“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Everything points to the need for infrastructure. Cut the investment bankers out of it by using project specific currency.


Nouriel Roubini

Nouriel Roubini, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business and Chairman of Roubini Global Economics, was Senior Economist for International Affairs in the White House's Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration. He has worked for the International Monetary Fund, the US Federal Reserve, and the World Bank.

An Unconventional Truth

NEW YORK – Who would have thought that six years after the global financial crisis, most advanced economies would still be swimming in an alphabet soup – ZIRP, QE, CE, FG, NDR, and U-FX Int – of unconventional monetary policies? No central bank had considered any of these measures (zero interest rate policy, quantitative easing, credit easing, forward guidance, negative deposit rate, and unlimited foreign exchange intervention, respectively) before 2008. Today, they have become a staple of policymakers’ toolkits.
Indeed, just in the last year and a half, the European Central Bank adopted its own version of FG, then moved to ZIRP, and then embraced CE, before deciding to try NDR. In January, it fully adopted QE. Indeed, by now the Fed, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the ECB, and a variety of smaller advanced economies’ central banks, such as the Swiss National Bank, have all relied on such unconventional policies.

One result of this global monetary-policy activism has been a rebellion among pseudo-economists and market hacks in recent years. This assortment of “Austrian” economists, radical monetarists, gold bugs, and Bitcoin fanatics has repeatedly warned that such a massive increase in global liquidity would lead to hyperinflation, the US dollar’s collapse, sky-high gold prices, and the eventual demise of fiat currencies at the hands of digital krypto-currency counterparts.
None of these dire predictions has been borne out by events. Inflation is low and falling in almost all advanced economies; indeed, all advanced-economy central banks are failing to achieve their mandate – explicit or implicit – of 2% inflation, and some are struggling to avoid deflation. Moreover, the value of the dollar has been soaring against the yen, euro, and most emerging-market currencies. Gold prices since the fall of 2013 have tumbled from $1,900 per ounce to around $1,200. And Bitcoin was the world’s worst-performing currency in 2014, its value falling by almost 60%.
To be sure, most of the doomsayers have barely any knowledge of basic economics. But that has not stopped their views from informing the public debate. So it is worth asking why their predictions have been so spectacularly wrong.
The root of their error lies in their confusion of cause and effect. The reason why central banks have increasingly embraced unconventional monetary policies is that the post-2008 recovery has been extremely anemic. Such policies have been needed to counter the deflationary pressures caused by the need for painful deleveraging in the wake of large buildups of public and private debt.
In most advanced economies, for example, there is still a very large output gap, with output and demand well below potential; thus, firms have limited pricing power. There is considerable slack in labor markets as well: Too many unemployed workers are chasing too few available jobs, while trade and globalization, together with labor-saving technological innovations, are increasingly squeezing workers’ jobs and incomes, placing a further drag on demand.
Moreover, there is still slack in real-estate markets where booms went bust (the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, Iceland, and Dubai). And bubbles in other markets (for example, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand) pose a new risk, as their collapse would drag down home prices.
Commodity markets, too, have become a source of disinflationary pressure. North America’s shale-energy revolution has weakened oil and gas prices, while China’s slowdown has undermined demand for a broad range of commodities, including iron ore, copper, and other industrial metals, all of which are in greater supply after years of high prices stimulated investments in new capacity.
China’s slowdown, coming after years of over-investment in real estate and infrastructure, is also causing a global glut of manufactured and industrial goods. With domestic demand in these sectors now contracting sharply, the excess capacity in China’s steel and cement sectors – to cite just two examples – is fueling further deflationary pressure in global industrial markets.
Rising income inequality, by redistributing income from those who spend more to those who save more, has exacerbated the demand shortfall. So has the asymmetric adjustment between over-saving creditor economies that face no market pressure to spend more, and over-spending debtor economies that do face market pressure and have been forced to save more.
Simply put, we live in a world in which there is too much supply and too little demand. The result is persistent disinflationary, if not deflationary, pressure, despite aggressive monetary easing.
The inability of unconventional monetary policies to prevent outright deflation partly reflects the fact that such policies seek to weaken the currency, thereby improving net exports and increasing inflation. This, however, is a zero-sum game that merely exports deflation and recession to other economies.
Perhaps more important has been a profound mismatch with fiscal policy. To be effective, monetary stimulus needs to be accompanied by temporary fiscal stimulus, which is now lacking in all major economies. Indeed, the eurozone, the UK, the US, and Japan are all pursuing varying degrees of fiscal austerity and consolidation.
Even the International Monetary Fund has correctly pointed out that part of the solution for a world with too much supply and too little demand needs to be public investment in infrastructure, which is lacking – or crumbling – in most advanced economies and emerging markets (with the exception of China). With long-term interest rates close to zero in most advanced economies (and in some cases even negative), the case for infrastructure spending is indeed compelling. But a variety of political constraints – particularly the fact that fiscally strapped economies slash capital spending before cutting public-sector wages, subsidies, and other current spending – are holding back the needed infrastructure boom.
All of this adds up to a recipe for continued slow growth, secular stagnation, disinflation, and even deflation. That is why, in the absence of appropriate fiscal policies to address insufficient aggregate demand, unconventional monetary policies will remain a central feature of the macroeconomic landscape.



