US Joins Secret Talks Between Israel & UAE Targeting Iran
by Tyler Durden on August 18, 2019 at 3:30 am
Authored by Jason Ditz via AntiWar.com, Secret talks have been ongoing between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, focused on sharing intelligence against Iran and possibly military cooperation. The talks have progressed to the point that the US is now joining the talks too. Israel and the UAE have some security ties, but don’t have public relations. That they’re discussing Iran reflects Israel’s long-standing hostility toward Iran, and the UAE’s close proximity to Iran. Iranian Revolutionary Guards drive speedboats at the port of Bandar Abbas. Image source: AFP While some are presenting the US joining of the talks as proof they are making progress, a lot isn’t understood about what’s going on, and particularly unclear is what the UAE is trying to work out. The UAE seems to be trying to balance multiple interests, as they’ve tried to talk to Iran about maritime security in recent days, and seem not to be looking to pick fights with them. That’s in stark contrast to Israel, for whom picking fights with Iran is the centerpiece of decades of foreign policy. It’s clear that the UAE has an interest in keeping the US happy, and that probably requires keeping Israel at lease sort of placated in this regard. So while they aren’t trying to start anything against Iran they’re trying to walk the tightrope of balancing both sides to keep everyone satisfied.&nbs
"The Impact On Tourism Is Huge:" Hong Kong Hotel Crisis Erupts Amid Escalating Protests
by Tyler Durden on August 18, 2019 at 3:05 am
Hong Kong might not be able to avoid a financial crisis this year or next despite possible stimulus packages to shore up its faltering economy amid violent protests across the city. This has led to a rapid decline in tourism, forcing major hotel chains in the city to substantially slash room prices. Yiu Si-wing, a Hong Kong lawmaker representing the tourism industry, told Bloomberg that hotel revenue is expected to crash 50% this month thanks to escalating protests. She said visits from mainland China account for 80% of arrivals are significantly lower due to social unrest. Yiu said hotel occupancy rates averaged 90% in 1H19, could drop by as much as 33% or more in 2H19. Arrivals from the mainland to Hong Kong, a significant source of consumption for the city, could grind to a halt. "The impact on tourism is huge," Yiu told Bloomberg. She said at least half of the mainland visitors due in August had canceled their plans. Yiu said top-trending topics on Chinese social media platform Weibo this week included several incidents of where violent protestors attacked government forces. Some mainland Chinese are shunning Hong Kong because of the risks associated with its airport being closed down for an extended period of time. Grace Huang, a 20-year-old Wuhan University student, told Bloomberg her layover at Hong Kong International Airport was horrifying earlier this week. "I fear I'm going to be beaten," she told Bloomberg, as thousands of protestors successfully locked down the airport for several days. Please pay attention to what’s happening in Hong Kong #HongKong #HongKongAirportpic.twitter.com/CBVIRU2eLI — wingless angel (@saintgreeedy) August 13, 2019 Can you hear the people sing? ICYMI protestors at #HongKong airport singing Les Mis. #China banned track from streaming services in #PRC! #HongKongProtests pic.twitter.com/j6V5anjqMz — Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) August 12, 2019 Beijing resident Jasmine Ji, 23, delayed her trip to Hong Kong because she feels protestors would target her for being a Chinese citizen. "I feel like my personal safety could be severely threatened if they find out I speak Mandarin or am a Chinese citizen," she said. "I won't fly to Hong Kong airport until the situation and protests are settled there." Chinese officials and state-run media outlets launched an information war against the protestors, describing them as violent extremists. Hong Kong officials have suggested a recession could be imminent due to social unrest. Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po on Thursday announced a $2.43 billion stimulus package to shore up the economy during the social and economic turmoil. Paul warned that a possible recession could be imminent: "The situation we are in now is like the typhoon No 3 signal has been hoisted and the typhoon is heading towards us," he said. "We need to get prepared before it gets worse." Paul downgraded Hong Kong's GDP growth forecast for the year to 0 to 1%, from 2 to 3% previously. He said the city could slide into a technical recession in the current quarter. InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, a British multinational hospitality company that owns Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn chains, said the protests in the last several months have contributed to a slowdown in business travel in the region. Other hospitality companies with exposure to Hong Kong are also feeling the pinch: Sun Hung Kai Properties, owner of Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, and New World Development Co., which operates the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, have seen their stocks enter bear markets in the last month. Yiu said the downturn in Hong Kong hospitality industry had forced many hotels to slash their room rates by substantial amounts. A typical room at Conrad Hotel, owned by Hilton Worldwide, is $159 per night this weekend, that's a 40% discount versus two months ago. Marriott International Inc. and Shangri-La Asia Ltd. have also cut room rates for their Hong Kong hotels. Hong Kong could be the first domino to fall that kicks off the next global recession.
