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[Politics] Nearing 100 days, Trump’s approval at record lows but his base is holding Compared to other presidents, Trump is judged lower than most on attributes. Published:4/23/2017 12:13:23 AM
[MAT] Is This 7% Yielder Turning Into One Of The Market's (Few) Bargains? Published:4/23/2017 12:13:22 AM
[topics:people/donald-trump] Japanese ships join U.S. carrier for drills as it nears Korean waters Published:4/23/2017 12:13:21 AM
[Science] Even in defeat, Democrats building hopes for 2018 Still, there is an element of truth to the Republican spin after these elections. Published:4/22/2017 11:50:40 PM
[World] Charles de Gaulle would roll over in his grave over what has become of French politics Regardless of which candidate wins, the future of his Fifth Republic is in jeopardy. Published:4/22/2017 11:15:35 PM
[General] Joyce Carol Oates suggests Bill Maher look into complexity of free speech issue before slamming Berkeley

Joyce Carol Oates notes that free speech can be costly if schools insist on booking "controversial" speakers who will need extra security.

The post Joyce Carol Oates suggests Bill Maher look into complexity of free speech issue before slamming Berkeley appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/22/2017 11:15:34 PM
[Entertainment] 'Happy Days' star Erin Moran dies at 56 Indiana police found the actress unresponsive after responding to a 911 call Saturday.
     
 
 
Published:4/22/2017 11:15:34 PM
[Entertainment] Ron Howard, Henry Winkler and More Co-Stars Remember Late Happy Days Star Erin Moran Erin MoranFormer Happy Days star Erin Moran passed away from unknown causes earlier today at the age of 56. Moran became a household name in 1974 when she landed the role of Ron Howard's...
Published:4/22/2017 10:40:36 PM
[Science] Bill O'Reilly: 'No spin news returns' Monday with new podcast Fox News parted ways with Bill O'Reilly last week following a sexual harassment controversy. Published:4/22/2017 10:14:51 PM
[5586d372-cc78-49e8-acbd-84d3c72f3636] Erin Moran, star of 'Happy Days' and 'Joanie Loves Chachi' dies at 56 Erin Moran, the former child star who played Joanie Cunningham in the sitcoms “Happy Days” and “Joanie Loves Chachi,” died Saturday at 56. Published:4/22/2017 10:14:50 PM
[News] President Trump Marks First Visit to Walter Reed By Hand-Delivering Purple Heart to Wounded Vet "When I heard about this..." Published:4/22/2017 9:45:38 PM
[Entertainment] Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum Majorly Hint at Onstage Reunion for Magic Mike Live Las Vegas Show Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan TatumGrab your dollar bills, Magic Mike Live! Las Vegas is finally here! Hollywood's sexiest couple, Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum, stepped up to the red carpet last night for the...
Published:4/22/2017 9:45:37 PM
[Politics] Bill O’Reilly is comin’ BACK on Monday!! But not on TV… Well this is certainly interesting. O’Reilly is going to go from being on top of the primetime cable news world, to vacationing and meeting the POPE, to returning to a tens of . . . Published:4/22/2017 9:45:37 PM
[Science] Ann Coulter: It's 'up to police to keep me safe' at UC Berkeley on Thursday Conservative commentator set on appearing at university on April 27 despite date despute. Published:4/22/2017 9:45:37 PM
[General] WOKE: Chelsea Clinton finds solidarity with man who, at 3, joined ‘Kids Against Bedtime’ march

Either Chelsea Clinton is playing along with the greatest attempt at trolling this year, or the person running her account just doesn't get it.

The post WOKE: Chelsea Clinton finds solidarity with man who, at 3, joined ‘Kids Against Bedtime’ march appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/22/2017 9:45:37 PM
[Politics] Though shovels are ready, Trump officials delay grant for Caltrain upgrade The popular initiative has become a GOP target, seen as a pet project of Barack Obama. Published:4/22/2017 9:11:44 PM
[topics:people/donald-trump] Scientists across the world take to the streets to demand freedom from political interference Published:4/22/2017 9:11:42 PM
[Climate] The Marches For Democrats, As Reported By Liberal Media (John Hinderaker) Today “marches for science” were held in hundreds of cities. The one here in the Twin Cities reportedly drew 10,000 liberals. In reality, of course, these were marches against President Trump or, stated differently, in favor of the Democratic Party. There isn’t anything surprising about that. When political factions are out of power because most people don’t agree with them, they like to march. To a remarkable degree, liberal media Published:4/22/2017 9:11:42 PM
[Climate ugliness] Claim: Genocide in War-torn Cesspits is Because of Climate Change Guest essay by Eric Worrall Despite decades or militia atrocities, religious lunacy, terrorism, kidnapping of aid workers, attacking schools, kidnap and murder of educated people, and export of terror attacks against the West, Salon thinks the current food crisis in dangerous parts of Africa and Arabia is our fault because climate. Climate change as genocide:… Published:4/22/2017 9:11:42 PM
[Calum Worthy] Entertaining AF: Keep it Clean with Zach Galifianakis, Tig Notaro & Jeff Ross Welcome to Entertaining AF, a celebrity column from Hollywood reporter Emily Bicks. This week, Zack Galifianakis at the Keep It Clean benefit. Published:4/22/2017 9:11:42 PM
[Politics] Bill O’Reilly is comin’ BACK on Monday!! But not on TV… Well this is certainly interesting. O’Reilly is going to go from being on top of the primetime cable news world, to vacationing and meeting the POPE, to returning to a tens of . . . Published:4/22/2017 9:11:42 PM
[] Overnight Open Thread (22 Apr 2017) Sure is bright today in my house with all the lights on for Earth Day. Just a reminder, the Earth Day co-founder killed, composted his girlfriend. 13 most ridiculous predictions made on Earth Day, 1970.... Published:4/22/2017 9:11:42 PM
[World] Security tight as France prepares for presidential vote PARIS (AP) — Early voting began overseas Saturday in France's most nail-biting election in generations, and the 11 candidates seeking to become the country's next president silenced their campaigns as required to give voters a period of reflection. Published:4/22/2017 8:49:19 PM
[Socialism] Socialist Death Squads Rule Venezuela (John Hinderaker) That isn’t quite how the New York Times puts it, of course. In fact, the words “socialist” and “socialism” never appear in its otherwise unsparing account. But Venezuela under Chavez and Maduro illustrates the inevitable arc of socialism, from parasitism to gangster rule. The uniformed men who shot Mr. Moreno were not government security forces, witnesses say. Rather, they were members of armed bands who have become key enforcers for Published:4/22/2017 8:49:18 PM
[Entertainment] Happy Days Star Erin Moran Dead at 56: Report Erin Moran, Fallen StarThe Happy Days cast lost one of its own. Erin Moran has passed away at the age of 56, TMZ reports. No other information was readily available. Moran skyrocketed to fame in the...
Published:4/22/2017 8:49:18 PM
[Politics] Ted Cruz’ team TAUNTS Democrat skittish about running against him! OK this is pretty funny. Apparently Rep. Joaquin Castro can’t From the Texas Tribune: Cruz’s team, meanwhile, has been happy to taunt Castro throughout his decision-making process. Cruz himself suggested in February . . . Published:4/22/2017 8:49:18 PM
[Politics] Ted Cruz’ team TAUNTS Democrat skittish about running against him! OK this is pretty funny. Apparently Rep. Joaquin Castro can’t From the Texas Tribune: Cruz’s team, meanwhile, has been happy to taunt Castro throughout his decision-making process. Cruz himself suggested in February . . . Published:4/22/2017 8:49:18 PM
[American people of German descent] There Will Be Blood: Left Prepares For War After Berkeley Beat Down With "Combat Training, Better Equipment, Guns..."

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Last week Trump supporters and leftist social justice warriors met on the political field of battle in Berkeley, California. Words were exchanged, as were punches. And while an alt-right leader was punched in the face, by all accounts even the social justice warriors admit that they got a major beat-down.

This prompted a reddit discussion among the left’s tolerant resistance movement, with many asking how they can more effectively go to war against anyone who disagrees with their social, political, and economic views.

The anti-Trump protesters at the rally were ill-prepared for what they came to Berkeley to confront and now they are trying to figure out ways to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

In short, as predicted, they are turning to militancy and mob action by mobilizing individuals and groups to attend combat training seminars, acquiring better equipment like baseball bats and helmets, and of course, if things really go bad… guns.

Yes, we seemed to have lost today. The alt-right held their ground. If we wanna take action against them, we need to be better organized and better trained. It doesn’t help that it’s only the far left opposing them, any trump supporter can be radicalized far easier than any liberal.
 
I hope we learn from today
 
 
A shocking number of our comrades went in there with absolute no combat training. We need to set up seminars or something of the sort.
 
 
We also need better equipment, I know the bandanna and hoodie look is our trade mark, but I saw the right wearing motorcycle helmets, and baseball helmets. A dude wearing a helmet is going to keep going if he get punched, our guys are going down.

antifa-protests1

And though they are, always have been and always will be “tolerant” and “peaceful protesters,” many are now discussing arming themselves so they can go head to head with the “fascist” and “racist” alt-right.

I honestly think we need a campaign to get more antifa armed. It seems that seems to be the biggest problem with our resistance. They’re mostly armed, why aren’t we?

 

 

Not getting disarmed is a big part of the problem, yes, but we need more than flags and bats. We need to take notes from the John Brown Gun Club and get firearms and training. I know getting firearms in states and cities we have a presence in is usually a hassle, but even handguns would help. It would certainly put a psychological element in while holding fash back. Who do you think a fascist is more afraid of? People with only flags and bats, or people with flags, bats, and guns?

antifa-protests2

Video report:

The “comrades” organizing against “fascists,” which basically means anyone and everyone who voted for President Trump, are quickly coming to the conclusion that to win this conflict they will need to be armed with more than just flags, banners, chants and pepper spray.

And all this time we thought hugging it out would be the solution…

Apparently, there is a realization among the left that whatever it is they are trying to accomplish will not come with peaceful assembly, but rather, with blood in the streets.

As we and others like Brandon Smith of Alt-Market previously warned, the Left WILL Resort To Large Scale Violence… To Stop Fascism:

I believed at that time that the social-justice cult would lose mainstream influence but that the existing minority would resort to even more insidious tactics and greater violence to get what they want; and, the so-called “moderate left” would cheer them on.  As it turns out, I have been proven right so far.

 

Not that extreme Leftists have been averse to violence over the past year, but I think it is safe to say that the volume on the cultural Marxist machine has been turned up a notch.

 

 

The social justice mantra is changing. At first, it was predominately about forming mobs to “shame” target political opponents into silence. Now, it is about forming mobs to do what they call “punching Nazis.” Leftists are now often seen regurgitating the claim — “This is only the beginning…”

Indeed, this is only the beginning.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you have a Trump bumper sticker, an American flag or a Gadsden decal on your vehicle, prepare to defend yourselves.

There will be war.

Published:4/22/2017 8:49:18 PM
[General] Shocking: Bill Nye, no longer hanging around White House, gets political at #MarchForScience

Of all the scientists in all the laboratories in all the world, the March for Science organizers got Bill Nye to walk in theirs.

The post Shocking: Bill Nye, no longer hanging around White House, gets political at #MarchForScience appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/22/2017 8:49:18 PM
[Bank of International Settlements] China’s Credit Excess Is Unlike Anything The World Has Ever Seen

By Andrew Brown, a partner for macro and strategy at ShoreVest Capital Partners

From a global macroeconomic perspective, we encourage readers to consider that the world is experiencing an extended, rolling process of deflating its credit excesses. It is now simply China’s turn.

For context, Japan started deflating their credit bubble in the early 1990s, and has now experienced more than 20 years of deflation and very little growth since. The US began its process in 2008, and after eight years has only recently been showing signs of sustainable recovery. The euro zone entered this process in 2011 and is still struggling six years onward. We believe China is now entering the early stages of this process.

Having said that, we believe that Chinese authorities have a viable plan for deflating their credit excess in an orderly fashion. Please stay posted as we will review this multi-pronged, market-based approach in our next column.

For now, let’s turn our attention to the size of the credit excess that China created and why we estimate it to be the largest in the world.

A credit excess is created by the speed and magnitude of credit that is created – if too much is created in too short a time period, excesses inevitably occur and non-performing loans (NPLs) emerge.

To illustrate the credit excess that has been created in China, let’s review several key indicators, including the: 1) flow of new credit; 2) stock of outstanding credit; 3) credit deviation ratio (i.e., excess credit); 4) incremental capital output ratio (efficiency of credit allocation).

The chart below shows the amount of credit created as a percentage of GDP during the five years prior to major downturns globally.

The US created 58 per cent of GDP between 2002-07, and the global financial crisis followed.

Japan created credit equivalent to the entire size of its economy between 1985-90 and subsequently experienced more than 20 years of deflation (admittedly reflecting the lack of restructuring).

Thailand created a significant real estate bubble between 1992-97 and ended up with about 45 per cent NPL ratios.

Spain created credit equivalent to 116 per cent of GDP between 2002-07 and still is trying to address a 20 per cent unemployment rate.

China created 139 per cent of GDP in new credit between the first quarter of 2009 and the third quarter of 2014 (when GDP growth peaked), far greater than what was created in other major credit bubbles globally.

This unprecedented flow of new credit was predominantly in infrastructure and corporate credit. The result is that China’s corporate debt-to-GDP is too high and must be addressed, which authorities are now doing.

Another important measure to assess the amount of credit in the economy which is “excessive” is the credit-to-GDP gap, as reported by the Bank of International Settlements. This ratio measures the difference between the current credit-to-GDP ratio in an economy against its long-term trend of what is necessary to optimally support long-term GDP growth. It is akin to measuring the amount of credit that is productively deployed into an economy.

This metric is used by the Basel III framework in determining countercyclical capital buffers for a country’s banking system when credit creation becomes too fast (i.e., high credit growth requires higher capital ratios for banks).

A credit-to-GDP gap above 10 per cent of GDP is considered risky and requires the maximum additional 2.5 per cent of tier one capital as a countercyclical buffer under Basel III. A credit-to-GDP gap above 10 per cent of GDP is increasingly problematic as any new credit extended above that level produces progressively less GDP and is a source of future NPLs.

Out of the 43 countries currently measured by the BIS, China has the largest credit-to-GDP gap (by orders of magnitude) at 30 per cent of GDP. This is equivalent to US$3.1 trillion in excess credit.

Finally, to show that the pace of credit creation will necessarily slow, thereby exposing misallocated credit and driving the emergence of new NPL formation, we turn to the deterioration in China’s incremental capital output ratio.

This ratio is the measure of the number of units of input required to produce one unit of GDP.

For the 15 years prior to the credit impulse in 2009-14, China’s incremental capital output ratio has been consistently between two and four. Meaning that two to four yuan in fixed asset investment created one yuan in GDP.

But as a result of the credit-driven economic growth model, and the excessive credit that has been created (and the subsequent excess capacity in the industrial economy), China’s investment efficiency has deteriorated to the point that its incremental capital output ratio is now over 13.

Said another way, every 1 yuan in new fixed asset investment is now creating only 7 fen in GDP. Meaning that new credit creation is having an increasingly lower transmission into GDP growth. Simply put, credit growth must necessarily slow and be redirected towards more productive activities.

Published:4/22/2017 8:11:19 PM
[2017 News] US to honor Australia refugee deal Trump called ‘dumb’ US to honor Australia refugee deal Trump called ‘dumb.’ Looks like Trump’s trying to go full Demotard. Published:4/22/2017 8:11:18 PM
[2channel] ANTIFA Upset For Not Being Able to Punch 'Nazis' Without Consequences

This is rich with irony. Here's an active forum on Reddit where ANTIFA degenerates discuss committing acts of violence against nazis. Again, and for the record, Le Fly supports all forms of violence, especially for superficial reasons. The laughable part of what this homo is saying below, is that he's upset that right wingers have unveiled the identity of a fellow criminal.

He's now so beset with anguish over there being consequences for his cowardly assaults, that he's contemplating quitting altogether, until they can get their shit sorted out. This form of stupidity shouldn't be tolerated. He deserves to be impaled by the Based Stickman.

This all stems from the incredible investigative work done by people on 4chan, who deduced the identity of the bike lock guy, potential mass murderer, just by the boots on his feet, bag on his back, and pen in is pocket.

By the looks of it, the Marxist potential mass murderer is now dutifully unemployed from the college he was gainfully employed.

Many of these Antifa scum are being unveiled as college professors. What a shock.

Here's a list of donors to an ANTIFA front group.

If you're curious about the potential mass murder bike lock guy, here's what he did.

Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

Published:4/22/2017 7:41:34 PM
[Politics] Sean Hannity demands to know if the NYT and NSA ‘surveilled and unmasked’ him!! Kung Fu Hannity is angry and afraid that the New York Times have teamed up with the NSA to surveil his interactions with Trump and unmasked him. @nytimes Any conversation I have . . . Published:4/22/2017 7:41:34 PM
[News] 'We Should Feel More Empowered Than That': Sarah Palin Says Women Have a Duty to Fight Back "At the same time..." Published:4/22/2017 7:41:34 PM
[Uncategorized] Themes from a presidential campaign (Paul Mirengoff) Voting in the French presidential election occurred today for citizens living outside of France. My wife voted at the French embassy here in Washington. Citizens living in France will vote tomorrow. The French government sent a package to potential voters containing brief pamphlets from each candidate. The front page featured a picture and a slogan. Slogan’s can sometimes be revealing. “Make America Great Again” and “Hope and Change” were good Published:4/22/2017 7:41:34 PM
[topics:people/elvis-presley] Memphis home owned by Elvis Presley in the 1950s damaged by fire Saturday Published:4/22/2017 7:41:34 PM
[Top Picks] President Trump will be competing with Nerd Prom in his favorite way

Life's a parade

The post President Trump will be competing with Nerd Prom in his favorite way appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/22/2017 7:41:34 PM
[Science] Democrat tells child that Trump is more dangerous than a terrorist: report Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., was responding to a sixth grader's question at a town hall. Published:4/22/2017 7:41:34 PM
[Afghanistan] Which Country Is America’s Biggest Enemy?