  1. You can bet on one thing:

    No solution will come from the Republican Party.

  2. No, because the reasonable (in fact, the only) solution is higher taxes on the 0.1%, and more government spending on projects, and programs, that help the 99%.

    1. The taxes don't have to be direct. They can be indirect: such as "raising the minimum wage."

      Also, we muderized ourselves with MFN status for China. That's a mistake that is going to be very difficult to fix.

    2. .

      I have no problem with a minimum wage increase but the truth is it will have minimal effect one way or the other.

      Minimum wage increases have to remain relatively small or they begin bumping up against federal programs most of which are means tested. This is especially true now that the safety net has been stretched to half the households in the US.


  3. I liked this comment at Dean Baker's blog:

    We're All Gonna Die: But What a Good Death It Would Be If Sock Puppet Media Would Let It Be
    written by Last Mover, February 03, 2015 9:26

    Talk about going to hell in a handbasket, consider this recent comment on BTP:

    "Slashing the Deficit in a Major Recession
    written by Paul Mathis, January 31, 2015 11:50
    During the first 5 years of the Reagan Recovery - 1983 through 1987 - real GDP growth averaged over 4.6% annually.

    During the first 5 years of the Obama Recovery - 2010 through 2014 - real GDP growth averaged 2.2% annually.

    The main difference was that Reagan tripled the national debt while Obama slashed the federal budget deficit by 70%. Obama would have slashed it more but he couldn't reach a "Grand Bargain" with the GOP in 2011."

    Imagine if WaPo reported economic history like that on a regular basis rather than absurd predictions that repeatly contradict it. One would not need to ask what goes to hell in handbasket after such reporting, would one?

    Goodbye WaPo, hello economic sanity.

    1. Here's the article that elicited the response:

      Washington Post Tells Readers That Interest Payments on the Debt Will be Almost as High in 2025 as They Were Under President Reagan and Bush!

      Tuesday, 03 February 2015 08:03

      Actually the Post's budget piece didn't tell readers that. Instead it said:

      "All told, Obama’s policies would add about $5.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade (compared with nearly $8 trillion under current law). Meanwhile, interest payments on the debt would climb to nearly $800 billion a year by 2025 — more than Obama proposes to spend on any program in that year other than Social Security and Medicare."

      Pretty damn scary, huh? Just think of that -- adding $5.7 trillion to the debt, and interest payments that will be larger than spending on any program other than Social Security and Medicare! Sounds like we're going to hell in a handbasket.

      If the point of the story was to convey information rather than advancing its deficit cutting agenda (which seems aimed largely at Social Security and Medicare), the paper would have told readers that the interest tab projected for 2025 is 3.0 percent of GDP. Before you scream about what we are doing to our children, consider that interest payments were 3.0 percent of GDP or more every year from 1985 to 1997, except 1994 when they were 2.9 percent. (These numbers are in the same document, Table E-6). These payments were larger than spending on any program except the military and Social Security.

      Unlike the NYT, the Post makes almost never effort to put the budget numbers in any context, expressing terms almost exclusively in billions and trillions which they know are meaningless to almost all their readers. It's just another way of saying that the government spends and borrows lots of money, the sort of claim that papers are supposed to leave to the opinion pages.


    2. .


      Who gives a shit what 'percentage of GPD' interest payments represent. All we are concerned about is what those interest payments mean to the budget.

      Every two years in this budget we are adding a $trillion to the debt.

      Likewise, there is no way the FED will keep interest rates at zero forever. This year, we will be paying $225 in interest payments on the debt but that's misleading. The $255 billion is about the same amount the government paid to service its debt in 2006, when the debt outstanding was equal to only 40% of today’s total.

      The difference? Low interest rates.

