Corrupt newspaper "the huddersfield examiner" supporting the grooming gang - click here to learn more.

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70th Anniversary Of Orwell's Death Sees 'Newspeak' Censorship Soaring

Authored by Sharyl Attkisson via sharylattkisson.com,



It is a dangerous practice: Government, corporations, universities, news outlets and “experts” curating our information so that we cannot access, see or believe that which they determine we should not access, see or believe.



If anyone had suggested to Orwell, or the American found

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ers, that we would invite this sort of manipulation and control of our information, they wouldn’t have believed it.





Political writer George Orwell, who died Jan. 21, 1950



The idea was first introduced on the national stage by President Obama in October of 2016 right before the presidential election. He insisted that somebody needed to step in and “curate” our information in the “Wild, Wild West” internet environment.



Nobody had been clamoring for any such thing. 



So the challenge for those who came up with this bright idea– in my opinion in an effort to control news and information– was to convince the public to accept something very un-American: their information being shaped and censored by others.



Watch Attkisson’s Tedx talk: Astroturf and Manipulation of Media Messages



This feat was accomplished in concert with the anti-fake news effort, started in September 2016 through a nonprofit called First Draft. (First Draft was funded by Google, owned by Alphabet, run by Eric Schmidt, a major Hillary Clinton funder and supporter.) The anti-fake news effort was also an effort by special interests to step in and control news and internet information. 



In a relatively short period of time, they had us. Curate our information, we cried. Block “untrue” news reports and blogs! Fact check political ads and certain politicians! Remove selected social media accounts! We invited special interests and political players to control our information under the guise of knowing what’s best for us.



No longer can we bear or do we deserve to hear various views and interpretations of facts. The curators decide which views are right and true They universally declare the others to be debunked or discredited. 



Never mind that the appointed curators are advancing their own views or special interests. No matter that the corporations employing the fact checks are looking out for their owners or corporate interests; or currying favor with government regulators— sometimes even doing the government’s bidding. 



From a pure factual standpoint, government, news outlets, social media and other corporations are hardly parties that should be trusted to oversee “curation” efforts. History is littered with examples of them being wrong, conflicted or providing false information. 





One of the best most recent examples is the now disproven accusation that Donald Trump was working with Russia President Vladimir Putin. The wild conspiracy claims dominated the news for more than two years. The curators told us there was hard evidence. It would all be revealed soon! These views and reports were distributed, unfettered. What was censored and criticized as “debunked” by the curators? Social media, news reports and commentary that correctly questioned the conspiracies and pointed to malfeasance by the intelligence community. In the end, of course, the curators were wrong; the “debunked” skeptics were correct.



A more recent example is the effort by curators to label, as debunked, reporting by Politico and others on Ukraine interference in the 2016 U.S. election. It turns out there are far more supportable facts and admissions in the public record on Ukrainian interference than on Russia interference.





What’s more, those who have correctly pointed to Ukraine’s alleged role in 2016 have almost universally acknowledged there was Russia tampering, as well– that both are true. But the curators have falsely framed the facts, claiming that “conspiracy theorists” say Ukraine rather than Russia interfered in the 2016 campaign. In this way, the curators aren’t just curating, they are tampering with the facts. Altering reality. And why wouldn’t they? We have invited them to feel free.



And a third example is the stranglehold on information the vaccine industry and their advocates  have on information about vaccine side effects and links to autism. I recently reported on a sworn affidavit signed by Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a world renowned pro-vaccine pediatric neurologist who served as the government’s expert witness in vaccine autism cases. He was, at the time, defending vaccine companies on behalf of the U.S. government.



But in the affidavit, Dr. Zimmerman said that after initially believing vaccines are not linked to autism, he became aware of advances in science revealing that vaccines do cause autism in rare cases, after all. He goes on to testify that government lawyers from the Department of Justice hid this fact from families and the court, and misrepresented his opinion in cases fought by parents of vaccine-injured autistic children.





Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, the pro-vaccine govt. expert who says vaccines can cause autism, after all, in “exceptional” cases.



People are free to dismiss Dr. Zimmerman’s findings, of course, but the fact that he signed the affidavit it is not in dispute and the information should not be censored. However, Facebook’s “science fact checkers” have improperly flagged this reporting as untrue. Either these science experts are proxies for the vaccine industry or are sorely uninformed. Either way, they are not qualified to determine fact vs. fiction on your social media feed. All the while, misleading, incomplete and false information about vaccine safety is routinely promoted as “true.”





Facebook “independent fact-checker” wrongly flag a true news report



Read Dr. Zimmerman’s full affidavit here




  • We should remember that the government incorrectly determined security guard Richard Jewell was responsible for the Atlanta Olympic bombing. (He was actually a hero who helped move people away from a suspicious backpack before it exploded.)




  • The FBI falsified the polygraph of a Chinese scientist to make it look like he was a spy.




  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper falsely testified to Congress that there was no mass surveillance on millions of Americans.




  • Social media videos were used out of context to defame a Catholic high school student as if he had aggressively confronted a Native American.




  • Rape allegations in a landmark Rolling Stone article turned out to be untrue.




  • Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winner Janet Cooke had falsified her sourcing.




  • New York Times award winning reporter Jayson Blair plagiarized and faked his stories.




  • Corporations have been wrong or misled us on information about cigarettes and cancer, food safety, the dangers of Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone tires, x-rays, asbestos, medicine and vaccines pulled off the market for safety reasons and countless other topics.




  • Charities such as the Red Cross have been found guilty of misusing funds and providing false information.




  • Facebook has gotten caught misleading consumers and advertisers.




  • Social media company insiders have blown the whistle on biased and dishonest practices at their firms.



Just as concerning– government, corporate, media and other curators sometimes fact check as “incorrect” matters that are simply matters of opinion.



Watch Attkisson’s TedX talk: How Real is Fake News?



These are the people we are trusting to be arbiters of what information we should be allowed to see and believe.



Without alternate information that some of these powerful interests initially claimed to be wrong or “debunked,” the facts might never have been discovered.



Sometimes, the reality about serious issues of public importance starts with a single whistleblower, a patient’s story, or a conversation on the internet. When curators have the power to make it where we cannot find this information, the truth risks staying hidden. We would live a controlled, Orwellian existence, knowing only precisely what they wish for us to know, thinking only that which they say is the right way to think, with contrary information dropped down the memory hole like it never even existed.



My own view is that, in general, information that is not deemed to be illegal should be accessible. Social media already has all kinds of tools to allow users to filter out objectionable posts, if they wish to use them. If people want a vested interest to “fact check” for them, they should be able to opt into that service. But the rest of us should be left alone.



The magic of the internet is that it puts information in the hands of most anyone rather than just the powerful. Allowing that information to be controlled, manipulated, filtered, improperly discredited or erased is a slippery slope fraught with peril…. and very Orwellian, indeed.



*  *  *



Fight improper government surveillance. Support Attkisson v. DOJ and FBI over the government computer intrusions of Attkisson’s work while she was a CBS News investigative correspondent. Visit the Attkisson Fourth Amendment Litigation Fund. Click here.




Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 18:05
243
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Glenn Greenwald Responds To 'Grave And Obvious Attack On Free Press' Following Charges

Glenn Greenwald responded to charges levied against him Tuesday by prosecutors in Brazil, who have accused the American journalist of cybercrimes for his role in publishing embarrassing text messages that exposed corruption within the Brazilian judicial system.





According to the government's criminal complaint, Greenwald "directly assisted, e

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ncouraged and guided" his sources, who gained access to online chats between prosecutors and others involved in "Operation Car Wash," which The Intercept describes as a 'yearslong, sprawling anti-corruption investigation that roiled Brazilian politics."



Greenwald has denied the charges, citing a Brazilian Federal Police investigation that concluded he committed no crimes - and in fact highlighted his "careful and distant posture regarding the execution" of the alleged hacks.



"Less than two months ago, the Federal Police, examining all the same evidence cited by the Public Ministry, stated explicitly that not only have I never committed any crime but that I exercised extreme caution as a journalist never even to get close to any participation," said Greenwald, adding "Even the Federal Police under Minister Moro’s command said what is clear to any rational person: I did nothing more than do my job as a journalist — ethically and within the law."





Operation Car Wash



The political scandal at the heart of Greenwald's corruption charge is Operation Car Wash - which led to the prosecution of major Brazilian construction firms and politicians.




Among its most controversial convictions was that of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose imprisonment on corruption charges removed him from contention in the 2018 presidential elections, despite leading in the polls. Instead, Bolsonaro won the office and quickly appointed Moro, the judge who convicted Lula, as his justice minister. After the Secret Brazil Archive reporting, the Brazilian Supreme Court released Lula on the basis of a procedural argument, a stinging rebuke of Moro’s work. -The Intercept




The Intercept's reporting relied on a trove of leaked materials which revealed scheming by prosecutors to ensure that Bolsonaro's opposition (the Lula Workers' Party) did not win the election. Prosecutors were also profiting from the scandal.




The Brazilian federal prosecutor who filed the criminal complaint, Wellington Divino Marques de Oliveira, who works in Moro’s Justice Ministry but has prosecutorial independence, wrote in the complaint that Greenwald had “directly assisted, encouraged and guided the criminal group, DURING the criminal practice, acting as guarantor of the group, obtaining financial advantage with the conduct described here.”



Bolsonaro has himself previously suggested that he would like to deport Greenwald and threatened to imprison the journalist for his work. At the time, The Intercept condemned the threat in a statement and reiterated that Greenwald and The Intercept’s other reporters enjoy free-press protections under the Brazilian constitution. -The Intercept



 Greenwald's charges have drawn rebuke from across the spectrum.













Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 14:51


Tags

Law Crime

243
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Bridgewater Co-CIO: "The Boom-Bust Cycle Is Over"

Just in case anyone was worried that the smart money was quietly getting ready to stop dancing after Bridgewater's Co-CIO Greg Jensen told the FT in an interview last week that it's time to buy gold (which he sees rising to $2,000 because the Fed and other central banks would let inflation run hot for a while and "there will no longer be an attempt by any of the developed world’s major central banks to normali

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ze interest rates") ahead of the Fed cutting rates to zero and that "equities are frothy" as "most of the world is long equity markets", today Bridgewater's other Co-CIO came out with a controversial statement that appears to convey a polar opposite message to Jensen's warning.



Bob Prince, who alongside Greg Jensen helps oversee the world’s biggest hedge fund at Bridgewater Associates as its other Co-CIO, said "the boom-bust economic cycle is over."





Speaking to Bloomberg TV in Davos, Prince suggested that the tightening of central banks all around the world "wasn’t intended to cause the downturn, wasn’t intended to cause what it did" - and yet that's precisely what the shrinking of the Fed's balance sheet did hence the record expansion over the past four months - and shockingly said that "the lessons were learned from that and I think it was really a marker that we’ve probably seen the end of the boom-bust cycle."



Prince was referring not only to the boom-bust cycle created by central banks, which first ease then tighten, resulting in bubbles and eventually crashes, as described in "Every Fed Tightening Cycle Creates A Crisis"...





... but also to the broader cycle of economic expansion and contraction that repeats itself. And as a result of central bank intervention since the financial crisis and monetary easing, that cycle has effectively been disrupted and has helped fuel the longest-running bull market in stocks. That has also led the hedge fund industry to struggle to match gains of passive funds tracking indexes, since virtually no downturns are now possible with central banks intervening every time there is even a modest downturn, something which BofA first pointed out in December 2017 when it wrote that "In Every Market Shock Since 2013 Central Banks Have Stepped In To Protect Markets."





It now appears that this last piece of tinfoil "conspiracy theory" has become "fact", validated by one of the most respected stewards of other people's money.



Or, in other words, "stocks prices have reached what looks like a permanently rising plateau."



Could Bridgewater merely be talking its book? Certainly: the world's biggest hedge funds suffered its first annual loss since 2000 in its most prominent Pure Alpha II last year, largely as a result of hedging, or short trades. The fund lost 0.5%, only the fourth annual decline since starting in 1991. As such, perhaps Prince's observation is just a warning that Bridgewater will no longer actually "hedge" and will go all in on the long side.



That may also explain why Prince said that performance this year has been so far good for the firm. It certainly explains why just yesterday, his boss Ray Dalio, rehashes his warning from Jan 2018 - just before the market cracked - when he urged investors not to miss out an opportunity to benefit from strong markets. "Cash is trash,” he said in a CNBC interview in Davos on Tuesday. “There’s still a lot of money in cash."



As a reminder, in 2018 cash ended up being the best performing assets. And with Bridgewater now claiming that "this time is totally different", will 2020 be another painful repeat of 2018?




Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 15:10


Tags

Business Finance

225
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Just In Time! Lenders Seek Congressional Approval For No Income Mortgages

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,



Here we go again. The mortgage lending industry seeks to eliminate debt-to-income rules for home buyers.





At the peak of every boom comes one final act of repetitive stupidity. This may be it.



Please consider CFPB Moves to Eliminate Mortg

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age Debt-to-Income Rule for Borrowers.




In a letter CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger sent to Congress today, the CFPB asked to amend the Ability to Repay/Qualified Mortgage rule (ATR/QM rule) in order to remove DTI as a qualifying factor in mortgage underwriting.



This rule was created in response to the financial crisis of a decade ago as a way to prevent lending money to borrowers who might not be able to afford the loan.




The move by Kraninger is by request of a group of lenders and industry groups, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Quicken Loans, Caliber Home Loans, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the American Bankers Association, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and others.



The finance leaders want to remove the 43 percent DTI requirement on both prime and near-prime loans.



Specifically, current rules includes things like verification of income, credit history and DTI, among others. The only portion the CFPB is asking to amend is the DTI requirement.



Apparently Fannie Mae is not subject to the requirement so the lenders cry about fairness.



Hey, why not? More importantly, why stop there? Besides, if one claims no income, there is no income to verify. It's all nice and clean.



NINJA (no income, no job, no asset) loans worked out so well the last time we tried them, it's clearly time for a repeat performance.




Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 12:50


Tags

Business Finance

230
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Lebanon's New Hezbollah-Backed Government Meets After 3-Month Vacuum Amid Crisis

After in October Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned amid worsening violence and protests related to the nation's banking crisis, but remained in a caretaker capacity, Lebanon announced Tuesday the formation of a new government, which met for the first time Wednesday. The crisis-hit country has been three months without a government. 



President Michel Ao

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un said it's vital the new government led by caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab wins back international confidence at a moment Lebanon is on the verge of deft default and currency devaluation. The new leaders will attempt to instill enough faith to unlock crucial external funding, conditioned on badly needed reforms which have thus far remained elusive. 


Newly-assigned Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, via the AP.

"Your mission is delicate," Aoun told the cabinet in a statement. "It is necessary to work to tackle the economic situation, restore the confidence of the international community in Lebanese institutions and reassure the Lebanese about their future," Aoun said.



