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[Business] An AI Hedge Fund Created a New Currency to Make Wall Street Work Like Open Source
An AI Hedge Fund Created a New Currency to Make Wall Street Work Like Open Source
Wall Street is a Darwinian battle for the almighty dollar. But Richard Craib thinks his AI-powered hedge fund will soar if everyone can just get along. The post An AI Hedge Fund Created a New Currency to Make Wall Street Work Like Open Source appeared first on WIRED.
Published:2/21/2017 5:55:05 AM
[Markets] Home Depot shares gain premarket after retailer beats with earnings, sales Home Depot shares gain premarket after retailer beats with earnings, sales Published:2/21/2017 5:55:05 AM
[ASX 200] US Futures, European Stocks Rise Despite HSBC Plunge; Dollar, Oil Jump

European stocks rose again with S&P futures higher, while Asian stocks were mixed. The dollar rose jumped on hawkish comments by Philly Fed's Harker, oil rose following optimistic OPEC comments, while gold dropped. Markets have largely ignored the negative result by financial heavyweight HSBC, which posted its largest fall since mid-2015 after reporting a 62% plunge in pretax profit, weighing on UK financials, with the FTSE 100 modestly underperforming.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose the most in more than three weeks after a Federal Reserve policy maker reinforced the chances for a U.S. interest-rate increase as soon as next month. The U.S. currency advanced against most of its major peers after Philly Fed President Patrick Harker told MNI in a Friday interview he “would not take March off the table at this point.” Recent comments from policy makers have leaned on the hawkish side. A voting member of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee this year, Harker had said Feb. 15 that he sees three 25-basis point rate increases as appropriate for 2017.

In Europe, mining stocks climbed as surging commodities prices boosted corporate earnings even as HSBC fell the most since August 2015 after its profit missed estimates. Gold slumped and oil climbed toward $54 a barrel. As a result the Stoxx 600 climbed 0.2% as gains in mining companies overshadowed HSBC Holdings Plc’s results. Financial heavyweight HSBC has posted its largest fall since mid-2015 after reporting a 62% fall in pretax profit, weighing on UK financials, with the FTSE 100 modestly underperforming. Elsewhere, mining names have seen a lift with BHP returning to profitability while Anglo American results beat analyst expectations. However, despite the early softness, equities saw a turnaround amid better than expected PMI figures for the Eurozone and Germany. Germany’s DAX rose 0.5 percent, with automakers including Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG among the top gainers.

A closer look at HSBC Holdings which today reported a 62% slump in annual pre-tax profit that fell way short of analysts' estimates as the British bank took hefty writedowns from restructuring and pointed to brakes on revenue growth. For the quarter, HSBC reported a $3.4 billion fourth-quarter loss, against analysts' expectations for a profit, on a $3.2 billion impairment in its private banking business as the lender's accounting valuation of the unit caught up with years of declining performance. HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver said the restructured private bank is now viable as a slimmed-down operation providing advice to wealthy clients referred from the lender's other business lines.

"What this doesn't mean is that we are selling the private bank... it means we have restructured the private bank and that's now behind us," Gulliver told Reuters.

As a result, HSBC shares slid more than 6 percent after the company reported revenues fell by a fifth from 2015, underscoring the challenge it faces to boost returns amid low global interest rates and slowing economic growth in its core markets of Britain and China. Europe's biggest bank by assets generated profit before tax of $7.1 billion in 2016 compared to $18.87 billion for the previous year, well below the average analyst estimate of $14.4 billion. HSBC also announced a new $1 billion share buy-back, as the lender continued to return cash to shareholders from the sale of its Brazilian business. The bank signaled a number of factors that would pressure its revenues in 2017, including a $500 million increase in regulatory capital costs, lower interest rates in Britain and adverse foreign exchange rates.

"We think weak income trends and significant guided headwinds mean consensus downgrades today," Jason Napier, analyst at UBS, wrote in a research note on Tuesday.

Also in Europe we got the latest PMI data which showed that the Eurozone private sector and manufacturing growth unexpectedly accelerated to near a six-year high in February and job creation reached its fastest since August 2007, propelled by strong demand and optimism about the future, the surveys found. IHS Markit's eurozone flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index, seen as a good overall growth indicator, rose sharply to 56.0, the highest since April 2011, from 54.4 in January, reversing expectations for a slight dip to 54.3. The broad-based acceleration, which showed France's momentum getting close to Germany's, suggests that if sustained, economic growth could hit 0.6 percent in the first quarter, according to Markit.

"The increased momentum is due to demand growing at a stronger rate, but also that upturn becoming more broad-based," said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit. "Importantly, what we now have is France joining the party. It's been a laggard in the region, and a drag on the euro zone upturn for a few years ... and there are finally signs the drag is easing."

Also of note in Europe, we saw Greek bonds rally, with 2y yield dropping 115bps to 8.31%, while 10y falls 25bps to 7.25%.  The positive sentiment emerged after creditors agreed on Monday for auditors to resume talks in Athens over steps needed to continue bailout of nation. The Greek government accepted to legislate reforms that will be implemented starting 2019 under the prerequisite that they are fiscally neutral, a Greek govt official said in e-mail to reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity. Greek bond strip, the most liquid bundle of the country’s government bonds issued after its last restructuring, is up 1.39c to 68.27c

Asian stocks rose, with South Korea’s benchmark climbing 0.9 percent to the highest level since July 2015. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.8 percent, the most in more than a month. Japan’s Topix index, which reached a peak at the start of the year, is trading within a range of about three percentage points over the past 49 days -- the narrowest since 1988.  Bourses in Japan are riding high perhaps reflecting the decent flash manufacturing PMI print in the country which saw the reading bounce 0.8pts to 53.5 and to the highest since March 2014. Elsewhere the Hang Seng and Kospi rose while in China the Shanghai Comp is +0.4%. There’s a story going around on Bloomberg suggesting that Chinese authorities may be considering easing limits on foreign ownership of life insurers, which may also be helping the positive tone.

Global equities continue to trade near a record as hopes the Trump rally will continue to generate optimism in economic growth amid signs of an inflation pickup. Yet there remains caution in the markets, with the dollar trading below this year’s highs and investors clamoring for detail on spending plans under Trump’s administration.

In global rates, the yield on 10-year Treasuries advanced four basis points to 2.45 percent. German 10-year yields rose three basis points after better-than-expected PMI euro- area manufacturing data. The yield on the equivalent French benchmark climbed four basis points. Default insurance on HSBC’s subordinate bonds increased one basis point to 140. The smaller-than-expected buyback could boost the bank’s senior bonds as it implies a less-leveraged balance sheet.

The Fed releases minutes this week from its most recent meeting, giving investors a look into how members see Trump’s policies. Data should show the U.S. housing market perking up at the start of the year. The PMI is expected to rise slightly. It’s International Petroleum Week in London and top OPEC, government and company officials are attending.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 2,353.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.2% to 371.90
  • MXAP up 0.01% to 145.16
  • MXAPJ down 0.05% to 466.90
  • Nikkei up 0.7% to 19,381.44
  • Topix up 0.6% to 1,555.60
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.8% to 23,963.63
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,253.33
  • Sensex up 0.4% to 28,773.36
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.07% to 5,791.03
  • Kospi up 0.9% to 2,102.93
  • German 10Y yield rose 1.8 bps to 0.314%
  • Euro down 0.6% to 1.0552 per US$
  • Brent Futures up 0.9% to $56.68/bbl
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 0.6 bps to 2.184%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 0.8 bps to 1.617%
  • Brent Futures up 0.9% to $56.68/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.6% to $1,230.84
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.5% to 101.40

Top Overnight News from BBG:

  • HSBC Shares Fall After Missing Profit Estimates on Revenue Drop
  • Burger King Owner Said in Advanced Talks to Buy Popeyes Chain
  • Buffett Takes His Own Advice in Walking Away From Unilever Bid
  • Fed’s Harker Not Taking March Rate Rise Off the Table, MNI Says
  • Fed Minutes May Show Inflation Confidence, Discuss Balance Sheet
  • Telefonica to Sell Telxius Stake to KKR for $1.35 Billion
  • InterContinental Hotels Rises After Announcing Special Dividend
  • Qualcomm Says Samsung Scandal Weakens Korea Antitrust Ruling
  • Trump Picks Outspoken Army ‘Rebel’ as National Security Adviser
  • China Said to Draft Rules to Rein in Asset Management Risks
  • Canadian Court Approves InterOil Transaction With Exxon Mobil
  • Uber Taps Eric Holder to Investigate Discrimination Claims
  • Iron Futures Extend 2017’s Rally to 33% as BHP Warns on Outlook
  • BlackRock Says Space Images Can Help Monitor Chinese Companies

Asia equity markets traded mixed with Wall Street closed the day prior, with Nikkei 225 (+0.7%) outperforming amid a weak JPY with USD/JPY holding firmly above 113.00. ASX 200 (-0.1%) recovered most of its early losses after declines seen in the gold and utilities sectors weighed the index. Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) was boosted by retail names and the telecoms sector, despite a weak CNY 100bIn liquidity injection by the PBoC, while Hang Seng (-0.8%) underperformed after HSBC reported disappointing FY16 earnings and index heavyweight Tencent shares saw losses of over 1%. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat despite a strong enhanced liquidity auction, while the 40yr yield printed 11-month highs

Top Asian News

  • China Said to Mull Easing Foreign Stake Limits in Life Insurers
  • Chinese Banks’ Off-Book Wealth Products Exceed $3.8 Trillion
  • Ambani’s Jio to Start Charging for Services as Rivals Cry Foul
  • China Retailers Surge as CICC Lauds Alibaba’s ‘New Retail’ Model
  • China Said to Mull Easing Limits on Foreign Life Insurers
  • Over Twinkies and Tweets, China Seeks Clues on Trump Policy
  • Hong Kong Developers Advance Ahead of City’s Budget Speech

European bourses rose after a soft start with price action dictated by the latest batch of earning updates. Financial heavyweight HSBC has posted its largest fall since mid-2015 after reporting a 62% fall in pretax profit, consequently weighing on UK financials, with the FTSE 100 modestly underperforming. Elsewhere, mining names have seen a lift with BHP returning to profitability while Anglo American results beat analyst expectations. However, despite the early softness, equities saw a turnaround amid better than expected PMI figures for the Eurozone and Germany. Across fixed income markets, peripheral debt is outperforming led by Greece with markets somewhat positive over talks between Greece and its creditors yesterday with the 2-yr yield falling 140bps. Elsewhere, GE-FR spread has dropped back below 80bps after yesterday hitting its highest level since mid-2012 following the continued narrowing between Le Pen and her opponents in the French Presidential polls.

Top European News

  • Euro-Area Economy Picks Up Speed as Orders and Optimism Surge
  • Le Pen Advances in French Polls as Security Concerns Sway Voters
  • Citigroup Agrees $5.4 Million Fine to Settle Rand Collusion
  • Rosneft to Buy Crude Oil From Kurdistan Amid Expansion in Iraq
  • U.K. Posts Record Surplus in Pre-Budget Boost for Hammond
  • Brent Oil Holds Gain as Citigroup Lifts Short-Term Price Outlook
  • Vucic Clears Hurdle to Serb Presidency as Incumbent Steps Aside

In currencies, the USD is pushing higher, but the drivers are a little mixed as UST yields show modest gains on the day as yet. The key 10yr rate is still around 2.45%, still well inside the recent 2.30-2.55% range, but the modest gains have been enough to put USD/JPY back in the upper 113.00's. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index gained 0.5 percent as of 10:30 a.m. in London. The greenback rose after Market News International cited Harker, who votes on policy this year, saying a rate move next month is not “off the table at this point.” That followed hawkish congressional testimony last week from Fed Chair Janet Yellen. The moves look tentative as yet, but with the equity markets on a stable footing, near term JPY weakness may well extend a little further before the selling intensifies. The BoJ is showing no signs of letting up on its reinflation process, maintaining 'the line' that the exchange rate is not the target of policy measures currently in play. For EUR/USD, the downside is just as much a consequence of the gaining popularity of Le Pen as it is the broader USD view, with French-German yields widening to the detriment of the EUR across the board. The lead spot rate is now refocusing on the lows seen last week, when we hit a 1.0521 base, but EUR/JPY and EUR/CHF now also pressured as sellers target all currencies.

In commodities,  oil advanced as Citigroup Inc. raised its short-term price outlook, citing good OPEC compliance with its output-cut agreement and growing demand in Asia. West Texas Intermediate gained 0.6 percent to $54.04 a barrel and Brent added 0.7 percent to $56.85. Oil prices continue to hold familiar ranges - notably WTI inside USD50.00-55.00. Growing inventory levels offset by strong cooperation with the OPEC agreed cuts, but ongoing scepticism keeps the upside contained despite hedge funds holding significant long positions in both WTI and Brent. Copper prices lead the way for base metals, fighting against USD based weakness near term as supply concerns emanating from the industrial action in Chile support. Industrial metals dropped, partially reversing their biggest gain in a week as funds were seen selling. Aluminum fell 0.4 percent to $1,893 a metric ton and copper lost 0.4 percent.  Gold declined 0.7 percent to $1,229.65 an ounce as the dollar advanced before the U.S. Federal Reserve releases minutes that may give indications of the pace of interest-rate increases. The yellow metal has tested back down to USD1230.00, this from pre USD1245.00 highs. Support remains into USD1,200 in the near term, as the risk perspective maintains an element of caution. Buyers of Silver partially reflects this. U.S. natural gas extended its decline into a third day due to forecasts for warmer-than-normal weather across the east coast. Futures fell 2.4 percent to $2.765 per million British thermal units, the lowest level in three months.

In the US calendar we’ll also get the flash PMI’s where the consensus is for a 0.3pt pickup in the manufacturing print and 0.2pt pickup in the services reading. Away from that there’s some Fedspeak due today with Kashkari (8.501m GMT), Harker (12.00pm) and Williams (3.30pm) all scheduled.

US Event Docket

  • 8:50am: Fed’s Kashkari Speaks on Economy in Golden Valley, MN
  • 9:45am: Markit US Manufacturing PMI, est. 55.3, prior 55
  • 9:45am: Markit US Services PMI, est. 55.8, prior 55.6
  • 9:45am: Markit US Composite PMI, prior 55.8
  • 12pm: Fed’s Harker to Speak on Economic Outlook
  • 3:30pm: Fed’s Williams Speaks to Students in Boise, Idaho

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

One of the reasons why volatility remains so low in the face of increasingly elevated political risk is that global growth numbers have held up so well in recent weeks and months. Well today's flash PMI numbers in the face of fresh supportive polls for Le Pen in France are a good test of this stand-off. Indeed yesterday’s OpinionWay poll in France revealed that support for Le Pen in the first round of the presidential election has crept up 1% to 27% with support for Macron and Fillon unchanged at 20%. More significantly though, the second round polling revealed that Macron would defeat Le Pen by a score of 58% versus 42%, a tighter margin than the 60% versus 40% in results from the same pollster just four days ago. In fact if you go back to the start of February, the gap was actually as wide as 65% versus 35%. Yesterday’s poll also revealed that a second round contest between Fillon and Le Pen would have the former coming out on top at 56% versus 44%, a tighter gap compared to 57% to 43% four days ago and 61% versus 39% at the start of the month.

Those results did come prior to the news yesterday that Le Pen’s Party headquarters was raided over the probe concerning whether Le Pen had used European Parliament funds to pay for fictitious jobs, so we may have to see if that has an impact at all, but the positive momentum in the polls for Le Pen is significant nonetheless. While the polls are also suggesting a tightening in support in favour of Le Pen versus Macron and Fillon, the implied probabilities based on bookmaker odds tell a similar tale. In the PDF today we show a graph showing the recent trend in the implied probabilities with the main takeaway being  that the range between the 3 candidates is hovering around the lowest – at 8% - over the last month. Indeed the implied probabilities stand out 37.8% for Macron, 34.2% for Le Pen and 29.5% for Fillon. That probability for Le Pen is up from 25.5% about a month ago while the probability for Macron has fallen from a high of over 50%. It's fair to say that these numbers reflect a weight of money staked and that the market sees nowhere near as high a probability of a Le Pen victory. Nevertheless it's the recent trend that's interesting.

In what was an otherwise quiet day in markets given the US holiday it was the underperformance in French assets which stood out. In equities the CAC ended with a modest -0.05% decline but that compared to a decent +0.60% bounce for the DAX while the Stoxx 600 finished +0.22%. It was the moves in bonds which caught most investors’ eyes though. While 10y Bund yields edged down -0.5bps to 0.293%, 10y OAT’s finished the day up +2.3bps at 1.051% but, more notably, were up as much as +10.0bps at one stage following the poll, touching a high of 1.129% and coming close to the high mark this year of 1.156%. The spread between Bunds and OATs finished at 76bps (and just off the 4 and a bit year high of 77bps) but did blow out as wide as 84bps intraday at one stage and the most since August 2012.

The other notable price mover yesterday was Greek bonds. 2y yields rally nearly 70bps and dropped to a one-week low after the Eurogroup meeting yesterday to discuss Greece’s bailout suggested some progress was being made. Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that the meeting was “very positive and a good step” and that the EU and IMF will soon return to Athens to continue with discussions, including laying out the more specific details around reforms. Greek finance minister Tsakalotos also confirmed that important progress had been made yesterday and sufficient for bailout auditors to continue talks.

Aside from that there wasn’t a huge amount more to report in markets yesterday. Gilts (+1.7bps) and the FTSE 100 (0.00%) also underperformed a bit yesterday. The House of Lords draft law debate kicked off with Bloomberg reporting that 30 amendments have so far been proposed. That’s far less than the 250 submitted by the House of Common’s but the lack of a Conservative majority in the upper house does raise some risks for PM May. The general debate is due to continue today but the more substantive discussions are not expected until next week.

This morning in Asia we’ve seen most markets get off to another positive start. Bourses in Japan in particular are riding high (Nikkei +0.68%) perhaps reflecting the decent flash manufacturing PMI print in the country which saw the reading bounce 0.8pts to 53.5 and to the highest since March 2014. Elsewhere the Hang Seng is +0.12% and Kospi is +1.06% while in China the Shanghai Comp is +0.26%. There’s a story going around on Bloomberg suggesting that Chinese authorities may be considering easing limits on foreign ownership of life insurers, which may also be helping the positive tone. Meanwhile US equity index futures are up about +0.20%.

Moving on. There wasn’t much to report on the data front yesterday. In the UK the CBI industrial trends survey for February revealed an increase in the output diffusions index by 7pts to 33 which is a level matched only once in the last 16 years. The proportion of firms expecting selling prices to rise increased further too with the index up 4pts to 32 and to the highest since April 2011. Elsewhere in Germany PPI in January was up a much higher than expected +0.7% mom (vs. +0.3% expected) while the flash consumer confidence reading for the Euro area in February fell 1.4pts to -6.2 (vs. -4.9 expected) and so putting it back at November levels. Finally we also got the latest CSPP holdings data at the ECB. Total holdings as of last Friday totalled €64.97bn which implies net purchases settled last week of €2.05bn or an average daily run rate of €409m, which is a little bit more than the average €367m since the program started.

Looking at the day ahead, this morning in Europe the main focus will be on the release of the February flash PMI’s which the market is expecting to remain relatively stable compared to the January figures. Also due out will be the final CPI revisions in France as well as public sector net borrowing data in the UK. In the US this afternoon we’ll also get the flash PMI’s where the consensus is for a 0.3pt pickup in the manufacturing print and 0.2pt pickup in the services reading. Away from that there’s some Fedspeak due today with Kashkari (1.50pm GMT), Harker (5.00pm GMT) and Williams (8.30pm GMT) all scheduled. BoE Governor Carney and Chief Economist Andy Haldane will speak at a Treasury Select Committee hearing on the UK February inflation report.

Published:2/21/2017 5:55:05 AM
[Apps] Meitu’s new phone includes a dual pixel front camera and AI-powered beautification dazzlingblue2 Selfie app and phone company Meitu has unveiled its latest smartphone, which doubles down its focus on selfie cameras and beautification. Meitu went public in December with a Hong Kong listing that was fairly tepid but nevertheless the country’s largest tech IPO since 2007. It started out making selfie apps but branched into selling ‘selfie-optimized’ smartphones in 2013.… Read More
Published:2/21/2017 5:55:05 AM
[topics:things/religion] It is unfair and illogical to deny someone a civil partnership just because they happen to be straight Published:2/21/2017 5:55:05 AM
[__image] But Liberals insist that American Blacks are too stupid to know how to get a photo ID… Published:2/21/2017 5:55:05 AM
[Plants & Animals ] Mole study shows anyone can be backyard scientist Scientific findings are awaiting discovery in your backyard. The requirement? A keen sense of observation and patience. Published:2/21/2017 5:55:05 AM
[] The Morning Report 2/21/17 Good morning, kids. Hope you all had a great extended weekend. Let's get back into it. First up, a veteran LA cop who was close to retiring has been shot and killed by a recent parolee. No word yet... Published:2/21/2017 5:55:04 AM
[Healthcare] Theresa May is scared to admit that the unreformed NHS is crumbling around her Anything can happen when faith comes under fire. Take the classic tale of Peter the Apostle, who denied Christ three times before the rooster crowed; and in a more modern twist, take Prime Minister May, who this week managed to dodge stating her support for West Cumberland Hospital’s maternity services four times over the course … Continue reading "Theresa May is scared to admit that the unreformed NHS is crumbling around her" Published:2/21/2017 5:15:59 AM
[Entertainment] Breaking Down the 2017 Oscars By the Numbers: All the Milestones Bound for the Big Night Meryl StreepWhen it comes to the Oscars, the numbers say it all. As the biggest night in Hollywood approaches, the industry's most esteemed stars prepare to enter the Dolby Theater on...
Published:2/21/2017 5:15:58 AM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Uber enlists ex-attorney general Eric Holder to investigate harassment claims Holder will help lead the company’s investigation into claims of sexism and harassment by a former employee, who says Uber failed to discipline a manager who mistreated women.
Published:2/21/2017 5:15:58 AM
[topics:places/south-korea] North Korean defector who worked at London embassy 'in hiding' in wake of Kim Jong-nam assassination Published:2/21/2017 5:15:58 AM
[__original] The Insanity of Liberal Moral Equivalency… Published:2/21/2017 5:15:58 AM
[Energy & Green Tech ] Gamification motivates consumers to reduce power consumption peaks - pilot sites in Helsinki, Nice and Vienna In collaboration with the international CITYOPT project, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed an energy planning tool for experts and an application for consumers. The tools have been piloted in Helsinki, Nice and Vienna, with promising results. Local energy costs were reduced by 15% and carbon dioxide emissions by 30% using the optimal planning feature of the tool for experts. Using the game-like tablet application, almost 80% of the households involved managed to reduce their electricity consumption during peak times. Published:2/21/2017 5:15:58 AM
[6c02190e-ac9f-4c8a-9ba5-78fb3e54ef84] Cesar Millan gets candid on helping wounded veterans, comments on 'A Dog's Purpose' controversy The dog whisperer is back and has a new purpose. Published:2/21/2017 4:57:41 AM
[Markets] European Stocks Mixed as Political Concerns Offset Solid Economic Data Published:2/21/2017 4:57:41 AM
[Markets] Europe Markets: European stocks rise as manufacturing activity perks up European stocks are up Tuesday, aided by mining-sector gains as BHP Billiton swings to a profit, but HSBC shares are losing the most in more than a year.
Published:2/21/2017 4:57:41 AM
[In The News] Live Stream: White House Press Conference 02-21-2017 1:30 PM ET White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer briefs the press on the issues of the day. Likely Topics: New NSA Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster Sweden comments during last week’s rally Stricter deportation rules Upcoming Immigration EO
Published:2/21/2017 4:57:41 AM
[__image] The Lie from Hell… Published:2/21/2017 4:57:41 AM
[topics:in-the-news/brexit-negotiations] Brexit Bill: Theresa May warns House of Lords against blocking EU exit as peers begin second day of Article 50 debate  Published:2/21/2017 4:57:41 AM
[Business ] Money-losing Toshiba selling medical leasing unit to Canon Embattled Japanese electronics maker Toshiba Corp. is selling its stake in a medical equipment leasing company to Canon Inc. for 31.4 billion yen ($277 million). Published:2/21/2017 4:57:41 AM
[Ecology ] France slaughtering all ducks in key region due to bird flu France's agriculture ministry has ordered all remaining 600,000 ducks in a key poultry-producing region slaughtered to try to stem a growing outbreak of bird flu. Published:2/21/2017 4:57:41 AM
[74720c7d-b32b-4805-a44d-a8c6d83cfc7a] Which stars are winning (and losing) on Instagram Selena Gomez reached 110 million Instagram followers last week, making her the reigning queen of the social media platform. Published:2/21/2017 4:20:04 AM
[National Security] Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster Named Trump’s Top Security Adviser

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday named Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond McMaster as his new national security adviser, choosing a military officer known for speaking his mind and challenging his superiors.