Between alleged interference in U.S. elections by Russia, recent nuclear posturing by North Korea, and chemical weapon atrocities in Syria – it’s hard to keep track of which country is supposed to be the bona fide number one “enemy” of the United States.

While we can’t tell you exactly what people are thinking in this moment, Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins has access to about 15 years worth of polls on the subject. The data ends up painting an interesting backdrop for America’s foreign policy decisions over the same timeframe, as well as the narratives being pushed by major media outlets.

CONGRATS, DEAR LEADER

Today’s first map visualizes the most recent data from a YouGov survey between January 28 and February 1, 2017, which was taken just before the most recent string of geopolitical turmoil.

Source: Visual Capitalist

During the survey window, more Americans viewed North Korea as an enemy than any other country, with the Hermit Kingdom being ranked as an “enemy” by 57% of respondents. Of course, new tensions have surfaced since then, as North Korea continues to defy U.S. pressure with further missile tests under Kim Jong-Un. This probably hasn’t helped their case with American citizens.

As you might imagine, aside from North Korea, most of the countries that skew towards the top of the “enemy” spectrum are located in the Middle East and North Africa. Here’s a close-up of that region, with the numbers that specific countries poll at there:

Source: Visual Capitalist

Looking just at this geographic area, Iran stands out the most with 41% of Americans considering it to be an “enemy”. That places it right behind North Korea on the enemy list, at least as far as this most recent poll is concerned.

Following Iran in the rankings were Syria (32%), Iraq (29%), and Afghanistan (23%).

CHANGING ENEMIES OVER TIME

One thing is for sure: America’s biggest foe isn’t a constant. The identity of America’s arch-nemesis ebbs and flows as global events unfold, and the opinions of citizens are swayed.

The following animation shows the answer to a slightly different poll question, this time by Gallup, which was asked multiple years between 2001 and 2016. Specifically, Americans were asked (unprompted) to name the country that is their “greatest enemy”.

See how the rankings fluctuate over time, including Iraq’s precipitous drop after Saddam was ousted and the country turned out to not have WMDs:

Source: Visual Capitalist

Particularly, Iran had a good run between 2006-2012, when it was the top-ranked “enemy” in each year a poll was done.

At other times, North Korea (2005, 2016), Iraq (2001, 2005), Russia (2015), and China (2014) have all topped the list as well.

 

Published:4/22/2017 7:14:59 PM
[topics:people/barack-obama] Donald Trump ready to do trade deal with EU ahead of the UK  Published:4/22/2017 7:14:59 PM
[Science] Hannity unleashes Twitter rant after New York Times puts him on list of Trump confidants The Fox News host accused the "fake news" outlet of colluding with Hillary Clinton. Published:4/22/2017 7:14:59 PM
[Enviro-nitwits] Earth Day horror! Bill Nye upset CNN’s panel included somebody who disagrees with him The Comedian Guy Published:4/22/2017 7:14:59 PM
[Consumer & Gadgets ] Gadgets: Electric bike has 'get up 'n go, then stow' features Foldable electric transportation was a new category for me and I was more than impressed with the 30-pound URB-E Sport GT motorized bike I got to play with at CES earlier this year. Published:4/22/2017 7:14:59 PM
[Uncategorized] Howard Dean: “Hate Speech Is Not Protected By the First Amendment” "No, Gov. Dean, there is no 'hate speech' exception to the First Amendment." Published:4/22/2017 7:14:59 PM
[Politics] Sean Hannity demands to know if the NYT and NSA ‘surveilled and unmasked’ him!! Kung Fu Hannity is angry and afraid that the New York Times have teamed up with the NSA to surveil his interactions with Trump and unmasked him. @nytimes Any conversation I have . . . Published:4/22/2017 7:14:59 PM
[topics:things/university-education] Student Tory groups swell in backlash at Left-wing activists Published:4/22/2017 6:40:13 PM
[Entertainment] Professional Golfer Rory McIlroy Marries Erica Stoll at Star-Studded Ceremony in Ireland Rory McIlroy, Erica StollWe love love! Professional golfer Rory McIlroy married his fiancée Erica Stoll at Ashford Castle in Co. Mayo, Ireland earlier today, E! News has learned. Multiple outlets...
Published:4/22/2017 6:40:13 PM
[] Saturday Evening Movie Thread 04-22-2017 [Hosted By: TheJamesMadison] Let's Talk About Star Wars Okay, not actually Star Wars, but stuff like this: I think that you people know that I love movies in general quite a bit more than most. I watch a lot of stuff of a... Published:4/22/2017 6:40:13 PM
[Apple] "The Retail Bubble Has Now Burst": A Record 8,640 Stores Are Closing In 2017

        “Thousands of new doors opened and rents soared. This created a bubble, and like housing, that bubble has now burst.”

        - Richard Hayne, Urban Outfitters CEO, March 2017

The devastation in the US retail sector is accelerating in 2017, and in addition to the surging number of brick and mortar retail bankruptcies, it is perhaps nowhere more obvious than in the soaring number of store closures. While the shuttering of retail stores has been a frequent topic on this website, most recently in the context of the next "big short", namely the ongoing deterioration in the mall REITs and associated Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities and CDS, here is a stunning fact from Credit Suisse:"Barely a quarter into 2017, year-to-date retail store closings have already surpassed those of 2008."

According to the Swiss bank's calculations, on a unit basis, approximately 2,880 store closings were announced YTD, more than twice as many closings as the 1,153 announced during the same period last year. Historically, roughly 60% of store closure announcements occur in the first five months of the year. By extrapolating the year-to-date announcements, CS estimates that there could be more than 8,640 store closings this year, which will be higher than the historical 2008 peak of approximately 6,200 store closings, which suggests that for brick-and-mortar stores stores the current transition period is far worse than the depth of the credit crisis depression.

As the WSJ calculates, at least 10 retailers, including Limited Stores, electronics chain hhgregg and sporting-goods chain Gander Mountain have filed for bankruptcy protection so far this year. That compares with nine retailers that declared bankruptcy, with at least $50 million liabilities, for all of 2016. On Friday, women’s apparel chain Bebe Stores said it would close its remaining 170 shops and sell only online, while teen retailer Rue21 Inc. announced plans to close about 400 of its 1,100 locations.

Broken down by retailer, either in bankruptcy or not yet:

Another striking fact: on a square footage basis, approximately 49 million square feet of retail space has closed YTD. Should this pace persist by the end of the year, total square footage reductions could reach 147M square feet, another all time high, and surpassing the historical peak of 115M in 2001.

There are several key drivers behind the avalanche of "liquidation" signs on store fronts.

The first is the glut of residual excess retail space. As the WSJ writes, the seeds of the industry’s current turmoil date back nearly three decades, when retailers, in the throes of a consumer-buying spree and flush with easy money, rushed to open new stores. The land grab wasn’t unlike the housing boom that was also under way at that time.

“Thousands of new doors opened and rents soared,” Richard Hayne, chief executive of Urban Outfitters Inc., told analysts last month. “This created a bubble, and like housing, that bubble has now burst.”

The excess retail space means that North America has a glut of retail outlets, as well as far too many shopping malls, something which is becoming apparent as sales per capita decline. On a per capita basis, the US has roughly 24 square feet of retail space per capita, more than twice the space of Australia and 5 times that of the UK.

 

The over-storing, including the influx of fast-fashion and off-price chains, has resulted in a brutally competitive landscape that made difficult for retailers to raise prices. “A pair of men’s dress pants costs less today than they did a decade ago,” Manny Chirico, chief executive of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger parent PVH Inc., said in a recent interview.

* * *

Then there are retail rental rates, which across top US markets, such as New York, remain the highest in the world. For years, retailers could afford the egregious demands by landlords. But as overall traffic and volumes have declined, this has also prompted an exodus of outlets even among the most desired locations, leading to a surge in "fors rent or lease" signs popping up in unexpected places like Madison Avenue's "golden mile."

 

 

According to the FT, on New York’s Fifth Avenue, the world’s most expensive shopping street, vacancy rates have jumped from 10 per cent a year ago to 16 per cent, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Rents there have fallen for the first time since the recession “and the trend is not over”, the consultancy warns. Vacancy rates across SoHo have climbed to 18 per cent, from 12 per cent a year ago, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

The newfound caution among retailers has had a “very significant and fast” negative impact on retail property, says Chris Conlon, chief executive of Acadia Realty, a real estate investment trust. 

 

It is not just prestigious streets that have been hit. Malls are also hurting, as chains from Sears to Macy’s shut hundreds of stores. Analysts at Green Street Advisors argue that “low growth is the new normal”, while market rents are becoming decoupled from tenants’ revenue growth as more sales move online. 

“[Rents] are at a price point now that exceeds what retail sales can perform,” says Spencer Levy, global head of research for CBRE. He notes that a stronger US dollar also hurts sales in New York, where deep-pocketed foreigners historically flock for deals.

* * *

Then there is the online migration, which recently made Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, the world's second richest man.

As the WSJ adds, as retailers rushed to expand their physical footprint, the internet was gearing up to do to apparel companies what it had already done to booksellers: sap profits and eliminate what little pricing power these chains commanded.

Despite the view that shoppers prefer to try on clothing in physical stores, apparel and accessories are expected this year to overtake computers and consumer electronics as the largest e-commerce category as a percentage of total online sales, according to research firm eMarketer.

 

Helena Cawley, 37 years old, said she used to be a “die-hard” department-store shopper. But with two small children, the Manhattan entrepreneur doesn’t have time to visit physical stores the way she once did. “I buy much more online now,” she said. “With free returns and free shipping, it’s so easy.”

Ironically, that shift to online shopping has come at a high cost to retailers. It is less profitable to do business online than in a brick-and-mortar store, largely due to the higher shipping, customer-acquisition and technology costs of the digital world. Retail margins on average fell to 9% last year from 10.5% in 2012, according to consulting firm AlixPartners LP. Over that period, e-commerce sales increased to 15.5% of total sales from 10.5%. The internet has also made it easier for consumers to comparison shop, thereby erasing any pricing leverage retailers may have had. “The internet has acted as the great price equalizer,” said Joel Bines, the co-head of Alix’s retail practice.

* * *

Yet while the retail bubble may have burst, does that mean the conventional brick-and-mortar industry is doomed? Perhaps not:

Retailing has gone through shakeouts before, whether it was the superstores such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Kmart that killed mom-and-pop shops, or category killers like Barnes & Noble Inc. and Toys “R” Us Inc. that did the same to smaller booksellers and toy chains. And even today, there are chains that continue to grow, such as off-price retailer TJX Co s., which is opening hundreds of stores under its Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods banners, as it steals market share from Macy’s Inc. and other traditional department stores.

 

“This is not the end of retailing as we know it,” Mr. Bines said. “People are not going to stop going to stores.”

He's right, however in the meantime there will be an avalanche of defaults: compounding the retail decline is the debt that retailers have added to their balance sheets in recent years, either through leveraged buyouts or to fund share buybacks. That leverage has become a problem as profits dry up. According to Moody’s Investors Service, the amount of debt coming due for 19 distressed retailers is set to more than double over the next two years.

Many retailers were slow to seize on the significance of these changes. When business was bad during the 2015 holiday season, many chains blamed unusually warm weather. But when the most recent holiday season once again failed to produce robust sales growth, “retailers realized this was a structural change,” Credit Suisse analyst Christian Buss said.

With all that in mind, is Amazon assured of becoming the world's first trillion-dollar stock, perhaps hitting the milestone even before Apple? Perhaps, then again, chains such as Wal-Mart have stepped up their game. In a bid to better compete with Amazon.com , the giant retailer has been scooping up e-commerce startups, including Jet.com and ModCloth. And just this past week, PetSmart Inc. bought Chewy.com, a fast-growing online rival.

Others have given up waiting for a recovery that seems always out of reach and are settling into what appears to be the new normal. “We’re planning as if the environment is not going to improve,” Jerry Storch, chief executive of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor parent Hudson’s Bay Co., told analysts earlier this month.

In the meantime, expect more store closures, more bankruptcies (recall "According To Fitch These Eight Retailers Will File For Bankruptcy Next"), and, of course, far lower asset prices, both for retail equities and mall REITs, as well as the underlying CMBS securities that for years funded the US mall bubble which has now violently burst.

Published:4/22/2017 6:19:36 PM
[The Blog] Rachel Dolezal’s trans-racial shtick didn’t play very well in South Africa

"Who let her in?"

The post Rachel Dolezal’s trans-racial shtick didn’t play very well in South Africa appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/22/2017 6:19:36 PM
[Politics] Sharia-lovin’, Israel-hatin’ Linda Sarsour giving commencement speech at public university New York taxpayers can say “Allahu Akbar!!” that their hard-earned money is going to endorse the Sharia-loving, Israel-hating Linda Sarsour as she gives a commencement speech at CUNY. Watch below: More from . . . Published:4/22/2017 6:19:36 PM
[Politics] Sharia-lovin’, Israel-hatin’ Linda Sarsour giving commencement speech at public university New York taxpayers can say “Allahu Akbar!!” that their hard-earned money is going to endorse the Sharia-loving, Israel-hating Linda Sarsour as she gives a commencement speech at CUNY. Watch below: More from . . . Published:4/22/2017 6:19:36 PM
[US Politics] Nate Silver: It’s ‘painfully obvious’ the James Comey letter cost Hillary Clinton the election

First, a couple of flashbacks from Election Day, 2016: Our final forecast of the year just published! Clinton is a 71% favorite in polls-only, 72% in polls-plus. https://t.co/UxLqelkmvP pic.twitter.com/yTXPTLF5Ri — Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) November 8, 2016 If Clinton wins Florida, her chances will shoot up to about 93%. https://t.co/ZUCgeSJ5eP — Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) November 8, […]

The post Nate Silver: It’s ‘painfully obvious’ the James Comey letter cost Hillary Clinton the election appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/22/2017 6:19:36 PM
[Family] Couple Carrying Terminally Ill Baby to Term Gave Birth to 'Perfect' Little Girl, Then Said Goodbye "She was so perfect in her own little way." Published:4/22/2017 5:40:46 PM
[Bank of America] Cheat Or Chump? - You Are Not An Investor

Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

You are not an investor. One can only be an investor in functioning markets. There have been no functioning markets since at least 2008, and probably much longer. That’s when central banks started purchasing financial assets, for real, which means that is also the point when price discovery died. And without price discovery no market can function.

You are therefore not an investor. Perhaps you are a cheat, perhaps you are a chump, but you are not an investor. If we continue to use terms like ‘investor’ and ‘markets’ for what we see today, we would need to invent new terms for what these words once meant. Because they surely are not the same thing. Even as there are plenty people who would like you to believe they are, because it serves their purposes.

Central banks have become bubble machines, and that is the only function they have left. You could perhaps get away with saying that the dot-com bubble, maybe even the US housing bubble, were not created by central banks, but you can’t do that for the everything bubble of today.

The central banks blow their bubbles in order to allow banks and other financial institutions to first of all not crumble, and second of all even make sizeable profits. They have two instruments to blow their bubbles with, which are used in tandem.

The first one is asset purchases, which props up the prices for these assets, through artificial demand. The second is (ultra-) low interest rates, which allows for more parties -that is, you and mom and pop- to buy more assets, another form of artificial demand.

The most important central bank-created bubble is in housing, if only because it facilitates bubbles in stocks and bonds. Home prices in many places in the world have grown much higher than either economic growth or homebuyers’ wages justify.

In many instances they have even caused a feeding frenzy, where people are so desperate to either have a place to live or not miss out on profits that they’ll pay any price, provided rates are low enough for them to get a loan approved.

As I said a few weeks ago in Our Economies Run on Housing Bubbles, the housing bubbles created in this way are essential in keeping our economies going, because it is through mortgages -loans in general- that money is created in these economies.

If this money creation machine would stop, so would the economies. Home prices would come down to more realistic levels, but there still wouldn’t be anyone to buy them, so they would sink further. That, too, is called price discovery. For which there is a bitter and urgent need.

The Fed is an outlier in the central bank system, in that it no longer buys up too many assets. But other central banks have duly taken over. Indeed, Tyler Durden observes today via Bank of America that BoJ and ECB have bought more assets so far in 2017 than central banks ever have before. One may wonder at what point the term ‘asset’ will lose its rightful meaning to the same extent that ‘investor’ and ‘markets’ have:

A quick, if familiar, observation to start the day courtesy of Bank of America which in the latest overnight note from Michael Hartnett notes that central banks (ECB & BoJ) have bought $1 trillion of financial assets just in the first four months of 2017, which amounts to $3.6 trillion annualized, “the largest CB buying on record.” As Hartnett notes, the “Liquidity Supernova is the best explanation why global stocks & bonds both annualizing double-digit gains YTD despite Trump, Le Pen, China, macro…”

A recent graph from Citi and Haver illustrated it this way:

 

Note the rise in central bank balance sheets before 2008. There’s nothing innocent about it.

As an aside, I like this variation from the Twitter account of “Rudy Havenstein”, which came with the comment:

Here is a chart of the well being of the American middle-class and poor over the same period.

The Fed tries to become even more of an outlier among central banks, or at least it seems to discuss ways of doing this. Now, I don’t know what is more stunning, the fact that they go about it the way they do, or the lack of anger and bewilderment that emanates from the press and other voices -nobody has a clue what a central bank should be doing-, but the following certainly is ‘something’:

Fed Intensifies Balance-Sheet Discussions With Market Players

Federal Reserve staff, widening their outreach to investors in anticipation of a critical turning point in monetary policy, are seeking bond fund manager feedback on how the central bank should tailor and communicate its exit from record holdings of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. Fed officials are intent on shrinking their crisis-era $4.48 trillion balance sheet in a way that isn’t disruptive and doesn’t usurp the federal funds rate as the main policy tool. To do that, they need to find the right communication and assess market expectations on the size of shrinkage, which is why conversations with fund managers have picked up recently. “All indications suggest that conversations around the balance sheet have accelerated,” said Carl Tannenbaum at Northern Trust Company. “The consideration of everything from design of the program to communication seems to have intensified.”