Caretaker PM Diab, formerly the education minister and importantly the candidate put forward by Hezbollah, has unveiled a plan for a new election law meant to promote national unity and placate key demands of protesters after demonstrations have raged for months, at times bringing daily life in the major cities, especially Beirut, to a standstill. This also as a liquidity crisis has resulted in strict capital controls imposed on banks, which has also lately seen account holders limited to withdrawing a mere $200 a week.



It's now been over two months since commercial banks have enacted severe controls preventing large money transfers abroad and restricting clients' access to their deposits. Throughout the nationwide protests, which at their height saw one million people hit the streets (a whopping some 20% of the entire population), both national and commercial banks have been routinely targeted for destruction and vandalism. 



The new government includes Minister of Defense Zeina ‘Akkar, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nassif Hatti, Minister of Finance Ghazi Wazneh and Minister of Interior Mohammad Fahmi.


Lebanon's new government met for the first time Wednesday, via NBC News.


Lebanon’s precarious financial situation has many investors pricing in a sovereign default. A $1.2 billion Eurobond that matures in March saw a record slump last week, fueled by reports local lenders have been selling the instruments to avoid participating in a central bank-initiated voluntary debt swap.



The Lebanese pound has plunged on the black market to some 2,500 against the U.S. dollar since the protests began on Oct. 17, while the central bank has stuck to the official rate of 1,507. Hours before the government was announced, Lebanon’s money changers announced that they would sell dollars at no more than 2,000 starting Thursday in an effort to ease the burden of price gains on consumers. — Bloomberg




PM Diab acknowledged the tumultuous events gripping the small Middle East nation in initial remarks Wednesday: “I salute the uprising that pushed us towards this path. Lebanon won an this government expresses the aspirations of the protesters over the area and country. We will work to fulfill your demands,” he said.



“The scenes that we saw during the past few days were painful and what is important now is to maintain stability and support the Lebanese Army and security forces,” Diab continued. “We have the capabilities to continue. We have our wealth. We will protect it and defend our right to it by all means,” he added.



Diab indicated just after taking the helm that he intends as his first trip abroad a visit to Gulf states which previously provided vital financial aid. 



However, the prospect for Gulf aid could be sensitive, given the new government is for the first time controlled exclusively by Hezbollah (which notably has the backing of Iran), while Lebanese political parties that typically enjoy Western backing have stayed on the sidelines. All of this also means protests are set to continue, and possibly grow more fierce, as promised by a number of activists. 




Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 13:10


Tags

Politics

236
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Adam Schiff Caught "Mischaracterizing" Evidence Day One Of Senate Impeachment Trial

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) was caught "mischaracterizing" evidence on day one, Tuesday, of the Senate impeachment trial. 



The left-leaning Politico claims that Schiff released inaccurate information about a text message between Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas on July 3, 2019, about organizing a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

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Schiff's report was sent to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) last week that summarizes "a trove of evidence from Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani," Politico reported. 




The report claims in a text message conversation between Giuliani and Parnas, Parnas said: "trying to get us mr Z." The remainder of the letter was redacted. 



Politico added, "But an unredacted version of the exchange shows that several days later, Parnas sent Giuliani a word document that appears to show notes from an interview with Mykola Zlochevsky, the founder of Burisma, followed by a text message to Giuliani that states: 'mr Z answers my brother.' That suggests Parnas was referring to Zlochevsky, not Zelensky."



A Republican aide told Politico that Schiff's assumption that "mr Z" is Zelensky is ludicrous.




"The most charitable view of the situation is that [Schiff's] staff committed the equivalent of Congressional malpractice by not looking more than an inch deep to determine the facts before foisting this erroneous information on his colleagues and the American public," said one senior GOP aide.




"But given the selective redactions and contextual clues, it seems as though Chairman Schiff sought to portray an innocuous meeting with Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky as an insidious one with the President of Ukraine simply because both of their surnames start with the letter Z," the GOP aide added. 





Schiff has issued false information in Trump-related investigations before. 



It was reported in September 2019 that Schiff fabricated the account of a July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, to analogize the interaction to a scene from a mafia drama.



And last month, Schiff said during a Fox News interview that he wasn't willing to admit wrong in his defense of the FBI's FISA process: "I'm certainly willing to admit that the inspector general found serious abuses of FISA that I was unaware of."



Trump responded by saying, "Schiff's correcting the record memo has turned out to be totally wrong (based on the I.G. Report)! A very big lie. @MariaBartiromo And @DevinNunes has turned out to be completely right. Congratulations to Devin. The Fake News Media should apologize to all!" 






Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 10:50


Tags

Politics

205
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Mainstream Media Admits We're In "An Auto Recession" – And It Just Continues To Get Worse

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,



Quite a few of the most important sectors of the global economy are already “in a recession”, and yet somehow we are still supposed to believe that the economic outlook for the rest of 2020 is a positive one. 



I am not buying it,

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and I know that a lot of other people aren’t buying it either. 





The global economic slowdown that began last year is really picking up pace here in early 2020, and global financial markets are perfectly primed for a meltdown of epic proportions.  Unfortunately, most people simply do not understand how badly the global economy has been deteriorating.  For example, global auto sales have now fallen for two years in a row, and even CNN is admitting that the global auto industry has been in a “recession” for some time…




The global auto industry plunged deeper into recession in 2019, with sales dropping more than 4% as carmakers struggled to find buyers in China and India. The pain is likely to continue this year.



The number of vehicles sold across major global markets dipped to 90.3 million last year, according to analysts at LMC Automotive. That’s down from 94.4 million in 2018, and well below the record 95.2 million cars sold in 2017.




Here in the United States, people keep trying to tell us that the economy is in good shape, but last year auto sales fell here too…




Nonseasonally adjusted passenger car sales in the U.S. for 2019 declined 10.9% to 4.7 million units, versus 5.3 million units in 2018, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis.



Sales of trucks, minivans and SUVs for the year totaled 12.2 million units, up 2.8% from the 2018 figure of 11.9 million units.



The overall nonseasonally adjusted U.S. vehicle sales for the period fell 1.4% to 17.0 million units, versus 17.2 million units a year ago.




Very few analysts are expecting these trends to turn around in 2020.



And considering how important the auto industry is to the global economy as a whole, that has very serious implications for all of us…




Recession comes with big ramifications for the global economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, the car industry accounts for 5.7% of economic output and 8% of goods exports. It is the second largest consumer of steel and aluminum.




Meanwhile, we are experiencing a very deep transportation recession in the United States as well.  The following comes from Wolf Richter…




Shipment volume in the US by truck, rail, air, and barge plunged 7.9% in December 2019 compared to a year earlier, according to the Cass Freight Index for Shipments. It was the 13th month in a row of year-over-year declines, and the steepest year-over-year decline since November 2009, during the Financial Crisis




How in the world can the U.S. economy possibly be in “good shape” with absolutely horrific numbers like that?



When the amount of goods being shipped around the country by truck, rail and air is steadily falling, that is a crystal clear indication that economic conditions are slowing down.



And one of the biggest reasons why a transportation recession is upon us is because it looks like we are in a “manufacturing recession” too.



In fact, the manufacturing numbers for December were simply abysmal…




US manufacturing took a turn from lousy to worse in December, according to the Manufacturing ISM Report On Business, released today, with employment, new orders and new export orders, production, backlog of orders, and inventories all contracting.



The overall Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) dropped 0.9 percentage points from November to 47.2% in December 2019, the fifth month in a row of contraction, and the fastest contraction since June 2009.




Overall, 2019 was the worst year for U.S. industrial production since 2015.



Across the Atlantic, things are even worse in Europe.  The following comes from Zero Hedge…




The manufacturing downturn across Europe deepened in the last month of 2019 according to the latest survey data released on Thursday.



IHS Markit Eurozone Manufacturing PMI lost momentum last month, printing at 46.3, down from 46.9 in November, if modestly above the 45.9 expected. The PMI averaged 46.4 in 4Q, a seven-year low.




When will global authorities finally admit that we have a real problem on our hands?



How much worse do the numbers have to get?



This month, the Baltic Dry Index has been plunging dramatically.  For those that don’t know, the Baltic Dry Index is a key indicator of where global trade is heading, and on Monday it plummeted to a nine-month low…




The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index hit a nine-month low on Monday, dragged down by falling rates of capesize and panamax segments as world trade continues to slump.



The Baltic Dry Index, which tracks rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels that ferry dry bulk commodities across the world, dropped 25 points, or 3.3%, to 729 (according to Refinitiv data), the lowest level since April 2019




This is not what a healthy global economy looks like.



Of course many of those in positions of authority will continue to insist that everything is just fine for as long as possible.



In fact, back in 2008 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke kept telling us that a recession wasn’t going to happen even after the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression had already started.



Just like back then, all of the hard economic numbers that we have are all saying the same thing.



Both the U.S. economy and the global economy as a whole have been slowing down for quite a while, and it looks like big trouble is ahead of us.



That means that now is not the time to be spending lots of money, making big financial commitments or going into debt.



Those that are wise will be positioning themselves to survive the coming economic storm, but unfortunately most people are paying no heed to the warning signs.



Just like last time around, most people have tremendous faith in the system, and so they will be absolutely blindsided by the crisis that is coming.



In the end, multitudes will be expecting the government to bail them out somehow, but considering the fact that we are already 23 trillion dollars in debt that simply is not going to be possible.




Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 11:09


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Business Finance

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AMLO Says 2 Suspected Coronavirus Cases Reported In Mexico

Update: So much for being 'contained'.



Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador - better known as AMLO - said Wednesday morning that two cases of coronavirus are suspected in Mexico, and that health officials are scrambling to confirm. He added that one of the patients is under observation in Tamaulipas.



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="tweetdeck">

#ConferenciaMatutina el Presidente Andrés Manuel @lopezobrador_ afirmó que se identificaron dos casos de coronavirus en México. Uno de ellos está en observación en Tamaulipas, del que es probable que se descarte que sea coronavirus de Wuhan. pic.twitter.com/XAz26MXA4J

— Televisión Tabasqueña (@TVTenlinea) January 22, 2020

AMLO assured the public that the Mexican government is closely monitoring the situation.



* * *



China's National Health Commission has revised the total of coronavirus cases higher for at least the second time on Wednesday: there are now 473 confirmed patients infected in China alone, though the death toll remained at 9, Reuters reports.



Internationally, the total number of cases has climbed to 481, according to a running count by the SCMP:





As the virus spreads throughout the mainland, health officials in Hong Kong have confirmed that the first case of coronavirus has been detected in the Special Autonomous Region. According to the SCMP, the male patient arrived in Hong Kong on a high-speed train on Tuesday from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak. He was discovered to have a fever when he arrived at a rail station in West Kowloon, and has now tested positive or the virus three times, the first two at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Jordan.



Local television footage showed the still-unnamed patient being taken from Queen Elizabeth to Princess Margaret Hospital, where the Hospital Authority Infectious Disease Center is located. Several health care workers wearing full protective gear could be seen pushing the patient on a stretcher.





Hong Kong's public rail company, MTR Corp, confirmed that it had been notified by the Department of Health that the patient took a high-speed rail train G5607 from the Shenzhen North station to West Kowloon Station. Officials are now taking steps to disinfect the train.



The virus has also reportedly made it to Macau, which also confirmed its first case on Wednesday, according to the SCMP. Alarmingly, considering that Macau is one of the most popular destinations for the hundreds of millions of vacationers from the mainland looking to travel for the Chinese New Year Holiday this week, Macau's patient zero made it through health screenings for the virus, even though she had been showing symptoms including a cough and soar throat for about a week.



The virus has already spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as to the US, Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Japan and beyond.



Earlier, we reported that China had launched a nation-wide screening effort to detect any remaining cases of the virus, suggesting that there could be many more cases yet to be uncovered. Screeners are looking for symptoms including fever, cough and difficulty breathing, all pneumonia-like symptoms. In addition to the autonomous regions, the virus has been confirmed in at least 13 Chinese provinces.



Beijing has also launched extensive operations to coat whole cities in disinfectant, as the video below shows:




President Trump said earlier during an interview with CNBC's Joe Kernen that the situation in the US is "totally under control" after the first case was identified in Washington state, the CDC announced yesterday.



Asked about criticisms that China wasn't completely transparent about the virus, and initially tried to conceal the fact that it could spread from human to human, Trump said he had a good relationship with President Xi and expected that he could trust the Chinese government.




Chinese officials have warned that the virus has been evolving and mutating as it has traveled. The map below is the NYT's most up-to-date accounting of confirmed cases, though at this point it's already woefully out-of-date.





 



The WHO is meeting on Wednesday to decide whether the outbreak warrants the most serious categorization for global pandemics.



Meanwhile, some experts are warning that on Wednesday the virus has taken a "step closer to full-blown epidemic."



Media reports have been warning people in China and around the world about steps they can take to avoid being infected. Basic steps include frequently washing hands, avoid touching ones eyes, mouth or nose with unwashed hands, clean and disinfect objects, and covering one's mouth and nose during a sneeze, per CNN.




Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 09:02
214
42 Views
Trump Says Middle-Class Tax Cut To Be Announced Within Three Months

President Trump told The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the White House plans to unveil a new tax-cut proposal for the middle class in approximately 90 days.




"We're talking a fairly substantial ... middle-class tax cut that'll be subject to taking back the House and obviously keeping the Sena

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te and keeping the White House," Trump said. He declined to elaborate more on the specifics of the plan.






Trump has been touting the idea of a middle-class tax cut since the 2018 midterm election, and more recently since the 2020 election year has begun.



White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said last week that tax cut 2.0 could be unveiled in the summer months.



Kudlow said the White House is considering a payroll tax cut and an expansion of the earned income tax credit. He said the new tax cut could spur consumer growth and help the middle class prosper.



However, Trump told reporters back in 2017 that tax cuts were "going to be one of the great gifts to the middle-income people of this country that they've ever gotten for Christmas" – it turned out that tax cuts funded by taxpayer debt allowed mega-corporations to repatriate hundreds of billions of dollars, not for CapEx purposes like what was promised, but rather a massive stock buyback binge.



With the effectiveness of the first tax cut waning, Trump has likely been advised by his economic team that the manufacturing recession has triggered an employment slowdown that could start damaging consumer spending, which is at least 68% of GDP.



The next round of supply-side tax cuts should be viewed as "emergency tax cuts" because the "greatest economy ever" is continuing to decelerate and could be seen as a last-ditch effort by the administration to push off the recession for another couple quarters.




Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 09:06


Tags

Social Issues
Business Finance
Politics

249
40 Views
If Martians Teleported The Davos Crowd To A Distant Moon, Who Would Mourn And Who Would Cheer?

