Saturday, August 26, 2017

North Korea Keeps Saying It Might Give Up Its Nuclear Weapons — But Most News Outlets Won’t Tell You That might put its nuclear weapons and missiles on the negotiating table if the United States would end its own threatening posture.

The current phase of the decades-long U.S.-North Korea standoff began this past July 4, when North Korea launched its first genuine intercontinental ballistic missile. In a statement, North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un called it "a gift for the American bastards."

Then, on August 8, President Trump terrifyingly declared that "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen." Two days later he said, "maybe that statement wasn't tough enough," and tweeted that "military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded."

Meanwhile, North Korea explained that it was examining its options "for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam," a U.S. territory. Kim later walked this peculiar provocation back, at least for the moment.

But here's what you don't know, unless you're an obsessive North Korea-watcher:
Also starting on July 4, North Korea has been saying over and over again that it might put its nuclear weapons and missiles on the negotiating table if the United States would end its own threatening posture.

This fact has been completely obscured by U.S. and other western media. For the most part, newspapers and television have simply ignored North Korea's position. When they haven't ignored it, they've usually mispresented it as its opposite – i.e., claiming that North Korea is saying that it will never surrender its nuclear weapons under any circumstances. And on the rare occasions when North Korea's statements are mentioned accurately, they're never given the prominence they deserve.
North Korea's proclamations have been closely tracked by Robert Carlin, currently a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation and formerly head of the Northeast Asia Division in the State Department's intelligence arm. Carlin has visited North Korea over 30 times.

Via email, Carlin described how it is difficult but critical to accurately decode North Korean communications. "Observers dismiss as unimportant what the North Koreans say," Carlin writes, and "therefore don't read it carefully, except of course if it is colorful, fiery language that makes for lovely headlines. Some of what the North says is simply propaganda and can be read with one eye closed. Other things are written and edited very carefully, and need to be read very carefully. And then, having been read, they need to be compared with past statements, and put in context."
With that in mind, here's Kim Jong-un's statement on July 4:
[T]he DPRK would neither put its nukes and ballistic rockets on the table of negotiations in any case nor flinch even an inch from the road of bolstering the nuclear force chosen by itself unless the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated. [emphasis added]
That formulation again appeared in an August 7 government statement after the United Nations Security Council passed new sanctions on North Korea. The same day, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho also said it during a speech at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional forum in the Philippines.

And on August 22 at the UN Conference on Disarmament in Switzerland, North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Chol made exactly the same point, stating, "As long as the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat remains unchallenged, the DPRK will never place its self-defensive nuclear deterrence on the negotiating table."

In the past North Korea has pledged to renounce its nuclear weapons program. During the so-called Six-Party Talks in 2005, all the nations involved, including North Korea, affirmed that the North Korea was "committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs." Meanwhile, the United States and North Korea agreed to "respect each other's sovereignty, exist peacefully together, and take steps to normalize their relations."

Then the situation soured. Carlin writes that more recently "the routine formula in lower level media commentaries was that the nuclear deterrent was 'not a mere bargaining chip to put on the table for negotiations with the United States.'"

So all of this seems quite clear and straightforward. North Korea is again telling the world that it is willing to consider renouncing its nuclear weapons program. Obviously Kim's regime may not be telling the truth, especially given the fact that it has violated prior agreements. But the United States has flagrantly violated those agreements as well. The only way to find out whether there's a path to North Korean disarmament is to honestly engage with them about it.

There are huge roadblocks to that happening, and one of the biggest is the failure of western media simply to inform their audience of the basics of what's happening.

Since July 4, the New York Times and Washington Post have published hundreds of articles about North Korea. Both papers have informed their readers that Kim has called Americans "bastards." But they've each only published one story quoting Kim's key caveat, that North Korea will consider giving up its nukes if "the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated." And in both cases the Post and Times simply reprinted an AP story — in which Kim's words appear in the 23rd paragraph – rather than running pieces of their own.

