Bombshell Report Catches Pentagon Falsifying Paperwork For Weapons Transfers To Syrian Rebels

A new bombshell joint report issued by two international weapons monitoring groups Tuesday confirms that the Pentagon continues to ship record breaking amounts of weaponry into Syria and that the Department of Defense is scrubbing its own paper trail. On Tuesday the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) produced conclusive evidence that not only is the Pentagon currently involved in shipping up to $2.2 billion worth of weapons from a shady network of private dealers to allied partners in Syria – mostly old Soviet weaponry – but is actually manipulating paperwork such as end-user certificates, presumably in order to hide US involvement.
The OCCRP and BIRN published internal US defense procurement files after an extensive investigation which found that the Pentagon is running a massive weapons trafficking pipeline which originates in the Balkans and Caucuses, and ends in Syria and Iraq. The program is ostensibly part of the US train, equip, and assist campaign for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, a coalition of YPG/J and Arab FSA groups operating primarily in Syria’s east). The arms transfers are massive and the program looks to continue for years. According to Foreign Policy’s (FP) coverage of the report:
The Department of Defense has budgeted $584 million specifically for this Syrian operation for the financial years 2017 and 2018, and has earmarked another $900 million of spending on Soviet-style munitions between now and 2022. The total, $2.2 billion, likely understates the flow of weapons to Syrian rebels in the coming years.
But perhaps more shocking is the following admission that Pentagon suppliers have links with known criminal networks, also from FP:
According to the report, many of the weapons suppliers – primarily in Eastern Europe but also in the former Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Ukraine – have both links to organized crime throughout Eastern Europe and spotty business records.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 13, 2017.

Wall Street’s Latest Plot: Blame the Financial Crash on the French

Wall Street appears to have a plan to get the deregulation it wants by pinning the start of the epic financial crash of 2007-2010 on (wait for it) the French, rather than its own unbridled greed, corruption and toxic manufacture of junk bonds known as subprime debt that it paid to have rated AAA by ethically-challenged and deeply conflicted rating agencies. (The same rating agencies that are getting paid by Wall Street to rate its debt issues today.)
One of the men helping to peddle this narrative is Steve Hanke, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, a taxpayer-subsidized nonprofit that was secretly owned by the billionaire Koch brothers for decades.
Hanke’s bio at Cato lists him as a Professor of Applied Economics at John Hopkins University in Baltimore and provides the following titillating background:
‘Prof. Hanke served as a State Counselor to both the Republic of Lithuania in 1994-96 and the Republic of Montenegro in 1999-2003. He was also an Advisor to the Presidents of Bulgaria in 1997-2002, Venezuela in 1995-96, and Indonesia in 1998. He played an important role in establishing new currency regimes in Argentina, Estonia, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ecuador, Lithuania, and Montenegro. Prof. Hanke has also held senior appointments in the governments of many other countries, including Albania, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yugoslavia.’

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on August 21, 2017.

OPEC Is Dead – – -R.I.P.

The Opec cartel is to continue flooding the world with crude oil despite a chronic glut and the desperate plight of its own members, demanding that Russia, Kazakhstan and other producers join forces before there can be output cuts.
Brent prices tumbled almost $2 a barrel to $42.90 as traders tried to make sense of the fractious Opec gathering in Vienna, which ended with no production target and no guidance on policy. It reeked of paralysis.
Prices are poised to test lows last seen at the depths of the financial crisis in early 2009. The shares of oil companies plummeted in London, and US shale drillers went into freefall on Wall Street.
Oil tankers are lined up off the cost of Texas, a flotilla of crude storage across the world Photo: Alamy
‘Lots of people said Opec was dead. Opec itself has just confirmed it,’ said Jamie Webster, head of HIS Energy.
Venezuela’s oil minister, Eulogio del Pino, pushed for a cut in output of 1.5m barrels a day (b/d) to clear the market, describing the failure to act as calamitous. ‘We are really worried,’ he said.
Abdallah Salem el-Badri, Opec’s chief, conceded that the cartel’s strategy has been reduced to an impotent waiting game, hoping that the pain of low prices will lure Russia and other global producers to the table. ‘We are looking for negotiations with non-Opec, and trying to reach a collective effort,’ he said.
Mr el-Badri said there have been ‘positive’ noises from some but none is yet ready to lock arms and create a sort of super-Opec, able to dictate prices. ‘Everybody is trying to digest how they can do it,’ he said

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on December 6, 2015.