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,



The system that has so enriched the self-serving Davos Crowd is unraveling, and technocratic tweaks, carbon trading and philanthro-capitalism can't fix what's broken.





Thought experiment: If the Martians teleported the ent

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ire Davos Crowd to a distant moon, who would mourn and who would cheer? Friends and family of the disappeared elites would of course mourn their teleportation to a Martian facility on a distant moon, but who else would mourn, other than the flunkies and apparatchiks in the corporate media?



Who would cheer? Everybody who is tired of the dominance of an elite who skims billions from the rest of us "for our own good." The Davos Crowd is focusing on climate change because they see it as the latest and greatest opportunity to add more billions to their net worth via the skimming operation known as Carbon Trading and controlling the vast capital flows into New Green Deal boondoggles.



Who would cheer? Everybody who is tired of the Davos Crowd viewing themselves as "the solution" rather than "the problem." The unprecedented concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few in Davos isn't a problem, it's an "opportunity" because the Davos Crowd is immensely confident in the goodness and rightness of their power and control.



The Davos Crowd knows what's best for the planet, so please get out of the way and let us take care of climate change, etc. our way, which just so happens to be extraordinarily profitable for us. But that's to be expected because we're so smart and hard-working and we care.



The hubris, sanctimony, false sympathy and hypocrisy of the Davos Crowd is off the charts. Having stripmined the Earth and its workforce for their existing billions, now they want to add to their billions by "fixing" what they broke in the most profitable possible fashion.



The Davos Crowd is incapable of recognizing that the unprecedented concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few in Davos is the core problem. The happy cover story for further exploitation and predation is philanthro-capitalism, "do-good" projects that enshrine the power of elites and engineer a status quo that continues to divert wealth to the Davos elites under the virtue-signaling cover of philanthro-capitalism.



The Davos Crowd and their vast armies of apparatchiks, toadies, apologists and technocrat flunkies don't understand why we would cheer their teleportation to a distant moon. Their right to rule (droit de seigneur) is so obvious and well, just so right that those doubting it must be sadly delusional.



The delusion is in Davos. The system that has so enriched the self-serving Davos Crowd is unraveling, and technocratic tweaks, carbon trading and philanthro-capitalism can't fix what's broken.



*  *  *



My recent books:



Audiobook edition now available:
Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World ($13)
(Kindle $6.95, print $11.95) Read the first section for free (PDF).



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The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)



Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



*  *  *



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Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 08:15


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Environment

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Chinese Officials Warn Of "Virus Mutation Spreading" - 440 Cases Confirmed, 9 Dead

Update (2130ET): North Korea has temporarily closed its borders to foreign tourists, two major operators of tours to the isolated country said, in an apparent effort to seal itself off from a new virus causing global health worries.



*  *  *



Update (2115ET): Chinese officials have ju

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st held a press conference that was anything but the usual CDC "everything's ok" statement. The particularly ominous warning that the virus is mutating and spreading is perhaps due to the poor handling of the SARS breakout in 2002/3 which was marked by cover-ups and official reluctance to share information.



Li Bin, vice head of China's National Health Commission, confirmed there are 440 confirmed coronavirus cases in this new outbreak and there have been 9 deaths. Some 1,394 patients are under medical observation.



Officials also confirmed Wuhan airport will have screening equipment (and Wuhan citizens have been asked to limit travel) and a nationwide monitoring system is being put in place (one wonders if the social credit score will go down if a citizen contracts the deadly disease).



Finally, the officials said that they will disclose information in a timely and public way and are doing their best to curb the spread of the disease.



And all of this is happening as hundreds of millions prepare to travel for the New Year's celebrations.




“A wave of panic has struck,” said Zhuang Jiapeng, a fund manager at Shenzhen JM Capital Co. “People may feel the urge to bolt after northbound saw its largest selling in months -- foreign buying has been perceived as something of a safety valve. With the virus spreading, there may be a real impact on consumption during the holidays.”




Long facemasks; Short rats (2020 is year of the rat).



*  *  *



Update (1920ET): Just like we saw during past outbreaks of disease in China, a panicked population has bought up face-masks at such a frantic rate that several of their unscrupulous countrymen have resorted to gouging.



American brand 3M, a popular manufacturer of facemasks in China, has already sold out on its official online stores on e-commerce platforms Taobao and JD.com .



Meanwhile, guards at the Wuhan airport pointed electronic thermometers at travelers, with plans to segregate anybody showing a fever, an early symptom of the virus.



Several unscrupulous sellers who bought up masks en bulk are now managing to sell them for more than 10 times their original price. Some retailers were selling the masks for as much as 40 yuan ($7), a more than 10-fold mark-up. Users of Weibo, a Chinese social network similar to Twitter, warned anybody planning to travel to instead consider staying home, and repeatedly washing their hands.



According to certain sites that track prices of Chinese goods, the masks typically sell for 53 cents.



At one pharmacy in Shanghai, a shopkeeper named Liu Zhuzhen said more than 100 people had bought masks by noon on Tuesday. They sold out again after a re-stocking.



* * *



Update (1600ET): Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Henan, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Seoul, Tokyo, Brisbane, Taipei - and now Washington State.



The viral pneumonia-like lung illness first discovered late last year in Wuhan, a mid-sized Chinese city in the center of the country, has Beijing's leadership - who are already grappling with slowing economic growth and continuing trade pressure from the US - very much on edge.



It's clear now that Beijing's initial response to reports of a new SARS-like virus was to dissemble. After initially insisting that there was no evidence that the virus could be spread by humans, health officials have now admitted that they were "wrong", and that human-to-human transmission is possible, meaning that there's no telling yet just how contagious this thing really is.



It's already spread rapidly: In just a few weeks, it's gone from a few isolated cases in Wuhan to nearly 300 confirmed cases, not just in Greater China, but also across the Asia-Pacific region, and now in the US. The fact that the CDC has already identified the first case in Washington State suggests that this is an aggressive pathogen, and health officials are duly concerned.





It has already confounded expectations. The fact that 139 cases - roughly half the total number reported - were only just identified over the weekend is especially unnerving, because now infected hosts have had time to scatter back to wherever they're from, potentially spreading the virus across the planet.



According to Bloomberg, the US case has been revealed to be a man in his 30s who returned to the US last week, but not before visiting a public market in Wuhan...



The sudden spike in cases has prompted airports in the US, Australia and elsewhere to tighte illnesses has prompted tightened borders and a rapid attempt to trace contacts of those who have become ill.



On Wednesday, the World Health Organization will decide whether this crisis qualifies as a public health emergency of international concern, a label signifying only the most complex pathologies with the potential to cross borders. The WHO could recommend that travel be restricted, or that global governments take other drastic measures.



With global health officials on high alert, local authorities in Wuhan have announced that the city has 800 hospital beds ready in three separate designated care hospitals, and it's ready to have 1,200 prepared at short notice, according to local media reports.



With the Chinese New Year travel season about to begin, many fear that millions of Chinese traveling abroad or internally for vacation will help the virus spread at an exponential rate. Chinese health officials have played down the possibility of this. But they also say they don't want to underestimate it. After all, the last major outbreak, SARS in 2003, killed 800 people.



* * *



Update (1335ET): The CDC has confirmed that a traveler from China has been diagnosed in Seattle with the Wuhan Coronavirus.



The patient, who was hospitalized with pneumonia last week, recently had traveled to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak appears to have originated, federal officials have found.



Officials declined to identify the patient, who was said to be quite ill.



Additionally, on a conference call, the CDC confirmed it expects more US cases to come.



The outbreak began at a market in China and now has spread to at least four other countries, and  has killed at least six people and sickened hundreds more in Asia.





Broadly speaking, stocks are getting hammered on this but there is one silver lining however, prices for flu-shot manufacturers are soaring: Nanovaricides +240%, Novavax +53%, Inovio Pharma +10%, and Vaxart +14%.





*  *  *



CNN's AnneClaire Stapleton (@AnneClaireCNN) tweeted an ominous warning:




"The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce this afternoon that the first case of Wuhan coronavirus has been reported in the United States, in Washington state, a federal source outside the CDC tells CNN."




And the market reacted rapidly...





Transports are the worst hit on the day, already suffering from coronavirus fears overnight...





Can The Fed just print up some anti-virus?



As we detailed earlier, the global risk-off wave had started in the overnight hours of Monday as the full extent of the Chinese coronavirus scare became apparent to traders, has rolled into the cash session Tuesday with airline, casino and gaming, hotel, and travel stocks, taking a leg lower.



Delta Air -3.50%, United Airlines Holdings -3.20%, Southwest Airlines -1.5%, and American Airlines Group -2.50%, were all sold as the outbreak may crimp global air travel during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday period.





Investors dumped Wynn Resorts -4.45%, Las Vegas Sands Corp -4%, and MGM Resorts International -3%, as the virus threatens to decrease foot traffic. 





Hotels were also sold, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts -1%, Choice Hotels International -1%, and Extended Stay America -1%.





Travel stocks were dumped, Expedia Group -1%, Booking Holdings -2.20%, TripAdvisor Inc -1%, and Trip.com -10%.





Investors are unloading sensitive travel stocks because confirmed cases of coronavirus have tripled since Monday and spread to other countries around China with the risk of spreading across the world. 



Fears of a 2002-03 outbreak of SARs has been on everyone’s mind to start the week – and with a Lunar New Year holiday fast approaching – the spread of the virus could broaden in the days ahead.



Travel sensitive stocks have taken a beating in Asia, Europe, and the US – basically across the world on Tuesday, as investors brace for new cases of the virus that is quickly spreading.



Could this mean world stocks are due for a pullback? 






Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 04:25
244
16 Views
"No Chinese Allowed": Hysteria Grips Asia As Millions Travel Amid Viral Outbreak

On Wednesday, health officials in China once again announced a sharp increase in the number of reported cases of the mysterious new coronavirus that is now confirmed to have caused at least nine deaths, as we reported last night.



As hundreds of millions of Chinese leave the country for vacation destinations abroad - all part of what the NYT described as the largest

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human migration on Earth - the hysteria has reached a fever pitch.



In Japan, one shopkeeper in the mountain town of Hakone (a popular vacation destination) has been heavily criticized for hanging a sign outside his door reading 'no Chinese allowed'. The full message displayed on the sign (pictured below) reads: "No Chinese are allowed to enter the store...I do not want to spread the virus."





According to the SCMP, the as-yet-unidentified owner of the confectionery store told the Asahi newspaper that he used a translation application to write the message in Chinese, adding, "I want to protect myself from the virus and I don’t want Chinese people to enter the store."



Japanese tourism officials apologized for the shopkeepers' actions after he was roundly criticized on social media.



Shin Hae-bong, a professor of law at Aoyama Gakuen University, said the store owner was not breaking the law, as Japan doesn't have any laws against discrimination on the books.



And while Chinese tourists could try to take him to court, that would take some time.




"This is obviously wrong, but the only thing that could be done would be for a suit to be filed as many Japanese courts have in recent years ruled against places that bar people based on their nationality," she said.



"The courts have, in those cases, used the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination for the basis of their rulings."




Meanwhile, back in Wuhan, Chinese officials are taking drastic measures to try and contain the spread of the virus from the city where it was first discovered. Stocks steadied as China’s National Health Commission detailed its plan of action for stopping the virus's spread. According to Bloomberg, health officials said China has stepped up monitoring of transportation links and ordered a near-complete shutdown of the central city of Wuhan, where the virus originated. Officials acknowledged, however, that they’re still grappling to understand the pathogen, which has infected multiple medical workers.




"We are still on a learning curve," said Gao Fu, head of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "The disease will continue to develop," he said, adding that it has already changed from its early stages of detection.




However, while Beijing continues with its transparency act to try and calm the panic, China's Weibo users have been expressing their disappointment in their government in unusually blunt terms (considering the amount of censorship that goes on). Users on Weibo and WeChat complained about being left in the dark, and accused the government of endangering lives by waiting to disclose that the virus can travel between humans.



Overnight, the first instances of the virus were reported in Macau, and according to the SCMP, health authorities in Hong Kong are carrying out their third test to confirm that a patient from Wuhan is indeed infected with the virus.



Some 440 cases of the SARS-like virus have been confirmed so far across 13 Chinese provinces. China's medical authorities have 1,394 patients are under medical observation.



All of the deaths so far have been from Wuhan, a city of 11 million people at the center of the outbreak. They include eight men, aged 61 to 87, and one 48-year-old woman. Almost all of those who have succumbed to the virus had preexisting medical conditions.



The most up-to-date map from the NYT (which still doesn't reflect all of the known cases) illustrates just how far the virus has spread both within China, and abroad.





Following confirmation from the CDC that the first case of the virus had been diagnosed in the US, President Trump said during an interview from Davos that his administration has everything "totally under control."




We're still waiting to see if the WHO, which is meeting Wednesday, will declare the outbreak a dangerous pandemic. The outbreak began in a seafood and poultry market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China. Nine have died already. But how many more will succumb before this latest viral plague is contained?




Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 06:03
202
41 Views
French Intellectual Sentenced To 2 Months Jail After Calling Mass Immigration An "Invasion"

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,



French intellectual Renaud Camus has been given a 2 month suspended prison sentence for saying that mass immigration into Europe represents an “invasion.”





Camus will only avoid jail by paying 1800 euros to two “anti-racist” organizations, SOS Rac

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isme and the LICRA (International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism).



The writer, who is the author of Le Grand Remplacement (The Great Replacement), was charged with “public incitement to hate or violence on the basis of origin, ethnicity, nationality, race or religion.”



The conviction stems from a November 2017 speech in Colombey-les-deux Eglises to the National Council of European Resistance in which Camus declared, “Immigration has become an invasion.”




“The irreversible colonization is demographic colonization, by the replacement of the population,” said the author, adding,



“The ethnic substitution, the great replacement, is the most important event in the history of our nation since it has existed; as with other people, if the story continues, it will not be that of France.”




Camus also called for a “national consensus of resistance” to oppose Islamization in “the struggle for the salvation of our common civilization, Celtic, Slavic, Germanic, Greek-Latin, Judeo-Christian.”



The part of Camus’ speech that specifically garnered the attention of judges was when he talked about European people being replaced.




Camus said mass immigration “is the substitution, the tendency to substitute everything with its emulator, normalized, standardized, interchangeable: The original with its copy, the authentic with its imitation, the true with the false, the mothers with surrogate mothers, the culture with free time and entertainment.”




France suffers Islamic terror attacks on such a routine basis that it’s barely even an important news story anymore. Many of those terrorists are radicalized by mosques that escape any police scrutiny, but Camus must be punished for his crime of opinion.



And there you have it. Free speech is now a crime in France.



*  *  *



My voice is being silenced by free speech-hating Silicon Valley behemoths who want me disappeared forever. It is CRUCIAL that you support me. Please sign up for the free newsletter here. Donate to me on SubscribeStar here. Support my sponsor – Turbo Force – a supercharged boost of clean energy without the comedown.




Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 05:00


Tags

Social Issues

245
41 Views
The End Of US Military Dominance: Unintended Consequences Forge A Multipolar World Order

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,



Starting from the presidency of George W. Bush to that of Trump, the U.S. has made some missteps that not only reduce its influence in strategic regions of the world but also its ability to project power and thus impose its will on those unwilling to genuflect appropri

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ately.





Some examples from the recent past will suffice to show how a series of strategic errors have only accelerated the U.S.’s hegemonic decline.



ABM + INF = Hypersonic Supremacy

The decision to invade Afghanistan following the events of September 11, 2001, while declaring an “axis of evil” to be confronted that included nuclear-armed North Korea and budding regional hegemon Iran, can be said to be the reason for many of the most significant strategic problems besetting the U.S..



The U.S. often prefers to disguise its medium- to long-term objectives by focusing on supposedly more immediate and short-term threats. Thus, the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and its deployment of the Aegis Combat System (both sea- and land-based) as part of the NATO missile defense system, was explained as being for the purposes of defending European allies from the threat of Iranian ballistic missiles. This argument held little water as the Iranians had neither the capability nor intent to launch such missiles.



As was immediately clear to most independent analysts as well as to President Putin, the deployment of such offensive systems are only for the purposes of nullifying the Russian Federation’s nuclear-deterrence capability. Obama and Trump faithfully followed in the steps of George W. Bush in placing ABM systems on Russia’s borders, including in Romania and Poland.



Following from Trump’s momentous decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), it is also likely that the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) will also be abandoned, creating more global insecurity with regard to nuclear proliferation.



Moscow was forced to pull out all stops to develop new weapons that would restore the strategic balance, Putin revealing to the world in a speech in 2018 the introduction of hypersonic weapons and other technological breakthroughs that would serve to disabuse Washington of its first-strike fantasies.



Even as Washington’s propaganda refuses to acknowledge the tectonic shifts on the global chessboard occasioned by these technological breakthroughs, sober military assessments acknowledge that the game has fundamentally changed.



There is no defense against such Russian systems as the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, which serves to restore the deterrence doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD), which in turn serves to ensure that nuclear weapons can never be employed so long as this “balance of terror” exists. Moscow is thus able to ensure peace through strength by showing that it is capable of inflicting a devastating second strike with regard regard for Washington’s vaunted ABM systems.



In addition to ensuring its nuclear second-strike capability, Russia has been forced to develop the most advanced ABM system in the world to fend off Washington’s aggression. This ABM system is integrated into a defensive network that includes the Pantsir, Tor, Buk, S-400 and shortly the devastating S-500 and A-235 missile systems. This combined system is designed to intercept ICBMs as well as any future U.S. hypersonic weapons



The wars of aggression prosecuted by George W. Bush, Obama and Trump have only ended up leaving the U.S. in a position of nuclear inferiority vis-a-vis Russia and China. Moscow has obviously shared some of its technological innovations with its strategic partner, allowing Beijing to also have hypersonic weapons together with ABM systems like the Russian S-400.



No JCPOA? Here Comes Nuclear Iran

In addition to the continued economic and military pressure placed on Iran, one of the most immediate consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, better known as the Iran nuclear deal) has been Tehran being forced to examine all options. Although the country’s leaders and political figures have always claimed that they do not want to develop a nuclear weapon, stating that it is prohibited by Islamic law, I should think that their best course of action would be to follow Pyongyang’s example and acquire a nuclear deterrent to protect themselves from U.S. aggression.



While this suggestion of mine may not correspond with the intentions of leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the protection North Korea enjoys from U.S. aggression as a result of its deterrence capacity may oblige the Iranian leadership to carefully consider the pros and cons of following suit, perhaps choosing to adopt the Israeli stance of nuclear ambiguity or nuclear opacity, where the possession of nuclear weapons is neither confirmed nor denied. While a world free of nuclear weapons would be ideal, their deterrence value cannot be denied, as North Korea’s experience attests.



While Iran does not want war, any pursuit of a nuclear arsenal may guarantee a conflagration in the Middle East. But I have long maintained that the risk of a nuclear war (once nuclear weapons have been acquired) does not exist, with them having a stabilizing rather than destabilizing effect, particularly in a multipolar environment.



Once again, Washington has ended up shooting itself in the foot by inadvertently encouraging one of its geopolitical opponents to behave in the opposite manner intended. Instead of stopping nuclear proliferation in the region, the U.S., by scuppering of the JCPOA, has only encouraged the prospect of nuclear proliferation.



Trump’s short-sightedness in withdrawing from the JCPOA is reminiscent of George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. By triggering necessary responses from Moscow and Tehran, Washington’s actions have only ended up leaving it at a disadvantage in certain critical areas relative to its competitors.



The death of Soleimani punctures the myth of the U.S. invincibility

I wrote a couple of articles in the wake of General Soleimani’s death that examined the incident and then considered the profound ramifications of the event in the region.



What seems evident is that Washington appears incapable of appreciating the consequences of its reckless actions. Killing Soleimani was bound to invite an Iranian response; and even if we assume that Trump was not looking for war (I explained why some months ago), it was obvious to any observer that there would be a response from Iran to the U.S.’s terrorist actions.



The response came a few nights later where, for the first time since the Second World War, a U.S. military base was subjected to a rain of missiles (22 missiles each with a 700kg payload). Tehran thereby showed that it possessed the necessary technical, operational and strategic means to obliterate thousands of U.S. and allied personnel within the space of a few minutes if it so wished, with the U.S. would be powerless to stop it.



U.S. Patriot air-defense systems yet again failed to do their job, reprising their failure to defend Saudi oil and gas facilities against a missile attack conducted by Houthis a few months ago.



We thus have confirmation, within the space of a few months, of the inability of the U.S. to protect its troops or allies from Houthi, Hezbollah and Iranian missiles. Trump and his generals would have been reluctant to respond to the Iranian missile attack knowing that any Iranian response would bring about uncontrollable regional conflagration that would devastate U.S. bases as well as oil infrastructure and such cities of U.S. allies as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Dubai.



After demonstrating to the world that U.S. allies in the region are defenseless against missile attacks from even the likes of the Houthis, Iran drove home the point by conducting surgical strikes on two U.S. bases that only highlights the disconnect between the perception of U.S. military invincibility and the reality that would come in the form of a multilayered missile conflict.



Conclusion

Washington’s diplomatic and military decisions in recent years have only brought about a world world that is more hostile to Washington and less inclined to accept its diktats, often being driven instead to acquire the military means to counter Washington’s bullying. Even as the U.S. remains the paramount military power, its ineptitude has resulted in Russia and China surpassing it in some critical areas, such that the U.S. has no chance of defending itself against a nuclear second strike, with even Iran having the means to successfully retaliate against the U.S. in the region.



As I continue to say, Washington’s power largely rests on perception management helped by the make-believe world of Hollywood. The recent missile attacks by Houthis on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities and the Iranian missile attack a few days ago on U.S. military bases in Iraq (none of which were intercepted) are like Toto drawing back the curtain to reveal Washington’s military vulnerability. No amount of entreaties by Washington to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain will help.



The more aggressive the U.S. becomes, the more it reveals its tactical, operational and strategic limits, which in turn only serves to accelerate its loss of hegemony.



If the U.S. could deliver a nuclear first strike without having to worry about a retaliatory second strike thanks to its ABM systems, then its quest for perpetual unipolarity could possibly be realistic. But Washington’s peer competitors have shown that they have the means to defend themselves against a nuclear first strike by being able to deliver an unstoppable second strike, thereby communicating that the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) is here to stay. With that, Washington’s efforts to maintain its status as uncontested global hegemon are futile.



In a region vital to U.S. interests, Washington does not have the operational capacity to stand in the way of Syria’s liberation. When it has attempted to directly impose its will militarily, it has seen as many as 80% of its cruise missiles knocked down or deflected, once again highlighting the divergence between Washington’s Hollywood propaganda and the harsh military reality.



The actions of George W. Bush, Obama and Trump have only served to inadvertently accelerate the world’s transition away from a unipolar world to a multipolar one. As Trump follows in the steps of his predecessors by being aggressive towards Iran, he only serves to weaken the U.S. global position and strengthen that of his opponents.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 23:25


Tags

Politics
War Conflict

249
42 Views
Iranian MP Announces $3 Million Bounty For President Trump's Head

ISNA News reports Tuesday that an Iranian lawmaker offered $3 million for a bounty on President Trump's head after the assassination earlier this month that killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds military force and one of the most influential people in the country.



"On behalf of the people of Kerman province, we will pay a $3 million reward in cash to whoever kills

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Trump," lawmaker Ahmad Hamzeh told parliament. 





There was no mention from Hamzeh if the bounty had official backing from Iran's clerical leaders.



Kerman is the capital of the Kerman Province in Iran – the 10th most populous city. It's also the region where Soleimani was born. 



"If we had nuclear weapons today, we would be protected from threats ... We should put the production of long-range missiles capable of carrying unconventional warheads on our agenda. This is our natural right," the lawmaker added. 



During Solemani's funeral -- NBC News' Tehran Bureau Chief Ali Arouzi tweeted that one of the funeral organizers said if all Iranians donate $1 each, they could raise an $80 million bounty for President Trump's head. 




It seems Kathy Griffin was only three years too early...






Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 02:45


Tags

Human Interest
Politics

201
17 Views
Pope Francis Calls For Marxist Economic Summit

Authored by Antonius Aquinas,



As if there needs to be further evidence that the current occupant of St. Peter’s Chair in Rome is a Marxist, the announcement of an upcoming conference at Assisi entitled the “Economy of Francesco” should convince any skeptic otherwise.





In his invitation letter to “young economists and entrepreneur

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s worldwide,” Bergoglio sets the agenda for the Leftist confab quite clearly which is virulently anti-market, a call for massive redistribution of wealth, and a reordering of the current economic systems of the world with a healthy dose of climate change nonesense:




...a different kind of economy: one that brings life not death, one that is inclusive and not exclusive, humane and not dehumanizing, one that cares for the environment and does not despoil it.




While Bergoglio’s Marxist credentials have been firmly established, his blasphemous actions and words has a growing number outside of “sedevacantist circles” calling him a heretic.  The legitimacy of “Pope Francis,” however, is more fundamental than him being a manifest heretic, but his standing as a legitimate pope is invalid since his ordination as a priest and his consecration as a bishop came under the new rites of Holy Orders instituted in the wake of the Second Vatican anti-Council (1962-1965).



The mastermind behind Bergoglio’s summit is professor Luigino Bruni and from his comments he sounds more radical than the Argentine Apostate, if that is possible.  Professor Bruni wants to use taxation as a weapon to “redistribute income and wealth from the rich to the poor.”



Bruni, a professor of political economy at the Italian University, LUMSA, and the author of a number of books, basis his advocacy for redistribution of wealth on the Scriptures:




[T]he Bible has many words to offer our economic life and ideas [with] the transformation of wealth into well-being.




It appears that the good professor’s Bible is missing the Seventh Commandment of the Decalogue which solemnly states: THOU SHALL NOT STEAL!  In no legitimate commentary ever written on this Commandment is there an exception made for the confiscation of wealth from the well-to-do to be given to the poor.  Probably just an oversight on the Professor’s part.



Because they are blinded by socialistic ideology, Bruni, Bergoglio, and the likes of Bernie Sanders cannot see that the growing wealth inequality which they complain about is not the result of “capitalism,” but is the outcome of the monetary policy of the world’s central banks.  This, along with tax policies which hamper innovation and shield the entrenched financial class from competition, is why financial elites are able to maintain and increase their power.



Central bank policy of suppressing interest rates and of money printing allow banks and financial institutions to receive “free money” which they can invest and speculate with at zero cost.  The boom (actually a bubble) in asset prices on Wall Street is a demonstration of how wealth disparity takes place.



If Bergoglio really meant to reform the present system, he would call for the abolition of central banking and a return to “hard money.”  Under such an order, banks and financial institutions become wealthy on their ability to make prudent investment decisions subjected to profit and loss.  A free market in banking is the antithesis of the current system of credit expansion and money printing.



Not only have Bergoglio and his cohorts abandoned the Faith, but they have also overturned the Church’s long-held condemnation of socialism and have ignored many of its own outstanding thinkers on financial matters.  From the Scholastics to the School of Salamanca through the Jesuits and the great Cardinal Cajetan, who finally taught the proper doctrine on interest rates, the Church has produced scores of eminent economic thinkers in its long history.





School of Salamanca



Ever since socialism reared its ugly head as a social system of thought, the Church has warned of its dangers even its more milder forms as Pope Pius XII wrote, “No Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism.” 



Since Vatican II and especially under Bergoglio’s regime, however, Leftist ideas of all sorts have been warmly embraced.



At the heart of socialism, be it Marxism or its equally pernicious variants, lies envy which became a part of the human condition with the fall of man.  While once condemned, envy has been turned into a virtue by the likes of Bergoglio.



While such ideas may sound appealing to human sensibilities, they will not pass the Divine Judge who knows the thoughts and souls of all His creatures even those of supposed popes.




Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 02:00
209
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Housing Affordability Crisis Sparks "Rise Of The Pod People" Across America

The U.S. is facing an affordable housing crisis as the Federal Reserve continues to inflate home prices with easy money that is far outpacing wages. 



Homes in 74% of the country, mostly the large metro areas, are unaffordable for the average worker. At least three-quarters of millennials will never own home as they're drowning in student debt, auto loans, and credit car

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d debt. 



Renting has also become too costly for many in large metro areas like San Francisco. Millennials have already moved into campers and tent cities to escape rising rents, but there could be a new solution called "pod living." 



For about $1,000 to $1,375, a millennial could rent a 50 sq. Ft. pod per month in downtown San Francisco's Mission District, reported SFGate. 





As of right now, developer Chris Elsey of Elsey Partners in Manhattan, Kansas, is planning to build two apartment buildings in the Mission District that will house tiny apartments and 88 pods. 



"The contentious part is these below-grade sleeping pods," said Elsey. "When you're building something, the plans have to be approved by the Planning Department and the Building Department. These below-grade sleeping pods meet the building codes, but there's this perception from the Planning Department that it's not something any human being should be exposed to or allowed to do."





SFGate reached out to San Francisco's Department of Building about the project, who responded by saying: "At this point, we have not received any permit applications for the project. Until a developer applies for a building permit and submits building plans for DBI review, we are not in a position to say whether the proposed project will comply with San Francisco's Building Code."



Elsey's plan is to transform 401 S. Van Ness and 1500 15th St. into an eight-floor building with 161 200 sq. Ft. units. Then in the basement area, 88 pods will be housed, stacked up like a college dormitory. 





