New Revelations Belie Trump Claims on Syria Chemical Attack—-The Chemical Bomb Was Planted There, Not Dropped From An Aircraft
However, two new revelations contradict the Trump administration’s line on the April 4 attack. A former US official knowledgeable about the episode told Truthout that the Russians had actually informed their US counterparts in Syria of the Syrian military’s plan to strike the warehouse in Khan Sheikhoun 24 hours before the strike. And a leading analyst on military technology, Dr. Theodore Postol of MIT, has concluded that the alleged device for a sarin attack could not have been delivered from the air but only from the ground, meaning that the chemical attack may not have been the result of the Syrian airstrike.
Bill Gross’ latest monthly outlook is divided into two sections: in the first, the world’s former bond king provides a revealing glimpse into his mind courtesy of six brainteasers (with answers to questions such as “If forced to choose between killing your favorite pet or an anonymous human being, what would you do?”); in the second he goes back to his favorite topic: slamming the Trump growth narrative Can the Trump Agenda recreate 3% growth? The answer: he cites an IMF study which suggests that “unless there is an unforeseen technological breakthrough, productivity growth is unlikely to return to the higher rates of the 1990’s for advanced economics or the early 2000’s for emerging economics. In other words, their warning speaks to a global productivity slowdown, not just a U.S. based phenomena. They warn that increasing tariffs and developing restrictions on immigration will only exacerbate the slowdown. Global growth, and of course U.S. growth, will be lower than average, they forecast.”
A new report from the US Treasury Department shows that growth in federal tax receipts has fallen to the lowest level seen in 80 months, with the 12-month average falling 1.3 percent from March 2016 to March 2017. The last time federal receipts fell as far was during July of 2010 when they dropped 2.4 percent from July of the previous year. More importantly, the last time receipts fell this much, while in a downward trend, was in July 2008 shortly before the financial crisis. March 2017 was the fourth month in a row during which federal receipts were down year over year, while growth rates overall have been falling quickly since mid-2015.
Foot traffic at chain restaurants in March dropped 3.4% from a year ago. Menu prices couldn’t be increased enough to make up for it, and same-store sales fell 1.1%. The least bad region was the Western US, where sales inched up 1.2% year-over-year and traffic fell only 1.7%, according to TDn2K’s Restaurant Industry Snapshot. The worst was the NY-NJ Region, where sales plunged 4.6% and foot traffic 6.3%.
One thing that used to occupy the center was public discussion, debate, and argumentation. Now and again, it featured a coherent exchange of ideas. These days, the main political factions are sunk in hysteria of one kind or another. Their primitive promptings hardly add up to ideas but rather limbic spasms of fear and rage. And then there is the shadow partner of the two parties called the Deep State, led by the quaintly dubbed “Intelligence Community.” These birds, many of them lifers, are dedicated to making the public discussion of anything as incoherent as possible so as to prevent any change in policy that might curtail the growth of the Deep State, a sort of cancer of the body politic.
According to the NBS, which is backed up by the Ministry of Commerce, China’s exports in March 2016 were $160.813 billion. That is the figure widely circulated last year in the media there as well as here. But the GAC today claims that total exports for March 2017 were $180.6 billion, which would have been an increase of only 12.3% when compared to that March 2016 figure. It may seem overly pedantic, but this discrepancy has been applied to the past few months, too. For January and February 2017, GAC estimated that exports rose 7.9% and then fell by 1.3%, respectively. Yet, using the data from the NBS, which largely agrees with the GAC figures from 2016, the growth rates were instead 3.1% in January and -4.8% in February. From these latter estimates, export growth for Q1 2017 as a whole, including the 12.4% growth in March, was just 4.2%.
It appears that Mike Cernovich, who earlier this week wrote that Trump’s national security advisor, Gen. H.R.McMaster, was planning on sending as many as 150,000 troops to Syria, may have been right again. According to Bloomberg commentator Eli Lake, who has now made a habit of confirming Cernovich “conspiracy theories” (he did so previously with the Susan Rice scoop), Trump may be on the verge of escalating the proxy war in Syria by sending anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000 troops on the ground, and – if Cernovich is indeed correct – as much as three times more. Per Lake, after U-turning on attacking Syria last week and on a variety of economic policies yesterday, the Donald Trump’s “biggest foreign policy surprise may be yet to come.” Specifically, he says that McMaster, has been quietly pressing his colleagues to question the underlying assumptions of a draft war plan against the Islamic State that would maintain only a light U.S. ground troop presence in Syria.” McMaster’s critics inside the administration say he wants to send tens of thousands of ground troops to the Euphrates River Valley. His supporters insist he is only trying to facilitate a better interagency process to develop Trump’s new strategy to defeat the self-described caliphate that controls territory in Iraq and Syria.”
More than seven years after the Great Recession officially ended, there is yet more depressing research that at least half of Americans are vulnerable to financial disaster. Some 50% of people is woefully unprepared for a financial emergency, new research finds. Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) Americans have nothing set aside to cover an unexpected emergency, while nearly 1 in 3 (31%) Americans don’t have at least $500 set aside to cover an unexpected emergency expense, according to a survey released Tuesday by HomeServe USA, a home repair service. A separate survey released Monday by insurance company MetLife found that 49% of employees are “concerned, anxious or fearful about their current financial well-being.”
Today, we must discuss a topic that has been covered in this space on multiple occasions; namely, the need for you to immediately purge — via forced retirement — scores of your general officers. The American fetish for treating these officers as god-like wonders is baseless, and must be curtailed to the greatest possible extent. Among the most obvious reasons they merit forced retirement are: They and their predecessors have not won a war since 1945. In truth, they have won nothing in the most war-filled 72 years in American history. They have regularly betrayed the military men and women entrusted to their care by American parents by taking those troops to fight in wars that neither they nor their political masters intended to win. I do not know of a single case, since 1945, when a general officer resigned and told the citizenry that he did so because he refused to lead their soldier-children into a war no one meant to win, and in which the rules-of-engagement made those soldier-children targets rather than killers.
Economic nonsense comes a dime a dozen. For example, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen “think(s) we have a healthy economy now.” She even told the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy so earlier this week. Does she know what she’s talking about? If you go by a partial subset of the ‘official’ government statistics, perhaps, it appears she does. The unemployment rate is at 4.5 percent, which is considered full employment. What’s more, inflation is ‘reasonably close’ to the Fed’s 2-percent inflation target. But what does this mean, really?