By Nick Giambruno
As a candidate, Donald Trump used uncommonly harsh language to criticize Saudi Arabia—the world’s largest oil exporter.
He called the Saudi regime the world’s biggest funder of terrorism.
He also said the Saudi government uses “our petro dollars—our very own money—to fund the terrorists that seek to destroy our people, while the Saudis rely on us to protect them!”
At another point, Trump said, “Who blew up the World Trade Center? It wasn’t the Iraqis, it was Saudi [Arabia].”
Trump also criticized Hillary Clinton for taking Saudi money for the Clinton Foundation. (They were its biggest “donors.”) He even challenged her to return the money.
He also famously got into a Twitter spat with a prominent member of the Saudi royal family, Alwaleed bin Talal.
As a candidate, Trump blasted the Saudis countless other times.
But, after he took office, Trump did a complete 180. He stopped criticizing the Saudis. In fact, he’s now singing their praises.
It’s bizarre… as if someone put a severed horse head in his bed.
Trump’s about face was astounding. But his newly adopted deference to the Saudis is no different than Obama’s, Baby Bush’s, or any previous president’s.
Today, I’ll tell you why Trump made such an abrupt turnaround. I’ll also explain why the Saudis get special treatment from the US Deep State.
“As Good As Gold”—From Bretton Woods to the Petrodollar
It’s been rightly said that he who holds the gold makes the rules.
After World War 2, the US had the largest gold reserves in the world, by far. Along with winning the war, this let the US reconstruct the global monetary system around the dollar.
The new system, created at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, tied the currencies of virtually every country in the world to the US dollar through a fixed exchange rate. It also tied the US dollar to gold at a fixed rate of $35 an ounce.
The dollar was said to be “as good as gold.”
The Bretton Woods system made the US dollar the world’s premier reserve currency. It effectively forced other countries to store dollars for international trade, or to exchange with the US government for gold.
However, this pseudo gold standard was doomed to fail.
Not surprisingly, runaway spending on warfare and welfare caused the US government to print more dollars than it could back with gold at the promised price.
By the late 1960s, the number of dollars circulating had drastically increased relative to the amount of gold backing them. This encouraged foreign countries to exchange their dollars for gold, draining the US gold supply. It dropped from 574 million ounces at the end of World War 2 to around 261 million ounces in 1971.
To plug the drain, President Nixon “temporarily” suspended the dollar’s convertibility into gold in 1971. This ended the Bretton Woods system and severed the dollar’s last tie to gold.
The “temporary” suspension is still in effect today.
This is why the Fed can print as much paper money as it pleases.
The death of the Bretton Woods system had profound geopolitical consequences. Most critically, it eliminated the main reason foreign countries stored large amounts of US dollars and used the US dollar for international trade.
At this point, oil-producing countries began to demand payment in gold instead of rapidly depreciating dollars.
It was clear the US would have to create a new monetary system to stabilize to the dollar.
So, the US government concocted a new scheme—the petrodollar system. It gave foreign countries another compelling reason to hold and use the dollar.
The new arrangement preserved the dollar’s special status as the world’s top reserve currency.
For President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, it was a geopolitical and financial masterstroke.
From 1972 to 1974, the US government made a series of agreements with Saudi Arabia that created the petrodollar system.
The US handpicked Saudi Arabia because of the kingdom’s vast petroleum reserves and its dominant position in OPEC—and because the Saudi royal family was (and is) easily corruptible.
In essence, the petrodollar system was an agreement that the US would guarantee the House of Saud’s survival.
Read the rest of this article at International Man
By Jason Ditz
With the US once again escalating the war in Afghanistan, the number of US warplanes dropping munitions on the central Asian country are on the rise, and with it, the number of civilians being killed in those strikes.
Seemingly every month the US announces that coalition munitions dropped are up dramatically from the month prior, and while a lot of the civilian casualties are officially still just “under investigation,” the UN is openly expressing concern about the rising toll.
The UN has reported 466 civilian casualties, including 205 deaths, just in the first nine months of 2017, which is already a 52% increase from the number killed in 2016. With strikes continuing to escalate, the final figure will only be higher.
This comes amid reports that the US strikes in Iraq and Syria are on the decline, which may allow more of America’s air power to be recommitted further east to Afghanistan, where insurgents still hold vast amounts of territory, and where the Afghan government is generally ambivalent about incidents in which civilians are slain.
This article was originally published at Antiwar.com
Today the Saudi government ordered all Saudis out of Lebanon, as "resigned" Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri is said to be under house arrest in Saudi Arabia. Simultaneously, the Saudi Crown Prince is increasing pressure against Iran, blaming the country for supplying a missile to Yemen that targeted the airport in Riyadh. War coming?