Elsey said pod life would have strict rules, including no pod sex and or pod parties. 



He said the purpose of the pods are too give millennials a chance to live in a hip part of town for an affordable price, even if that means a 50 sq. Ft. space for about $1,000 per month. 



"We're trying to build the most affordable market-rate living arrangement," said Elsey. "That's been our main objective."



He added: "We're trying to utilize this below-grade space that has traditionally been used for accessory uses such as bike parking. What's more important, beds or bikes? I guess it's up to everybody's opinion, but my opinion is there's an incredible housing shortage in San Francisco."



Elsey is not the first to develop pods for broke millennials – we noted last summer that PodShare had bunk beds for rent in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. 




On the East Coast, we noted that  "capsule living" has become a popular trend among millennials as 350 sq. Ft. studios in NYC cost upwards of $645,000. 



The fascination of tiny homes among millennials is the result of failed policies via the Fed and the government, who've allowed home prices to hyperinflate out of the reach of millennials. 



We've even documented millennials buying shipping container homes on Amazon that cost around $37,000. 





The pod life trend is increasing on both coasts - the American Dream is quickly reversing – a sign that wealth inequality in the "greatest economy ever" continues to soar. 



The new American dream explained: 





 




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 23:45
201
49 Views
Did Google Assassinate Wife Of Whistleblower Who Exposed The Search Engine?

Via GreatGameIndia.com,



A high-profile Google whistleblower who back in July testified before Congress that the search engine meddled in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton is now suggesting that the fatal car crash that killed his wife last month may not have been an accident.



Did Google assas

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sinate whistleblower’s wife who exposed the search engine?





Google Whistleblower Dr. Robert Epstein

Robert Epstein is an American psychologist, professor, author, and journalist. He earned his Ph.D. in psychology at Harvard University in 1981, was editor in chief of Psychology Today, a visiting scholar at the University of California, San Diego, and the founder and director emeritus of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies in Concord, MA.



Criticism of Google

In 2013, Epstein wrote in Time magazine that Google had “a fundamentally deceptive business model”. In 2015, he said that Google could rig the 2016 US presidential election and that search engine manipulation was “a serious threat to the democratic system of government”.



According to Epstein,Perhaps the most effective way to wield political influence in today’s high-tech world is to donate money to a candidate and then to use technology to make sure he or she wins. The technology guarantees the win, and the donation guarantees allegiance, which Google has certainly tapped in recent years with the Obama administration.”



In a 2017 article, Epstein criticized efforts by companies such as Google and Facebook to suppress fake news through algorithms, noting “the dangers in allowing big technology companies to decide which news stories are legitimate”.



Other journalists and researchers have expressed concerns similar to Epstein’s. Safiya Noble cited Epstein’s research about search engine bias in her 2018 book Algorithms of Oppression, although she has expressed doubt that search engines ought to counter-balance the content of large, well-resourced and highly trained newsrooms with what she called “disinformation sites” and “propaganda outlets”.



Ramesh Srinivasan, a professor of information studies at UCLA focusing on “the relationships between technology and politics”, agreed with Epstein that “the larger issue” of how search engines can shape users’ views is “extremely important”, but questioned how many undecided voters are using Google to them help decide who to vote for.



Senate Judiciary Committee

In July 2019, Epstein presented his research to the Senate Judiciary Committee, claiming that Google could manipulate “upwards of 15 million votes” in 2020 and recommending that Google’s search index be made public.



In a clarification to a question asked by Ted Cruz he also said that “2.6 million is a rock bottom minimum” for how many votes Google might have swung towards Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election, and that “the range is between 2.6 million and up to 10.4 million votes”.





Google dismissed Epstein’s research as “nothing more than a poorly constructed conspiracy theory”.



Death of Misti Epstein

In December, Epstein, 66, announced that his wife – 29-year-old Misti Vaughn – was killed when her car spun out of control in inclement weather in Escondido, Calif., located in San Diego County. The California Highway Patrol said Vaughn lost control of her Ford Ranger in the rain and careened into oncoming traffic, crashing into a big rig and an SUV, San Diego’s KNSD reported.



Epstein also shared an image of the badly damaged vehicle his wife was driving at the time of the wreck. “#Misti’s awesome Ford Ranger was broadsided by a Freightliner semi towing 2 loads of cement. I had my ear to her heart for most of the last 100 minutes of her life. I heard her take her last breath, & heard the last beat of her heart. Mine is broken,” he tweeted on Jan. 11.




Dr. Robert Epstein in a sensational tweet last Sunday suggested that the fatal car crash that killed his wife last month may not have been an accident. He said, “Last year, after I briefed a group of state AGs about #Google’s power to rig elections, one of them said, “I think you’re going to die in an accident in a few months,” he tweeted. “A few months later, my beautiful wife #Misti died a violent death. Makes you wonder.”




Investigation against Google in India

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has launched a probe against Google for leveraging its dominant market position. If found guilty Google might be looking at a fine that could exceed Rs 136 crore (almost 10 million dollars).



Google also had a role to play in 2008 Mumbai Attacks. One of the terrorist involved in Mumbai attacks closely monitored by British GCHQ was technology chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba Zarrar Shah. Top Secret US NSA document on Mumbai Attacks show that Mr. Shah, the technology chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani terror group, and fellow conspirators used Google Earth to show militants the routes to their targets in the city. He set up an Internet phone system to disguise his location by routing his calls through New Jersey.




It is no secret that technology giants Google, Microsoft and the likes works for the US military. Under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act, 2001 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 1978 the US Government and Intelligence Agencies can legally require a US based corporation to handover information that it either owns or has access to.



And recently the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai personally assured the US President Donald Trump about “Google’s commitment to the US military”. In the words of Snowden, “the rebranding of Surveillance as Social Media is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense.”




Tyler Durden

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 00:05


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Technology Internet

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Lawyers Claim Some Weinstein Accusers "Bragged About Having Sex With Him"

President Trump's impeachment isn't the only major trial that Americans will be following in January.



Now that the jury has been picked (sadly, Gigi Hadid didn't make the cut, much to the disappointment of the New York Post) and the defense has succeeded in limiting the number of young, white women on the jury to just 2, it's time for what some are hyping as the ne

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xt trial of the century.



Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood studio head and kingmaker whose fall from grace inspired the #MeToo movement, is facing a criminal trial in Manhattan on charges of rape and assault. I convicted, it's extremely likely that the 67-year-old Weinstein will be sentenced to life in prison, while civil suits and penalties eat away whatever is left of his fortune.





With opening statements about to begin next week, Weinstein's legal team has started laying out its defense in the press.



According to ABC News, Weinstein's team is pushing to include a trove of "intimate email correspondence" between the former mogul and his accusers - emails that they say would paint a wildly different picture of their relationships with the defendant.



Some of the emails even show that some of the very same women accusing Weinstein of rape once bragged to friends about being in a sexual relationship with the mogul. Given Weinstein's stature in the industry, many of his accusers are women who wanted or needed a favor from him, even if it was merely a small role in one of his films.



Though Weinstein's reputation has been thoroughly sullied in a way that makes it impossible to portray him as a victim (except inside his own head), the lawyers could argue that this evidence weakens the witnesses' credibility, suggesting that they might have reluctantly consented to Weinstein's advances.



Conveniently, Weinstein's health has apparently deteriorated over the last two years - or at least that's what his lawyers want the public to believe.



The trial is moving ahead in Manhattan as Weinstein's lawyers have so far failed in their push to change the venue outside of New York City, where hatred for Weinstein is likely at its highest. 



Considering the number of celebrities and the circus like atmosphere that engulfs everything in NYC, Weinstein's lawyers argued that he would never received a fair trial. But the judge rejected those claims.



In December, he underwent a bilateral laminectomy, a back surgery that was allegedly vital to repair damage from a one-car crash. Weinstein said he swerved off the road trying to avoid a deer. That must have been some deer.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 21:05


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Law Crime

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Ron Paul: How Expansive Is FBI Spying?

Authored by Ron Paul via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,



Cato Institute Research Fellow Patrick Eddington recently filed several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to find out if the Federal Bureau of Investigation ever conducted surveillance of several organizations dealing with government policy, including my Campaign for Liberty. Based on the FBI’s respons

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e, Campaign for Liberty and other organizations, including the Cato institute and the Reason Foundation, may have been subjected to FBI surveillance or other data collection.





I say “may have been” because the FBI gave Mr. Eddington a “Glomar response” to his FOIA requests pertaining to these organizations. A Glomar response is where an agency says it can “neither confirm nor deny” involvement in a particular activity. Glomar was a salvage ship the Central Intelligence Agency used to recover a sunken Soviet submarine in the 1970s. In response to a FOIA request by Rolling Stone magazine, the CIA claimed that just confirming or denying the Glomar’s involvement in the salvage operation would somehow damage national security. A federal court agreed with the agency, giving federal bureaucrats, and even local police departments, a new way to avoid giving direct answers.



The Glomar response means these organizations may have been, and may still be, subjected to federal surveillance. As Mr. Eddington told Reason magazine, "We know for a fact that Glomar invocations have been used to conceal actual, ongoing activities, and we also know that they're not passing out Glomars like candy."



Protecting the right of individuals to join together in groups to influence government policy is at the very heart of the First Amendment. Therefore, the FBI subjecting such groups to surveillance can violate the constitutional rights of everyone involved with the groups.



The FBI has a long history of targeting Americans whose political beliefs and activities threaten the FBI’s power or the power of influential politicians. The then-named Bureau of Investigation participated in the crackdown on people suspected of being communists in the post-World War I “Red Scare.” The anti-communist crackdown was headed by a young agent named J. Edgar Hoover who went on to become FBI director, a position he held until his death. Hoover kept and expanded his power by using the FBI to collect blackmail material on people including politicians.



In the 1930s and 1940s, the FBI spied on supporters of the America First movement, including several Congress members. Two of the most famous examples of FBI targeting individuals based on their political activities are the harassment of Martin Luther King Jr. and the COINTELPRO program. COINTELPRO was an organized effort to spy on and actively disrupt “subversive” organizations, including antiwar groups.



COINTELPRO officially ended in the 1970s. However, the FBI still targets individuals and organizations it considers “subversive,” including antiwar groups and citizen militias.



Congress must hold hearings to determine if the FBI is currently using unconstitutional methods to “monitor” any organizations based on their beliefs. Congress must then take whatever steps necessary to ensure that no Americans are ever again targeted for surveillance because of their political beliefs and activities.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 20:05


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Jeff Bezos Phone 'Hacked By Saudi Crown Prince': Report

Jeff Bezos was allegedly hacked by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or someone operating his WhatsApp account, according to The Guardian, so who knows.





Bezos was apparently hanging out in an encrypted WhatsApp chat room in 2018 when he opened an "infected video file" sent to him from the Saudi heir's account, instantly installing malware on his pho

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ne. Within hours, large amounts of data had been exfiltrated - though exactly what was taken or how it may have been used is unknown.




The two men had been having a seemingly friendly WhatsApp exchange when, on 1 May of that year, the unsolicited file was sent, according to sources who spoke to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity. -Guardian




Recall that after the National Enquirer published an exposé in early 2019 detailing Bezos’s extramarital affair, the billionaire revealed that the publication had threatened to publish explicit photos of him unless he publicly stated that there had been no political motivation for the tabloid’s original story. Bezos would make no such concession - instead, penning a Medium post exposing the attempt.



And while the Enquirer's parent company AMI insists their source was Michael Sanchez, the brother of Mr. Bezos’ girlfriend - Bezos's security consultant consultant, Gavin de Becker, alleged the Saudis were behind the leak - as they had "been intent on harming Jeff Bezos since . . . The Post began its relentless coverage" of the murder of Saudi dissident and Post journalist, Jamap Khashoggi."



De Becker writes:




Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information. As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.



We did not reach our conclusions lightly. The inquiry included a broad array of resources: investigative interviews with current and former AMI executives and sources, extensive discussions with top Middle East experts in the intelligence community, leading cybersecurity experts who have tracked Saudi spyware, discussions with current and former advisers to President Trump, Saudi whistleblowers, people who personally know the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (also known as MBS), people who work with his close associate Saud al-Qahtani, Saudi dissidents, and other targets of Saudi action, including writer/activist Iyad el-Baghdadi.



Experts with whom we consulted confirmed New York Times reports on the Saudi capability to “collect vast amounts of previously inaccessible data from smartphones in the air without leaving a trace—including phone calls, texts, emails”—and confirmed that hacking was a key part of the Saudis’ “extensive surveillance efforts that ultimately led to the killing of [Washington Post] journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” -Gavin de Becker (via the Daily Beast)




As the Post noted in October, "After Khashoggi’s killing in Istanbul, the planet’s richest man, who also owns The Post, became the target of waves of criticism from Saudi-based online trolls." (Also interesting, and perhaps related, is a $1 billion Saudi data center deal Amazon was vying for in March 2018, which began to fizzle out as early as February 2019 - as the dick-pic scandal unfolded.)



Sanchez, meanwhile, vehemently denied being AMI's source, while de Becker said in The Beast that Sanchez was contacted by the Enquirer first, not the other way around.



Michael Sanchez


AMI has repeatedly insisted they had only one source on their Bezos story, but the Journal reports that when the Enquirer began conversations with Michael Sanchez, they had “already been investigating whether Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez were having an affair.” Michael Sanchez has since confirmed to Page Six that when the Enquirer contacted him back in July, they had already “seen text exchanges” between the couple. If accurate, the WSJ and Page Six stories would mean, clearly and obviously, that the initial information came from other channels—another source or method. -Gavin de Becker (via the Daily Beast)




AMI insists Sanchez was their source, however The Guardian now says it was the Saudis all along - at the highest level. Of course, given the publication, we should be wary that the Bezos-MbS 'source' is the same one who told them Manafort met with Julian Assange in the Ecuador's London embassy.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 17:45
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Illinois Pensions 101: Paltry Contributions Yield Million-Dollar Payouts

Authored by Adam Schuster via IllinoisPolicy.org,



Across all five state retirement systems, typical career workers pay for about 5% of the cost of their pension benefits. They receive an average of $1.7 million to $3.6 million.





Illinois’ pension crisis is the worst in U.S. history – which raises the question, “W

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hy?”



First, because public employees pay very little toward their own retirement and assume none of the economic risk for investments. Second, because workers retire relatively young so they are drawing from the systems longer. And third, because they receive pension benefits often in excess of $2 million during the course of their long, generous retirements.



Ultimately, this poorly designed system is bad for the retirees. They face a serious risk that the pension systems will go insolvent.



