Sunday, October 20, 2019

China Sells $3 Billion of Dollar Bonds Amid Trade War With US

from Sputnik News:

The bonds sale was carried out in the wake of a massive blow sustained by the US stock market earlier this week, and effectively demonstrates China’s sway in the international bond market.

Beijing sold $3 billion of sovereign dollar bonds, making it the third such sale in the last 14 years.

As Chinese Ministry of Finance revealed, Beijing sold $1.5 billion worth of 5-year bonds at 3.25 percent, $1 billion worth of 10-year bonds at 3.5 percent and $500 million worth of 30-year bonds at 4 percent.

After 65 Years the US Considering a New Coup D’Etat in Tehran – Iranian Scholars

from Sputnik News:

The lessons of the 1953 coup d’etat in Iran remain unlearned by the US leadership, Iranian scholars told Sputnik. Washington has adopted old methods of psychological warfare and economic pressure to manipulate Tehran into making concessions; however, over the past 65 years the Islamic Republic of Iran has dramatically changed, they said.

The Trump administration has adopted the methods Washington resorted to 65 years ago to carry out a coup d’etat in Iran, Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi, an expert on American studies at the University of Tehran, told Sputnik Persian.

The Italian Job: ‘unlikely’ alliance could become reality

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by Pepe Escobar, Asia Tmes:

As Italy’s traditional parties scramble to rise from the debris, two extremes – populist Five Star and far-right Lega – may eye coalition

triumph of “populism.” A hung parliament. “Ungovernable” Italy. Berlusconi’s demise. The latest chapter in a European saga. The “end of socialist parties.” Italy’s latest elections were a roller coaster featuring plenty of thrills. Yet the top political nugget is unmistakable: Only one coalition may aspire to an absolute majority, an – unlikely – alliance between the populist Five Star Movement and the extreme-right League, led by Matteo Salvini.

That’s what actually will be hangin’ in the air for the next – long – days; arguably as many as 51, according to a projection by JPMorgan relayed by Bloomberg. “Europe,” meanwhile, will also be hangin’ in the balance, as Italy is the third-largest economy in the eurozone.

The Italian race was a highly personalized affair, centered on four stars: former prime minister Matteo Renzi – the Italian Tony Blair – of the center-left Democratic Party (PD); the larger-than-life Silvio “bunga bunga” Berlusconi of the right-wing Forza Italia; populist Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio; and extreme-right Lega leader Matteo Salvini.

As for Sergio Mattarella, the president of the Italian Republic, he will have to pull nothing less than a magic trick to come up with a government.

‘Italy for Italians’

With nearly 32% of the vote, the populist Five Star Movement is now the top party of a largely fractured Italy. Five Star won largely in the south while Lega won largely in the north. As for the PD, it even managed to lose historically leftist Emilia-Romagna.

Five Star’s platform features a promise to lower taxes – which in Italy tend to hover around a Dante-esque lower circle of hell; set up a universal minimum wage; raise pensions; revise the terms of “hire and fire”; invest in new technologies; cut red tape for business; and on the crucial immigration issue, come up with more bilateral treaties to increase repatriation of immigrants.

Contrary to alarmist hysteria, Italy is not exactly sinking. The fundamentals are actually solid. Gross domestic product went up 1.5% in 2017 – twice the rate of Rome’s forecasts. Of course that’s much less than the 2.5% European average, but it’s still Italy’s best score in 10 years, during which the nation was mostly mired in a horrible recession. Industrial production went up by 3%, and exports by 7%, leading to a trade surplus of €48 billion (US$59 billion).

Still, the center-left coalition, in power since 2013, ended up in smithereens. The PD will hardly recover. Blair clone Renzi, the party’s secretary, might as well say goodbye, as the stigma of “loser” will not vanish.

Indeed, this election result might as well represent the end of a historical cycle of “socialist” – only in name – parties in power; their demise is due to the simple fact they went hardcore neoliberal. The PD most likely will turn into an opposition radical chic minority vehicle for sectors of the educated middle class paying lip service to “humanitarian values.” Definitely not a mass party.

All eyes are focused on whether Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio – who succeeded founder Beppe Grillo – will bow out to a political alliance.