McMaster is a highly regarded military tactician and strategic thinker, but his selection surprised some observers who wondered how the officer, whose Army career stalled at times for his questioning of authority, would deal with a White House that has not welcomed criticism.

The post Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster Named Trump’s Top Security Adviser appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:2/21/2017 4:20:04 AM
[Markets] Records for U.S. stocks hang in the balance ahead of Wal-Mart results, PMI data [at MarketWatch] - Investors will return from the Presidents Day holiday on Tuesday with stock records in mind. Published:2/21/2017 4:20:04 AM
[Markets] Market Snapshot: Records for U.S. stocks hang in the balance ahead of Wal-Mart results, PMI data Investors will return from the Presidents Day holiday on Tuesday with stock records in mind.
Published:2/21/2017 4:20:04 AM
[Optics & Photonics ] Researchers show that silicon can reproduce physical phenomena exploited by high-end telecommunications devices The Semiconductor Industry Association has estimated that at current rates of increase, computers' energy requirements will exceed the world's total power output by 2040. Published:2/21/2017 4:20:04 AM
[topics:people/donald-trump] Mike Pence reassures Brussels of strong American support leaving EU leaders cautiously optimistic Published:2/21/2017 3:44:06 AM
[worldNews] Malaysia says still to establish what killed North Korean KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian authorities said on Tuesday they had still to establish what was used to kill the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and the body had not been formally identified as no next of kin have come forward.
Published:2/21/2017 3:44:05 AM
[Bloomberg L.P.] The Death Of Venture Capital?

Few business communities swing from boom to bust as reliably as Silicon Valley, but detecting shifts in this opaque world can be challenging. To help illuminate the field, Bloomberg created the U.S. Startups Barometer, a new weekly indicator that tracks the overall health of the business environment for private technology companies based in the U.S.

So how 'healthy' is the American Venture Capital business?

The short answer is - not very!

Despite the still-low-rates, record small business optimism, and Trump-promised tax-cuts, deals, deal amounts, initial financings, and exits are down hard...

 

Still we are sure the exceptional cash-burning abilities of Snap Inc. will reinvigorate the start-up business any day now.

Published:2/21/2017 3:44:05 AM
[Markets] Global stocks mixed after Wall Street's long weekend Published:2/21/2017 3:44:05 AM
[TJX] We Love Macy's At $32 Published:2/21/2017 3:14:08 AM
[Environment ] Wet winter may help Colorado River push off problems, but it will not end the drought California is not the only place in the West confronting startling amounts of rain and snow. Published:2/21/2017 3:14:08 AM
[Markets] London Markets: FTSE 100 in the red as HSBC slides, but BHP Billiton advances U.K. stocks are losing ground Tuesday, with HSBC shares hit after the banking heavyweight posted a wider quarterly loss, but BHP Billiton and Anglo American shares gained following financial results from the metals producers.
Published:2/21/2017 3:14:08 AM
[topics:people/philip-hammond] Sajid Javid accused of misleading MPs over business rate rises Published:2/21/2017 3:14:08 AM
[Europe] Meltwater acquires Oxford Uni spin-out Wrapidity to add AI to media monitoring capabilities wrapidity-founders-at-shack-15-meltwater Meltwater, the self-described ‘media intelligence’ company, has acquired Wrapidity, a U.K.-based AI startup that has built technology to automate the extraction of data from unstructured web-based content. Read More
Published:2/21/2017 3:14:08 AM
[World] Trump's new national security adviser a soldier-scholar WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has chosen as his national security adviser a soldier-scholar who fought in both Iraq wars and published an influential book that called out the U.S. government for "lies" that led to the Vietnam War. Published:2/21/2017 2:47:54 AM
[topics:people/philip-hammond] Business rates blow to be 'softened' in the Budget Published:2/21/2017 2:47:54 AM
[biofuels] Oops! The Economy Is Like A Self-Driving Car

Submitted by Gail Tverberg via Our Finite World blog,

Back in 1776, Adam Smith talked about the “invisible hand” of the economy. Investopedia explains how the invisible hand works as, “In a free market economy, self-interested individuals operate through a system of mutual interdependence to promote the general benefit of society at large.”

We talk and act today as if governments and economic policy are what make the economy behave as it does. Unfortunately, Adam Smith was right; there is an invisible hand guiding the economy. Today we know that there is a physics reason for why the economy acts as it does: the economy is a dissipative structure–something we will talk more about later.  First, let’s talk about how the economy really operates.

Our Economy Is Like a Self-Driving Car: Wages of Non-Elite Workers Are the Engine

Workers make goods and provide services. Non-elite workers–that is, workers without advanced education or supervisory responsibilities–play a special role, because there are so many of them. The economy can grow (just like a self-driving car can move forward) (1) if workers can make an increasing quantity of goods and services each year, and (2) if non-elite workers can afford to buy the goods that are being produced. If these workers find fewer jobs available, or if they don’t pay sufficiently well, it is as if the engine of the self-driving car is no longer working. The car could just as well fall apart into 1,000 pieces in the driveway.

If the wages of non-elite workers are too low, they cannot afford to pay very much in taxes, so governments are adversely affected. They also cannot afford to buy capital goods such as vehicles and homes. Thus, depressed wages of non-elite workers adversely affect both businesses and governments. If these non-elite workers are getting paid well, the “make/buy loop” is closed: the people whose labor creates fairly ordinary goods and services can also afford to buy those goods and services.

Recurring Needs of Car/Economy

The economy, like a car, has recurring needs, analogous to monthly lease payments, insurance payments, and maintenance costs. These would include payments for a variety of support services, including the following:

  • Government programs, including payments to the elderly and unemployed
  • Higher education programs
  • Healthcare

Needless to say, the above services tend to keep rising in cost, whether or not the wages of non-elite workers keep rising to keep up with these costs.

The economy also needs to purchase a portfolio of goods on a very regular basis (weekly or monthly), or it cannot operate. These include:

  • Fresh water
  • Food of many different types, including vegetables, fruits, and grains
  • Energy products of many types, such as oil, coal, natural gas, and uranium. These needs include many subtypes suited to particular refineries or electric power plants.
  • Minerals of many types, including copper, iron, lithium, and many others

Some of these goods are needed directly by the workers in the economy. Other goods are needed to make and operate the “tools” used by the workers. It is the growing use of tools that allows workers to keep becoming more productive–produce the rising quantity of goods and services that is needed to keep the economy growing. These tools are only possible through the use of energy products and other minerals of many kinds.

I have likened the necessary portfolio of goods the economy needs to ingredients in a recipe, or to chemicals needed for a particular experiment. If one of the “ingredients” is not available–probably because of prices that are too high for consumers or too low for producers–the economy needs to “make a smaller batch.” We saw this happen in the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. Figure 1 shows that the use of several types of energy products, plus raw steel, shrank back at exactly the same time. In fact, the recent trend in coal and raw steel suggests another contraction may be ahead.

Figure 1. World Product Consumption, indexed to the year 2000, for selected products. Raw Steel based on World USGS data; other amounts based of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016 data.

Figure 1. World Product Consumption, indexed to the year 2000, for selected products. Raw Steel based on World USGS data; other amounts based of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016 data.

The Economy Re-Optimizes When Things Go Wrong 

If you have a Global Positioning System (GPS) in your car to give you driving directions, you know that whenever you make a wrong turn, it recalculates and gives you new directions to get you back on course. The economy works in much the same way. Let’s look at an example: 

Back in early 2014, I showed this graph from a presentation given by Steve Kopits. It shows that the cost of oil and gas extraction suddenly started on an upward trend, about the year 1999. Instead of costs rising at 0.9% per year, costs suddenly started to rise by an average of 10.9% per year.

Figure 1. Figure by Steve Kopits of Westwood Douglas showing trends in world oil exploration and production costs per barrel. CAGR is "Compound Annual Growth Rate."

Figure 2. Figure by Steve Kopits of Westwood Douglas showing trends in world oil exploration and production costs per barrel. CAGR is “Compound Annual Growth Rate.”

When costs were rising by only 0.9% per year, it was relatively easy for oil producers to offset the cost increases by efficiency gains. Once costs started rising much more quickly, it was a sign that we had in some sense “run out” of new fields of easy-to-extract oil and gas. Instead, oil companies were forced to start accessing fields with much more expensive-to-produce oil and gas, if they wanted to replace depleting fields with new fields. There would soon be a mismatch between wages (which generally don’t rise very much) and the cost of goods made with oil, such as food grown using oil products.

Did the invisible hand sit idly by and let business as usual continue, despite this big rise in the cost of extraction of oil from new fields? I would argue that it did not. It was clear to business people around the world that there was a large amount of coal in China and India that had been bypassed because these countries had not yet become industrialized. This coal would provide a much cheaper source of energy than the oil, especially if the cost of oil appeared likely to rise. Furthermore, wages in these countries were lower as well.

The economy took the opportunity to re-optimize. Part of this re-optimization can be seen in Figure 1, shown earlier in this post. It shows that world coal supply has grown rapidly since 2000, while oil supply has grown quite slowly.

Figure 3, below, shows a different kind of shift: a shift in the way oil supplies were distributed, after 2000. We see that China, Saudi Arabia, and India are all examples of countries with big increases in oil consumption. At the same time, many of the developed countries found their oil consumption shrinking, rather than growing.

Figure 2. Figure showing oil consumption growth since 2000 for selected countries, based on data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016.

Figure 3. Figure showing oil consumption growth since 2000 for selected countries, based on data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016.

A person might wonder why Saudi Arabia’s use of oil would grow rapidly after the year 2000. The answer is simple: Saudi Arabia’s oil costs are its costs as a producer. Saudi Arabia has a lot of very old wells from which oil extraction is inexpensive–perhaps $15 per barrel. When oil prices are high and the cost of production is low, the government of an  oil-exporting nation collects a huge amount of taxes. Saudi Arabia was in such a situation. As a result, it could afford to use oil for many purposes, including electricity production and increased building of highways. It was not an oil importer, so the high world oil prices did not affect the country negatively.

China’s rapid rise in oil production could take place because, even with added oil consumption, its overall cost of producing goods would remain low because of the large share of coal in its energy mix and its low wages. The huge share of coal in China’s energy mix can be seen in Figure 4, below. Figure 4 also shows the extremely rapid growth in China’s energy consumption that took place once China joined the World Trade Organization in late 2001.

Figure 3. China energy consumption by fuel, based on BP 2016 SRWE.

Figure 4. China energy consumption by fuel based on BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy.

India was in a similar situation to China, because it could also build its economy on cheap coal and cheap labor.

When the economy re-optimizes itself, job patterns are affected as well.  Figure 5 shows the trend in labor force participation rate in the US:

Figure 4. US Civilian labor force participation rate, based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, as graphed by fred.stlouisfed.org.

Figure 5. US Civilian labor force participation rate, based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, as graphed by fred.stlouisfed.org.

Was it simply a coincidence that the US labor force participation rate started falling about the year 2000? I don’t think so. The shift in energy consumption to countries such as China and India, as oil costs rose, could be expected to reduce job availability in the US. I know several people who were laid off from the company I worked for, as their jobs (in computer technical support) were shifted overseas. These folks were not alone in seeing their jobs shipped overseas.

The World Economy is Like a Car that Cannot Make Sharp Turns 

The world economy cannot make very sharp turns, because there is a very long lead-time in making any change. New factories need to be built. For these factories to be used sufficiently to make economic sense, they need to be used over a long period.

At the same time, the products we desire to make more energy efficient, for example, automobiles, homes, and electricity generating plants, aren’t replaced very often. Because of the short life-time of incandescent light bulbs, it is possible to force a fairly rapid shift to more efficient types. But it is much more difficult to encourage a rapid change in high-cost items, which are typically used for many years. If a car owner has a big loan outstanding, the owner doesn’t want to hear that his car no longer has any value. How could he afford a new car, or pay back his loan?

A major limit on making any change is the amount of resources of a given type, available in a given year. These amounts tend to change relatively slowly, from year to year. (See Figure 1.) If more lithium, copper, oil, or any other type of resource is needed, new mines are needed. There needs to be an indication to producers that the price of these commodities will stay high enough, for a long enough period, to make this investment worthwhile. Low prices are a problem for many commodities today. In fact, production of many commodities may very well fall in the near future, because of continued low prices. This would collapse the economy.

The World Economy Can’t Go Very Far Backward, Without Collapsing

The 2007-2009 recession is an example of an attempt of the economy to shrink backward. (See Figure 1.) It didn’t go very far backward, and even the small amount of shrinkage that did occur was a huge problem. Many people lost their jobs, or were forced to take pay cuts. One of the big problems in going backward is the large amount of debt outstanding. This debt becomes impossible to repay, when the economy tries to shrink. Asset prices tend to fall as well.

Furthermore, while previous approaches, such as using horses instead of cars, may be appealing, they are extremely difficult to implement in practice. There are far fewer horses now, and there would not be places to “park” the horses in cities. Cleaning up after horses would be a problem, without businesses specializing in handling this problem.

What World Leaders Can Do to (Sort of) Fix the Economy

There are basically two things that governments can do, to try to make the economy (or car) go faster:

  1. They can encourage more debt. This is done in many ways, including lowering interest rates, reducing bank regulation, encouraging lower underwriting standards or longer term loans, taking out greater debt themselves, guaranteeing debt of non-creditworthy entities, and finding new markets for “recycled debt.”
  2. They can increase complexity levels. This means increasing output of goods and services through the use of more and better machines and through more training and specialization of workers. More complex businesses are likely to lead to more international businesses and longer supply chains.

Both of these actions work like turbocharging a car. They have the possibility of making the economy run faster, but they have the downside of extra cost. In the case of debt, the cost is the interest that needs to be paid; also the risk of “blow-up” if the economy slows. There is a limit on how low interest rates can go, as well. Ultimately, part of the output of the economy must go to debt holders, leaving less for workers.

In the case of complexity, the problem is that there gets to be increasing wage disparity, when some employees have wages based on special training, while others do not. Also, with capital goods, some individuals are owners of capital goods, while others are not. The arrangement creates wealth disparity, besides wage disparity.

In theory, both debt and increased complexity can help the economy grow faster. However, as I noted at the beginning, it is the wages of the non-elite workers that are especially important in allowing the economy to continue to move forward. The greater the proportion of the revenue that goes to high paid employees and to bond holders, the less that is available to non-elite workers. Also, there are diminishing returns to adding debt and complexity. At some point, the cost of each of these types of turbo-charging exceeds the benefit of the process.

Why the Economy Works Like a Self-Driving Car

The reason why the economy acts like a self-driving car is because the economy is, in physics terms, a dissipative structure. It grows and changes “on its own,” using energy sources available to it. The result is exactly the same effect that Adam Smith was observing. What makes the economy behave in this way is the fact that flows of energy are available to the economy. This happens because an economy is an open system, meaning its borders are permeable to energy flows.

When there is an abundance of energy available for use (from the sun, or from burning fossil fuels, or even from food), a variety of dissipative structures self-organize. One example is hurricanes, which self-organize over warm oceans. Another example is plants and animals, which self-organize and grow from small beginnings, if they have adequate food energy, plus other necessities of life. Another example is ecosystems, consisting of a number of different kinds of plants and animals, which interact together for the common good. Even stars, including our sun, are dissipative structures.

The economy is yet another type of a dissipative structure. This is why Adam Smith noticed the effect of the invisible hand of the economy. The energy that sustains the economy comes from a variety of sources. Humans have been able to obtain energy by burning biomass for over one million years. Other long-term energy sources include solar energy that provides heat and light for gardens, and wind energy that powers sail boats. More recently, other types of energy have been added, including fossil fuels energy.

When energy supplies are very cheap and easy to obtain, it is easy to ramp up their use. With growing supplies of energy, it is possible to keep adding more and better tools for people to work with. I use the term “tools” broadly. Besides machines to enable greater production, I include things like roads and advanced education, which also are helpful in making workers more effective. The use of growing energy supplies allows growing use of tools, and this growing use of tools increasingly leverages human labor. This is why we see growing productivity; we can expect to see falling human productivity if energy supplies should start to decline. Falling productivity will tend to push the economy toward collapse.

One problem for economies is diminishing returns of resource extraction. Diminishing returns cause the economy to become less and less efficient. Once energy extraction starts to have a significant problem with diminishing returns (such as in Figure 2), it is like losing energy resources into a sinkhole. More work is necessary, without greater output in terms of goods and services. Indirectly, economic growth must suffer. This seems to be the problem that the economy has been encountering in recent years. From the invisible hand’s point of view, $100 per barrel oil is very different from $20 per barrel oil.

One characteristic of dissipative structures is that they keep re-optimizing for the overall benefit of the dissipative structure. We saw in Figures 3 and 4 how fuel use and jobs rebalance around the world. Another example of rebalancing is the way the economy uses every part of a barrel of oil. If, for example, our only goal were to maximize the number of miles driven for automobiles, it would make sense to operate cars using diesel fuel, rather than gasoline. In fact, the energy mix available to the economy includes quite a bit of gasoline and natural gas liquids. If we need to use what is available, it makes sense to use gasoline in private passenger cars, and save diesel for commercial use.

Another characteristic of dissipative structures is that they are not permanent. They grow for a while, and then collapse. Later, new similar dissipative structures may develop and indirectly replace the ones that have collapsed. In this way, the overall system is able to evolve in a way that adapts to changing conditions.

What Are the Likely Events that Would Cause the Economy to Collapse?

I modeled the system as being like a self-driving car. The thing that keeps the system operating is the continued growth of inflation-adjusted wages of non-elite workers. This analogy was chosen because in ecosystems in general, the energy return on the labor of an animal is very important. The collapse of a population of fish, or of some other animal, tends to happen when the return on the labor of that animal falls too low.

In the case of the fish, the return on the labor of the fish falls too low when nearby supplies of food disappear, and the fish must swim too far to obtain new supplies of food. The return on human labor would seem to be the inflation-adjusted wages of non-elite workers. We know that wages for many workers have been falling in recent years, because of competition from globalization, and because of replacement of human labor by advanced machines, such as computers and robots.

Figure 6. Bottom 50% income share, from recent Piketty analysis.

Figure 6. Bottom 50% income share, from recent Piketty analysis.

Besides the problem of falling wages of non-elite workers, earlier in this post I mentioned a number of other issues that make the wages of these workers go less far. These include growing government spending, and the growing costs of education and healthcare. I also mentioned the problem of rising debt, and the increased concentration of wealth, as we try to add complexity to solve problems. All of these issues make it hard for “demand”–which might also be called “affordability”–to be sufficiently great to allow commodity prices to rise to the level producers need for profitability.

Prices Play a Very Important Role in the Economy

The pricing system is the communication system of the economy, as a dissipative structure. One use of energy is to create “information.” Prices are a high level form of information.

One big area where prices come up is with respect to the whole portfolio of products needed on a regular basis, which I mentioned earlier (water, food, energy products, and mineral products). In order for the system to continue working, the prices need to be both:

  • Affordable by consumers
  • High enough for producers to cover their costs, including a margin for taxes and reinvestment

Now, in 2017, prices are “sort of” affordable for consumers, but they are not high enough for producersOil companies will go out of business if these low prices persist.

Back in 2007 and 2008, we had the reverse problem. Prices were high enough for producers, but too high for consumers (especially non-elite workers). This is a big part of what pushed the economy into recession.

We noticed back in Figure 1 that quantities of energy products/goods tend to move up and down together. A similar phenomenon holds true for prices: commodity prices tend to rise and fall together (Figure 7).  The reason this happens is because when the world economy is moving swiftly forward (higher wages, more building activity, more debt), demand tends to be high for many different types of materials at the same time. When the economy slows, prices of all of these commodities tend to fall at the same time. Inflation tends to fall as well.

Figure 6. Prices of oil, call and natural gas tend to rise and fall together. Prices based on 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy data.

Figure 7. Prices of oil, call and natural gas tend to rise and fall together. Prices based on 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy data.

If prices cannot rise high enough for producers, it is likely a sign that wages of non-elite workers are already too low. The affordability loop mentioned earlier is not being closed, so prices cannot stay up at a high enough level to maintain production.

Most Modelers Overlook the Fact that the Economy Is an Open System

Most energy models are based on one of two views of the world: (1) fossil fuel energy supply will eventually run short, so we must use it as sparingly as possible; or (2) we want to reduce the use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible, because of climate change. Because of these issues, we want to leverage the fossil fuel energy we have, to as great an extent as possible, with energy that we can somehow capture from renewable sources, such as the solar energy or wind. With this view of the situation, our major objective is to create “renewables” that use fossil fuel energy as efficiently as possible. The hope is that these renewables, together with the actions of governments, will allow the economy to gradually shrink back to a level that is somehow more sustainable.

Implicit is this model is the view that the economy, and the world in general, is a closed system. Our current government and business leaders are in charge; they can make the changes they would prefer, without the invisible hand causing an unforeseen problem. Very few have realized that the economy cannot really shrink back very much; past history, as well as the nature of dissipative structures, shows that economies tend to collapse. The only economies that have at least temporarily avoided that fate have shifted toward less complexity–for example, eliminating huge government programs, such as armies–rather than yielding to the temptation to add ever more complexity, such as wind turbines and solar panels.

The real situation is that we have a here-and-now problem of too low wages for non-elite workers. Commodity prices are also too low. Intermittent renewables such as wind and solar are thought to be solutions, but it is well-known that intermittent renewables cause too-low prices for other types of electricity generation, when added to the electric grid. Thus, they are likely part of the low-price problem, not part of the solution. Temporary solutions, if there are any, are likely in the direction of cutting back on government expenditures and reducing regulation of banks. In fact, with the election of Trump and the passage of Brevity, the economy seems to again be re-optimizing.

We also know that dissipative structures do not shrink back well, at all. They tend to collapse, instead. For example, you, as a human being, are a dissipative structure. If your food intake were cut back to, say, 500 calories per day, how well would you do? If you could not get along on a very low calorie diet, how would you expect the economy to shrink back to a renewables-only level? Renewables that can be used in a shrunken economy are scarce; we don’t have a huge number of trees to cut down. We cannot maintain the electric grid without fossil fuels.

The assumption that the economy is a closed system is pretty much standard when modeling our current energy situation. This occurs because, until recently, we did not understand that the self-organizing properties of inanimate systems were as important as they are. Also, modeling of the economy as a closed system, rather than an open system, makes modeling much easier. The problem is that closed system modeling doesn’t really tell the right story. For a discussion of some of the issues associated with this mis-modeling, see the recent academic paper, Is the increased use of biofuels the road to sustainability? Consequences of the methodological approach.

Published:2/21/2017 2:47:54 AM
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[Comedy] Trumped

To be fired.

Did you hear that Donald Trump got Trumped by NBC, Macy's, and other major corporations because Mr. Trump is a racist.

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[Apple] Google Nation - Visualizing The World's Most Valuable Brands

The world’s most valuable brand is owned by a company that you likely interact with every day. In fact, you may have even gotten to this web page using it.