 

Most U.S. central bankers agreed that they would begin phasing out their reinvestment of maturing Treasury and MBS securities in their portfolio “later this year,” according to minutes of the March meeting. They also agreed the strategy should be “gradual and predictable,” according to the minutes. Fed staff routinely seek feedback from investors and bond dealers to get a fix on sentiment and expectations. The New York Fed confirmed the discussions and said it is part of regular market monitoring. The Fed is getting closer to disclosing its plan, and conversations have become more intense. “They are gauging what’s the extent of weak hands in the market that will dump these assets,” said Ed Al-Hussainy, a senior analyst on the Columbia Threadneedle Investment’s global rates and currency team. “They are calling all the asset managers. It is not part of the regular survey.

The Fed-created bubbles in stocks, bonds, housing, what have you, have propped up these ‘market players’, which wouldn’t even be ‘market players’ anymore if they hadn’t. That would have made for a much saner world. These people are not ‘investors’ any more either, by the way, and they’re not the chumps either; they are the cheats, the profiteers. At your expense.

Now, with the new capital they have, courtesy of the Fed and other central banks only, certainly not their own intelligence or timing or knowledge, they get calls from Yellen and other Fed people about what the Fed can do for them this time. Yellen et al are afraid that if the Fed starts selling, the so-called ‘market players’ will too. Of course they will.

The bubble created by artificial demand cannot be allowed to burst all at once, it has to be done “gradual and predictable.” As if that is possible, as if the Fed controls the bursting of bubbles it has itself created. And Yellen is not going to call you or me, she could not care less; she’s going the call the pigs she fattened up most. The Fed is more than anything a bunch of academics, seduced exclusively by textbook theories that are shaky at best, to transfer wealth to the most sociopathic and hence seductive financial predators, at everyone else’s expense.

And that expense is humongous. At the same time that the Fed and the rest of the world’s central banks fattened their balance sheets as seen in the graph above, this is what happened to US debt vs GDP:

The Fed bubbles, intended to keep market players whole, are blown at the expense of the real economy. Imagine if all those $20 trillion and counting in central banks’ bubble blowing would have been used to prop up Main Street instead of Wall Street; everybody would have been better off except for the ‘investors’ who are not even real investors.

The problem is, the Fed has no control over its own bubbles. It may or may not devise ways to ‘deflate’ its balance sheet, but the bubbles that balance sheet gave birth to cannot be deflated in the same way. If the Fed did have ‘bubble control’, it would have chosen to keep both the stock markets (S&P) and housing prices at a much lower level, with only a gradual increase. That would have given the impression that things were still doing sort of fine, without adding the risk -make that certainty- that the whole shebang would blow up. But once’s the genie’s out of the bubble…

The academics must have missed that part. In the end the Fed works for banks and affiliated ‘industries’, not for people. Even -or especially- those people that like to think of themselves as ‘investors’. Today, in the process, America’s central bank is actively destroying American people. And while the Fed’s operatives may know this or not, the people certainly don’t. They think they’re making fat profits in either stocks or housing. And they are the lucky ones; most Americans are simply drowning.

A great representation of all that’s wrong in this comes courtesy of this Lance Roberts graph. A chilling illustration of the price you pay for setting S&P records.

These days, every rising asset price, every single bubble, comes at the expense of enormous increases in debt. And there are still people who wish to claim that this is not a bubble. That it is OK to get into deep debt to purchase a home, or stocks, with leverage: can’t miss out on those rates! And sure, that is still true in theory; all you have to do is get out in time. If only the Fed can get out in time, if only you can get out in time.

‘Getting out in time’ is bubble territory by definition. It’s not investing. Investing is buying an interest in something that you expect to do well, something that you think may be successful in benefiting society in such a way that people will want to own part of it. As I write down these words, I can’t help thinking of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, simply because it is so obvious but already feels so outdated.

I’m thinking also of Uber and Airbnb and Tesla and so many other ‘innovative’ ideas. All seemingly thriving but only because there’s so much excess cash sloshing around courtesy of Bernanke and Yellen and Draghi, looking for a next bubble to ‘invest’ in. Ideas that apparently have no trouble raising another $1 billion or $10 billion ‘investment’, in the same way that the Tulip Bubble had no such trouble, or the South Sea or Dot.Com ones.

Good luck with all that, but you’ve been warned, you’re hereby on notice. The odds that you’ll be able to ‘get out in time’ are vanishingly small. And even if you do, most others just like you won’t. And neither will the Fed academics. They have the most so-called ‘money’ at their disposal, and the least sense of what to do with it. But they have their advisers in the private banking industry to tell them all about where to put it: in one bubble or another; anywhere but the real economy.

Have I mentioned yet that all these start-ups and other bubbles are being launched into a rapidly shinking economy? Or you don’t think it is shrinking? Look, there would be no need for the Fed to blow bubbles if the economy were doing fine. And if so, they wouldn’t. Even academics have an innate sense for risk overdose.

C’mon, you’re not an investor. And perhaps you won’t even end up a loser, though the odds on that are slim, but one thing’s for sure. You are a character in an epic poem about losers.

Published:4/22/2017 5:40:46 PM
[Politics] Carter Page more upset about FISA monitoring than any Russian meddling In a long interview with CNN’s Smerconish this morning, Carter Page made it clear that he’s more angry about being monitored by the FBI than he is by the possibility that the . . . Published:4/22/2017 5:40:46 PM
[Politics] Carter Page more upset about FISA monitoring than any Russian meddling In a long interview with CNN’s Smerconish this morning, Carter Page made it clear that he’s more angry about being monitored by the FBI than he is by the possibility that the . . . Published:4/22/2017 5:40:46 PM
[topics:people/duchess-of-cambridge] The Marathon Men: Suicidal man will run alongside stranger who talked him down from a bridge Published:4/22/2017 5:40:46 PM
[Entertainment] Kendrick Lamar's Mom Sums Up Her Excitement About His New Album in Epic, Emoji-Filled Text Kendrick LamarKendrick Lamar has one proud mama on his hands. Fresh off the release of his latest album, DAMN., the "Humble" rapper took to Instagram on Saturday with one of the most epic...
Published:4/22/2017 5:40:46 PM
[Uncategorized] Second Doctor Arrested for Female Genital Mutilation in Michigan The doctor and his wife own the clinic where another doctor allegedly performed FGM on minors. Published:4/22/2017 5:40:46 PM
[Markets] Saudi Arabia, a kingdom built on oil, plans a future beyond it It prepares to sell a piece of its crown jewel, Saudi Aramco, and reshape its economy Published:4/22/2017 5:09:40 PM
[Top Picks] The Democrats are “locked in an abusive relationship with the Clintons”

Sorry is the hardest word

The post The Democrats are “locked in an abusive relationship with the Clintons” appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/22/2017 5:09:37 PM
[Entertainment] How Stars Like Jessica Biel, Josh Duhamel and Gisele Bündchen Went Green in Honor of Earth Day 2017 Adrien Grenier, InstagramEarth Day is upon is and that means Hollywood is spending their Saturday reducing, reusing and recycling. Environmentally conscious celebrities took to social media over the weekend to...
Published:4/22/2017 5:09:37 PM
[Behavioral finance] Despite Mounting Losses, Mystery Trader "50 Cent" Doubles Down With Massive VIX Spike Bet

Three weeks ago we introduced the real "50 Cent" - the mystery trader whose pattern of huge, near-daily trades on the VIX is turning heads in the options market.

Not him..

 

As we detailed previously, Pravit Chintawongvanich, head of risk strategy at Macro Risk Advisors,  the huge options buyer known as "50 Cent" shows no signs of slowing down.

"I would categorize them as someone who doesn't flinch at losing money," commented Chintawongvanich who flagged the activity in a series of research notes.

 

The money-losing trades in question have been purchases of call options on the CBOE volatility index. These represent bets that market volatility is set to rise, and to a lesser extent, that stocks are set to fall.

 

Sussing out the actions of an institutional trader based on public information about options trades can be difficult, if not impossible. But this trader made it easier by leaving a clue out in the open. "They have a very particular pattern of buying options," Chintawongvanich explained Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

 

"Basically they come in every day and they buy 50,000 VIX calls worth 50 cents. So in other words, they don't care too much what the strike is; they just pick the option that's worth 50 cents."

Having reportedly suffered $89 million in losses so far in 2017 however, the trader is not giving up on his strategy and just doubled-down...

On Wednesday morning, the trader, nicknamed "50 Cent" by Macro Risk Advisors because of their predilection for contracts that cost roughly that much, bought an additional 100,000 VIX calls betting that the index will climb about 40% by May.

Sending VIX Call volumes to near-record highs...

And MRA doesn't think the trader will stop there. The firm expects purchases of bullish VIX contracts to continue in the coming days.

"The amounts of money 50 Cent is spending are large, but this could be just the tip of the iceberg when you consider all the hedging that takes place over the counter as well," Pravit Chintawongvanich, the head of derivatives strategy at MRA, wrote in a client note on Thursday.

 

"Even in the listed space, there is plenty of hedging that takes place that may not be as obvious and predictable as 50 Cent, and thus harder to attribute to one person."

Still, positioning from hedge funds suggests the trader might be on to something. They haven't been this bullish on the VIX since March 2016, according to data from the US Commodity Futures Association.

Notably, 50 Cent's options would become profitable only if the VIX climbed to between 19 and 26, according to data compiled by MRA.

 

Published:4/22/2017 5:09:37 PM
[2017 News] Watch: The Simpsons expertly mock & troll sensitive liberal college students in hilarious skit Watch: The Simpsons expertly mock & troll sensitive liberal college students in hilarious skit. The truth about special snowflakes. Published:4/22/2017 5:09:37 PM
[topics:things/religion] Pope likens migrant holding centres to 'concentration camps' Published:4/22/2017 5:09:37 PM
[World] Five Indian families, including young children, disappear to join the Islamic State They came from a lush tourist destination in southern India with growing extremism. Published:4/22/2017 4:40:45 PM
[topics:organisations/conservative-party] Labour 'no longer party of NHS' as poll finds voters trust the Tories on health  Published:4/22/2017 4:40:44 PM
[78a46aec-83d1-476c-b354-c272ea7b0319] On Iran, Trump does the right thing and rebukes the State Department 'swamp' Earlier this week, I wrote in Fox News Opinion how State Department careerists – part of the so-called Washington “swamp” that President Trump ran against in his campaign. Published:4/22/2017 4:40:44 PM
[Delusion] Yale Psychiatrists Just Warned There Is Something Seriously Wrong With Trump

Via TheAntiMedia.org,

“I’ve worked with murderers and rapists. I can recognize
dangerousness from a mile away. You don’t have to be an expert on
dangerousness or spend fifty years studying it like I have in order to
know how dangerous this man is.”

Those words came from the mouth of James Gilligan, psychiatrist and
professor at New York University. The man he is speaking of is the
president of the United States.

Gilligan’s comments were one of many from a group of psychiatrists who gathered
at Yale’s School of Medicine on Thursday. The message presented was
that Donald Trump is mentally unfit to be in the White House.

Dr. John Gartner, practicing psychiatrist and founding member of Duty
to Warn, a group of several dozen mental health professionals who feel
it’s their obligation to inform the public about the president’s mental
state, says the warning signs have been there from the beginning.

“Worse than just being a liar or a narcissist, in addition he is
paranoid, delusional and grandiose thinking, and he proved that to the
country the first day he was president,”
Dr. Gartner said.

Earlier in the year, claiming Trump is “psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President,” Dr. Gartner started a petition calling for Trump to be removed from office. So far, that petition has received nearly 47,000 signatures.

Dr. Bandy Lee, who chaired the conference and is an assistant
clinical professor in Yale’s department of psychology, thinks Trump’s
mental state is an issue people are beginning to become concerned about:

As some prominent psychiatrists have noted, [Trump’s mental
health] is the elephant in the room. I think the public is really
starting to catch on and widely talk about this now.

Published:4/22/2017 4:40:44 PM
[Science] Union defends American Airlines worker after fight with passenger The association argues for the collection of "full facts" about the air rage altercation. Published:4/22/2017 4:40:44 PM
[2017 News] Bill Nye: Pruitt, DeVos ‘the least qualified people on the planet’ for their agencies Bill Nye: Pruitt, DeVos ‘the least qualified people on the planet’ for their agencies: Says the guys whose main qualification for being a “science expert” is having played one on TV. Published:4/22/2017 4:40:44 PM
[Trending] Joy Behar Slams Palin-Nugent-Kid Rock Photo: 'Saddest Day in the White House Since the British Burned It' "It's a white trash Mount Rushmore." Published:4/22/2017 4:40:43 PM
[US Politics] Unity or else: DNC Chair Tom Perez demands ‘ideological purity’ on abortion from candidates

Forget choice: DNC Chair Tom Perez says candidates had better get in line on abortion rights if they expect support from the party.

The post Unity or else: DNC Chair Tom Perez demands ‘ideological purity’ on abortion from candidates appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/22/2017 4:40:43 PM
[TC] Gillmor Gang: Fossil Fuel Gillmor Gang Artcard The Gillmor Gang — Doc Searls, Keith Teare, Frank Radice, and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, April 21, 2017. Big Media meets the Big Algorithm as we reach subscription saturation. B=V/T: Self-service Bundling based on Value prioritized by Trust erases the distinction between short and long form. + G3: Denise Howell, Elisa Camahort Page, Kristie Wells, Maria Ogneva, and Tina… Read More
Published:4/22/2017 4:40:43 PM
[] Saturday Afternoon Chess/Open Thread 04-22-2017 Michael Cheval - A la Guerre Comme a la Guerre Good afternoon morons and moronettes, and welcome to the Saturday Afternoon Chess/Open Thread, the only AoSHQ thread with content specifically for all of us chess nerds who pay homage... Published:4/22/2017 4:40:43 PM
[World] France kicks off presidential vote overseas; security tight PARIS (AP) — Early voting began overseas Saturday in France's most nail-biting election in generations, and the 11 candidates seeking to become the country's next president silenced their campaigns as required to give voters a period of reflection. Published:4/22/2017 4:10:47 PM
[Austria's central bank] Central Banks Give Market "All Clear" To BTFD If French Election Upsets Market

Having already 'dropped' over one trillion dollars in 2017 to keep reality at bay, it appears the world's central bankers are not about to let a French election mishap spoil the illusion.

Just as central bankers gathered at The BIS' Basel Tower just says before the Brexit vote, so judging by the statements today, the monetary manipulators stand ready to rescue markets once again should the first round of the French election 'surprise' the 'free' markets.

Brexit's BTFD took a few days...

 

Trump's election BTFD took a few hours...

 

And given the following comments, we expect any French 'surprise' (as investors fear that a potential run-off between eurosceptic candidates Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon would raise questions about France's future in the European Union, roiling financial markets and undermining depositor confidence), will be dismissed in minutes...

The European Central Bank could provide emergency cash to French banks if needed after the first round of France's presidential election on Sunday, but it doesn't expect such a move will be necessary, ECB policymaker Ewald Nowotny said on Saturday.

 

"If there should be problems for specific French banks liquidity-wise, then the ECB has the ... ELA, Emergency Liquidity Assistance, but we don't expect of course any special movements," Nowotny, who is Austria's central bank governor, told reporters at the IMF and World Bank spring meetings.

 

...

 

“The central bank should be ready for any shocks that should materialize” after the French election, Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco says in Washington.

 

Tools that should be used include liquidity provision and cheap refinancing when needed.

 

Intervening very quickly is really very easy now given the instruments we have.

 

But as we have seen in similar cases, no need has really been observed. And the reason is that all market participants know that these instruments are there to be used.

Or roughly translated - "All clear" to BTFD on Sunday night.

Published:4/22/2017 4:10:47 PM
[In The News] Hezbollah linked Venezuelan VP led illegal issuance of 10,000 passports to Syrians and Iranians

Venezuelan passports

Vladimir Medrano Rengifo, former Director General of the Venezuelan Office of Identification, Migration, and Aliens told reporters that the Maduro government issued over 10,000 Venezuelan passports to Syrian and Iranian foreign nationals. Renfigo says that the operation was headed by Vice President Tareck El Aissami who has close ties to the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah ...
Published:4/22/2017 4:10:47 PM
[Politics] Muslim charged with making TERROR threats in gun video outside Christian conference OK, so Ehab Jaber is being charged with making terroristic threats because he brandished a bunch of weapons while outside a Christian conference, in his car, on a Facebook video. I mean that . . . Published:4/22/2017 4:10:47 PM
[Politics] Muslim charged with making TERROR threats in gun video outside Christian conference OK, so Ehab Jaber is being charged with making terroristic threats because he brandished a bunch of weapons while outside a Christian conference, in his car, on a Facebook video. I mean that . . . Published:4/22/2017 4:10:47 PM
[Entertainment] Mel B's Ex-Nanny Sues Her for Libel and Says They Had a Sexual Relationship Mel B, Stephen BelafonteMel B's former nanny has fired back after the singer accused her and estranged husband Stephen Belafonte of extortion and claims she had a sexual relationship with her for seven...
Published:4/22/2017 4:10:47 PM
[structure:news] Ukip pledges to ban the burka and outlaw Sharia law as party's election manifesto aims at core supporters Published:4/22/2017 4:10:46 PM
[4b154205-3054-40b8-b164-060dda96e787] Conservatives, 'Let ObamaCare implode' is a trap we must avoid Even as House Republicans ready the possibility of a second attempt at a vote on their legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act next week, there are still too many content to simply let the law implode. And that's a problem for Republicans. Published:4/22/2017 4:10:46 PM
[Uncategorized] President Trump Fires Obama’s Anti-Gun Surgeon General Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams currently serving as acting Surgeon General Published:4/22/2017 4:10:46 PM
[Markets] iHeartRadio parent warns it may not survive another year The biggest operator of radio stations in the U.S., the iHeartRadio parent headed by Bob Pittman of MTV fame, will include language in its next quarterly report warning investors that it may not survive another year, according to a regulatory filing.
Published:4/22/2017 4:10:46 PM
[Science] Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes: A win for Marine Le Pen in France would be 'devastating' His warning is quite a bit more drastic than the measured statement former President Barack Obama's spokesman. Published:4/22/2017 4:10:46 PM
[World] North Carolina's long summer vacations are being challenged RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Some folks can't get enough of summer. Others see it as a problem that needs fixing. Published:4/22/2017 3:43:27 PM
[Activism] Krieger: The American Empire Under Trump Has Become Increasingly Desperate, Dangerous, & Insecure

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

My current working hypothesis is that the U.S. is a late-stage empire about to enter a more serious and dangerous period of collapse. In case you missed it, I outlined my broad brush view in the very popular recent post, Prepare for Impact – This is the Beginning of the End for U.S. Empire. Here’s a brief excerpt:

I believe last night’s strike represents the beginning of the end for U.S. empire. Although the U.S. has been declining domestically for this entire century, America has still been calling all the shots on the international front. This makes sense in late-stage empire, as the focus of the fat and happy “elite” becomes singularly obsessed with domination and power, while the situation back home festers and rots.