Five Star may be entering a new, more moderate phase; in fact it will have to, otherwise its “change you can believe in” narrative simply won’t be implemented (even as it insists nothing can change with those corrupt political parties in place).

Five Star has been presented with a historic chance actually to rule. As much as there’s a fierce internal struggle between the orthodox and the “governists,” 5S would hardly trade this electoral gift for playing the role of opposition.

As for the 45-year-old Milanese Salvini, he was rewarded for a master political coup. Salvini erased “Nord” from the party’s name and got rid of the green representing wealthy – and largely mythical – Padania from the party logo to the benefit of a nationalist/populist blue. And he bet on campaigning hard on immigration – in the process thoroughly overtaking its right-wing ally, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

Salvini was praised by Marine Le Pen and fully supported by Steve Bannon. He even conquered large swaths of southern Italy in the election, promising only 15% in taxes and protection for Italian olive oil from North African competition. Sporting sweatshirts emblazoned with “Italy for Italians,” his tirades against “clandestine” immigrants, Nigerian drug dealers, the euro, Islam and homosexual liaisons were wildly popular.

No more bunga bunga?

And that brings us to the fate of Silvio “Il Cavaliere” Berlusconi, cutting quite a lonely figure in his seventh electoral campaign, something totally against his glamour-drenched historical script. He rambled on like a scratched CD. He lost his mojo. He was heavily criticized even by his – much younger – allies. And the worst – from his point of view – happened: The Lega boomed, yet that was still not enough to propel his alliance toward a large majority.

Read More @ ATimes.com

End of the US Empire: Major Global Shift as Saudis Sign Multibillion Arms Deal With Russia

by Darius Shahtahmasebi, The Anti Media:

The American empire is decaying and facing inevitable demise. The latest evidence of this trend can be found in recent developments in the Middle East.

For approximately six years, the U.S. has spearheaded a coalition of nations that insist on the departure (and likely death) of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Saudi Arabia was without a doubt one of the most stalwart anti-Assad nations, even allegedly financing ISIS in its attempt to oust the Syrian leader.

Russia’s intervention in Syria in 2015 has seen both Syria and Iran (another Saudi rival) emerge as major victors in the Syrian conflict. Military and political analysts acknowledge that Russia’s heavy intervention prevented the Syrian government from collapsing. In other words, Russia has expended a great deal of money, time, personnel, and equipment propping up Saudi Arabia’s sworn enemies.

And yet, instead of labeling Russia a prime enemy hell-bent on taking over the world and killing everyone in the process (as Western media portrays Russia), Saudi Arabia has outstretched its arms to the former Soviet empire and is well on its way to strengthening the relationship between to the two countries to an unprecedented extent.

As Foreign Affairs explains:

“Since Saudi Arabia’s formal establishment in 1932, Moscow and Riyadh have been at odds in almost every Middle Eastern war or dispute besides the Arab–Israeli conflict. Through it all, Moscow has always understood Saudi Arabia’s importance in the region and has periodically reached out to the country in order to weaken, however slightly, Riyadh’s alliance with the West.”

Decades ago, Saudi Arabia was financing and sending an endless supply of diehard religious fanatics to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, demonstrating the historic tensions between the two nations. Even during the last few years, it was reported that the Saudis were playing a game of high-stakes chicken with oil prices simply to attack one of Russia’s core sources of revenue.

In recent months, things have changed dramatically between the two countries. From Foreign Affairs:

“On October 5, King Salman became the first ever Saudi monarch to visit Russia. President Vladimir Putin, who first invited the king to Moscow more than two years ago, hailed the visit as a ‘landmark event.’ Billboards lined city streets welcoming the king in Arabic and Russian, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had strong words of praise for Saudi Arabia’s leadership.

“After the summit, Salman and Putin signed a packet of documents on energy, trade, and defense, and agreed to several billion dollars’ worth of joint investment. In addition, there are reports that Saudi Arabia agreed to purchase Russia’s S-400 air defense system, making it the second U.S. ally to do so. (Turkey was the first.)”