Much the same is true for Ri Yong Ho's Manila speech. The main Post story dealing with it is headlined, "North Korea says it won't give up nuclear weapons and that entire U.S. mainland is within firing range." The text tells readers the same thing:
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told diplomats that his country will never negotiate away what he called a rational "strategic option" against the threat of attack from the United States.
"We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets" up for negotiation, Ri said in prepared remarks, adding that the entire United States is within range of its missiles.
The Times quoted Ri more fully, but according to Carlin, relied on an incorrect North Korean government translation of Ri's words into English. That translation made it appear that Ri was saying that North Korea was only willing to consider halting further development of its nuclear program, not giving it up entirely.

The Post barely mentioned Ju Yong Chol's remarks in Switzerland, simply running an AP article quoting him as saying that the U.S. is trying to "shift the blame for the tense situation on the Korean Peninsula to DPRK."

For its part, the Times did run a brief Reuters article citing the most significant part of Ju's statement. However, its impact was likely lessened by its false headline: "North Korea Will Never Surrender Nuclear Arms, Says Envoy."

Coverage in other publications has tended to be, if anything, shoddier, with television coverage worst of all. The BBC World Service soberly explained on August 15 that "North Korea says its nuclear program can never be on the negotiating table and that's where the stand-off is." Other outlets have generally maintained a discreet silence about North Korea's position.

Taken in total, the media's performance on North Korea so far is an extremely ominous development. We know because of the Iraq War that newspapers and TV can provide a key assist in launching catastrophic U.S. wars. As things stand now, it's by no means impossible that they will do it again.
Top photo: This picture taken by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location on July 4, 2017.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Brief History of Blaming Everything on George Soros - disinformation

Aug 24, 2017

The problem with American politics is that there are centrist billionaires who don't give much of a shit about politics, and creepy religious "libertarian" billionaires who invest heavily in batshit nonsense like Breitbart. There are no real progressive billionaires, that's not a thing. Which is sort of why we have a weak right wing centrist party and a powerful creepy religious nonsense party.
On the nonsense side, right off the top of my head I got the Koch Brothers (who combined would constitute the richest person in the world), Sheldon Adelson, Richard Mercer, Peter Thiel. Okay, admittedly that's all I've got off the top of my head, but on the other side I've got. Uhhh, George Soros? I can't think of any other supposedly progressive billionaires, and I highly doubt Soros is actually that progressive. He spends most of his money in Europe as it is. Anyway, here's a pretty good article from Business Insider on how the right started blaming him for funding everything they don't like years ago:

"Soros, who is worth $25 billion, has been at the center of conspiracy theories since he first rose to the top echelons of hedge fund managers in the 1990s. But he really attracted attention in 2004, when he gave money to groups that sought to block President George W. Bush's reelection bid. His entry into politics, coupled with Soros' choice to repeatedly speak out against the Iraq War, set off a long-lasting string of conspiracy theories alleging that Soros tried to influence politics with nefarious intent.

"George Soros first found himself in the crosshairs of the conservative propaganda machine when he publicly expressed opposition to the march to war in Iraq," said Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros Fund Management. Since then, Soros has continued to donate large sums of money to organizations that support democratic reform in the US and throughout the world. Some saw that as a sign of scheming secretive plots.

Right-leaning sites like Breitbart and The Washington Times have often claimed that Soros paid protesters at the Women's March and the March for Science. In reality, Soros has been giving money to progressive groups since long before the Trump's election. In 2017, some of them decided to participate in protests.

Theories can be far-fetched, like accusations that Soros is in cahoots with the world's elite to bring down the global currency. Then there are simpler accusations that are rooted in truth: that Soros uses his power and money to influence politics. His open support for migrants and refugees and criminal-justice reform is well known.

Still, people such as Daniel Greenfield believe Soros goes further. Greenfield is a regular writer for far-right outlets. He believes Soros is trying to take over the world to make it more liberal.
"Government should be decided by the people rather than by powerful interests who subvert democracy," Greenfield told Business Insider. He wrote an article saying that Soros "destroyed the Democratic party."

"I don't like his governments and their agendas," Greenfield said.

The left's Koch brother

Soros' choice to put his wealth toward political causes that he believes in is not particularly different from the billions of dollars that right-wing billionaires like Charles and David Koch have been donating to Republican causes for years, said Miami University professor Timothy Melley. The difference is that far more ultra-rich Americans are politically conservative.

