The Geopolitics of World War III

By StormCloudsGathering

The U.S. dollar is a unique currency for many reasons, though the reasons that matter most are not necessarily widely known.

Posted June 24, 2019

Prior to 1971, the U.S. dollar was bound to the gold standard – or at least that is what the world operated under the belief of. The filmmakers highlight that the International Monetary Fund reports that in 1966, foreign central banks and governments held 14 billion U.S. dollars. While the United States did have $13.2 billion in gold reserves, most of that was needed to cover domestic holdings and only $3.2 billion of it was available for foreign holdings. What that means is the U.S. was printing more money than it could cover, and inflation naturally ensued. To quell the fire, the Richard Nixon presidential administration took the dollar off the gold standard and made it a debt-based currency.

Through various political arrangements, the filmmakers suggest that the U.S. then tied the dollar to oil trade to keep its demand up, a system that remained in place at America’s convenience until the year 2000 – right before 9/11, mind you – when Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein declared he was shifting their oil trade from the dollar to the euro. This is said to be the catalyst behind all the post-9/11 military action, not anti-terrorism efforts, and that these dollar-undermining decisions by foreign governments continue to shape the U.S. military agenda today in regards to policy against Russia and Syria.

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The Bolsheviks aren’t coming. They’re already here.

The average Westerner who hasn’t traveled very much believes Moscow to be a cold, bleak, desolate capital city that’s filled with Stalinist-era architecture and a population that lives in utter misery.

But the reality of this place is nearly the complete opposite.

Moscow is a bright, beautiful, cosmopolitan city. I’ve always found Moscow to feel more European than most European capitals, with gorgeous architecture that never seems to end.

Moscow is easily as nice as Paris, London, or Vienna… with a population larger than all three. I like it here more and more every time I visit.

It has some of the nicest restaurants in the world, beautiful parks and monuments, and a highly sophisticated, educated, cultured population.

The city is quite prosperous too. But it wasn’t always that way.

Moscow was once the capital of the Soviet Empire… the most infamous and failed experiment with Socialism in the history of the world.

Russia’s humiliating tale of Socialism grew out imperial discontent– a period starting in the 1500s when wealth was concentrated in the hands of the Tsar and his key lieutenants. Everyone else lived as peasants in abject poverty.

My friends and I toured a museum at the Kremlin over the weekend and saw endless artifacts from the days of the Empire– golden chalices, diamond-encrusted silverware, magnificent carriages.

No doubt the royals lived absurdly well at the expense of everyone else. And by the early 20th century, the seeds of revolution had been firmly planted.

Lenin and his Bolsheviks finally seized power in 1917. And after they stamped out all remaining resistance and opposition, they set out to remake the country into a communist masterpiece.

It took 69 years for the Soviet Union to collapse. And by the time that happened, there was no private property, private business, or private wealth.

Decades of central planning had extinguished any incentive to work hard, take risks, and innovate. And most people were destitute and impoverished.

Yet over the past 30 years this country has become wealthy once again. Russians enjoy a high standard of living– much higher than many European countries– with some of the lowest tax rates on the continent.

(GDP per capita in Moscow is actually slightly higher than in Washington DC, and much higher than most US cities like Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, or Miami.)

None of this is due to Socialism. And Russians know it.

They still pay lip service to Lenin… there are tombs and monuments and buildings bearing his name, mostly out of reverence for history and traditions.

But Russians embraced capitalism long ago. They had their experiment with Socialism when the Bolsheviks took over in 1917. And they’re not going back.

Meanwhile, over in the Land of the Free, nearly half the country is running as fast as they can to Socialism.

The reasons are much the same as in imperial Russia– there’s growing discontent about the divide between rich and poor.

And as more and more people in the West feel left behind and barely able to make ends meet, the call to Socialism grows stronger.

There have been two formal debates so far among US Presidential candidates, both of which seemed to be Bolshevik beauty pageants.

The candidates talk about guaranteeing a government job for everyone, free education, free healthcare, eliminating private insurance altogether.

They demonize private profit and wealthy individuals, and propose more government as the solution to everything that ails the nation.

These are all Bolshevik principles ripped straight out of the Communist Manifesto– nationalization of private industry, central planning, government controlled labor and education, heavy taxation, and constantly complaining about the Bourgeoisie.

I’ve been looking back lately over the last decade of Sovereign Man (we recently hit our 10 year anniversary two weeks ago.)