 

Trump won on an “America first” platform that promised to emphasize the well-being of American citizens over geopolitical adventurism. We now know for certain he’s been manipulated into the imperial mindset, and his recklessness will merely accelerate U.S. decline on the world stage, and in turn, back home.

When I came across reports yesterday that the U.S. Justice Department is trying to figure out a way to prosecute the world’s most courageous and effective news publisher, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, I immediately saw it to be further evidence of the incredible insecurity and desperation of the American establishment.

The CIA is particularly enraged at Assange as a result of last month’s initial Vault 7 release. Rather than apologize for allowing zero day exploits in large tech companies to remain open and therefore vulnerable to hacking from anyone with the skills to do so (see: CIA Hacking Tools Allow for an Unaccountable Intelligence Agency Dictatorship), CIA director Mike Pompeo decided to respond with an unhinged nervous breakdown during a recent speech to the Saudi funded Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Here are a few excerpts from his deranged, incoherent, and unconstitutional remarks courtesy of the CIA:

WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. It has encouraged its followers to find jobs at CIA in order to obtain intelligence. It directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of specific secret information. And it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States, while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organizations.

This is what’s called “projection.”

It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia. In January of this year, our Intelligence Community determined that Russian military intelligence—the GRU—had used WikiLeaks to release data of US victims that the GRU had obtained through cyber operations against the Democratic National Committee. And the report also found that Russia’s primary propaganda outlet, RT, has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.

 

We know this because Assange and his ilk make common cause with dictators today. Yes, they try unsuccessfully to cloak themselves and their actions in the language of liberty and privacy; in reality, however, they champion nothing but their own celebrity. Their currency is clickbait; their moral compass, nonexistent. Their mission: personal self-aggrandizement through the destruction of Western values.

 

They do not care about the causes and people they claim to represent. If they did, they would focus instead on the autocratic regimes in this world that actually suppress free speech and dissent. Instead, they choose to exploit the legitimate secrets of democratic governments—which has, so far, proven to be a much safer approach than provoking a tyrant.

More projection.

No, Julian Assange and his kind are not the slightest bit interested in improving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom. They have pretended that America’s First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice. They may have believed that, but they are wrong.

 

Assange is a narcissist who has created nothing of value. He relies on the dirty work of others to make himself famous. He is a fraud—a coward hiding behind a screen.

Really? Seems to me he’s created the most powerful and impactful media organization of the 21st century, which is precisely why you hate his guts.

And in Kansas, we know something about false Wizards.

 

So we face a crucial question: What can we do about this? What can and should CIA, the United States, and our allies do about the unprecedented challenge posed by these hostile non-state intelligence agencies?

 

While there is no quick fix—no foolproof cure—there are steps that we can take to undercut the danger. First, it is high time we called out those who grant a platform to these leakers and so-called transparency activists. We know the danger that Assange and his not-so-merry band of brothers pose to democracies around the world. Ignorance or misplaced idealism is no longer an acceptable excuse for lionizing these demons.

 

Third, we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us. To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.

 

And finally—and perhaps most importantly—we need to deepen the trust between the Intelligence Community and the citizens we strive to protect.

Deepen the trust? There is no trust.

At CIA, I can assure you that we are committed to earning that trust every day. We know we can never take it for granted. We must continue to be as open as possible with the American people so that our society can reach informed judgments on striking the proper balance between individual privacy and national security.

The first thing to appreciate from the above excerpts is how uncollected and unhinged Mike Pompeo appears to be, and let’s also not forget that Donald Trump appointed Pompeo of his own volition. Much of his commentary centers around simple name calling, for instance referring to Assange as a “narcissist,” a “false wizard” and a “demon” in the span of just a few short paragraphs. His seemingly unstable emotional state certainly doesn’t give me a lot faith in the CIA, not that I had much to begin with.

Moving along, Pompeo’s entire rant is filled with projection. First let’s define Psychological Projection:

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.

Pompeo exhibits this behavior repeatedly in his remarks. For instance, he accuses Assange of “seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organizations.”

I mean, that’s basically the CIA’s mission statement, and its entire history is filled to the brim with “seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organizations.”

Moving along, he states “Assange and his ilk make common cause with dictators today,” and also says about Wikileaks, “they do not care about the causes and people they claim to represent.”  

Both of these statements summarize U.S. foreign policy to a tee. After all, one of America’s closest foreign allies, Saudi Arabia, is not only one of the world’s most repressive, undemocratic states, it is also one of the leading propagators of radical Islamic terrorism across the globe, including the attacks of 9/11 (for more see: Meet the Lawyer Who’s Suing Saudi Arabia for Financing the 9/11 Attacks).

Finally, Pompeo justifies his attack on the First Amendment by pushing a false “us versus them mentality.” He states:

Third, we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.

This implies that Assange and Wikileaks represent “the enemy,” while the CIA is somehow some shining white night. Unfortunately for Pompeo, this isn’t how many Americans see the situation.

Let’s recall the following tweet, and understand that John Harwood’s following isn’t exactly filled with anti-establishment types.

You can say that’s not a scientific poll, and that’s fine, but I’d argue a large percentage of Americans think Wikileaks is more patriotic than the CIA, and that poses an enormous problem for the deep state.

In fact, Americans as a whole no longer trust most of the institutions charged with managing the U.S. empire, because those institutions have completely and utterly failed the people. The only way to regain trust is to actually start doing some decent things for the nation, but that’s not what happens in late-stage empire. In late-stage empire, the corrupt and foolish “ruling class” continues to double and triple down on their own stupidity and theft until the whole thing falls apart. This is precisely what I expect to happen, and the ongoing Assange witch-hunt simply further confirms my suspicions.

To further prove the point, take a look at the following excerpt from CNN’s article on the topic:

US authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, US officials familiar with the matter tell CNN.

 

The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010, when the site first gained wide attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.

 

Prosecutors have struggled with whether the First Amendment precluded the prosecution of Assange, but now believe they have found a way to move forward.

Think about what you just read for a minute. The DOJ apparently spent 7 years trying to figure out how to void the First Amendment, yet it couldn’t jail a single bank executive during that entire time. What does this tell you about where the government’s priorities lie? Even more disturbingly, it doesn’t matter which Goldman Sachs/deep state puppet sits in the White House, the agenda moves forward. It is an imperial agenda to protect and secure the wealth and power of the few against the well being and liberty of the many.

The U.S. empire doesn’t work for the people, it works for a small handful of elitists and insiders who have completely gamed a corrupt system for their advantage. The America people are starting to figure this out, partly due to the journalism of Wikileaks, which is why the deep state hates Assange so passionately.

The American empire is becoming increasingly insecure and desperate, which also makes it increasingly dangerous. Empires don’t reform, and as we can see from Trump’s first 100 days, we certainly aren’t going to see a reversal of course from him.

We the people need to keep our eye on the prize and stop bickering with one another over relatively trivial issues. That is precisely what the status quo wants and actively encourages us to do. They can’t keep us oppressed if we stand together, so let’s not make their jobs easier by constantly fighting with one another. We need to stand tall and say enough is enough. That we are sick of your puppets, your wars and your Wall Street bailouts. America is tired of being controlled by a small group of unaccountable, incompetent, greedy, unethical crooks running around stealing everything in sight.

Enough is enough.

Published:4/22/2017 3:43:26 PM
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[8.5%] IMF Drops Pledge To "Resist All Forms Of Protectionism"

One month after a startling reversion by the G-20 finance ministers and central bankers, who during their latest meeting in Baden-Baden dropped a decade-long tradition of rejecting protectionism and endorsing free trade, pressured by Trump's delegate Steven Mnuchin, the IMF has done the same, and according to a communique from the IMF’s steering committee released on Saturday in Washington echoed the G-20 reversal, and said that officials “are working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies" while omitting a call from its last statement in October to “resist all forms of protectionism."

The International Monetary and Financial Committee - which is the IMF’s top advisory panel, composed of 24 ministers and central bankers from nations including the U.S., China, Germany, Japan and France - released the statement during the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank.  Since joint statements at gatherings such as the G-20 and the IMF require assent from members, the change in the U.S. position on trade from the Obama administration is forcng modifications in language that was previously uncontroversial.

While the trade language was drastically changed, some positions remained the same: the IMFC statement reiterated pledges from October to “refrain from competitive devaluations” of currencies and to avoid targeting “our exchange rates for competitive purposes.”

There were other changes: in addition to the trade stance, the latest communique omits language from October that welcomed “the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change.” Trump is contemplating whether to make good on his campaign promise to withdraw from the deal, as Bloomberg notes.

The shift in the trade "plege" was due to the Trump administration's persistent threats to raise tariffs if US trading partners don’t agree to renegotiate trade agreements and create fairer conditions for U.S. goods; in the past week Trump fired the first shot in what may be upcoming trade wars when he signed an executive order looking into curbing steel imports under the guise of "national security" concerns.

While agreeing on paper, most IMF members continued to voice their support for globalization and free trade. As Bloomberg adds, Germany, holder of this year’s G-20 presidency, “commits to keep the global economy open, resist protectionism and keep global economic and financial cooperation on track,” Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in his statement to the IMFC. “There is evidently a need to better communicate the benefits of trade and globalization.”

Germany's position is understandable: with its 2016 trade surplus hitting a record high of €253 billion, with net trade accounting for over 8% of German GDP and with Germany's current account at over 8.5% of GDP, nearly four times greater than China, many have wondered why Trump is so focused on China when it comes to trade, and has given Germany a free pass. To be sure, any changes in the global trade regime would have dire consequences on the German economy, which together with the cheap Euro, kept artificially lower by the poor peripheral European states, explains why Germany is such a vocal supporter of globalization and free trade: it is the world's biggest beneficiary from it!

Unlike Schauble, comments from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, by comparison, did not refer to resisting protectionism. Instead, Mnuchin said that “.we will continue to promote an expansion of trade with those
partners committed to market-based competition, while more rigorously
defending ourselves against unfair trade practices
.”

In retrospect, it is somewhat odd why having flipped on virtually every other pre-election promise, Trump remains so adamant on changing the global trade regime; and a more nuanced and direct question: what will Goldman get out of a protectionist shift?

In addition, in language that was seen as a jab at Germany Mnuchin said that “countries with large external surpluses and sound public finances have a particular responsibility for contributing to a more robust global economy.” That responsibility will only grow drastically if in just over 24 hours Le Pen and Melenchon are delcared winners of the first round of the French presidential election/

Published:4/22/2017 3:14:54 PM
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[Aldous Huxley] Prisons Of Pleasure Or Pain: Huxley's 'Brave New World' Vs. Orwell's '1984'

Authored by Uncola via TheTollOnline.com,

Definition of UTOPIA

1: an imaginary and indefinitely remote place

2: a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions

3:   an impractical scheme for social improvement

 

Definition of DYSTOPIA

1: an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives

2: literature: anti-utopia

Merriam-Webster.com

Many Americans today would quite possibly consider Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” to be a utopia of sorts with its limitless drugs, guilt-free sex, perpetual entertainment and a genetically engineered society designed for maximum economic efficiency and social harmony. Conversely, most free people today would view Orwell’s “1984” as a dystopian nightmare, and shudder to contemplate the terrifying existence under the iron fist of “Big Brother”; the ubiquitous figurehead of a perfectly totalitarian government.

Although both men were of British descent, Huxley was nine years older than Orwell and published Brave New World in 1932, seventeen years before 1984 was released in 1949. Both books are widely considered classics and are included in the Modern Library’s top ten great novels of the twentieth century.

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley was born to academic parents and he was the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, a famous biologist and an enthusiastic proponent of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution who was known as “Darwin’s Bulldog”. Huxley’s own father had a well-equipped botanical laboratory where young Aldous began his education. Given the Huxley family’s appreciation for science, it makes perfect sense that Brave New World began in what is called the “Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre” where human beings are artificially grown and genetically predestined into five societal castes consisting of: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon.

Initially, the story centers on Bernard Marx, who is a slightly genetically flawed Alpha Plus psychologist with an inferiority complex due to his short stature. By the end of the novel, however, the protagonist becomes a boy named “John the Savage” who is the bastard child of the “Director of the Central London Hatchery”, and a lady named Linda, who naturally birthed John on a remote American Indian Reservation. When Bernard discovers the true identities of John and Linda, he arranges to fly them back to London in order to leverage his position with John’s biological father, the Hatchery Director.

Bernard is in love with a beautiful fetus technician named Lenina Crowne, who, upon meeting John the Savage falls madly in lust. Lenina is a gal who enjoys multiple lovers because, in the Brave New World, “everyone belongs to everyone else”. In other words, sexual promiscuity is encouraged as sort of a societal “pressure relief valve” designed to discourage negative emotions such as jealousy and envy. John the Savage, however, suppresses his sexual attraction to Lenina because he considers her a slut.

Eventually, John’s sexual repression contributes to him violently attacking some children of the Delta caste who were waiting in line for their “Soma”, a mood-altering drug; and the outburst causes both Bernard and John to be brought before the powerful Mustapha Mond, who is one of ten world controllers. A debate ensues between John and Mr. Mond who explains to the Savage that a stable society requires the controlled suppression of science, religion, and art. John, who is an avid admirer of William Shakespeare, argues that human life is not worth living without these things.

In Brave New World, the State achieves a harmonic equilibrium via the economic parity of production and consumption while utilizing Eugenics as a means to counterbalance the life and death of the citizens. Technology is employed as a means of control in lieu of any search for scientific, or spiritual, truth; as these are considered a threat to the established order. People are cloned in hatcheries in accordance to the needs of the State and trained into obedience through “Hypnopedia”, or sleep-teaching. Happiness is valued over dignity and morality, and emotions are regulated through the use of the drug, Soma, amid constant entertainment including superficial games and virtual reality venues called the “feelies”. Although there is no God or religion, per se, in Brave New World, Henry Ford is canonized in the place of a deity as a testament to corporate efficiency, assembly line production and rampant consumerism.

1984

Like Huxley, George Orwell also envisioned a future where government monitored and controlled every aspect of human life; yet the world is much more terrifying in 1984. Orwell actually volunteered and fought in the Spanish Civil War in 1936 before being injured by a sniper’s bullet in May of 1937; it was there where he witnessed, first-hand, the ghastly barbarism of political fascism. Moreover, he previously observed the rise of Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union and, later, Adolf Hitler in Germany. In turn, Orwell published Animal Farm in 1945 and four years later, his novel 1984, as literary warnings to mankind.

The setting of 1984 takes place in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic Great Britain which, at that time, was part of “Oceania”; one of three world super-states all engaged in never-ending warfare. The protagonist of the novel is Winston Smith, a middle-class member in the Outer Party of INGSOC, a totalitarian regime led by the figurehead known only as “Big Brother”.

Winston works in the Records Department of the “Ministry of Truth” where he revises history on behalf of the Party while under constant surveillance both at work and home. Everywhere he goes; there are posters with a photo of the party’s leader and the words: “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU”. In an act of rebellion, Winston acquires a diary and begins to record what Big Brother and the INGSOC party would label as “crimethink” and “thoughtcrime”.

Eventually, Winston meets and falls in love with a beautiful coworker named Julia, and they engage in what they believe to be a secret affair whereby they have illicit sex as a form of political rebellion. In 1984, the Party members living in Oceania are brainwashed to have sex only for procreation and this is how sexual repression is channeled into enthusiasm for the State.

Under the threat of detection by the “Thought Police”, torture and even “vaporization”, which would eliminate every last vestige of proof he ever existed, Winston persists in his rebellion against the Party with certain fatalism. In fact, just before he and Julia are captured by the militant, jackbooted INGSOC Party authoritarians, Winston told Julia “we are the dead”; to which she replied the same words back to him.

Throughout Orwell’s dark narrative, various themes are explored such as “Newspeak” which is a language of mind control; the terrifying tyranny of totalitarianism; historical revisionism; torture, and psychological manipulation. The INGSOC Party’s prisonlike control and complete invasion of individual privacy is such that a citizen’s own facial expression could betray their inner disloyalty to the Party through what Orwell labeled as “crimeface”:

Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your own nervous system. At any moment the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom.

– Winston Smith, 1984, part 1, chapter 6

Orwell was near prophetic in describing the proliferation of listening devices in both public and private settings as well as “telescreens”, which simultaneously broadcast propaganda while relaying live video feeds back to the Party watchers. In Orwell’s chilling story, free will and individuality are sacrificed to the extreme demands of Collectivism and in deference to complete societal control by an authoritarian government.

Compared and Contrasted

In both, Brave New World and 1984, common themes are addressed including government, orthodoxy, social hierarchy, economics, love, sex, and power. Both books portray propaganda as a necessary tool of government to shape the collective minds of the citizenry within each respective society and towards the specific goals of the state; to wit, stability and continuity.

In Brave New World, The “Bureaux of Propaganda” shared a building with the “College of Emotional Engineering” and all media outlets including radio, television, and newspaper. Much of the brainwashing of the citizens in Huxley’s world included messaging to stay within their genetically predetermined castes or to encourage the daily use of the drug, Soma, in order to anesthetize emotional agitation:

a gramme in time saves nine

A gramme is better than a damn

One cubic centimetre cures ten gloomy sentiments

When the individual feels, the community reels.