      It appears Mr. Baker has never been introduced to the concept of compound interest.

      In 2025, the $600 billion increase in interest payments has to come from somewhere and that somewhere will be discretionary spending. Under the budget, by 2024, interest payments on the debt will surpass the entire defense budget. It will be well beyond nondefense discretionary spending.

      Every year it gets worse.



    3. .

      The main difference was that Reagan tripled the national debt while Obama slashed the federal budget deficit by 70%. Obama would have slashed it more but he couldn't reach a "Grand Bargain" with the GOP in 2011."

      Who gives a shit.

      Bottom line. In the 2 years Obama has left, he will add another $ trillion to the debt. Under the latest budget proposal, those same increases are projected into the future.


    4. .

      Reagan had a $ trillion budget. We have a 1/2 $ trillion deficit.


  4. More Dean Baker:

    Context on the Obama Budget

    Tuesday, 03 February 2015 05:49

    Give the NYT credit, it is trying to write about the budget in a way that doesn't just bury people in really big numbers. Its main article on President Obama's budget included several references that indicated how large various items were relative to the size of the economy and used other comparisons to place them in a context that could make them understandable to readers. This is a good start, but it could be better.

    One item that readers would miss in this piece is any sort of historical comparison. This is important because the piece notes Obama's proposed increases in spending, but readers may not realize this is against a baseline of large cuts. The key area for increases is discretionary spending, both domestic and military. Obama proposes to increase spending in each area by less than 0.3 percentage points of GDP. This implies that spending in both areas will fall to close to 2.5 percent of GDP by the end of the 10-year horizon.

    By comparison, spending in both areas had always been far higher as a share of GDP. Military spending had averaged well over 5.0 percent of GDP in the 1970s and 1980s during the cold war years, but declined to 3.0 percent by 2000 before again being ramped up as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Domestic discretionary spending averaged 3.9 percent of GDP in the 1980s and 3.4 percent in the 1990s and well over 4.0 percent in the 1970s. Before the downturn the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was projecting that domestic discretionary spending would be close to 2.8 percent of GDP by the end of this decade. This means that even with the increases proposed by President Obama he would still be spending less than the baseline path that CBO envisioned when President Bush was in the White House.

    On another matter, the piece lists Social Security as a long-run driver of the deficit, along with Medicare. This comment needs qualification. Under the law, Social Security cannot spend any money that is not in the trust fund. This means that it cannot legally be a driver of the deficit. CBO departs from the law in its long-term projections in assuming that Social Security payments will be paid in full even when there is not enough money in the trust fund to pay full benefits. This would not be legally possible. Congress would have to change the law to either allow allocate more money to the program or cut benefits.

    This projection contradicts normal CBO practice of assuming that current law is followed. More importantly it is likely to confuse the public about the relationship of Social Security to the deficit. Under current law, it cannot lead to a deficit in the budget since it can only spend from its trust fund. (Trust fund spending is counted in the unified budget, but is officially "off-budget.") This could change, but only if Congress were to change the law.

    The headline is also misleading by referring to Obama's "unfettered case for spreading wealth." The biggest tax increase in his proposal, the rise in the tax rate on dividends and capital gains to 28 percent, is just raising the tax on these forms of income to the level they were set at under President Reagan's 1986 tax reform. (This was coupled with a reduction in the tax rate on ordinary income.) His proposal to corporate income reported overseas is simply an effort to close a loophole used by corporations who prefer not to pay taxes. This is simply an effort to avoid turning the corporate income tax into a voluntary payment.


  5. Replies
    1. Divided Government has paid dividends, which neither side of the political game wants their respective 'Bases' to know.

  6. ABC News -
    Kurdish forces and their Syrian rebel allies have seized a belt of villages around Kobani from Islamic State militants, a senior official said ...


  7. With Islamic State Routed From Kobani, Kurds Eye Mosul

    The Kurdish recapture of Kobani, meanwhile, represents a significant victory for the U.S.-backed effort to repel the Islamic State using a combination of American-led airstrikes and backing for local troops on the ground.

    According to U.S. Central Command, in the 24 hours between 8 a.m. Sunday and 8 am. Monday local time, U.S. and coalition forces carried out 17 strikes near Kobani targeting Islamic State fighters.

    Now, the flag of the People’s Protection Units flies in the hills of Kobani.

  8. In a gravel field in northern Iraq, hundreds of policemen are practicing drills. These are the men who fled Mosul, along with Iraq’s national army, as ISIS invaded the city last June. Now they're training to take Mosul back.