That brand is Google – and it dominates the internet with a 64% market share in search, while generating 41% of all digital advertising revenue globally. As Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, according to Brand Finance’s most recent 2017 list, Google’s brand value has recently increased to $109.5 billion, which is just enough to supplant Apple’s $107.1 billion brand from the top of the list.

THE MOST VALUABLE BRAND IN EACH COUNTRY

Today’s infographic comes from HowMuch.net, a cost information site, and it breaks down Brand Finance’s list of the top 500 brands in a different way. It shows the most valuable brand for each country, and has each country sized accordingly to the dollar value of that company.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

It’s interesting to note the drop off in value from country to country.

Google is the world’s most valuable brand at $109.5 billion – and it is followed closely by other U.S. brands like Apple ($107.1B) or Amazon ($106.4B). However, there are only two non-U.S. brands in the top 10, which are South Korean conglomerate Samsung ($66.2B) and Chinese bank ICBC ($47.8B).

Two automakers also rank pretty high. Japan’s Toyota and Germany’s BMW both have significant valuations at $46.3 billion and $37.1 billion.

After that, it’s a pretty steep fall in value for most countries. The top brands in countries like Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, Russia, India, and Spain don’t crack $20 billion in value. On the entire South American continent, the most valuable brand is Brazil’s Itaú, a bank with a brand worth only $6.9 billion.

By our count, a whopping 76 of the top 100 brands were based in either the United States, China, or Japan.

Published:2/21/2017 1:55:49 AM
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The post Bookworm Beat 2/20/17 — fighting the self-annointed fourth branch of government appeared first on Bookworm Room.

Published:2/21/2017 1:55:49 AM
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[Bailout] How Many Euro Crises Will This Make? It's Getting Hard To Keep Track

Submitted by John Rubino via DollarCollapse.com,

Every few years, it seems, one or another mismanaged eurozone country falls into one or another kind of crisis. This leads to speculation about the end of the common currency, which in turn spooks the global financial markets. Then the ECB conjures another trillion euros out of thin air, buys up and/or guarantees all the offending country’s bonds, and calm returns for a while.

At least, that’s how it’s gone in the past.

The latest crisis has more than the usual number of flash-points and could, therefore, be something new and different. Currently:

Greece. This charming but apparently ungovernable country only got into the eurozone in the first place because its corrupt leaders conspired with Goldman Sachs to hide the true condition of the government’s finances. It quickly blew up and has been on intensive care ever since. Now the latest bailout has become deal-breakingly messy:

‘From bad to worse’: Greece hurtles towards a final reckoning

(Guardian) – With another bailout set to bring more cuts, quitting the euro is back on the agenda.

 

The country’s epic struggle to avert bankruptcy should have been settled when Athens received €110bn in aid – the biggest financial rescue programme in global history – from the EU and International Monetary Fund in May 2010. Instead, three bailouts later, it is still wrangling over the terms of the latest €86bn emergency loan package, with lenders also at loggerheads and diplomats no longer talking of a can, but rather a bomb, being kicked down the road. Default looms if a €7.4bn debt repayment – money owed mostly to the European Central Bank – is not honoured in July.

 

Amid the uncertainty, volatility has returned to the markets. So, too, has fear, with an estimated €2.2bn being withdrawn from banks by panic-stricken depositors since the beginning of the year. With talk of Greece’s exit from the euro being heard again, farmers, trade unions and other sectors enraged by the eviscerating effects of austerity have once more come out in protest.

 

This is the irony of Syriza, the leftwing party catapulted to power on a ticket to “tear up” the hated bailout accords widely blamed for extraordinary levels of Greek unemployment, poverty and emigration. Two years into office it has instead overseen the most punishing austerity measures to date, slashing public-sector salaries and pensions, cutting services, agreeing to the biggest privatisation programme in European history and raising taxes on everything from cars to beer – all of which has been the price of the loans that have kept default at bay and Greece in the euro.

 

The arc of crisis that has swept the country – coursing like a cancer through its body politic, devastating its public health system, shattering lives – has been an exercise in the absurd. The feat of pulling off the greatest fiscal adjustment in modern times has spawned a slump longer and deeper than the Great Depression, with the Greek economy shrinking more than 25% since the crisis began.

 

Even if the latest impasse is broken and a deal is reached with creditors soon, few believe that in a country of weak governance and institutions it will be easy to enforce. Political turbulence will almost certainly beckon; the prospect of “Grexit” will grow.

Italy. A few months ago the centrist president, Matteo Renzi, resigned after losing a referendum (don’t bother with the details, they were never very interesting and in any event have been overtaken by events), making a new election necessary. There was a chance that Renzi would be returned to office, which would reset the clock on Italy’s inevitable descent into Greek-style chaos. But yesterday he resigned, throwing the upcoming elections into disarray and opening the door to eurosceptic populists. Combine political turmoil with a moribund banking system and Italy becomes a prime candidate for Big European Crisis of 2017.

Italy’s Renzi resigns as party leader, in tussle over how to counter rise of 5 Star

(MarketWatch) – Italy’s governing center-left Democratic Party was locked in a fierce battle Sunday over the best way to pull the country’s economy out of the doldrums and blunt the momentum of antiestablishment politicians—as mainstream politicians across the Continent struggle to come up with winning strategies in a year of major elections across the European Union.

Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who resigned as premier after losing a referendum vote on constitutional changes in December, formally stepped down as leader of the party after facing sharp criticism for his inability to stem the mounting popularity of the rival 5 Star Movement, a euroskeptic party that wants Italians to have a national vote on whether to leave the eurozone.

 

5 Star, which opposed Renzi’s proposals in the plebiscite, and the Democrats are running neck-and-neck in public-opinion polls. Both parties have pushed for fresh parliamentary elections this year. The country is now being run by a caretaker administration.

France. Each new immigration horror story adds a bit to the popularity of the anti-immigration National Front, and increases the odds that party leader Marine Le Pen makes a strong showing in upcoming elections. The odds are still against her actually winning, but as the polls tighten, French bonds are sold off by nervous traders, widening the spread between French and German yields. A widening yield is a sign of approaching trouble:

Political Turmoil Returns To Europe: French-German Spread Blows Out

(Zero Hedge) – European political fears have returned this morning, leading to a blow out in French government bond yields, pushing the 10y yield now higher by 5bps and 5y up 8bps, as early losses extend after latest poll shows support for anti-euro presidential candidate Marine Le Pen rising in both election rounds.

 

As a result, the French-German 10Y govt spread has jumped to 85 bps, following an accelerated selloff, to the widest level since July 2012.

 

 

And those are just the front-burner problems. The Dutch are also holding general elections next month in which their version of Donald Trump will likely be the leading vote-getter. Germany has two elections this year, and opposition parties are gaining on Chancellor Angela Merkel. So there will be no shortage of scary headlines from the Continent going forward.

Why should non-Europeans care about any of this? Because the EU is the biggest economic entity on the planet and the euro is the second most widely-held currency. Turmoil there means turmoil everywhere else, though the form is hard to predict. A euro crisis might send terrified capital into US stocks and bonds, extending the bull market in domestic financial assets – and making the current US administration look like a bunch of geniuses. Or it could spook capital out of financial assets altogether, crashing stocks and bonds while boosting the price of real things like farmland, solar farms and precious metals. Or it could buoy all US assets, with “anywhere but Europe” becoming the dominant investment theme for a while.

OR the ECB could try to paper over the mess by devaluing the euro even further, setting off a trade war with the US, Japan and China, all of whom need weaker not stronger currencies to hide their own financial mismanagement.

Published:2/21/2017 1:14:31 AM
[Markets] Asia Markets: China stocks rise as investors see a bull market on the horizon Asian markets traded largely mixed on Tuesday as investors waited for U.S. traders to return from a holiday. Meanwhile, investors are warming up to the view that China stocks may have reached a bottom.
Published:2/21/2017 1:14:31 AM
[Markets] Currencies: Dollar rises after Fed comments; euro weakens Comments by Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Patrick Harker late Monday pushed up the benchmark U.S. Treasury yield, sparking demand for the dollar.
Published:2/21/2017 12:43:50 AM
[topics:organisations/nhs] Politicians must not 'collude' to stop closures of unsafe hospital services  Published:2/21/2017 12:14:46 AM
[PAID] A Military Strategist for Trump's NSC H.R. McMaster wrote a book about the duty to challenge a President. Published:2/20/2017 11:44:08 PM
[Science] Sen. McConnell: How I helped Trump win the White House

Salena Zito

WASHINGTON — Mitch McConnell says he was surprised Donald Trump won on election night last year.

That may be true, but no one more brilliantly or shrewdly set the wheels in motion for President Trump's victory than the Senate majority leader from Kentucky.

The McConnell-inspired momentum began within hours of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last February, when McConnell declared the Senate should not confirm a replacement for the conservative icon until after the 2016 election.

That gave McConnell the ability to offer conservatives of all stripes a passionate reason to support the Republican nominee, whoever it was — including the unorthodox Trump.

A lot of Republicans, including McConnell, did not know if Trump was truly a conservative.

"I didn't know what kind of Republican he was going to be. Published:2/20/2017 11:44:08 PM

[Entertainment] George Clooney Opens Up About Amal Clooney's Pregnancy for the First Time: ''It's Going to Be an Adventure!'' George Clooney, Amal ClooneyGeorge Clooney is finally speaking out about Amal Clooney's pregnancy! The couple is expecting twins--an announcement that made massive headlines earlier this month--and now the...
Published:2/20/2017 11:44:08 PM
[topics:people/donald-trump] Not My President's Day: Thousands of demonstrators across the US challenge Donald Trump Published:2/20/2017 11:12:54 PM
[Entertainment] This 'Circus' has elephants ... in puppet form See how the giant, gorgeous puppets in traveling show 'Circus 1903' come to life.
     
 
 
Published:2/20/2017 11:00:09 PM
[Politics] 73 Easting The first thing we did when news came over the wires that Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster was President Trump's nominee for National Security Adviser was to search on YouTube for "73 Easting." Sure enough, it produced a cornucopia of videos in respect of the legendary engagement that erupted on February 26, 1991, during the famed "Hail Mary" against the army of Saddam Hussein in Operation Desert Storm. It has been called the last great tank battle of the 20th Century. Published:2/20/2017 11:00:09 PM
[storytype:standard] David Cassidy says he has dementia a day after appearing to fall off stage during concert Published:2/20/2017 11:00:08 PM
[Entertainment] Mel B Brings the Spice Girls to Broadway During Her Final Show of Chicago the Musical Mel Be, Amra-FayeMel B couldn't say goodbye to Broadway without leaving a bit of "spice power" behind. The actress and singer performed her final show with Chicago the Musical on Sunday night...
Published:2/20/2017 11:00:08 PM
[Asia] Alibaba’s Ant Financial expands to Korea with $200M investment in Kakao Pay daum kakao Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial is making yet another M&A deal. The firm is investing $200 million into a fintech project belonging to Kakao, the $5 billion firm that runs Korea’s dominant messaging service. Ant Financial, which manages payments service Alipay and Alibaba’s digital banking business, will invest the capital into Kakao Pay, a soon-to-launch Kakao fintech division. Read More
Published:2/20/2017 11:00:08 PM
[Politics] WHAT? Gang member who killed a cop in California had been RELEASED EARLY from custody! This is really unbelievable. According to the LA Times, the gang member who shot and killed one police officer and injured another this morning in California was released early from custody on . . . Published:2/20/2017 11:00:08 PM
[Politics] WHAT? Gang member who killed a cop in California had been RELEASED EARLY from custody! This is really unbelievable. According to the LA Times, the gang member who shot and killed one police officer and injured another this morning in California was release early and let back . . . Published:2/20/2017 11:00:08 PM
[NOAA] Fresh Congressional Probe into Flawed Karl “Pausebuster” Scandal Guest essay by Eric Worrall In the wake of revelations by whistleblower Dr. John Bates, Congressman Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has renewed demands for access to documents and correspondence relating to the release of the flawed Karl “Pausebuster” paper. US Congress launches a probe into climate data… Published:2/20/2017 11:00:08 PM
[Chemical elements] Don’t Short This Dog, Report 20 Feb, 2017

This week, the prices of the metals mostly moved sideways. There was a rise on Thursday but it corrected back to basically unchanged on Friday.

This will again be a brief Report, as yesterday was a holiday in the US.

Below, we will show the only true picture of the gold and silver supply and demand fundamentals. But first, the price and ratio charts.

The Prices of Gold and Silver
The Prices of Gold and Silver

Next, this is a graph of the gold price measured in silver, otherwise known as the gold to silver ratio. It moved sideways this week.

The Ratio of the Gold Price to the Silver Price
The Ratio of the Gold Price to the Silver Price

For each metal, we will look at a graph of the basis and cobasis overlaid with the price of the dollar in terms of the respective metal. It will make it easier to provide brief commentary. The dollar will be represented in green, the basis in blue and cobasis in red.

Here is the gold graph.

The Gold Basis and Cobasis and the Dollar Price
The Gold Basis and Cobasis and the Dollar Price

The price was unchanged, but the basis is up slightly and cobasis is down (i.e. gold became slightly more abundant). This is not the news dollar shorters (i.e. those betting on the gold price) want to see.

Our calculated fundamental price is all but unchanged around $1,360.

Now let’s look at silver.

The Silver Basis and Cobasis and the Dollar Price
The Silver Basis and Cobasis and the Dollar Price

In silver, the basis is basically unchanged but the cobasis went up a bit. The silver market got just a bit tighter, and our calculated fundamental price is up more than 30 cents to about a quarter above the market price. Not exactly “bet the farm with leverage territory”, but definitely not “short this dog” either.

Watch this space. We have some exciting data science to reveal soon.

© 2016 Monetary Metals

Published:2/20/2017 10:13:49 PM
[World] Michelle Malkin Mainstream Media President Trump Election Indigestion Hollywood

On "Hannity" tonight, Michelle Malkin said the mainstream media's sustained criticism of President Trump proves they are still suffering from "post-election indigestion."

Published:2/20/2017 10:01:02 PM
[World] Trump taps military strategist as national security adviser PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump has tapped Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a prominent military strategist known as a creative thinker, as his new national security adviser, replacing the ousted Michael Flynn. Published:2/20/2017 10:01:01 PM
[PAID] Ant Financial to Invest $200 Million in Kakao Pay The financial arm of Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group Holding will invest $200 million in the payments unit of South Korean messaging company Kakao Corp. to grow its global payments network. Published:2/20/2017 10:01:01 PM
[Entertainment] The Bachelor Meets the Parents & Gets One Heck of a Surprise Visitor The Bachelor, Nick Viall, CorinneAh, fair President's Day. It's a perfect Monday both for celebrating what is traditionally the most respected position in our country and for watching the Bachelor meet the...
Published:2/20/2017 10:01:01 PM
[The Blog] “Walking Dead” grumble thread: The “Star Trek” episode Aliens. Published:2/20/2017 10:01:01 PM
[Politics] Katy Tur admits she had NO IDEA about Obama’s ‘hot mic’ moment Earlier we posted the video of MSNBC reporter Katy Tur saying during an interview she had no idea what a congressman was talking about when he mentioned Obama’s “hot mic” moment before . . . Published:2/20/2017 10:01:01 PM
[Politics] Katy Tur admits she had NO IDEA about Obama’s ‘hot mic’ moment Earlier we posted the video of MSNBC reporter Katy Tur saying during an interview she had no idea what a congressman was talking about when he mentioned Obama’s “hot mic” moment before . . . Published:2/20/2017 10:01:01 PM
[Entertainment and Hobbies] WATCH: Walking Dead: Ep. 711: ‘Hostiles and Calamities’ [Trailer] Don’t miss the next episode of The Walking Dead, Sunday, February 26 at 9/8c.
Published:2/20/2017 10:01:01 PM
[Plants & Animals ] Scientists explore the evolution of a 'social supergene' in the red fire ant Scientists from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have discovered that the chromosome responsible for the social organisation of colonies of the highly invasive fire ant is likely to have evolved via a single event rather than over time. Published:2/20/2017 10:01:01 PM
[structure:food-and-drink] Discord in Angela Merkel's government after environment ministry bans meat at official functions  Published:2/20/2017 9:13:46 PM
[Barack Obama] Stockman Warns Trump "Flynn's Gone But They're Still Gunning For You, Donald"

Submitted by David Stockman via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

General Flynn's tenure in the White House was only slightly longer than that of President-elect William Henry Harrison in 1841.  Actually, with just 24 days in the White House, General Flynn's tenure fell a tad short of old "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too".  General Harrison actually lasted 31 days before getting felled by pneumonia.

And the circumstances were considerably more benign. It seems that General Harrison had a fondness for the same "firewater" that agitated the native Americans he slaughtered at the famous battle memorialized in his campaign slogan. In fact, during the campaign a leading Democrat newspaper skewered the old general, who at 68 was the oldest US President prior to Ronald Reagan, saying:

Give him a barrel of hard [alcoholic] cider, and… a pension of two thousand [dollars] a year… and… he will sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin.

That might have been a good idea back then (or even now), but to prove he wasn't infirm, Harrison gave the longest inaugural address in US history (2 hours) in the midst of seriously inclement weather wearing neither hat nor coat.

That's how he got pneumonia! Call it foolhardy, but that was nothing compared to that exhibited by Donald Trump's former national security advisor.

General Flynn got the equivalent of political pneumonia by talking for hours during the transition to international leaders, including Russia's ambassador to the US, on phone lines which were bugged by the CIA. Or more accurately, making calls which were "intercepted" by the very same NSA/FBI spy machinery that monitors every single phone call made in America.

Ironically, we learned what Flynn should have known about the Deep State's plenary surveillance from Edward Snowden. Alas, Flynn and Trump wanted the latter to be hung in the public square as a "traitor", but if that's the solution to intelligence community leaks, the Donald is now going to need his own rope factory to deal with the flood of traitorous disclosures directed against him.

In any event, it was "intercepts" leaked from deep in the bowels of the CIA to the Washington Post and then amplified in a 24/7 campaign by the War Channel (CNN) that brought General Flynn down.

But here's the thing. They were aiming at Donald J. Trump. And for all of his puffed up bluster about being the savviest negotiator on the planet, the Donald walked right into their trap, as we shall amplify momentarily.

But let's first make the essence of the matter absolutely clear. The whole Flynn imbroglio is not about a violation of the Logan Act owing to the fact that the general engaged in diplomacy as a private citizen.

It's about re-litigating the 2016 election based on the hideous lie that Trump stole it with the help of Vladimir Putin. In fact, Nancy Pelosi was quick to say just that:

'The American people deserve to know the full extent of Russia's financial, personal and political grip on President Trump and what that means for our national security,' House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a press release.

Yet, we should rephrase. The re-litigation aspect reaches back to the Republican primaries, too. The Senate GOP clowns who want a war with practically everybody, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are already launching their own investigation from the Senate Armed Services committee.

And Senator Graham, the member of the boobsey twins who ran for President in 2016 while getting a GOP primary vote from virtually nobody,  made clear that General Flynn's real sin was a potential peace overture to the Russians:

Sen. Lindsey Graham also said he wants an investigation into Flynn's conversations with a Russian ambassador about sanctions: "I think Congress needs to be informed of what actually Gen. Flynn said to the Russian ambassador about lifting sanctions," the South Carolina Republican told CNN's Kate Bolduan on "At This Hour. And I want to know, did Gen. Flynn do this by himself or was he directed by somebody to do it?"

We say good riddance to Flynn, of course, because he was a shrill anti-Iranian warmonger. But let's also not be fooled by the clinical term at the heart of the story. That is, "intercepts" mean that the Deep State taps the phone calls of the President's own closest advisors as a matter of course.

This is the real scandal as Trump himself has rightly asserted. The very idea that the already announced #1 national security advisor to a President-elect should be subject to old-fashion "bugging," albeit with modern day technology, overwhelmingly trumps the utterly specious Logan Act charge at the center of the case.

As one writer for LawNewz noted regarding acting Attorney General Sally Yates' voyeuristic pre-occupation with Flynn's intercepted conversations, Nixon should be rolling in his grave with envy:

Now, information leaks that Sally Yates knew about surveillance being conducted against potential members of the Trump administration, and disclosed that information to others. Even Richard Nixon didn’t use the government agencies themselves to do his black bag surveillance operations. Sally Yates involvement with this surveillance on American political opponents, and possibly the leaking related thereto, smacks of a return to Hoover-style tactics. As writers at Bloomberg and The Week both noted, it wreaks of 'police-state' style tactics. But knowing dear Sally as I do, it comes as no surprise.

Yes, that's the same career apparatchik of the permanent government that Obama left behind to continue the 2016 election by other means. And it's working. The Donald is being rapidly emasculated by the powers that be in the Imperial City due to what can only be described as an audacious and self-evident attack on Trump's Presidency by the Deep State.

Indeed, it seems that the layers of intrigue have gotten so deep and convoluted that the nominal leadership of the permanent  government machinery has lost track of who is spying on whom. Thus, we have the following curious utterance by none other than the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes:

'I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,' he told The Washington Post. 'The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.'

Well, yes. That makes 324 million of us, Congressman.

But for crying out loud, surely the oh so self-important chairman of the House intelligence committee knows that everybody is bugged. But when it reaches the point that the spy state is essentially using its unconstitutional tools to engage in what amounts to "opposition research" with the aim of election nullification, then the Imperial City has become a clear and present danger to American democracy and the liberties of the American people.

As Robert Barnes of LawNewz further explained, Sally Yates, former CIA director John Brennan and a large slice of the Never Trumper intelligence community were systematically engaged in "opposition research" during the campaign and the transition:

According to published reports, someone was eavesdropping, and recording, the conversations of Michael Flynn, while Sally Yates was at the Department of Justice. Sally Yates knew about this eavesdropping, listened in herself (Pellicano-style for those who remember the infamous LA cases), and reported what she heard to others. For Yates to have such access means she herself must have been involved in authorizing its disclosure to political appointees, since she herself is such a political appointee. What justification was there for an Obama appointee to be spying on the conversations of a future Trump appointee?

Consider this little tidbit in The Washington Post. The paper, which once broke Watergate, is now propagating the benefits of Watergate-style surveillance in ways that do make Watergate look like a third-rate effort.  (With the) FBI 'routinely' monitoring conversations of Americans...... Yates listened to 'the intercepted call,' even though Yates knew there was 'little chance' of any credible case being made for prosecution under a law 'that has never been used in a prosecution.'

And well it hasn't been. After all, the Logan Act was signed by President John Adams in 1799 in order to punish one of Thomas Jefferson's supporters for having peace discussions with the French government in Paris. That is, it amounted to pre-litigating the Presidential campaign of 1800 based on sheer political motivation.

According to the Washington Post itself, that is exactly what Yates and the Obama holdovers did day and night during the interregnum:

Indeed, the paper details an apparent effort by Yates to misuse her office to launch a full-scale secret investigation of her political opponents, including 'intercepting calls' of her political adversaries.

So all of the feigned outrage emanating from Democrats and the Washington establishment about Team Trump's trafficking with the Russians is a cover story. Surely anyone even vaguely familiar with recent history would have known there was absolutely nothing illegal or even untoward about Flynn's post-Christmas conversations with the Russian Ambassador.

Indeed, we recall from personal experience the thrilling moment on inauguration day in January 1981 when word came of the release of the American hostages in Tehran. Let us assure you, that did not happen by immaculate diplomatic conception -- nor was it a parting gift to the Gipper by the outgoing Carter Administration.

To the contrary, it was the fruit of secret negotiations with the Iranian government during the transition by private American citizens. As the history books would have it because it's true, the leader of that negotiation, in fact, was Ronald Reagan's national security council director-designate, Dick Allen.

As the real Washington Post later reported, under the by-line of a real reporter, Bob Woodward:

Reagan campaign aides met in a Washington DC hotel in early October, 1980, with a self-described 'Iranian exile' who offered, on behalf of the Iranian government, to release the hostages to Reagan, not Carter, in order to ensure Carter's defeat in the November 4, 1980 election.

