from X22Report Spotlight:
by Pepe Escobar, Asia Times:
A sharp, geoeconomic shift took place last month in Santiago, Chile at the second ministerial meeting of a forum grouping China and the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
The Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, told his audience that the world’s second-largest economy and Latin America should join efforts to support free trade. This was about “opposing protectionism” and “working for an open world economy,” he said.
After encouraging Latin American and Caribbean nations to participate in a major November expo in China, Wang delivered the clincher – Latin America should play a “meaningful” role in the ‘New Silk Roads’, known as the Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese media duly highlighted the invitation.
The Latin American stretch of the Belt and Road project may not turn out to be as ambitious as the Eurasia program. Yet the trend is now clear with Beijing turbo-charging its infrastructure connectivity drive across the region and the Caribbean, with more deals on the way.
The strategic imperative is to build smooth connections across the continent, converging on its Pacific coastline – and forward through maritime supply lines to the Chinese seaboard. You could call it the Pacific Maritime Silk Road.
Last year, Chinese banks and institutions invested US$23 billion in Latin America – the biggest surge since 2010. And they are all in for the long haul.
Predictably, fellow BRICS member Brazil is the largest recipient of Chinese foreign investment for the past 10 years at about $46.1 billion, plus more than $10 billion in acquisitions. Russia, Indian and South Africa are the other nations that make up the BRICS bloc.
Marcos Troyjo, the director of the BricLab at Columbia University, has broken down the numbers. Up to mid-2010, Brazil was very expensive. Then suddenly costs plummeted because of the exchange rate or devaluation of companies.
Large Brazilian groups were badly damaged by the incredibly complex ‘Operation Car Wash’ corruption investigation. The infrastructure industry depended on state funds, which suddenly dried up and a wild privatization spree followed with Chinese, American and European groups taking advantage.
China is already the top trading partner of Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru. Others will inevitably follow. This is not only because China’s imports of commodities, such as iron ore, soy and corn tend to rise, but also because the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank will increase lending.
China’s master plan for Latin American trade and investment follows what is dubbed the “1+3+6” framework, mapped out by President Xi Jinping in July 2014 at a summit in Brasilia. The “1” refers to the cooperation plan itself, guiding specific projects and ranging from 2015 to 2019 as Beijing aims for $250 billion in direct investment and around $500 billion in trade.
The “3” is about the key areas of cooperation – trade, investment and finance. And the “6” prioritizes cooperation in energy and resources, and infrastructure construction, as well as agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation, alongside information technology.
Read More @ ATimes.com
by Philip Giraldi, Russia Insider:
“Brennan, who was hated by much of the CIA’s rank-and-file during his tenure as director, does not have much of a reputation for truth-telling.”
Once upon a time in the United States there was a general perception that organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were both apolitical and high-minded, existing only to calmly and professionally promote the safety and security of the nation. Directors of both organizations often retired quietly without fanfare to compose their memoirs, but apart from that, they did not meddle in politics and maintained low profiles.
There was a widespread belief at CIA that former officers should rightly retire to a log cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains where they could breed Labrador retrievers or cultivate orchids.
But the relative respectability of America’s national security agencies largely vanished in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist incidents. It was learned that both the CIA and FBI had made fatal mistakes in their investigations of the al-Qaeda group, putting in question their effectiveness, and the leaders of both organizations began to focus on pleasing their political masters. The appearance of CIA Director George Tenet at the United Nations supporting lies promoted by Secretary of State Colin Powell was a low point, but there were many more to follow.
The 2016 election brought out the worst in the CIA’s leadership, with its Director John Brennan lining up behind Hillary Clinton together with former Acting Director Michael Morell and former Director Michael Hayden. Morell even claimed that Trump was a Russian agent. Indeed, there has been remarkably little speculation regarding the possible roles of some senior intelligence officials, most notably CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, both of whom were in office during the electoral campaign.
In September 2016, the two men reportedly were involved in obtaining information on Page and it has also been suggested that Brennan sought and obtained raw intelligence from British, Polish, Dutch and Estonian intelligence services, which might have motivated FBI’s James Comey to investigate the Trump associates. Brennan and Clapper, drawing on intelligence resources and connections, might have helped the FBI build a fabricated case against Trump.