The state has five retirement systems it manages directly and is responsible for contributing to:




  • The Teachers’ Retirement System, or TRS, for pre-K through 12th-grade school employees outside of Chicago




  • The State Universities Retirement System, or SURS, for higher education employees




  • The State Employees’ Retirement System, or SERS, for employees of state agencies and boards




  • The Judges’ Retirement System, or JRS, for judges




  • And the General Assembly Retirement System, or GARS, which manages pensions for state lawmakers and statewide elected officials



Depending on the system, between 43% and 94% of retirees are set to receive benefits of at least $1 million during retirement. Between 18% and 83% will receive lifetime benefits in excess of $2 million. The largest lifetime pensions can be worth more than $10 million.





More than 50% of state workers and teachers will retire before age 60. Taking advantage of early retirement benefits, large portions of these employees will retire prior to age 55.



These returns on retirement investments combined with early retirement is unheard of in the private sector.



The average Social Security benefit for 2019 is $17,532 per year. The maximum Social Security benefit is $34,332 per year. The earliest anyone can qualify for Social Security is age 62 and the full retirement age for anyone born after 1960 is 67. According to CNBC, the average 401(k) balance for those close to retirement, people aged 60 to 69, is just $195,500. However, with prudent savings and an early start, personal retirement accounts can be a secure way to fund retirement. Fidelity Investments reported in 2018 that the number of 401(k) and IRA millionaires was at an all-time high – up 41% from just one year earlier.



No matter how you look at it, private sector taxpayers can rarely hope for the generous benefits they subsidize for public employees. The typical private sector worker would need to have saved $1.6 million in a personal retirement account by age 60 to receive the same $82,000  base pension as the average career teacher, or those with at least 30 years of experience. And 3% compounding post-retirement increases are not an option for private sector retirees.



Illinois law requires public employees to set aside very little on their own during a typical working career. This is especially true for “career employees” with at least 30 years of service credit but applies to shorter-term public workers as well.



While benefit payments are lower for employees in TRS, SURS, SERS and JRS who do not work at least 30 years, the benefits are still substantial. Illinois taxpayers subsidize the majority of the cost and assume all the risk without the ability to modify even future promises.





For career workers who serve 30 years or more, lifetime employee pension contributions account for between 4% and 6% of expected payouts, other than for members of the General Assembly Retirement System. These contributions legally guarantee employees a pension that is typically worth more than $2 million. State employees in SERS are the exception, but they are generally eligible for Social Security benefits and still average a generous $1.7 million. As of the most recent report from the state, 96.3% of state workers are also eligible for Social Security, which explains the somewhat lower benefit.





The state implemented a less generous benefit schedule for employees hired after Dec. 31, 2010, but the first so-called “Tier 2” employee will not be eligible for retirement until January 2021 because they must be at least 67 years old with 10 years of service to qualify for a pension.



Illinois pension debt exists almost entirely because of benefits for Tier 1 workers and retirees, those who began working for an eligible government employer prior to 2011. In fact, younger workers in Tier 2 may actually be subsidizing Tier 1 benefits by paying in more than they’ll receive, at least for teachers. As a result, teacher advocacy groups have predicted that if the state does not fix Tier 2 benefits, a lawsuit against the state is likely which could force higher benefits and increase the state’s pension debt even further.



Lawmakers did recently enhance benefits for Tier 2 downstate public safety workers. But they did so without knowing the cost or determining that it was actually necessary.



Still, the state’s $137 billion to $234 billion in public pension debt is really about Tier 1 benefits.



All Tier 1 retirees in the five state systems receive a 3% compounding annual increase regardless of actual inflation. While often mistakenly referred to as a “cost of living adjustment,” these are more accurately described as guaranteed post-retirement raises because they are not pegged to inflation.



It is important to note that Illinoisans should not blame retirees for the way politicians designed the state’s pension systems. In reality, their retirement security faces the same risk as the rest of the state: insolvency.



Weren’t Illinois pensions underfunded?

One common call among government worker unions and associated advocacy groups is that Illinois pensions were not overpromised, but underfunded.



While it’s true Illinois politicians played reckless funding games, this is a symptom of the fact that benefits were set at a level that was too expensive to be affordable or sustainable. Because actually making the full payments would have been budget-busting and caused unacceptably high tax levels, both Republicans and Democrats at the state and local levels have sought creative ways to avoid making the full actuarial pension payments over the years.




  • Republican former Gov. Jim Edgar negotiated a payment ramp with the General Assembly that violated actuarial best practices of funding. First, the payments were stretched out over 50 years while actuaries typically recommend 20-year payment schedules and no more than 30. In practice, this means payments were low during Edgar’s term and spiked dramatically for his successors. Second, the funding target was set at 90% rather than 100%, meaning the state’s current funding plan does not fully anticipate paying off the debt.




  • Democratic former Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued bonds to pay off part of the pension debt but then used those proceeds as an excuse to reduce the state’s regular pension contributions from the operating budget. At the time, this “pension holiday” was supported by several of the state’s politically active public sector unions, including the Service Employees International Union, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association.




  • Due to the lack of a funding requirement from the state, local mayors have regularly shorted their contributions to downstate police and fire pension funds in cities across Illinois. Pension benefits for local governments are established by state law. In other words, mayors were struggling to manage their own budgets and provide services without an unreasonable tax burden while being forced to pay for unsustainable pension benefits they played little to no role in creating. Now that the state is enforcing full required payments, local mayors in several towns have been forced to lay off police officers and firefighters or otherwise cut municipal services to pay for pensions.



But rather than being a core cause of the pension crisis, these funding games are a symptom of the fact that the full payments are unaffordable.



State and local governments in Illinois already spend the most in the nation on pensions as both a percentage of their total revenues – about double the national average – and compared to the size of the state’s economy. Illinois pension debt is equal to roughly one-third of everything the state’s businesses and residents produce in a year.



Illinois’ ever-growing pension spending is already crowding out core government services. The state spends about one-third less today, adjusted for inflation, than it did in the year 2000 on core services including child protection, state police and college money for poor students. During that time pension spending increased 501%.



Despite these facts, some opponents of pension reform have maintained that “underfunding” of the pension systems is a chief cause of the debt. In a very narrow financial sense, this might be true. The existence of any form of debt is proof that not enough money has been set aside.



But in terms of the conclusions drawn by pension reform opponents, nothing could be further from the truth than the idea Illinois has a pension crisis because taxpayers haven’t been paying enough. They already pay the most and would have to double the amount they’re paying to eliminate the debt.



To show just how absurd the “underfunding” argument really is, imagine you took out a $1 million mortgage on a $40,000 annual income.



Your monthly mortgage payment — not including property taxes — would total $3,800 using today’s standard interest rate. Problem is, your monthly take-home pay — after accounting for state and local taxes — is about $2,650.



As much as you wanted that house, you never would have been able to afford that monthly cost, given your ability to pay. Before long, the bank will come knocking to repossess the property.



You may have “underfunded” your mortgage, but only because you originally overpromised on what you would be able to pay. Similarly, Illinois politicians promised pension benefits that taxpayers never could and never would be able to afford. They designed a system with no flexibility or risk sharing, placing all the burden on taxpayers to make up for the shortfalls of their mismanagement.



Illinois pensions were underfunded because they were overpromised. Rather than dealing with the painful tax hikes necessary to fully fund exorbitant benefits, politicians racked up debt, placing the burden of pension funding on the state’s young and unborn.



Regardless, it’s clear that tax hikes are not a potential solution going forward.



Those who deny the extravagance of current Illinois pension benefits also elude a key question: What next? To catch up the states’ five pension systems, Illinois median income family would have to see a tax hike of about $1,800, per year.



Is there any way out of Illinois’ pension crisis?

Tax hikes are not a responsible or realistic solution to the worst pension crisis in the nation. Illinois’ tax burden is already one of the nation’s most painful and the top reason residents cite for wanting to leave the state.



Illinois could file for bankruptcy protection under hypothetical legislation similar to the “PROMESA” law Congress passed to deal with Puerto Rico’s financial distress, but that scenario is extreme and unlikely. The state’s only viable option is meaningful pension reform. That starts with a constitutional amendment to allow changes to unearned, future benefits.



Rather than deleting the pension protection clause entirely, Illinois should seek to modify it to match states such as Hawaii or Michigan which protect only “accrued benefits.” Subsequent pension reforms should include raising retirement ages for younger workers, capping maximum pensionable salaries, and doing away with guaranteed permanent benefit increases in favor of a true cost-of-living adjustment pegged to inflation.



An actuarial analysis, performed by a certified professional actuary and commissioned by the Illinois Policy Institute, shows that reform to unearned future benefits could save roughly $2 billion per year in pension contributions and fully eliminate the debt by 2045. From now until 2045, total savings would be $50.92 billion. That’s all possible without taking away a single dollar earned to date.



The concept of future benefit reforms has been successfully enacted in Colorado as well as in Arizona, which had support from union leaders who realized pensions were in peril.



Pension reform is a moral imperative. The alternative is a future in which core services are cut, taxes are raised on a dwindling number of taxpayers and pensioners risk losing what they’ve already been promised as the funds go insolvent.



If Illinoisans work together, common-sense pension reform can work for everyone.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 18:05


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"Hypocrisy Is Everywhere" - Hillary Clinton Defends Relationship With Weinstein

After months of teasing the public about the possibility of a last-minute presidential run - or emerging as the Democratic Party's would-be savior during a brokered convention - Hillary Clinton must have finally decided that politics isn't her game.



Because during an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the two-time failed presidential candidate and former secretar

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y of state embraced one of the most controversial opinion that one could possibly take: Defending her relationship with former Hollywood sudio head and super-producer Harvey Weinstein.



And that wasn't the only jaw-dropping comment: Clinton also insisted that "Nobody likes" Bernie Sanders, who is, according to polls, one of the most popular politicians in the country.





Though Clinton, who is out on a media tour ahead of the premier of a four-part docu-series entitled "Hillary", once again disavowed Weinstein, adding that she was "shocked and appalled" at his actions, she refused to apologize for being friends with the Democratic bundler and influential donor, arguing that their relationship was "something that everybody thought made sense."



Many uber-feminists and other die-hard Clinton have already probably forgotten that Clinton waited five days before issuing a statement condemning Weinstein, seemingly waiting to see how the chips would fall before picking a side. She also deflected criticism of Weinstein by trying to turn the world's attention to President Trump with the famous line



Asked if Clinton had any regrets about her long friendship with Weinstein, she replied that she and her aides had no idea that he was a sexual predator




"How could we have known?" Clinton said. "He raised money for me, for the Obamas, for Democrats in general. And that at the time was something that everybody thought made sense."




Of course, anybody who has been paying attention to the Weinstein scandal should know that this is probably a bald-faced lie: Both the NYT and the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow reported that Weinstein’s sexual aggression was an open secret, particularly among his rich and powerful peers, a group that obviously includes Clinton.



Since 1992, Weinstein and his family have given nearly $1.5 million to various politicians, almost exclusively Democrats.



Clinton said her relationship with Weinstein would have been “very different” if she had known about the allegations: “Of course, if all of us had known what we know now, it would have affected our behavior.”



Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hillary Clinton interview if she didn’t invoke the name of her one-time rival, President Trump. Hypocrisy is everywhere - even in the Oval Office, Clinton said.




"I love this word 'gobsmacked' because, yes, look, hypocrisy is everywhere," Clinton said. "Look at the current occupant of the White House for Lesson A."




That would be true even if she won in 2016: Because let’s not forget about all the women that Clinton helped intimidate into silence after their dalliances with her husband.



Weinstein's criminal trial over charges of rape and assault is about to get underway at a Manhattan court.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 17:05


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UW Lecturer Claims He Was Demoted After Pointing Out Male & Female Differences

Authored by Ben McDonald via Campus Reform,



Stuart Reges, a principal lecturer of computer science at the University of Washington, alleges that he was demoted for being sympathetic to James Damore, the fired Google employee who wrote the controversial Google memo in 2017.





In an article for Quillette, 

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Reges wrote that it all started in 2018 when he wrote another piece for the outlet titled, “Why Women Don’t Code,” which gained popularity after Jordan Peterson tweeted a link to the story.



The recent Quillette article states that he was initially hired to run UW’s introductory computer science classes to which he developed two “highly successful courses that have over 4,500 enrollments combined per year.” 



Yet after his 2018 Quillette piece graduate students at the school filed a grievance against him with their union.



Reges told Campus Reform that he was deeply concerned about what happened to Damore and that he hoped it was an overreaction but said, “I've since concluded that he was the canary in the coal mine.  I have seen more and more emphasis on what I call the equity agenda in tech in general and at my school in particular.”



In response to the graduate students' complaints, UW created a working group, which in turn released new guidelines. 



The guidelines included less rigorous grading when it comes to coding, sensitivity and bias training for teaching assistants,  and spending less time trying to identify students who are cheating. The working group also suggested reviewing each course to ensure it is inclusive. 



Furthermore, the guidelines recommended that professors include in their class syllabi "indigenous land acknowledgment" gender-neutral names that also reflect a number of different cultures, and the avoidance of the use of phrases like "y'all," "folks," and "you guys."



Reges said that before he wrote the Quillette article he spent a year discussing it with professors, to which he concluded,




I am convinced that our diversity efforts are entering a dangerous phase where we emphasize blaming men more than encouraging women, seeing any difference in participation as proof of oppression when perhaps it is just a difference in the choices that men and women make for what career options most interest them.”




He told Campus Reform, “There was an intense reaction from my faculty colleagues and particularly from a group of graduate students in our department.  Many have called for me to be fired.”



In a response to his assertion that he was demoted, UW spokesperson Victor Balta told the DailyUW, “To be clear, Stuart is not being punished; he has not been demoted or placed on probation.”



When asked by Campus Reform for his response to the denial by the school, Reges said, “having the most complex and impactful duties that I perform taken away from me is obviously a demotion.  The bigger issue is the fact that I was reappointed for just one year."



 He continued,  “every other lecturer reappointment in the Allen School has been for three years and given that I have the highest lecturer rank (Principal Lecturer), the faculty code states that the normal reappointment would be for at least three years. They had to get special permission from the provost to make such a limited appointment.”



Reges said that he will be able to survive no matter what happens and is “just taking it one day at a time.”



Campus Reform reached out to the University of Washington for comment but did not receive comment in time for publication.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 15:05


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'Russian Spies' Posed As Plumbers To Bug Elite Davos Attendees: Swiss Police

We described previously how organizers of the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos have beefed up security, including extra vehicle checks and 'webcam shutdowns,' while the Swiss national authorities have restricted the airspace above the event  and further up to 5,000 troops and even fighter jets and radar have been utilized as part of a $9 million budget just for the extra secu

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rity. This as Zurich regional police have designated 130 attendees of the attendees “protected under international law” which are among 3,000 other VIPs — most of which are richest people on the planet. Despite hundreds of climate protesters descending on the picturesque town in the Swiss Alps, was the "real threat" Russian agents all along? 


