Russia launches biggest ever war games involving China
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV and SERGEI GRITS
Wednesday, September 12
CHITA, Russia (AP) — Hundreds of thousands Russian troops swept across Siberia on Tuesday in the nation’s largest ever war games also joined by China — a powerful show of burgeoning military ties between Moscow and Beijing amid their tensions with the U.S.
Moscow said the weeklong Vostok (East) 2018 maneuvers will span vast expanses of Siberia and the Far East, the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans and involve nearly 300,000 Russian troops — nearly one-third of the country’s 1-million-strong military. They will feature more than 1,000 aircraft, about 36,000 tanks and other military vehicles and 80 warships.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has described the drills as even bigger than the country’s largest Cold War-era exercise called Zapad 1981 that put NATO allies on edge.
A retired Russian general said that the giant war games come as a warning to the U.S. against ramping up pressure on Russia.
“The maneuvers are aimed at deterring the aggressive intentions of the U.S. and NATO,” Ret. Gen. Leonid Ivashov said. He was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the drills are “also a response to the U.S. sanctions.”
China is sending about 3,200 troops, 900 combat vehicles and 30 aircraft to join the drills at a Siberian firing range, a significant deployment that reflects its shift toward a full-fledged military alliance with Russia. Mongolia also has sent a military contingent.
Asked if the U.S. is worried about a possible military alliance between Russia and China, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Pentagon reporters Tuesday that, “I think that nations act out of their interests. I see little in the long term that aligns Russia and China.”
As the maneuvers kicked off, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia on Tuesday to attend an economic forum in Vladivostok. President Vladimir Putin treated Xi to pancakes with caviar and shots of vodka in a show of their warm rapport.
Moscow and Beijing have forged what they described as a “strategic partnership,” expressing their shared opposition to the “unipolar” world, the term they use to describe perceived U.S. global domination. However, the military drills they had until now were far smaller in scale, reflecting China’s caution about alliances.
Some experts pointed out that the U.S. helped spawn closer Russia-China military ties by labeling them strategic competitors.
“They feel they need to embrace to deal with the increasingly high pressure and containment from the U.S.,” said Yue Gang, a military expert and retired Chinese army colonel.
He noted that China feels that the Washington’s hostile attitude and actions, such as deploying the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, relieve it of any need to take U.S. views into consideration when deepening strategic trust with Moscow.
“The war games have laid a foundation for China and Russia to enhance cooperation on international arena and will lift the combat proficiency of both sides,” he said.
The Chinese media touted the Chinese involvement in the maneuvers as the country’s largest-ever dispatch of forces abroad for war games.
Some noted that the People’s Liberation Army, which hasn’t fought a war since the attempted invasion of Vietnam in 1979, is keen to learn from Russia’s experience in the Syrian campaign, where it tested its latest weapons and tactics.
From China’s perspective, the emerging military alliance with Russia sends a strong signal to the U.S. and its ally Japan as Beijing moves to defend its interests in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety, as well as Taiwan and the Senkaku and Diaoyu islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.
Hong Kong-based commentator Song Zhongping said China is anxious to acquire more experience in large-scale operations that might become a factor in a conflict with the U.S. and others over territorial claims in Asia.
“Russia has very strong real combat abilities and the participation of the PLA in such a large-scale military exercise that is specially tailored for an anti-invasion war indicates China’s intention to learn more valuable combat practices and lift its ability for joint combat,” Song said.
For Russia, the increasingly robust alliance with China is particularly important amid the growing tensions with the U.S. and its allies and a looming threat of more biting U.S. sanctions.
“The scale and the scenario of those drills are in line with the current military-political situation,” said Ivashov, the retired Russian general. “They demonstrate the seriousness of our intentions.”
The U.S. and its NATO allies are closely eyeing the exercises for what they reveal about military cooperation between Russia and China and their mounting military might.
“We’re obviously aware of it, we’re watching it closely,” said Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman. “We’re aware of Russia’s right to sovereignty and to exercise in order to ensure their readiness.”
NATO Spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said that the training “fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence.”
She also noted that “China has growing military capabilities and is playing an increasingly significant global role,” adding that “it’s important for NATO to engage with China.”
Vladimir Isachenkov reported from Moscow. Christopher Bodeen in Beijing, Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Lorne Cook in Brussels, contributed to this report.