The Anglo-American Origins Of Color Revolutions
by Tyler Durden on August 18, 2019 at 2:40 am
Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation, A few years ago, very few people understood the concept behind color revolutions. Had Russia and China’s leadership not decided to unite in solidarity in 2012 when they began vetoing the overthrow of Bashar al Assad in Syria- followed by their alliance around the Belt and Road Initiative, then it is doubtful that the color revolution concept would be as well-known as it has become today. At that time, Russia and China realized that they had no choice but to go on the counter offensive, since the regime change operations and colour revolutions orchestrated by such organizations as the CIA-affiliated National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Soros Open Society Foundations were ultimately designed to target them as those rose, orange, green or yellow revolution efforts in Georgia, Ukraine, Iran or Hong Kong were always recognized as weak points on the periphery of the threatened formation of a great power alliance of sovereign Eurasian nations that would have the collective power to challenge the power of the Anglo-American elite based in London and Wall Street. Russia’s 2015 expulsion of 12 major conduits of color revolution included Soros’ Open Society Foundation as well as the NED was a powerful calling out of the enemy with the Foreign Ministry calling them “a threat to the foundations of Russia’s Constitutional order and national security”. This resulted in such fanatical calls by George Soros for a $50 billion fund to counteract Russia’s interference in defense of Ukraine’s democracy. Apparently the $5 billion spent by the NED in Ukraine was not nearly enough. In spite of the light falling upon these cockroaches, NED and Open Society operations continued in full force focusing on the weakest links the Grand Chessboard unleashing what has become known as a “strategy of tension”. Venezuela, Kashmir, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjian (dubbed East Turkistan by NED) have all been targeted in recent years with millions of NED dollars pouring into separatist groups, labour unions, student movements and fake news “opinion shapers” under the guise of “democracy building”. $1.7 million in grants was spent by NED in Hong Kong since 2017 which was a significant increase from their $400 000 spent to coordinate the failed “Occupy HK” protest in 2014. The Case of China In response to over two months of controlled chaos, the Chinese government has kept a remarkably restrained posture, allowing the Hong Kong authorities to manage the situation with their police deprived of use of lethal weapons and even giving into the protestors’ demand that the changes to the extradition treaty that nominally sparked this mess be annulled. In spite of this patient tone, the rioters who have run havoc on airports and public buildings have created lists of demands that are all but impossible for mainland China to meet including 1) an “independent committee to investigate the abuses of Chinese authorities”, 2) for china to stop referring to rioters as “rioters”, 3) for all charges against rioters to be dropped, and 4) universal suffrage- including candidates promoting independence or rejoining the British Empire. As violence continues to grow, and as it has become an increasing reality that some form of intervention from the mainland may occur to restore order, the British Foreign Office has taken an aggressive tone threatening China with “severe consequences” unless “a fully independent investigation” into police Brutality were permitted. The former Colonial Governor of China Christopher Patten attacked China by saying “Since president Xi has been in office, there’s been a crackdown on dissent and dissidents everywhere, the party has been in control of everything”. The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded saying “the UK has no sovereign jurisdiction or right of supervision over Hong Kong… it is simply wrong for the British Government to exert pressure. The Chinese side seriously urges the UK to stop its interference in China’s internal affairs and stop making random and inflammatory accusations on Hong Kong.” The British have not been able to conduct their manipulation of Hong Kong without the vital role of America’s NGO dirty ops, and in true imperial fashion, the political class from both sides of the aisle have attacked China with Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi making the loudest noise driving the American House Foreign Affairs Committee to threaten “universal condemnation and swift consequences” if Beijing intervenes. This has only made the photographs of Julie Eadeh, the head of Political Office at the American Consulate in Hong Kong meeting with leaders of the Hong Kong demonstrations that much more disgusting to any onlooker. While both Britain and America have been caught red handed organizing this colour revolution, it is important to keep in mind who is controlling who. The Foreign Origins of the NED Contrary to popular opinion, the British Empire did not go away after WWII, nor did it hand over the “keys to the kingdom” to America. It didn’t even become America’s Junior Partner in a new Anglo-American special relationship. Contrary to popular belief, it stayed in the drivers’ seat. The post WWII order was largely shaped by a British coup which didn’t take over America without a fight. Nests of Oxford-trained Rhodes Scholars, Fabians and other ideologues embedded within the American establishment had a lot of work ahead of them as they struggled to purge all nationalist impulses from the American intelligence community. While the most aggressive purging of patriotic Americans from the intelligence community occurred during the dissolution of the OSS and