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France: More Death To Free Speech

Authored by Guy Milliere via The Gatestone Institute,



On September 28, a "Convention of the Right" took place in Paris, organized by Marion Marechal, a former member of French parliament and now director of France's Institute of Social, Economic and Political Sciences. The purpose of the convention was to unite France's right-wing political factions. In a keynote speech, the journalist Éric Zemmour hars

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hly criticized Islam and the Islamization of France. He described the country's "no-go zones" (Zones Urbaines Sensibles; Sensitive Urban Zones) as "foreign enclaves" in French territory and depicted, as a process of "colonization", the growing presence in France of Muslims who do not integrate.





Zemmour quoted the Algerian writer Boualem Sansal, who said that the no-go zones are "small Islamic Republics in the making". Zemmour said that a few decades ago, the French could talk freely about Islam but that today it is impossible, and he denounced the use of the "hazy concept of Islamophobia to make it impossible to criticize Islam, to reestablish the notion of blasphemy to the benefit of the Muslim religion alone..."




"All our problems are worsened by Islam. It is a double jeopardy.... Will young French people be willing to live as a minority on the land of their ancestors? If so, they deserve to be colonized. If not, they will have to fight ... [T]he old words of the Republic, secularism, integration, republican order, no longer mean anything ... Everything has been overturned, perverted, emptied of meaning."




Zemmour's speech was broadcast live on LCI television. Journalists on other channels immediately accused LCI of contributing to "hate propaganda". Some said that LCI should lose its broadcasting license. One journalist, Memona Hinterman-Affegee, a former member of France's High Council of Audiovisual Media (Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel), the body that regulates electronic media in France, wrote in the newspaper Le Monde:




"LCI uses a frequency which is part of the public domain and thus belongs to the entire nation ... LCI has failed in its mission and lost control of its program, and must be sanctioned in an exemplary manner".




The journalists of Le Figaro, the newspaper employing Zemmour, wrote a press release demanding his immediate dismissal. Calls heard on most radio and television stations for a total boycott of Zemmour stressed that he had been condemned several times for "Islamophobic racism".



Alexis Brézet, the managing editor of Le Figaro, said that he expressed his "disapproval" to Zemmour and reminded him of the need for "strict compliance with the law", but did not fire him. SOS Racisme, a left-wing movement created in 1984 to fight racism, launched a campaign to boycott companies publishing advertisements in Le Figaro and said that its aim was to coerce the management of the newspaper to fire Zemmour. The mainstream RTL radio station that employed Zemmour decided to terminate him immediately, saying that his presence on the air was "incompatible" with the spirit of living together "that characterizes the station".



A journalist working for RTL and LCI, Jean-Michel Aphatie, said that Zemmour was a "repeat offender" who should not be able to speak anywhere and compared him to the anti-Semitic Holocaust denier Dieudonné Mbala Mbala:




"Dieudonné is not allowed to speak in France. He must hide. That is fine, since he wants to spread hatred. Éric Zemmour should be treated the same way."




Caricatures were published depicting Zemmour in a Waffen SS uniform. Another journalist, Dominique Jamet, apparently not seeing any problem comparing a Jew to a Nazi, said that Zemmour reminded him of Hitler's Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. On the internet, death threats against Zemmour multiplied. Some posted the times Zemmour takes the subway, what stations, and suggested that someone push him under a train.



The French government officially filed a complaint against Zemmour for "public insults" and "public provocation to discrimination, hatred or violence". The investigation was handed over to the police. Someone in France accused of "public provocation to discrimination, hatred or violence" can face a sentence of one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros ($50,000).



Whoever reads the text of Zemmour's speech on September 28 can see that the speech does not incite discrimination, hatred or violence, and does not make a single racist statement: Islam is not a race, it is a religion.



Zemmour's speech describes a situation already discussed by various writers. Zemmour is not the first to say that the no-go zones are dangerous areas the police can no longer enter, or that they are under the control of radical imams and Muslim gangs who assault and drive out non-Muslims. Zemmour is not the only writer to describe the consequences of the mass-immigration of Muslims who do not integrate into French society. The pollster Jerome Fourquet, in his recent book, The French Archipelago, points out that France today is a country where Muslims and non-Muslims live in separate societies "hostile to each other". Fourquet also emphasizes that a growing number of Muslims living in France say they want to live according sharia law and place sharia law above French law. Fourquet notes that 26% of French Muslims born in France want to obey only Sharia; for French Muslims born abroad, the figure rises to 46%. Zemmour merely added that what was happening is a "colonization".



Zemmour had been hauled into court many times in the recent past and has had to pay heavy fines. On September 19, he was fined 3,000 euros ($3,300) for "incitement to racial hatred" and "incitement to discrimination", for having said in 2015 that "in countless French suburbs where many young girls are veiled, a struggle to Islamize territories is taking place".



In a society where freedom of speech exists, it would be possible to discuss the use of these statements, but in France today, freedom of speech has been almost completely destroyed.



Writers other than Zemmour have been hauled into court and totally excluded from all media, simply for describing reality. In 2017, the great historian Georges Bensoussan published a book, A Submissive France, as alarming as what Zemmour said a few days ago. Bensoussan, in an interview, quoted an Algerian sociologist, Smaïn Laacher, who had said that "in Arab families, children suckle anti-Semitism with their mother's milk". Laacher was never indicted. Bensoussan, however, had to go to criminal court. Although he was acquitted, he was fired by the Paris Holocaust Memorial, which until then had employed him.



In 2011, another author, Renaud Camus, published a book, The Great Replacement. In it, he talked about the decline of Western culture in France and its gradual replacement by Islamic culture. He also noted the growing presence in France of a Muslim population that refuses to integrate, and added that demographic studies show a birth rate higher in Muslim families than in non-Muslim ones.



Immediately, commentators in the media accused Camus of "anti-Muslim racism" and called him a "conspiracy theorist". His demographic studies were omitted. He had never mentioned either race or ethnicity, yet was nonetheless described as a defender of "white supremacism" and instantly excluded from radio and television. He can no longer publish anything in a French newspaper or magazine. In fact, he has no publisher at all anymore; he has to self-publish. In debates in France, he is referred to as a "racist extremist," and credited with saying things he never said. He is then denied the possibility of answering.



The difference between Eric Zemmour and Georges Bensoussan or Renaud Camus is that Zemmour had published books that became best sellers before he talked explicitly about the Islamization of France.



Those who have destroyed the careers of other writers for stating unfashionable facts have been doing their best to condemn Zemmour to the same fate. So far, they have not succeeded, so they have now decided to launch a major offensive against him. What they clearly want his personal destruction.



Zemmour is not only risking a professional ban; like many other writers being silenced by an intolerant "lynch mob", he is risking his life.



Almost no one shows any interest in defending him, just as no one defended Georges Bensoussan or Renaud Camus. Defending someone accused of being a "racist" implies the risk of being accused of being a "racist" too. Intellectual terror now reigns in France.



A few days ago, the writer and philosopher Alain Finkielkraut said that suggesting that "Islamophobia is the equivalent of yesterday's anti-Semitism" is scandalous. He said that "Muslims do not risk extermination" and that no one should "deny that today's anti-Semitism is Arab Muslim anti-Semitism." He added that France is moving from a "muzzled press to a muzzling press that destroys free speech".



France, wrote Ghislain Benhessa, a professor at the University of Strasbourg, is no longer a democratic country and gradually become something very different:




"Our democratic model which was based on the free expression of opinions and the confrontation of ideas is giving way to something else ... Relentless moral condemnations infect the debates and dissenting opinions are constantly deemed 'nauseating', 'dangerous', 'deviant' or 'retrograde', and therefore the elements of language repeated ad nauseam by official communicators will soon be the last words deemed acceptable. Lawsuits, charges of indignity and proclamations of openness are about to give birth to the evil twin of openness: a closed society."




On October 3, five days after Zemmour's speech, four police employees were murdered in Paris police headquarters by a man who had converted to Islam. The murderer, Mickaël Harpon, had gone every week to a mosque where an imam, who lives in a no-go zone ten miles north of Paris, made radical remarks. Harpon had been working at police headquarters for 16 years. He had recently shared on social networks a video showing an imam calling for jihad, and saying that "the most important thing for a Muslim is to die as a Muslim".



Harpon's colleagues said that he had been delighted by the 2015 jihadist attacks in France in 2015, and said they had reported "signs of radicalization" to no avail. The government's first reaction had been to say that the murderer was "mentally disturbed" and that the attack had no connection with Islam. French Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner simply stated that there had been "administrative dysfunctions," and acknowledged that the killer had access to files classified "secret".



A month before that, on September 2, an Afghan man who had the status in France of a political refugee, slit the throat of a young man and injured several other people in a street in Villeurbanne, a suburb of Lyon. He announced that the fault of those he killed or injured was that they did "not read the Koran". The police immediately stated that he was mentally ill and that his attack had nothing to do with Islam.



Soon in France, no one will dare to say that any attack openly inspired by Islam has any connection with Islam.



Today, there are more than 600 no-go zones in France. Every year, hundreds of thousands immigrants coming mainly from Muslim countries, settle in France and add to the country's Muslim population. Most of those who preceded them have not integrated.



Since January 2012, more than 260 people in France have been murdered in terrorist attacks, and more than a thousand wounded. The numbers may increase in the coming months. The authorities will still call the attackers "mentally ill".




Tyler Durden

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 02:00


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California's New 'Red Flag' Gun Law So Extreme ACLU Deems "Significant Threat To Civil Liberties"

California adopted 15 firearms-related bills last Friday, including a controversial 'red flag' gun confiscation law which adds co-workers, employers and educators to the list of who can file a gun violence restraining order on those they say are a danger to themselves and others. Currently, only law enforcement and immediate family members can apply

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to temporarily confiscate peoples' firearms. Most of the new laws take effect January 1, according to the LA Times.





Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) after being vetoed twice by his Democratic predecessor Jerry Brown (who said that educators can work through family members or law enforcement if a restraining order is required), the gun confiscation bill is so broad that the ACLU said it "poses a significant threat to civil libertiessince guns can be seized from owners before they have an opportunity to contest the requests, and those making the requests may "lack the relationship or skills required to make an appropriate assessment," NBC San Diego reports.



All that's needed for a co-worker or educator to file a complaint is to have had "substantial and regular interactions" with gun owners, along with permission from their employers or school administrators. Those seeking the orders will be required to file a sworn statement outlining their concerns. 



The author of the bill, Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco, said that "With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it's common sense to give the people we see every day the power to intervene and prevent tragedies," citing a recent study which found that 21 mass shootings may have been prevented by a gun restraining order. 



Meanwhile, a companion bill signed by Newsom and written by Democratic Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks allows gun violence restraining orders to last one and five years, though gun owners would be allowed to petition the state to get their guns back earlier. In another Ting-authored companion bill, gun owners who agree to voluntarily surrender their firearms can notify the court via a form, vs. a hearing which Ting says wastes time and resources. 



The National Rifle Association (NRA)'s Amy Hunter, meanwhile, said of another bill signed on Friday (SB 61) which prohibits Californians from buying more than one semiautomatic rifle per month, and bans the sale of such rifles to those younger than 21: "This bill places burdens on law-abiding residents," adding "It will not make anyone safer.



Republican state legislators criticized the one-gun-a-month bill, as well as the state's failure to remove guns from the thousands of felons and the severely mentally ill as they are already empowered to do so. 



"Instead we continue to do more and more legislation that interferes with the law-abiding citizen’s right to own and possess firearms, which is their constitutional right to do," said Yuba City Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher (LA Times)



According to the Times, other bills signed Friday by Newsom will:



  • Allow those subject to a gun-violence restraining order to submit a form to the court voluntarily relinquishing their firearm rights

  • Require firearm packaging to contain a warning statement on suicide prevention

  • Mandate that county sheriffs who issue licenses for concealed weapons charge a fee covering the cost of vetting the applicant, thus eliminating the current $100 cap on fees

  • Prohibit gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego County

  • Require, starting in 2024, that the sale of components used to build a firearm — often used to build untraceable “ghost guns” — be carried out through a licensed vendor.



Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 23:05


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Plus, Visual Studio Code debug hole found

Roundup  It's time for another security news catch-up.…

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Margolis: More "Stupid Wars" In Syria

Authored by Eric Margolis via LewRockwellc.om,



More war in wretched Syria.  Half the population are now refugees; entire cities lie shattered by bombing; bands of crazed gunmen run rampant; US, French, Israeli and Russian warplanes bomb widely.





Now, adding to the chaos, President Donald Trump has finally given Turkey, NATO’s second military power

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, the green light to invade parts of northeastern Syria after he apparently ordered a token force of US troops there to withdraw.





You will find more infographics at Statista



This, of course, puts the Turks in a growing confrontation with the region’s Kurds, who have occupied large swaths of the area during Syria’s civil war.  The Kurdish militia, known as YPG (confusingly part of the so-called Free Syrian Army), is armed, lavishly financed and directed by the CIA and Pentagon.



Most Kurdish forces are deployed along the line of the former Berlin-Baghdad railway, a major source of warlike tensions before World War I.  Interestingly, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was making a state visit to blood enemy Serbia when the Turkish offensive kicked off.



Turkey calls the Kurdish militias ‘terrorists’ and links them to the original Kurdish resistance movement PKK which is on the US and Turkish black list.  I covered the brutal conflict in eastern Anatolia (southern Turkey) between the Turkish Army and Kurdish militias known as ‘peshmerga.’ If the US can brand Syrian and Iraqi groups ‘terrorists,’ why can’t the Turks do their own terrorist branding? After all, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are in their backyard.





You will find more infographics at Statista



The US media is fiercely anti-Turkish because Ankara is seen as somewhat pro-Palestinian.  Israel is a bitter foe of Turkey’s Erdogan.  One rarely reads anything positive about Turkey or its leader.  Not very many western readers even know that since the early 1500’s, Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey.  So were Iraq, Palestine, today’s Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.



Most important, Iraq’s vast oil fields used to belong to the Ottoman Empire until the British Empire grabbed them at the end of World War I.  France seized Syria and Lebanon. Both former imperial powers are still mucking around today in the region and have the gall to criticize Turkey’s involvement in neighboring Syria.



The United States has zero historic interest in the region. US troops in Syria appear to have come from the US garrison in Iraq, which, as VP Dick Cheney hoped, would become a central US military base for the entire Mideast.  The Washington war party is moaning that Trump has ‘betrayed’ the Kurds.  Their unofficial head, Sen. Lindsey Graham, is demanding more war in Syria – the same warrior senator who dodged the Vietnam War by joining the National Guard as a lawyer.



The Kurds have been used and betrayed since 1918.  They always seem to get the short end of the stick.  The old Kurdish saying, ‘no friends but the mountains,’ is painfully true.  Washington does not want to get involved in a new Kurdish state carved out of Syria or Iraq even though Israel is pushing it hard to further splinter the Mideast.  Iraq’s and Syria’s oil deposits are still a powerful lure for imperial-minded powers.



Trump rightly calls the fracas in Syria ‘a stupid war.’  But many pro-war forces play on this tired, confused president who has gotten himself deep into the Syrian morass, a problem of largely American but also Turkish making.  Ironically, former president Barack Obama foolishly authorized America’s effort to overthrow Syria’s Assad government under the guise of a phony civil war.  This was one of the few Obama policies that Trump chose to follow. The neophyte president was unwilling or unable to prevent the deep state in Washington from encouraging the war.



The region in question is hardly the beating heart of Syria. It looks large on the map but is mostly desert and scrub, dotted by miserable little villages with Arab or Kurdish populations.  Turkey, which has over 2 million Syrian refugees, is eager to begin repatriation of this massive burden created by its policy errors and the western powers.



In the middle is the scattered debris of the short-lived ISIS caliphate.  Russia, which is selling Turkey its very capable S-400 anti-aircraft system, is watching with delight as old allies Turkey and the US split.



Even Trump knows how important Turkey is to the NATO alliance.  A rupture between Washington and Ankara could see the vital US bases at Incirlik and Adana thrown out of Turkey.  That’s why Trump needs to tread carefully.




Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 23:30


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Billionaires were closer than they let on, according to the NYT.
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zerohedge News Editorial   Discuss    Share
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Forget everything you have ever heard about police license plate readers and public safety, because it is all a lie.

Three major Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) companies have created a mind-boggling database of 14 billion license plates that allows law enforcement to track anyone in real-time.

The Digital Recognition Network (DRN) has a database of over 8 billion license plates and boasts about sending customers (law enforcement) live vehicle location alerts.

"If you think there is nothing you can do to automatically detect vehicles, think again. DRN’s Live Ale
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rts, part of the DRNsights for Insurance solution, uses vehicle location data gathered from over 8 billion nationwide sightings plus the 160,000 million gathered each month, to provide alerts when vehicles are detected."


Read Entire Article »
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The message was clear: “There is no climate emergency.”

With those five simple words, a global network of scientists and professionals attempted to inject reasonableness and decorum into what should be a robust discussion about a complex scientific and public policy issue, but has instead degenerated into an ever more intense mud-slinging contest over the years.

People on one side of the argument dismiss their opponents as wild-eyed socialists attempting to leverage public fear and ignorance to further their political agenda. On the opposite side, people dismiss those who disagre
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e with their supposedly settled scientific conclusions as nothing more than knowing shills or ignorant dupes of evil energy interests.

In between those extremes that are so popular with armies of public relations professionals, who shape the messages of public interest groups and professional politicians to maximum effect, are a not-so-quiet silent majority of scientists and professionals who take a more measured, reasoned view of the science when considering the supposed climate emergency some say we’re facing.


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SunTrust: The One That Got Away With It

Submitted by SB MH Research



The mortgage crash seems like a lifetime ago with house prices and homeowner equity at record highs by a long shot and banks that have paid billions upon billions as restitution, some willingly and deservedly, some not.



Most all the events are well known and documented. But few if any know the sordid story of one of the largest whole loan origination “

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malpractice schemes” to occur in the Housing Bubble era.



The “SunTrust Agency Shortcut” loan program – and what is essentially a “hack” of the Fannie Mae automated underwriting system (AUS) -- was a massive, egregious whole loan origination scheme estimated at over 175k individual transactions nationwide for over $30 BILLION.  In fact, the dollar volume of questionable conforming loans originated by SunTrust Mortgage and sold to Fannie Mae exclusively is larger than SunTrust Bank’s market cap today.



The following is my research, evidence and summary material on the “SunTrust Shortcut” mortgage scheme. The name “Shortcut” speaks volumes by itself. But this scheme was unlike others from Countrywide for example.



I am releasing this information widely for public good and posterity, so this specific negligence is documented in hopes it never happens again.



SunTrust “Agency Shortcut”: Backgrounder



I spent the entirety of the mortgage and housing bubble on the front lines of the mortgage industry. I saw all the excesses, outright fraud and cognitive dissonance first-hand. I knew where all the bodies were buried when it all came apart despite banks, mortgage companies, investors, Wall St banks, David Lereah (blast from the past!) Ace Greenberg and the Fed all day, wall-to-wall in the financial media, telling everybody there is ‘nothing to see here’.



During the crash and recovery period, I operated as a professional financial analyst, researcher and advisor to the financial services and public sectors. From early 2006, when I first became fully convinced that all hell would break loose in mortgage and housing, I made a list of 48 mortgage and related publicly traded names that I thought were the worst or hidden offenders and have the potential to zero-out. I maintain research files on these companies tracking everything they did, would do and their outcomes to this day.



