All posts by Bernd Pulch

RUMORS OF WAR: Russia massing troops on North Korea border | End Time Headlines

 

Russia appears to be preparing for war as troops have lined up on the North Korea border just one day after Vladimir Putin’s nation fired a ballistic missile. A large number of soldiers were seen arriving near the Khasan crossing point between the two nations on Tuesday. Photos captured some of the troops patrolling the top of Zaozyonara Hill, a meeting point between Russia, North Korea and China. Russia is thought to be concerned at the build-up of US troops in South Korea as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un continue their war of words. Moscow has previously denied moved more troops to the border area as tensions between the US and Kim’s regime reach boiling point. Earlier this year, the movement of heavy weaponry towards the border was also caught on camera. Frants Klintsevich, the first deputy chairman of the Russian upper house’s Committee on Defence and Security, has warned that any US action against North Korea would also be seen as a hostility towards Russia due to their shared border.

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Stalin’s America | Socialism in America

 

How the Socialist Party platform of 1928 worked its way into American political policy.

“The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

– Norman Thomas (1884-1968), six-time U.S. Presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America

Socialist Party Platform 1928
(click to read entire platform)

( NOTE:   It is the intention of CrystalBull.com to remain politically independent, and not become mired in partisan politics.  Our mission is to study the world economy, and in that mission, at times, the relationship between politics and economics becomes highly relevant.  This is an important time for this commentary.  Whether the reader is liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, we believe this is of interest to all investors. These observations were first made by economists (Nobel Laureate) Milton and Rose Friedman, in Free to Choose in 1979, but have been updated here.  Thankfully, we have been spared the brutality of a Joseph Stalin, though many of the economic principles of his early years have crept into American life.)

Let’s set the stage…  The year is 1928.  World War I ended ten years ago, but its effects and settlements have left much of the world in dire straits economically.  The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi) is gaining power in an economically-destitute Weimar Germany.  Benito Mussolini and the National Fascist Party are firmly entrenched in Italy.  The Bolshevik Revolution, where first the peasants, then Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Party wrested power from the czars in Russia, is now a decade in the past.  Joseph Stalin has built a “cult of personality” in Russia, using mass media to create an idealized and heroic public image through unquestioned idolatry, flattery, and praise.

The propaganda machines of both Stalin’s Socialism and Mussolini’s Fascism are in full swing, painting rosy pictures of life under government control.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt is campaigning to become governor of New York.  The cocktail parties of Upper Manhattan are abuzz with chatter about the foreign rulers.  In fact, a year earlier, future members of FDR’s “Brain Trust” (mostly professors at Columbia University) went on a junket to Russia to meet with Stalin, and came back in admiration and awe.  One Brain Trust member, Stuart Chase, went on to write a very prophetic book, The New Deal, which laid the groundwork for the social programs of the FDR administration.  The last sentence of The New Deal reads, “Why should Russians have all the fun remaking a world?”

The U.S. economy is strong.  Life is good, but the “roaring 20’s” are about to come to an end.

In the 1928 election for President of the United States, Norman Thomas and James Maurer ran on the Socialist Party ticket.  They captured only one percent of the vote, but laid out a vision for what Socialism meant in the early part of the 20th century.  The planks of the Socialist Party platform were clearly defined.  It is fascinating that in just a few decades, most of the planks of the 1928 Socialist Party platform would be enacted into law, without the party ever winning an election.  Thomas finally quit American politics, stating that he was no longer needed, as the Democrat and Republican parties had adopted every plank in the platform.  He said, “The difference between Democrats and Republicans is: Democrats have accepted some ideas of Socialism cheerfully, while Republicans have accepted them reluctantly”.

Here are the economic planks of the Socialist Party platform of 1928, with editorial comment added (Click to read entire platform):

1. “Nationalization of our natural resources, beginning with the coal mines and water sites, particularly at Boulder Dam and Muscle Shoals.” (Boulder Dam, renamed Hoover Dam, and Muscle Shoals are now both federal government projects.)

2. “A publicly owned giant power system under which the federal government shall cooperate with the states and municipalities in the distribution of electrical energy to the people at cost…” (Tennessee Valley Authority, et al.  This is a generally accepted process across the country.  Even the private utilities are highly regulated.)