creation of MI6 in 1947 and the Communist witch hunt that followed, there were other purges that were less well known. As an organization which was beginning to take form which was to become known as the Trilateral Commissionorganized by Britain’s “hand in America” called the Council on Foreign Relations and international Bilderberg Group, another purge occurred in 1970 under the direction of James Schlesinger during his six month stint as CIA director. At that time 1000 top CIA officials deemed “unfit” were fired. This was followed nine years later as another 800 were fired under a list drafted by CIA “spymaster” Ted Shackley. Both Schlesinger and Shackley were high level Trilateral Commission members who took part in the group’s 1973 formation and fully took power of America during Jimmy Carter’s 1977-1981 presidency which unleashed a dystopian reorganization of American foreign and internal policy outlined in my previous report. Project Democracy Takes Over By the 1970s, the CIA’s dirty hand funding anarchist operations both within America and abroad had become too well known as media coverage of their dirty operations at home and abroad spoiled the patriotic image which the intelligence community then desired. While the internal resistance to fascist behaviour from within the intelligence Community itself was dealt with through purges, the reality was that a new agency had to be created to take over those functions of covert destabilization of foreign governments. What became Project Democracy herein originated with a Trilateral Commission meeting in May 31, 1975 in Kyoto Japan as a protégé of Trilateral Commission director Zbigniew Brzezinski named Samuel (Clash of Civilizations) Huntington delivered the results of his Task Force on the Governability of Democracies. This project was supervised by Schlesinger and Brzezinski and presented the notion that democracies could not function adequately in the crisis conditions which the Trilateral Commission was preparing to impose onto America and the world through a process dubbed “the Controlled Disintegration of Society”. The Huntington report featured at the Trilateral meeting stated: “One might consider… means of securing support and resources from foundations, business corporations, labor unions, political parties, civic associations, and, where possible and appropriate, governmental agencies for the creation of an institute for the strengthening of democratic institutions.” It took 4 years for this blueprint to become reality. In 1979 three Trilateral Commission members named William Brock (RNC Chairman), Charles Manatt (DNC Chairman) and George Agree (head of Freedom House) established an organization called the American Political Foundation (APF) which attempted to fulfil the objective laid out by Huntington in 1975. The APF was used to set up a program using federal funds called the Democracy Program which issued an interim report “The Commitment to Democracy” which said: “No theme requires more sustained attention in our time than the necessity for strengthening the future chances of democratic societies in a world that remains predominantly unfree or partially fettered by repressive governments. … There has never been a comprehensive structure for a non-governmental effort through which the resources of America’s pluralistic constituencies . .. could be mobilized effectively.” In May 1981, Henry Kissinger who had replaced Brzezinski as head of the Trilateral Commission and had many operatives planted around President Reagan, gave a speech at Britain’s Chatham House (the controlling handbehind the Council on Foreign Relations) where he described his work as Secretary of State saying that the British “became a participant in internal American deliberations, to a degree probably never practiced between sovereign nations… In my White House incarnation then, I kept the British Foreign Office better informed and more closely engaged than I did the American State Department… It was symptomatic”. In his speech, Kissinger outlined the battle between Churchill vs FDR during WWII and made the point that he favored the Churchill worldview for the post war world (And ironically also that of Prince Metternich who ran the Congress of Vienna that snuffed out democratic movements across Europe in 1815). In June 1982, Reagan’s Westminster Palace speech officially inaugurated the NED and by November 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy Act was passed bringing this new covert organization into reality with $31 million of funding under four subsidiary organizations (AFL-CIO Free Trade Union Institute, The US Chamber of Commerce’s Center for International Private Enterprise, the International Republican Institute and the International Democratic Institute) (2). Throughout the 1980s, this organization went to work managing Iran-Contra, destabilizing Soviet states and unleashing the first “official” modern color revolution in the form of the Yellow revolution that ousted Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. Speaking more candidly than usual, NED President David Ignatius said in 1991 “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the NED was instrumental in bringing former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO/WTO system and the New World Order was announced by Bush Sr. and Kissinger- both of whom were rewarded with knighthoods for their service to the Crown in 1992 and 1995 respectively. Of course, the vast web of NGOs permeating the geopolitical terrain can only be effective as long as no one says the truth and “names the game”. The very act of calling out their nefarious motives renders them impotent and this simple fact has made the recently announced China-Russia arrangement to formulate a proper strategic response to color revolutions so important in the current fight.