TheMinistry of Truth”, in 1984, also known as “minitrue” in Newspeak, served as the propaganda machine for Big Brother and the INGSOC regime. Although its main purpose was to rewrite history in order to realign it with Party doctrine and make the Party look infallible, the Ministry of Truth also promoted war hysteria in order to unite the citizens of Oceania while broadcasting simple messages designed to discourage any self-determination or autonomous thought.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

 

war is peace

freedom is slavery

ignorance is strength

Whereas the citizens of Brave New World used the drug Soma and cursory material distractions to vanquish any desire for real knowledge or truth; the “memory hole” in 1984 was a chute connected to an incinerator and served as the mechanism by which the Ministry of Truth would abolish historical archives as if they never existed.

In other words, truth was unimportant to the citizens of Brave New World and it was summarily rescinded from the realm of 1984.

Furthermore, in order to additionally fill the empty existence of those living in Brave New World, Huxley envisioned a character by the name of Helmholtz Watson as a creator of hypnopaedic phrases designed to fill the mental and emotional vacuum vacated by knowledge:

Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfuly glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides, they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I’m so glad I’m a Beta.

– BNW, Chapter 2, pg. 27

In 1984, however, Orwell conceived of a character named Syme, who was an enthusiastic Newspeak redactor of language:

It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.

 

Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.

– Syme, 1984, part 1, chapter 5

In Brave New World, Helmholtz Watson worked to fill the mind of people with hypnotic messages. In 1984, Syme strived to remove words from the English language in order to eliminate what the Party considered to be “thoughtcrime”.

Although the methodologies varied, mind control was prevalent throughout both the fictional worlds of Huxley and Orwell.

Social hierarchies were also present in both futuristic novels. The citizens of Brave New World consisted of the Alpha caste which held the highest jobs in the world state, and Betas, who were allowed to interact with the Alphas. The Gamma’s were considered to have average intelligence, they were eight inches shorter than Alpha’s in height, and they maintained the office jobs and held administrative positions. The Delta’s were trained from a very young age to despise books and were conditioned to work in manufacturing, while the Epsilon castes members were considered as morons who performed the menial labor within the lowest strata of society.

Although 1984 doesn’t have a caste system, per se, the citizenry were still separated into three groups: the Inner Party, the Outer Party, and the Proles, or the proletariat. The Proles constituted 85% of the population and were allowed privacy and anonymity, yet they lived in extreme privation in pursuit of bread and circuses.

As the Party slogan put it: ‘Proles and animals are free.’

– ”1984”: part 1, chapter 7

Although both Inner and Outer Party members of 1984’s Oceania lived under constant surveillance, the members of the Inner party led lives of relative luxury compared to the middle-class lifestyle of those within the Outer Party. Additionally, the members of the Outer Party were denied sex, other than within marriage and for the sole purposes of procreation. They were also denied motorized transportation and were allowed cigarettes and gin as their only vices.

Governments of both Brave New World and 1984 also filtered information and propaganda in accordance to the class ranking of their citizens.

In Brave New World, the separate castes, except for the Epsilons who couldn’t read, received their own newspapers delivering specific propaganda for each class of society; whereas the INGSOC party members of 1984 were allowed newspapers and to view broadcasted reports of world news via their telescreens.

Even though there is no actual organized religion described in either book, there were deities endorsed by the government, primarily for economic reasons, and complete with mandated rigorous orthodoxies.

Again, the aforementioned god of Brave New World was called “Ford”, after Henry Ford, in celebration of his efficient assembly-line production of goods that was worshiped by both the overseers and citizenry of the world state.

In 1984, Big Brother served as the almighty “beginning and end”, creator, judge, grand architect and savior for the INGSOC party disciples.

In Huxley’s vision of the future, the higher power of consumerism guided the people; complete with memorized short phrases designed to encourage the replacement of material items in lieu of repairing them; and, those wearing older clothes were shamed into purchasing new apparel:

Ending is better than mending.

The more stitches, the less riches.

BNW, Chapter 3, pg. 49

Orwell, on the other hand, considered war as the means by which a collectivist oligarchy could maintain a hierarchical society by purging the excess production of material goods from the economy; thus, keeping the masses impoverished and ignorant by denying them the surplus “spare time” that is afforded via the convenience of modern technology:

The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.

— Emmanuel Goldstein, ”1984”: part 2, chapter 9

The futuristic societies envisioned by Huxley and Orwell, additionally, both discouraged romantic love, yet diverged on the subject of sex. As mentioned earlier, Brave New World treated sex as a “pressure relief valve” remaining constantly open in order to release any negative emotions like suspicion, distrust, jealousy, rage or envy. “Everyone belonged to everyone else”, so there was no need for secrets. Even children were encouraged to sexually experiment guilt free. Of course, sex was meant to be enjoyed only as a means of pleasure in Brave New World; as procreation was considered an anathema by the people and beneath the dignity of mankind.

In Orwell’s dark dystopia, however, promiscuous sex was encouraged among the proletariat and the Ministry of Truth even had a pornography division called “Pornosec”, which distributed obscene media for consumption by the Proles alone. Conversely, and also as mentioned prior, the members of the INGSOC party were required to abstain from sex; except for married couples attempting to procreate solely on behalf of the government.

In reading both books, it was also fascinating to see how both Huxley and Orwell painted their female protagonists, Lenina Crowne and Julia, respectively, as shallow nymphomaniacs.

Nevertheless, the procreative sterilized purity and casual sexual promiscuity of Brave New World along with 1984’s hierarchical rationing of sex, combined with the twisted morality of the INGSOC Party, represented the power of government invading into the most personal means of expression, and engenderment, between individuals of both worlds.

The concept of “everyone belongs to everyone else” in Brave New World allowed intimate acts to be considered merely as trivial recreation whereas the Party’s power over copulation in 1984, created a sense of fatalism within Winston and Julia as they made love knowing they were “the dead”.

In spite of any differences, both scenarios were the end result of extreme philosophical collectivism manifested into distorted and perverse destinies of speculative, future populations.

The Future is Now

For reasons described heretofore, many might consider Brave New World to be a utopian dream. In the context of individual autonomy, however, as well as the pursuit of truth, the opportunity for personal self-actualization, the dilemma of ethical considerations and the governmental dispensation of immoral law; Huxley’s vision of the future removes the lid of a veritable Pandora’s Box of questions. In reality, the societal structure as delineated in Brave New World would greatly resemble what could be called a “prison of pleasure” and, perhaps, even a “penitentiary of profligate practicality”.

Applying the same philosophical critique of 1984, and in similar fashion, Orwell’s nation-state of Oceana would be considered as a bona fide dystopian “prison of fear”.

As a matter of fact, both societies portray prisons of man’s own making, formed by governments following their own directions toward their respective future destinations. To say it another way: The road to hell is actually paved with bad intentions. As the Inner Party member (and administrator of torture), “Obrien”, admitted to Winston Smith in Room 101 of The Ministry of Love:

We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

– Obrien, ”1984”: part 3, chapter 3

Both power structures in Brave New World and 1984 chose to diminish individual rights in order to achieve societal stability. To the governments of both super-states, their citizens were considered as mere “means to an end”; namely, the continuation of power.

Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness; only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that.

– Obrien, ”1984”: part 3, chapter 3

This is a perfect description of mankind striving to be as gods; an attempt to create metaphysical law from carnal desire. Foregone were the virtues of mercy, humility, temperance, autonomy, self-reliance, and restraint.

Mustapha Mond, one of ten world controllers in Brave New World and the evil Obrien of 1984’s nation of Oceana, both knew what they were doing. They were fully conscious in order to exert complete control and ensure the continuation of their respective, fictional nation-states.

But, could this type of power consolidation occur in the real (non-literary) world?

To answer that question one only needs to study history then, go turn on all of the various “telescreens” in their private homes: Televisions, smartphones, tablets, lap-taps and desktop computers. Tyrannical regimes have been centralizing and fortifying ramparts of power from the time man first crushed grapes. And, obviously, as the exiled enemy of the State, Edward Snowden, has revealed, modernity is no antiserum to the cancerous systematization of power.

When considering the prosperous technological paradise of Brave New World, where the societal elite had unrestricted access to intercontinental transportation and private helicopters; where even the lower classes enjoyed pampered lives of perennial comfort, ceaseless entertainment, and eternal recreation; as compared to the dingy, post-apocalyptically war-torn, third-world existence of 1984; it becomes difficult not to view both Huxley and Orwell as prophets.

Indeed, both futures have come to pass and are merely economically separated and dispersed into diverse geographic locations.

Today, it is the westernized cultures of the world, including Asian nations like Japan and South Korea, that more closely resemble Brave New World, whereas vestiges of 1984 can be seen in the eastern bloc communist countries, China, North Korea and the Islamic societies of the middle-east.

Although Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of Capitalism had created a rising economic tide that lifted many boats; much of the world’s population still languishes in squalor and will never rise from the muck.

Moreover, even the modernized nations today have sacrificed individual freedom upon the altar of Collectivism as political correctness stifles free speech; families suffocate beneath mountains of debt and United Nations Agenda 21 policies release a deluge of regulations causing extra-governmental autonomous innovation to collapse before the inexorable, gravitational pull of the hive-mind.

Corporations like Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung and Apple have become the eyes and ears of Big Brother who is always watching, and ever listening.

To the sounds of mouse-clicks, once free people have “accepted” the “terms” of their surrender and have forfeited their liberty in the name of convenience. Like buzzing insects, the citizens of modern societies are caught in silicon honey traps mortgaged with plastic and electronically powered via USB cable nooses wrapped tightly around their collective throats.

The Technocratic Powers That Be wield weapons far more powerful than any time prior in history and soon, people will wake up to realize the electronic buzzing sound ringing in their ears was not emanating from their own wings, but rather, it was merely the sound of drones over their heads.

Like in Brave New World, science now rules supreme over ethics as medical professionals sell fetus organs to advance the cause of genetic research. The United States currently leads the world in illegal drug use and consumes near all of the global opioid supply; according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy:

In most countries, the use of opioid prescriptions is limited to acute hospitalization and trauma, such as burns, surgery, childbirth and end-of-life care, including patients with cancer and terminal illnesses. But in the United States, every adult in America can have “a bottle of pills and then some.

Just as 1984’s Ministry of Truth purveyed pornography to the Proles, statistics show at least 35% of all internet downloads and at least 30% of all data transferred across the internet are porn-related. Also similar to Huxley’s Brave New World, sex runs rampant throughout the modernized nations as cases of sexually transmitted disease have reached a record high in the United States.

In correlation to the ever-expanding gulf between rich and poor, strict adherence to orthodoxy now determines how high one can rise in the societies of the westernized nations, as political correctness defines the faith of the pantheistic disciples of Mother Earth in the form of Gaia worship; and social hierarchy is increasingly determined via the identity politics of the collectivist left. The American body politic has now witnessed the rise of the warrior cop and the militarization of domestic law enforcement, as interminable wars are eternally fought on foreign shores and sovereign nations are bombed under false pretense.

Even 1984’s “Victory Gin” has manifested in the form Russian Vodka within the eastern nations, as Oceania’s type of man-made orthodoxy silently drowns the human spirit in devastating despair, while contorted moralities overtake both the Christian and Islamic societies of the modern age.

Orwell defined “doublethink” as:

the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them

— Emmanuel Goldstein, ”1984”: part 2, chapter 9

Only in wealthy westernized nations do billionaires own multiple mansions, fly private jets and ride in eight-cylinder limousines to climate-change conferences where policies are decreed to lower the carbon footprint of the proletariat. Only in wealthy westernized nations, do ever-increasing numbers of women consider white men to be pigs while simultaneously striving to be their equals. And, only in the wealthy Christian nations of the northern hemisphere will citizens support a women’s right to third-trimester abortions, while rigorously and righteously battling for legislation to save endangered dung beetles.

Throughout Islamic societies, drinking alcohol and gambling is forbidden, but the governments and their citizens gladly tolerate canings, whippings, lashings, honor killings, suicide attacks, and the genital mutilation of young girls.

This does NOT prevent, however, the citizens of the wealthy Christian nations in the West to welcome with open arms, and in the name of “tolerance”, the pervading flood of Islamic immigrants.

The writings of Huxley and Orwell resonate by the echoes of history, over the canyons of time, and to the very cliff upon where mankind now stands. Propaganda daily spews via the machinations of five corporations which control 90% of all mainstream media channels. These companies toe the war-party line and wield their great powers of disinformation to contort facts or even censor the failures of the politicians whom they favor while, simultaneously, attacking their political enemies with lies and innuendo; even to the point of creating a phony election hacking narrative to satisfy their radioactive lust for war with nuclear powered enemies.

Even the characters of both Brave New World and 1984 are resonant of familiar archetypes from days gone by. Brave New World portrayed the character Bernard Marx as being short like Hitler, with a small man’s inferiority complex and complete with the surname of Karl Marx, the eponymous founder of Marxism.

The noble sounding Lenina Crowne’s name contains the surname of Vladimir Lenin, and Orwell’s portrayal of Julia does not seem overly diverse from former President’s Obama’s vision of “The Life of Julia”. Even the mustachioed, evil-eyed Big Brother from 1984’s dystopian nation of Oceana, looks eerily similar to just about every other tin-pot dictator who ever walked the earth.

Art imitating life? Indeed.

Yet the irony fails to impress America’s young social justice warriors of the Millennial generation who have been raised on a steady diet of socialism, political correctness, and participation trophies; a far cry from the rugged individualists of previous American generations. In the 2016 U.S. Democratic Party Primaries, and with the same sense of vague dissatisfaction as exhibited by Huxley’s Bernard Marx, millions upon millions of rainbow worshipping Snowflakes, old and young alike, turned out in force to show their support for another Bernard: Bernard Sanders, a redistributionist of the line of Robin Hood who, in the spirit of Santa Claus, offered free college educations to all of Uncle Sam’s children.

Sadly, Big Brother is here to stay and, with time, he will only grow more bigly; regardless of any transitory elected politicians in the governments of the world’s “sovereign” nations today.

Although Aldous Huxley and George Orwell valiantly spun fictional narratives in order to warn the real world’s future citizens, they were not alone in their efforts.

On January 17, 1961, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of an ever-encroaching “Military Industrial Complex” in his farewell address to the nation:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Exactly 100 days after Ike’s farewell, on April 27, 1961, John F. Kennedy spoke before the American Newspaper Publishers Association in an address that later became known as his “Secret Society” speech. In that address, he stated the following:

For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence: on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed– and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy.

Thirty months after that speech, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.

Many people consider Kennedy to have been the last American president not controlled by a financial global elite hell bent on world domination.

In one of the twentieth century’s minor ironies, Aldous Huxley died on the very same day that John F. Kennedy was killed. It was also the exact day C.S. Lewis, the British author, and Christian apologist, passed from this earth.

Coincidence? Only God knows.

Regardless, by 1984 all had been forgotten; and, in a Brave New World, none of it really matters anyway.

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[Baseline Scenario] Your Complete Guide To Sunday's French Presidential Elections First Round

Ahead of Sunday's first round of the French election, we have previously provided several perspectives on the political and economic outcomes, including a permutation matrix of all six possible outcomes in terms of "high" vs "low market risk" (from BofA), why the market may be too complacent about a Le Pen - Melenchon result (candidate approval variance is within the polling error), and that European stocks have completely failed to price in any adverse outcome (as DB observed yesterday).

So with markets now closed, and all bets off, if only for the next two days until the results emerge, here is a complete guide to the first round of the first elections, compiled based on research reports by Deutsche Bank and Citigroup.

Guide to the French elections first round, from Deutsche Bank and Citi

Summary:

  • The first round of the French Presidential elections will be held on Sunday 23rd April.
  • Most polling stations will close at 7pm local time but some will remain open until 8pm local time. The first exit polls should be published at 8pm but may have to be taken cautiously. By midnight local time we could expect to have a clear picture of who would make it to the second round.
  • Since publication of our initial comprehensive piece on the French elections, the polls for the four major candidates have narrowed considerably and Mélenchon has replaced Hamon on the left wing. The narrowing of the polls and the historical error in actual voting relative to polls makes any of the six outcomes involving the four major candidates possible.
  • In order of decreasing likelihood the potential outcomes are (1) Macron vs. Le Pen (2) Le Pen vs. Fillon (3) Macron vs. Mélenchon (4) Le Pen vs. Mélenchon (5) Macron vs. Fillon and (6) Mélenchon vs. Fillon.
  • Based on current polls, in our baseline scenario of Macron vs. Le Pen in the second, Macron is expected to win comfortably. Le Pen would have to win the first round with a gap of 5pp or more and/or the participation rate in the second round to fall below 60% for her chances to improve significantly.
  • We assess the expect market impact on bond markets based on expected yield and spread levels for a presidential win for the four candidates and indicative probabilities of a win for the candidates in the second round conditional on the outcome of the first round.
  • Macron is favoured to win against all candidates if he makes it to the second round. Based on current polls market concerns about French elections should recede considerably in any outcome with Macron in the second round.
  • OAT-Bund spreads have the greatest room to widen in case of a Mélenchon vs. Le Pen outcome, while it has the most room to tighten in case of a Macron vs. Fillon outcome. However, in the latter scenario the tightening in OAT-Bund spreads should be more than offset by the rise in Bund yields leaving OAT yields broadly unchanged.

Timeline of Sunday 23rd April:

On Sunday 23 April, most polling stations will close at 7pm local time but some will remain open until 8pm local time. The first exit polls should be published at 8pm but may have to be taken cautiously. Press reports suggest that pollsters are worried about their ability to provide accurate exit polls at 8pm . Throughout the evening, polls are counted. By midnight local time we could expect to have a clear picture of who would make it to the second round.

  • At 19:00 BST / 14:00 EDT preliminary results are released, which is perceived as a usually good indicator of the final results. This will give markets a good hour to digest before Asia markets open at 05:00 Sydney / 20:00 BST / 15:00 EDT. In 2012, 80% of the vote was counted by roughly 22:00 BST. Note that polling stations in rural areas close by 17:00 BST, urban polling stations by 18:00-19:00 BST.
  • However, watch out for leaks. In 2012, journalists and pollsters circumvented the law by employing code names for each candidate, leaking the results of the exit polls to the public off. These reports were then quickly picked up and distributed by foreign new outlets which are not subject to French laws. On the night of April 23 look to the airwaves for news; perhaps #RadioLondres will be making another dramatic call to La Resistance.