3. “National ownership and democratic management of railroads and other means of transportation and communication.” (Railroad passenger service was completely nationalized through Amtrak. Some freight service was nationalized through Conrail. Private railroads are strictly regulated by the federal government. The FCC controls communications by telephone, telegraph, radio, television, and the internet.)

4. “An adequate national program for flood control, flood relief, reforestation, irrigation, and reclamation.” (Government expenditures for these purposes are currently tens of billions of dollars per year, including FEMA, Army Corps of Engineers, etc.)

5. “Immediate governmental relief of the unemployed by the extension of all public works and a program of long range planning of public works . . .” (In the 1930s, WPA and PWA were a direct counterpart; now, a wide variety of other programs are.) “All persons thus employed to be engaged at hours and wages fixed by bona-fide labor unions.” (The Davis-Bacon and Walsh-Healey Acts require contractors with government contracts to pay “prevailing wages,” generally interpreted as highest union wages.)

6. “Loans to states and municipalities without interest for the purpose of carrying on public works and the taking of such other measures as will lessen widespread misery.” (Federal grants in aid to states and local municipalities amount to billions of dollars a year.  Federal highway funds and many other public works projects.)

7. “A system of unemployment insurance.” (Part of Social Security system, as well as the Federal Unemployment Tax.)

8. “The nation-wide extension of public employment agencies in cooperation with city federations of labor.” (U.S. Employment Service and affiliated state employment services administer a network of thousands of local employment offices.)

9. “A system of health and accident insurance and of old age pensions as well as unemployment insurance.” (Part of Social Security, Unemployment. Universal health insurance coming soon.)

10. “Shortening the workday” and “Securing every worker a rest period of no less than two days in each week.” (Legislated by Department of Labor’s Wages and Hours Laws that require overtime for working more than eight hours per day or forty hours per week.)

11. “Enacting of an adequate federal anti-child labor amendment.” (Child labor provisions under Fair Labor Standards Act.)

12. “Abolition of the brutal exploitation of convicts under the contract system and substitution of a cooperative organization of industries in penitentiaries and workshops for the benefit of convicts and their dependents.” (In the 1930’s, contract labor was outlawed.  After that, rather than making products for private profit, inmates made license plates and other products for government or nonprofit agencies.  The Justice System Improvement Act of 1979 loosened regulations to allow prisons to put people to work, provided they paid prevailing wages, consulted unions, and didn’t displace workers outside prisons.)

13. “Legislation aiming at the prevention of occupational diseases.” (OSHA)

14. “Increase of taxation on high income levels, of corporation taxes and inheritance taxes, the proceeds to be used for old age pensions and other forms of social insurance.” (In 1928, highest personal income tax rate, 25 percent; in 2009, 35 percent, current proposals take that above 40%; in 1928, corporate tax rate, 12 percent; in 2009, 35-39% percent with proposed increases; in 1928, top federal estate tax rate, 20 percent; in 2009, 48% with proposed increases.)

15. “Appropriation by taxation of the annual rental value of all land held for speculation.” (Not achieved in this form, but property taxes have risen drastically.)

What were shunned as Socialist principles in 1928 are now generally accepted in American life.

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World War 3 threat: Hawaii ‘prepares for North Korea nuclear attack’ |

Authorities held a secret meeting last week to discuss contingency plans in the event of Pyongyang launching a deadly missile at the US islands.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has threatened to drop a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean amid fears Pyongyang has developed a nuclear missile capable of reaching Hawaii.

A document shared at the private talks, and obtained by local paper Honolulu Civil Beat, featured chapter headings such as “Enhance missile launch notification process between U.S. Pacific Command and the State Warning Point.”

The US state, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, will also begin testing a warning siren system in November, giving residents between 12 and 15 minutes to take refuge.

Resident wil then be advised to stay indoors for 72 hours after an attack.

State representative Gene Ward told the Washington Post: “Now it’s time to take it seriously.”

He said the plan was “not to be an alarmist but to be informing people.”

Mr Ward said the meeting last week was held in private because officials did not want to worry residents.

He also said talk of bunkers and fallout shelters was “probably more surreal for younger generations” with no experience of a realistic nuclear threat.