    Mosul is the largest city in northern Iraq — and the largest city under ISIS control. Reclaiming it will probably be the largest battle so far in the fight against ISIS. But these men are desperate to do it.

    Among them is Ahmed, who’s afraid to give his full name because his family is still trapped in Mosul. A week after Ahmed fled with his police unit, he got a call from his father’s phone. The man on the other end said he was from the so-called Islamic State.

    “He told me to come back to Mosul and to beg ISIS for forgiveness,” Ahmed says. “When I said no, they executed two of my brothers right on our doorstep.”

    Many of the men training here have similar stories of family members who were killed or remain stuck in Mosul.

    While there are American advisors in this camp, the Iraqi government is funding the training. The Sunni men here complain that the Shiite-led government in Baghdad isn’t giving them enough support.

    “We need backup and support,” says Gen. Khaled al-Hamdani, the area police chief, who is responsible for the camp. “We need armored vehicles. We need weapons and we need ammunition.” Instead, he says, Baghdad is playing politics.

    Hamdani argues part of the reason Mosul fell so quickly was that commanders and army units weren’t from Mosul and didn’t have a vested interest in protecting the city. He says this group of men, who are Mosul natives, will be different.

    ISIS has been pushed out of several areas in recent weeks, aided by coalition air strikes. But it will be much more difficult to dislodge them from the city, where ISIS fighters are spread among a dense civilian population. Airstrikes will be less effective and more dangerous for the residents, so strong ground forces will be key.

    The police trainees are ready for the task — in spirit. “It’s my responsibility to take back my city from ISIS,” says Saad Mohammed Khalaf, who lies on the ground in military fatigues and a balaclava, shooting a target with his Kalashnikov rifle. “As soon as possible, we want to go back to fight them.”

    But it's hard to see how these men, no matter how much heart they put into the fight, might retake Mosul from the world’s best-armed and most well-organized militant group. The police trainees fumble through basic drills, searching an SUV for weapons and explosives and practicing entering a building.

  9. rat is a figment of your imaginationTue Feb 03, 10:47:00 AM EST

    Don't the Ashkenazi KNOW they are not welcome here.

    Three French soldiers were stabbed outside of a Jewish community center in Nice, France, AFP reported on Tuesday.

    None of the soldiers were seriously wounded and the attacker was detained.

    The soldiers were standing guard as part of France's anti-terror patrol, set off by last month's attack in Paris at a kosher supermarket that left four dead.

    Judenfrei France!

    1. Another criminal off the street.

      Good deal, that.

    2. For an attack upon three French soldiers, by a man with a knife, to be considered a "news" story, would take a figment of imagination.

      Or a propagandist engaged in agitprop.

    3. Three posts worthy of a response by "Ordure.

      Which was the point of the posts.

    4. Nothing soothes my warrior soul more than "O"rdure negating the value of his own writing.

      “It is said the warrior's is the twofold Way of pen and sword, and he should have a taste for both Ways.
      Even if a man has no natural ability he can be a warrior by sticking assiduously to both divisions of the Way.”

      ― Miyamoto Musashi


  10. Salvadorean Archbishop Oscar Romero 'a martyr' - Pope Francis

    Pope Francis has ruled that Salvadorean Archbishop Oscar Romero died as a martyr, paving the way for his beatification.

    Beatification is the step before sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

    An outspoken critic of the military regime at the outset of El Salvador's civil war, Archbishop Romero was shot dead while celebrating Mass in 1980.

    For years, the Church blocked the process because of concerns that he had Marxist ideas.

    The bishop was one of the main proponents of Liberation Theology - an interpretation of Christian faith through the perspective of the poor.

    Unlike other candidates for beatification, martyrs can move to the beatification stage without a miracle attributed to them. A miracle is needed for canonisation, however.

    Archbishop Romero denounced the right-wing death squads that operated in Guatemala and the oppression of the poor, calling for an end to all political violence.

    1. After his election in 2013, Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff, unblocked Archbishop Romero's sainthood process.

      The Church restricts the martyr designation to people who were killed out of hatred for the Catholic faith. Doubt over whether Archbishop Romero was killed for his politics in support of the poor or for his faith was one of the reasons his case was stalled.

      No date for the beatification has been set.

      Pope Francis, who has advocated that the Church more focus on poverty, considered to be in more in line with Archbishop Romero's approach to social justice than previous pontiffs.

      In August, Pope Francis hoped for a quick path to beatification, calling the archbishop a "man of God".

