. “The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.”
In response, the Iranians accused the U.S. of engaging in a form of “psychological warfare”.
In addition to everything else, CNN is reporting that it appears that the Iranians have been “moving short-range ballistic missiles aboard boats in the Persian Gulf”, and this has deeply alarmed U.S. officials…
Intelligence showing that Iran is likely moving short-range ballistic missiles aboard boats in the Persian Gulf was one of the critical reasons the US decided to move an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers into the region, according to several US officials with direct knowledge of the situation.
The concerns over the movement of the missiles was one of multiple threads of intelligence from various sources that led the US to believe Iran had a capability and intention to launch strikes against US targets.
If both sides rattle their sabers for a while but nothing ever comes of it, we will be fine.
But if someone goes a little bit too far and the missiles start flying, we could be soon engaged in a conflict that could literally spark World War 3.
While they are certainly no match for the U.S., the truth is that the Iranian military is quite strong, and they possess weapons of immense destructive power. And in the event of a military conflict with the U.S., the Iranians have already said that they will hit Israel too.
And if Israel gets hit, they will certainly strike back at Iran extremely hard.
The Iranians absolutely hate both the United States and Israel, and recent moves by the Trump administration have pushed the Iranians into a corner. The following comes from Pat Buchanan…
Did President Donald Trump approve of this? For he appears to be going along. He has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions. Last week, he canceled waivers he had given eight nations to let them continue buying Iranian oil.
Purpose: Reduce Iran’s oil exports, 40% of GDP, to zero, to deepen an economic crisis that is already expected to cut Iran’s GDP this year by 6%.
Trump has also designated Iran a terrorist state and the Republican Guard a terrorist organization, the first time we have done that with the armed forces of a foreign nation. We don’t even do that with North Korea.
A cornered animal is extremely dangerous, and at this point the Iranians may feel as if the only option they have left is to lash out.
As a first step, they could potentially close the Strait of Hormuz, and that would instantly create a global oil crisis. Here is more from Buchanan…
Iran has also warned that if we choke off its oil exports that exit the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, the Strait could be closed to other nations. As 30% of the world’s oil shipments transit the Strait, closing it could cause a global crash.
In 1973, when President Nixon rescued Israel in the Yom Kippur War, the OPEC Arabs imposed an oil embargo. Gas prices spiked so high Nixon considered taking a train to Florida for Christmas vacation.
Of course a potential war with Iran is not even on the radar for most Americans these days. Most of us are preoccupied with other things, but if the missiles start flying this will instantly become the top news story on the entire planet.
Wars never start in a vacuum. In every major war throughout history, there has always been a series of steps that has ultimately resulted in the outbreak of war.
Without a doubt, the U.S. and Iran are moving toward war. That doesn’t mean that one will happen, and we better hope that it doesn’t, because it would have all sorts of apocalyptic consequences.
So let us hope that cooler heads prevail.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any “cooler heads” among Iranian leadership, and Trump has surrounded himself with war hawks like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo.
In the end, Trump himself will make the final call on any conflict with Iran, and let us hope that he makes the right one.
About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.