Currently the senior officials who were so hostile to Donald Trump have decided against going quietly into their generously rewarded retirements. Morell has long been a paid contributing “expert” for CBS news, Hayden has had the same role at CNN, and they are are now being joined by John Brennan at NBC.
Brennan, an NBC “senior national security and intelligence analyst,” is an Obama-Clinton loyalist who can be relied upon to oppose policies and actions undertaken by the Trump Administration, admittedly not a bad thing, but he will be doing so from a strictly partisan perspective. And the danger is that his tag as former DCI will give him a certainly credibility, which, depending on the issue, might not be deserved or warranted. To be sure CIA interests will be protected, but they will be secondary to commentary from a partisan and revenge seeking John Brennan who is out to burnish his own sorry reputation. He looks perpetually angry when he is on television because he is.
Brennan has behaved predictably in his new role. In his first appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday he said that the Steele dossier did “not play any role whatsoever in the intelligence community assessment that was presented to President Obama…” which is a lie. He denounced the release of the so-called “Nunes memo” by the House Intelligence Committee because it was “exceptionally partisan,” which is true, and because it exposes secrets, which it does not.
Read More @ Russia-Insider.com
by Susan Duclos, All News Pipeline:
By the middle of 2017 we at All News PipeLine knew that the attacks against Independent Media had a good chance to destroy and bankrupt many Independent Media websites, as we have consistently documented how social media platforms were shadow-banning and censoring conservatives, specifically those that supported Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general presidential election cycle.
Google’s video platform YouTube was and still is demonetizing conservative political content, and putting entire channels on restricted mode, meaning anyone that had their settings set to restricted could not even see or search video from those content creators. Our video channel was one of those that saw all our videos disappeared in restricted mode, despite no cursing, nudity, or any other action that violates YouTube’s terms of service.
Google also manipulated their search engine algorithms, making it harder to find Independent Media sites on the first pages of their search engine results.
ANP knew it was going to hit critical mass simply by watching ad revenue dwindle away from the Google Adsense program, which many use to be able to afford to run maintain their websites, including paying the bills so website owners can afford the time and research needed to produce original material. Google allows three ads per page, and as traffic in a non-presidential election year normally drops between 10 and 20 percent, yet the revenue dropped by over 60 percent, plus all video revenue disappeared, paid by Google as well, it became clear it wasn’t just traffic Google was attempting to limit, but they were somehow paying less for the ads that were being served.
CONFIRMATION GOOGLE SECRETLY BLACKLISTING IM SITES
Breitbart News has been given physical proof that Google employees are targeting them by threatening advertisers, telling them that if they allow their ads on Breitbart, they will harm their “brand safety.” These employees have gone as far as to collude with a group called “Sleeping Giants” who set up a campaign to encourage their users to harass Breitbart advertisers until they agree to no longer advertise or promote the website.
Breitbart News has obtained a screenshot (withheld to protect our source) that shows Google ad account manager Aidan Wilks advising another company – a client of Google’s – that advertising on Breitbart may impact their “brand safety.”
In the screenshot, Wilks can be seen linking Google’s client to the website of Sleeping Giants, a far-left organization that has repeatedly targeted Breitbart and other conservative-leaning news sites with false claims of racism and bigotry.
The screenshot also shows Matthew Rivard, another employee at Google, advising colleagues that Wilks’ message was a “nice template” for those who wished to “call out” the issue to clients. Rivard recommends that the message should be repeated for “other key accounts.”
Until April 2017, Rivard held the position of head of industry for performance advertising at Google. This made Rivard one of the go-to people for Google’s advertising clients. Rivard’s Linkedin page currently lists him as head of industry for branded apparel and e-commerce.
Harmeet Dhillon, the Republican national committeewoman for the California GOP and attorney for James Damore, who has also seen the screenshot, said that other Google AdSense users should be concerned about secret blacklisting.
“This communication from Google’s advertising department raises troubling questions about whether the company’s ideological bias extends beyond the employment claims covered in our lawsuit, to Google’s business practices toward AdWords publisher users as well,” said Dhillon.
“If there are indeed concerted efforts at Google to undermine the advertising revenue of disfavored publishers (an allegation YouTube is already facing in court through its abrupt demonetization of Prager University videos), then this conduct may give rise to additional legal claims. At a minimum, AdSense users may question whether they are being targeted for secret blacklisting as described here.”