Trump Reviews Controversial US-Taliban Peace Deal Which Critics Call A "Betrayal"
by Tyler Durden on August 18, 2019 at 2:15 am
Critics are calling a Trump administration plan for a rapid US force draw down in Afghanistan which involves striking a peace deal with the Taliban a "betrayal". But administration officials have countered that this is the cost of bringing the some 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan home. Trump "has been pretty clear that he wants to bring the troops home" according to senior officials privy to ongoing negotiations. The chief controversy behind the US-Taliban peace talks is that any deal will likely rely on the Taliban holding to counterterrorism guarantees, or that it won't attack US coalition forces; however, there's reportedly little in the impending deal which holds the Taliban to guarantees it won't attack Afghan civilians or the national army. Via Reuters According to CNN: One source explained that the agreement is seen as paving the way for the US to leave the country without a high number of US casualties in the coming months. President Trump said he had a "very good meeting in Afghanistan" in a tweet Friday, just after meeting with top national security advisers over the impending peace plan which seeks to end America's longest running war, now approaching two decades. "Discussions centered around our ongoing negotiations and eventual peace and reconciliation agreement with the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan," a White House press spokesman said of the meeting. "The meeting went very well, and negotiations are proceeding." “In continued close cooperation with the government of Afghanistan, we remain committed to achieving a comprehensive peace agreement, including a reduction in violence and a cease-fire, ensuring that Afghan soil is never again used to threaten the United States or her allies, and bringing Afghans together to work towards peace,” the statement said. CNN summarizes of the deal that it's "expected to formalize a significant withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan -- from about 15,000 troops to 8,000 or 9,000 troops -- and enshrine official commitments by the Taliban to counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan, according to the multiple sources familiar with the plan." But there's fear that the Taliban is simply looking to remove the US military from the equation, and that once the US departs, the Taliban will have free reign to attack a greatly weakened Afghan national army. Spearheading the dialogue has been White House special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been meeting with Taliban negotiators in Qatar for months, with a desire to strike a final deal by September 1.&nbs
Lost Within The Rate Cut: The Fed's Drive To Establish A New Payment System
by Tyler Durden on August 18, 2019 at 1:50 am
Authored by Steven Guinness, Part way through delivering a press conference following the Federal Reserve’s first rate cut since December 2008, chairman Jerome Powell let it be known that the central bank was ‘looking carefully‘ at developing a new faster payments system. Unsurprisingly, his words on the subject proved the equivalent of screaming into the face of a force ten gale. Besides a handful of financial outlets, nobody heard him. All that analysts and observers were really interested in was the Fed’s stance on interest rates. This was unfortunate because whilst they may appear banal and complex on the surface, payments systems are of far greater significance than whether a central bank opts to cut or raise interest rates. Anyone keeping pace with the myriad of speeches and publications emanating from central banks will know that globalists are working incrementally to introduce a cashless monetary system under their control. The Federal Reserve are one strand of this strategy as we will discover. Less than a week after the rate cut, the Fed announced that they were planning to devise a new ‘round-the-clock real-time payment and settlement service.’ Called ‘FedNow‘, the system would be an RTGS run service designed to initiate faster payments. RTGS stands for ‘Real Time Gross Settlement‘, and is the same model through which the Bank of England and the European Central Bank operate their payment systems. The BOE announced back in May 2017 a blueprint for the introduction of a ‘renewed‘ RTGS service, whilst the ECB in late 2018 launched a new system dubbed TIPS (TARGET Instant Payment Settlement). It was around the time that TIPS launched that the Fed issued a ‘request for comment‘ on reforming their own system. Taken as a whole, this is a further example of central banks working in coordination. In a press release announcing ‘FedNow‘, the Fed justified the venture on the premise that the ‘rapid evolution of technology‘ had presented them with a ‘pivotal opportunity‘ to modernise the U.S. payment system. Exactly how long the Fed have been looking into adopting a new payment system is unclear. But if the Wall Street Journal is to be believed, they have been exploring a faster system since at least 2013. The press release also pointed out that over 10,000 financial institutions are incorporated into the current Fed payment system known as ‘Fedwire‘, and argued that new real time infrastructure developed through the central bank would be best placed to offer full nationwide coverage. The next stage of ‘FedNow‘ sees the Fed ‘requesting comment on how the new service might be designed‘. As for when it becomes available, the expectation is either 2023 or 2024. The Bank of England’s renewed RTGS system is due to be operational by 2025. On the day ‘FedNow‘ was announced, Lael Brainard, a member of the Fed’s board of governors, offered up more information on the system in a speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. As you might expect, Brainard was there to extol the benefits. The big selling point was 365 days a year access, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Funds