Most of the worst mortgage offenders either failed, were absorbed (willingly or forcibly), or paid heavy penalties to the Obama DOJ, some several times over. Most of the legal matters and settlements were for common, cookie-cutter things like FHA origination/sale fraud, servicing misconduct, foreclosure & mortgage modification dereliction, and securitization fraud.



However, a few companies skated for some reason or another. SunTrust Mortgage, a subsidiary of SunTrust Bank at the time, is one. Its residential mortgage “misconduct” was among the worst of the housing Bubble. Few know about this history of SunTrust and their particular legacy mortgage origination ‘indiscretions”, so egregious, they would make Angelo Mozillo blush, and which residually live on to this day.



SunTrust’s $30+ Billion Unknown Legacy Mortgage Malpractice: Introduction



SunTrust Mortgage enacted one of the largest whole loan origination malpractice schemes in the ‘Bubble Years’. To date, this egregious misconduct has never been discovered, unpacked, prosecuted, or settled by regulators or a class. 



[It’s important to note that the actual “SunTrust Shortcut” scheme was not covered when SunTrust essentially “bought-out” their Fannie and Freddie rep and warranty liability in Oct 2013 (however, the Shortcut loan significantly increased Fannie defaults and repurchases and if Fannie would have known the fine details the settlement may have been larger). Nor, was the SunTrust Shortcut scheme the basis for the July 2014 $320 Million HAMP or $968 Million (largely FHA related) settlements.]



In summary, SunTrust’s commissioned-based loan officer and underwriter employees essentially learned to ‘hack’ Fannie Mae’s AUS to achieve a “special feature code” on certain popular “fully documented, prime” loan programs they offered. This code was unique to the SunTrust “Agency Shortcut” loan. The name “Shortcut” speaks loudly. This code enabled them to originate, fund and sell these loans missing critical supporting documentation that made them “fully documented”, prime loans in the first place. The resulting loans sold to Fannie Mae exclusively were far worse in quality than program guidelines called for or Fannie knew it was buying.



These low-quality (closer to “Alt-A” than Prime) loans were sold as high-quality, fully documented prime loans and ultimately peppered throughout Fannie MBS. Once the hack was used successfully and refined during the first year it led to a significant increase in loan volume for the Bank at a time when other lender’s and Fannie’s volume was flagging, which was a red flag itself.



From then, it spread like wildfire throughout the company and all lending channels and departments. Before too long, the SunTrust Wholesale division (TPO; Third-Party Originators; Mortgage Brokers) was training mortgage brokers nationwide how to hack the SunTrust Fannie Mae Automated Underwriting System.



Through power of “TPO”, SunTrust was able to act and take on risk like a bank several times its size. After a while, the misconduct was so pervasive and a part of every-day business that a cognitive dissonance set in companywide that what they were doing was not prudent, which perpetuated the mortgage misconduct.



All told, SunTrust originated up to 175,000 “Agency Shortcut” loans nationwide for over $30 Billion over about two years from thousands of SunTrust employee and Third-Party Originator (TPO) conspirator-partners nationally making it one of the largest, longest running and widest spread whole loan origination malpractice schemes of the credit/housing bubble.   



This elegant, intentional, Fannie Mae Automated Underwriting System driven and enabled scheme was differentiated from any other of the period, as thousands of SunTrust commissioned production employees, production support personnel and TPO partners all had hands-on, specialized roles carrying out the misconduct and all benefitted from it.



SunTrust’s mortgage misconduct was highly differentiated and grand in scale. To an analyst, investor or regulator less acquainted with the fine nuances of the mortgage credit and capital markets their misconduct might appear to fit in the mold of the numerous, more ‘vanilla’ mortgage indiscretions that were discovered, investigated and prosecuted or settled over the past decade. But SunTrust’s mortgage misconduct was one-of-a-kind.



In the fullest interest of transparency in markets the general public need to know that these indiscretions did in fact occur and fully examine what occurred. Tens of thousands of homeowners, investors and municipalities were financially injured. While a high relative percentage of these bad loans resulted in default, foreclosure or modification thousands of them, largely 30-year fixed rate in nature, still exist in SunTrust’s and other lender’s servicing portfolios and are identifiable. 



The following is a summary of the SunTrust “Agency Shortcut” scheme.



SunTrust “Agency Shortcut” Scheme Overview



During the credit bubble SunTrust Mortgage was an influential retail, wholesale and correspondent lender, the latter two channels pertaining to the riskiest origination funnel, TPO (Third-Party Originations).  TPO – co-opting thousands of local mortgage brokers and bankers in the best lending markets in the nation -- allowed SunTrust, a relatively small bank and mortgage company, to lend at scale virtually nationwide despite not having a network of traditional brick and mortar bank branches in most states. Instead, it established about a dozen strategically located mortgage sales, processing, underwriting and funding operations centers in large, major metropolitan areas that were exclusive to mortgage and capable of extracting a high volume of business from states outside their bank footprint. 



Through the power of TPO SunTrust was able to compete with massive financial institutions like BofA, Chase and Wells Fargo as equals in loan program variety, origination and secondary market activity but without all the fixed overhead. This was great when the credit markets were compliant as the credit bubble grew. But, when the tide turned it left smaller, TPO-heavy lenders -- that had been pretending to be mega-national banks for the purposes of mortgage lending -- without the balance sheet wherewithal to be able to manage through it. Furthermore, TPO loan volume was so large -- absolutely and as a percentage of their total volume -- and concentrated in the riskiest, high-flying regions it left banks such as SunTrust with massive representation and warranty exposure that dwarfed their loan and legal reserves for years afterward. This forced management into numerical and verbal gymnastics in quarterly financial statements and investor calls for years about such exposure either not existing or being mitigated years sooner than it ever could be.



During the years of 2006 to 2008 – interestingly, these years that encompass the beginning and official start of the credit and housing market collapse, a time other lenders were cutting off exotic loan programs and even shutting down the ability to draw on existing HELOCs -- SunTrust Mortgage originated for sale to Fannie Mae between $19 Billion and $38 Billion in “Shortcut” loans. The name “Shortcut” defines this misconduct well and is reminiscent of names given to other poor-quality exotic loans by lenders such as the Countrywide “Fast & Easy” and “Hustle”. 



The “Shortcut” was SunTrust’s entrant into the high-volume, low-quality, originate-for-immediate-sale game. In fact, based on the timing, it’s obvious that SunTrust took advantage of other lenders leaving the exotic mortgage field or going out of business in order to capture loan volume and revenue through this misconduct.



Shortcut loans were labelled and sold as “fully documented prime” loans but in fact were all missing all of the exact income and asset documentation that makes a mortgage loan “fully documented” in the guidelines of Fannie Mae and investors in its mortgage backed securities. SunTrust quietly discontinued the loan program after two years in 2008 amidst a rush of failing lenders and significant scrutiny by Wall Street, the media and regulators.



Sure, some lenders and capital markets players originated and sold more than $30 billion in GSE residential loans or securities. But SunTrust was the only lender that had a national loan origination manufacturing production line built on malpractice and co-opted/taught thousands of their own bank-employee loan officers and underwriters and well as mortgage brokers and bankers to commit this highly specific mortgage misconduct from their own private PC’s on nearly 200,000 loans through a learned “hack” of Fannie Mae’s Automated Underwriting System.



SunTrust “Agency Shortcut” Scheme Details



Primarily: In their various earnings reports and filings, from 2006 on, SunTrust Bank (“STI”) and its wholly-owned subsidiary SunTrust Mortgage (“STM”) repeatedly misrepresented and omitted disclosing the risks associated with an “Alt-A” Stated Income/Stated Asset (“SISA”) loan program they co-developed for sale to FNMA, named “The Agency Shortcut Mortgage” (“Shortcut”), which was offered from mid-2006 to April 2008.



Also: STM originated and sold to Fannie Mae over $30 Billion of questionable loans that were much closer to “Alt-A” or “subprime” than prime. Shortcut’s atypically lax qualification guidelines (compared to industry standards) and its “same-as-full-doc” pricing meant STM would originate a large volume of these loans. As STM failed to institute meaningful internal controls that could have prevented commissioned sales personnel from submitting non-conforming, questionable and fraudulent loan applications, and as management turned a willful blind eye to problems (such as increasing Early Payment Default rates) when they came to light, the huge volume of Shortcut loans was even lower in quality than most Alt-As/SISAs.



Finally: As misconduct begets more misconduct, STM co-acted with the various Private Mortgage Insurance Companies (“MI Companies”) to cover-up the “reduced doc” nature of the Shortcut Loan Program by implementing special codes - or by ignoring the reduced doc feature altogether - on the MI applications, thereby falsely representing to the MI Companies’ regulators and investors that the Shortcut was a prime/full-doc loan.



Direct victims of the SunTrust Shortcut scheme include past and present STI equity and debt investors and FNMA Mortgage Backed Securities investors. Also, US taxpayers (as a result of the FHFA’s taking over FNMA and Freddie Mac), and unwitting Borrowers (who were unable to make timely payments on oversized loans they could not afford, ultimately resulting in foreclosure) suffered damages as well.



Individual States, municipalities and their citizens were also injured as SunTrust entered these markets far away from their traditional banking footprint, popped-up TPO mortgage origination and operation centers and originated billions of bad loans. Then, when the going got tough, they closed down their operations centers and retreated back to their footprint in the Southern United States leaving far away States and their residents to clean up the mess themselves.



Furthermore, as a result of the Shortcut scheme, substantial ill-gotten gains in the form of commissions, bonuses and other income flowed to STM’s salespersons, managers, directors, TPO originators, Realtors and anybody else involved in the origination and sale process of a Shortcut loan.



(Note: Institutions such as JPM Chase/WaMu, BofA/Countrywide, and others have been found liable (or have settled claims) for victimizing Fannie and Freddie by selling low-quality mortgages that failed to meet the representations and warranties promised. Among those damaged by their frauds were the investors in the GSE’s MBSs. Regardless of the extent Fannie knew or should have known that Shortcut loans were high-risk SISAs and not prime, STI itself knew these sub-standard loans would eventually end up in Fannie MBSs, and therefore that the undisclosed risk would -at the very least - be borne by those investors.)