That explains so much. If Google is threatening “brand safety” and certain employees are actively working with the far left groups to force the higher paying ads to stop advertising on Independent Media websites, then it stands to reason that traffic in a non-presidential election year can drop the standard 10-20 percent, yet revenue would tank by 60-70 percent, threatening to knock a lot of us right out of business.
The bad news is, they are succeeding as we have recently reported, two established conservative sites, Red Flag News, and Right Wing News, have now shuttered, citing the censorship by Google and social media.
Here is how Sleeping Giants has targeted Breitbart (and others):
Then their 137K followers start targeting those advertisers, as can be seen in their Twitter feed, harassing them until they stop advertising, and Google employees are actively promoting and linking their advertisers to the Sleeping Giants campaign to help them censor and demonetize Breitbart.
That is not the only way Google is targeting Breitbart and other conservative-leaning, Independent Media, sites either, as they are also keeping a “spreadsheet,” and as Bretibart states “They have people trawling each article on the site [Breitbart] to see if they can find comments that might violate their policies in order to justify not trafficking ads.”
Breitbart may be big enough to withstand this type of campaign, but smaller websites cannot.
Read More @ AllNewsPipeline.com
by Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper:
I was recently emailing back and forth with Selco and we were discussing the situation in the US right now, with the political polarization, the rage, and the general cognitive dissonance. I asked him if he saw any similarities between our situation and the one in Bosnia when the SHTF there during the war. When he replied I knew I had to share this information with you.
While we might like to think it could never happen here, the current events here are eerily similar to what happened there in the 1990s.
When you read this. think about recent events. The anger about immigration. The destruction of Civil War monuments. The unease between the races. The deep rage about the recent presidential election. The scorn and derision for neighbors who think differently. The way the media fans the flames of dissent between our fellow Americans.
You’ll realize that it definitely CAN happen to us…and there’s not one darn thing we can do except to be prepared.
What parallels do you see with events in the US and Bosnia before the SHTF?
US and Yugoslavia (in 1990) on first look do not have anything in common because people are going to say, “The USA cannot have anything similar to any socialistic system.”
This is true but only on first look.
Yugoslavia had somewhere around 20-22 million citizens, six republics (similar to states in the US), 3-4 main religions, and many national groups (ethnicity).
The official state policy was to build Yugoslavian “nationality” (from the end of WW1) and through different ways that effort was successful until the 90s.
We were “something big, united through differences with a strong connection to make something big.”
And then those differences were used to make chaos.
In the late 80s and beginning of the 90s (when democracy came) the problems started and ended up in series of wars and cases of complete collapse.
Things that I experienced in my case prior to SHTF, and things that you might recognize:
Can you explain how the current political polarization could make matters worse when the SHTF?
Strong polarization eventually brings fear and hate towards “others”, and once you get into that state of hate and fear it is very easy to be manipulated, even though prior or later, it looks weird and funny how easily you were brought into that state.
I remember the exact moment roughly 25 years ago when I was brought in discussion and actually rioting over the statue of a general from WW2 which was about to be destroyed because for some people he was a war criminal and for others he was a hero and important political figure.
It was a big event, and people were brought into that event in big numbers, arguing and fist fighting and rioting…
At the same time, the wheels of big events were actually already starting to move, and if I were smart I would have left the country or bought a weapon instead fighting over a historical figure.
Does this sound familiar?
It was only one event that was used in order to polarize people more. “Us” and “Them”.
It is so easy to manipulate people when you throw hate and fear in the game.
Polarization makes things worse when SHTF because it is easier to “dehumanize” others that are different than you. Through the fear and hate, groups are pushed to do whatever the people in power want them to do, even if that means horrible crimes. Remember, once some group of people (religion, political, regional, race…) is dehumanized (for example through smart media work) the rules are changing and everything is possible.
For example, with careful media work even today (in time of the internet, social networks, and independent information) it is possible to make the prepper movement look like a terroristic and anarchistic movement and then it’s open season on preppers.
Did political disagreements go away when it hit the fan or did they intensify?
In essence yes, they went away because it all went to how much food, ammo, or whatever resource you had. You realized that big opinions simply do not matter, especially once when you realize that all was somehow planned, and especially once when you realize how foolish you were because you trusted some things.