Davos on lock down: Swiss Police atop roof of the Hotel Davos ahead of a prior World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. Image via Bloomberg.

Timed for the World Economic Forum's opening day, Swiss police have revealed an alleged Russian spy and infiltration plot, per a breaking report: 




Five months before world leaders began their pilgrimage to the annual World Economic Forum this week — among them US president Donald Trump — Swiss police interrupted what reports on Tuesday claimed were the beginnings of a Russian spying operation in the secluded Alpine town



Alerted to their unusually long stay in the high-end resort, police picked up two Russian men in Davos in August, the Graubünden cantonal police department confirmed to the Financial Times. 




Adding to the strangeness of the story, the two Russians who apparently overstayed their welcome in the town were posing as plumbers. Authorities believe that's how they planned to access facilities and rooms where world leaders and global elites would discuss sensitive policies and planning. President Trump is in attendance, and on the opening day gave a public speech to attendees emphasizing his "America First" approach to global crises. 



Zürich’s Tages-Anzeiger newspaper first broke the story, after Swiss police concluded the men were part of a Kremlin covert effort to wiretap conversations at the high security and notoriously secretive elite event. Russia slammed the accusations as “one more attempt to undermine Swiss-Russian relations,” according to a statement issued by the Russian Embassy in Switzerland.


Davos on lock down, via EPA/Straits Times

Though the initial newspaper report underscored that no specific criminal acts were uncovered, their lengthy stay and Russian passports evoked suspicion by police.



Crucially, when questioned the pair claimed diplomatic protections, despite not being registered in the country as official diplomats — a normative requirement and procedure, according to local police statements. 



Russian embassy officials acknowledged that two Russian nationals were briefly held and questioned by police, but that no criminal wrongdoing was found. 


Swiss police sniper at the World Economic Forum, via CNBC/Fabrice Coffrini

Recently, two alleged Russian spies were expelled from The Hague in The Netherlands after they were suspected of hacking into a Swiss laboratory. The Hague and other European cities like Brussels which host major international and Western institutions and alliances like NATO and the World Court, have lately been described in international reports as becoming a hub for international spies gathering information for their governments. 


President Trump arrives at Davos this week, via NBC.

In Davos this week, apart from the millions in overall event security being spent by the Swiss, the elite attendees are expected to spend tens of millions on their own personal security.



For example encrypting the US president's personal communications alone is expected to run $266,000 for a mere two days, according to figures cited in FT.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 14:10
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Oil Is The Only Way Back Up For Venezuela

Via OilPrice.com Editorial Dept.,



There’s only one path to rebuilding Venezuela, and it’s paved with oil. For the time being, that path leads nowhere.





The key to controlling everything now lies with the National Assembly, the only body with the power to hand out oil licenses—and Maduro’s recent scheme to retake control of the country’s oil m

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ay just have been foiled by more Trump sanctions. 



Venezuela is the 12th largest oil producer in the world and home to the world’s largest oil reserves--all of which is irrelevant as long as it remains in the throes of a deep economic and humanitarian crisis amid runaway corruption, a devalued currency and crippling sanctions by the U.S. and the EU.



Maduro’s attempt to cling to power is relentless, but in his quest this past week to take control of the oil industry, Washington was paying close attention. And now, the rogue president and his government have suffered another major blow, with the US imposing fresh sanctions on seven Maduro acolytes. 



Legislative Crisis

Last week, Venezuela plunged into a major legislative crisis after soldiers and pro-Maduro supporters barred U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó and his deputies from entry into congress before quickly naming Luis Parra, a former opposition lawmaker who recently defected to the Maduro camp, as head of a pro-government assembly.



Maduro loyalists and Guaidó’s opposition legislators engaged in a showdown of claims and counterclaims that left neither side with clear control of the assembly.



Diplomats and energy consultants see the latest drama as a move by Maduro to continue to cling to power by gaining control of congress and legitimizing investments by Russian, Chinese and other deep-pocketed investors in a bid to revive the country’s collapsing oil industry. 



Russia, China, India and Turkey have been demanding legal security from Caracas even as they look to tap the country’s cheap energy and mining assets.



Venezuela’s national assembly is the last independent government institution with the sole mandate to legally approve oil-licensing deals, thanks to a law crafted by Maduro’s leftist predecessor, the late Hugo Chávez, which gave state oil monopoly PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela) majority financial stakes and mandatory operational control. 



Had the congress takeover been successful, Maduro’s supporters would have been in a position to draft a new law that would confer legal powers to foreign companies to run day-to-day operations for oil projects in the country.



It would have been similar to Mexico’s massive energy reforms (now being undone) that opened up the country to foreign investors and destroyed a state-run monopoly. Under any other circumstances, the West would have been rather excited at this prospect—but not where it concerns Venezuela. 




“This whole operation reflects the extreme necessity of the regime to try and give legitimacy to contracts, especially in the oil sector,” Luis Stefanelli, a former opposition lawmaker who went into exile to escape state persecution, told the WSJ.




Venezuela’s Crude oil production has plunged from 3.2 million barrels/day before President Obama imposed the first sanctions on the country in 2015 to just 700,000 barrels/day currently due to the international sanctions even as the government lacks funds to maintain derelict oil infrastructure.





Meanwhile, the country’s economy has contracted 60%, clearly underlining the importance of oil to the country’s coffers.



Moscow to the Rescue?

Caracas will no doubt be counting on Moscow to come to its rescue-- as it has done several times in the past.



Russia has repeatedly expressed unflinching support for Maduro, going as far as providing military support even after Washington prohibited its allies from doing any business with the nation. Washington has in the past accused Moscow of providing assistance to Caracas in the movement of gold and oil, helping to finance, market and ship the commodities in ways that circumvent U.S. sanctions.



Make no mistake about whose side Russia is on in the latest saga: The nation was one of the few nations to brazenly applaud Maduro’s latest antics. But that’s because it wants a return on its investment, in the least.



Maduro remains the de facto head of state thanks to the backing of the armed forces, in addition to the backing of heavyweights like Russia, China and India who salivate at the prospects of exploiting the nation’s vast mineral riches. 



Guaidó, on the other hand, is the legitimate leader of Venezuela’s Congress and also enjoys the backing of the United States; however, his support could be weakening as evidenced by dwindling volumes of followers at his rallies.



And certainly, Maduro and his cohorts are already devising a new workaround to thwart Washington’s efforts.



Jay Park, the CEO of oil and gas explorer Recon Africa, is a Latin America expert who helped Mexico’s Pemex seal its first-ever joint venture deal. He knows the region better than most, and he is an expert at navigating the oil-political nexus. 



In the case of Venezuela, Park told Oilprice.com that it’s difficult to see Maduro leaving anytime soon. 




“He’s survived U.S. sanctions and local opposition, and no one seems willing to take the military step to show him the door,” Park said.



“Even if they did, it would take a number of years for Venezuela’s oil industry to come back.”





Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 11:35


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The Geopolitics Of Epistemological Warfare: From Babylon To Neocon

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,



I think any sane human being can agree that while war was never a good idea, war in the 21st century is an absolutely intolerable one. The problem we currently face is that many of the forces driving world events towards an all-out war of “Mutually Assured Annihilation” are anything but sane.



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While I’m obviously referring here to a certain category of people who fall under a particularly virulent strain of imperial thinking which can be labelled “neo-conservative” and while many of these disturbing figures honestly believe that a total war of annihilation is a risk worth taking in order to achieve their goals of total global hegemony, I would like to make one subtle yet very important distinction which is often overlooked.



What is this distinction?



Under the broad umbrella of “neo-conservative” one should properly differentiate those who really believe in their ideology and are trapped under the invisible cage of its unexamined assumptions vs. that smaller yet more important segment that created and manages the ideology from the top. I brushed on this grouping in a recent 3 part study called Origins of the Deep State and Myth of the Jewish Conspiracy.



To re-state my meaning: This group doesn’t necessarily believe in the ideological group they manage any more than a parent believes in that tooth fairy which they promote in order to achieve certain behavioral patterns in their children.



While belief in the tooth fairy is slightly less destructive than belief in a misanthropic neocon worldview of a Bolton, Pompeo or Cheney, the analogy is useful to communicate the point.



Cult Managers: Ancient Babylon and Now

Modern ideology-shapers serve the same role as those ancient high priests of Babylon, Persia and Rome who managed the many cults and countless pagan mystery religions recorded throughout the ages. It is well documented that any cult could comfortably exist under Rome’s control, as long as said cult denied any claim to objective truthfulness- making the rise of Abrahamic monotheistic faiths more than a little antagonistic to empire.



Did the high priests necessarily BELIEVE in those dogmas which they created and managed?



Hell no.



Was it politically necessary to create them?



Of course.



Why?



Because an Empire, like everything in the world, exist as a whole with parts… but since they deny any principle of natural law (justice, love, goodness, etc), empires are merely a sum of parts and their rules of organization can be nothing but zero sum. Each cultish group may coexist as an echo chamber alongside other groups sacrificing to whatever deity they wish without judgement of moral right or wrong bounded only by a common blind faith in their group’s beliefs- but nothing universal about justice, creative reason, or human nature is otherwise permitted. Here the a-moral “peace” of “equilibrium” can be achieved by an oligarchy which wishes to lord over the slaves. Whether we are dealing with Caesar Augustus, Lord Metternich’s Congress of Vienna, Aldous Huxley, Sir Henry Kissinger, or Leo Strauss (father of modern neo-conservativism), “Peace” can never be anything more than a mathematical “balancing of parts”.



Now it is a good moment to ask: What does this phenomenon look like in our modern age?



To answer this, let us leap over a couple of millennia and take a look at something a bit more personal: Adam Smith and the doctrine of free trade.



Smith at Her Majesty’s Service

Do Smith’s modern followers sincerely believe in the “self-regulating forces of the free market”?



Sure they do.



Did Adam Smith actually believe in his own system?



Whether he did or not, according to recent research conducted by historian Jeffrey Steinberg, Smith received his commission to compose his seminal book Wealth of Nations (published 1776) while riding with Lord Shelburne himself in a carriage ride from Edinburgh to London in 1763. The date 1776 is not a coincidence as this was the same Lord Shelburne who essentially managed the British Empire during the American Revolution and who always despised all colonial aspirations to use protective tariffs, emit productive credit or channel said credit towards internal improvements as Benjamin Franklin had championed in his 1729 Necessity of Paper Currency and Colonial Script.



Why develop Industry, asked Smith, when the new “Law” of “absolute advantage” demanded that everyone just do what they are good at for the best price possible? America has a lot of land, so they should stick with agriculture and slave-driven cotton. Britain had a lot of industry (don’t ask how that happened because it wasn’t through free trade), so they should stick with that! India had advanced textiles, but Britain had to destroy that so that India could then have a lot of opium fields so she could do that… which China could then smoke to death under the watch of British Gunships. “Free Trade” demanded it so.



Let’s look at another example: Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection



A Not-too-Natural Selection

Darwin’s theory published in his Origins of Species (1859) was based on the assumption that all changes in the biosphere are driven by “laws” of “survival of the fittest” within an assumed closed ecosystem of diminishing returns. Just as Smith asserted that an “invisible hand” brought creative order to the chaos of unregulated vice and self-interest, Darwin asserted that creative order on the large scale evolution of species could be explained by chaotic mutations on the micro level beyond a wall that no power of reason, free will or God could pass.



Did Charles Darwin believe his system? Probably.



But how about Thomas Huxley (aka: “Darwin’s Bulldog”) whose efforts to destroy all competing theories which included “purpose”, “meaning”, or “design” were crushed and ridiculed into obscurity? Huxley himself was on record saying he did not believe in Darwin’s system. So why was this theory promoted by forces (like Huxley’s X Club) who recognized its many flaws? Well, here again it helps to refer to Darwin’s own account of his discovery from his autobiography where he wrote:




“In October 1838, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic inquiry, I happened to read for amusement Malthus on Population, and being prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on, from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The result would be the formation of a new species. Here then, I had at last got a theory by which to work”.




Malthus’s ‘Dismal Science’

And here we have it! Reverend Thomas Malthus (the cold hearted “Man of God” who taught economics at the British East India Company’s Haileybury College) provided the very foundation upon which Darwin’s system stood! Thomas Huxley and the other “high priests” of Huxley’s X Club were always Malthusian (even before there was Malthus) since empires have always been more focused on monopolizing the finite resources of an age, rather than encouraging creative discoveries and new inventions which would bring new resources into being- overcoming nature’s “limits to growth” (a dis-equilibrium not to be tolerated). Whether Malthus actually believed in the system which bears his name, as generations of his adherents sincerely do, remains to be seen. However his own awareness of the needed extermination of the “unfit” by the Ubermenschen of the British Aristocracy preceded Social Darwinism by a full century when he coldly called for the encouragement of the plague and other “natural forms of destruction” to cull the herd of the unfit in his Essay on the Principle of Population (1799):




“We should facilitate, instead of foolishly and vainly endeavoring to impede, the operations of nature in producing this mortality; and if we dread the too frequent visitation of the horrid form of famine, we should sedulously encourage the other forms of destruction, which we compel nature to use. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague.”




A little later, Malthus even argued for the early extermination of poor babies who were of low value to society when he said:




“I should propose a regulation to be made, declaring that no child born from any marriage taking place after the expiration of a year from the date of the law, and no illegitimate child born two years from the same date, should ever be entitled to parish assistance… The infant is, comparatively speaking, of little value to society, as others will immediately supply its place.”




The neo-Malthusian revivalists such as Princes Bernhardt, Philip Mountbatten and Huxley’s own grandson Sir Julian who birthed the misanthropic deformity today called the Green New Deal were not ignorant to this tradition. The disastrous effect of this worldview upon races deemed “unfit” in the global south should also not be ignored. It is no coincidence that those three neo-Malthusian oligarchs founded the World Wildlife Fund, 1001 Nature Trust and Club of Rome which imposed a technological apartheid upon the third world over the bodies of countless statesmen during the Cold War.



The Danger of Creative Thought to an Empire



Encouraging creative thought and cooperation among diverse nations, linguistic, religious and ethnic groups tends to result in new uncontrolled systems of potential as humanity increases its capacity to sustain itself while imperial systems lose their ability to parasitically drain their host. In Lincoln’s great 1859 speech, the martyred leader stood up against this Malthusian paradigm endemic of the British Empire when he said:




“All creation is a mine, and every man, a miner. The whole earth, and all within it, upon it, and round about it, including himself, in his physical, moral, and intellectual nature, and his susceptibilities, are the infinitely various “leads” from which, man, from the first, was to dig out his destiny… Man is not the only animal who labors; but he is the only one who improves his workmanship. This improvement, he effects by Discoveries, and Inventions.”




Lincoln’s economic commitments to protective tariffs, state credit (greenbacks) and internal improvements are inextricably linked to this view of man also shared by the earlier Ben Franklin.