The American participants were Richard Allen, subsequently Reagan's first national security adviser, Allen aide Laurence Silberman, and Robert McFarlane, another future national security adviser who in 1980 was on the staff of Senator John Tower (R-TX).

To this day we have not had occasion to visit our old friend Dick Allen in the US penitentiary because he's not there; the Logan Act was never invoked in what is surely the most blatant case ever of citizen diplomacy.

So let's get to the heart of the matter and be done with it. The Obama White House conducted a sour grapes campaign to delegitimize the election beginning November 9th and it was led by then CIA Director John Brennan.

That treacherous assault on the core constitutional matter of the election process culminated in the ridiculous Russian meddling report of the Obama White House in December. The latter, of course, was issued by serial liar James Clapper, as national intelligence director, and the clueless Democrat lawyer and bag-man, Jeh Johnson, who had been appointed head of the Homeland Security Department.

Yet on the basis of  the report's absolutely zero evidence and endless surmise, innuendo and "assessments", the Obama White House imposed another round of its silly school-boy sanctions on a handful of Putin's cronies.

Of course, Flynn should have been telling the Russian Ambassador that this nonsense would be soon reversed!

But here is the ultimate folly. The mainstream media talking heads are harrumphing loudly about the fact that the very day following Flynn's call -- Vladimir Putin announced that he would not retaliate against the new Obama sanctions as expected; and shortly thereafter, the Donald tweeted that Putin had shown admirable wisdom.

That's right. Two reasonably adult statesman undertook what might be called the Christmas Truce of 2016. But like its namesake of 1914 on the bloody no man's land of the western front, the War Party has determined that the truce-makers shall not survive.

The Donald has been warned.

Published:2/20/2017 9:13:46 PM
[Top Picks] Last-minute Obama action on Cuban refugees strands defectors in Colombia Wet foot, dry foot, and the boot. Published:2/20/2017 9:13:46 PM
[Immigration] Immigrant workers get fired trying to prove a point (Paul Mirengoff) Last Thursday was “A day Without Immigrants” day. In an organized protest against President Trump’s immigration views and aborted executive order, thousands of immigrants stayed home from work. The idea was to demonstrate their indispensability. For the immigrants, there was obvious risk associated with skipping work. An employee who turned out to be dispensable might be fired for not showing up. For an employee who is indispensable but replaceable, the Published:2/20/2017 9:13:46 PM
[] Monday Overnight Open Thread (2/20/17) President's Day Edition The Father of our country. The Rough Rider The Great Communicator The Jug Ear F*cker The Quotes of The Day Quote I When you get to be President, there are all those things, the honors, the twenty-one gun salutes, all... Published:2/20/2017 9:13:46 PM
[World] Economic freedom declining in America

Its official title is "2017 Index of Economic Freedom." But you could also call it "President Obama's Report Card."

At least when it comes to the United States. The index contains scores and ranks for almost every country, after all. And the news for the rest of the world, on ... Published:2/20/2017 8:50:12 PM

[AWD] WHY ANGRY WHITE DUDE DOESN’T ATTEND CPAC

Today, Milo Yionnopolous was uninvited to speak at this year’s CPAC after an interview is said to show his support of pedophilia. Milo vehemently defended his opposition to the vile sickness but it was enough for the Muslim Brotherhood CPAC to uninvited him. He also lost his book contract with Simon & Schuster. AWD is not a fan of CPAC and am reposting a piece explaining why from a year […]

The post WHY ANGRY WHITE DUDE DOESN’T ATTEND CPAC appeared first on .

Published:2/20/2017 8:50:12 PM
[Entertainment] Drake Wishes Rihanna Happy Birthday: She's ''Somebody I Have a Lot of Love and Respect for'' Rihanna, DrakeDrake didn't forget about Rihanna's 29th birthday. Though the former couple split up a few months ago--and he's since been linked to Jennifer Lopez--the rapper shouted out to...
Published:2/20/2017 8:50:12 PM
[Politics] Yes, it was a CHEAP SHOT when Trump criticized Obama for golfing says Rick Santorum Rick Santorum agreed with CNN’s Erin Burnett that Trump was taking cheap shots at Obama for criticizing him over his many golf outings before Trump was elected. Watch below: Santorum tried to . . . Published:2/20/2017 8:50:12 PM
[Politics] Yes, it was a CHEAP SHOT when Trump criticized Obama for golfing says Rick Santorum Rick Santorum agreed with CNN’s Erin Burnett that Trump was taking cheap shots at Obama for criticizing him over his many golf outings before Trump was elected. Watch below: Santorum tried to . . . Published:2/20/2017 8:50:12 PM
[The Blog] Rep. Clay filing lawsuit to restore cops as pigs painting in the Capitol "...violated his constituent's First Amendment rights to free expression." Published:2/20/2017 8:50:12 PM
[Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand] Government Knows Best - Junk Food Ban Goes Global

Obesity is a 'big' (pardon the pun) problem in the Pacific Islands.  In fact, a recent World Bank study found that over half the adult population in 16 of the 17 Pacific Island countries and territories were obese while over 75% of the population was obese in 11 of those counties.

Pacific Island Obesity

 

So what do you do when you just can't count on citizens to make sound judgements about their own personal health decisions?  Well, you call in the Nanny State to ban sodas and sugary snacks, of course...which, according to the New York Times, is exactly what the tiny Pacific island nation of Vanuatu is doing.

While many governments struggle to ban soda to curb obesity, the tiny Torba Tourism Council in the remote Pacific island nation of Vanuatu is planning to outlaw all imported food at government functions and tourist establishments across the province’s 13 inhabited islands.

 

Provincial leaders hope to turn them instead into havens of local organic food. The ban, scheduled to take effect in March, comes as many Pacific island nations struggle with an obesity crisis brought on in part by the overconsumption of imported junk food.

 

“We want to ban all other junk food from this province,” Luke Dini, the council’s chairman and a retired Anglican priest, said in a telephone interview from Torba. He said the province had about 9,000 residents and got fewer than 1,000 tourists a year, mostly Europeans.

Nanny State

 

Not surprisingly, so-called "public health experts" have praised Vanuatu's ban on imported food while blasting international consumer goods companies for "exploiting these nations by providing a food supply that is not, in the long term, better for health" while "decimating" local populations.

Public health experts who study the island nations of the Pacific welcomed the ban, saying that bold measures were necessary for an impoverished and isolated region of 10 million people — one where the cost of sending legions of patients abroad for dialysis treatment or kidney transplants is untenable.

 

“Imagine if 75 million Americans had diabetes — that’s the scale of the epidemic we’re talking about in Vanuatu,” Roger Magnusson, a professor of health law and governance at Sydney Law School in Australia, said in an email.

 

“Can anyone seriously say that Vanuatu doesn’t have the right to exercise its health sovereignty in every way possible to protect its population from an epidemic of that scale?” he added.

 

It is so wrong what is being done to exploit these nations by providing a food supply that is not, in the long term, better for health,” said Elaine Rush, a professor of nutrition at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand who has studied health problems in the Pacific islands. She described the effect that the health crisis was having on families there as “decimating.”

Of course, there are just a couple of small problems with the "evil corporation" theory as presented by "public health experts" and the New York Times.  Unfortunately, while the "health experts" would like for you to believe that obesity is a new problem plaguing the people of the Pacific islands, as Wendy Snowden of the World Health Organization points out, in reality obesity rates on these islands were simply "higher to start with."  Moreover, as Snowden also notes, one other small problem is that no level of "taxes and prohibitions" on sugary food products has "been able to demonstrate reductions in obesity prevalence."

Still, Dr. Snowdon said, the taxes and prohibitions on drinks in the Pacific islands — along with education, food labeling and school-nutrition programs — have not reduced the region’s overall incidence of obesity or its associated health problems.

 

"No country in the world has been able to demonstrate reductions in its obesity prevalence, so we’re not that different,” she said. “It’s just that our levels are higher to start with.”

But rest assured, dear citizens of the world, that your Nanny State's aggressive, invasive policies stripping you of your basic personal liberties are intended for your own good and are in no way a meaningless attempt to cram their liberal agendas down your throat at all costs, irrespective of scientific data proving their complete lack of effectiveness in achieving their stated goals.

Published:2/20/2017 8:50:12 PM
[World] North Korea says Malaysia can’t be trusted to investigate the killing of leader’s half brother Meanwhile, South Korea said it is now “certain” that Kim Jong Un’s regime ordered the slaying. Published:2/20/2017 8:12:05 PM
[Politics] CPAC rescinds Yiannopoulos invitation amid social media uproar Published:2/20/2017 8:12:05 PM
[Top Picks] Sure, we can talk about that new fried chicken pizza slop from KFC if you’d like What? Published:2/20/2017 8:12:03 PM
[American people of German descent] The Billionaire-Owned, Corporate Media Is As Worthless As Ever

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

I think the U.S. citizenry is being afflicted by a sort of mass insanity at the moment. There are no good outcomes if this continues. As a result, I feel compelled to provide a voice for those of us lost in the political wilderness. We must persevere and not be manipulated into the obvious and nefarious divide and conquer tactics being aggressively unleashed across the societal spectrum. If we lose our grounding and our fortitude, who will be left to speak for those of us who simply don’t fit into any of the currently ascendant political ideologies?

 

From the post: Lost in the Political Wilderness

Rather than focus its journalistic energy on chronicling the economic insecurity plaguing so many of our fellow Americans, the billionaire-owned corporate media appears entirely obsessed with chattering endlessly about Russia conspiracy theories and domestic coup plots. Instead of looking in the mirror and admitting how its countless errors and propaganda pushing led to multiple humanitarian disasters over the last couple of decades, the oligarch-owned mainstream media insist upon a narrative that Trump the individual is at the root of our problems, as opposed to an entrenched executive branch with excessive power. This is because the mainstream media isn’t actually concerned about our cancerous, systemic metastasizing statism, it merely doesn’t want Trump in charge of it. I, on the other hand, want to dismantle that unconstitutional state entirely and transfer power to the American people where it belongs — self-government. Does anyone actually think for a second the media would be this adversarial if Hillary won?

This weekend’s article by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times represents a sort of coming out party for the billionaire-owned, corporate media. More than anything else I’ve seen, it perfectly demonstrates how completely disconnected and worthless billionaire-owned media truly is. It’s the height of absurdity that these media organizations, owned by billionaires or giant corporate conglomerates, are playing the victim in all this when they’ve been the world’s primary abuser for the entire 21st century.

You can be a staunch defender of the free press and the 1st Amendment, and at the same time point out that the billionaire-owned media has failed us. This is my position, and Trump’s election hasn’t changed that. The handful of corporations and billionaires who control the mainstream press does not = “the press.” They (and the deep state) are currently trying to convince the public that they’re the only ones standing between you and fascism. This is complete stupidity, and if we fall for it, we will get what we deserve.

The billionaire-owned media is far more complicit in creating the imperial Presidency than Donald Trump, he merely figured out a way to get control of it. Now these same charlatans are pretending to put out a fire they themselves started, and want to be celebrated for being so courageous. This is eerily similar to the scam pulled off by the Federal Reserve during and after the financial crisis.

With that introduction out of the way, let’s take a look at a few excerpts from the mind-bogglingly explicit piece in this past weekend’s New York Times, titled brazenly enough, How Can We Get Rid of Trump?

Maybe things will settle down. But what is striking about Trump is not just the dysfunction of his administration but also the — vigorously denied — allegations that Trump’s team may have cooperated with Vladimir Putin to steal the election. What’s also different is the broad concern that Trump is both: A) unfit for office, and B) dangerously unstable. One pro-American leader in a foreign country called me up the other day and skipped the preliminaries, starting with: “What the [expletive] is wrong with your country?”

 

So let’s investigate: Is there any way out?

 

Trump still has significant political support, so the obstacles are gargantuan. But the cleanest and quickest way to remove a president involves Section 4 of the 25th Amendment and has never been attempted. It provides that the cabinet can, by a simple majority vote, strip the president of his powers and immediately hand power to the vice president. The catch is that the ousted president can object, and in that case Congress must approve the ouster by a two-thirds vote in each chamber, or the president regains office.

It’s never been attempted in the history of the country, but let’s promote it anyway!

The 25th Amendment route is to be used when a president is “unable” to carry out his duties. I asked Laurence Tribe, the Harvard professor of constitutional law, whether that could mean not just physical incapacity, but also mental instability. Or, say, the taint of having secretly colluded with Russia to steal an election?

 

Tribe said that he believed Section 4 could be used in such a situation.

 

“In the unlikely event that Pence and a majority of Trump’s bizarre cabinet were to grow the spine needed to do the right thing with the process set up by that provision, we would surely be in a situation where a very large majority of the public, including a very substantial percentage of Trump’s supporters, would back if not insist upon such a move,” Tribe said. “In that circumstance, I can’t imagine Trump and his lawyers succeeding in getting the federal courts to interfere.”

As a reminder, here’s an example of the intellectual and ethical wasteland known as Laurene Tribe’s mind as of late:

Now back to Kristof.

The better known route is impeachment. But for now it’s hard to imagine a majority of the House voting to impeach, and even less conceivable that two-thirds of the Senate would vote to convict so that Trump would be removed. Moreover, impeachment and trial in the Senate would drag on for months, paralyzing America and leaving Trump in office with his finger on the nuclear trigger.

In Kristof’s mind, a major downside to pursuing impeachment is that it won’t get rid of Trump fast enough. Is this really a paper the public can remotely trust to report on the country’s problems in a fair manner?

Now here’s where it starts to get simply comical. Kristoff writes:

Some people believe that the 2018 midterm elections will be so catastrophic for the G.O.P. that everyone will be ready to get rid of him. I’m skeptical. In the Senate, the map is disastrous for Democrats in 2018: The Republicans will be defending only eight Senate seats, while Democrats will in effect be defending 25.

 

So while Democrats can gnash their teeth, it’ll be up to Republicans to decide whether to force Trump out. And that won’t happen unless they see him as ruining their party as well as the nation.

Perhaps instead of “gnashing their teeth,” Democrats could come up with a coherent platform that doesn’t revolve around worshiping Wall Street.

Finally, here’s how Kristoff ends his pathetic plea for overthrowing Trump.

And what does it say about a presidency that, just one month into it, we’re already discussing whether it can be ended early?

No Nicholas, “we” aren’t already discussing it. You are. You and your media peers. Which brings me to the most infuriating aspect of what is happening in American discourse today. What is someone like me, who dislikes Trump, but dislikes the corporate media even more, supposed to do?

This is the uncomfortable position I find myself in today, and if I’m there, millions of others are there as well. Trump understands this, which is why he continues his unrelenting attacks on elements of the corporate press. Personally, my dislike of Trump would be far more acute if not for my total disdain for the billionaire-owned media. Journalists are supposed to be adversarial toward power generally, not pick and choose which powerful figures to challenge based on political ideology. The corporate media has clearly failed the country, thus Trump is being politically savvy by picking a fight with it. As I noted last week on Twitter:

Once again, the corporate media is proving its worthlessness by making everything about a man, as opposed to the systemic disaster that is the oligarch-controlled society we live in. The current President isn’t charismatic enough, and doesn’t espouse the right platitudes when he bombs Muslim women and children. That’s the media’s red line apparently. If it sounds like I’m against everything, there’s a reason. Our culture is deranged and corporate media deserves a lot of the blame.

Finally, here’s an article published by Forbes last year to get you up to speed on what we’re up against: These 15 Billionaires Own America’s News Media Companies.

Billionaires don’t buy media outlets to make money, they already have that. They buy them to manipulate public opinion.

Published:2/20/2017 8:12:03 PM
[World] The Meaning of Trump He alone perceived America’s status quo crisis. Published:2/20/2017 8:12:03 PM
[World] Bill O'Reilly Talking Points Memo on Press-Democrat Party Alliance & President Trump

The Democratic Party is now aligned with the mainstream media, which is troubling for the state of the free press in the U.S., Bill O'Reilly said in his Talking Points Memo tonight.

Published:2/20/2017 7:48:26 PM
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[Politics] NBC News blames TRUMP for attacks on Jewish Centers… The media is really reaching and trying to tie Trump to his alt-right scumbag followers, and one of the ways they’re doing it is by attacking him on the idiotic statement he . . . Published:2/20/2017 7:48:25 PM
[Politics] NBC News blames TRUMP for attacks on Jewish Centers… The media is really reaching and trying to tie Trump to his alt-right scumbag followers, and one of the ways they’re doing it is by attacking him on the idiotic statement he . . . Published:2/20/2017 7:48:25 PM
[Australia] People Are Suddenly Very Worried About China

Considering that in the past 3 months the only daily topic of relevance for the media has been "Donald Trump" both in the US and abroad, one would assume that when it comes to global policy uncertainty the primary source would be, record S&P 500 paradoxically notwithstanding, the United States. One would also be wrong, because while Trump seemingly remains the only topic worthy of discussion blanketing the airwaves, as the following chart from Goldman demonstrates, it has been China where policy uncertainty has stealthily exploded in the past three months according to policyuncertainty.com, while making virtually no new headlines.

But how is it possible that China, which is seemingly far more "concerning" at this moment than it was a year ago when fears about Chinese financial conditions and devaluation led to global market selloff and pushed the S&P into correction, has had virtually no impact on risk assets so far in 2017: clearly either the chart above, or the market, is wrong.

Conveneintly it is the same Goldman which has published an exhaustive report laying out the key risks to China's growth, many of which have been discounted by the market which erroneously assumes that just because the world went though a China "scare" period one year ago, that the world's second biggest economy remains contained. Far from it.

For those pressed for time, below is the summary of Goldman's "Risks To China's growth In The Year of the rooster" report, from the team of MK Tan:

  • After meeting the 2016 growth target, Chinese policymakers are focused on stability ahead of the upcoming leadership reshuffling. This relative calm–we expect only a modest deceleration in growth in the Year of the Rooster—is coming at the cost of further increases in credit and other imbalances. Meanwhile, markets have tempered their acute bearishness on the Chinese economy and are focused on policy and politics in the US and Europe. Still, with growth arguably above potential and Chinese policy tightening, we think a review of China-related risks is timely. We separate risks into those emanating from the Chinese economy itself, and adverse shocks from abroad.
  • Domestically, our concerns center on the ongoing credit boom and the calibration of policy tightening. A fading "credit impulse" to growth seems likely, with cyclical sectors like housing apt to slow this year—even if low reliance on foreign funding and strong government influence on bank lending and bond purchases reduce the risk of an acute credit crunch. As for policy tightening, policymakers have tried to balance growth targets with financial stability, but inflation could become a new constraint as potential growth declines.
  • The biggest risks for China from abroad are an accelerated pace of Fed tightening and/or US protectionism. As for the former, with two Fed hikes already priced in for 2017, it would probably take a shift into more hawkish territory than our own forecast (three hikes) to cause a major shock. As for the latter, the most disruptive measures would be a large across-the-board tariff on China or the “border-adjusted cash flow tax” under consideration by the House of Representatives. Either could impose a meaningful hit to Chinese exports and growth, as well as exacerbating capital outflow and financial stability risks.
  • If one or more of these risks materializes, a Chinese slowdown would be transmitted to other countries through three main channels: slowing goods imports from the rest of the world, falling commodity prices, and tighter financial conditions (most likely via a stronger USD and weaker equity prices). Open Asian economies, particularly those with commodity exposure and/or dollar indebtedness, remain the most vulnerable to a “hard landing” in China.

* * *

Those interested in the details behind the report are encouraged to read on for the key select excerpts:

Introduction

A year ago, markets were abuzz over the possibility of a financial calamity in China and/or a “big deval” in the currency. Market pricing implied the likelihood of substantial equity price moves and CNY depreciation (Exhibit 1). Fears of a China crisis reverberated through global markets, tightening financial conditions around the world and pushing the US Federal Reserve to postpone its plans for further rate hikes.

Exhbit 1: China’s equity and currency markets were both under stress a year ago

Chinese policymakers wrestled with challenges throughout 2016, but large and sustained policy stimulus eventually fostered recovery. Fiscal and regulatory easing, alongside continued rapid credit growth, underpinned strong growth in infrastructure spending and a rebound in cyclical sectors like property and motor vehicles. Real GDP growth came in on target (6.7% versus a 6.5%-7.0% target range), and alternative measures of activity also improved (Exhibit 2). Our China Current Activity Indicator bottomed out at 4.3% (see dark line in Exhibit 2; this is measured on a three-month, three-month annualized basis) in early 2015, recovered to the mid-5% range last year, and is now running at 6.9%. Heavy industry, as proxied by our physical output measure (gray line in Exhibit 2), has seen an even more pronounced reacceleration.

Exhibit 2: After a tough 2015, our measures of Chinese growth accelerated in 2016

Now, while forecasters still expect a little slowing in growth and some further depreciation in the renminbi, the focus is much more on policy in the US and Europe. In the US, President Trump’s tweets have spawned a cottage industry of interpreters vying to understand where policy may head in the coming year. Across the Atlantic, the road map for “Brexit” as well as continued uncertainty about politics in the rest of the Eurozone occupies many market participants. While we subscribe to the view that Chinese policymakers will manage through the year with reasonably high growth, it is still prudent to review the risks ahead.

After the roller coaster of the past year, most observers expect Chinese policymakers to make significant efforts to keep growth stable this year and try to reduce volatility in financial markets. Indeed, commentary following December’s Central Economic Work Conference suggested that “controlling financial risks” may even take precedence over the growth target—a sensible ordering of priorities, in our view. Still, even if the Communist Party of China (CPC)'s long-term commitment to double income in this decade—as promulgated by the previous administration and reiterated last year by many senior officials—is pushed out by a year or two, it continues to carry some weight. We therefore expect the growth target to be near 6.5% for 2017, and policymakers to accept only limited flexibility around this target (sub-6% GDP growth is unlikely to be acceptable). A special motivation for minimizing market and economic "noise" in 2017 is the upcoming 19th Party Congress and associated leadership reshuffling, which will involve the majority of members in the Politburo and Standing Committee of the CPC. 

Global financial markets seem to have bought into the notion that China-related risks will be managed, shrugging off China’s significant bond and FX market volatility in recent months. Substantial capital outflows and CNY depreciation against the USD continued in late 2016 but have not (yet) resulted in substantial tightening in global financial conditions, unlike last year (Exhibit 3).

Exhibit 3: Less spillover from China to US financial conditions recently

The aforementioned improvement in growth, alongside clearer messages from policymakers (publicly rejecting a large devaluation and holding the trade-weighted renminbi stable since mid-2016) and friendlier global conditions (a more dovish Fed in particular) have all helped.

What could bring China fears to the fore again, and cause the markets to change their assessment?

We explore some possible paths to a “hard landing” in China. (For the purposes of this discussion we define a “hard landing” as a drop of at least 4pp in our China Current Activity Indicator within one year—on this basis we’ve had a few near misses in the last few years, most recently in early 2015, but no hard landing. From the current growth pace, this would imply a drop in CAI to the mid-2% range or below.) We divide our review into external shocks and then domestic vulnerabilities, although clearly the two interact with each other. We emphasize these risks are not part of our baseline scenario for China in 2017, though they are more than mere "tail risks".

Domestic vulnerabilities—credit and policy miscalibration

We see two principal risks domestically. The first is an abrupt end to China’s credit boom.

A widespread perception of a "policy put", implicit guarantees to state enterprises and governments at all levels, and generally strong growth have underpinned the stability of the financial system. They have also encouraged rapid growth in leverage, including a reacceleration in 2015-16 (Exhibit 4).[5] China’s post-GFC credit boom has taken debt levels well beyond those of EM peers (Exhibit 5).

Exhibit 4: Credit growth has reaccelerated since 2015 and is well in excess of nominal GDP growth

Exhibit 5: China’s debt level well above EM peers 

Sustained debt booms typically lead to slower growth, greater financial volatility, and heightened risk of a financial crisis. Looking at more than a century of historical data, we found that a “large domestic debt boom” lasting at least 7 years where the debt-to-GDP ratio increases by over 52pp—China’s easily qualifies—is typically followed by a 2pp slowdown in growth and a heightened risk of financial crisis (Exhibits 6 and 7).