The candidates – A four horse race:

Of the 11 total candidates, four leading the race. Citi Research’s latest probabilities of each candidate becoming President are: Macron (35%), Fillon (30%), Le Pen (25%), Melenchon (10%). What is clear is that the first round will be too close to definitively call – it’s a four horse race.

  • Marine Le Pen: The right-wing  candidate is the main risk for EUR. She has repeated a campaign promise to propose a referendum on France’s membership in the Eurozone and EU within six months. She is expected to go through the first round with ease, but not likely to prevail in the second round, ultimately.
  • Francois Fillon: Conservative candidate and former PM was formerly the frontrunner. However his popularity has been undermined by controversies, particularly allegations he paid his wife with taxpayer money for a job she did not perform.
  • Emmanuel Macron: The independent centrist and former economy minister is Citi’s base case winner. His new party En Marche has continued to gain momentum.
  • Jean-Luc Melenchon: The wildcard candidate has gained impressive momentum in the last month or so. The hard left wing candidate proposes a top income tax charge of 90% and to renegotiate the terms of France’s EU membership.

The first round: A close four way race

The first round polls have narrowed considerably The gap between the 4 major candidates has narrowed considerably over the past few weeks. Given the relatively narrow range between the various candidates and historical polling error, any of the six outcomes taking into consideration the four major candidates is possible.

Based on the final polls, Le Pen and Macron are still the favourites expected to make it past the first round and this remains the most likely outcome. As the current polls have Mélenchon and Fillon lagging, the scenarios which see them making it past the first round would probably be based on them doing better at the expense of the two front-runners.

  • Mélenchon’s progress has been mainly at the expense of Hamon. To make it past the first round he would have to capture voters further away on the political spectrum. We would expect his gains to be marginally more at the expense of Le Pen rather than Macron This implies that in the second round Mélenchon vs. Macron is more likely than Mélenchon vs. Le Pen.
  • In the case of Fillon, we would expect his gains to be more at the expense of Macron rather than Le Pen. Fillon’s experience and party structure could make centre-right voters tempted by a Macron vote switch back to Fillon at the last minute. This implies that in the second round Fillon vs. Le Pen is more likely than Fillon vs. Macron
  • The probability of both Melenchon and Fillon making it past the first round remains low but cannot be ruled out entirely.

All six outcomes are possible

The six outcomes ordered by decreasing likelihood (i.e., most likely at the top of the list) are listed below. We also highlight the indicative probability of the first candidate wining the second round in each of these outcomes

  • Macron vs. Le Pen: Based on the current stated intentions and certainty to vote expressed in polls and barring a significant upside surprise for Le Pen, we would expect reasonably high chances (~80%) of Macron wining the elections. The chance for Le Pen to win the second round would increase if she wins the first round with a gap clearly larger than 5pp. A low participation rate in the second round could also increase Le Pen’s chances (<60%).
  • Fillon vs. Le Pen: Based on the current polls and historical polling errors, we would expect Fillon’s chances to win the second round to be around 70%. Le Pen’s chances to win are likely to increase if the participation rate in the second round is lower than 55%.
  • Macron vs. Mélenchon: We would assign a relatively high probability (~80%) for Macron to win the second round. Mélenchon’s chances would increase if he is able to gather even more support from the supporters of the socialist party candidate Hamon in the second round.
  • Mélenchon vs. Le Pen: Conditional on Mélenchon making it to the second round vs. Le Pen, we would assign a higher probability (~60%) of Mélenchon rather than Le Pen winning the second round. According to polls and vote transfers between rounds, Mélenchon is more likely to appeal to the traditional centre-left and centre voters compared to Le Pen who would appeal mostly to the most conservative Republican party supporters.
  • Macron vs. Fillon: Based on polls, we would still assign a reasonable high probability to Macron winning the second round (~75%).
  • Mélenchon vs. Fillon: In this scenario we expect the second round to be reasonably close as the two front runners in the first round would have lost. Given the more strong upward momentum for Mélenchon and recent polls, we would assign a slightly higher chance (~55%) to him wining the second round.

Three key factors you should watch

Momentum is a key ingredient in this contest: Looking at recent polling, Le Pen appears to be losing some, down 1.1% point on average compared to previous surveys. Macron’s first round voting intentions have eroded by 0.2% point. Fillon and Mélenchon, by contrast have gained 1.0% point and 1.2% point respectively.

Turnout is crucial. The five-poll average suggests that 69% of voters are sure to cast a ballot, with at least an extra 10% who think that they will but cannot say for certain. However there are conflicting interpretations on how this might impact the chances of each candidate. There’s two sides to the argument:

  • Higher turnout arguably tends to benefit more status quo candidates, such as Macron, who the polled suggest their less certain to show up for.
  • But in the case that the turnout were to be lower-than-expected, it would likely favor Macron and Fillon whose sympathisers tend to be from voting groups (demographic wise) that are more likely to cast a ballot. If turnout is higher, then anti-establishment extremes are likely to do a little better than suggested in polls.
  • CitiFX Strategist Josh O’Byrne helpfully points out, “Turnout stats by department should also be released before initial results. Figure 1 shows the top and bottom Departments for Le Pen in 2012, based on the deviation from the national average. Exceptionally high turnouts in populous Departments such as Pas-de-Calais, Gard, Paris or Hauts-de-Seine, could give an early indication of how the evening may evolve.”
  • The last issue we have touched upon briefly - voting intentions. The ‘certainty of choice’ as indicated in polls suggest that Le Pen supporters are especially strong.  Le Pen’s base is the strongest, with around 84% according to Ifop-Fiducial's daily tracker, just ahead of Fillon around 82%, compared to the overall 72% average. Macron is slightly behind on 69%, with Mélenchon on 67% and Hamon on 63%. The amount of choice on the Left explains these lower ratings, but also increases tail risks for Sunday.

Impact on bond markets

In assessing the potential market impact of the result of the first round of the French election, we use the scenario analysis previously published for yield levels in case of victory in overall presidential election for the four major candidates.

Our indicative yield and spread levels in the various outcomes of the first round are conditional on the levels we see under the presidency of the four candidates and the conditional probability of the final outcome following the first round. Investors might have expectations of different levels and probabilities but our analysis provides a reasonable guide and framework.

In previous analysis we have estimated that the OAT-Bund spread could be ~200bp in a Le Pen win, 150bp in a Mélenchon win and 45bp in a Macron/Fillon win. Previously we had not distinguished between a Macron and Fillon presidency but we now decide to distinguish between the two even though the difference is fairly minor. In our view, Fillon’s pro-reform agenda and the backing of an established party in the parliament could see the OAT-Bund spread tighten back to the level seen in Q2-14 level of ~40bp. However, in case of a Macron win the risk of a failure to deliver could increase and the OAT-Bund spread might not tighten below the current level of Belgium-Bund spread (~50bp).

The table below summarizes the 10Y bund yield, OAT-Bund spread and BTP-Bund spread level in these scenarios for reference.

For the six outcomes discussed in the previous sections and using indicative probabilities based on polls on the second round outcome conditional on the outcome of the first round we show indicative levels for the OAT-Bund spread after the first round of elections.

Using the same framework and our previously published scenario for 10Y Bund yields and BTP-Bund spreads we arrive at the following levels for the indicative level of 10Y yields in Germany, Italy & France after the first round of the French election. It should be noted that in particular our framework was initially published in early March when the level of 10Y bunds were higher at around 0.35% compared to current levels of 0.25%.

Electoral dashboard

We have been publishing an election dashboard that tracks the polls’ evolution. For details of methodology see here.

Mélenchon’s surge also happened in 2012: In figure 6, we reproduce polls for Mélenchon in 2012 in the last month before the election. Mid-March  2012, he was polling around 11% and then surged above 15% at times. Ultimately he only gathered 11% of the votes. The similarity with the 2017 polls and momentum is striking. If Mélenchon wants to have a chance to make it to the second round, he cannot rely on taking votes from Socialist Hamon anymore. He will have to adopt a different strategy and either aim to capture Le Pen’s voters or Macron’s voters or convince abstentionists to support him. Figure 3 also shows that many of Mélenchon’s potential voters are not certain of their choice.

Second round - In the two graphs below (figures 7 and 8), we report the polls’ evolution of support for mainstream candidates Fillon’s and Macron’s leads over Le Pen in the second round of the Presidential elections, which have been relatively stable in recent weeks.

Second round vote transfer – Figures 9 and 10 show how votes could transfer between the first round and the second round of the Presidential elections. Here we adjust them to represent the share of the electorate of each candidate that would likely switch to Le Pen, abstain or choose Fillon/Macron.

We then show how these vote transfers among first-round voters could add up in the second round (Figure 11 and 12).

Brexit and US elections polling errors applied to French polls: In the case of the US elections and particularly Brexit, polls underestimated the risks of a surprise. Figure 13 and 14 trace the history of polls in the six months prior to the vote for Brexit, and from the day Trump and Clinton were the official nominees in the US. The solid lines represent actual polling data. The dotted lines adjust for the margin of error. We apply the Brexit and US election margins of error to the Le Pen-Fillon gap and the Le Pen-Macron gap in the French second-round polls.

Pollsters careful about not underestimating National Front support: In France, pollsters are careful in measuring National Front support. Figure 15 traces history of polling estimation error for National front since 2002. Also, the mobilization of the French electorate against the National Front should not be ignored. Recently in the 2015 regional elections – National Front candidates were defeated by wide margins against centreright candidates in two regions contrary to opinion poll expectations (Figure 16).

* * *

Possible scenarios & implications for EUR

  • There are six possible paths for two of the main four candidates to advance to the second round. Consequently unlike previous political risk events (eg Brexit, Trump), the outcome is anything but binary. This makes it tricky to determine how EUR will react.
  • There are two key negative scenarios that will be at the forefront of investors' minds: 1) Le Pen vs. Mélenchon, and 2) Fillon vs. Mélenchon. We’re most worried about the former, which has been described by some as a 'nightmare' scenario and roughly 7% priced in in the options market. If these are the final candidates for May 7, this would a hard choice between two anti-globalization, anti-EU and pro-Russia candidates. EUR is likely to react accordingly, and understandably negatively.
  • The most positive outcome for EUR on the other hand this Sunday would be Le Pen coming in third place, entirely discounting the chance of her advancing to the second round and the possibility of victory. A Macron vs Fillon scenario would be ideal in such a case, as both candidates are seen as moderates. Alternatively a Le Pen vs Macron scenario for the second round would also be a positive.
  • Naturally, an ultimate Le Pen victory would be the most negative for markets given her anti-EU and “Frexit” stance. As such, one thing to watch in the first round election results is her margin of victory, if she scores the highest, relative to current polling. If she obtains say, 30% of the vote or more, then EUR is likely to sell off rather sharply (she currently polls 23-24% on average).

For those who missed, here is a scenario analysis from BofA laying out the potential market impact of the 6 possible outcomes from the first round:

What happens next? It’s not over yet

If no candidate gets 50% in the first round vote (as is expected), then the top two candidates go through to the next round a week later and the one who gets the most votes wins. Polling restarts on Monday and there is a TV debate for the final scheduled for Wednesday May 3. The second round vote will be held on May 7.

Also note that legislative elections are held in June. If the President fails to secure a majority in the Assemblée Nationale with their party, the country will fall into a period of “cohabitation” – which means the president will have diminished powers. Voters will elect into the lower chamber of parliament representatives from 577 constituencies. 

As Citi Research point out, even if Macron wins, it is unlikely that his party will have an outright majority. The most likely scenario here is a governing coalition. Le Pen’s FN, which currently has only two MPs, is extremely unlikely to get anywhere near the 289 Le Pen would need for a majority in the assembly. This is a problem Mélenchon would also face. More radical proposals, such as an EU/Eurozone referendum, will be harder to implement subsequently.

Timeline:

  • April 21 – [from midnight] Poll blackout
  • April 23 – First round of French presidential elections. At 19:00 BST / 14:00 EDT, media is authorized to report preliminary results (Not exit polls, but numbers based on processed ballots – historically an accurate indicator of the final result)
  • April 26 – Official announcement of first-round results (latest date)
  • May 1 – Local holiday in France
  • May 3 – TV debate between the two remaining candidates
  • May 5 – [from midnight] Poll blackout
  • May 7 – Second round of French presidential elections. Last polls close at 19:00 BST / 14:00 EDT, with an exit poll result announced immediately.
  • May 11 – Official proclamation of the new President.
  • May 14 – [from midnight] End of Francois Hollande’s mandate
  • June 11 – First round of legislative elections
  • June 18 – Second round of legislative elections.
Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[Politics] Dave Brat says new TrumpCare is fundamentally the same as the old bill… So Dave Brat has been putting out the real substantive reasons why a free market conservative would be against the healthcare bill that the GOP establishment has been putting out with Trump. . . . Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[Politics] Dave Brat says new TrumpCare is fundamentally the same as the old bill… So Dave Brat has been putting out the real substantive reasons why a free market conservative would be against the healthcare bill that the GOP establishment has been putting out with Trump. . . . Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[Entertainment] Geena Davis spills 'League of Their Own' secrets on 25th anniversary There may not be crying in baseball, but there was laughing in the 1992 sports comedy.
     
 
 
Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[Entertainment] Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez Show PDA on Date After She Spends Time With Ex Marc Anthony Jennifer Lopez, Alex RodriguezAnother day, another PDA-filled date night for Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez. The two lovebirds were seen Friday holding hands as they arrived at the Casa Tua restaurant in Miami,...
Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[Quick Takes] University Bans Pro-Life Display Because it Creates Unsafe Environment "ensure this does not happen again.”" Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[Top Picks] Florida tackles the issue of drone delivery… on the ground

Putting drones on the sidewalks is no solution

The post Florida tackles the issue of drone delivery… on the ground appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[storytype:standard] Millionaire banker questioned over fire at his 500-year-old Grade-1 mansion  Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[Science] Meals on Wheels chief speaks out on Trump's budget blueprint The organization is already struggling to meet the need that exists, said Meals on Wheels president and CEO Ellie Hollander. Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[Science] Scenes from the Science March (Steven Hayward) The “March for Science” is underway today, featuring the usual mountebanks like Michael Mann and Bill Nye. Liberals sure are fond of marching. It is doubtful that this march represents a true cross-section of actual scientists, but you never know. In any case, the whole thing parodies itself, making our job easy. In 2004, Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin wrote a shocking admission in the New York Review of Books: “Most Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[Markets] Making your own caffè latte every morning could save you $337,942 over your lifetime Forgoing your morning coffee will save you money, but it will take decades.
Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[Media] Uh oh! Did Trump just RUIN the WH Correspondents Dinner fun for some journos?

"Trump's troll game is without peer."

The post Uh oh! Did Trump just RUIN the WH Correspondents Dinner fun for some journos? appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[] Ace of Spades Pet Thread Welcome to the almost world famous Ace of Spades Pet Thread, where critters are tops. It's been quite a week with the pets here. All I can say is I'm glad that they don't have thumbs. Whats been going... Published:4/22/2017 1:50:31 PM
[World] France kicks off presidential vote overseas; security tight PARIS (AP) — Polling stations opened Saturday in France's far-flung overseas territories for the country's unpredictable presidential election as the 11 candidates in the race observed a ban on campaigning. Published:4/22/2017 1:10:23 PM
[Atlanta Fed] Where There's Smoke...

Authored by Chris Martenson via PeakProsperity.com,

Central banks around the world have colluded, if not conspired, to elevate and prop up financial asset prices.  Here we'll present the data and evidence that they've not only done so, but gone too far.

When we discuss elevated financial asset prices we really are talking about everything; we're talking not just about the sky-high prices of stocks and bonds, but also of the trillions of dollars’ worth of derivatives that are linked to them, as well as real estate in dozens of countries and locations.  All are intricately linked together. For instance, stocks are elevated, in part, because bond yields are so low.  Sam for real estate. 

Here are three questions most alert investors are asking:

  • Question #1: When will financial assets ever ‘correct’ and fall in price?
  • Question #2: How much does overt propping by the central banks have to do with today's elevated prices?
  • Question #3: How much does covert propping by central banks play a role in these inflated markets?

These are important questions to consider because if central banks have been too involved and gotten themselves mixed up in trying to ‘wag the dog’ by using elevated financial asset prices as a means to drive economic expansion -- then the risk is a big implosion in financial asset prices if their efforts fail. 

The difficulty, as always, is that you can't print your way to prosperity.  It's never worked in history and it won't work this time either.  You can, however, print (or borrow) to delay a correction, after which a boost in real economic growth (or additional income) had better materialize to save your bacon.   But if enough growth does not emerge to both pay back all the old outstanding loans plus all the newly created debt and currency, then you're going to experience a worse correction than if you had not tried to print/borrow your way to prosperity.  

As I’ve outlined before, that economic boom the central banks have been staking everything on been MIA the entire time during the “recovery” following the Great Recession.  And there’s no sign of it showing up any time soon.

The latest Atlanta Fed GDPNow forecast for the US stands at a paltry 0.5%:

(Source)

Folks, that just isn’t going to cut it. You cannot justify a massive increase in debt and sky-high stock and bond prices on the basis of such “growth.”   So something has to give.  Either much higher GDP (income) growth is right around the corner, or these financial asset prices are grotesquely over-inflated.

To explain this in depth, let's tackle those questions above one at a time, in reverse order.

Question #3: How much does covert propping by central banks play a role in these inflated markets?

This one is fascinating. It takes forensic analysis and connecting a few dots to make the case that central banks are propping up a lot more than they admit to.  Before we begin, whether it is a central bank directly, or one of its agents or proxies, it doesn't matter who's doing the intervention if any one of these entities (or all of them) is responsible for goosing asset prices for the purpose of achieving a policy aim.

Second, my motivation here has nothing to do with having a trade going against me and then seeking to explain it away as some nefarious working of a secret group. 

Instead, this is about pointing out that the preponderance of evidence points to repeated and direct market intervention by “some entity” that appear to be very afraid to see stocks and bonds decline in price (or for gold to go up too much).

Here are three pieces of data for you to consider.