But Hawaiians are apparently taking the news in their stride, and carrying on with their daily lives.

Residents are used to disaster warnings, living in an area prone to hurricanes and tsunamis.

Survival guidelines for those scenarios are similar to the ones being issued for a nuclear attack – instead of seven days worth of food, water and medical supplies, residents are advised to double it.

The document distrubted at last week’s meeting suggested that around 90 per cent of the Hawaiian population would survive a nuclear attack by North Korea, based on the estimated yield of North Korea’s missile capability, which suggests an explosion less than eight miles in diameter.

It comes as America’s top military officer said despite an escalation in rhetoric between the US and North Korea, he had not seen Pyongyang change it’s military posture.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing for his reappointment: “While the political space is clearly very charged right now, we haven’t seen a change in the posture of North Korean forces and we watch that very closely.

“What we haven’t seen is military activity that would be reflective of the charged political environment.”

North Korea has boosted defences on its east coast, a South Korean lawmaker said on Tuesday, after Pyongyang said US President Donald Trump had declared war and that it would shoot down US bombers flying near the peninsula.

Tensions have escalated since reclusive North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3. Bellicose rhetoric has reached a new level in recent days with leaders on both sides exchanging threats and insults.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said on Monday that Mr Trump’s Twitter comments that leader Kim Jong Un and Ri “won’t be around much longer” if they acted on their threats amounted to a declaration of war and that Pyongyang had the right to take countermeasures.

Exposed – WW3 ALERT ~ North Korea war about to break out triggering military invasion

The highest tensions have been in decades. North Korea and the United States are at an entirely new level of conflict. At any minute something could trigger an all out invasion of North Korea and multiple nuclear missile launches at the United States, South Korea and Japan.

Unveiled – Venezuela prepares for war with U.S. with ‘rifles, missiles and well-oiled tanks at the ready’

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro called on his nation’s military leaders Tuesday to prepare for war against the U.S. days after the Trump administration banned Venezuelan officials from entering the nation.

“We have been shamelessly threatened by the most criminal empire that ever existed and we have the obligation to prepare ourselves to guarantee peace,” said Maduro, who wore a green uniform and a military hat as he spoke with his army top brass during a military exercise involving tanks and missiles. “We need to have rifles, missiles and well-oiled tanks at the ready….to defend every inch of the territory if needs be,” he added.

The Trump administration has taken a hard stance against Maduro’s regime by banning money lending to Venezuela’s government or its state oil company PDVSA, and passing sanctions against Maduro and his top officials.

Maduro referenced the sanctions during his speech at the military base. As he spoke, Russian military plans flew in the sky as part of the training exercise, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The future of humanity cannot be the world of illegal sanctions, of economic persecution,” Maduro said.

It’s unlikely Maduro has the manpower to stand up to the U.S., which has a much larger military. Maduro has maintained power in Venezuela despite mounting political and economic crises that has seen months of violent, anti-government demonstrations across the South American nation. Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino has backed Maduro during the upheaval, but some critics have begun a whisper campaign suggesting that the military could break away and support a coup against the president, Herbert Garcia, a former senior army general and minister, told Reuters in August. There have been three attempted military coups in Venezuela since 1992.

Russia has defended Maduro in recent months, going so far as to accuse Trump of preparing for an invasion of Caracas. “We are strongly against unilateral sanctions against sovereign states,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in August. “We will carefully analyze the implications of the sanctions imposed by the United States, and their possible effect on the interests of Russia and Russian businesses. We can already say that they will not affect our willingness to expand and strengthen cooperation with the friendly nation of Venezuela and its people.”

President Donald Trump directed his penchant for insulting world leaders toward Venezuela during a United Nations speech earlier this month. He said Washington could intervene in Venezuela to help its citizens “recover their country”

“We cannot stand by and watch,” he said.

Maduro oversaw a disputed election earlier this year to muzzle the elected national assembly by creating “constituent assembly” in its place.

Shocking – California Preparing for Nuclear War Attack

 

[ATS] Last month a bulletin was issued by the Joint Regional Intelligence Center, regarding preparing California for a nuclear attack from N. Korea. I know Kim would be insane to start a war with the U.S. and unfortunately we all know he is insane.