Exhibit 6: Real GDP growth decelerates after debt booms: Real GDP growth relative to average during debt boom period

Exhibit 7: Financial crises common but not inevitable in large-country domestic debt booms

Another way to look at the potential growth consequences is to estimate the negative “credit impulse” if credit growth were to slow to half its current pace. Using our past analysis of the relationship between credit and growth, and assuming a deceleration over one year, this would slow growth by 2-3pp or more (a more gradual deceleration would spread this growth hit over a longer period). 

We have seen credit booms end because of intentional tightening (Japan, where policymakers raised interest rates and imposed credit controls), external shocks (capital outflows in the Asia Financial Crisis), or to some extent collapsing under their own weight (the United States, where rising defaults led to a vicious cycle of tighter credit, falling asset prices, and weaker growth). Similarly, a structural break in China’s credit expansion—a sharp tightening in credit availability—could occur because of a deliberate policy shift or because imbalances have simply grown too large to be sustained (more on both below). Regardless of the trigger, a supply-driven tightening in credit would have highly negative consequences for growth.

Chinese policymakers are trying to avoid this sort of sharp pullback. Perhaps with the US experience in mind, they have been particularly attentive to “shadow banking” risks, recently taking steps to regulate off-balance sheet activities such as wealth management products, and to increase the cost of repo financing that is often used to fund shadow banking activity, even at the cost of prompting a significant bond market selloff in late 2016. In this context, our forecast remains for a "bumpy deceleration" in growth rather than a hard landing, though the longer the credit boom continues, the more difficult it will be to guide the economy to a soft landing.

The second domestic risk is a major policy tightening. This could be intentional or unintentional, although we view the latter as much more plausible. 

Chinese policymakers’ growth goals appear increasingly likely to conflict with supply-side constraints. Historically, the growth target was a “policy put” that was out of the money—a reassurance that growth would not be allowed to drop too far. However, in recent years the target appears to have become a binding constraint on policy. Actual growth is near the target instead of well above it (Exhibit 8), and our estimates suggest potential growth is slightly lower (near or below 6%).

To meet the GDP growth targets, credit growth has boomed, as noted in the previous section, and a key driver of demand for that credit has been a large increase in the broadly-defined fiscal deficit (Exhibit 9). Indeed, a portion of the fiscal expansion has been underwritten by the central bank itself in the form of rising credit to the banking sector (e.g., "pledged supplementary lending" to policy banks such as CDB; see Exhibit 10). 

Attempting to boost growth above its potential rate for a sustained period is likely to lead to rising inflation and/or unsustainable asset price appreciation. We have already seen a large run-up in housing prices, substantial capital outflow pressures, and a sharp turnaround in producer prices (although we would attribute the latter primarily to CNY depreciation and upstream supply-side constraints rather than demand stimulus). As yet, CPI inflation is modest (Exhibit 11), but inflation could eventually force more difficult tradeoffs—and possibly a harsh policy tightening--if growth targets are not tempered further.

With growth in the target range for now, policymakers have begun tightening on a number of fronts to address these risks:

  • Housing restrictions in tier 1 and 2 cities, mostly on the demand side, to address surging home prices.
  • Regulation of "shadow banking" activities such as wealth management products to limit liquidity risks and overall credit growth.
  • Higher and more volatile repo rates to limit shadow credit growth (and perhaps also to discourage outflows and support the currency).
  • Stricter enforcement of controls on capital outflows.

The steps thus far look like “targeted tightening” designed to limit risks without too much damage to economic growth. For policymakers to cut their growth aspirations significantly and tighten very aggressively, other economic challenges such as inflation or capital outflows would have to get much worse, in our view.

Exhibit 8: Policymakers have kept real GDP growth on target...

Exhibit 9: ...but fiscal support has reached unprecedented levels

Exhibit 10: PBOC and banking sector have helped finance stimulus

Exhibit 11: PPI rebounded sharply, but CPI inflation still modest

Even if policymakers do not intend to slow growth sharply, there is always a risk that they do so accidentally. The past few years have featured numerous occasions where policy tightening generated bigger effects (either in financial conditions or the real economy) than expected. Examples include the mid-2013 spike in repo rates (Exhibit 12), volatility in the equity markets around policy interventions (such as the introduction of the “circuit breaker” in early 2016), and of course the ructions in global currency and equity markets around the small renminbi devaluations in August 2015 and early 2016. Late last year, modest tightening by PBOC contributed to a significant backup in the bond market (Exhibit 13). In the real economy, efforts to reform local government finances slowed investment and heavy industry activity in late 2014 and early 2015, prompting a reversal in the spring of 2015 and substantial easing thereafter.

Exhibit 12: Sharp repo spikes in earlier years; moderate increase in volatility recently

Exhibit 13: Recent bond market backup ended a three-year rally

The biggest vulnerabilities to unintended tightening are probably in the less formal areas of off-balance sheet spending (on the fiscal side) and non-bank credit extension (on the monetary side). On-budget fiscal policy is relatively transparent and controllable, but how local governments will respond to changing incentives—including anticorruption efforts, shifts in performance criteria, and changing availability of credit—is harder to predict. Likewise, policymakers have considerable influence on direct lending by large state banks, but less so on other bond market participants or "shadow banking" entities. This is especially true when multiple regulators/policymakers may be acting in a manner that is not completely coordinated. A particularly big challenge is how to unwind the perception of implicit guarantees on the debt of many SOEs and local governments’ financing vehicles without precipitating a credit crunch.

In summary, we see a policy tightening "accident" as a key domestic risk. Credit expansions can buckle under their own weight as leveraged asset prices rise to unsustainable levels and rising defaults prompt a reversal in credit availability. But with policymakers attempting to manage both housing prices and defaults directly, we think the central issue in the year ahead is policy calibration. Policymakers clearly do not want the economy to slow sharply, particularly ahead of the leadership transition later this year. At the same time, they need to address some of the imbalances in the economy to limit future volatility. Getting the balance right is particularly challenging given the leverage already in the system. Warning signs of overtightening could come from a large pullback in fiscal activity (Exhibit 9), a sharper spike in short-term interest rates (Exhibit 12), a widening in credit spreads (Exhibit 13; this might occur for example because of a reassessment of the value of implicit guarantees), or any sign that polices were causing an abrupt seizure in broad credit availability (Exhibit 4).

* * *

Potential shocks from abroad—export slump or hawkish Fed

We see two main potential shocks from abroad that could conceivably cause a “hard landing” in China:

First is a sharp decline in export demand... Despite the rapid growth of domestic demand and services, exports remain an important pillar of China’s economy. In recent years, 15-20% of Chinese value-added was dependent on demand outside the country. Although this proportion has been declining, China remains sensitive both to global growth shocks and to any lurch towards protectionism in developed markets, particularly the US. 

...either because of global growth… The single most important driver of Chinese exports is the pace of domestic demand growth in its trading partners. Our analysis suggests that Chinese real export growth moves slightly more than one-for-one with foreign demand growth,after accounting for exchange rate moves and commodity prices.[18] With an export-to-GDP ratio of slightly over 20%, it would clearly take a very large shock to directly cause a "hard landing" in China. It took the global financial crisis for an external shock to slow growth by 4pp on its own (Exhibit 14). Of course, weaker external demand could have indirect effects on domestic challenges also (e.g., by increasing non-performing loans and credit stresses, or by leading to greater FX outflows). However, weaker external demand isn't our base-case scenario; on the contrary, global activity has been accelerating and we expect at least a modest improvement in domestic demand growth in developed markets in 2017.

…or increased trade barriers. In the wake of the US election, the more likely risk to export demand comes from protectionist measures on the part of China's trading partners. China benefited enormously from the reduction in trade barriers following its entry to the World Trade Organization in 2001 (Exhibit 15), and clearly would be adversely impacted from any backsliding in this area.

Exhibit 14: Export shock would need to be GFC-sized to cause hard landing on its own


Exhibit 15: Chinese export shares have leveled off since the GFC

More substantial US actions would include across-the-board tariffs on Chinese imports (Trump advisor Peter Navarro has proposed 45%) or a “border-adjusted tax,” which would effectively be a tariff on imports from all countries. These could potentially have meaningful growth impacts, particularly when second-round effects of retaliatory tariffs are taken into consideration. Still, while our analysis suggests that tariffs in the single or low double-digits will certainly slow growth, our models do not suggest a magnitude approaching our 4pp "hard landing" threshold in most scenarios that we find plausible. This is particularly true in 2017, since we think the new US administration would be unlikely to apply large tariffs to China or implement a border-adjusted tax before lengthy negotiation and debate.

2. Fed tightening. The pace of Fed hikes in 2017 will be an important determinant of external pressures. More rapid Fed hikes would raise interest differentials and likely result in a stronger USD.[23] Chinese policymakers would then face the choice of seeing their own currency appreciate on a trade-weighted basis (and thereby losing competitiveness), or depreciating against the USD (potentially exacerbating capital outflow pressures). A stronger dollar would also be unhelpful for regional growth.[24] We think Fed and dollar pressures are an important risk in 2017 and beyond, though the gap between market pricing of rate hikes (close to two hikes for the year) and our US team's view of three rate hikes for the year has closed as markets have priced in better growth and inflation outlook post-election.

However, it is important to note there is an automatic stabilizer of sorts. To the extent outflows or the CNY move are viewed by markets as disorderly, or having the potential to become so, we could revisit the experience of August 2015 and January 2016 where US financial conditions tightened (USD strength/equity weakness), causing the Fed to back off and reducing the pressure that created the concern in the first place. US policymakers certainly have no interest in seeing a "hard landing" in China's economy, and have been responsive to financial conditions.[25] Clearly, however, this process would be damaging to risk assets initially, as it was in August 2015 and early 2016.

Taken together, while external conditions could prove more difficult in some respects in 2017, we do not think that they will be the fundamental triggers of a "hard landing" in China in 2017. Global growth appears healthy at the moment, with our Global Leading Indicator recently marking an 6-year high.[26] And while we expect the Fed to tighten and trade policy to become less friendly to imports from China, we do not think the magnitude of these changes will do much damage to 2017 growth as a whole.

A more challenging external shock would be a combination of a big protectionist move by the United States and a hawkish shift by the Fed (perhaps reacting to the growth and inflationary consequences of tighter US trade policy). This could result in a substantial blow to Chinese growth, perhaps magnified by interactions with China's domestic imbalances. Still, as the new administration is still making key personnel appointments in trade-related areas, and we expect the Fed to wait until June for its next hike, this is probably a bigger risk for 2018 (or perhaps late 2017) than for most of this year.

* * *

Policy buffers large but eroding

It's important to point out that Chinese policymakers still have large—though shrinking—policy buffers relevant to both domestic and external shocks.

External policy buffers include:

  1. A solid current account surplus. The current account surplus was $210bn in 2016, or 1.9% of GDP. Unlike many countries in the runup to the Asian Financial Crisis, China is not borrowing from abroad to fund imports.
  2. A strong net international investment position (15.7% of GDP as of Q3 16). As China has run large surpluses for years, it has accumulated a substantial net long position in foreign assets.
  3. Low external debt as a share of GDP. Looking at the liability side, FX debt is large on an absolute basis at ca $1.5trn, but quite modest relative to the scale of China’s economy ($11trn GDP). From a macro perspective, FX liabilities should not be a major constraint on depreciation, though some sectors that have borrowed significantly in dollars (e.g. property developers) are exposed to this risk.
  4. Still-substantial PBOC reserves. Official reserves stand at just under $3 trillion, within the IMF's recommended range for a fixed currency regime. Even if one assumes some off-balance-sheet FX selling, the amount is still large and our tally of Chinese holdings of US/German/Japanese fixed income and equity assets (presumably an effective lower bound for liquid reserves, as it excludes holdings via financial centers like the UK, as well as holdings of other countries’ securities) is $1.7 trillion based on data as of mid-2016.

On the domestic side, key resources available to policy makers are:

  1. Fiscal deposits. These currently total 5.4% of GDP, although they have come off their recent peak in early 2015.
  2. More generally, a high credit rating and still-substantial “fiscal space” for the central government. The government has recourse to large assets in the form of the SOEs, although to be sure there are also considerable contingent liabilities throughout the economy—for example the debt of local governments and central SOEs. There appears to be still-considerable scope for government-driven infrastructure investment, even if the ROI of such investment is declining in some areas.[28]
  3. Monetary policy space. Interest rates are still well above zero and there is the potential to loosen constraints on the banking sector (e.g. RRR cuts).

As policymakers spend down this "ammunition", the market and economic reactions to shocks could become more volatile.

* * *

Conclusion: Key risks and their transmission

In conclusion, we see the biggest risks in China centering on the country's rising credit imbalances, with mis-calibration of policy or a sharp external shock as possible triggers of a sharp tightening in credit conditions and "hard landing" in growth. To reiterate, this is not our base case for 2017 (and not yet for 2018 either, for that matter). But it deserves close monitoring, and we will be watching the fiscal stance, credit market conditions, and other metrics—as well as comments by policymakers—to update our assessments of these risks.

Should China's economy slow significantly, it would clearly have effects throughout the region, transmitted via three key channels:

  1. Trade. Just as China would be affected by a drop in export demand, so other countries in Asia would face a growth hit from a slowdown in China. Small open economies would be particularly hard-hit.[30]
  2. Commodities. A slowdown—to the extent it involved goods-producing and construction activities—would have implications for commodity prices, helping the terms of trade in much of the region but hurting it for commodity producers such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia.
  3. Financial conditions. As we observed with renminbi volatility over the past 18 months, financial volatility and growth weakness in China has the potential to tighten global financial conditions, slowing growth and prompting further monetary easing abroad.

Our past work has suggested that the biggest effects of weaker Chinese growth would come in Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia, where most economies would feel the impact through two or all three of these channels.

Published:2/20/2017 7:48:25 PM
[Uncategorized] Why you MUST sign up for Morning Insurrection And a bonus update on the State of Legal Insurrection. Published:2/20/2017 7:48:25 PM
[Media] Vox writer who invented nonexistent bridge quells rumors about ‘fake’ Swedish rape epidemic

Someone let Vox know that they're not obligated to disprove every claim that comes from the Right.

The post Vox writer who invented nonexistent bridge quells rumors about ‘fake’ Swedish rape epidemic appeared first on twitchy.com.

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Published:2/20/2017 7:12:46 PM
[Alt-right] Exposing The 9 Fakest Fake-News Checkers

Submitted by Chelsea Schilling via WND.com,

Since President Donald Trump won the presidential election in November, there’s been an explosion of “fake-news” checker sites, some cloaked behind a veil of anonymity.

trust

In some cases, Americans really have fallen for “fake news.” Just days ago, 20th Century Fox apologized for creating “fake news” sites – such as as the Houston Leader, the Salt Lake City Guardian, Sacramento Dispatch, the New York Morning Post and Indianapolis Gazette – as part of a promotional campaign for its psychological thriller, “A Cure for Wellness.”

But on the heels of media hysteria over the trend, now it seems everyone claims to be a foremost expert on the topic of spotting “fake news.”

“Trust us,” they say.

 

“We’ll help you navigate Facebook and filter out the fake news stories,” they promise.

But just who are these self-appointed gatekeepers who claim to be the ultimate arbiters of what is or is not “fake news”?

WND found “fact-checker” sites run by:

  • A gamer.
  • A leftist, Trump-hating, feminist professor who specializes in “fat studies.”
  • A sex-and-fetish blogger.
  • A health-industry worker.
  • Organizations with billionaire Democratic Party activists and donors.
  • And another guy who went to extreme lengths to conceal his identity.

But most of the self-appointed “fact-checker” sites had one thing in common: President Trump – and the news sites that dare to give him a fair shake – are overwhelmingly their favorite targets.

The websites often show an obvious bias against conservative-leaning outlets. And many fail to include clear explanations of the criteria they use for determining whether a news site is legitimate. Other “experts” offer little or no biographical information establishing their qualifications for making judgments about journalism quality.

WND has compiled the following list of the Top 9 “fakest ‘fake-news’ checkers.”

1. Pigscast

The website Pigscast, which stands for Politics, Internet Gaming and Sports, was founded by “gamer” Will Healy.

In a Reddit forum discussing the chart, Healy explains in late January: “I tried to base as much of it off this site that someone posted in the thread yesterday mediabiasfactcheck.com.”

On Jan. 25, Healy tweeted his chart of news organizations and the message, “Stop #FakeNews, check out this news guide @ThePigscast #Pigscast #alternative facts.”

Healy-fake-news-TW

 

Will Healy, founder of Pigscast

Will Healy, founder of Pigscast

He ranked the news organizations as “Garbage Left (not worth it),” “Hyper-Partisan Left (To Confirm Your Beliefs),” “Leans Left (Not Horrible),” “Neutral (What Journalism Should Be),” “Leans Right (Not Horrible),” “Hyper-Partisan Right (To Confirm Your Beliefs)” and “Garbage Right (Not Worth It).”

Healy labeled WND, the Drudge Report, the Blaze, Accuracy in Media, the Family Research Council, Breitbart and other organizations as “Garbage Right (Not Worth It).”

However, Healy considers the following to be “Neutral (What Journalism Should Be)”: Reuters, USA Today, the Texas Tribune, Financial Times, Associated Press, C-SPAN and the Economist. Even NPR is located partially in the “neutral” category on his chart.

One Twitter user named Nigel Fenwick asked Healy: “Hi Will – is this your own graphic? What’s the basis of this analysis? What data was used? Is it objective or subjective?”

Healy simply replied: “[M]ost of this was from mediabiasfactcheck.com but note this is just the first draft. I plan on a final version later.”

WND’s request for comment from Healy concerning his news ranking methodology and expertise in evaluating news organizations hadn’t been returned at the time of this report.

He appears to have some anti-Trump views. On Election Day, Healy tweeted: “Anyone who voted third party should hold their head high. They didn’t vote for a horrible candidate. That they voted their conscience.”

Healy-TW2

In May 2016, he tweeeted his support for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian Party nominee in the race for the White House: “I side 82% with @GovGaryJohnson. Just reaffirms my choice this November.”

And on Jan. 22, he tweeted: “Aren’t #alternativefacts just bulls–t? #Trump administration already off to a poor start.”

Healy also praised the Womens March on Washington, D.C., tweeting Jan. 21: “The fact that around this country we can have massive peaceful protests after a peaceful transition of power is awesome #WomansMarch.”

Healy-TW

 

2. Media Bias Fact Check

MediaBIasFactCheck.com describes itself as “the most comprehensive media bias resource in the Internet.” The site is owned by Dave Van Zandt from North Carolina, who offers no biographical information about himself aside from the following: “Dave has been freelancing for 25+ years for a variety of print and web mediums (sic), with a focus on media bias and the role of media in politics. Dave is a registered Non-Affiliated voter who values evidence based reporting” and, “Dave Van Zandt obtained a Communications Degree before pursuing a higher degree in the sciences. Dave currently works full time in the health care industry. Dave has spent more than 20 years as an arm chair researcher on media bias and its role in political influence.”

WND was unable to locate a single article with Van Zandt’s byline. Ironically, the “fact checker” fails to establish his own credibility by disclosing his qualifications and training in evaluating news sources.

Asked for information concerning his expertise in the field of journalism and evaluating news sources, Van Zandt told WND: “I am not a journalist and just a person who is interested in how media bias impacts politics. You will find zero claims of expertise on the website.”

Concerning his purported “25+ years” of experience writing for print and web media, he said: “I am not sure why the 25+ years is still on the website. That was removed a year ago when I first started the website. All of the writing I did was small print news zines from the ’90s. I felt that what I wrote in the ’90s is not related to what I am doing today so I removed it. Again, I am not a journalist. I simply have a background in communications and more importantly science where I learned to value evidence over all else. Through this I also became interested in research of all kinds, especially media bias, which is difficult to measure and is subjective to a degree.”

WND asked: Were your evaluations reviewed by any experts in the industry?

“I can’t say they have,” Van Zandt replied. “Though the right-of-center Atlantic Council is using our data for a project they are working on.”

MBFC-banner

Van Zandt says he uses “three volunteers” to “research and assist in fact checking.” However, he adds that he doesn’t pay them for their services.

Van Zandt lists WND on his “Right Bias” page, alongside news organizations such as Fox News, the Drudge Report, the Washington Free Beacon, the Daily Wire, the Blaze, Breitbart, Red State, Project Veritas, PJ Media, National Review, Daily Caller and others.

“These media sources are highly biased toward conservative causes,” Van Zandt writes. “They utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes. Sources in this category may be untrustworthy.”

His special notes concerning WND link to Snopes.com and PolitiFact.com, websites that have their own questionable reputations and formulas as so-called “fact checkers.” (See the “Snopes” and “PolitiFact” entries below.)

Van Zandt says he uses a “strict methodology” in determining which news sources are credible, but his website offers vague and typo-ridden explanations of his criteria, such as the following:

VanZandt-categories

Asked if his own political leanings influence his evaluations, Van Zandt said: “Sure it is possible. However, our methodology is designed to eliminate most of that. We also have a team of 4 researchers with different political leanings so that we can further reduce researcher bias.”

Bill Palmer of the website Daily News Bin accused Van Zandt of retaliating when the Daily News Bin contacted him about his rating. Palmer wrote:

“[I]t turns out Van Zandt has a vindictive streak. After one hapless social media user tried to use his phony ‘Media Bias Fact Check’ site to dispute a thoroughly sourced article from this site, Daily News Bin, we made the mistake of contacting Van Zandt and asking him to take down his ridiculous ‘rating’ – which consisted of nothing more than hearsay such as ‘has been accused of being satire.’ Really? When? By whom? None of those facts seem to matter to the guy running this ‘Media Bias Fact Check’ scam.

 

“But instead of acknowledging that he’d been caught in the act, Van Zandt retaliated against Daily News Bin by changing his rating to something more sinister. He also added a link to a similar phony security company called World of Trust, which generates its ratings by allowing random anonymous individuals to post whatever bizarre conspiracy theories they want, and then letting these loons vote on whether that news site is ‘real’ or not. These scam sites are now trying to use each other for cover, in order to back up the false and unsubstantiated ‘ratings’ they semi-randomly assign respected news outlets. …

 

“‘Media Bias Fact Check’ is truly just one guy making misleading claims about news outlets while failing to back them up with anything, while maliciously changing the ratings to punish any news outlets that try to expose the invalidity of what he’s doing.”

But Van Zandt accused Palmer of threatening him, and he said MediaBiasFactCheck welcomes criticism. If evidence is provided, he said, the site will correct its errors.

“Bottom line is, we are not trying to be something we are not,” he said. “We have disclaimers on every page of the website indicating that our method is not scientifically proven and that there is [sic] subjective judgments being used as it is unavoidable with determining bias.”

 

3. Fake News Checker

FakeNewsChecker.com is another self-appointed “fact checker” run by anonymous individuals. The website offers no contact information.

As WND reported, the site is publishing “fake news,” specifically “fake news” about WND. It claims that WND’s founder and CEO, Joseph Farah, “received donations from the Donald Trump superPAC “Great America “PAC” (sic) calling into further question the motives behind the ‘fake’ and conspiratorial nature of the content.”

Fake-News-Checker-screenshot

But there’s one major problem with the site’s purported “fact.”

WND didn’t get any donations from any superPACs, “not this one or any other,” company officials confirmed.

FakeNewsChecker.com effectively categorizes as “fake” virtually all news resources except those in the “mainstream media,” which surveys reveal are enjoying less and less consumer trust these days.