Amazon’s Worth $1 Trillion, So Why Is It Robbing Taxpayers?
It’s like Bonnie and Clyde, but instead of robbing banks, Amazon has enticed city and state officials to rob their own citizens.
By Jim Hightower |September 12, 2018
How much are you paying Amazon?
I don’t mean how much you’re shelling out for stuff you bought. I mean much you and your neighbors are simply giving to this huge and uber-rich on-line retailer.
If you live in Indianapolis, Austin, Chicago, Atlanta, or 16 other lucky cities, congratulations! You’re a finalist in the “Throw-Your-Money-At-Amazon” Sweepstakes!
It’s like Bonnie and Clyde, but instead of robbing banks, Amazon has enticed city and state officials to rob their own citizens — then hand over the loot in the form of tax breaks, land, and other bribes to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. The locality that offers the most booty “wins” the grand prize of having this thieving corporate behemoth become its new neighbor.
At least until Bezos gets a better offer.
So, again I ask: How much are your officials offering?
Shhhh, that’s a secret. Nearly all of the 20 contestant cities won’t tell city council members (much less taxpayers) how many billions they’re throwing at Bezos. Many cities even turned their negotiations over to business groups like the Chamber of Commerce, letting this handful of unelected, self-interested, private elites secretly make binding promises that would affect all residents without consulting them.
In the few places that did release information, it’s amounted to an unfunny joke. Montgomery County, Maryland, for example, made public a 10-page document listing “incentives” it was offering, but every word on every page was blacked out!
This whole flim-flam is abominable and ought to be criminal. Amazon will rake in a quarter-trillion dollars in sales this year, and Bezos is sitting on $166 billion in personal wealth. Shame on him for demanding public handouts, and shame on local officials for robbing the public till to further bloat his ego and fortune.
Jim Hightower, an OtherWords columnist, is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
The Wealth Hiding in Your Neighborhood
From country farmland to big city skyscrapers, absentee billionaires may be hiding wealth in your town — and driving up your cost of living.
By Chuck Collins |September 12, 2018
The rich are hiding trillions in wealth.
You’ve probably heard about their offshore bank accounts, shell corporations, and fancy trusts. But this wealth isn’t all sitting in the Cayman Islands or Panama. Much of it’s hiding in plain view: maybe even in your town.
America’s big cities are increasingly dotted with luxury skyscrapers and mansions. These multi-million dollar condos are wealth storage lockers, with the ownership often obscured by shell companies.
In Boston, where I live, there’s a luxury building boom. According to a study I just co-authored, out of 1,805 luxury units — with an average price of over $3 million — more than two-thirds are owned by people who don’t live here.
One-third are owned by shell companies and trusts that mask their ownership. And of these units, 40 percent are limited liability companies (LLCs) organized in Delaware.
Criminals around the world set up their shell companies in Delaware, the premiere secrecy jurisdiction in the United States — where you don’t have to disclose who the real owners are. As a result, human traffickers, drug smugglers, and tax evaders all enjoy the anonymous cover of a Delaware company.
Many of these companies use illicit funds to purchase real estate in North American cities to launder their ill-gotten money.
In New York City, dozens of luxury towers have been connected to global money laundering. In Vancouver, Chinese investors disrupted the city’s housing market so badly that the province of British Columbia established a foreign investor tax and a tax on vacant properties.
With European countries now insisting on more transparency, illicit cash is now cascading into the United States. In fact, the U.S. is now the world’s second-biggest tax haven and secrecy jurisdiction, after Switzerland.
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has increased its scrutiny over real estate markets in Miami, New York, and parts of California, Texas, and Hawaii.
But that just makes the rest of the country more attractive for secret cash — even far from big cities. In a small Vermont town, I met a Russian investor who lives in Dubai. He was buying up thousands of acres of Green Mountain farmland.
Our communities are being fundamentally transformed by land grabs and luxury building booms. These drive up the cost of land in central neighborhoods, with ripple impacts throughout a community. And this worsens the already grotesque inequalities of income, wealth, and opportunity.
Our communities should defend themselves.
Property ownership should have to pass the “fishing license” or “library card” test. In most communities, to get a library card or a fishing license, you need to prove who you are and where you actually live.
In Boston, they’re pretty strict — you need to show a utility bill with your name on it. Cities should require the same for real estate purchases.