  1. The NY Fed moved part of its market group operations to the same place that Citadel (one of the key ‘proxy' suspects in this story) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) just magically happen to have their operations.  For those of you unfamiliar with the CME, that’s the place one uses massive leverage to participate in (or move) markets.  Futures, options and other derivative products which are the perfect vehicles for telegraphing loaded messages to all the robot computers that watch the CME feeds like hungry hawks.
  2. The CME actually has a Central Bank Incentive Program.  The CME incentive programs are reserved for their very best (i.e., highest volume) customers.  So we can state, without question, that central banks are heavy participants at the CME.
  3. No central bank admits to having any of the CME products on their balance sheet.

An additional fourth observation is that the equity markets continue to experience remarkable recoveries time and time again, even when only the slightest weakness in prices is seen, and at all key support levels. 

So let’s break all that down and dig a little deeper.

The (cover) story behind the NYFed moving its market-oriented trading operations to Chicago was because they allegedly got worried by superstorm Sandy and wanted to relocate a little further inland, away from the effects of any future such storms. 

It’s just a massive coincidence that the chosen spot happens to be right where the CME lives:

Wary of natural disaster, NY Fed bulks up in Chicago

April 14, 2015

 

The New York branch of the U.S. Federal Reserve, wary that a natural disaster or other eventuality could shut down its market operations as it approaches an interest rate hike, has added staff and bulked up its satellite office in Chicago.

 

Some market technicians have transferred from New York and others were hired at the office housed in the Chicago Fed, according to several people familiar with the build-out that began about two years ago, after Hurricane Sandy struck Manhattan.

 

Officials believe the Chicago staffers can now handle all of the market operations that are done daily out of the New York Fed, which is the U.S. central bank's main conduit to Wall Street

(Source)

Shortly after this news became known (and there is only this sole Reuters article to pull from, I couldn’t find any other major news outlet that covered it)  some sharp eyes at ZeroHedge noticed that the new job offerings that opened up soon after in the Chicago area included this job description element: Perform account services to foreign central banks, international agencies, and U.S. government agencies.

You’ll find out why that’s meaningful in the next few paragraphs.  It will support the contention that moving the Fed's offices to the Chicago area might have had less to do with superstorm Sandy and more with preventing superstorm financial meltdowns.

Now let’s look at the CME's Central Bank Incentive Program ("CBIP").  Here’s the notice from the CME webpage.

(Source)

The first two things we note in the program is that it heavily discounts fees to central banks to help them conduct “proprietary trading of CME products.”  As a reminder, those 'products' are options and futures (both leveraged derivatives). 

We can also note that the program is reserved for non-US central banks (more on that in a minute) and that the trading can be conducted by a “manager or representative.”  Could that representative or agent be a NYFed staffer?  We don’t know, but it’s not forbidden in the rules. And we know the NYFed was actively recruiting for people whose job description included the duty of “Perform account services to foreign central banks, international agencies, and U.S. government agencies.

Next, let’s take a look at the most recent discount schedule for the CBIP and see what it can tell us:

Well, first up it’s obvious that the central banks are playing with a huge array of leveraged derivative products.

Second, we might glean something from the offered discounts.  Assuming that the heavier the trading the greater the discount, this table makes sense to me.  Everything in yellow has a discount of 30% or greater.

The heaviest discounts are applied to Eurodollar futures and options, a category that makes perfect sense for central banks to play in given their legal role and public mandates. 

Coming in next in order are US Treasury futures and options. Again, these make sense if central banks have exposure to US Treasury bonds that they’d like to hedge, and I have no complaint with these.

However, I cannot find a good reason that central banks should be monkeying around in US stock futures.  Nor can I make a good case for energy, agricultural or metal contracts.  Yet they all appear on there.

Note in orange at the bottom are thee metals contracts. We can deduce that they are bought and sold by central banks, but coming in at a 27% discount, perhaps not in the same large quantities as other products.  This doesn’t seem odd to me because the commercial bullion banks do such a good job of smashing gold and silver with disturbing regularity and zero regulatory response. Perhaps the central banks only feel the need to intervene every so often.

Finally, I have no idea what “Other financial products” are at the CME but they're traded often enough to garner the largest discount (49%) on the entire table.  One wonders if perhaps this isn’t a “masked bucket” that includes everything the central banks would prefer was not revealed at all.

The central bank that I could imagine might have some justification for hedging stock exposure, as opposed to buying stock futures to goose the market at key moments, would the Swiss National Bank because they have about $60 billion in direct US equity ‘investments.’

But there’s nothing remotely on here that looks anything like a CME option or future product:

(Source)

Nor is there anything on their income statement that looks like a CME related gain or loss.

Further, I have not been able to find a single central bank that admits to using CME products. But we know that they are, so having some secrecy there is clearly important to them.  This supports the “market propping” idea because admitting such a thing is simply a big no-no….unless you are the Bank of Japan which not only buys equities and ETFs hand over fist, but openly does so specifically on down days when the Japanese stock markets could use a helping hand going in the “right “ direction (which is always "up").

The Fuse Is Lit...

Many people might be tempted to shrug their shoulders and say “why should I care if the central banks are monkeying around the in the markets?”

In Part 2: The Coming Conflagration, where we answer Question #2 and the all-important Question #1 raised above, it becomes abundantly clear why all of us should care -- deeply. A tumble from these heights would destroy jobs by the millions, wipe out trillions of (phony) wealth, and invite great populist angst opening up the possibility of truly horrible leaders to emerge.  As I’ve quipped to some people, if you don’t like Trump you are going to positively *hate* whoever comes next if the current wealth gap persists (or worsens). But make no mistake: it will be the ordinary people who will be forced to eat the losses when all this blows up. So we should care. As well as remain very alert to what the Federal Reserve and other central banks are doing. Because if they fail, it’s our wealth, our jobs -- and possibly even our lives -- on the line. Click here to read the report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

 

Published:4/22/2017 1:10:22 PM
[AWD] WHO CARES IF THE GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN?

So the world will stop if Congress can’t reach a new budget guaranteed to waste billions of dollars on moochers, benefits for illegal aliens, foreign aid to countries that despise us, and funding of endless, unwinnable wars. Yes, the government will shut down. Oh, the horrors! According to Zero Hedge: A federal closure would shutter National Park Service destinations like the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Government […]

The post WHO CARES IF THE GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN? appeared first on .

Published:4/22/2017 1:10:22 PM
[topics:organisations/conservative-party] Revealed: The 'hit list' of Pro-EU Tory MPs the Lib Dems are targeting in Brexit election purge Published:4/22/2017 1:10:22 PM
[Science] Trump on Earth Day: Protect environment 'without harming America's working families' "We can and must protect our environment without harming America's working families," Trump said in a statement. Published:4/22/2017 1:10:22 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy abruptly removed from his post U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a physician advocate for the Affordable Care Act appointed by former President Barack Obama, was abruptly removed from the post by the Trump administration Friday.
Published:4/22/2017 1:10:22 PM
[Opinion] Geraldo Rivera Is Confused About Sanctuary Cities

kate-steinle

Saturday morning on the Fox News Channel Geraldo Rivera made some mistaken, or maybe his remarks were instead misleading, statements; with him one can not be certain if he’s serious of not. He said that sanctuary cities like Chicago should not be blamed for their high murder rate because the murders are of a domestic, ...
Published:4/22/2017 1:10:22 PM
[World] Sharia Law Advocate Linda Sarsour to Give Commencement Speech at Taxpayer-Funded University

There's been some controversy after the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health announced a pro-Palestinian Sharia Law advocate will serve as the school's commencement speaker.

Published:4/22/2017 12:43:12 PM
[topics:things/passengers] American Airlines employee challenges passenger to fight Published:4/22/2017 12:43:11 PM
[Trump, Donald J] Trump Reaches Beyond West Wing for Counsel The president has turned to a group of advisers — from family, real estate, media, finance and politics — all of whom are outside the White House gates Published:4/22/2017 12:43:11 PM
[Politics] ‘This is so OBVIOUS a CHILD could see it’ – Krauthammer on Iran’s nuke program Krauthammer mocked the former Obama administration for being so naive as to have provided the conditions for Iran to become nuclear within a decade, and it’s happening right now. Watch below: SO . . . Published:4/22/2017 12:43:11 PM
[Activism] Bill Maher Lashes Out At Cal Berkeley's "F**king Babies"

It appears even the most liberal of Democrats are turning on their own as the virtue-signalling vacillations grow ever more mind-bending.

After University of California at Berkeley officials decision to rescind an invitation for conservative author and commentator Ann Coulter to speak on campus, only to restore the invitation for a later date...

HBO "Real Time" host Bill Maher exclaimed on his show Friday night that...

"Berkeley, you know, used to be the cradle of free speech, and now it's just the cradle for f—king babies."

As The Hill reports, Coulter's speech set for this Thursday was canceled due to anxiety by school officials that protests could spin out of control the same way they did in February when alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak. Riots resulted in more than $100,000 in damage to the campus and the speech was cancelled due to security concerns.

But after scathing criticism, the school reversed its decision on Coulter on Thursday, and will host the speech on May 2.

“I feel like this is the liberals’ version of book burning, and it’s got to stop," Maher said before taking aim at former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean for his tweet stating hate speech isn't protected by the First Amendment.

 

“Yes it is!” Maher insisted.

“Threats are not protected by the First Amendment,” the host added.

“It doesn't mean 'just shut up and agree with me.’”

Conservative commentator S.E. Cupp, a panelist on Maher’s show Friday, doubled down on Maher’s criticism.

“It’s a shame,” she said. “Liberals are creating a fantasy land on college campuses that does not exist in the real world.”

Maher and Coulter are longtime friends. She has appeared on "Real Time" on multiple occasions over the years. “I obviously don’t believe in his politics, but I like him. He’s a true and loyal friend. He always has been,” Coulter told Sean Hannity last year.

Ironically, as The Hill notes, Maher was UC-Berkeley's 2014 fall commencement speaker, but students at the time started a petition to have him removed over a disagreement on the atheist comedian's views on religion and Islamic terror.

Published:4/22/2017 12:43:11 PM
[Political Ignorance] [Ilya Somin] When should voters march to the beat of scientists? Today’s March for Science protests are at least in part motivated by concerns that the Trump Administration is ignoring scientific expertise. The protesting scientists and their supporters hope to persuade the public to put more faith in the views of the scientific community and elect politicians who will do the same. This raises the question […] Published:4/22/2017 12:43:11 PM
[News] Donald Trump Jr. Compares Handling Terrorists to Parenting at Montana Campaign Event "If you draw the red line and they cross it..." Published:4/22/2017 12:43:11 PM
[US Politics] OUCH! Here are some ‘Happy #EarthDay’ greetings enviro-lefties will NOT appreciate

Hypocrisy spotters do their thing.

The post OUCH! Here are some ‘Happy #EarthDay’ greetings enviro-lefties will NOT appreciate appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/22/2017 12:43:11 PM
[Opinion] More Stupidity From The Left How much more do normal people have to put up with before some sanity is restored to this country? When are we going to say enough is enough and put an end to all this madness that is circulating through this country? Someone needs to stand up and put an end to this Liberal-Progressive, Social ...
Published:4/22/2017 12:43:11 PM
[Markets] Is it possible to have too much savings? Financial advisers debate whether you can ever have too much in the bank.
Published:4/22/2017 12:43:11 PM
[World] France's overseas territories kick off key presidential vote PARIS (AP) — Polling stations opened Saturday in France's far-flung overseas territories — one day earlier than on the mainland — for the country's unpredictable presidential election as the 11 candidates in the race observed a ban on campaigning. Published:4/22/2017 12:09:22 PM
[TOO] Dividend Stock Yields 9%, Record Earnings Again, More Due In 2017, Goes Ex-Dividend This Week Published:4/22/2017 12:09:21 PM
[Middle East] Did Russia Shoot Down US Missiles In Syria

Submitted by Jonathan Roth of RiskHedge

In an exclusive video interview with RiskHedge, a long-time geopolitical expert says there is an alternate story making the rounds about the United States’ April 7 missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat Airbase in response to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of sarin gas on its own people.

“Not all missiles made their target,” says Dr. Theodore Karasik, a senior advisor to Gulf State Analytics. “There were supposed to be 60. One malfunctioned on one of the ships. 36 made target, the remainder did not. And, there’s a question of where did they go?”

Dr. Karasik, a former senior political scientist in the International Policy and Security Group at RAND Corporation, spent the last decade in the Middle East and retains an extensive network in the region.

“The missing [missiles] were either brought down by S-300 battery or were taken over by Russian electronic jamming and were plunged into the sea,” explains Dr. Karasik. “Now, this alternative theory means that the US and Russia have already clashed if you will—technically—with the use of the TLAMs (Tomahawk missiles) and then being intercepted or taken over by Russian control.”

If true, this means the US and Russia have had a direct military confrontation for the first time in decades.

“This is very important,” says Dr. Karasik, “because it illustrates that we’ve had our first encounter with the Russians, and that sets the stage for potentially future encounters between Washington and Russia on the Syrian battlefield.”

In addition, the rationale for the missile strike in the first place—Bashar al-Assad’s sarin gas attack on his own people—may be based on faulty intelligence.

“Apparently, the location of the attack itself is in an industrial area where there are a lot of toxic industrial chemicals located,” says Dr. Karasik. “The attack on this location produced a toxic cloud that was deadly enough, obviously, to kill and maim hundreds. The issue here is that in this particular attack, where this industrial gas was released, this is not in any way related to a sarin-type attack.”

Dr. Karasik says sarin is an odorless agent while victims complained they smelled an odor. He also explains that medics who were treating the victims were not properly dressed to handle sarin gas.

“Yes, there was an industrial toxic agent that killed and maimed people,” says Dr. Karasik. “But, whether or not it was sarin still has not been proven.”

This alternative theory is coming from a number of different places, according to Dr. Karasik, including sources in Washington, the Gulf region, and Russia.

RiskHedge reached out to the White House, Pentagon, and Russian Embassy in Washington, DC to comment on this story. As of press time, the White House and Russian Embassy have yet to respond. Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway referred back to the press conference held by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and General Joseph Votel immediately following the Syrian missile strikes. During the briefing on April 11, General Votel said the United States “targeted 59 locations on the airfield and struck 57 of those.”

Watch the full interview below.

Published:4/22/2017 12:09:21 PM
[Science] Liberals celebrate March for Science Many of President Trump's vocal critics made their voices heard via the march. Published:4/22/2017 12:09:21 PM
[Opinion] Democrats And Republicans Are Speaking Different Languages

Sweet Baby Change - A.F. Branco political cartoon

Recently Keith Ellison, the new deputy chairman of the Democrat National Committee, said that Barack Obama had not been the best president he could have been. To Republicans this is an enormous understatement because Republicans believe that Obama was about as bad as a president could be and that the things he did to undermine ...
Published:4/22/2017 12:09:20 PM
[World] Trump announces 'BIG' rally in Pennsylvania to mark first 100 days in office Trump's campaign website does not currently have any new events listed. Published:4/22/2017 12:09:20 PM
[Column] How to make Twitter profitable  Twitter has evolved dramatically since its founding. What the founders fully envisioned we cannot know. Nonetheless, there is one thing we do know: Many business entities have millions of followers and communicate with these followers using Twitter. This is free advertising, no ifs, ands or buts. So, here’s a proposal to radically change the economics of Twitter. Read More
Published:4/22/2017 12:09:20 PM
[Uncategorized] Joy Reid’s “Conservative Commentator” Wants Ivanka and Jared to Push Trump Left "Ivanka and Jared are more moderate. I hope they would use that influence a little bit more." Published:4/22/2017 12:09:20 PM
[The Blog] So the DoJ just sent out letters to “sanctuary” cities and it wasn’t fan mail

A reminder of obligations

The post So the DoJ just sent out letters to “sanctuary” cities and it wasn’t fan mail appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/22/2017 12:09:20 PM
[Politics] ‘This is so OBVIOUS a CHILD could see it’ – Krauthammer on Iran’s nuke program Krauthammer mocked the former Obama administration for being so naive as to have provided the conditions for Iran to become nuclear within a decade, and it’s happening right now. Watch below: SO . . . Published:4/22/2017 12:09:20 PM
[Markets] Trump Today: ‘Big announcement’ coming Wednesday on tax reform, president says President Donald Trump says he’ll unveil a plan next week to give individuals and businesses a “massive tax cut,” signs orders designed to cut tax and regulatory burdens and slams the 100-day benchmark ... Published:4/22/2017 12:09:20 PM
[World] At least 160 dead after Taliban attack on major Afghan army base, official says A group of 10 fighters raided the base in the bloodiest single incident involving the militants since their ouster in 2001. Published:4/22/2017 11:37:59 AM
[World] Possible shutdown, health care quagmire awaiting Congress WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers returning to Washington this coming week will find a familiar quagmire on health care legislation and a budget deadline dramatized by the prospect of a protracted battle between President Donald Trump and Democrats over his border wall. Published:4/22/2017 11:37:58 AM
[Bear Market] Deutsche Bank: "It Was Good While It Lasted"

It all started in February, when we first reported that something unexpected had happened: for reasons that were at the time unknown, the global credit impulse had unexpectedly tumbled, turning negative, a move which we predicted would result in a steep slide in the "soft" economic data, end the "reflation" optimism and unleash a wave of dovishness from the Fed.

Then, two months later when the reflation trade was officially over, in early April the culprit for this sudden collapse in global growth momentum was identified: China, which together with the price of oil, had been the only catalyst for the global reflation trade since the "Shanghai Accord" in February 2016, and had seen its credit impulse crash at the fastest pace since the financial crisis, dropping to a level not seen since 2010. 

Fast forward to this weekend, when in his latest fixed income weekly report, Deutsche Bank's Dominic Konstam - who two weeks ago flipped back from being passionately bearish on rates and TSYs, and a supporter of the reflation trade, to anticipating much lower yields and a slowdown in the economy - writes that "It was good while it lasted."

What he is referring to is both the so-called "bear market" in bonds as well as global growth momentum, and in taking a page from the second derivative playbook we have focused on over the past two months, he expects it to decline sharply now that US excess liquidity has reached a downward inflection point, and as a result for the foreseeable future monetary policy will be a headwind: "historically, the peak in G3 yields has coincided with peaks in output momentum. It would not be unreasonable to expect at least a 50 bps decline from peak to trough in G3 yields following a peak in yield momentum."