Today, the positive paradigm which Lincoln died to defend is most clearly represented by the leaders of such nations as Russia and China- both of whom have come out repeatedly attacking the post-truth neo-liberal order and also the win-lose philosophy of Hobbesian geopolitics. The folly of America’s new dance with impeachment and the neocon hand shaping Trump’s disastrous foreign policy agenda is tied to the oligarchy’s absolute fear of losing America to a new Eurasian partnership which Trump has promoted repeatedly since entering office in 2017.



Xi Jinping and Putin have not only responded to this obsolete system by creating an alternative system of win-win cooperation driven by unbounded scientific and technological progress but they have also managed to expose the Achilles heal of the empire. These statesmen have demonstrated a clear recognition that those ideologies ranging from neo-liberalism to neo-conservativism are entirely unsustainable, and defeatable (but not militarily). Xi expressed this insight most clearly during his recent trip to Greece.



Even though leaders like Putin and Xi understand this, citizens of the west will continue to be woefully unequipped to either make sense of these chaotic systems of belief, extract them from their own hearts if they are so contaminated or resist them effectively, without understanding that those who fabricated and manage these belief structures never truly believed in them.



Neoconservative founding fathers such as Leo Strauss, Sir Henry Kissinger and Sir Bernard Lewis absolutely never believed in the ideologies their cultish golems like Bolton, Cheney or Kristol have adhered to so religiously. Their belief was only that the sum-of-parts called humanity must ultimately be governed by a Hobbesian Leviathan (aka: a new globalized Roman Empire), and that Leviathan could only be created in response to an intolerably painful period of chaos which their twisted tooth fairies would usher into this world.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 00:00
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Not Just Hunter: Widespread Biden Family Profiteering Exposed

Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer is out with a new book, "Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite," in which he reveals that five members of the Biden family, including Hunter, got rich using former Vice President Joe Biden's "largesse, favorable access and powerful position."


Frank Biden, Vice President Joe Biden, & Mindy Ward
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em>

While we know of Hunter's profitable exploits in Ukraine and China - largely in part thanks to Schweizer, Joe's brothers James and Frank, his sister Valerie, and his son-in-law Howard all used the former VP's status to enrich themselves.



Of course, Biden in 2019 said "I never talked with my son or my brother or anyone else — even distant family — about their business interests. Period."



As Schweizer puts writes in the New York Post; "we shall see."



James Biden: Joe's younger brother James has been deeply involved in the lawmaker's rise since the early days - serving as his the finance chair of his 1972 Senate campaign. And when Joe became VP, James was a frequent guest at the White House - scoring invites to important state functions which often "dovetailed with his overseas business dealings," writes Schweizer.






Consider the case of HillStone International, a subsidiary of the huge construction management firm, Hill International. The president of HillStone International was Kevin Justice, who grew up in Delaware and was a longtime Biden family friend. On November 4, 2010, according to White House visitors’ logs, Justice visited the White House and met with Biden adviser Michele Smith in the Office of the Vice President.



Less than three weeks later, HillStone announced that James Biden would be joining the firm as an executive vice president. James appeared to have little or no background in housing construction, but that did not seem to matter to HillStone. His bio on the company’s website noted his “40 years of experience dealing with principals in business, political, legal and financial circles across the nation and internationally…”



James Biden was joining HillStone just as the firm was starting negotiations to win a massive contract in war-torn Iraq. Six months later, the firm announced a contract to build 100,000 homes. It was part of a $35 billion, 500,000-unit project deal won by TRAC Development, a South Korean company. HillStone also received a $22 million U.S. federal government contract to manage a construction project for the State Department. -Peter Schweizer, via NY Post




According to Fox Business's Charlie Gasparino in 2012, HillStone's Iraq project was expected to "generate $1.5 billion in revenues over the next three years," more than tripling their revenue. According to the report, James Biden split roughly $735 million with a group of minority partners.



David Richter - the son of HillStone's parent company's founder - allegedly told investors at a private meeting; it really helps to have "the brother of the vice president as a partner."



Unfortunately for James, HillStone had to back out of the major contract in 2013 over a series of problems, including a lack of experience - but the company maintained "significant contract work in the embattled country" of Iraq, including a six-year contract with the US Army Corps of Engineers.



In the ensuing years, James Biden profited off of Hill's lucrative contracts for dozens of projects in the US, Puerto Rico, Mozambique and elsewhere.



Frank Biden, another one of Joe's brothers (who said the Pennsylvania Bidens voted for Trump over Hillary), profited handsomely on real estate, casinos, and solar power projects after Joe was picked as Obma's point man in Latin America and the Caribbean.





Months after Joe visited Costa Rica, Frank partnered with developer Craig Williamson and the Guanacaste Country Club on a deal which appears to be ongoing.




In real terms, Frank’s dream was to build in the jungles of Costa Rica thousands of homes, a world-class golf course, casinos, and an anti-aging center. The Costa Rican government was eager to cooperate with the vice president’s brother.



As it happened, Joe Biden had been asked by President Obama to act as the Administration’s point man in Latin America and the Caribbean.



Frank’s vision for a country club in Costa Rica received support from the highest levels of the Costa Rican government— despite his lack of experience in building such developments. He met with the Costa Rican ministers of education and energy and environment, as well as the president of the country. -NY Post




And in 2016, the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Education inked a deal with Frank's Company, Sun Fund Americas to install solar power facilities across the country - a project the Obama administration's OPIC authorized $6.5 million in taxpayer funds to support.



This went hand-in-hand with a solar initiative Joe Biden announced two years earlier, in which "American taxpayer dollars were dedicated to facilitating deals that matched U.S. government financing with local energy projects in Caribbean countries, including Jamaica," known as the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI).



Frank Biden's Sun Fund Americas announced later that it had signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) to build a 20-megawatt solar facility in Jamaica.



Valerie Biden-Owens, Joe's sister, has run all of her brother's Senate campaigns - as well as his 1988 and 2008 presidential runs.





She was also a senior partner in political messaging firm Joe Slade White & Company, where she and Slade White were listed as the only two executives at the time.



According to Schweizer, "The firm received large fees from the Biden campaigns that Valerie was running. Two and a half million dollars in consulting fees flowed to her firm from Citizens for Biden and Biden For President Inc. during the 2008 presidential bid alone."



Dr. Howard Krein - Joe Biden's son-in-law, is the chief medical officer of StartUp Health - a medical investment consultancy that was barely up and running when, in June 2011, two of the company's execs met with Joe Biden and former President Obama in the Oval Office.





The next day, the company was included in a prestigious health care tech conference run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - while StartUp Health executives became regular White House visitors between 2011 and 2015.




StartUp Health offers to provide new companies technical and relationship advice in exchange for a stake in the business. Demonstrating and highlighting the fact that you can score a meeting with the president of the United States certainly helps prove a strategic company asset: high-level contacts. -NY Post




Speaking of his homie hookup, Krein described how his company gained access to the highest levels of power in D.C.:



"I happened to be talking to my father-in-law that day and I mentioned Steve and Unity were down there [in Washington, D.C.]," recalled Howard Krein. "He knew about StartUp Health and was a big fan of it. He asked for Steve’s number and said, ‘I have to get them up here to talk with Barack.’ The Secret Service came and got Steve and Unity and brought them to the Oval Office."



And then, of course, there's Hunter Biden - who was paid millions of dollars to sit on the board of Ukrainian energy giant Burisma while his father was Obama's point man in the country.



But it goes far beyond that for the young crack enthusiast.




With the election of his father as vice president, Hunter Biden launched businesses fused to his father’s power that led him to lucrative deals with a rogue’s gallery of governments and oligarchs around the world. Sometimes he would hitch a prominent ride with his father aboard Air Force Two to visit a country where he was courting business. Other times, the deals would be done more discreetly. Always they involved foreign entities that appeared to be seeking something from his father.



There was, for example, Hunter’s involvement with an entity called Burnham Financial Group, where his business partner Devon Archer — who’d been at Yale with Hunter — sat on the board of directors. Burnham became the vehicle for a number of murky deals abroad, involving connected oligarchs in Kazakhstan and state-owned businesses in China.



But one of the most troubling Burnham ventures was here in the United States, in which Burnham became the center of a federal investigation involving a $60 million fraud scheme against one of the poorest Indian tribes in America, the Oglala Sioux.



Devon Archer was arrested in New York in May 2016 and charged with “orchestrating a scheme to defraud investors and a Native American tribal entity of tens of millions of dollars.” Other victims of the fraud included several public and union pension plans. Although Hunter Biden was not charged in the case, his fingerprints were all over Burnham. The “legitimacy” that his name and political status as the vice president’s son lent to the plan was brought up repeatedly in the trial. -NY Post




Read the rest of the report here.




Tyler Durden

Sun, 01/19/2020 - 12:30
0
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 Millions Brace For Weekend Winter Storm Will Hit Plains, Great Lakes, And Northern New England

A powerful storm could bring dangerous winds, snow, and ice over the weekend to millions of people across the US. 



The Weather Channel is calling the storm Winter Storm Isaiah and will dump snow and ice early Saturday in parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, northern Texas, and the Ozarks. 



Heavy snow is expected to continue through Sa

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turday for regions of Missouri to eastern Iowa, northwest Illinois, southern Wisconsin, and Lower Michigan.



Below the 32 degrees line, ice, freezing rain, and rain are expected for central Missouri into northern and western Illinois and Lower Michigan. A mix of wintery precipitation could be seen in parts of northern New England during the late day. 





By the afternoon, Chicago and Milwaukee are expected to see rain transition to snow – this could cause headaches for motorists. 



Snow is likely to continue in the Midwest through the nighttime. 



Freezing rain should spread into upstate New York and northern New England and continue in Lower Michigan through the overnight. 



High winds are expected for Plains and Midwest on Saturday. This could cause blizzard conditions in some areas and lead to blowing and drifting snow. Winds are expected to tick higher in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. 



Wintery precipitation is expected to move out of the Plains and Midwest by early Sunday. Snow, sleet, and freezing rain will continue in upstate New York and northern New England through lunch. 



The Northeast Interstate 95 corridor from New York to New England will see rain on Sunday. 



The Weather Channel's snow forecast through the weekend shows 1-3 inches for Central and Midwest states. About 6 inches for western Great Lakes and northern Maine.





"We can't rule out some 6-inch snow accumulations as far south and west as parts of Missouri and eastern Kansas if heavy bands of snow set up there. Some spots from eastern Iowa into Michigan, as well as in northern Maine, could pick up more than a foot of snowfall," The Weather Channel said. 



Ice storms for parts of Oklahoma to Maine are also expected through Sunday night. 






Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 12:00


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Weather

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"I'll Straight Up Get Armed": Second Bernie Organizer Loves Gulags And Is "Ready For The F**king Revolution"

A second Bernie Sanders field organizer has been caught on undercover camera extolling the virtues of gulags - only this one can barely contain himself over arming himself for the "fucking revolution."





"I'm ready to tear bricks up and start fighting,"

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says Martin Weissgerber - who deleted his Twitter account Tuesday morning after Project Veritas released their latest hit. "I'll straight up get armed ... I'm ready for the fucking revolution, bro."



Weissgerber also dreams of 'dissolving the  Senate, House of Representatives and Judicial Branch' so that 'somebody like Bernie Sanders and a cabinet of people can make all the decisions for the climate.'



"What will help is when we send all the Republicans to the 're-education' camps," he said, adding "Can you imagine Mitch McConnell [impersonates Mitch looking around a gulag], Lindsey Graham? [mocks with gay wrist]"



The Bernie organizer then tries to sell the undercover journalist on the virtues of gulags, which he says were "founded as re-education camps" - citing the 1933 Soviet Belomorkanal project linking the White Sea to the Baltic - which used gulag prisoners to build, and which Weissgerber claims "people came from America to work on."



Veritas notes that 25,000 people died building it.



Watch:





More:




According to journalist Andy Ngo, Weissgerber is an aspiring Soundcloud rapper who hates police officers, Israel, women and of course - Trump supporters.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 11:55
246
45 Views
Hillary Clinton: "Nobody Likes Bernie"

Authored by Jonathan Turley,



One of the most curious things to watch after the 2016 election was the unrelenting reclamation project called Hillary Clinton.





It seems the unending work of powerful figures in the Washington and Hollywood establishment. The project now has a name: “Hillary.” It is the latest documentary on Hulu tha

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t seeks to show how Hillary was a victim of sexism but remains the oracle of our age. The work was the brainchild of producer Howard T. Owens and Washington power broker Robert Barnett who represents Clinton. Barnett offered undisclosed footage as an enticement for another effort to repackage Clinton’s historic loss to Trump.



The film by Nanette Burstein apparently will be largely devoid of critical voices, except Hillary’s of course. Lashing out at her critics, she takes particular aim at Bernie Sanders who she seems to blame for ruining her coronation but making the 2016 Democratic primary competitive. In an ironic projection, she declares that “no one likes Bernie” — a curious view since it took the help of the DNC to rig the primary against his surging support in 2016.





The interview is classic Clinton. She feigns reluctance to criticize Sanders during the primary. She insists “I am not going to go there yet” and then goes there. Her attack on Sanders is read to her and then she strongly eludes to his sexism and his cabal of supporters.



After the election, Clinton alternatively blamed sexism, racism, self-hating women, domineering boyfriends, Russian hackers, Bernie Sanders, and of course, James Comey.  The most obvious reason is that Clinton remains a highly unpopular figure and was viewed as inauthentic on the campaign by many.  Many of us were critical when the Democratic establishment (and virtually every Democratic member of Congress) all but guaranteed the nomination of Clinton despite every poll showing her to be unpopular and the voters seeking an anti-establishment choice.



Now her ire appears directed at Sanders. In an embarrassingly one sided interview on documentary, Lacey Rose quotes Clinton in saying:




“He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”




She goes to say that “people got sucked into” his campaign and strongly suggests that he is himself sexist.




“I’m not going to go there yet. We’re still in a very vigorous primary season. I will say, however, that it’s not only him, it’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women.”




It seems like powerful figures will not stop in this reclamation project until people relent and agree that Hillary lost because of sexism, Comey, Sanders, self-loathing women, a conservative cabal, and other late additions to the Clinton black list. It simply cannot be that she was universally viewed as inauthentic due to her refusal to answer questions directly or her changing her positions on core issues from gay marriage to war powers to suit the polls. It cannot be that she remained one of the biggest war hawks in Washington or that she and her husband cashed in on speeches and deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.



The problem is that it has not worked. She remains highly unpopular with voters so the public is being called to yet another reeducation on the life and continuing times of Hillary Clinton. The question is whether a general statement of concession will end this never ending reclamation project.  Even Sanders might be willing to sign on to such a collective capitulation in the interest of just moving on.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 10:15


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