At a national level, bi-partisan legislation from Senators Marco Rubio and Sheldon Whitehouse would require real estate owners to be disclosed when buyers use shell corporations and pay millions in cash. That would be a welcome development.
Better still, cities should tax luxury real estate transactions on properties selling for over $2 million to fund local services. Such a tax in San Francisco generated $44 million last year that’s been used to fund free community college and help the city’s neglected trees.
Communities could discourage high-end vacant properties by taxing buildings that sit empty for more than six months a year. Cities like Vancouver have created incentives to house people, not wealth.
We need to defend our communities for the people who live in them, not just store their wealth there.
Chuck Collins co-authored the report Towering Excess for the Institute for Policy Studies. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Nobody in the White House is Part of ‘The Resistance’
They admit Trump’s dangerous, but they’ll stick with him as long as he cuts billionaires’ taxes, deregulates corporations, and feeds the military-industrial complex.
By Peter Certo |September 12, 2018
This week, the White House continues its furious hunt for the anonymous official who proclaimed themselves part of “The Resistance” in a New York Times op-ed. Unsurprisingly, the president is “obsessed” with it, CNN reports.
What really set Trump off — perhaps understandably — was the suggestion that aides were deliberately undermining orders. “We want the administration to succeed,” the author said, before describing a coordinated effort to “thwart parts of [Trump’s] agenda and his worst inclinations.”
But not all of that agenda. The author praised Trump’s commitment to “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, [and] a more robust military,” and even complained about “near-ceaseless negative coverage” obscuring those supposed accomplishments.
The president’s behavior in pursuit of that agenda may be “detrimental to the health of our republic,” the author admits, but assures readers: “There are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening.”
This helps the rest of us understand what’s happening, too: Career Republicans are riding right along with someone they themselves describe as “anti-democratic,” “reckless,” and “erratic.” And they’ll do it just as long as he cuts taxes for billionaires, deregulates the corporations they own, and keeps the spigot open to the military-industrial complex.
He’s doing that.
So, what’s he doing wrong? The author specifies only Trump’s “preference for autocrats and dictators” like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.
Trump’s admiration for those figures says a lot about his disdain for democracy. But the response the author describes sounds more like an effort to shut off diplomatic openings with nuclear-armed rivals than to curb Trump’s anti-democratic impulses. Feel better?
Beyond this, the author offers few specifics on what they’d actually like to prevent.
Pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accords? Not a problem, apparently. Deregulating the banks that caused the financial crisis, and the fossil fuel companies causing climate change? Go right on ahead.
Giving corporations and billionaires a $2 trillion tax break, then trying to cut food stamps, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid? Trying to throw 24 million Americans off their health care?
The author describes precisely no concern about any of these things, because virtually any Republican would have done them.
Remarkably, the author actually complains that Trump “shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives.” But it sure sounds like he’s governing as one.
Sure, Trump has made unique his own contributions to modern conservatism — alliances with white nationalists, concentration camps for babies, etc. But our anonymous “adult in the room” offers no objection here either, even as down-ballot Republicans increasingly embrace those extremes.
I can believe White House staffers really do find the president unstable and dangerous. But instead of constitutionally removing him by the 25th Amendment, they’re keeping him around so they can cut billionaires’ taxes, put over half of every taxpayer dollar into the military-industrial complex, and coddle corporations that loot the country and pollute the planet.
The writer pines for the late Senator John McCain, calling him “a lodestar for restoring honor to public life.” McCain was surely more honorable than the president he feuded with, but even he voted with Trump 83 percent of the time. Do we really think Trump’s pathology reside entirely in the other 17 percent?
If Trump implodes, they’re going to act like his personality was the problem — not the policy agenda he’s executing on their behalf. They’ll say we haven’t gotten enough “real conservatism.”
Sorry, but I think the amazing social movements behind the real “resistance” would disagree. They’re not trying to rollback 17 percent of what this White House has done. They’re trying to transform it — and much of what came before it — 100 percent.
Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and the editor of OtherWords.org.
State Parks Offer Special Archery Hunt Lotteries on Sept. 22
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Sept. 12, 2018
COLUMBUS, OH – Approximately 1,600 acres of quality deer hunting land will be available to archers as part of controlled hunts at Buck Creek, Caesar Creek, Deer Creek, Findley, Malabar Farm and Maumee Bay state parks, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Hunters must be present at the drawing location they are interested in hunting. Deer harvested in these controlled hunts will not count against a hunter’s statewide, county or public land bag limit.