Turkey, a NATO ally, was also a staunch anti-Assad player in the Syrian war, as was Qatar. Both countries now find themselves working far more closely with Iran and Russia and have almost all but given up on the regime change operation in Syria due to Russia’s military presence. Now, Saudi Arabia may have just joined the list of countries canceling their plans for regime change in Syria and turning to Russia to get things done. (Where is the United States during all of this?)

As the Guardian explained:

“The Saudis have traditionally seen the US as its chief – if not exclusive – foreign policy partner, but changes inside the Saudi regime, as well as Saudi fears about US reliability, have left the kingdom looking to diversify into wider set of alliances.

Read More @ TheAntiMedia.com

An Update From Batchelor and Cohen

by Turd Ferguson, TF Metals Report:

Another vital update on The New Cold War

It has been three weeks so I’m dying to listen to this latest edition. However, it has been such a busy day that I have to post this “sound unheard”.

As always, I encourage you to listen simply so that you receive some actual fair, balanced and objective coverage of US-Russia relations and The New Cold War.

TF

It’s Raining Mortars in Damascus Again – Mainstream Media Silent

by Bas Spliet, Activist Post:

Damascus – I arrived in Damascus the day before yesterday, on 6 April. With the exception of the city of Douma, the whole of Eastern Ghouta had gradually come under the control of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) since the military started a major operation in February to take control of the insurgents’ last major stronghold in the northern vicinity of the Syrian capital. Fighters from Jaish al-Islam – the only remaining rebel group which, literally translated, means the Army of Islam – were being bussed to other rebel-held areas across Syria, and it looked like the final negotiations were under way. I figured that the last of the indiscriminate mortar shelling which had plagued Damascus over the last seven years had finally come to an end. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.

Neocons ADMIT They Will Lie Us Into War

by James Corbett, The International Forecaster:

If a new “catastrsophic and catalyzing event” happened tomorrow… would the public blindly support the government in a headlong rush to war or would they question what they were being told?

Now that mustachioed super villain John Bolton is in the driver’s seat of America’s foreign policy, an old video of the arch-neocon admitting he would lie to the public to achieve his goals is making the rounds once again. Go ahead and watch it for yourself.

Several people shot, one possibly killed in tram in Utrecht, Netherlands, attacker at large

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from RT:

One person was likely killed and several more people were injured in a shooting that broke out in the Dutch city of Utrecht. Terrorism is being investigated as a potential motive, police said.

The Dutch counter-terrorism unit has surrounded a building where the gunman may be located, local media has reported. The perpetrator manged to escape the scene of the crime earlier, despite police cordoning off the area and adjacent streets.

A square around a tram station outside downtown Utrecht is also on lockdown.

Italy, A Parallel Currency and Immigration – Merkel’s Worst Nightmare

by Tom Luongo, Tom Luongo:

Here comes the flood. My worst fears of The League’s leader Matteo Salvini’s ego getting in the way of seizing the political moment by the horns were overblown. It feels good to be wrong every once in a while.

It looks like coalition talks between The League and Five Star Movement (MS5) have been productive. A new post from Mike “Mish” Shedlock reveals the likely structure of a new parliamentary deal which has neither Salvini nor M5S’s Luigi Di Maio taking the role of Prime Minister.

Could Be “Weeks” Before Aramco Restores Full Production Capacity As Specter Of $100 Oil Looms

from ZeroHedge:

With the Saudis now racing to restore full oil production to normal levels as one Sunday morning headline noted, the industry is bracing for a potential significant delay in production — given rumors the fires at the facilities struck in the early hours of Saturday may not be fully “under control” as the kingdom was quick to assure hours after the raging explosions — which could translate into oil prices being very high for a long time. Industry sources said it could take weeks to return full production levels to normal.

Miscalculation: China Building More Nuclear Subs Than Pentagon Estimated, Report

from ZeroHedge:

Some of America’s most influential think tanks and the Pentagon have likely underestimated the number of Chinese nuclear submarines under construction, a new report suggests. 

Satellite imagery of the Bohai Shipyard and Longpo Naval Facility taken by Planet Labs shows that “China does not yet have a credible sea-based deterrent,” Catherine Dill of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey told Defense One. Two of China’s four Jin-class submarines “appear to not be in operation and are undergoing maintenance or repairs at the Bohai shipyard, suggesting to us that credibility is still in question.”