 



Summary of Evidence:



A) When developing and Deploying the Agency Shortcut Program, SunTrust knew or should have known:



  1. It was a Stated Income/Stated Asset loan program (“SISA”) and - by virtue of its “reduced documentation” - therefore fit the bank’s own, in-house definition of “Alt-A.”

(Note: on SISA loans, the Borrower merely attests to his/her income and assets on the loan application and does not provide the pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements and like-documentation to support those figures.)



  1. SISAs - ubiquitously called “Liars’ Loans” - were known to be susceptible to fraudulently overstated income and asset figures and carried an outsized risk of serious delinquency and default.

  2. The Shortcut program served to implement the dual strategies STM disclosed at the 2006 Mortgage Bankers Association convention to: a) reduce loan processing times from 61-110 days down to 6 days; and b) “selectively transfer credit risk to other investors” (in this case, FNMA and, ultimately, Fannie’s MBS investors).

  3. By offering Shortcuts at the same price as full doc - which was more than 2 points (or over .50% in rate) cheaper to the Borrower - they would capture a higher market share and originate substantially more volume than they otherwise would have, so not only would the Company’s short-term Gross/Net Income increase, but also commission, bonus and other income for certain personnel.

  4. The mortgages would eventually be placed into FNMA MBSs, but not properly identified as Alt-As/SISAs.  Therefore, the MBSs investors would not be able to properly assess the riskiness of those pools…and the losses would be eventually be borne by those investors (via less-than-anticipated ROI/opportunity costs) and by Fannie (via their guarantees).

  5. As soon as STM actively marketed the availability of the program, it transformed the program from an ostensibly “Lender-Selected SISA” into a “Borrower-Selected SISA” and DQ/Default percentages would thereby skyrocket.

(Note: “Lender-Selected SISAs” are those wherein the Lender decides unilaterally not to review income or asset documentation because the overall risk of the loans(based on dubious criteria) are deemed sufficiently low and thereby presents an opportunity for the lender to reduce its own processing costs - and usually are offered to the borrower at the same rate and price as full-doc loans; “Borrower-Selected SISAs” are those wherein the Borrower specifically requests not to provide income and asset documentation to the lender and - usually - pays an increased rate and/or price for that feature. It’s been reported that “Lender-Selected SISAs” default at 1.4 times Full Doc loans; Per FNMA Filings, Borrower-Selected SISAs default at more than 5 times the rate of Full Doc loans - and that number actually is lower than the true rate due to FNMA’s definitions and methodologies.)



  1. By not requiring a Borrower-signed IRS form 4506 as part of the loan application - and by advertising such in their promotional materials - STM overtly invited Borrowers and Brokers to submit fraudulent loan applications.

(Note: A signed IRS Form 4506-T allows a lender to obtain a Borrower’s tax transcripts from the IRS to confirm income stated on the loan application is reasonably accurate, and - even when not exercised by the lender - serves as a deterrent to fraudulently overstated income on mortgage applications.)



  1. By failing to place adequate controls on brokers and commissioned salespersons in processing of the Shortcut loans - and by instructing them that the income stated on the application need merely be “reasonable” (as opposed to “accurate”) - STM subverted any meaningful risk assessment of the individual loans by their own underwriters.

(Note: examples of inadequate controls included allowing commissioned salespersons and their assistants to run the Automated Underwriting System (“Desktop Underwriter” or “DU”), allowing them to run DU an unlimited number of times, and instructing them they could evade underwriter scrutiny by inputting “reasonable”- not “accurate” - income and asset figures. These lax processes allowed the commissioned salespersons, etc. to modify the various inputs in DU until they reached an optimal configuration that resulted in a Shortcut approval.)



  1. The riskiness of SISA programs without 4506s - characteristics which carried at least a 2.125% (price) premium from their peers and competitors - far outweighed the benefits, if any, of requiring a (rather modest) 680-plus FICO score;

  2. By allowing monthly debt-to-income (“DTI”) ratios as high as 64.99% - far higher than the standard for prime loans, Shortcuts would devolve into something even closer to subprime.

(Note: industry standards for maximum DTI on SISA products were more commonly 45% - 50%, depending on the lender and/or other loan characteristics, such as LTV/CLTV and/or FICO score.)



  1. By advertising “No Payment Shock” publicly and to mortgage brokers as a feature in marketing materials STM obviated yet another risk assessment.

(Note: “Payment Shock” is a term that describes a significant increase in a borrower’s housing payment as a result of the new loan. If DTI ratios are fairly elevated, underwriters traditionally look to the borrower’s “ability to save” as indicated by their liquid assets as an offsetting factor to determine whether the borrower can handle the increased debt load.)



  1. Inconsistencies of Shortcut’s SISA characteristics versus its ersatz “Full doc” labeling had to be reconciled with the MI companies, such that “special negotiations” were required to resolve those inconsistencies.

(Note: Shortcut loans submitted to a majority of the MI companies required “special coding” and - to the extent that the MI companies may have failed to properly disclose to their own regulators and investors the full extent of reduced-document loans on their books - they may have been complicit in a related fraud.)



  1. The difficulties in placing a “Combo 2nd NIV” - (“NIV” = “No Income Verification”) - loan behind a Shortcut First mortgage created special difficulties, because including any income or asset documentation in a loan file - regardless whether it supported or contradicted other data in the file - disqualified it from Shortcut. Initially, STM required that underwriters use a cumbersome form (“The Agency Shortcut Mortgage Eligible Secondary Financing Checklist”) to reconcile the asset documentation requirements otherwise required on the Combo 2nd NIVs with the inability to include those same documents on the Shortcut.

(Note: “NIV” loans - which were offered by numerous lenders - are incrementally less risky than SISAs, as the Borrower’s Liquid Assets are reviewed and are generally required to be at least a given multiple of the Borrower’s stated monthly income. Also: Due to difficulties in requiring its employees to walk such a thin line re asset verifications - and following too many improperly completed “Checklist” forms - eventually STB reconfigured the Combo 2nd NIV program and abandoned the asset-verification requirement altogether, pricing the program slightly higher to include a “Shortcut Documentation Feature,” effectively turning the Combo 2nd into a SISA.)



B) During the SunTrust Agency Shortcut program’s lifespan, SunTrust knew or should have known:



  1. Early Payment Defaults (“EPDs” - deemed industry-wide to be a strong indicator of fraud) were rising significantly by summer 2007, yet - other than tepidly advising underwriters “to be on the lookout for fraud” - few significant steps were taken to reduce EPDs.

  2. The number of submissions to Fannie Mae DU on Shortcut loans was positively correlated to delinquencies and defaults, but it wasn’t until a couple of months prior to the termination of the Shortcut program - and then only at FNMA’s insistence - that a limit of 15 runs (still high) was imposed.

  3. SunTrust employee Account Executives (and their assistants and processors) “manufactured” Shortcut approvals in DU by “laddering” income and/or otherwise tweaking their inputs, not infrequently submitting loans to DU more than a dozen times.

  4. Wholesale area managers encouraged the AEs (and/or their support personnel) to run DU for their third-party client brokers - ostensibly as a “value-added” service, but actually because it increased the likelihood that STM employees (with more experience and understanding of the nuances of DU’s algorithms that generated Shortcut approvals) would input figures that would produce the desired outcome.

  5. Various “enhancements” to the program which were added periodically through most of 2007 served to make the Shortcut underwriting guidelines even “looser.” By December 20, 2007 - and only in the face of indisputably poor loan performance of the Shortcut - some of the program’s loosest guidelines were finally tightened, but even then, they still remained far looser than more traditional underwriting guidelines.

(Note: some of the “tightening” that occurred in December, 2007 (not “mid-2006” as stated in numerous SEC filings) included no longer allowing “outstanding mortgage delinquencies at time of application” or Property Inspection (Appraisal) Waivers - low-level qualification guidelines which really should have been implemented from Shortcut’s outset.)



  1. Area managers - taking their cues from an “anything goes (so long as its ‘sellable’)” mentality that characterized STM’s mortgage operations and from upper management’s mandate to reduce loan processing times - cut corners for risk assessment in not only the Agency Shortcut Program, but other loan programs as well.

(Note: For example, underwriters who questioned the validity of various file components were routinely told by managers to “just go with what you have” and approve the loan. At least one STM region’s policy included moving income, asset, and other critical verifications on Full-Doc loans from “prior to (loan) doc” conditions to “prior to funding” conditions - which served further to pressure underwriters from making adverse decisions. It was no surprise, then, when a complaint issued by the NY Atty. General in October 2012 against JPM Chase/Bear Stearns on shoddy mortgages singled out SunTrust for its eye-popping 86% defect rate on the originations they sold to Bear Stearns.)



  1. Despite guidelines ostensibly requiring “reasonable” income be stated on loan applications, a significant number of Shortcut loans did not meet even to that low standard. Management routinely gave “override” approvals on files the underwriters deemed to have suspect income and/or other shortcomings, and - to the WB’s knowledge - not once did management recommend a loan be declined when the underwriter thought it should be approved.

(Note: it was not until late-summer or fall of 2007 that underwriters were provided with even minimally adequate tools with which to assess reasonableness of salaried income borrowers. Regardless, managers still overrode the guidance offered by such tools, and routinely allowed “higher-than-reasonable” income to be used nonetheless.)



  1. HMDA data showed STM’s loan declinations overall - and specifically declines due to insufficient income - were substantially lower than their banking peers and competitors during the Agency Shortcut’s lifespan.

(Note: In 2007, SunTrust declined 4.4% of its applications and only 1.2% due to income; By way of example, Wells Fargo’s numbers were 18.6% (applications) and 3.6% (income) and BofA’s were 17.0% (applications) and 8.6% (income).)