"It's a projection of right-wing billionaire behavior onto a prominent left-wing billionaire," said Melley, who wrote "Empire of Conspiracy: The Culture of Paranoia in Postwar America."
It's true Soros has not been quiet in his criticism of Republicans like Trump.

Many European countries with right-leaning governments have also seen a strong anti-Soros push in recent years. The president of Soros' native Hungary has passed laws that would try to close a progressive university the billionaire opened in Budapest and called Soros "an enemy of the euro" after the EU criticized the decision.
"George is the enemy of choice of despots," said Vachon."

I love how he had the nerve to oppose the Iraq War. I mean, what an asshole to point out that this thing that everyone knew was obviously a terrible idea was in fact a terrible idea. Oh wait, I forgot that when I was against the Iraq war well before it happened I was just buying into a right/left paradigm. Back then maybe it was a good idea, maybe it wasn't. My bad.

Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken is a psychedelic writer, musician, visual artist, filmmaker, Occultist, and pug enthusiast based out of Seattle. He is the author of the books The Galactic Dialogue: Occult Initiations and Transmissions From Outside of Time, both of which can be picked up on Amazon super cheap.

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Is, Inc. (AMZN) the Savior of Middle America?

Amazon is changing the retail landscape in some ways that create jobs

By Neil George, InvestorPlace Contributor  |  Aug 24, 2017, 1:43 pm EDT, Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) is widely known to be a prime killer of local retail shops and businesses. Like Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) did with its big brick and mortar stores when it came into small town America and sent locals scrambling for going out of business signs, Amazon has done the same by simply offering goods and services cheaper and easier to buy online. The result continues to be great for Amazon stock and not so great for other retailers.

Source: Shutterstock

In fact, in the U.S, so far this year over 300 retail companies have thrown in the towel resulting in bankruptcies by the bushel. And the carnage goes further, as many of the retail companies are prime tenants for shopping malls dotting the nation.

The result is that out of the some 1,100 remaining malls in America, some 400 may be forced to close in the coming months.

The impact on jobs has been devastating. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) retail jobs are dropping so far this year by an average of 13,000 each month.

This is a serious impact on a U.S. economy that's already not creating much growth and prosperity for the lower-wage working class that dominates the retail sector.

Not Just Jobs, Taxes Are Lost

Then there's the additional impacts on state and local tax bases. As retailers close, they take away not just jobs and payroll taxes, but they also take away sales and business taxes.
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And then the empty buildings threaten to become white elephants for communities. In addition, with malls and retail stores boarded up, there is a wave of property tax valuation challenges for the properties. And many of these challenges result in reduced property tax levies for not just the shuttered buildings, but also for similar properties still operating.

Walmart has been one of the leaders on this front. The company has been citing the reduced tax values of similar big box stores near their own still operating locations and getting reduced tax valuations for even their own operating store properties. The end result? Even more local taxes are lost.

Amazon As Savior?

Amazon, while being the dominant leader in displacing brick-and-mortar retails stores and malls, is now coming to the rescue.

To start, Amazon has currently opened some 21 retail centers in malls and retail locations around the U.S. and is planning to open up to 100 more in the coming months. These centers include Amazon lockers where online purchases can be delivered and later collected by customers in a dry and secure way rather than left on rainy front porches.

In addition, many of these centers are also providing retail shopping for numerous goods and services offered by Amazon and its vendors. These include smaller electronics as well as physical books and other items.

These result in a return of retail jobs, as well as local sales and business taxes and property tax revenue streams. And it also means in states that didn't have any physical Amazon presence, that all online sales to residents become taxable, driving a further resumption of tax revenues.
Then it gets even better. Many of those closed mall properties and empty big-box stores are in central locations in communities around the nation. This has drawn the attention of Amazon, which is now turning these properties into warehouses where goods can be stored and used for local delivery.

It's that last mile that continues to be a big fixation for Amazon, with its Amazon Now and Amazon Pantry same-day delivery services becoming a bigger part of Amazon's online sales.