The website states:

Fake news has become a catchall term for news sources that lack journalistic integrity. These sites use sensational headlines, make false claims, exaggerate the editorial spin to reflect a bias, are misleading, are conspiratorial, are anti-science, promote propaganda, are written in satire or just plain hoaxes. Many of the sites are untrustworthy because they begin with a premise that is close to a truth and build a false story around it. Please check your sources and your emotions as you read the articles on these sites.

fake-news-checker

 

4. Trump-bashing prof’s ‘hit list’ of ‘fake’ news sites

The mainstream media went wild circulating a viral list of so-called “fake news” websites in November 2016 – and the list included established news sites like WND, Breitbart, Red State, the Daily Wire and Project Veritas – but WND found a leftist, Trump-bashing assistant professor in Massachusetts who specialized in “fat studies” was behind the effort to target and discredit legitimate news organizations.

Meet Merrimack College Assistant Professor Melissa Zimdars, a 30-something self-identified feminist and activist who has expressed great dislike for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Merrimack College assistant professor Melissa Zimdars, author of the "fake news" list circulated online (Photo: Twitter)

Merrimack College assistant professor Melissa Zimdars, author of the “fake news” list circulated online (Photo: Twitter)

She had only actually held her teaching position at the private college in North Andover, Massachusetts, for 15 months when she published her “fake news” list.

Zimdars published and circulated a list of “fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media.” She said she began writing the list because she didn’t approve of the sources her students were citing.

The problem?

In addition to some satirical and bogus sites, her list attacks the credibility of well-established news organizations such as Breitbart, BizPac Review, Red State, the Blaze, the Independent Journal Review, Twitchy, the Daily Wire, WND and James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. In many cases (such as with her WND listing), she offers no explanation for why the news organizations were included on the list.

Melissa "Mish" Zimdars is an assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College in Massachusetts

Melissa “Mish” Zimdars is an assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College in Massachusetts

Mainstream media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times circulated Zimdars’ growing list. The Times headlined its story, “Want to keep fake news out of your newsfeed? College professor creates list of sites to avoid.” The Times offered no details concerning Zimdars’ qualifications or background. News organizations such as CNN, the Washington PostBoston Globe, New York Magazine, USA Today, Business Insider, the Austin American-Statesman, the Dallas Morning News and others spread the list like gospel and cited it in their reports.

But nearly none of them considered Zimdars’ political leanings or questioned her criteria or qualifications for determining which news sources should be included on her list.

Zimdars teaches courses in radio, production, mass communication, feminist media studies, television criticism and new media and digital communication. She received her doctorate in communication and media studies just in 2015.

In response to the list, PJ Media’s Stephen Kruiser wrote, “It’s no surprise that a college professor compiled this list; what’s galling is that the Los Angeles Times ‘reported’ on it without mentioning that it’s complete garbage.”

Sean Hannity’s website warned that Zimdars’ list includes “mainstream conservative sources” and “is giving us insight into just what kind of websites the left plans on targeting for censorship.”

In addition to her new job as an assistant professor, Zimdars is also a columnist and contributor for Little Village Magazine – a left-leaning magazine that says it’s focused on issues such as “racial justice,” “gender equity,” “critical culture,” “economic and labor justice” and “environmental sustainability.” Her Twitter profile describes her as a “feminist” and “activist.”

Zimdars’ social-media accounts are protected from public view, leading tweeter Vanessa Beeley to note that Zimdars “can’t take the heat. Named ‘fake media’ & then protected all her own media sites.”

 

5. International Fact-Checking Network

In December, Facebook announced it would use the International Fact-Checking Network, or IFCN, to check on the legitimacy of news articles posted to the social media site.

Alexios Mantzarlis runs the International Fact-Checking Network (Photo: Twitter)

Alexios Mantzarlis runs the International Fact-Checking Network (Photo: Twitter)

IFCN is hosted by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and funded, in part, by Google and foundations of leftist billionaires George Soros and Bill Gates. Soros donated $25 million to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The Daily Mail reported that Clinton super-donor and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is also backing the project.

In response to Facebook’s announcement, FrontPage said conservatives should consider ditching Facebook.

“In essence, Facebook is giving the partisan left free space on conservative news links. It’s also allowing them to undermine a conservative link while promoting their own agenda,” FrontPage said.

“It’s not quite censorship, but the partnership with left-wing partisan ‘checkers’ helps move it to the next step of barring sites outright. For the moment, Facebook has decided that you shouldn’t just be able to share links to what you’re interested in without the left getting a say.

“This is yet another reason for conservatives to rethink being on Facebook.”

The website reveals: “Poynter’s IFCN has received funding from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the Duke Reporters’ Lab, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Omidyar Network, the Open Society Foundations and the Park Foundation.”

IFCN-screenshot

Alexios Mantzarlis runs IFCN, which does not appear to have published any “fact-checking” articles since 2015.

However, a Feb. 16 Poynter “news” headline blasted “President Trump’s anti-media meltdown.”

Poynter-Trump

From the very beginning, the story trashed the president for unveiling “an alternate universe … in which virtually every problem of his is a creation of the press.”

“In a rambling, angry and contradictory media meltdown, Trump bashed ‘the failing New York Times,’ The Wall Street Journal, CNN and the BBC, among others, following a fleeting announcement of a new nominee for Labor Secretary,” wrote Poynter’s James Warren. “It constituted what at minimum is a quadrupling down – or might it be quintupling down? – on a transparent strategy to portray the press as an opposition party.”

In the same post, Warren continued: “Never has Trump’s personal obsession with coverage of himself been so vivid. It was only sidetracked, it seemed, by an odd array of declarations and claims. Those included his taking selective and self-serving use of polling to new depths, while also proffering a new species of political self-congratulation during his strikingly defensive performance: prospectively heralding the ‘massive’ crowd to attend a Saturday rally in Melbourne, Florida.”

 

6. Washington Post Fact Checker

WaPo-Pinocchios

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has come under fire repeatedly, as critics charge it has a left-leaning bias.

Washington Post "Fact Checker" Glenn Kessler

Washington Post “Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler

As WND reported, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, who is also a Democratic Party donor and controls a personal investment firm that owns the Washington Post, had an army of 20 newspaper staffers to scour Donald Trump’s life for any dirt they could find on the presumptive GOP nominee. Bezos, a Seattle billionaire and the world’s 19th wealthiest man, purchased the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million.

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker uses Pinocchio ratings to rate the truthfulness of statements. Zero Pinocchios means a statement is true. Two makes the statement half true. Three means mostly false, and four indicates it is false.

Red State reported that Washington Post “Fact Check” columnist Glenn Kessler fell for fake campaign ads claiming Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump, campaigned to be mayor of New York City in the 1970s.

Wapo-Fact-Checker

 

Washington Post "Fact Checker" Michelle Ye Hee Lee

Washington Post “Fact Checker” Michelle Ye Hee Lee

In 2015, the Washington Free Beacon’s David Rutz published a list of “5 Times the Washington Post failed at fact-checking.”

And in August 2016, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker came under fire from the New York Post after it “fact checked” Trump’s statements concerning Hillary Clinton lacking stamina to be president. The Fact Checker gave Trump its worst rating.

“Trump has claimed twice, without proof, that Clinton lacks the physical and mental stamina to be president,” it said. “In the absence of any evidence, he earns Four Pinocchios.”

But New York Post writer Eddie Scarry observed: “Curious that the Post, in earnest, would fact-check Trump’s opinion on his opponent’s energy level. The paper didn’t bother to investigate the veracity of Clinton’s claim in late May that Trump ‘lacks the temperament to lead our nation and the free world."

 

7. Snopes

Snopes-logo

Snopes.com, a website that’s been around since 1995, is sometimes cited by other “fact-checking” sites to support their claims. Facebook has indicated it plans to use Snopes as one of its arbiters of “fake news.” But WND revealed the site has been criticized by conservatives for a left-leaning bias and admits it has no standard procedure for fact-checking.

Kim LaCapria, principal fact checker at Snopes, has blogged as "Vice Vixen" and offered sex toy tips

Kim LaCapria, principal fact checker at Snopes, has blogged as “Vice Vixen” and offered sex toy tips

One of Snopes’ leading fact-checkers is a former sex-and-fetish blogger who described her routine as smoking pot and posting to Snopes.com, and the company now is embroiled in a legal dispute between its former married founders that includes accusations the CEO used company money for prostitutes.

“This is Facebook’s high journalistic standard,” commented Pamela Geller, an author and blogger who focuses on the politically incorrect subject of Islam and terrorism.

“What a joke,” she wrote on her blog. “Facebook’s fact checkers will be used to censor and ban conservative perspectives, not to distinguish truth from falsehood. Everyone knows that.”

The Daily Mail of London reported one of Snopes.com’s main fact checkers, Kim LaCapria, is disclosed to be a former sex-blogger who called herself “Vice Vixen.”

Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson told WND in December that she thinks the uproar over “fake news” is a “narrative-driven propaganda campaign.”

“I think there’s an agenda to censor the news as opposed to actually trying to eliminate fake news,” she said.

A DailyMail.com investigation found that Snopes.com’s founders, former husband and wife David and Barbara Mikkelson, are embroiled in a lengthy and bitter legal dispute in the wake of their divorce.

He has since remarried to a former escort and porn actress who is one of the site’s staff members.

Snopes Founder David Mikkelson with his new wife, Snopes staff member Elyssa Young

Snopes Founder David Mikkelson with his new wife, Snopes staff member Elyssa Young

Barbara Mikkelson accuses her ex-husband of embezzlement while David claims she took millions from their joint accounts and bought property in Las Vegas.

One of Snopes.com’s lead fact-checkers is Kim LaCapria, the Daily Mail reported, who has also been a sex-and-fetish blogger who went by the pseudonym “Vice Vixen.” Her blog had “a specific focus on naughtiness, sin, carnal pursuits, and general hedonism and bonne vivante-ery.”

Snopes Founder Barbara Mikkelson (Photo: Facebook)

Snopes Founder Barbara Mikkelson (Photo: Facebook)

Her day-off activities she said on another blog were: “played scrabble, smoked pot, and posted to Snopes.'”

“That’s what I did on my day “on,” too,” she added.

David Mikkelson told the the Daily Mail that Snopes does not have a “standardized procedure” for fact-checking “since the nature of this material can vary widely.”

He said the process of fact-checking “‘involves multiple stages of editorial oversight, so no output is the result of a single person’s discretion.”

Snopes has no formal requirements for fact-checkers, he told the London paper, because the variety of the work “would be difficult to encompass in any single blanket set of standards.”

Mikkelson has denied that Snopes takes any political position, but the Daily Mail noted his new wife ran for U.S. congress in Hawaii as a Libertarian in 2004.

During the campaign she handed out “Re-Defeat Bush” cards and condoms stamped with the slogan “Don’t get screwed again.”

“Let’s face it, I am an unlikely candidate. I fully admit that I am a courtesan,” she wrote on her campaign website.

 

8. PolitiFact

politifact

In December, PolitiFact.com was identified by Facebook as one of the sites the social media platform would use to label “fake news” stories. But Breitbart reported, “Facebook’s decision to tout PolitiFact as a credible and independent fact checker is awfully disturbing, given the organization’s repeated smear campaign against Donald Trump throughout the 2016 election.”

“OH HELL NO,” was the response from the Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway to Facebook’s announcement that it would use PolitiFact.com to check news stories.

“Facebook is bringing in Poynter/PolitiFact to police ‘fake news’? They’re INCREDIBLY biased,” he said.

In December 2015, PolitiFact claimed 76 percent of all Donald Trump’s statements were “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire.”

politifact-trump

PolitiFact Editor Angie Drobnic Holan

PolitiFact Editor Angie Drobnic Holan

Breitbart noted that PolitiFact pushed “fact checks” to discredit Republicans while promoting stories that favored Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton.

In fact, one of PolitiFact’s largest contributors is Clinton donor Alberto Ibarguen, president and CEO of the Knight Foundation. Ibarguen contributed $200,000 to the 8th annual Clinton Global Initiative University meeting in February 2015, Breitbart reported. The Knight Foundation also donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation, Politico reported.

PolitiFact’s editor is Angie Drobnic Holan, who helped launch the site in 2007.

Breitbart’s Jerome Hudson published an analysis that included the following list of reasons PolitiFact is “unqualified to be an objective judge of what’s real and ‘fake’ news”:

1. Last March, PolitiFact delivered a “mostly false” rating for a joke made by Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

2. Last April, PolitiFact made phone calls and sent a reporter to investigate whether Governor Scott Walker actually “paid one dollar for” a sweater he bought at Kohl’s. PolitiFact later ruled Walker’s claim “true.”

3. When Trump said Clinton wants “open borders,” PolitiFact deemed his statement “mostly false” — despite the fact that Clinton admitted as much in a private, paid speech to a Brazilian bank on May 16, 2013. “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders,” she said at the time.

4. PolitiFact cast doubts on comments Pat Smith made during her emotional speech at the Republican National Convention, where she said Hillary Clinton said “a video was responsible” for her son’s death during the terror attacks in Benghazi.

Smith was referring to when she “saw Hillary Clinton at Sean’s coffin ceremony,” and then-Secretary of State Clinton “looked me squarely in the eye and told me a video was responsible.”

But PolitiFact, taking an oddly defensive stance, said Smith’s memory could’ve been “fuzzy” and referred its readers, instead, to a “brief meeting behind closed doors” where Clinton addressed the families of the victims of the attack.

5. Despite video evidence to the contrary, PolitiFact claimed Hillary Clinton didn’t laugh about Kathy Shelton’s rape as a child. Trump invited Shelton to the second presidential debate and called out Clinton’s embarrassing behavior.

Again, moving to dismiss and downplay Clinton’s actions, PolitiFact wrote: “Trump is referring to an audio tape in which she does respond with amusement at her recollections of the oddities of the case, which involve the prosecution and the judge. At no point does she laugh at the victim.”

6. In an attempt to explain Hillary Clinton’s role in the sale of 25 percent of the United States’ uranium stockpile, Politifact ignored numerous key facts, downplayed other key facts, and ultimately made 13 errors in its analysis.

7. A few months later, PolitiFact was, again, attempting to whitewash Clinton’s role in the Russian uranium deal. Like PolitiFact’s first foray into the subject, the second report commits many factual errors and is full of glaring inaccuracies and omissions.

8. During a televised campaign event, Clinton said Australia’s compulsory gun buyback program “would be worth considering” in the U.S.

When the National Rifle Association included Clinton’s comments on one of its flyers, PolitiFact ruled the organization’s claim “mostly false.”

9. While PolitiFact admitted that Trump’s claim that Russia’s arsenal of nuclear warheads has expanded and the U.S.’ has not, the left-wing outfit deemed Trump’s statement “half true.”

In a June 2016 piece published at Investor’s Business Daily, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell wrote:

“This is a pattern with PolitiFact. Overall, they’ve rated Trump “False”/”Mostly False”/”Pants on Fire” 77% of the time. But they’ve rated Clinton “False” and “Mostly False” only 26% of the time.

 

“The PolitiFact political agenda jumps off the page. On the Republican side, Sen. Ted Cruz lands on the “False” side 65% of the time, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 57% of the time and former Sen. Rick Santorum 55% of the time. For Democrats, President Obama is ruled false 25% of the time, and Sen. Bernie Sanders is false only 30% of the time. This is the guy who routinely says, ‘the business model of Wall Street is fraud.'”

Also, in 2013, WND reported PolitiFact misled the public on Obamacare.

A 2013 study from the George Mason University Center for Media and Public Affairs found that PolitiFact determines Republicans are dishonest nearly three times as often as it reaches the same conclusion for Democrats.

“PolitiFact.com has rated Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims during President Obama’s second term,” the center said, “despite controversies over Obama administration statements on Benghazi, the IRS and the AP.”

 

9. FactCheck.org

FactCheckorg

FactCheck.org was launched by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, which was founded by the late philanthropists Walter and Lenore Annenberg, friends of former Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. FactCheck’s current editor is Angie Drobnic Holan.

The website is perhaps the least overtly partisan “fact checker” in this list. However, the organization came under fire after it published a July 21, 2015, piece called “Unspinning the Planned Parenthood Video,” an entry that defended the abortion provider during the baby-parts scandal. Several leftist groups linked to the article, tweeted it and shared it on Facebook.

FactCheck.org Director Emeritus Brooks Jackson

FactCheck.org Director Emeritus Brooks Jackson

Breitbart’s John Sexton noted that FactCheck.org only addressed one video in a series of at least seven videos exposing the baby-parts trade. The site wrote about an interview with Deborah Nucatola of Planned Parenthood, who commented on crushing babies. Nucatola also suggested Planned Parenthood is satisfied with turning a profit in the body-parts trade, so long as doing so doesn’t make the nonprofit look bad.

Sexton writes: Here is how FactCheck frames Nucatola’s admission: ‘Nucatola does make one statement in the unedited video that suggests to critics that some clinics would be comfortable with a payment that was slightly more than their expenses for providing the tissue.’ Is this really only suggestive to critics? Why isn’t it just a fact that she admitted it despite her obvious concern about getting caught? And is it possible Planned Parenthood has supporters as well? Might the supporters be eager to downplay this admission? FactCheck doesn’t have anything to say about that. It’s another instance of the real story being sidestepped by introducing a partisan narrative, i.e. ‘Republicans pounced.'”

In yet another article concerning FactCheck.org, Breitbart reported the site was forced to “make an embarrassing correction” after it appeared to have made up a quote that never appeared in Peter Schweizer’s book, “Clinton Cash.” The site falsely claimed Schweizer wrote in his book that Hillary Clinton had “veto power” and “could have stopped” the sale of 20 percent of U.S. uranium to the Russian government.

In 2016, FactCheck.org claimed TV host Bill Nye is “more of a scientist than [Sarah] Palin,” and the site listed his “six honorary doctorate degrees, including Ph.D.s in science from Goucher College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute” as evidence for its assertion.

FactCheck-Trump

In 2015, FactCheck.org dubbed Donald Trump the “King of Whoppers.” 

“In the 12 years of FactCheck.org’s existence, we’ve never seen his match,” the site wrote. “He stands out not only for the sheer number of his factually false claims, but also for his brazen refusals to admit error when proven wrong.”

In a post titled, “Trump’s bogus voter fraud claims,” FactCheck.org stated, “Donald Trump is citing unsubstantiated urban myths and a contested academic study to paint a false narrative about rampant voter fraud in the U.S. and the likelihood of a ‘rigged’ election.”

While Trump said the U.S. has a problem with ballots that are cast by illegal immigrants and on behalf of dead people – a 2014 study in the Electoral Studies Journal shows illegals may have cast as many as 2.8 million votes in 2008 and 2010 and investigations have found that ballots have been cast for dead people in multiple elections – FactCheck.org found, “his evidence is lacking,” and “researchers say voter fraud involving ballots cast on behalf of deceased voters is rare.”

Any examination of a “fact-checking” website would not be complete without a look at the organization’s primary source of funding. FactCheck.org receives the largest amount of its funding from the Annenberg Foundation, which funds a number of nonprofits. The foundation funded the Chicago Annenberg Challenge to the tune of $49.2 million. In 1995, Barack Obama was a founding member of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. He remained on the board until 2001, when the challenge was phased out.

According to CNN, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge was the brainchild of Weather Underground terrorist group co-founder Bill Ayers. “A review of board minutes and records by CNN show Obama crossed paths repeatedly with Ayers at board meetings of the Annenberg Challenge Project,” CNN reported. The Wall Street Journal reported, “The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.”

 

Published:2/20/2017 7:12:46 PM
[Immigration] More Evidence that Trump Was Right About Sweden (John Hinderaker) In his Melbourne, Florida speech, President Trump mentioned European countries that have problems resulting from immigration from Islamic countries, including Sweden: Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. That prompted a response from Swedish authorities, who say that everything is going swimmingly and the many thousands of refugees it has accepted are integrating well. Right. There is a Published:2/20/2017 7:12:46 PM
[Markets] The Tell: Simon & Schuster cancels book deal with Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos The Conservative Political Action Conference also rescinded an invitation to the writer.
Published:2/20/2017 7:12:45 PM
[World] Krauthammer H.R. McMaster National Security Adviser Donald Trump Surge Army War

On "Special Report" tonight, Charles Krauthammer said he is "encouraged" by President Trump's choice of Gen. H.R. McMaster to succeed Gen. Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser.

Published:2/20/2017 6:49:30 PM
[Politics] 46% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Forty-six percent (46%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending February 16.   

That’s up a point from the previous week. This is the fourth week in a row that this finding has been in the mid-40s after running in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016. The latest finding is higher that any week during the Obama presidency.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The national telephone survey of 2.500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from February 12-16, 2017. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:2/20/2017 6:49:29 PM
[topics:places/germany] Germany wartime movie star 'was a Russian spy' Published:2/20/2017 6:49:29 PM
[Top Picks] Fourth wave of bomb threats targets Jewish community centers around the country More telephone terrorism. Published:2/20/2017 6:49:29 PM
[World] Forty percent of Americans didn't even hear about Trump presser, poll finds

Emily Jashinsky

That press conference that rattled the press and dominated the media for the weekend barely registered among normal Americans.

A new HuffPost/YouGov poll surveyed reactions to President Trump's wild press conference last week.

As the presser unfolded, Beltway journalists offered breathless speculation over how the public would react, with some predicting disastrous impacts on the president's approval ratings.

The poll, released Monday, did not bear out those predictions.

"Most people who tuned in with pre-existing opinions of the president … found their opinions confirmed," the Huffington Post reported.

Forty percent of respondents who watched or read about the conference said it did not change their opinion on Trump's actions as president. Published:2/20/2017 6:49:29 PM

[Democrats] Democrats File Two Terrible Lawsuits (John Hinderaker) Frivolous litigation abounds. Today the Democrats added two lawsuits to the ever-growing list of non-meritorious filings. First, Congressman William Lacy Clay sued in Washington, D.C., to protest removal of a painting from a display in a corridor of the Capitol. We reported on that controversy here. The painting, one of around 400 winners of the Congressional Arts Competition, depicts pigs dressed as policemen shooting innocent blacks: Congressman Clay asserts that Published:2/20/2017 6:49:29 PM
[Distracted driving] Here's Why Your Auto Insurance Rates Have Soared Nearly 20% In The Past Several Years

If you're among the millions of Americans that have noticed your auto insurance premiums skyrocketing in recent years then you may want to thank the people in your life who habitually text and drive.  Since 2009, the average, annual U.S. car-insurance premium has risen over 17%, to $926 in 2016, according to trade group Insurance Information Institute. 

And, just like Obamacare, that rising premium is simply the socialization of added risks created by people making bad life decisions...like driving their cars at 80 miles per hour on a crowded freeway while simultaneously looking down at their phones to text about the latest Kardashian rumor.

Auto Insurance Rates

 

Of course, auto insurance rates are rising despite all of the high-tech, anti-collision bells and whistles that have been added to vehicles (at a very hefty price, we might add) over the past decade as seemingly no amount of gadgetry can offset the benefits of actually keeping your eyes on the road...no matter what Tesla would have you believe.

According to a note from the Wall Street Journal, 36% of drivers admitted to texting and driving in a State Farm survey in 2015, which we assume means that the real number is roughly double that.

It’s “an epidemic issue for this country,” said Michael LaRocco, chief executive of State Auto Financial Corp., at an insurance-industry conference last month.

 

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest U.S. auto insurer by market share, said 36% of the people it surveyed in 2015 admitted to texting while driving, and 29% said they access the internet, compared with 31% and 13%, respectively, in 2009.

 

State Farm’s survey found that 52% of respondents in 2011 owned a smartphone, and 88% owned one in 2015.

 

“Distracted driving was always there, but it just intensified as more applications for the smartphones became available," said Bill Caldwell, executive vice president of property and casualty at Horace Mann, in a recent interview. The insurer expects to raise rates 8% this year, on top of average 6.5% increases in 2016.

Oddly enough, insurance payouts started to spike right about the same time the first iPhone hit the shelves in 2007.

Auto Insurance Rates

 

Meanwhile, as if texting and driving weren't bad enough, roughly 20% of people admitted to State Farm that they regularly snap selfies from the driver's seat and about 10% record videos....because why not?