Over the years I’ve written extensively about how the Bolsheviks are coming to the Land of the Free… and most of the West.

Well, those days are over. It’s clear that the Bolsheviks are no longer coming. They’re here. And their movement is firmly entrenched.

One of the Presidential candidates was actually booed and jeered at a political rally in California earlier this month by voters in his own party simply because he suggested that “Socialism is not the answer.”

A growing number of constituents believe quite adamantly that Socialism is absolutely the answer. A recent Gallup poll showed that 43% of Americans now prefer socialism to capitalism.

This isn’t some fake news conspiracy theory. It’s happening.

And acknowledging this reality doesn’t make you a doomsayer or even a pessimist. Normal, rational people should be able to see this obvious trend and at least consider having a Plan B.

We’ll talk more about that in the coming days.

The Diminishing American Economy

By Paul Craig Roberts

June 25, 2019 “Information Clearing House” –  Since June 2009 Americans have lived in the false reality of a recovered economy.  Various fake news and manipulated statistics have been used to create this false impression.  However, indicators that really count have not supported the false picture and were ignored.

For example, it is normal in a recovering or expanding economy for the labor force participation rate to rise as people enter the work force to take advantage of the job opportunities.  During the decade of the long recovery, from June 2009 through May 2019, the labor force participation rate consistently fell from 65.7 to 62.8 percent.  https://www.bls.gov/charts/employment-situation/civilian-labor-force-participation-rate.htm

Another characteristic of a long expansion is high and rising business investment. However, American corporations have used their profits not for expansion, but to reduce their market capitalization by buying back their stock.  Moreover, many have gone further and borrowed money in order to repurchase their shares, thus indebting their companies as they reduced their capitalization!  That boards, executives, and shareholders chose to loot their own companies indicates that the executives and owners do not perceive an economy that warrants new investment.

How is the alleged 10-year boom reconcilled with an economy in which corporations see no investment opportunities?

Over the course of the alleged recovery, real retail sales growth has declined, standing today at 1.3%. https://www.multpl.com/us-real-retail-sales-growth  This figure is an overstatement, because the measurement of inflation has been revised in ways that understate inflation. As an example, the consumer price index, which formerly measured the cost of a constant standard of living, now measures the cost of a  variable standard of living.  If the cost of an item in the index rises, the item is replaced by a lower cost alternative, thus reducing the measured rate of inflation. Other price increases are redefined as quality improvements, and their impact on inflation is neutralized.

Real retail sales cannot grow when “for most U.S. workers, real wages have barely budged in decades.”  https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/07/for-most-us-workers-real-wages-have-barely-budged-for-decades/

For full-time employed men real wages have fallen 4.4% since 1973. https://www.businessinsider.com/record-median-household-income-is-hiding-a-chilling-fact-2017-9

Economic shills explain away the facts.  For example, they argue that people are working more hours, so their real earnings are up although their real wages are not.

Others argue that the declining labor force participation rate reflects baby boomer retirements.  Of course, if you look around in Home Depot and Walmart, you will see many retirees working to supplement their Social Security pensions that have been denied cost of living adjustments by the undermeasurement of inflation.

Other economic shills say that the low unemployment rate means there is a labor shortage and that everyone who wants a job has one.  They don’t tell you that  unemployment has been defined so as to exclude millions of discouraged workers who could not find jobs and gave up looking.  If you have not looked for a job in the past 4 weeks, you are no longer considered to be in the work force.  Thus, your unemployment does not count.

It is expensive to look for employment.  Scarce money has to be spent on appearance and transportation, and after awhile the money runs out.  It is emotionally expensive as well.  Constant rejections hardly build confidence or hope.  People turn to cash odd jobs in order to survive.  It turns out that many of the homeless have jobs, but do not earn enough to cover rent.  Therefore, they live on the streets.

The propagandistic 3.5% unemployment rate (U3) does not include any of the millions of discouraged workers who cannot find jobs.  The government does have a seldom reported U6 measure of unemployment that includes short-term discouraged workers.  As of last month this rate stood at 7.1%, more than double the 3.5% rate. John Williams of shadowstats.com continues to estimate the long-term discouraged workers, as the government formerly did.  He finds the actual US rate of unemployment to be 21%.