Things have ramped up since this was issued, and I’m concerned that our President is pushing Kims buttons. Kim has painted himself in a corner on this, and saving face could cause him to do something radically stupid.

It contains some advice that I think everyone might want to know. Readers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with nuclear response emergency procedures. How to lessen the exposure to nuclear radiation, and what to expect from the Govt.

According to foreignpolicy.com:

With U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un trading insults and threatening war, California officials are taking the threat of nuclear exchange seriously.

Noting the heightened North Korean threat, the Los Angeles-area Joint Regional Intelligence Center issued a bulletin last month warning that a nuclear attack on Southern California would be “catastrophic” and urged officials in the region to shore up their nuclear attack response plans.

The report cites North Korea’s late July test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could, in theory, reach the West Coast of the United States. “North Korea’s propaganda videos feature ruins of San Francisco and Washington,” the document says.“North Korea’s propaganda videos feature ruins of San Francisco and Washington,” the document says.

The 16-page “Nuclear Attack Response Considerations” bulletin is dated Aug. 16 and marked for “official use only.” It was circulated last month to Los Angeles-area local, state, and federal agency personnel and also throughout the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies across the country.

The idea behind the unclassified report was to share planning and guidance with as wide a distribution as possible, according to two officials involved in responding to a nuclear strike and who received the bulletin. Many agencies are involved in responding to an attack and are often staffed with personnel without access to classified information.

DHS did not respond to requests for comment.

Much of the information in the report is based on well-known facts about the effects of a nuclear blast, including the effects of radiation, the possibly of an electromagnetic pulse disabling communications, and the destructive effects of the initial blast on human life and infrastructure.

Citing figures from the Rand Corp., the report says a nuclear blast at the Long Beach Port could cause more than $1 trillion in damage, including loss of life and destruction of homes and infrastructure.

In a section on “radiation protection basics,” the report offers a primer on what to do during a nuclear attack. “Lie face down and place hands under the body to protect exposed skin,” it recommends. “Remain flat until the heat and shock waves have passed.”

There are also sections explaining the basic mechanisms of a nuclear blast as it occurs and discussion of specific things expected to happen in the event of a nuclear attack that should be considered and prepared for in advance.

It also warns of the difficulties government authorities would likely encounter in dealing with the aftermath of a blast. The public will need to evacuate, the report says, but with “limited understanding of radiation risks, they will experience high anxiety and may be non-compliant.”

Challenges with contamination spread by pets and through clothing are among the many public health and logistical coordination issues spelled out for potential emergency responders.

“The consequences of a nuclear attack in Southern California would be catastrophic,” the report says. “Nonetheless, government entities and first responders are expected to remain operational to preserve human life, maintain order, and aid in the recovery process.”

The report, which is largely directed at local, state, and federal agencies and first responders located in the Los Angeles region, notes that the federal government will likely be of limited help immediately after a nuclear blast.

“[T]here will be no significant federal assistance at the scene for 24-72 hours following the attack,” the bulletin says.

China’s hold over ‘Rocket Man’ is key to avoiding nuclear war in East Asia

 

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un are playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship while also trading personal insults.

 

Most recently, Trump blasted the “Rocket Man” in his inaugural speech to the United Nations, promising to “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatens the U.S. or its allies. The Trump Administration also added new sanctions aimed at strangling its ability to work with banks.

Kim, for his part, resorted to calling Trump “mentally deranged” and a “dotard,” while his foreign minister threatened to test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific.

 

With tensions escalating, it is important to be realistic about how we can get out of this mess.

 

In short, any nonmilitary solution will rely on China choosing to apply its massive economic leverage over the North Korean regime. In a positive sign, China’s central bank recently told Chinese financial companies to stop doing business with North Korea.

 

Overall, however, it appears that China has increased its trade with North Korea in recent years while doing fairly little to forestall North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. China’s foremost objective seems to be promoting greater stability from its volatile neighbor, in part because it fears being faced with a massive humanitarian crisis should the regime collapse.

 

But while the poor quality of the data hinders a detailed analysis, a quick look shows just how much leverage China has, if it wishes to use it.