  1. “Fallout ratios” (i.e. loan applications submitted but not funded) increased substantially after termination of the Shortcut Program, doubling or tripling for some commissioned salespersons.

(Note: This suggests, of course, that significantly fewer loan approvals could be manufactured without the “crutch” of allowing commissioned personnel to input falsified income and asset data into DU and generating Shortcut approvals.)



 



 




Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 20:10


Tags

Business Finance

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Joe Biden's son beginning to feel the heat.
218
32 Views
Former UGA Student Pleads Guilty To Running Million-Dollar Ponzi Scheme From Frat House

A former University of Georgia student has pleaded guilty to securities fraud for running a $1 million ponzi scheme out of his fraternity house while a student, according to Bloomberg Law. 



Syed Arham Arbab pleaded guilty to securities fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, according to the Department of Justice.

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 He also faces a SEC suit, separate from the DOJ case against him, in the same court.  



As part of his plea, Arbab admitted to falsely promising investors, including UGA students, returns as high as 56%. He told potential investors that a UGA alumnus who went on to play in the NFL had invested with him in order to convince football fans to trust him with their money. 





He also falsified investment returns, according to the complaint, after allegedly losing more than $300,000 trading. 




During the course of the alleged scheme, Arbab allegedly lost more than $300,000 in trading, leaving just $350 when his brokerage account was closed, the complaint said. Arbab also allegedly tricked clients into sending money to earlier investors through digital payments services such as Zelle and Venmo, telling the client the money was being sent to other partners or employees.




Arbab also claimed to be an MBA candidate, but had instead been rejected by UGA's graduate program. He admitted to using investor funds to cover alcohol purchases, gambling during three trips to Las Vegas and "adult entertainment".



He will be sentenced in January 2020.  




Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 18:55


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Law Crime

248
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Schiff's CIA 'Whistleblower' May Not Testify In Impeachment Probe After All

A CIA 'whistleblower' who worked with former VP Joe Biden as well as two Adam Schiff (D-CA) aides has apparently gotten cold feet, and may not testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee in person or in writing, according to Schiff. This is in stark contrast to what Schiff's late September claim that the man at the center of an impeachment inquiry against President Trump

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 would testify in the House "very soon." 





That was downgraded last week to testimony "in writing." 



And finally, on Sunday, Schiff told CBS' "Face the Nation" that the whistleblower's testimony might not be needed after all. 



"Yes, we were interested in having the whistleblower come forward," Schiff said, to which host Margaret Brennan asked "but not anymore?"



"Well, our primary interest right now is making sure that that person is protected ... given that we already have the call records we dodn't need the whistleblower, who wasn't on the call." 



Watch: 







House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry into President Trump after the whistleblower claimed Trump was abusing his office and 'pressuring' the new president of Ukraine, Volodomyr Zelensky, to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter for alleged corruption.



After the White House released a transcript of the call, however, it was clear that no pressure was applied. Zelensky, meanwhile, has said on multiple occasions that there was no pressure or 'blackmail' involved in the request, and that Ukraine would "happily investigate" the Bidens. 



Further crumbling the Democrat credibility is the fact that Schiff lied when he said that his panel had "not spoken directly with the whistleblower," a claim which earned him four pinocchios from the Washington Post for his "flat-out false" statement when it was later revealed that the whistleblower approached Schiff's panel - which then directed him to a Democrat attorney.



"Schiff on 'Morning Joe' clearly made a statement that was false," said the fact-checker. "He now says he’s was answering the wrong question, but if that was the case, he should have quickly corrected the record. He compounded his falsehood by telling reporters a few days later that if not for the [inspector general's] office, the committee would not have known about the complaint. That again suggested there had been no prior communication."





A House Intel Committee spokesperson told The Post that Schiff's reply "should have been more carefully phrased." 



So here we are - with Schiff and House Democrats are continuing forward with their impeachment inquiry as if Trump hadn't released the transcript, and their accuser's credibility wasn't eroding by the day. 




Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 16:25


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Politics

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Morgan Stanley Makes A Stunning Observation: 28% Of The US Population Has FICO Score Below 650

Authored by Morgan Stanley strategists Vishwanath Tirupattur and Ellen Zentner



The strength of the US consumer has been the bedrock of the current economic expansion. Just a few weeks ago, in a CNBC interview, Fed Vice Chair Clarida said that “I cannot think of a time where in the aggregate the consumer has been in better shape.” With unemploy

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ment at 3.5%, the household savings rate ticking up to 8%, the aggregate debt-to-income ratio hovering around 40-year lows and consumer delinquencies at or near post-crisis lows, policy-makers’ comfort with the strength of the US consumer seems well grounded. As our US economics team has shown, Fed easing has lent support to consumer spending and home buying while sparking a mortgage refinancing wave that should add to disposable income over time. Annualized real consumer spending growth is tracking at 2.9% in 3Q19, and residential investment has turned upward after six straight quarters of declines.



So focusing on aggregate metrics, the strength in the US consumer seems patently obvious. But could this top-down analysis be overlooking potential sources of weakness? Since the household experience is quite different across income groups, we take a bottom-up approach to see where cracks may be appearing.



Let’s start by delving into the low aggregate consumer debt-to-income ratios and delinquency rates. Mortgages constitute about 70% of consumer debt. It’s worth noting that, post-crisis, mortgage debt has been highly constrained, producing an upward shift in mortgage credit quality – the current median FICO score of mortgage originations is over 750 versus ~700 pre-crisis. Unsurprisingly, delinquencies are low when lending in the largest segment of consumer debt is limited to high-quality borrowers. Furthermore, as homeownership rates plummeted from a pre-crisis high of 69.2% to 64.1% currently, the share of households with mortgage debt has declined. Add in sustained low interest rates, and it’s no wonder that debt-servicing rates relative to median incomes sit at multi-decade lows.



But the New York Fed’s financial obligations ratio tells a different story, as our residential credit strategists have recently demonstrated. With the decline in homeownership, the share of rental households has risen, as have rents, which are not included in aggregate debt-servicing costs. In addition to standard debt payments, the financial obligations ratio includes payments towards rent, auto leases, homeowners' insurance and property tax payments, with rents representing the bulk of these non-standard obligations. Looking at this ratio together with debt-to-income, we can tease out the impact that increasing numbers of rental households paying progressively higher rent is having on the health of the consumer. The spread between these two ratios stands at the widest level since 1980. Renters generally tend to be younger, and at the lower end of the income spectrum versus homeowners. Aggregate consumer metrics fail to capture the growing stress on rental households.





For a window into lower-income households’ finances, we focus on auto loan delinquencies in ABS pools. Lower-income households also tend to correlate well with lower credit scores. Within consumer debt, student and auto loans have grown significantly over the last several years, and the share of lower-credit borrowers getting auto loans has seen a meaningful increase. Prime auto delinquencies are at their lows for this time of year since 2014-15, as expected, but non-prime delinquencies are above crisis-era peaks. This suggests another crack in the strength of the consumer at the lower end of the credit and income spectrum.





The bottom line: While the US consumer’s balance sheet is in fine shape overall, mainly because levels of debt and debt-servicing costs remain low, there’s a segment whose income statements are under stress –rental households with lower income and lower credit scores. How big are they? Not small, at least on one metric: borrowers with FICO scores below 650 account for about 28% of the population. If the direction of gains in employment reverses, look for the cracks highlighted by our US economics, cross-asset and equity strategy teams to widen.



These cracks tend to lead an overall downturn in household creditworthiness, so we’re keeping a careful watch to see if they spread to other segments of consumer debt and eventually creep up the income chain.




Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 16:51
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It's almost as if fiat currency isn't real money...
240
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Turkey Warns Of War As Syrian Army Heads To Turkish Border

update2: A top Turkish official warns of bigger escalation now that Syrian Army units appear to be heading to besieged Kurdish towns along the border with Turkey.



Erdogan aide Yasin Aktay has said "conflict between the two armies" is likely if pro-Assad forces enter the northeast region which has now been abandoned by US troops. 

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>

* * *



update: It's official, after what appears a major deal between the Kurdish-led SDF and Damascus was struck in the wake of a US exit from the region: 




"Syrian military forces will be deployed on the border with Turkey by tomorrow morning in certain areas," reports Danny Makki, a well-known war correspondent in Damascus. 




This as multiple videos have spread online showing pro-Damascus forces entering Manbij:




Erdogan has reportedly vowed that pro-Turkish forces will continue their advance despite the Syrian Army apparently coming to the defense of besieged Kurdish forces. 




It's as yet unclear what the Russian military's role in supporting its Syrian ally will be; however, we could be witnessing the beginnings of Putin's 'deal of the century' unfolding, as we explained previously. 




But Russia is most definitely a lead player in the Damascus-YPG (and SDF) reunion that now appears to be unfolding. 




* * *



A huge development after earlier in the day Sunday Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Trump has ordered a "deliberate withdrawal" of 1,000 US troops in northeast Syria amid the advancing Turkish incursion: sources close to the Syrian government have announced  the Syrian Army will move in to assist Kurdish militias in Kobani and Manbij



This after shocking statements over the weekend by the head of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mazlum Abdi, who told CNN, "I've been holding myself for two days from going to the press and saying that America abandoned us and that I would like you to get out of our areas now so that I can invite Russian and [Syrian] regime planes to take over this airspace." 


Syrian Army, via AFP/Getty

Reuters now reports on the significant development which could see the Turkish and Syrian armies enter into direct confrontation: "The Lebanese broadcaster al-Mayadeen said on Sunday the Syrian army would deploy within 48 hours to the town of Kobani which is held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the nearby town of Manbij which is controlled by SDF-aligned forces."



"The Syrian Governmental Forces (SAA) are preparing to enter the region of Kobani today, based on an agreement with the Syrian Democratic Forces," Syrian official Mohammed Shaheen, was cited as saying. 