The 21% rate makes sense in light of Census Bureau reports that one-third of Americans age 18-34 live at home with parents because they can’t earn enough to supprt an independent existence.https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/census-more-americans-18-34-now-live-parents-spouse

According to Federal Reserve reports, 40 % of American households cannot raise $400 cash.https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/22/fed-survey-40-percent-of-adults-cant-cover-400-emergency-expense.html

The US economy was put into decline by short-sighted capitalist greed.  When the Soviet Union collapsed in the last decade of the 20th century, India and China opened their economies to the Western countries.  Corporations saw in the low cost of Chinese and Indian labor opportunities to increase their profits and share prices by producing offshore the goods and services for their domestic markets.  Those hesitant to desert their home towns and work forces were pushed offshore by Wall Street’s threats to finance takeovers unless they increased their profits.

The shift of millions of high productivity, high value-added American jobs to Asia wrecked the careers and prospects of millions of Americans and severely impacted state and local budgets and pension funds. The external costs of jobs offshoring were extremely high. The cost to the economy far exceeded the profits gained by jobs offshoring. Almost overnight prosperous American cities, once a source of manufacturing and industrial strength, became economic ruins.https://www.claritypress.com/product/the-failure-of-laissez-faire-capitalism/  The “trade war” with China is an orchestration to cover up the fact that America’s economic problems are the result of its own corporations and Wall Street moving American jobs offshore and because the US government did nothing to stop the deconstruction of the economy.

The Reagan administration’s supply-side economic policy, always misrepresented and wrongly described, cured stagflation, the malaise of rising inflation and unemployment described at the time as worsening “Phillips curve” trade-offs between inflation and unemployment.  No one has seen a Phillips curve since the Reagan administration got rid of it.  The Federal Reserve hasn’t even been able to resurrect it with years of money printing.  The Reagan administration had the economy poised for long-run non-inflationary growth, a prospect that was foiled by the rise of jobs offshoring.

Normally a government would be protective of jobs as the government wants to take in tax revenues rather than to pay out unemployment and social welfare benefits.  Politicians want economic success, not economic failure.  But greed overcame judgment, and the economy’s prospects were sacrificed to short-term corporate and Wall Street greed.

The profits from jobs offshoring are short-term, because jobs offshoring is based on the fallacy of composition—the assumption that what is true for a part is true for the whole.  An individual corporation, indeed a number of corporations, can benefit by abandoning its domestic work force and producing abroad for its domestic market. But when many firms do the same, the impact on domestic consumer income is severe. As Walmart jobs don’t pay manufacturing wages, aggregate consumer demand takes a hit from declining incomes, and there is less demand for the offshoring firms’ products. Economic growth falters.  When this happened, the solution of Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve Chairman at the time, was to substitute an expansion of consumer debt for the missing growth in consumer income.  The problem with his solution is that the growth of consumer debt is limited by consumer income.  When the debt can’t be serviced, it can’t grow. Moreover, debt service drains income into interest and fee charges, further reducing consumer purchasing power. Thus, the offshoring of jobs has limited the expansion of aggregate consumer demand.  As corporations are buying back their stock instead of investing, there is nothing to drive the economy.  The economic growth figures we have been seeing are illusions produced by the understatement of inflation.

Much of America’s post-World War II prosperity and most of its power are due to the US dollar’s role as world reserve currency.  This role guarantees a worldwide demand for dollars, and this demand for dollars means that the world finances US budget and trade deficits by purchasing US debt.  The world gives us goods and services in exchange for our paper money.  In other words, being the reserve currency allows a country to pay its bills by printing money.

A person would think that a government would be protective of such an advantage and not encourage foreigners to abandon dollars.  But the US government, reckless in its arrogance, hubris, and utter ignorance, has done all in its power to cause flight from the dollar.  The US government uses the dollar-based financial system to coerce other countries to accommodate American interests at their expense.  Sanctions on other countries, threats of sanctions, asset freezes and confiscations, and so forth have driven large chunks of the world—Russia, China, India, Iran—into non-dollar transactions that reduce the demand for dollars. Threats against Europeans for purchasing Russian energy and Chinese technology products are alienating elements of Washington’s European empire.  A country with the massive indebtedness of the US government would quickly be reduced to Third World status if the value of the dollar collapsed from lack of demand.

There are many countries in the world that have bad leadership, but US leadership is the worst of all.  Never very good, US leadership went into precipitous and continuous decline with the advent of the Clintons, continuing through Bush, Obama, and Trump.  American credibility is at a low point. Fools like John Bolton and Pompeo think they can restore credibility by blowing up countries.  Unless the dangerous fools are fired, we will all have to experience how wrong they are.