Why won't the "Russia hacked the election" narrative go away? Who's behind it and why? And how? Did you know that the only two sources for the claim that Russia hacked the DNC and Podesta's emails were BOTH being paid by the DNC? Is that not a conflict? Beyond the politics, the new Cold War is a dangerous development. We are joined by investigative journalist Joe Lauria to understand the basic facts behind the claims...
By Jacob G. Hornberger
With President Trump being accompanied by three U.S. carrier groups during his trip to Korea, South Koreans should pull a “Brexit” on the United States. As I counseled last April and August in two separate articles, South Korea should dissolve their alliance with the United States and kick all U.S. troops out of the country. (See “South Korea Should Give U.S. Troops the Boot” and “South Korea Should Give U.S. Troops the Boot, Part 2.) The time to do so is now, before it is too late.
The top priority of U.S. officials is to prevent North Korea from acquiring the ability to hit the United States with a nuclear bomb. Everything else, including the lives of South Koreans and even the lives of U.S. civilians in South Korea and the lives of U.S. soldiers stationed in South Korea, is of secondary importance. If hundreds of thousands of those people must be sacrificed to protect the United States from the threat of nuclear attack, there is a growing possibility that Trump and the generals surrounding him will seek war, either by provoking it or initiating it.
Throughout the controversy, most U.S. commentators have assumed the U.S. military presence in Korea as a permanent given. They are unable to think outside the old Cold War box. Their proposed solution to the crisis has been for U.S. officials to sit down with North Korea and try to work out a deal.
That might work, but then again it might not, especially since North Korea knows that the U.S. government cannot be trusted to keep its word in any deal that is reached.
The reason North Korea wants a nuclear capability is not to start a war with the United States or with South Korea. The reason it wants a nuclear capability is to defend itself from one of the U.S. government’s storied regime-change operation or to deter such an operation. If the U.S. government were no longer in South Korea, then the threat of a U.S. regime-change operation would plummet. Most likely, so would the desire of North Korea to acquire a nuclear capability to strike the United States.
But even if North Korea were to proceed with its nuclear program, the chance that it would initiate a war with the United States is nil. Like many totalitarian regimes, North Korea just wants to be left alone. The problem is that the U.S. government won’t leave it alone. It wants regime change, just as it did throughout the Cold War.
When I wrote those two articles last spring and summer, I really didn’t think there was much of a chance that South Koreans would consider a “Brexit” from the United States.
And then I read an article in this week’s New York Times that shows that the idea is being considered … by at least one South Korean. The title of the article is “Is South Korea’s Alliance with the United States Worth It?” The author is a man named Se-Woong Koo, who is the editor in chief of Korea Expose, a major news magazine in South Korea. Here is what Koo says in part:
Consider Mr. Trump’s repeated threats to incite war here, and the majority of the American public’s indifference to Korean lives — a poll from September found 58 percent of Americans support military action against Pyongyang if peaceful means cannot put a stop to its weapons program, even as a congressional report recently concluded that a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula could leave up to 300,000 people dead in the early days of fighting.
The South Korean people would be wise to follow Koo’s counsel. Suddenly and immediately dissolving the old Cold War-era South Korea-U.S. alliance and ordering all U.S. troops to immediately withdraw from South Korea would undoubtedly shock the world, just as Brexit did. But so what? Why should South Koreans care about what the United States and rest of the world think when a South Korean “Brexit” ‘from the United States would be the best way — perhaps the only way — to save South Koreans from a devastating war brought on by the U.S. presence in their country, a war they will undoubtedly will end up winning but at a very high cost in terms of loss of life and destruction of property?
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.
By Liberty Report Staff
Ron Paul joins Chris Martenson on the PeakProsperity Podcast to discuss Ron's new book The Revolution at Ten Years.
The ideas of Liberty are very much alive, and the authoritarian state is reaching the point of no return.
By Jeff Deist
Articles about the tax exploits of global corporations generally are short on facts and long on innuendo. This recent missive from the Associated Press about Apple is a standard example of the genre: full of breathless accounts (Bermuda! Loose rules! Shelters!) that imply sinister motives behind standard business practices. Call it whatever you like, but tax avoidance is perfectly ordinary for a public company like Apple. It owes shareholders an obligation to operate in a cost-effective manner. Taxes are a cost, not some social duty owed to the world.