As early as last week the SDF was reportedly engaged in intensifying talks with Damascus over assistance from the Syrian Army, after the US withdrew its air support for the Kurdish-led group amid the Turkish assault. 



On Monday the commander of the US trained and armed SDF, Mazlum Abdi, indicated just that in a bombshell statement: “We are considering a partnership with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with the aim of fighting Turkish forces.” 





Though Damascus has yet to confirm an official deal with YPG/SDF forces, state-run SANA did say on Sunday that national forces were moving north to "confront" Turkish forces and its "aggression"



Military analysis site, The Defense Post, reports on the potential direct cooperation between the Syrian Army and SDF to push out the Turks:




Kobani official General Ismet Sheikh Hasan said that Russian and Syrian government troops could enter Kobani and Manbij by Sunday night to help secure the cities from a Turkish incursion.



“We did everything we could,” he said. “We have called upon the West [and] the Arab Union but no one is coming to help, so we have no one other than ourselves to defend [Kobani]. Kurdish youth should come and defend their homes, and people should not abandon their homes – this is our land. It looks like this is the fate of the Kurds, to go through this each time.”





Damascus officials had subsequently denied that it was engaged in a wide-ranging deal, however, Sunday's reported development of Syrian Army forces to the north could be the beginning of a more significant deal in the words.



The United States has blocked such talks and cooperation for years, but the White House now appears ready to wash its hands of the matter. 




Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 16:01


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Politics

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Matt Taibbi: "We're In A Permanent Coup"

Authored by Matt Taibbi via UntitledGate blog,



Americans might soon wish they just waited to vote their way out of the Trump era...





I’ve lived through a few coups. They’re insane, random, and terrifying, like watching sports, except your political future depends on the score.



The kickoff begins when

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a key official decides to buck the executive. From that moment, government becomes a high-speed head-counting exercise. Who’s got the power plant, the airport, the police in the capital? How many department chiefs are answering their phones? Who’s writing tonight’s newscast?



When the KGB in 1991 tried to reassume control of the crumbling Soviet Union by placing Mikhail Gorbachev under arrest and attempting to seize Moscow, logistics ruled. Boris Yeltsin’s crew drove to the Russian White House in ordinary cars, beating KGB coup plotters who were trying to reach the seat of Russian government in armored vehicles. A key moment came when one of Yeltsin’s men, Alexander Rutskoi – who two years later would himself lead a coup against Yeltsin – prevailed upon a Major in a tank unit to defy KGB orders and turn on the “criminals.”



We have long been spared this madness in America. Our head-counting ceremony was Election Day. We did it once every four years.



That’s all over, in the Trump era.



On Thursday, news broke that two businessmen said to have “peddled supposedly explosive information about corruption involving Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden” were arrested at Dulles airport on “campaign finance violations.” The two figures are alleged to be bagmen bearing “dirt” on Democrats, solicited by Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.



Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman will be asked to give depositions to impeachment investigators. They’re reportedly going to refuse. Their lawyer John Dowd also says they will “refuse to appear before House Committees investigating President Donald Trump.” Fruman and Parnas meanwhile claim they had real derogatory information about Biden and other politicians, but “the U.S. government had shown little interest in receiving it through official channels.”



For Americans not familiar with the language of the Third World, that’s two contrasting denials of political legitimacy.



The men who are the proxies for Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani in this story are asserting that “official channels” have been corrupted. The forces backing impeachment, meanwhile, are telling us those same defendants are obstructing a lawful impeachment inquiry.



This latest incident, set against the impeachment mania and the reportedly “expanding” Russiagate investigation of U.S. Attorney John Durham, accelerates our timeline to chaos. We are speeding toward a situation when someone in one of these camps refuses to obey a major decree, arrest order, or court decision, at which point Americans will get to experience the joys of their political futures being decided by phone calls to generals and police chiefs.



My discomfort in the last few years, first with Russiagate and now with Ukrainegate and impeachment, stems from the belief that the people pushing hardest for Trump’s early removal are more dangerous than Trump. Many Americans don’t see this because they’re not used to waking up in a country where you’re not sure who the president will be by nightfall. They don’t understand that this predicament is worse than having a bad president.



The Trump presidency is the first to reveal a full-blown schism between the intelligence community and the White House. Senior figures in the CIA, NSA, FBI and other agencies made an open break from their would-be boss before Trump’s inauguration, commencing a public war of leaks that has not stopped.



The first big shot was fired in early January, 2017, via a CNN.com headline, “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him.” This tale, about the January 7th presentation of former British spy Christopher Steele’s report to then-President-elect Trump, began as follows:




Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.




Four intelligence chiefs in the FBI’s James Comey, the CIA’s John Brennan, the NSA’s Mike Rogers, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, presented an incoming president with a politically disastrous piece of information, in this case a piece of a private opposition research report.



Among other things because the news dropped at the same time Buzzfeed decided to publish the entire “bombshell” Steele dossier, reporters spent that week obsessing not about the mode of the story’s release, but about the “claims.” In particular, audiences were rapt by allegations that Russians were trying to blackmail Trump with evidence of a golden shower party commissioned on a bed once slept upon by Barack Obama himself.



Twitter exploded. No other news story mattered. For the next two years, the “claims” of compromise and a “continuing” Trump-Russian “exchange” hung over the White House like a sword of Damocles. 



Few were interested in the motives for making this story public. As it turned out, there were two explanations, one that was made public, and one that only came out later. The public justification as outlined in the CNN piece, was to “make the President-elect aware that such allegations involving him [were] circulating among intelligence agencies.”



However, we know from Comey’s January 7, 2017 memo to deputy Andrew McCabe and FBI General Counsel James Baker there was another explanation. Comey wrote:




I said I wasn’t saying this was true, only that I wanted [Trump] to know both that it had been reported and that the reports were in many hands. I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook. I said it was important that we not give them the excuse to write that the FBI has the material or [redacted] and that we were keeping it very close-hold.




Imagine if a similar situation had taken place in January of 2009, involving president-elect Barack Obama. Picture a meeting between Obama and the heads of the CIA, NSA, and FBI, along with the DIA, in which the newly-elected president is presented with a report complied by, say, Judicial Watch, accusing him of links to al-Qaeda. Imagine further that they tell Obama they are presenting him with this information to make him aware of a blackmail threat, and to reassure him they won’t give news agencies a “hook” to publish the news.



Now imagine if that news came out on Fox days later. Imagine further that within a year, one of the four officials became a paid Fox contributor. Democrats would lose their minds in this set of circumstances.



The country mostly did not lose its mind, however, because the episode did not involve a traditionally presidential figure like Obama, nor was it understood to have been directed at the institution of “the White House” in the abstract.



Instead, it was a story about an infamously corrupt individual, Donald Trump, a pussy-grabbing scammer who bragged about using bankruptcy to escape debt and publicly praised Vladimir Putin. Audiences believed the allegations against this person and saw the intelligence/counterintelligence community as acting patriotically, doing their best to keep us informed about a still-breaking investigation of a rogue president.



But a parallel story was ignored. Leaks from the intelligence community most often pertain to foreign policy. The leak of the January, 2017 “meeting” between the four chiefs and Trump – which without question damaged both the presidency and America’s standing abroad – was an unprecedented act of insubordination.



It was also a bold new foray into domestic politics by intelligence agencies that in recent decades began asserting all sorts of frightening new authority. They were kidnapping foreigners, assassinating by drone, conducting paramilitary operations without congressional notice, building an international archipelago of secret prisons, and engaging in mass warrantless surveillance of Americans. We found out in a court case just last week how extensive the illegal domestic surveillance has been, with the FBI engaging in tens of thousands of warrantless searches involving American emails and phone numbers under the guise of combating foreign subversion.



The agencies’ new trick is inserting themselves into domestic politics using leaks and media pressure. The “intel chiefs” meeting was just the first in a series of similar stories, many following the pattern in which a document was created, passed from department from department, and leaked. A sample:




  • February 14, 2017: “four current and former officials” tell the New York Times the Trump campaign had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence.




  • March 1, 2017: “Justice Department officials” tell the Washington Post Attorney General Jeff Sessions “spoke twice with Russia’s ambassador” and did not disclose the contacts ahead of his confirmation hearing. 




  • March 18, 2017: “people familiar with the matter” tell the Wall Street Journal that former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn failed to disclose a “contact” with a Russian at Cambridge University, an episode that “came to the notice of U.S. intelligence.”




  • April 8, 2017, 2017: “law enforcement and other U.S. officials” tell the Washington Post the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge had ruled there was “probable cause” to believe former Trump aide Carter Page was an “agent of a foreign power.” 




  • April 13, 2017: a “source close to UK intelligence” tells Luke Harding at The Guardian that the British analog to the NSA, the GCHQ, passed knowledge of “suspicious interactions” between “figures connected to Trump and “known or suspected Russian agents” to Americans as part of a “routine exchange of information.”




  • December 17, 2017: “four current and former American and foreign officials” tell the New York Times that during the 2016 campaign, an Australian diplomat named Alexander Downer told “American counterparts” that former Trump aide George Papadopoulos revealed “Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.




  • April 13, 2018: “two sources familiar with the matter” tell McClatchy that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office has evidence Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was in Prague in 2016, “confirming part of [Steele] dossier.”




  • November 27, 2018: a “well-placed source” tells Harding at The Guardian that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.




  • January 19, 2019: “former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation” tell the New York Times the FBI opened an inquiry into the “explosive implications” of whether or not Donald Trump was working on behalf of the Russians.



To be sure, “people familiar with the matter” leaked a lot of true stories in the last few years, but many were clearly problematic even at the time of release. Moreover, all took place in the context of constant, hounding pressure from media figures, congressional allies like Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, as well as ex-officials who could make use of their own personal public platforms in addition to being unnamed sources in straight news reports. They used commercial news platforms to argue that Trump had committed treason, needed to be removed from office, and preferably also indicted as soon as possible.