Formerly the Federal Reserve conducted monetary policy with the purpose of minimizing inflation and unemployment, but today and for the past decade the Federal Reserve conducts monetary policy for the purpose of protecting the balance sheets of the banks that are “too big to fail” and other favored financial institutions.  Therefore, it is problematic to expect the same results.

Today it is possible to have a recession and to maintain high prices of financial instruments due to Fed support of the instruments. Today it is possible for the Fed to prevent a stock market decline by purchasing S&P futures, and to prevent a gold price rise by having its agents dump naked gold shorts in the gold futures market.  Such things as these were not done when I was in the Treasury.  This type of intervention originated in the plunge protection team created by the Bush people in the last year of the Reagan administration.  Once the Fed learned how to use these instruments, it has done so more aggressively.

Market watchers who go by past trends overlook that today market manipulation by central authorities plays a larger role than in the past. They mistakenly expect trends established by market forces to hold in a manipulated economic environment.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World OrderDonate and support Dr, Roberts Work.

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See Also

Watch: The Men Who Stole the World: Inside the 2008 Financial Crisis: A look at how top executives on Wall Street helped trigger a global financial crisis – and how it may happen again.

Stocks Move Lower on Economic Data, Powell Remarks

Watch: The Men Who Stole the World: Inside the 2008 Financial Crisis: A look at how top executives on Wall Street helped trigger a global financial crisis – and how it may happen again.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

Hacker News: OpenSSH Now Encrypts Secret Keys in Memory Against Side-Channel Attacks

June 22, 2019     

openssh side channel vulnerability

 

In recent years, several groups of cybersecurity researchers have disclosed dozens of memory side-channel vulnerabilities in modern processors and DRAMs, like RowhammerRAMBleedSpectre, and Meltdown.

Have you ever noticed they all had at least one thing in common?

That’s OpenSSH.

As a proof-of-concept, many researchers demonstrated their side-channel attacks against OpenSSH application installed on a targeted computer, where an unprivileged attacker-owned process exploits memory read vulnerabilities to steal secret SSH private keys from the restricted memory regions of the system.

That’s possible because OpenSSH has an agent that keeps a copy of your SSH key in the memory so that you don’t have to type your passphrase every time you want to connect to the same remote server.

However, modern operating systems by default store sensitive data, including encryption keys and passwords, in the kernel memory which can not be accessed by user-level privileged processes.

But since these SSH keys live on the RAM or CPU memory in plaintext format, the feature is susceptible to hacking attempts when the attacks involve memory read vulnerabilities.

OpenSSH Now Stores Only Encrypted Keys in the Memory

Here’s good news — it’s not the case anymore.

The latest update from the OpenSSH developers resolves this issue by introducing a new security feature that encrypts private keys before storing them into the system memory, protecting it against almost all types of side-channel attacks.

According to OpenSSH developer Damien Miller, a new patch to OpenSSH now “encrypts private keys when they are not in use with a symmetric key that is derived from a relatively large “prekey” consisting of random data (currently 16KB).”

“Attackers must recover the entire prekey with high accuracy before they can attempt to decrypt the shielded private key, but the current generation of attacks have bit error rates that, when applied cumulatively to the entire prekey, make this unlikely,” Miller explains.

 

“Implementation-wise, keys are encrypted ‘shielded’ when loaded and then automatically and transparently unshielded when used for signatures or when being saved/serialized.”

It should be noted that this patch just mitigates the threat and is not a permanent solution. Miller says OpenSSH will remove this protection against side-channel attacks in a few years when computer architecture becomes less unsafe.

The real freedom is freedom from any ideology. Can’t you simply live without any ideology? Is an ideology needed? Why is an ideology needed so much? It is needed because it helps you to remain stupid, it is needed because it helps you to remain unintelligent. It is needed because it supplies you readymade answers and you need not find them on your own.

The real man of intelligence will not cling to any ideology — for what? He will not carry a load of readymade answers. He knows that he has enough intelligence so that whatever situation arises, he will be able to respond to it. Why carry an unnecessary load from the past? What is the point of carrying it?

And in fact the more you carry from the past, the less you will be able to respond to the present, because the present is not a repetition of the past, it is always new, always always new.

— Rajneesh