• All drawings will occur at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22.
• All hunts are archery-only.
• Hunters must possess a valid 2018-19 hunting license and a valid deer permit to enter the drawings.
• Names will be randomly drawn and those selected will be assigned a location to hunt in the park.
• Selected hunters will be eligible to hunt their assigned location for two-week increments.
• Hunters will be permitted to hunt with a partner. The partner is not required to attend the drawing but must be named prior to the start of the hunt.
• Buck Creek State Park will have two drawings, with one specifically for military veterans only.
Drawing locations are as follows:
• Deer Creek State Park Office: 20635 State Park Road 20, Mt. Sterling 43143. Contact Zach Woodrow at 740-869-3124 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
• Malabar Farm State Park Office: 4050 Bromfield Road, Lucas 44843. Contact Siera Marth at 419-892-2784 or email@example.com for more information.
• Maumee Bay State Park Office: 1400 State Park Road, Oregon 43616. Contact Andrew Thompson at 419-836-7758 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
• Findley State Park Beach: 25381 State Route 58, Wellington 44090. Contact Rocky Carpenter at 440-647-5749, ext. 100, or email@example.com for more information.
• Buck Creek State Park Office: 1976 Buck Creek Lane, Springfield 45502. Contact John Lewis at 937-322-5284 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
• Caesar Creek State Park Office: 8750 E. State Route 73, Waynesville 45068. Contact Scott Fletcher at 513-897-3055 or email@example.com for more information.
The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft is responsible for managing Ohio’s 75 state parks and providing the finest outdoor recreational opportunities, including first-class boating services, facilities and law enforcement for users of Ohio’s waterways and public lands.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.
New Business Filings Figures for August 2018
Secretary Husted Press
Friday, September 14, 2018
Four out of five companies are now started using Ohio Business Central
COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today announced 10,994 new entities filed to do business in Ohio last month, an increase of 992 when compared to August 2017.
Ohio is currently on track for 2018 to be another record-breaking year for new business filings. Since January, the Buckeye State has seen 87,124 new businesses file, up 5,143 from the same eight-month period last year.
Ohio finished 2017 with 117,429 new businesses registering with the Secretary of State’s office, surpassing the previous record of 105,009 that was set in 2016. Last year also marked the eighth consecutive year the state has seen a record number of new business filings. In all, Ohio has seen a rise of 46.3 percent in filings from 2010 to 2017.
From the time Ohio Business Central was launched until the end of August 2018, the Secretary of State’s Office has processed 441,175 online filings. Today 80 percent of all new businesses are started online through Ohio Business Central, which launched in 2013. In August 2017, Secretary Husted announced that 100 percent of all filings needed to start or maintain a business in Ohio may now be submitted online.
August 2018 marked 34 months since Secretary Husted reduced the cost of starting and maintaining a business in the Buckeye State by 21 percent. This change has saved Ohio businesses over $7.6 million to date.
Secretary Husted’s efforts to cut costs don’t stop there. In fact, he requested a 100 percent cut in the amount of tax dollars needed to run his office, which was approved as part of the state’s budget. Husted’s request is saving taxpayers nearly $5 million over fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Secretary Husted was able to do this because of his wise financial stewardship. During his first term, he reduced spending by $14.5 million, a 16 percent reduction when compared to the previous administration. Secretary Husted is also operating his office with roughly 42 percent fewer staff and payroll costs at the Secretary of State’s Office are at the lowest level in 11 years.
Though the most visible role of the Secretary of State is that of chief elections officer, the office is also the first stop for individuals or companies who want to file and start a business in Ohio. While recognizing these numbers can’t provide a complete picture of Ohio’s jobs climate, they are an important indicator of economic activity that Secretary Husted hopes will add to the ongoing discussion of how to improve the state’s overall climate for business.
NOTE: New business filings are classified as forms filed with the Ohio Secretary of State that declare the formation of a business entity, including for-profit, non-profit and professional corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, limited partnerships and limited liability partnerships. Filing as a business in Ohio does not guarantee the company will begin operations, be profitable or create jobs.