The oil Cartel’s End Is Nigh – OPEC May Split At The December Meeting

As oil prices are now hovering around $45 per barrel, the entire oil and gas industry is looking forward to the next OPEC meeting, due to be held on December 4 this year in Vienna. On October 14, non- OPEC member Mexicoconfirmed its participation in a technical meeting organized by the cartel on October 21 in Vienna to which seven other non-OPEC members were also invited.
‘We are going with a technical delegation to receive information and exchange it with other producers. But Mexico will not take part in any reduction in production volume,’ said Mexico’s Energy Minister Pedro Joaquin Coldwell. The meeting was held last Wednesday and was attended by representatives of five countries: Russia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Colombia and Mexico. The main agenda of the meeting was to exchange different market views and create a common strategy in response to the current market conditions and low oil prices.
What exactly happened at the meeting?
Venezuela has been the most vocal OPEC member when it comes to the issue of raising oil prices by altering the cartel’s production levels. During the technical meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC members, Venezuela proposed that OPEC must resume its policy adopted in 1980s of fixing the oil price. It suggested a possible ceiling price of $88 per barrel which would naturally require OPEC to reduce its current production levels. In addition, Venezuela also proposed another technical meeting of this kind to be held during the upcoming Dec 4 meeting.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on October 29, 2015.

Exodus 2015 – – The March Of Capital Fleeing The Emerging Market Accelerates

Traders dumped exchange-traded funds tracking emerging-market stocks at the fastest pace in over a year last quarter amid concerns over the slowdown in China, a selloff in commodities and the prospect of higher interest rates in the U. S.
Investors pulled $6.1 billion from U. S.-traded ETFs that offer exposure to a basket of developing-nation equities in the three months through September, the most since the first quarter of 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Exchange-traded funds that invest in both emerging-market stocks and debt as well as individual countries saw outflows in 12 out of 13 weeks ending Sept. 25, with losses totaling $12 billion, the data show.
The withdrawals came amid mounting evidence of slowing Chinese economic growth and as the Federal Reserve moved closer to an increase in the near-zero U. S. rates that have supported demand for riskier assets in developing nations. The concerns have roiled emerging markets from Colombia to Kazakhstan and spurred a deepening of the rout in commodities, further dimming sentiment toward countries like Russia and Brazil.
‘When you have all the headwinds emerging markets are facing, it really takes investors with a strong stomach to try to put money to work there,’ David Mazza, head of ETF research at State Street Global Advisers, said by phone in New York. ‘Emerging markets are universally hated, and investors continue to not find a catalyst for a reversal in performance.’

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on October 1, 2015.

The Real Aggression In Ukraine – – The Kiev Dictatorship’s Assault On Its Own People And The Press

The media narrative about Ukraine – that the ‘Maiden revolution’ was a democratic European-values oriented revolt against a tyrannical Russian-controlled puppet – has always been a fairytale, largely perpetrated by the Western media in complicity with the US State Department and the European Union. Yet now that same media is being forced to reexamine their bias in the wake of the Ukrainian government’s banning of 34 journalists and seven bloggers from entering the country. The list of the banned includes journalists from Britain, Switzerland, Israel, Slovakia, Germany, Spain, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Estonia, Bulgaria, Germany, Latvia, Moldova, Macedonia, and Serbia.
Unlike most of the rest of the English-speaking news media, the Committee to Protect Journalists is reporting that the list of banned journalists represents but a portion of a larger blacklist consisting of 388 individuals and over 100 organizations forbidden from entering the country on the grounds of ‘national security’ and an alleged threat to Ukraine’s ‘territorial integrity.’ Here is the complete list (in Ukrainian). The Guardian is reportingthat the list also includes businesspeople and journalists from the United States.
After an uproar – not over the existence of such a list, but over the fact that three BBC reporters were included, along with two Spaniards who have been captured by the Islamic State in Syria, and a German writer – the six Western journalists everyone was making such a fuss about were removedfrom the list. The rest remain.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by Justin Raimondo – September 21, 2015.

Boston Pulls 2024 Olympic Bid, Taxpayers Win

Hosting the Olympic Games isn’t as popular as it used to be. This week, Boston cancelled its bid to host the 2024 summer Olympics. The city was forced to cancel the effort in response to opposition to what The Nation called the ‘debt, displacement, and militarization of public space’ that the Olympics brings to every host city. Basically, the taxpayers and citizens of Boston weren’t in the mood to foot the bill for an enormous party for the richest and most powerful plutocrats of Boston and the United States.
While the Olympic Games may have once been about sport and international camaraderie, they were soon transformed into monuments to crony capitalism. Peter Hitchens traces this transformation back to Hitler and Goebbels who made the Olympics ‘into a torch-lit and grandiose spectacle,’ and the international Olympics committee has been fine with that ever since.
Today, the Olympics has become a way to score diplomatic points and showcase the wealth and influence of national governments. Indeed, it’s no wonder at all that the host cities of the Olympics have taken on a decidedly authoritarian flair with China and Russia rushing to make various bids. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will soon get to choose between Kazakhstan and China for hosts of 2022′s winter games. (Oslo, Norway pulled out of the 2022 bidding process after the taxpayers resisted the IOC’s diva-like demands for tax-funded perks.)

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on AUGUST 1, 2015.