The alarms being sounded by the industry are based partly on internal investigations to determine causes of policyholders’ crashes. Many insurers collect police reports, witness statements and their own drivers’ accounts in costlier wrecks, executives said. In claims that involve litigation, they may obtain drivers’ phone records, they said.

 

State Farm began surveying the public in 2009 to assess behind-the-wheel phone use. Drivers that participated in the survey acknowledge the distractions of their smartphones, according to State Farm, but many continue to use them. In the latest survey, about one-fifth of drivers admitted taking photos with their phones and a 10th recorded video. Both these activities were added to the 2015 survey.

 

”Those are big numbers, and they are going in the wrong direction,” said Chris Mullen, who heads State Farm’s technology research.

Of course, life is just a little better when we spread the wealth around to pay for the bad decisions of others...just ask Obama.

Published:2/20/2017 6:49:29 PM
[jamie fox] Jamie Fox Has Died at 62 New Jersey says goodbye to a political operative beloved by many, respected by all Published:2/20/2017 6:49:29 PM
[Politics] Milo’s book deal CANCELLED after pedo-video hits Things just keep getting worse for Milo Yiannopoulos after videos came out showing him seemingly defending pedophilia because of his own abuse as a young man. He confirmed on Facebook that his . . . Published:2/20/2017 6:49:29 PM
[] MSM Steps On A Rake. Again. Here is what Trump said: "Here's the bottom line, we've got to keep our country safe," Trump said at his rally Saturday. "You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden,... Published:2/20/2017 6:49:28 PM
[World] Trump taps military strategist as national security adviser PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump has tapped Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a prominent military strategist known as a creative thinker, as his new national security adviser, replacing the ousted Michael Flynn. Published:2/20/2017 6:14:43 PM
[BRK.A] Why Did Buffett Buy More Apple? Published:2/20/2017 6:14:43 PM
[Entertainment] Emma Watson Puts Her Vocals on Display in One of the Most Iconic Scenes From Beauty and the Beast Emma Watson, Beauty and the Beast, BelleIf you weren't already looking forward to the upcoming live-action remake of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, this new teaser is sure to get you excited. In one of the most iconic...
Published:2/20/2017 6:14:42 PM
[al-Qaeda] Meanwhile, Rioting Breaks Out In Sweden

It would appear the mainstream media (along with several celebrities and Swedish politicians) is going to be apologizing to President Trump once again.

Having spent the entire new cycle trying to ignore the immigrant crisis facing Sweden, and pin the ignorant tail on Trump, Expressen reports riots breaking out in the highly immigrant concentrated town of Rinkeby, Sweden with police firing warning shots as 100s of young people throw stones and burn cars.

During the evening hundreds of young people gathered in the center of Rinkeby, well known for its high concentration of immigrants and people with immigrant ancestry.

In June 2010, Rinkeby was the scene of riots and attacks against the local police station and Rinkeby is the town in which the '60 Minutes' crew were attacked in 2016.

The problems Sweden faces integrating large numbers of Muslim immigrants is a subject on which Nordstjernan columnist Ulf Nilson has written many times. His warnings of increasing radicalization among Sweden’s Muslims – warnings he started to broadcast a decade ago – now seem eerily prophetic in light of an Associated Press investigation that found Stockholm to be a breeding ground for jihadists among Swedish Somalis.

 

According to the AP report, which first ran Jan. 24, an al-Qaida-linked group is busy recruiting anti-government fighters among Somali youths living in Rinkeby. A suburb of Stockholm, Rinkeby has earned the nickname of “Little Mogadishu” because of the number of Somalis living there. Rinkeby is also the center of the recruiting efforts of al-Shabab, a group with ties to al-Qaida.

As Expressen reports (via Google Translate):

The alarm came to the police at 20:18 on Monday evening. A police patrol should then have been in the area for disposing of a wanted person.

In connection with this began several people at the subway throwing stones at police.

There appeared a number of young people threw stones at the police patrol. I do not know how many it concerned, but there will be several people anyway, says Lars Bystrom, spokesperson at the Stockholm police, told Expressen TV.

Police patrol on the site must have felt so constricted that they were forced to fire warning shots in connection with the stoning. The police will then have withdrawn from the location.

Photos of the site, one can see how many cars are on fire, and emergency services are on site to extinguish them.

7-8 cars have been burned in the area. We move back and forth, it never stands still at such incidents but we have good resources in place, says Lars Bystrom.

According to information are about the emergency services have requested reinforcements from Sollentuna and Brännkyrka.

At 22:20 the police attacked a second time by the youth gang. It was about a planned, concerted attack where the young people rushed towards the police and threw stones.

A police officer was hit by a stone on his arm, but it is unclear how seriously injured he was. Police headlining the event as assaulting a police officer and rioting. No person should even have been arrested in connection with the stoning.

*  *  *

How long before Schumer starts crying for the poor immigrants of "little Mogadishu"? And how long before CNN manages to blame Trump for tonight's riots?

Published:2/20/2017 6:14:42 PM
[Nation] First Milo Yiannopoulos Loses His Spot Speaking at CPAC. Now His Book Publisher Makes an Announcement. "It is a vile and disgusting crime..." Published:2/20/2017 6:14:42 PM
[Diversity] Uber’s Travis Kalanick details independent investigation regarding sexual harassment Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Attends The Third Netease Future Technology Conference Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sent a memo to employees today following allegations of sexual harassment from former Uber engineer Susan Fowler. In the memo, obtained by TechCrunch, Kalanick said the company has tapped former US Attorney General Eric Holder and Tammy Albarran, partners at law firm Covington & Burling, to independently investigate the workplace issues Fowler spoke about in her… Read More
Published:2/20/2017 6:14:42 PM
[Uncategorized] James Mattis: America ‘Not in Iraq to Seize Anybody’s Oil’ U.S. forces will continue to help Iraq to expel the Islamic State. Published:2/20/2017 6:14:42 PM
[In The News] President Trump’s Schedule for Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 President Trump will start his day with his presidential daily briefing in the Oval Office before taking lunch with long time friendTom Barrack who also chaired the President’s inaugural planning committee. The president’s schedule has a large gap in the afternoon which usually means something is planned so keep an eye on this page for ...
Published:2/20/2017 6:14:42 PM
[topics:places/australia] Small plane crashes into shopping centre near Melbourne Published:2/20/2017 6:14:42 PM
[World] Trump taps military strategist as national security adviser PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump has tapped Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a prominent military strategist known as a creative thinker, as his new national security adviser, replacing the ousted Michael Flynn. Published:2/20/2017 5:43:50 PM
[Alt-right] Milo Yiannopoulos' Book Deal Canceled By Simon & Schuster

Publishing giant Simon & Schuster has canceled the publication of "Dangerous" by Milo Yiannopoulos. Publishers Weekly tweeted Monday that the company was canceling the book's publication "after careful consideration."

Shortly after the tweet, Yiannopoulos confirmed in a Facebook post that "They canceled my book." Simon & Schuster inked the book deal with Yiannopoulos - which spurred controversy as writers threatened to boycott the company - at the end of December.

The decision to cancel the book came amid controversy over a video in which Yiannopoulos was said to defend pedophilia, although the outspoken commentator has denied that to be case. The video clip gained traction on social media after a conservative blog shared it Sunday. In the video, Yiannopoulos said relationships between older men and young boys can be beneficial.

In a Facebook post Monday, Yiannopoulos denounced the claims that he was advocating for pedophilia. "I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim,” Yiannopoulos wrote. 

"I would like to restate my utter disgust at adults who sexually abuse minors. I am horrified by pedophilia and I have devoted large portions of my career as a journalist to exposing child abusers. I've outed three of them, in fact -- three more than most of my critics. And I've repeatedly expressed disgust at pedophilia in my feature and opinion writing. My professional record is very clear.”

"But I do understand that these videos, even though some of them are edited deceptively, paint a different picture.”

It was the second Facebook post from Yiannopoulos after the tapes resurfaced.

"I'm partly to blame. My own experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say anything I wanted to on this subject, no matter how outrageous,” he continued in the Monday post. "But I understand that my usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humor might have come across as flippancy, a lack of care for other victims or, worse, 'advocacy.' I deeply regret that."

The excuse however failed to stem public blowback: earlier in the day, the Conservative Political Action Conference rescinded its invitation Monday for Yiannopoulos to speak at its event.  ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp said Yiannopoulos' attempts to address the tapes have fallen short, calling the remarks "disturbing." "We realize that Mr. Yiannopoulos has responded on Facebook, but it is insufficient," Schlapp said in a statement. "It is up to him to answer the tough questions and we urge him to immediately further address these disturbing comments."

Meanwhile, according The Hill, the blowback against Milo's statements has even threatened his job at Breibart where employees are reportedly prepared to leave the company if controversial senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos is not fired.

Another senior editor at the publication told Washingtonian Monday that "at least a half dozen" employees are prepared to leave to organization because of remarks  Yiannopoulos made about pedophilia that gained attention this weekend.

 

“The fact of the matter is that there’s been so many things that have been objectionable about Milo over the last couple of years, quite frankly. This is something far more sinister,” the senior editor said. “If the company isn’t willing to act, there are at least half a dozen people who are willing to walk out over it.”

Published:2/20/2017 5:43:50 PM
[structure:news/uk-news] Five teenagers arrested in London on suspicion of making travel plans to join a terrorist group Published:2/20/2017 5:43:50 PM
[Politics] This gubernatorial candidate is extremely open about his sex life An Arizona gubernatorial candidate is going to extreme lengths to back up his calls for honesty and openness in politics, by spilling the details of his colorful personal history on his campaign page – a past which includes group sex, sexting and periods of homelessness. Noah ‘Noe’ Dyer, running a longshot campaign to grab the... Published:2/20/2017 5:43:50 PM
[Mobile] Samsung takes a big hit in new US reputation poll SAMSUNG CSC Last year was rough on just about everyone. Samsung seemed to get it especially bad, as the Note 7 saga stretched out over several months and two separated recalls. Somewhere in there, the electronic giant’s washing machines got caught up in the madness with a recall of their own, while its executives got tangled up in some questionable governmental dealings. To the surprise of many,… Read More
Published:2/20/2017 5:43:49 PM
[The Blog] NBC “news” marks milestone: Trump can no longer be the shortest-serving president in American history Trolling. Published:2/20/2017 5:43:49 PM
[Entertainment] Inside Colton Haynes' Romance With Jeff Leatham: It's ''What Movies Are Made of'' Colton Haynes, Jeff LeathamColton Haynes just made things officially official with his boyfriend Jeff Leatham...he shared their first selfie together! The Scream Queens star--who came out as gay in May 2016--took...
Published:2/20/2017 5:13:33 PM
[Science] Publisher cancels Milo Yiannopoulos book after he appeared to defend pedophilia

Caitlin Yilek

Simon & Schuster has canceled the publication of Milo Yiannopoulos' book "Dangerous" after he appeared to defend pedophilia in video clips that emerged on social media Sunday.

"After careful consideration, [Simon & Schuster and Threshold Editions] have cancelled publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos," Adam Rothberg, the publisher's head of corporate communications, wrote on Twitter.

Yiannopoulos confirmed the news in a Facebook post.

"They canceled my book," he wrote.

Yiannopoulos' book deal was worth a reported $250,000 and was expected to be released in June.

"Dangerous" rose to No. Published:2/20/2017 5:13:33 PM

[Donald Trump] [Ilya Somin] Staying true to principle in the age of Trump Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, a prominent conservative opponent of Trump recently noted that he is now more popular on the left than in the past, but despised by many of his former fans on the right: Watching this process unfold has been particularly painful for me as a conservative columnist. I find myself […] Published:2/20/2017 5:13:32 PM
[Entertainment] Our Systems Are Failing: "This Is An Evolutionary Moment For Our Species"

Submitted by Adam Taggart via PeakProsperity.com,

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an award winning 15 year investigative journalist, noted international security scholar, best-selling author and film-maker.  He authored The Guardian’s Earth Insight blog and has twice won the prestigious Project Censored Award for outstanding investigative journalism.

In his new book Failing States, Collapsing Systems, Nafeez points out, as we often do here at PeakProsperity.com, that everything in our modern society is connected to energy, and that our pursuit of ever more, ever higher growth is finally colliding with planetary limits. Scarcity and strife will be the dominant trends from here, unless we, as a species, start looking for different ways of living better-suited for a finite world:

The most fascinating thing for me is how so much of what we take for granted becomes questionable as a result of the breakdown we're seeing. When we begin questioning the exponential growth model then we begin questioning the value system driving our material production/consumption. It's not that it hasn’t produced amazing knowledge of our environment and our place in the universe. It's not that there haven’t been a huge amount of amazing technological developments, like the internet which has enabled people to be interconnected in ways that they never were able to before. In a way has paved the way for us to be able to think globally in a way that centuries ago would have never happened.

 

It's not that everything about this paradigm is bad. It's just that it has very clearly outlasted its usefulness and is now fundamentally responsible for escalating the biophysical rupture that we see happening and manifesting in so many different ways. What that tells me is that we have to grow up as a species. It's an evolutionary moment.

 

When we apply systems theory to this, when we apply our knowledge of complex adaptive systems and the history of evolution, it does seem to me that it is absolutely clear really that we're at an unprecedented moment. For the first time in human history, we are standing at a point where we need to basically undergo fundamental systemic adaptation. Exactly what that looks like we're still trying to work out. But what is very clear is what it doesn’t look like. It doesn’t look like seeing each other as separate material entities that just fend for themselves and produce and consume to an endless degree. It looks quite different.

 

The ideas and the values and the ethos of that different approach has been percolating in different civilizations in different ways. There's evidence from indigenous civilizations, from tribal societies, and even from projects that are now being seeded here and now in our current context where people are trying different things. I think we are at a moment where we're rewriting that story and making a new story of what it means to be human.

 

It's particularly important because when people look at this with fresh eyes, it's very easy to be overwhelmed by a sense of powerlessness. That's being reflected now with the rise of Trump and everything else. There is this sense of things getting worse. And I think in many ways it is going to get worse before it gets better. All of this is symptomatic of the crisis that is at play.

 

A question we all need to be able to ask ourselves is To what extent can I make myself useful going forward, building and planting seeds for what comes after this moment?

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Nafeez Ahmed (55m:52s).

 

Published:2/20/2017 5:13:32 PM
[Quick Takes] Video Shows Kim Jung Un’s Brother’s Murder Kim Jong Nam died on the way to the hospital. Published:2/20/2017 5:13:32 PM
[Top Picks] Kohn: Here’s how we have a special election and make Hillary President anyway Problem solver Published:2/20/2017 5:13:32 PM
[Media] Remember when Obama said he’d have more flexibility with Russia after the election? This NBC journo doesn’t

NBC News' Katy Tur had a bit of an Aleppo moment when confronted about Barack Obama's own dealings with Russia.

The post Remember when Obama said he’d have more flexibility with Russia after the election? This NBC journo doesn’t appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/20/2017 5:13:31 PM
[Markets] The Moneyologist: This woman’s father was murdered and, on her lawyer’s advice, she signed the family’s properties over to her sister A lawyer and executor are required by law to act in your best interests.
Published:2/20/2017 5:13:31 PM
[] Milo Officially "Uninvited" as Speaker at CPAC CPAC is now in the strange position of having invited someone precisely because he was not permitted to speak on college campuses due to his controversial statements, and yet now having banned him from speaking there due to his controversial... Published:2/20/2017 5:13:31 PM
[World] Brenda Buttner Passes Away: Remembering the 'Bulls & Bears' Host

Brenda Buttner, host of Fox News Channel's "Bulls and Bears," has passed away at age 55 after a battle with cancer.

Published:2/20/2017 4:49:57 PM
[Bottom3] Don’t give them what they want: Terrorists should be starved of the oxygen of publicity Please note: this event will now be taking place on 22nd February 2017. Why do they do it? Again and again, after every attack in Paris, Nice or Tunisia, our media react by giving the terrorists exactly what they want – maximum publicity. Of course, the public should be told that an atrocity has taken […] Published:2/20/2017 4:49:57 PM
[PAID] Samsung Heir, Seeking to Remake Family Legacy, Instead Faces Scandal Lee Jae-yong took the South Korean conglomerate’s reins vowing to reshape it along Silicon Valley lines. Now a corruption probe has dragged him in, raising the biggest doubts yet about whether he has ushered his giant chaebol into a new era. Published:2/20/2017 4:49:57 PM
[Entertainment] Angelina Jolie Makes Eating Scorpions With Her Kids Look Easy During Family Trip to Cambodia Angelina Jolie, Kids, Eating Bugs, Maybe we should consider scorpions for our next side dish. Angelina Jolie is a woman of many talents. Whether it's acting on the big screen, creating powerful change for deserving...
Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM
[5936d5bc-78da-48b5-882c-ab23dceafa3e] David Cassidy reveals private battle with dementia “I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming." Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM
[Diversity] Uber is not the only tech company that mishandles sexual harassment claims uber-harrassment2 On Sunday, a former female Uber engineer detailed her experiences of sexual harassment during her one-year stint at the multibillion-dollar company. The engineer, Susan Fowler, said she experienced sexual harassment and had reported it to Uber’s human resources department but to no avail. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has since said that he plans to investigate. Read More
Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM
[The Blog] Katy Tur not familar with Obama’s ‘more flexibility’ remarks to Russia "I'm sorry I don't know what you're referring to congressman." Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM
[Blogs] PRAISE GOD HE STILL HEALS OUR AFFLICTIONS I AM LIVING PROOF CHAPTER 4 PRAISE GOD HE STILL HEALS OUR AFFLICTIONS I AM LIVING PROOF CHAPTER 4 This is the 4th installment written about the massive stroke I suffered on August 19, 2014, exactly 2 1/2 years ago today. The first two covered the diagnosis of the attending neurologist and my progress since the stroke. Chapter 3 dealt more ...
Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM
[World] The politics of Good Media, Bad Media

C.C. Pecknold, contributor

The word "media" describes a mode of intermediate communication between the people and events deemed most worthy of our attention by those in the media. Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM

[Science] Breitbart employees threaten to quit if Milo Yiannopoulos is not fired: Report

Caitlin Yilek

Several employees have reportedly threatened to quit Breitbart News if Milo Yiannopoulos is not immediately fired.

A top editor at the right-wing news outlet said "at least a half-dozen" employees have threatened to walk.

Yiannopoulos had his invitation to speak at the Conservative Political Action Committee rescinded after he appeared to defend pedophilia in video clips that emerged on social media Sunday.

After he was disinvited, the alt-right figure wrote on Facebook that he was disgusted by adults who sexually abuse minors.

"I'm partly to blame. Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM

[B+] US Shale Production To Soar By 3.5 Million Barrels/Day Over Next Five Years: BofA Explains Why

Two years ago, when Saudi Arabia launched on an unprecedented campaign to crush high-cost oil producers, in the process effectively putting an end to the OPEC cartel (at least until last year's attempt to cut production), it made a bold bet that US shale producers would be swept under when the price of oil tumbled, leading to a tsunami of bankruptcies, as well as investment and production halts. To an extent it succeeded, but where it may have made a glaring error is the core assumption about shale breakeven costs, which as we reported throughout 2016, were substantially lower than consensus estimated.

In his latest note, BofA's Francisco Blanch explains not only why a drop in shale breakevens costs is what is currently the biggest wildcard in the global race to reach production "equilibrium", but also why US shale oil production could surge in the coming years, prompting OPEC to boost production in hopes of recapturing market share.  Specifically, Blanch predicts that US shale oil production could grow by a whopping 3.5 million barrels per day over the next five years.

Here's why: as he explains "many oil companies around the world have survived the price meltdown by bringing down breakeven costs in the last two years.

But what parts of the world can grow output in the years ahead? In BofA's view, US shale oil producers will come out ahead and deliver outsized market share gains by 2022. Shale oil output in the US may grow sequentially by 600 thousand b/d from 4Q16 to 4Q17 on increased activity in oil rigs and fast productivity gains. Importantly, breakeven costs for key major US plays now stand around the $55/bbl mark.


As crude oil prices recover further, cost reflation may partly offset reduced costs linked to less regulation. So assuming a gradual recovery in oil prices into a long-term average of $60 to $70/bbl, BofA  projects average annual US shale oil growth of 700 thousand b/d in 2017-22, or roughly 3.5 million bpd over the next 5 years.

Shale production could rise even more if prevailing oil prices are higher than $55/barrel. Here is BofA's sensitivity analysis: 

We estimate that US shale production will decline annually by 270 thousand b/d, on average, until 2022 in a $40/bbl WTI environment. At $50/bbl, growth returns, though only at a small average of 240 thousand b/d. Should WTI trade at $60 for the next five years, growth reaches 700 thousand b/d, and at $70/bbl it reaches 950 thousand b/d (Chart 15). It goes without saying that the level of US shale output in 2022  will highly depend on the average price of WTI in the next five years (Chart 16).

It's not just the US however: in addition to US shale, BofA sees incremental growth in Brazil, Russia, Kazakhstan and Canada over the next five years, driven by giant projects in the Lula, Kashagan or Johan Sverdrup fields. However, many of the gains in supply from non-OPEC non-shale producers will come on the back of investments dating to before the collapse in global oil prices. Meanwhile, countries such as Mexico and the UK will keep facing output declines. All in, BofA projects non-OPEC output to reach 61.7 million b/d by 2022. This equates to 830 thousand b/d of annual average growth in the next five years, or around the 20-year average of 790 thousand b/d (Chart 3).

Put differently, Blanch sees 84% of the incremental non-OPEC supply gains coming from US shale, as production in many parts of the world either stagnates or declines outright (Chart 4).

Which brings us back to square one, and specifically the migraine-causing dilemma faced by OPEC, which Saudi Arabia had hoped to eliminate in 2014: volume or price?

With non-OPEC poised to grow again, OPEC will need to increase oil output by just 2.2 million b/d to meet global incremental oil demand of about 5.5 million b/d over the 2017-22 period, according to BofA calculations. So about 1/3 of global oil supply growth will come from OPEC in 2017-22 (Chart 5). In this context, Blanch believes that Saudi, Iraq and the UAE are the only countries able to increase their output in the medium term, while Algeria, Nigeria or Venezuela would need massive investments to reverse current trends and boost output.

This may be true, unless of course just like US shale, production breakeven costs are sliding across the world. Furthermore the actions of such giant "vendor-financing" providers as China (seen best in the case of Venezuela, where China continues to provide Caracas with much needed funds in exchange for far below market oil deliveries) remain unpredictable, and may afford these non-core OPEC nations just the funds they need to also steal market share from Saudi, Iraq and UAE.

According to BofA, while OPEC countries have the resources to grow production, its previous work shows that OPEC revenue would likely be higher if no additional investments are made compared to scenarios where increased OPEC production leads to lower prices (Chart 6).

For this reason, Francisco Blanch says he expects limited OPEC oil output growth over the next 5 years.

We, however, disagree, especially following today's news that Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest crude producer in December, when both countries started restricting supplies ahead of agreed cuts with other global producers to curb the worst glut in decades.

As Bloomberg reported earlier, Russia pumped 10.49 million barrels a day in December, down 29,000 barrels a day from November, while Saudi Arabia’s output declined to 10.46 million barrels a day from 10.72 million barrels a day in November, according to data published Monday on the website of the Joint Organisations Data Initiative in Riyadh. That was the first time Russia beat Saudi Arabia since March. Iraq came in fourth at 4.5 million barrels a day, followed by China at 3.98 million barrels a day, the data show. The US, which has emerged as the oil swing producer, was the third-largest producer, at 8.8 million barrels a day in December compared with 8.9 million barrels a day in November, according to JODI.

It is unlikely that if BofA is right and US shale manages to boost oil output by 3.5 million bpd - or more, if oil prices rise further - over the next five years, potentially surpassing Saudi Arabia should the kingdom's production remain stagnant, that Riyadh will sit and watch as not only Russia but the US threatens its standing as the world's biggest producer of crude.