But of course rage was fed with again fear and hate for ”others”.
It is like that story about how they tried to explain to a conscript [someone who was drafted into the military] what is war all about: higher causes and honor and everything else, and he simply could not get it. Then later in the middle of a fight he suddenly understands everything and yells: “Oh I understand now – THEY ARE TRYING TO KILL ME.”
When you strip everything down to the bare facts, he was right.
Read More @ TheOrganicPrepper.ca
by Jeremiah Johnson, Ready Nutrition:
I will admit that I am not the most technologically “savvy” individual, and I’m certainly not armed with all the modern “conveniences” that most people take as a necessity. Cell phones, Kindle devices, M-pad/I-pod/UFO-whatever-for-music…don’t use ‘em. That being said, I know they have their merits, but it’s the same type of lesson I tried to impart to my son when he went into the service.
He picked up one of those high-speed wrist compasses…the digital kind…but I constantly remind him to use that “old-fashioned” lensatic compass as his mainstay. He listens, although he prefers to use his gizmo. I’m just happy he carries the lensatic with him and knows how to use it. I made sure he knew how to use it.
In this light, remember that all of our technology can collapse in the blink of an eye. The collapse can be precipitated by any number of things…grid failure/brownouts, an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) strike, a nuclear war, or just a societal collapse that has a “downtrickle” of losing critical infrastructure and modern power systems. In that light, it is best to take your digital and electronic libraries and ensure they are duplicated into hard-copy. Consider investing in a typewriter to pass this valuable information on. Let’s give some suggestions, and you can take them, and tailor them to suit your needs.
Read More @ ReadyNutrition.com
by Victoria Friedman, Breitbart:
“Most politicians do not want to admit that the Western world is at war and should act accordingly… Policy responses are, in most cases, inadequate,” Lukáš Visingr told Czech news channel ČT24.
Mr. Visginr added that the recent period of calm – following the spate of Islamic extremist-inspired terror attacks that included the London Bridge, Manchester, Champs Elysees, Paris, and Barcelona attacks during the summer of 2017 – should not be taken as permanent.
“Informants warn that there are hundreds and thousands of well-trained jihadists in Europe who are ready to carry out attacks,” he said, noting that these Islamic State militants are returning from war zones in the Middle East after facing military defeat.
The security specialist also observed that terror attacks hitherto have mostly been carried out by “keen amateurs; they were not people who had special training from ‘professional’ terrorists like the Islamic State”.
“When this new generation [of returning, trained Islamic State militants] begins attacking, I think that we are in for much worse things.”
“I am convinced that there will be large-scale Islamic extremist attacks in Europe,” Visginr warned.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) 20 February 2016
The defence analyst then hit back at the news presenter’s criticism that to profile Europe’s growing Muslim population is unfair and “nonsense”.
“I do not think it’s nonsense,” Visginr said. “The fact is that the Muslim community, although many of its members do not have a radical inclination, is a community from which the threat is coming.”
A similar assessment was made this month by defence analysts Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC) in a report that said the terror threat will increase in 2018 as foreign jihadists return to Europe with advanced knowledge learnt whilst fighting with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Read More @ Breitbart.com
by Wolfie Zhao, Coinbase:
Cryptocurrency startup Coinbase said Tuesday that its U.S.-based users won’t be able to add new credit cards as a payment option.
Making the announcement through its official blog post on Feb. 13, Coinbase said the platform currently is unable to offer a smooth credit card purchase experience. As a result, it has “disabled adding new credit cards as a payment method for U.S. customers.”
The move is a follow-up to the platform’s previous confirmation that credit cards issued by four U.S. banks are barred from being used to buy cryptocurrencies. Coinbase said, however, that debit cards remain as a payment option.
“We know many customers have added credit cards as their primary payment method; we did not make this decision lightly,” the company said in the post. “We are actively working with card networks and card issuers to find a long term solution. For customers in the UK, EU, Canada, Australia and Singapore, we are collecting feedback and evaluating similar changes.”
In addition, the platform said users who have already linked credit cards to the Coinbase platform can continue using them “so long as your bank allows them.”
As reported previously, at least four banks in the U.S. – JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi and Capital One – have barred credit card holders from making purchases on the exchange.
Read More @ Coinbase.com