It's tempting to think progressives like Apple CEO Tim Cook deserve scrutiny on grounds of hypocrisy, but we should resist this temptation. Apple has done nothing wrong, nothing illegal, and nothing immoral. Every dollar it saves in taxes goes somewhere much better than Washington DC (such as into product development or even to Apple's hedge fund in Nevada).
"Offshore" simply means not within US tax jurisdiction. Every other sovereign country technically is offshore by this definition, so journalists should dispense with the nefarious language. Reporters and even tax professionals use lazy jargon to insinuate unregulated activity is happening somewhere, without US oversight. Yet I'm confident the AP understands that actual business activity occurs outside the US, some of which presumably is not the business of the IRS or American regulators. This maniacal insistence on taxing every US person or business on everything they do around the globe is the unfortunate result of our "worldwide" income tax system. Blame that system of government greed, not corporate greed, for complex tax structures and creative avoidance.
Moreover a "tax shelter" is any device that permits a taxpayer to reduce his/her/its tax bill. The garden variety mortgage interest deduction is as much a shelter as the most complex corporate tax structure (e.g. the "Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich," preferred by big US tech companies until a few years ago). Living in Texas creates an income tax shelter relative to living in California. Buying and holding stocks for more than a year shelters long term investors from paying higher capital gains rates than day traders. And so forth. Shelters are a good thing.
Finally, neither Apple nor any other US multinational corporation "avoids tens of billions of dollars in taxes by using overseas havens." At most they delay paying US taxes. They do not avoid nor postpone income foreign taxes. Those "havens" are real countries with real people who buy Apple devices, including nations across Europe and Asia. When Apple devices are made in foreign countries, then sold in foreign countries by foreign salespeople, when the money collected remains in that foreign country, and Apple pays income tax to that foreign country, why should Uncle Sam demand a cut? This is not tax evasion, this is what doing business on a global scale looks like. If and when Apple decides to repatriate wholly foreign earnings to its US parent company in the form of a dividend, then the IRS can have its way. But it's outrageous to insist on taxing income that has not been paid. It's also a form of hubris that imagines all business earnings around the world should roll up into the US government's coffers.
Apple is not the British East India Company. It need not pay tribute to Washington DC as surrogate Queen.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
Is this the beginning of the big Middle East war? A huge purge among Saudi royals, accusations of Lebanon aggression, Hezbollah threats. Trump's son-in-law/advisor's several semi-secret trips to visit with the Saudi crown prince. Israeli policy lining up with Saudi regional policy against Iran and Hezbollah. Yemen war at a standstill. Tension is rising. Is this the start of something big?
By Ryan McMaken
Here is an often-used tactic to defend government police organizations from criticism. Whenever critics point out abusive tactics of police officers, defenders counter with: "And yet you won't refuse police help the next time there's a robber in your house!" This, we are told, illustrates that all police critics are "hypocrites."
This has always been a dishonest tactic, of course, since "consumers" of police "services" are forced to pay for the local monopoly police force, and have no other options. Government police forces have monopolized the marketplace and crowded out affordable private security through other means. Thus, calling the police to scare off some robbers on one's property is no more hypocritical than a critic of the local power company who nevertheless turns on a lightbulb. It's simply a matter of making do with a high-priced, low-quality monopolist when no competition is allowed.
Just how low these low-quality services are has become more apparent in recent months.
In the wake of yesterday's church shooting in Texas, for example, private citizens were the ones who shot back at the assailant, and then chased him down in a high speed pursuit. The police did nothing but write some reports afterward.
A few months earlier, as violence escalated during the Charlottesville riot in Virginia, the law enforcement agencies stood back and did nothing except crash a helicopter in the woods.
Worst of all, of course, is the fact that it took police an hour and 12 minutes to respond to the Las Vegas shooter who killed more than fifty people as he opened fire on a crowd near the Las Vegas strip. Although hotel security had reported the location of the gunman — who had shot a security guard — even before the shooting began, local police agencies waited more than hour before entering the shooter's room. It remains unclear why the shooter stopped shooting after only about ten minutes minutes, but we do know that he would have been free to keep shooting for a much, much longer period of time.1
Among advocates for private firearms ownership, the old joke is that "when seconds matter, the police are only minutes away." In Las Vegas at least, the saying could be "when seconds matter, the police are only an hour (or more) away."
Defenders of the police, of course, will claim that an hour of preparation was necessary in order to protect "officer safety." But this also tells you a lot about how government police function: while a gunman is raining down gunfire upon a crowd of people, it's officer safety that comes first, not citizen safety.
These, of course, are just some more recent examples. A multitude of historical examples remain, as well, including the Columbine school shooting in which local police agencies did nothing but seal off the area while the shooters remained untouched inside the school. The students and faculty trapped inside the school were on their own.