Whether this is accurate will be revealed over the coming months based on what happens to the record level of crude inventories currently in the US. Should the much anticipated "rebalancing" fail as excess demand fails to materialize, the oil-rich kingdom may have no choice but to once again try to put marginal producers out of business but breaking up the OPEC cartel and replaying the post-2014 episode once again, sending crude prices in freefall.

Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM
[Uncategorized] Jose Canseco Issues Stern Warning Over the Rise of Robots "All humans we need to wake the f*ck up" Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM
[Family] Husband Watching Wife Carry Baby Who Won't Survive To Term Can't Believe How 'Tough and Brave' She Is "I was a spectator to my own life, watching a superhero find her superpowers." Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM
[Politics] Eric Bolling and Kim Guilfoyle TRIGGERED when Bob Beckel says ‘Comrade Trump’ After defending Putin and coddling Russian imperialism so that they can show Trump how much they love him, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Eric Bolling got triggered badly when Bob Beckel began referring to . . . Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM
[Politics] Eric Bolling and Kim Guilfoyle TRIGGERED when Bob Beckel says ‘Comrade Trump’ After defending Putin and coddling Russian imperialism so that they can show Trump how much they love him, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Eric Bolling got triggered badly when Bob Beckel began referring to . . . Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM
[structure:news] Vandalised Devon bus shelter gets mystery 'Banksy-style' makeover Published:2/20/2017 4:49:56 PM
[Business] Tech Still Doesn’t Take Discrimination Seriously
Tech Still Doesn’t Take Discrimination Seriously
A blog post accusing Uber of systematic failure to address sexual harassment bolsters the idea that the tech biz isn't taking care of its own The post Tech Still Doesn't Take Discrimination Seriously appeared first on WIRED.
Published:2/20/2017 4:11:52 PM
[Top Picks] Can Marine Le Pen actually win? The phrase "they have no chance" has taken a beating lately Published:2/20/2017 4:11:52 PM
[Politics] After Dumping White House, Uber's CEO Forced to Launch 'Urgent Investigation' into 'Horrifying' Sexism at HQ "It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying..." Published:2/20/2017 4:11:52 PM
[Entertainment] Frances Bean Cobain Pens Touching Message to Kurt Cobain on What Would Have Been His 50th Birthday Kurt Cobain, Montage of HeckFrances Bean Cobain is paying tribute to her late father Kurt Cobain on what would have marked his 50th birthday. The 24-year-old took to Instagram to remember the Nirvana frontman--who...
Published:2/20/2017 4:11:52 PM
[Markets] NewsWatch: U.S. stock futures hit fresh highs, indicating a record run will resume this week U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher start for Wall Street when markets return from the Presidents Day holiday on Tuesday.
Published:2/20/2017 4:11:52 PM
[Science] Republican bills to kill federal agencies face uphill battle

Daniel Chaitin

Republicans want to do a bit of house cleaning in government this year by trashing a number of federal agencies, but success is far from assured and may come in the form of more limited restrictions.

So far in the 115th session of Congress, which began Jan. Published:2/20/2017 4:11:52 PM

[Politics] Trump Versus Obama: Whose Cabinet Nominees Faced More Obstruction?

President Trump is still waiting for the Senate to confirm several of his Cabinet nominees one month after he was inaugurated.

The post Trump Versus Obama: Whose Cabinet Nominees Faced More Obstruction? appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:2/20/2017 4:11:52 PM
[topics:people/donald-tusk] EU mistakenly displays US flag with extra star during visit from Vice-president Mike Pence Published:2/20/2017 4:11:52 PM
[World] Trump Has Had Biggest Dow Gain for a President's 1st 30 Days Since 1909

President Donald Trump has overseen the largest gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average in a president's first 30 days in office since William Howard Taft in 1909, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Published:2/20/2017 3:47:15 PM
[Homosexuality] There Are No Homosexuals or Transgenders

If you are going to win an argument, you must get down to the operating assumptions of what’s being argued. We first heard that homosexuals were born that way, just like heterosexuals are born with desires for those of the opposite sex. While numerous scientific studies have been done to find a genetic link, nothing […]

The post There Are No Homosexuals or Transgenders appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/20/2017 3:47:15 PM
[Homosexuality] There Are No Homosexuals or Transgenders

If you are going to win an argument, you must get down to the operating assumptions of what’s being argued. We first heard that homosexuals were born that way, just like heterosexuals are born with desires for those of the opposite sex. While numerous scientific studies have been done to find a genetic link, nothing […]

The post There Are No Homosexuals or Transgenders appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/20/2017 3:47:15 PM
[World] Trump taps military strategist as national security adviser PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump has tapped Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser, replacing the ousted Michael Flynn. Published:2/20/2017 3:47:15 PM
[Tech] Orchestrating Multi-service ASP.NET Core Application Using docker-compose Swaminathan Vetri demonstrates how to use docker-compose api to orchestrate the creation of docker images for an application that depends on multiple services. Published:2/20/2017 3:47:15 PM
[World] Conservatives Will Love Trump's New National Security Adviser--An Army Lt. Gen. Who is 6 Different Kinds of Badass A battle tested veteran and well-respected student of military history... Published:2/20/2017 3:47:14 PM
[topics:people/donald-trump] Thousands protest over Donald Trump's state visit Published:2/20/2017 3:47:14 PM
[World] White House admits Trump golfing snafu

Kelly Cohen

The White House on Monday admitted that President Trump actually played more than "a couple" of holes of golf in Florida.

"As stated yesterday the President played golf. Published:2/20/2017 3:47:14 PM

[National Security] Trump Picks Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to Replace Flynn as National Security Adviser

President Donald Trump picked Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to replace Michael Flynn as his national security adviser on Monday.

The post Trump Picks Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to Replace Flynn as National Security Adviser appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:2/20/2017 3:47:14 PM
[Politics] UGH: Police officer killed by GANG MEMBER when investigating traffic accident A police officer in California was killed in the line of duty as he was attempting to assess a traffic accident. A second officer was also injured in the shootout and the . . . Published:2/20/2017 3:47:14 PM
[Politics] UGH: Police officer killed by GANG MEMBER when investigating traffic accident A police officer in California was killed in the line of duty as he was attempting to assess a traffic accident. A second officer was also injured in the shootout and the . . . Published:2/20/2017 3:47:14 PM
[Quick Takes] John Kerry Taking Global Affairs Position at Yale "specializing in law, management, forestry & environmental studies" Published:2/20/2017 3:47:14 PM
[Government] Legislation to stop U.S. border agents from demanding passwords and logins is on the way 6208920458_5158bfb56b_b Privacy advocates aren’t happy with proposals for enhanced digital prying at U.S. borders, and now that issue could be taken up in the Senate. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden called for accountability around reports that U.S. Customs and Border agents are obtaining the passwords to locked devices that belong to detainees at the border. Read More
Published:2/20/2017 3:47:14 PM
[American people of German descent] Trump Played the Libertarian Right

Trump Is Playing You

Note: Soren K is a group of 4 writers to whom I contribute on commodity market posts-Vince Lanci

Written by Soren K and MarketSlant. 

There is one thing Hillary and Donald agree on. You are idiots. She said it. He thinks it. In fact the voting populace is largely brain damaged. And those who aren't quite vegetables yet will become pacified with iphones, slot machines, and skinner boxes designed to wither their ability to make decisions. Look it up. No wait, we did it for you. Click to scroll. You are too busy alternatively being pacified or outraged.

Trump is About Trump. You will be a captive client to US sub par products made by corporations with all the rights of people, without the social contract. They will be subsidized, favored, given carve-outs etc. Carrier was given money to stay in the US. That money is going to make their plants more efficient. They will do this via more automation. Translation: Trump just got you fired. How does Trump feel about it? It was going to happen anyway, why shouldn't he benefit from it? Then the corporations will want more measures to keep the American consumer captive. Enter wealth confiscators from the Globalist Left and the Corporatist Right.

This is a false quote, but Trump's actions do not show a much different perspective.

Still Just Rats in a Cage

Part of making you compliant is removing your economic freedom. The wall is being built to keep you IN. That means choices need to be limited. Like using alternative means of payment. Liberal Globalists will champion it. Conservative Corporatists will profit from it. 1 party rule

You have 100 choices of toothpaste now, but you will only be able to buy them here soon. The Ruling Class tools are monetary policy,indebtedness, inflation, tariffs, and co-opting alternative stores of wealth like Gold. If they can't co-opt your Gold, they will debase it.

They won't confiscate your Gold this time. No. They will tax it. They will force you to CUSIP it. They will reduce its collateral value for loans. They will prohibit IRA ownership in home safes.

IRS Warns Against Keeping IRA Funds in Gold at Home

September 5, 2016Wall St.JournalThe Internal Revenue Service isn’t too keen on the recent advertisements suggesting retirement savers store their tax-free individual retirement account funds in gold at their house or in safety-deposit boxes, the Wall Street Journal writes.

Storing Gold at Home: Legal, But with Caveats Full Story HERE

Laura Saunders On Gold Confiscation

That’s why the government probably won’t repeat the 1933 rip-off. It’s simply not worth the effort. I think the government will try a new scam: taxing windfall profits on gold. This would make it much easier for the government to accomplish something similar to its 1933 heist.There’s precedence for it, too. In 1980, Congress passed the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act, which taxed up to 70% of “windfall profits” of domestic oil producers. The whole concept is a scam—a word trick to camouflage and sanitize legalized theft.

If the price of gold explodes, I wouldn’t be surprised if Congress passes a Fair Share Gold Windfall Profit Tax Act levying a tax of 80%, 90%, or more on gold profits. More HERE

JPMorgan on Safe Deposit Box Use

As of April 2015, JPMorgan Chase sent a letter to all renters of safe deposit boxes, specifying a new agreement that they must sign if they wish to continue to rent a safe deposit box. It includes this key phrase:“Contents of the box: You agree not to store any cash or coins other than those found to have a collectible value.”- look it up yourself

Cusiped Gold Only Please

Gold has to be absorbed into the system. Via VAT, cash settled futures, and most easily CUSIPs for Gold. That way if your Gold is not tagged, it is not usable.  If Gold represents financial freedom, then it will be attacked next. Gold is  money without borders, and will have to be controlled through nationalization in some form. It will be taxed, CUSIP labeled (branding), prohibited from being kept in a bank safe deposit box, made non-deliverable against paper Gold, and so forth. The IMF merely has to include it in a new SDR and that immediately makes Gold a nationalized item. Why do you think every CB is accumulating it? Gold is the only money that crosses borders and carries no debt on it. And countries will need it to continue international trade via SDRs or otherwise  If all else fails, it will be confiscated where it can be. Full post HERE

Hope, Change, and MAGA are the Same Thing

Seriously, there is no 2 party system. There is no left and right anymore. Both sides think you are idiots and are doing everything they can to ensure your idiocy grows. There is no middle class. And along with its elimination by our government, a shitstorm is coming.Immigration is the catalyst in the EU. Old Boomers are the catalyst here.

As both Sanders and the philosopher Slavoj Zizek noted after Sanders lost the primaries, left and right are in some sense outdated ideas. The new division in politics is those who favor the current global hegemony and those who are against it. [Edit- ideological authoritarian elites vs disenfranchised shrinking middle & lower middle class- Soren] Like the Hollywood heroes, right and left have been competing to become this new radical anti-status quo party. And so far, in both Europe and America, the right has won, implying that, as Arendt predicted, the powerlessness created by bourgeoisie systems of capitalist exploitation might once again implode into far right totalitarianism. Source

graphic courtesy @vincelancipictures

The immigration issue seen most recently in the EU is just a catalyst. Merkel is doubling down on her policies. Just as printing money debases a currency, unchecked immigration will debase social structures. We either get run over as socialist systems collapse (US Boomer retirees, EU immigration influx) under their own weight. Or we get Totalitarian rule to "preserve our way". Happy to be wrong here. But the evidence and empirical drift suggest otherwise.

Authoritarianism Won- Libertarians May as Well be a Suicide Squad

It's not easy these days. We understand the government has become expert in psychology, marketing, and bribery. It's a lie, and eventually all lies are uncovered. But when? (now!) and how? are the questions. Step up, or your children will be boiled slowly while playing Candy Crush. We're talking to the so-called anti authoritarian Libertarians. The ones who want almost no government. The ones who understand where we are heading and do nothing. Well, what can an idelogy that is based on "watching" do? Nature abhors a vacuum. Your ideology makes room for Authoritarians. That is why there will never be a Libertarian President. Because you don't want it. Ron Paul ran in half measures. Rand is a damp sponge as a candidate. This is why we are now in an authoritarian state.

There is only Authoritarian and Libertarian now. And by definition Authoritarian wins over Libertarian. Libertarians may as well be Pacifists.  Libertarianism is best as a police mechanism that tries to keep politicians honest. Libs can be most effective outside the system.  And you blew it. Even Gandhi would have stepped up by now.

Ron Paul is a Joke

Champion of the basic a tenets of the Constitution. Here he is on Government's Role

 "the proper role for government in America is to provide national defense, a court system for civil disputes, a criminal justice system for acts of force and fraud, and little else."

That includes enforcing the rule of law as it is in contracts. Obama shredded that in the Chrysler, GMAC bond disaster. Ron Paul did Dick to protect the rule of law in the USA in this. Look it up yourself. The Dude and Walter at least tried.

Paul Ryan sold you out BTW. He is backing Trump's "Ban" in order to receive money from the Koch crew. Watch what happens if the next immigration bill is a joke. Paul will fade away. No money, No Paul.And if you think Libertarianism can be scaled in the USA stop reading. Your an idiot living a fantasy. That is called anarchy.

Step up or shut up. Trump, Clinton, Sanders are all Authoritarians.  And most Authoritarians think you are either an idiot to be used (GOP, Elite Dems), or a child to be coddled (Progressive Dems). Right now the Authoritarians are coming for your economic freedom. Global multiculturalists on the left will abolish cash. On the Right, Trump will Make American Corporations Great again.

Currently it is lining up as Trump vs CIA/Elite Dems/MSM/NEOCONS in collaboration. AKA teh "Deep-State" This is our choice now? Trump or a bunch of unelected assholes? D.C. should be made into a glass parking lot.

Trumpettes and Clinton-ites Welcome

Leave your money with Rogoff, the Fed, the IMF and the US Corps (401Ks courtesy of Trump directly feeding his "pals"). Drop your other rights in the box marked "Patriot Act"

What Will it Take for You to Realize You are Being Played?

Do you not think there was a point where Gandhi would pick up arms? Do you think he would have let a 3rd Reich dictator run him over? Everyone has a point where they act. Read about Arjuna in the Gita for the "compulsion to act" moment. Arjuna realizes the idiocy of war, and refuses to fight. G-d has words with him on the matter. BTW, Arjuna means "Shining like Silver" so we are big fans of the outcome. The key is, will you hit the point to act before it is too late? Ron Paul's point has passed. He won't suffer. Your children will.

The unsung movie NightHawks actually makes the "compulsion to act" more clear. In it, Stallone's character is resistant to anti-terror tactics. The terror expert tells him (paraphrased) 'We all have what it takes to act. The key is recognizing what it will take to utilize that to defeat a greater evil' Basically, what will wake you up short of an existential threat? Here is the scene (poorly acted) Relevant point at 1:40 in.

This is not about violence. Unless thinking and shedding the mud-caked on your brain is considered violent. It's about thinking. Your representatives do nto want you to think

*Also: If you are a parent and give a shit about your child's development, read these concepts*

AnchorExecutive Functions- which is higher order decision making processes

A set of cognitive processes – including attentional control, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility, as well as reasoning, problem solving, and planning – that are necessary for the cognitive control 

Skinner Box- which impedes Executive Function

A device that is used to study and manipulate operative conditioning in animals. In social media: 

Social networking services such as Google, Facebook and Twitter have been identified as using the techniques, critics use terms such as Skinnerian Marketing for the way the companies use the ideas to keep users engaged and using the service.

Brain Physiology Changes After Skinner Box Exposure: Yes, your brain's cognitive muscle withers. Like the guy who did so much coke his pleasure center became mush.

This indicates that the deficit is attributable to an impairment in the planning, selection, or initiation of the lateralized response rather than in its execution, suggesting an “executive” (function)impairment. Click emdedded link for more

Controlled Opposition- what happens when a 2 party system is really no different ideologically. NOTE THERE IS NO WIKI ENTRY ON THIS

A controlled opposition is a protest movement that is sometimes being led by government agents. Their agenda is to win (and to preserve the status quo of a 2 party system in this case). Nearly all governments in history have employed this technique to trick and subdue their adversaries. Notably Vladimir Lenin who said ''"The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves."

Manufactured Consent - What the government does when it cant get its way. includes a complicit MSM

If you are going to be an animal, don't be a sheep. Be a dog. At least you'll die happy.

Sorenk@marketslant.com

Published:2/20/2017 3:47:14 PM
[] The Overton Window Is Shifting, Even In Europe. Geert Wilders attacks 'Moroccan scum' as he launches election campaign Of course the headline is inflammatory. The real criticism was of a subset of Moroccans who have immigrated to The Netherlands. But that is to be expected from the soon-to-be-obsolete... Published:2/20/2017 3:47:14 PM
[TSLA] Tesla: The Floor Is Yours Published:2/20/2017 3:12:35 PM
[Politics] INSANE: MSNBC reporter has NO CLUE about Obama’s 2012 ‘hot mic’ Putin moment MSNBC’s Katy Tur inadvertently showed the bias of the media today when a Republican congressman recalled to her how Obama was caught in a “hot mic” moment telling the Russians he’d have . . . Published:2/20/2017 3:12:35 PM
[Politics] Judd Apatow likens Trump’s election to getting raped "I feel like I've just been raped and I just don't know if I'm going to get murdered," Apatow shared during a promotional event for his new HBO show "Crashing." Published:2/20/2017 3:12:35 PM
[United States Politics and Government] Trump Chooses H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser The president called him “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.” Published:2/20/2017 3:12:35 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Trump names Army’s McMaster his national security adviser The decision came a week after Trump fired his first national security adviser, Mike Flynn.
Published:2/20/2017 3:12:35 PM
[Uncategorized] ‘This is just getting creepy’: Proof that Hillary fans live in an alternate reality

"This is the most delusional sh*t of all time."

The post ‘This is just getting creepy’: Proof that Hillary fans live in an alternate reality appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/20/2017 3:12:35 PM
[TC] New Zealand High Court upholds Kim Dotcom extradition ruling Kim Dotcom, founder of the Internet Party and founder of Megaupload Ltd., attends a news conference following an event titled "Moment of Truth" at the Auckland Townhall in Auckland, New Zealand, on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he'll declassify intelligence service documents to disprove claims his government engaged in mass surveillance of its citizens after investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who published Edward Snowden's leaked U.S. National Security Agency documents last year, said he'll release more NSA files showing New Zealand's complicity in mass surveillance with its partners in the Five Eyes network. Photographer: Brendon O'Hagan/Bloomberg via Getty Images Kim Dotcom, founder of Mega and Megaupload, has suffered another defeat in court. In the latest ruling, New Zealand High Court judge Murray Gilbert upheld an earlier decision finding that Dotcom and business associates could be extradited to the U.S. to face charges. Read More
Published:2/20/2017 3:12:34 PM
[Michael Shannon] Trump’s Wall Can Be a Memorial, Too There’s been a great deal of controversy regarding who is going to pay for Trump’s border wall. The option that’s most popular is sending Mexico a bill. This would require the man Mark Steyn calls “President Piñata” to bring a big check to the groundbreaking ceremony or possibly pay on the installment plan — like ...
Published:2/20/2017 3:12:34 PM
[Conflict of interest] There's A Difference: Fake News Or Junk News

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Media junkies on the tragic path to extinction believe the junk news, non-junkies see through the manipulation.

The mainstream media continues peddling its "fake news" narrative like a desperate pusher whose junkies are dying from his toxic dope. It's slowly dawning on the media-consuming public that the MSM is the primary purveyor of "fake news"-- self-referential narratives that support a blatantly slanted agenda with unsupported accusations and suitably anonymous sources.

Many of these Fake News Narratives are laughably, painfully bogus: that President Trump is a Russian tool, to take a current example. (That President Obama was a tool of the neocon Deep State--no mention of that. According to the MSM, America doesn't even have a Deep State--har-har...the joke's on you if you are credulous enough to swallow this risible absurdity.)

But the real danger isn't fake news--it's junk news. Junk News (the title of a 2009 book by an Emmy Award–winning journalist-- Junk News: The Failure of the Media in the 21st Century) --is related to Junk Science and Junk Food.

Junk science is presented as "science" but cherry-picks data to support a specific but unstated agenda--an agenda that requires downplaying or overlooking conflicting data.

One common example of junk science is the approval of new medications by the FDA. If you actually dig into Phase III data, you may well find that the "benefits" of the new wonder-drug are barely above statistical chance, and the potential interactions with commonly prescribed (or imbibed) drugs are ignored.

This is how we end up with medications with an unfortunate side-effect: death from misadventure, addiction, in combination with other commonly prescribed meds, etc.

(For more junk science, check out how meds going off-patent magically get FDA approval for additional --and immensely profitable-- patent protection.)

Junk food is now so ubiquitous we lose sight of its core qualities: it is "food" in the sense of being digestible, but it is harmful above very small, occasional doses. It is not "food" in the context of natural food or healthy food--in those contexts, "junk food" must be placed in parentheses because it doesn't qualify as "food."

It is empty calories, garbage that generates a host of chronic illnesses, but not "food" in the sense of being nutritious, life-supporting or healthy.

Junk news is like junk science--cherry-picked to support a corporate agenda--and like junk food in being digestible but toxic. As this brilliant essay explains, the unemployment rate is an premier example of junk news (and junk economics--a thriving subculture of junk science and junk news--just read any Paul Krugman spew for an example.)

Our Miserable 21st Century (Commentary Magazine)

An unemployment rate of 4.7% once meant full employment and rising wages for the laboring class--but alas, now it is just another ginned-up junk-econ/junk-news "statistic" designed to push a bogus narrative: everything is awesome (as the financial security of the bottom 80% swirls the drain).

I've updated my Ministry of Propaganda chart to reflect the rise of Junk News:

The key difference between fake news and junk news is plausibility: fake news is innuendo, anonymous sources, and risibly false accusations presented as "fact" (heh); junk news is, like junk science, supported by carefully cherry-picked "data" that has been selected to support the corporate-Deep State narrative being pushed by the corporate mainstream media.

Media junkies on the tragic path to extinction believe the junk news, non-junkies see through the manipulation. If you think it's "progressive" to support war-mongering, neoliberal exploitation and "support our values" social-justice distractions -- sorry, you're a junkie addicted to toxic smack. You're doomed if you can't get the corporate mainstream media monkey off your back.

If you're ready to kick your addiction to junk (i.e. corporate Deep State-approved) news, read this twice: Our Miserable 21st Century.

Published:2/20/2017 3:12:34 PM
[Uncategorized] Trump Picks Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser Post opened after Michael Flynn resigned last week. Published:2/20/2017 3:12:34 PM
[topics:people/donald-trump] Donald Trump selects Lt General HR McMaster to fill national security adviser vacancy Published:2/20/2017 3:12:34 PM
[The Blog] Wow: Trump names Gen. H.R. McMaster new national security advisor Duty. Published:2/20/2017 3:12:34 PM
[Ecology ] Drones are what's next for plant breeders Crop breeders grow thousands of potential varieties at a time; until now, observations of key traits were made by hand. In a new study, unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, were used successfully to remotely evaluate and predict soybean maturity timing in tests of potential varieties. The use of drones for this purpose could substantially reduce the man-hours needed to evaluate new crops. Published:2/20/2017 3:12:34 PM
[World] Donald Trump H.R. McMaster National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Kellogg

In a brief address from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, President Trump announced the appointment of General Herbert "H.R." McMaster as his national security adviser.

Published:2/20/2017 2:44:03 PM
[World] Trump taps military strategist as national security adviser PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump has tapped Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser, replacing the ousted Michael Flynn. Published:2/20/2017 2:44:03 PM
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