  11. WASHINGTON -- Beaten, caged and burned alive, Muath al-Kasaesbeh, a Jordanian pilot engaged in a global mission against Islamic State, appears to be the latest victim of the brutal terrorist network.

    A video released online on Tuesday showed his murder from multiple angles. Apparently soaked in an accelerant, a line of fire approaches a barred pen, encircles the prisoner and consumes him.

    Jordan's armed forces have confirmed Kasaesbeh's death to his family. The United States is reviewing the document.

    "We stand in solidarity with the Government of Jordan and the Jordanian people," the National Security Council said in a statement, condemning the "brutal murder" in familiar terms. This is the eighth such video released by Islamic State of a hostage's murder, though the first portraying death by fire.

    Kasaesbeh's plane crashed over Syria in December, and Jordan has tried to negotiate his release ever since. Officials in Amman sought proof that Kasaesbeh was still alive before meeting an Islamic State demand to release one of their own.

    The month-long effort seems to have been in vein, as Jordan's government now says Kasaesbeh's murder occurred on January 3, according to local media. The Jerusalem Post cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the video.

    Jordan is one of sixty countries involved in the coalition against Islamic State. But its position is particularly vulnerable: The kingdom must defend itself on two fronts, on its borders with Iraq and Syria, both occupied by the terrorist organization.

    With the capture and torture of Kasaesbeh, Islamic State was seen as taunting the people of Jordan, a territory they seek to eventually control.

    This has been happening for centuries by Sunnis and Shiites to each other and sadly to christians, jews, druze, infidels and others.

    1. Dramatic way to send someone to the other world.

      Beheading is so yesterday.

      Jordan has said they will kill their 7 (?) ISIS prisoners in return.....

    2. The Jordanian pilot was just that, a Jordanian.
      Not one of US. True enough, that.

      If the Jordanians were not pursuing their own 'National Interests', their pilot would not have been there.

    3. Only the racists, amongst the EB contributors, mentioned his color rather than his Nationality.


      This is actually a better piece describing The Fly Paper Strategy

    5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    6. Point it out, "O"rdure, with referenced remarks.
      Not empty innuendo.

      But you cannot do it, can you? Or you would, if you could.

  12. .

    The news on TV is reporting they think this took place back on January 3 so all the 'negotiating' for that Jordanian terrorist was apparently just a scam.

    You have to think these guys are batshit crazy. While you can understand why they do this stuff, you have to think with this they have reached the point of diminishing returns. How many psychopaths can you gather together in one place?



    2. .

      Or, I could be wrong. Why does IS indulge in the violence. What is the point? The violence is the point.

      In the end, it isn’t very useful to hold ISIS to the expectations and standards of other violent groups. Even Al Qaeda admonished Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of the Islamic State’s predecessor organization, Al Qaeda in Iraq, for his nasty habit of beheading hostages on camera. Why not a bullet to the back of the head, Ayman al-Zawahiri helpfully suggested from his hideout in the mountains along the Afghan-Pakistani border? But Zarqawi knew what he was doing, and he kept on, though he’s been vastly outperformed by his successors in ISIS. The point isn’t to use the right level of violence to achieve limited goals. The violence is the point, and the worse the better. The Islamic State doesn’t leave thousands of corpses in its wake as a means to an end. Slaughter is its goal—slaughter in the name of higher purification. Mass executions are proof of the Islamic State’s profound commitment to its vision.

      There’s an undeniable attraction in this horror for a number of young people around the Middle East, North Africa, and even Europe and America, who want to leave behind the comfort and safety of normal life for the exaltation of the caliphate. The level of its violence hasn’t discouraged new recruits—the numbers keep growing, because extreme violence is part of what makes ISIS so compelling. Last year, Vice News shot a documentary in the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, and what was striking in the footage was the happiness on the faces of ISIS followers. They revelled in the solidarity of a common cause undertaken at great personal risk. They are idealists—that’s what makes them so dangerous.

      In this sense, ISIS is less like a conventional authoritarian or totalitarian state than like a mass death cult. Most such cults attract few followers and pose limited threats; the danger is mostly to themselves. But there are examples in modern history of whole societies falling under the influence and control of a mechanism whose aim is to dictate every aspect of life after an image of absolute virtue, and in doing so to produce a mountain of corpses. ISIS doesn’t behave like a regional insurgency or a global terrorist network, though it has elements of both. It joins the death cult to an army and a rudimentary state. It presents itself as the avant-garde of a mass movement, like the Khmer Rouge. The Islamic State resembles certain modern regimes driven by murderous ideologies, but it is also something new—as new as YouTube—and this makes it even harder to understand.