would be available immediately after payment is sent. It would be a system built on convenience and one that was fit for the speed of the 21st century. Of greater interest than these superficial benefits, however, is the motivation behind what the Fed are seeking to achieve with ‘FedNow‘. Brainard was equally as explanatory in this regard. We learned from her speech four key bits of information. Firstly, fintech companies are openly supportive of the Fed’s new system. These are companies that are part of an industry that has pioneered the creation of distributed ledger technology. Secondly, the planned implementation for either 2023 or 2024 is not a fixed objective. More important to the Fed is the goal of achieving ‘nationwide access for all‘, meaning that their overarching aim is for ‘FedNow‘ and private sector payment services to work in conjunction (or, as Brainard put it, to ‘interoperate by exchanging payments among services directly). Thirdly, Brainard told us that no one private sector provider of a U.S. payment system has ever been able to establish nationwide reach by itself. Nationwide coverage would have to encompass the many thousands of small and medium sized banks. Hence why the Fed are now making a determined move to utilise private sector technology and incorporate it into their own system. I would contend that the Fed’s goal is to achieve full spectrum control of America’s payment infrastructure, with all digital transactions falling under their jurisdiction. ‘FedNow‘ would be the mechanism in making this happen. Fourthly, as Brainard laid out, the path that the Fed are embracing is not one of ‘incremental‘ change. Rather, it is of ‘transformative‘ change. I would take this to mean that the infrastructure underpinning current payment systems must be overhauled to allow for the implementation of fintech devised technology. An accompanying list of FAQ’s lent credence to the understanding that fintech is central to the construction of ‘FedNow‘. Here, the Fed expounded that the market for faster payments in the U.S. remains in the ‘early stages‘. Banks and fintech firms can provide a range of services, but the functionality of them is limited which restricts their level of coverage and reliability. They lamented the ‘lack of a universal infrastructure to conduct faster payments‘, which means that at present users who are signed up to one service such as Paypal invariably cannot send or receive payment from a user signed up to another service. As a result, the market remains ‘fragmented‘. With the Federal Reserve system encompassing twelve regional banks, and the relationships the Fed has with 10,000 plus banking institutions, their belief is that they are ‘well positioned to overcome the challenge of extending nationwide access.’ Throughout their communications there is a preoccupation with the objective of achieving nationwide access. So much so that the Fed board are apparently intending to ‘explore interoperability and other paths to achieving the ultimate goal of nationwide reach.’ ‘FedNow’ would provide the necessary universal infrastructure that the Fed are seeking, and allow banks of all description to offer real-time payments. Undoubtedly this presents an opportunity for the Fed, and indeed central banks throughout the world, to move in and claim hegemony over the next generation of global digital payment systems. But they, along with the Bank for International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund that preside over them, cannot do this by themselves. This is where the private sector comes in, for it is here where the expertise and technological innovation is found. Within the FAQ’s it is also stated that the ‘FedNow‘ service would ‘operate alongside private sector RTGS services for faster payments‘. Prior to the announcement of the new system, the Federal Reserve board had come to the conclusion that private sector RTGS services ‘cannot be expected to provide an infrastructure with reasonable effectiveness, scope and equity alone.’ A roundabout way of saying that whilst the Fed do not possess the technology, they do have the reach in order to disseminate private sector innovation to every corner of the U.S. The beauty for the Fed is that they would have full regulatory authority over ‘FedNow‘. In conjunction with fintech, their level of control over the payments infrastructure would be unassailable. If central banks manage to utilise fintech successfully, it will give them a clear path to begin the gradual implementation of central bank issued digital currencies. Back in April I published an article (BIS General Manager Outlines Vision for Central Bank Digital Currencies) that looked into the subject of CBDC’s more deeply. In regards to ‘FedNow‘, equally as interesting as what was discussed by the Fed is what was left unsaid. There was no mention throughout any of the supporting documentation of plans to incorporate distributed ledger technology. Instead, there will be ‘engagement between the Fed and the industry to inform the final service design.’ This is a process that is now getting underway. I would expect that once the final design of ‘FedNow‘ is confirmed, it will have the capability of interacting with systems that use distributed ledgers. This would follow on from the Bank of England who in 2018 announced that their new RTGS service would enable such systems to achieve settlement in central bank money. Once this has been achieved, the next logical step for central banks is to complete the process of digitising all financial assets through the issuance of central bank digital currency. And as BIS general manager Agustin Carstens warned back in March 2019, this would mean that people would no longer have the option of paying with cash. ‘All purchases would be electronic‘. In a follow up article I will be exploring the process underway at the Bank of England and the European Central Bank to reform their payment systems, and how China is proving to be the test bed for fintech innovation.