One might also point to the Waco Texas massacre in which police agencies, claiming to be rescuing women and children from the cultist David Koresh, decided to burn most of them to death instead.
None of this should surprise us however.
It is established policy in the United States that police agencies have no duty to protect citizens, and are not liable for any harm that comes to citizens due to police inaction. In other words, the taxpayers are required to pay for "protection" from police. But the police aren't required to actually provide services. One can only imagine the howls we'd hear if any private industry were allowed to function in a similar way.
So, we shouldn't expect any reform or any other measure that will hold police accountable for doing so little to engage and stop violent criminals in times of extreme crisis.
If anything, we should expect police agencies to call for the taxpayers to pay even more for more police services. This, of course, is what happened in the wake of September 11, 2001. One of the worst security failures in American history — a failure allowed by the most well-funded security and police agencies in the world — did not lead to question of whether Americans are actually getting their money's worth for the generous budgets that go year after year to federal law enforcement agencies. Instead, we were all told the taxpayers should be prepared to shell out even more money and give up even more of their freedoms.
The same is true of local police agencies. Police departments are ever hungry for more funding, for combat vehicles to use against the local population, and for more firepower.
But even when police are armed and equipped to teeth, ordinary people seem to rarely benefit. As the police response to the riots on Ferguson Missouri showed, police are happy to protect government buildings and government property. Everyone else, it seems, is on his own.
1. The Las Vegas case and the Texas church case are very different of course. In one case, we're dealing with a well-funded urban police force that failed to respond in a timely manner. In the Texas case, local police agencies were sparse and not equipped for a fast response to shootings. Both cases, however, illustrate it is folly to rely on police protection.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
Press Play to hear Ron Paul deliver his Weekly Update:
By Ron Paul
Last Thursday, congressional Republicans unveiled their tax reform legislation. On the same day, President Trump nominated current Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell to succeed Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chair. While the tax plan dominated the headlines, the Powell appointment will have much greater long-term impact. Federal Reserve policies affect every aspect of the economy, including whether the Republican tax plan will produce long-term economic growth.
President Obama made history by appointing the first female Fed chair. President Trump is also making history: If confirmed, Powell would be the first former investment banker to serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Powell’s background suggests he will continue Janet Yellen’s Wall Street-friendly low interest rates and easy money policies.
Powell is an outspoken opponent of the Audit the Fed legislation. In 2015, Powell delivered an address at Catholic University devoted to attacking Audit the Fed. Like most Fed apologists, Powell claims the audit would compromise the Fed’s independence and allow Congress to control monetary policy. However, like all who make this claim, Powell cannot point to anything in the text of the audit bill giving Congress any power over the Federal Reserve. Powell’s concerns about protecting the Fed’s independence are misplaced, as the Fed has never been free of political influence. The Fed has a long history of bowing to presidential pressure to tailor monetary policy to help advance the president’s political and policy agenda.
The Republican tax cut plan has some positive elements, such as increasing the standard deduction, creating a new family tax credit, eliminating the death tax, reducing the corporate tax rate, and lowering taxes on small businesses. It also has some flaws, such as the “millionaire surcharge” imposed on upper-income taxpayers. This provision reflects a belief that upper-income taxpayers only “deserve” a tax break if reducing their taxes serves the interest of government by increasing economic growth.
The worst part of the tax plan is that it adopts the chained consumer price index (chained CPI). Chained CPI is a way of measuring CPI that understates inflation’s effects on our standard of living. It does this by assuming inflation has not reduced Americans’ standard of living if, for example, people can buy hamburgers when they can no longer afford steak. This so-called full substitution ignores the fact that if individuals viewed hamburgers as a full substitute for steak they would have bought hamburgers before Fed-created inflation made steak unaffordable.
Chained CPI increases the inflation tax. The inflation tax may be the worst of all taxes because it is hidden and regressive. The inflation tax is not even a tax on real wages. Instead it is a tax on the illusionary gains in income caused by inflation. The use of chained CPI to adjust tax brackets pushes individuals into higher tax brackets over time.
Politicians love the inflation tax because it allows them to increase taxes without having to vote for higher rates. Instead, the Fed does the dirty work. Since their creation in 1913, the Federal Reserve and the income tax have both enabled the growth of the welfare-warfare state and the erosion of our freedom and economic well-being. The key to restoring our liberty and prosperity, as well as avoiding a major economic crisis, is reversing the great mistakes of 1913 by repealing the 16th Amendment and auditing and ending the Federal Reserve.