      One thing we’ve learned from the history of such regimes is that they can be stronger and more enduring than rational analysis would predict. The other thing is that they rarely end in self-destruction. They usually have to be destroyed by others.


    3. looking for some sense?...

      "In the video, Kasaesbeh is interviewed, describing the mission he was due to carry out before his jet crashed. The video also showed footage of the aftermath of air strikes, with people trying to remove civilians from debris.

      A man resembling Kasaesbeh is shown inside the cage with his clothes dampened, apparently with flammable liquid, and one of the masked fighters holds a torch, setting alight a line of fuel which leads into the cage.

      The man is set ablaze and kneels to the ground.

      Fighters then pour debris, including broken masonry, over the cage, which a bulldozer then flattens, with the body still inside. The video showed a desert setting similar to previous videos of killings."


  13. ISIS take barbarity to new level by burning Jordanian pilot alive
    posted at 12:41 pm on February 3, 2015 by Noah Rothman

    >>>Jordan has promised to execute every ISIS prisoner in its custody if any harm came to their captured pilot. What’s more, the kingdom promised to fast-track the execution of Sajida al-Rishawi, a female suicide bomber on death row for her role in a series of 2005 attacks on Jordanian hotels, whose release ISIS previously demanded.<<<

    1. Burning people alive, that is an old level of barbarity.
      Nothing 'new ' to it, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.

    2. Napalm

      U.S. troops used a substance known as napalm from about 1965 to 1972 in the Vietnam War; napalm is a mixture of plastic polystyrene, hydrocarbon benzene, and gasoline. This mixture creates a jelly-like substance that, when ignited, sticks to practically anything and burns up to ten minutes. The effects of napalm on the human body are unbearably painful and almost always cause death among its victims. “Napalm is the most terrible pain you can ever imagine” said Kim Phúc, a survivor from a napalm bombing. “Water boils at 212°F. Napalm generates temperatures 1,500°F to 2,200°F.

    3. SO Jack, you are admitting to using napalm on civilians too?

    4. "Stories happen in the mind of a reader, not among symbols printed on a page.”

  14. The Republican Party sent me this, I suppose t motivate me into action:

    Your tax dollars at work - in defeating Netanyahu?

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-New York) sent a letter informing the State Department about information they have received about behind-the-scenes partisan political activity by President Barack Obama, who they believe has “launched a political campaign” to defeat the Likud Party’s Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    1. Bibi has provided greater cause for his removal than Mohammad Mosaddegh ever did, back in the day.
      Or President Jacobo Árbenz in Guatemala, for that matter.

    2. Let's not even begin to compare how Bibi has gone off the reservation, when compared to President Diem, of South Vietnam.

  15. .

    Submitted my taxes the other night. Got to the part that talks about Obamacare, the penalties, the subsidies, the pay backs of subsidies, etc.

    Doesn't involve me; however, based on what I saw this ought to be interesting.


  16. Jordan to execute IS prisoners after video released showing pilot burnt alive

    Jordan to execute al-Qaeda member Sajida al-Rishawi at dawn in response
    Anwar Tarawneh the wife of Jordanian pilot Mu'az al-Kassasbeh, who was captured by Islamic State (IS) group militants on December 24
    Alex MacDonald's picture
    Alex MacDonald
    Tuesday 3 February 2015 19:37 GMT
    Last update:
    Tuesday 3 February 2015 21:34 GMT

    A video released on Tuesday by the Islamic State (IS) group appears to show the captured Jordanian pilot Mu’az al-Kassasbeh being burnt alive in a cage, prompting the Jordanian government to move to execute IS and al-Qaeda prisoners in retaliation.

    Though the video is unverified, its release comes a week after a previous deadline set by IS for a hostage exchange with an al-Qaeda suicide bomber imprisoned in Jordan, Sajida al-Rishawi.

    However, a variety of sources, including Jordanian TV and activists from the group Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered (RIBSS) – an anti-IS organisation based in the IS ‘capital’ of Raqqa – have claimed that Kassasbeh had been killed in early January.

    Were it true that Kassesbeh was killed in January, it would make a farce of the hostage negotiations between the Jordanian government and IS, as well as question the sincerity of IS’s desire to see Rishawi released.

    Shortly after the release of the video the Jordanian information minister told Sky News Arabia that IS had been “playing games” during their negotiations.

    Another government spokesperson stated the Jordanian government response will be “seismic.”