A shocking number of these voices were former intelligence officers who joined Clapper in becoming paid news contributors. Op-ed pages and news networks are packed now with ex-spooks editorializing about stories in which they had personal involvement: Michael Morell, Michael Hayden, Asha Rangappa, and Andrew McCabe among many others, including especially all four of the original “intel chiefs”: Clapper, Rogers, Comey, and MSNBC headliner John Brennan.



Russiagate birthed a whole brand of politics, a government-in-exile, which prosecuted its case against Trump via a constant stream of “approved” leaks, partisans in congress, and an increasingly unified and thematically consistent set of commercial news outlets.



These mechanisms have been transplanted now onto the Ukrainegate drama. It’s the same people beating the public drums, with the messaging run out of the same congressional committees, through the same Nadlers, Schiffs, and Swalwells. The same news outlets are on full alert.



The sidelined “intel chiefs” are once again playing central roles in making the public case. Comey says “we may now be at a point” where impeachment is necessary. Brennan, with unintentional irony, says the United States is “no longer a democracy.” Clapper says the Ukraine whistleblower complaint is “one of the most credible” he’s seen.



As a reporter covering the 2015–2016 presidential race, I thought Trump’s campaign was disturbing on many levels, but logical as a news story. He succeeded for class reasons, because of flaws in the media business that gifted him mass amounts of coverage, and because he took cunning advantage of long-simmering frustrations in the electorate. He also clearly catered to racist fears, and to the collapse in trust in institutions like the news media, the Fed, corporations, NATO, and, yes, the intelligence services. In enormous numbers, voters rejected everything they had ever been told about who was and was not qualified for higher office.



Trump’s campaign antagonism toward the military and intelligence world was at best a millimeter thick. Like almost everything else he said as a candidate, it was a gimmick, designed to get votes. That he was insincere and full of it and irresponsible, at first at least, when he attacked the “deep state” and the “fake news media,” doesn’t change the reality of what’s happened since. Even paranoiacs have enemies, and even Donald “Deep State” Trump is a legitimately elected president whose ouster is being actively sought by the intelligence community.



Trump stands accused of using the office of the presidency to advance political aims, in particular pressuring Ukraine to investigate potential campaign rival Joe Biden. He’s guilty, but the issue is how guilty, in comparison to his accusers.



Trump, at least insofar as we know, has not used section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor political rivals. He hasn’t deployed human counterintelligence “informants” to follow the likes of Hunter Biden. He hasn’t maneuvered to secure Special Counsel probes of Democrats.



And while Donald Trump conducting foreign policy based on what he sees on Fox and Friends is troubling, it’s not in the same ballpark as CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and the New York Times engaging in de facto coverage partnerships with the FBI and CIA to push highly politicized, phony narratives like Russiagate.



Trump’s tinpot Twitter threats and cancellation of White House privileges for dolts like Jim Acosta also don’t begin to compare to the danger posed by Facebook, Google, and Twitter – under pressure from the Senate – organizing with groups like the Atlantic Council to fight “fake news” in the name of preventing the “foment of discord.”



I don’t believe most Americans have thought through what a successful campaign to oust Donald Trump would look like. Most casual news consumers can only think of it in terms of Mike Pence becoming president. The real problem would be the precedent of a de facto intelligence community veto over elections, using the lunatic spookworld brand of politics that has dominated the last three years of anti-Trump agitation.



CIA/FBI-backed impeachment could also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Donald Trump thinks he’s going to be jailed upon leaving office, he’ll sooner or later figure out that his only real move is to start acting like the “dictator” MSNBC and CNN keep insisting he is. Why give up the White House and wait to be arrested, when he still has theoretical authority to send Special Forces troops rappelling through the windows of every last Russiagate/Ukrainegate leaker? That would be the endgame in a third world country, and it’s where we’re headed, unless someone calls off this craziness.



Welcome to the Permanent Power Struggle.




Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 15:10


Tags

Politics

235
18 Views
Kansas Girl, 13, Charged With Felony For Making "Gun-Like Hand Gesture" Toward Classmates

Authored by Elias Marat via The Mind Unleashed blog,



A 13-year-old girl in Overland Park, Kansas, was arrested last month and charged with a felony after police say her classmates claim she made a “gun-like hand gesture” at multiple students.





The girl, who is a student at Westridge Midd

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le School, flashed the “finger gun” at four fellow students and then toward herself on September 18 after her classmates asked her which five people in the classroom she would kill, said Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez.



The student, who remains unidentified due to laws protecting her privacy, was arrested and charged the day following the incident for threatening a mass shooting, according to the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office. The girl admitted to threatening others, the police have said.



Donchez told USA Today:




“Overnight, some of those students contacted the school administration and expressed their fear of this individual, that based on this incident, they were in genuine fear of this individual.”




The context of the conversation remains unclear but the girl is now living in California, according to the Kansas City Star.



The girl’s grandfather, Jon Cavanaugh, says that she was simply mouthing off. He told the Star:




“I think that this is something that probably could have been handled in the principal’s office and got completely out of hand.”




However, Donchez insists that her classmates had felt legitimately “fearful” of her based on previous encounters, including one incident that was investigated and resulted in her facing some time in juvenile detention.



Dave Smith, a spokesman for the Shawnee Mission School District, told KSHB 41:




“I want to be very clear: The arrest of this student was wholly unrelated to any district policy. It was a municipal police department decision, and our policies don’t impact police department decisions.”




In a statement, police said:




“Ensuring the safety of everyone in a school, or community, is a top priority and requires constant vigilance, parents reminding their children of proper behavior in school and an understanding by the public that each case is thoroughly investigated before any arrest is made and a charge filed.”




On Tuesday, she will appear as a juvenile Tuesday at the District Court of Johnson County.



The girl’s arrest highlights the tense situation at schools across the United States, as well as the region. Just last month at nearby Hocker Grove Middle School, two 13-year-old students showed up to school with real guns stashed in their backpacks.



The children were charged with misdemeanors and the Hocker Grove principal said that no evidence suggested the teens planned to use their guns at school.



However, in the case of the young girl, threatening is a felony. Such charges could haunt her in the future, as felony charges can undermine students’ chances of being accepted into some colleges or the U.S. military.



If convicted, the girl could face a year at a juvenile detention center. Cavanaugh said:




“I’m really worried about my granddaughter’s future.” 





Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 12:30


Tags

Education
Law Crime

174
41 Views
Democrats moving impeachment goal posts once again.
222
84 Views
Central Bank Issues Stunning Warning: "If The Entire System Collapses, Gold Will Be Needed To Start Over"

It's not just "tinfoil blogs" who (for the past 11 years) have been warning that a monetary reset is inevitable and the only viable fallback option once trust and faith in fiat is lost, is a gold standard (something which even Mark Carney hinted at recently): central banks are joining the doom parade now too.



An article published by the De N

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ederlandsche Bank (DNB), or Dutch Central Bank, has shocked many with its claim that "if the entire system collapses, the gold stock provides a collateral to start over."






While gloomy predictions of a monetary reset are hardly new, they have traditionally been relegated to the fringe of mainstream financial thought - after all, as Mario Draghi stated on several occasions in recent years, the mere contemplation of a "doomsday scenario" is enough to create the self-fulfilling prophecy which materializes it. As such, it is stunning to see a mainstream financial institution open up about the superior value of limited supply, non-fiat, sound money assets. It is also hypocritical given the diametrically opposed Keynesian practices regularly engaged in by central banks and official institutions worldwide: after all, just a few months back, the IMF published a paper bashing Germany's adoption of the gold standard in the 1870s as the catalyst for instability in the global monetary system.



Fast forward to today, when the Dutch Central Bank is admitting not only did gold not destabilize the monetary system, but it will be its only savior when everything crashes.



The article, as loosely translated and titled “Goud van DNB” (“Gold from DNB”) states:



"If things go wrong, prices may fall. But, crisis or not, a gold bar always holds value." This makes it the opposite of "shares, bonds and other securities" all of which have inherent risk.


Photo of gold bars from the DNB's article "Goud van DNB."

According to the IMF's latest data, the DNB holds 615 tons (15,000 bars) of gold mainly in Amsterdam, with other stores in the U.K. and North America; the value of this gold reserve is over €6 billion ($6.62 billion). Calling gold the “trust anchor,” the article details briefly why the hard asset is so important to wealth building and the global economy, claiming: "Gold is... the trust anchor for the financial system. If the whole system collapses, the gold stock provides a collateral to start over. Gold gives confidence in the power of the central bank's balance sheet."



Why this sudden admission of what goldbugs have been saying for years? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that on October 7, the bank announced it would soon be moving a large part of its gold reserves to "the new DNB Cash Center at military premises in Zeist."



Almost as if the Netherlands is preparing for the grand reset, and is moving its most valuable asset to a "military" installation just for that purpose.



As bitcoin.com tongue-in-cheek points out, "DNB is no stranger to playing along with the Keynesian, inflationary games of the global monetary system. A system which, according to some, is now more a Ponzi scheme based on force and blind faith than sound economic principle. That notwithstanding, the centralized financial powers of the world know the real score, and that’s why hard assets like gold are hoarded and locked down while everyday, individual residents of these geopolitical jurisdictions are encouraged to spend and spend, going further into debt to prop up ultimately unsound national economies."



It is hardly a coincidence that in its preparation for monetary doomsday, the Dutsch Central Bank is also set to begin cracking down on crypto exchanges and wallets, stating that "firms offering services for the exchange between cryptos and regular money, and crypto wallet providers must register with De Nederlandsche Bank."



While the push for greater KYC/AML transparency is a growing global trend, and is hardly surprising in a world in which trillions in assets reside in "tax-evading" offshore jurisdiction, the remarkable aspect of this latest crackdown against crypto - which many see as a modern, more efficient form of "gold" - is the fact that invasive regulations and restrictions by central banks can be seen as yet another means of stockpiling precious assets. This time, not gold bars, but bitcoin and crypto.