 

 

North Korea’s primary patron

 

In general, exports from one country to another can be mostly explained by the distance between them and the sizes of their markets, a pattern that holds for China and North Korea.

 

Geographically, they share a long border, which makes China a natural, though not inevitable, partner for trade. As a case in point, North Korea also shares a long border with South Korea, but these countries have almost no trade between them. In addition, North Korea shares a small border with Russia, with whom it has little, though ever-increasing, trade.

 

China’s large market, proximity and – most importantly – willingness to trade with North Korea has led to a situation in which North Korea has become highly dependent on trade with what has become its primary patron. About half of North Korean exports and imports go directly to and from China and most of the rest of its trade is handled indirectly by Chinese middlemen.

 

North Korea’s dependence on its neighbor has grown alongside China’s increasing economic dominance of East Asia, which gained momentum 15 years ago when China joined the World Trade Organization. Since then, both Chinese gross domestic product as well as its annual trade with North Korea have increased nearly tenfold, to around US$11 trillion and $6 billion, respectively.

 

North Korea imports nearly everything from China, from rubber tires to refined petroleum to pears, with no single category dominating. Meanwhile, coal constitutes about 40 percent of North Korean exports to China.

 

Time to use that leverage?

 

However, recent events – such as the use of front companies by Chinese firms to evade sanctions imposed on North Korea and China’s reluctance to cut off energy supplies to the country – have led to some uncertainty about the extent to which China is willing to use this economic leverage to rein in North Korea’s military ambitions.

 

On one hand, China previously claimed to have stopped coal imports from North Korea as part of recent efforts to punish the regime for missile tests and the suspected assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. This was an important signal of China’s willingness to support U.S. concerns about the missile program since oil represents about a third ($930 million) of North Korea’s import revenue.

 

On the other hand, there is evidence that coal shipments in fact never ceased. And, in any case, China may have increased its imports of iron ore from North Korea to offset the lost coal revenues.

 

This is consistent with the idea that China carefully considers the resources and revenue that are available to the North Korean regime at any moment, and uses trade as a lever to control them. In this way, China walks a fine line between providing too many resources, and thus allowing the regime to prosper, and not enough resources, such that North Korea is in danger of collapsing. Ultimately, trade may be used as a lever to do some light scolding, but China’s overwhelming concern is preventing North Korea’s collapse.

 

Further evidence that China has tight control over the North Korean economy comes from a recent report from C4ADS. The research group found close, and often common, ownership ties between most of the major Chinese companies who do business with North Korea. This suggests that trade with North Korea is highly centralized and thus easily controlled.

 

Russia: North Korea’s other ‘friend’

 

China is not the only country that North Korea trades with, though the others currently pale in comparison. Other top export destinations include India ($97.8 million), Pakistan ($43.1 million) and Burkina Faso ($32.8 million). In terms of imports, India ($108 million), Russia ($78.3 million) and Thailand ($73.8 million) currently sell the most to North Korea.

 

Russia in particular may soon complicate U.S. efforts to isolate the regime. While still small, Russian trade with North Korea increased 73 percent over the first two months of 2017 compared with the same period of the previous year.

 

But whereas China is legitimately worried that an economic crisis in North Korea could lead to a flood of refugees or all-out war, Russia likely sees engagement with North Korea in much simpler terms, namely as an additional way to gain geopolitical advantage relative to the U.S.

 

A way out?

 

Nearly all experts agree that there is no easy way to “solve” the North Korea problem. However, one plausible approach is to encourage South Korea and Japan to begin to develop nuclear weapons programs of their own, and to only discontinue these programs if China takes meaningful steps to use its trade with North Korea to reign in the regime.

 

Threatening to introduce new nuclear powers to the world is clearly risky, however stable and peaceful South Korea and Japan currently are. But China is highly averse to having these economic and political rivals acquire nuclear capabilities, as it would threaten China’s ongoing pursuit of regional control. In short, this is a sensitive pressure point that could be used to sway the Chinese leadership.

 

The Conversation logo

 

One way or another, China must become convinced that the costs of propping up the North Korean regime through trade are higher than the costs of an increased probability that the regime will collapse.

 


This is an updated version of an article originally published on July 6, 2017.

 

Greg Wright, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California, Merced

 

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.