That should only expand at a faster pace with the pending acquisition of Whole Foods Markets, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM). The need for expanded warehouse space for the combined companies and existing and expanding food delivery services will drive that process further for Amazon.

One of Amazon's recent deals was at the Randall Park Mall in Northern Ohio. The converted mall is resulting in a big turnaround for the property and the community, but also for jobs — Amazon says it will result in 12,000 new hires.
And Amazon is going further. One of the biggest business units for Amazon is its Amazon Web Services (AWS). The cloud computing services needs server space that's plugged into reliable power grids. And again, old, closed retail spaces can play directly into Amazon's need.

Even before the Whole Foods deal, Amazon has announced that it will be hiring a vast number of local employees to staff these new properties. So far, Amazon has stated that the warehouse operations will employ 100,000 new hires that will be full time and 30,000 part time hires by the first half of 2018.

That's a massive reversal of fortune for those who lost their old retail jobs as well as for local communities that lost retailers and mall properties.

Amazon isn't the lone savior in this market. Other companies with increasing online operations are following suit in taking over existing properties for warehouse and other needed space. Walmart with its unit; Wayfair Inc (NYSE:W) and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) are all expanding their deals to lease or purchase existing space for warehouse usage.

And according to MWPVL International Inc, a Canadian-based privately held logistics consultancy company, the U.S. online retailer market should continue to demand warehouse space at a staggering pace. For according to its surveys, over the trailing 10 years from 2007 to 2017, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) continues to run at an annual rate of 35%.

All of this means more jobs and more taxes for local communities, particularly in Middle America and flyover country.

And it's not just the retailers like Amazon, but also the companies that contract for some of the delivery of goods sold online. FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) just announced its deal to take over space in the Big Town Mall in Mesquite, Texas just east of the Dallas Fort Worth area.

Bottom line, Amazon and its peers and related companies might not have cost retail jobs, but instead transformed them and could expand job growth and economic growth in Middle America and flyover country. Good for local markets and good for Amazon stock.

As of this writing, Neil George did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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Ghosts in The Shadows

I was always afraid...
At home...
aren't we all...
I became more or less afraid as time passed but there was always fear,,,
There was always fear...
My first thoughts of fear were of the roaches in the apartment...
I still to this day recall the countless moments of fear associated with cockroaches 
They were a normal part of my life
There were nights I could imagine they were in bed with me...
The first apartment I recall living mother stood at the sink washing the dishes...
It was a simple apartment of two very large rooms, at least to me they were large...when you're five years everything is large..
Two rooms side by side, the entry that opened into the kitchen that itself opened into the living room...
Beside that the other room, the bedroom, that configuration harder to recall, to imagine
A large bedroom, a bathroom at the far end...
I recall people with the duties they fulfilled...
There was Mr Roja, the building super/maintenance man who was always in the bathroom fixing the pipes...
The sore that was the wall that was supposed to cover the plumbing but instead was how the rats got into the apartment...
I know I wasn't the only one but I recall living in a rat, mouse and roach infested apartment...
The brown bags we used for trash which often overflowed and from a distance one could watch the bags move on their own because of the mice in them...
I still wonder, how did anybody get out of there sane...was one ever...
We all found the outlets in our lives...
Mine was writing... I didn't write to be published but as an outlet, to get away...
Darkness held the shadows the tomes of fear...look hard enough and I saw the shadows waiting in the darkness to develop and become the the darkness the shadows were these amorphous forms of clay waiting in the nothingness to become real, formless forms wanting to be what you imagined to fear and love.... 
There were nights the world was like a horror film as made the effort for water; in the kitchen where I would catch swarms of roaches race for cover as I turned the light on and caught them partying, their exoskeletons of armor clicking so loud... and if I was too afraid to fetch a glass of water from the kitchen and go to the bathroom and scoop a double handful but even there the roaches were on parade, quietly crossing the plastic shower curtain, the floor, the toilet bowl...
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Foo Fighters featuring RICK ASTLEY - Never Gonna Give You Up

Toto - Africa (metal cover by Leo Moracchioli feat. Rabea & Hannah)

Published on Aug 18, 2017

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Hi there, my name is Leo and I run a studio on the westside of Norway where I record and produce bands, do video work and play live shows. 

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