As for the timing of the "great monetary reset", which other central banks have already quietly hinted at themselves amid massive repatriation of physical gold from the New York Fed to various European central banks such as Germany and Austria, we are confident that the trust-keepers of the current establishment - such as other central banks and the IMF - will be kind enough to provide ample advance notice to the citizens of the "developed" world to exchange their fiat into hard assets. Or, then again, perhaps not.




Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 13:04


Tags

Business Finance

157
76 Views

It has been over a month since the cybersecurity firm Imperva suffered a breach, we now have an update. As



Imperva Breach Update: Stolen AWS API Key Triggered The Breach on Latest Hacking News.

251
56 Views

[Gennady Borisov and his 25.5-inch telescope, pre-installation]

Twenty-one years ago, we went to the White Sands Missile Range to get the first press tour of a previously top-secret military installation.

We were on assignment from Astronomy magazine, and had bugged the people at the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program so much, they decided to let us [...]

239
59 Views
"Anarchy" As 750 ISIS Prisoners Escape Syria Camp After Turkish Shelling

International reports as well as Turkish media has confirmed a mass ISIS prison break at a Syrian Kurdish administered camp following shelling on the area by Turkey's military. Nearly 800 prisoners with links to the Islamic State reportedly fled, though one monitoring group put the number of those who ultimately successfully escaped at 100. 



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p>The Guardian reported of the Sunday incident:




At least 750 people with suspected links to Islamic State have reportedly fled a displacement camp in north-east Syria, local officials have said, raising fears that the Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces in the area could lead Isis to regain strength amid the chaos.




Sources said the detainees began to riot and panic after the secure compound came under Turkish shelling, which further resulted in a state of "anarchy" at the camp


File image of ISIS families at al-Hol camp, via AP/Washington Post

Authorities say "ISIS sleeper cells" took advantage of the situation to mount a large scale prison break, attacking remaining prison guards who had not already fled to defensive positions amid the shelling. 



Syrian Kurdish authorites say say 249 women and 700 children of the “caliphate” had been held at the Ain Issa camp, and that US forces subsequently evacuated the remainder of the camp's inhabitants to another secure location after the incident.  Reuters, citing a Syrian war monitor, suggested that not all of the some 750 who fled ultimately were able to escape: 




Around 100 people - women affiliated with Islamic State and their children - have escaped from a camp guarded by Syrian Kurdish-led security forces in northern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.






Images published by the Syrian opposition media outlet SOHR showed ISIS families escaping Ain Issa by running through the nearby countryside.



Ain Issa had a prior population of over 200,000 but has since been emptied of nearly all of its civilian residents. Scores of civilian casualties have resulted from the Turkish offensive, now in its fifth day, which has come under condemnation by almost every country.



Current and former US defense officials have warned of an "ISIS resurgence" amid the US troop draw down and Turkish invasion of the region, especially after SDF leaders warned its fighters can no longer safely guard the thousands of ISIS prisoners in custody. 


Map source: The Guardian

Estimates commonly put the number of imprisoned ISIS terrorists in US-SDF custody in the northeast Syria at 11,000.



Further some 70,000 family members believed linked to the former 'caliphate' are being held at the sprawling al-Hol camp, also under threat after internal camp rioting has been reported there. 



Turkey, for its part, has claimed that "YPG/PKK" forces deliberately set the Ain Issa camp on fire, denying Western reports that it came under Turkish shelling.



Meanwhile, the Trump administration has said sanctions on Turkey are "ready to go" as Erdogan has refused to uphold his "responsibilities" related to the operation, which including promises to take custody of ISIS prisoners in the area. Trump has threatened reprisals should Turkey allow even one terrorist to go free. 




Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 12:00


Tags

Politics
War Conflict

166
101 Views

‘Hire military heroes’ is what meets the eye once you get to this spoofed website. A spoofed website is one



U.S. Veterans Targeted By Hackers on Latest Hacking News.

225
20 Views
5,200 Tobacco Shops In France Now Selling Bitcoin

Authored by Helen Partz via CoinTelegraph.com,



French crypto startup Keplerk has relaunched its service to accept Bitcoin (BTC) payments in over 5,200 tobacco shops in France starting from Oct. 10.





image courtesy of CoinTelegraph



Service first launched in January

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"ltr">After suspending the service in less than two months after launch in January, Keplerk says that its customers will be able to buy Bitcoin from tobacconists in coupons of 50, 100 or 250 euros, France’s top news channel BFM TV reports Oct. 10.



According to the report, Bitcoin payments in all 5,200 locations will be feasible through Keplerk’s partner Bimedia, which will provide payment terminals.



As previously reported, Keplerk’s initial launch in January 2019 of the service reportedly involved just six tobacco shops, while other publications reported there were as many as 24 shops participating in the program. At the time, Keplerk co-founder Adil Zakhar stated that the firm was planning to expand the project to 5,200 tobacco shops by February despite the reports that France’s central bank did not endorse the initiative.



Bitcoin adoption surges in France

Meanwhile, France is apparently seeing a surge in cryptocurrency adoption. In late September, Cointelegraph reported that over 25,000 points-of-sale of 30 French retailers including sportswear giant Decathlon and cosmetics store Sephora will start accepting BTC payments by early 2020. As reported earlier in September, the French unit of Domino's Pizza launched an ordering competition with a prize of $110,000 in Bitcoin or cash.



On Sept. 12, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire claimed that French authorities do not plan to tax crypto-to-crypto trades, but rather will consider taxation when crypto is sold for fiat money.




Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 09:20


Tags

Social Issues
Business Finance

198
34 Views
The Democrats, the mainstream media and “never Trump Republicans” are setting this nation up for a major political disaster.
215
39 Views
Trump Orders 1,000 Troops To Evacuate Syria, Warns Sanctions On Turkey "Ready To Go"

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told "Face the Nation" in a Sunday interview that the Trump administration is "preparing to evacuate" about 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria "as safely and quickly as possible," CBS reports.



"In the last 24 hours, we learned that [the Turks] likely intend to extend their attack further south than originally plan

Read More
ned, and to the west," Esper said. "We also have learned in the last 24 hours that the... SDF are looking to cut a deal, if you will, with the Syrians and the Russians to counterattack against the Turks in the north."


Image via the AP

This as President Trump has also announced the US Treasury is "ready to go" with sanctions on Turkey



This also comes after a week ago Trump ordered the withdrawal of US troops from northern border posts ahead of a Turkish military incursion to establish a so-called 'safe zone'. That decision has been met with fierce push back among Congressional leaders and pundits, angry at the US "betrayal" of its Syrian Kurdish partners, namely the US-funded and trained Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 



In his comments to "Face the Nation," set to air on Sunday, Esper further explained that American forces were now caught between the Turkish assault and the SDF.  



"And so we find ourselves, we have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies, and it's a very untenable situation," Esper said. "So I spoke with the president last night, after discussions with the rest of the national security team, and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria."




Following a Friday incident wherein Turkish artillery shells landed near US positions in Kobani, Pentagon officials accused Turkey of deliberately "bracketing" American forces by firing on both sides of the observation post.



While Turkey claimed it was a 'mistake,' US officials said Ankara had known about that specific base for months and that it could have only been intentional. 



Esper said on Sunday that US troops "have the right to self defense and we will execute it if necessary" when asked about the incident and future rules of engagement. 



Meanwhile Trump tweeted early Sunday: “Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change. Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight. They have no idea what a bad decision they have made. Why are they not asking for a Declaration of War?”




For now it's unlikely that this means all American forces will make a complete exit from Syria.



When pressed on a timeline for the pullback, Esper merely said it would be done "as safely and quickly as possible"; but given US forces appear to be in the line of Turkish artillery fire, a pullback will no doubt come sooner than later — if not occurring already.




Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 09:55


Tags

Politics
War Conflict

190
31 Views
They are promoting “Season 4” of scientology.tv. Of course, their “seasons” consist of a few episodes of the same shows they have been airing since the launch of the “network”. Meet a scientologist. Visit a city where a scientology org is. Wisdom from Ron. There are no audience figures available as the “network” has no […]
209
56 Views
Meet The Futuristic, Fully-Autonomous Concept Truck Without A Cab

Swedish manufacturer Scania has introduced a brand new "futuristic fully autonomous concept truck without a cab" called AXL, according to Tuvie.





The vehicle is described as a "heavy-duty self-driving vehicle" and was designed by a group of Scania experts from different fields.



It features the

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company's modular system at the core of its design and could be used in many industries that are seeking out "more sustainable, self-driving vehicles to increase their productivity and performance."





Some examples including mining and construction, which are favorable for self-driving vehicles since they are well-controlled locations.





Scania describes the truck as "a step forward to smart transportation systems of the future". And the software in the truck will play just as big of a role as the hardware: the AXL is directed and monitored by an intelligent control environment.





In places like mines, autonomous operations can be facilitated by a logistics system that tells vehicle how it should perform.





Many self-driving autonomous trucks in use today still have a cab where a driver can sit, should the need to intervene arise. The AXL is designed without a cab, meaning no driver will be in the truck. Its combustion engine is even powered by renewable biofuel.





Scania is a major manufacturer of heavy trucks and buses, in addition to diesel engines for heavy vehicles as well as marine and general industrial applications. The company was formed in 1911. 






Tyler Durden

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 08:45


Tags

Technology Internet

217
63 Views
"Our next Project Veritas #BeBrave insider is from within CNN."
217
48 Views
<p>When you do these things, you&#x2019;re more likely to miss out on good candidates. </p><br /><p>The people you hire can make or break the company. That&#x2019;s a lesson I learned early on. I also learned that making the right hiring decision is hard. There are no easy yes-or-no questions to filter out candidates.</p><p>Read Full Story</p><div class="feedflare"><br /> <br /></div>
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