Below, he explains why his latest advice to rates traders is to "Sit back, relax, the bear market in bonds may be over."

G3 yield momentum has swung from a monthly trough of -2 percent in early 2015 to the recent peak of almost +60 bps in March, 2017 using 5y5y government bond yields for France, US and Japan (equal weights France, US and 15 percent for Japan). Momentum is the change in the year versus the previous year. At current levels momentum is still strong at +38 bps. But if yields stay where they are momentum will rise to new peaks of +82 bps in June. Yet according to global output momentum (change in year over year output growth), yield momentum itself should be going in the opposite direction. Even if momentum was to fall to zero, a “neutral” zone for 5y5y global yields would need to be 70 bps lower by June versus current levels; if the market was more patient, 50 bps lower by October, which was before the accelerated sell off around the US election. Flat momentum wouldn’t be reached until December, 2017.

 

 

The concern for excessively bearish yield momentum reflects the fact that when output momentum peaks or troughs, there is a strong correlation with troughs or peaks in yield momentum with varying degrees of subsequent adjustment depending on the nature of the shift in output. The correlation isn’t always contemporaneous but it is always within a few months either side. One can’t help but think that if output momentum is rolling over, then we have already seen a clear signal of the rollover in yield momentum and if that is the case the recent (local) bear market is over and the only question is the extent to which it can unwind.

 

Ironically the bear market, since it was never that strong, failed to break the long run decline in global yields. If the bear market in bonds is dead, the bull market may never have noticed.

For those who wish to recreate their own excess liquidity tracker at home, which together with Chinese credit impulse are arguably the two most important leading indicators in a time when credit creation is the only thing that matters, here are some further details.

Our starting point for the shift in output momentum is the excess liquidity model. It is very clear that there is pending a decent loss of momentum predicted by the rollover of excess liquidity. This would also serve to reconcile the hard and soft data debate.

 

For those investors less familiar with the excess liquidity model, it is simply the difference in the first derivative from a Fisher equation, MV=PT where V is considered constant. The only adjustment we have made historically to V is during financial crisis when it was marked lower by 20 percent. M is very broadly defined to include MZM and all credit outstanding adjusted for central bank and bank holdings of debt to avoid double counting. PT represents nominal output and for monthly data we use finished goods producer prices, excluding oil to reflate industrial output. Excess liquidity itself is highly correlated with output momentum, regardless of whether it is reflated with a one year lead. This isn’t necessarily surprising since it implies that today’s output growth is a function of last year’s credit growth and a lagged dependent variable, the latter normally ensures a decent forecasting capability reflecting the strength of the cycle. Intuitively the model works well as credit expansion is required to sustain faster growth (it “accommodates” economic growth). This may occur endogenously (as Keynes argued, real growth solicits stronger credit) but not necessarily – sometimes if credit is constrained any acceleration in real growth or pricing may simply cannibalize itself. In the latest downturn in excess liquidity the run up in producer prices has not been accommodated by faster credit expansion – credit has actually slowed slightly and hence there is deficient excess liquidity to sustain output momentum.

 

Finally, based on both empirical data and concurrent indicators, the correlation between turning points in output momentum and yields is well established. The charts below show various metrics for G3 yields, US yields and 5y5y yields versus both nominal and real output momentum.

There are about 15 episodes going back to 1992 which are all coincident with the shift in direction of yield momentum. For G3 yields, there are 59 months where yields are at least one standard deviation higher than a year ago and 39 months when yields are at least 2 standard deviation higher than a year ago. In the former case the subsequent move in yields averages -56 basis points and in the latter case, -61 basis points. The last major shift in momentum was 2014 after taper tantrum. In the latest episode there has been a 1 sd increase in yield momentum for March-April, 2017. It would not therefore be unreasonable to expect at least a 50 bps decline from peak to trough in G3 yields – if Japan doesn’t move, then depending on the move in European yields, this would be disproportionately larger for the US.

In short: the gamble launched with the Shanghai Accord in February 2016 which prevented a global bear market, namely the global reflation experiment is once again dead - thank China and central bankers who had hoped to hand over monetary policy to Trump's failed fiscal policy. The market just doesn't know it quite yet. 

Published:4/22/2017 11:37:57 AM
[topics:people/marine-le-pen] Presidential election could lead to rioting in French cities, intelligence agencies warn Published:4/22/2017 11:37:57 AM
[Trending] 'This Is an Insult!' New York Strikes Back After DOJ Statement Calls Sanctuary Cities 'Soft on Crime' "Maybe we should ask them..." Published:4/22/2017 11:37:57 AM
[Climate News] The ugliness begins: watch livestream of the #marchforscience via #sciencemarchdc From their web page, their true colors shine brightly:   This Earth Day, April 22, Earth Day Network and the March for Science are co-organizing a rally and teach-in on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The day’s program will include speeches and trainings with scientists and civic organizers, musical performances, and a march through… Published:4/22/2017 11:37:57 AM
[Markets] The Tell: The British just went 24 hours without coal-fired electricity Great Britain on Friday had a 24-your period without using coal to generate electricity, according to officials at the power transmission network serving England, Scotland and Wales.
Published:4/22/2017 11:37:56 AM
[Science] Trump announces 'BIG' rally in Pennsylvania next Saturday Trump's campaign website does not currently have any new events listed. Published:4/22/2017 11:37:56 AM
[Column] Is a “robot tax” really an “innovation penalty”?  When Bill Gates recently suggested robots should pay income tax like any other employee, I didn’t immediately disagree. I applaud Gates’ bold thinking to help solve one of society’s biggest upcoming challenges: embracing automation in a way that “lifts all boats” instead of leaving large swaths of society behind. A robot tax would help offset the reduced… Read More
Published:4/22/2017 11:37:56 AM
[Quick Takes] Study: Artificially-sweetened Drinks Associated with Strokes, Dementia Sugar-sweetened drinks were not associated with stroke or dementia Published:4/22/2017 11:37:56 AM
[World] Tucker Rips MSNBC, Rachel Maddow for Blaming Trump for 'Disaster' in Venezuela

As riots and protests continue in Venezuela, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow thinks she knows who's to blame for the socialist country's civil unrest: U.S. President Donald Trump.

Published:4/22/2017 11:13:33 AM
[structure:news] Baby gorilla born at UK zoo Published:4/22/2017 11:13:32 AM
[Social Sciences ] Icelandic language at risk; robots, computers can't grasp it When an Icelander arrives at an office building and sees "Solarfri" posted, they need no further explanation for the empty premises: The word means "when staff get an unexpected afternoon off to enjoy good weather." Published:4/22/2017 11:13:31 AM
[Entertainment] David Spade and Naya Rivera Spotted on Dinner Date: He "Really Likes" Her, Source Says Naya Rivera, David SpadeDavid Spade "really likes" Naya Rivera, who he has been dating for about a month, E! News has learned. The two, who star together in the Crackle comedy film Mad Families, were...
Published:4/22/2017 11:13:31 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Here’s how the French election could test the U.S. stock market’s resilience The U.S. stock market has proved to be very resilient in the face of multiple geopolitical threats and the next big event—French election—is likely to have a short-lived impact, according to analysts
Published:4/22/2017 11:13:31 AM
[US Politics] N.C. investigation finds exact number of votes cast illegally in 2016 general election

Includes many "non citizens" who voted.

The post N.C. investigation finds exact number of votes cast illegally in 2016 general election appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/22/2017 11:13:31 AM
[In The News] WATCH: American Airlines gate agent challenges passenger to fight after hitting woman with stroller

American Airlines agent hit me fight with passenger

While the video doesn’t show the whole story, it does capture the moment on Friday when an American Airlines gate agent challenged a passenger on flight 591 to fight him. According to reports, the gate agent aggressively took a stroller from the lady seen crying. In doing so, he struck the woman and narrowly missed ...
Published:4/22/2017 11:13:31 AM
[Satire] Happy Earth Mirth Day Today is Earth Day, and there will be assorted celebrations with “feelings” all over mother Gaia. Most notably is the March for (or against, depending on your viewpoint) Science. Josh has his take on it, using inspiration from the Red Team/Blue Team article. Filed under: Satire Published:4/22/2017 11:13:31 AM
[] Saturday Gardening Thread: Bloomin' Mysteries [KT] Clue to Mystery Flower #1 is The Platypus. Animal: Wide bill. Plant: Wide ____. Happy Saturday, gardeners and garden watchers! Today, we have three mystery flowers plus additional content! Only the most nerdish gardeners in The Horde are expected... Published:4/22/2017 11:13:31 AM
[World] Trump tells 'dreamers' to rest easy, targets criminals WASHINGTON (AP) — Young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and now in the country illegally can "rest easy," President Donald Trump says, telling the "dreamers" they will not be targets for deportation under his immigration policies. Published:4/22/2017 10:48:16 AM
[Trending] Andrea Tantaros Is Back — But Not With a New Show, Just a New Lawsuit Denials all around... Published:4/22/2017 10:48:15 AM
[B+] The Last Time This Happened, The Market Crashed

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

A few days ago Charles Schwab, the investment brokerage firm, announced that the number of new brokerage accounts soared 44% during the first quarter of 2017.

More specifically, Schwab stated that individual investors are opening up stock trading accounts at the fastest pace the company has seen in 17 years.

17 years.

Anyone remember what happened 17 years ago?

Oh right. The Dot-com bubble burst.

After years of unbelievable gains in the 1990s, the NASDAQ Composite index peaked at 5,132.52 on March 10, 2000.

Simultaneously, during the first quarter of 2000, investors were rushing to open new brokerage accounts invest their savings in the stock market.

The NASDAQ Composite subsequently fell nearly 80% over the next 2 ½ years, wiping out trillions of dollars of wealth from retail investors.

The last phase of any bubble is almost invariably the euphoric shopping spree of an irrational public that buys stocks, real estate, etc. at record highs, foolishly believing that prices will keep rising indefinitely.

That’s what happened in 2000.

And that’s what seems to be happening today.

Investors are once again clamoring to buy expensive, popular stocks at price levels never before seen in the history of the stock market.

Company valuations are sky-high.

At 26.44, the S&P 500’s Price/Earnings ratio is the highest EVER, except for two occasions: the 2008 crash, and the 2000 crash.

At 28.93, the “Shiller P/E ratio”, which looks at company valuations over a longer-term, 10-year period and adjusts for inflation, is at the highest level EVER, except for two occasions: the 2000 crash, and the 1929 crash.

Price to sales ratios are near the highest levels in at least 50 years.

Price to book ratios haven’t been at this level since the 2008 crash.

And the stock market cap to GDP ratio is the highest since the 2000 crash.

(If you don’t understand those terms, I would highly encourage you to read this book. This small investment in your education might be the best you’ll ever make.)

Billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones described these expensive stock market valuations as “terrifying” earlier this month at a closed-door asset management conference hosted by Goldman Sachs.

Yet for some reason individual retail investors still believe that stock prices will continue to rise.

According to Yale University’s Stock Market Confidence Index, for example, over 90% of individual investors believe that the stock market will rise in the next 12 months.

This sentiment isn’t actually based on any data; it’s simply how people -feel-.

These are classic bubble conditions: record-high prices, unsustainable valuations, baseless euphoria, and a surge in activity from retail investors.

In fairness, it’s possible that corporate profits surge by unimaginable rates; this would bring stock valuations back to reality.

But that’s unlikely.

Corporate profits are more or less tethered to the overall economy. If GDP growth is flat, corporate profits will be flat.

Real GDP growth in the US basically went flat in 2016 at just 1.6%.

And the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta estimates that the US economy grew at a pitiful 0.5% annualized rate in the first quarter of 2017.

Consumer spending, the mainstay of the US economy, slumped in the first three months of this year.

Plus, interest rates are starting to rise, which increases borrowing costs for both businesses and individuals.

Given such anemic conditions it seems a risky to bet everything on a sudden shock-and-awe surge in corporate profits.

So we’re right back where we started– an overvalued market exhibiting classic signs of a bubble.

I’m not suggesting that some major crash is imminent.

It’s entirely possible that this bubble can get even bigger; the stock market might rise another 10%, 20%, or more.

But it’s also possible we’ll see a drop of 40%+ from these levels. Remember, the NASDAQ Composite fell 78% from its peak in 2000.

Rational individuals always consider their downside first. Fear of loss should be far greater than the fear of missing out.

Quite simply if the reward isn’t worth the risk, don’t do it. Find something else. Or do nothing and simply wait on the sidelines.

The universe of options is a lot bigger than simply “US stocks”, and there’s an abundance of great opportunity outside of the mainstream.

Lately I’ve been involved in a number of secured lending deals where I’m able to earn between 10% to 12% per year with almost zero risk.

This strikes me as a great alternative to the stock market; I’d rather make a fixed 10% with minimal risk than potentially make 15% or 20%, but risk a 50% loss.

I’ve also been buying cash-producing royalties, which in my view is one of the most undervalued asset classes in the world. (More on that another time…)

Bottom line, there’s no sense in taking on enormous risks to make a few bucks.

The world is a big place. And with so much technology and connectivity at our disposal, there are plenty of safe, lucrative alternatives out there to consider.

Do you have a Plan B?

Published:4/22/2017 10:48:15 AM
[Science] VA Secretary David Shulkin: Potential government shutdown poses 'no risk' to veterans Shulkin talked about how the shutdown threat could impact veterans in an interview with CBS. Published:4/22/2017 10:48:15 AM
[Politics] Jeff Sessions BLASTS journalist asking if deportations are racist Jeff Sessions gives a really good answer to a reporter asking if racism motivates the increase in deportations that Trump is seeking. Watch below: That’s a pretty great answer. While there are . . . Published:4/22/2017 10:48:15 AM
[Politics] Jeff Sessions BLASTS journalist asking if deportations are racist Jeff Sessions gives a really good answer to a reporter asking if racism motivates the increase in deportations that Trump is seeking. Watch below: That’s a pretty great answer. While there are . . . Published:4/22/2017 10:48:15 AM
[Top Picks] Another great moment in airline service: Flight Deck Fights

"You'll be in the news!"

The post Another great moment in airline service: Flight Deck Fights appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/22/2017 10:48:15 AM
[Other ] Thousands join March for Science rallies over 'alternative facts' (Update) Thousands of people rallied in support for science in Europe and Australasia on Saturday ahead of a march in Washington, triggered by rising concern over populism and so-called alternative facts. Published:4/22/2017 10:48:15 AM
[topics:things/history] Fur coat worn by Titanic survivor on lifeboat during rescue sells for £150,000 at auction Published:4/22/2017 10:48:15 AM
[] Thread before the gardening thread: Oz in April Serving your mid-day open thread needs " It's elementary. Has autumn (in Australia) brought out a bit of attention to reality? Australia unveils major changes to citizenship process. Via Maggie's Farm: Aspiring citizens will undergo tougher tests on their English... Published:4/22/2017 10:48:15 AM
[Brownshirts]

Forget about Trump. Full steam ahead.

The post appeared first on .

Published:4/22/2017 10:48:15 AM
[World] Military Mom Surprises Her Son After He Throws Out 1st Pitch at Baseball Game

Air Force Staff Sgt. Georgina Walton returned home from deployment and surprised her young son Brody after he threw out the first pitch at the Charleston RiverDogs game on Thursday.

Published:4/22/2017 10:07:00 AM
[Entertainment] 'I've grown into Caitlyn': '20/20' catches up with Jenner 2 years later Two years after gender transition, Jenner tells Diane Sawyer, "There is peace in my soul."
     
 
 
Published:4/22/2017 10:06:58 AM
[worldNews] Overseas voters kick off crucial French presidential election PARIS/PAPEETE, French Polynesia (Reuters) - French overseas territories and residents in some U.S. states such as Hawaii began voting on Saturday in the French presidential election, a day ahead of a main first-round vote that could change the global political landscape.
Published:4/22/2017 10:06:57 AM
[China] North Korea Warns China Of "Catastrophic Consequences" For Siding With U.S.

Having repeatedly threatened the annihilation of its neightbor to the south, and most recently warning of a "super-mighty preemptive strike" against the US, one day after it emerged that Pyongyang appeared to have resumed activity at its Punggye-ri Nuclear test site, North Korea asked China not to step up anti-North sanctions, warning of "catastrophic consequences" in their bilateral relations.

Pyongyang issued the warning through commentary written by a person named Jong Phil on its official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which was released Saturday.

As South Korea's Yonhap news agency writes, it's rare for Pyongyang's media to level criticism at Beijing, though the KCNA didn't directly mention China in the commentary titled "Are you good at dancing to the tune of others" and dated Friday. The commentary instead called the nation at issue "a country around the DPRK," using North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Not a single word about the U.S. act of pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a war after introducing hugest-ever strategic assets into the waters off the Korean peninsula is made but such rhetoric as 'necessary step' and 'reaction at decisive level' is openly heard from a country around the DPRK to intimidate it over its measures for self-defense," the commentary's introduction in English read.

"Particularly, the country is talking rubbish that the DPRK has to reconsider the importance of relations with it and that it can help preserve security of the DPRK and offer necessary support and aid for its economic prosperity, claiming the latter will not be able to survive the strict 'economic sanctions' by someone."

Then, the KCNA commentary warned that the neighbor country will certainly face a catastrophe in their bilateral relationship, as long as it continues to apply economic sanctions together with the United States.

"If the country keeps applying economic sanctions on the DPRK while dancing to the tune of someone after misjudging the will of the DPRK, it may be applauded by the enemies of the DPRK, but it should get itself ready to face the catastrophic consequences in the relations with the DPRK," it said.

North Korea watchers here say the commentary appears to be Pyongyang's response after Chinese experts and media have recently called for escalating sanctions against the North, including the suspension of oil exports, in case of its sixth nuclear test.

An angry and provocative op-ed slamming what until recently was considered North Korea's shadow advocate in the region, suggests a level of growing desperation at the top echelons of NK's government, and hints that Kim Jong-Un is even more irrational and unpredictable than "normal."

Published:4/22/2017 10:06:57 AM
[Politics] Muslims plan PROTEST march against Amazon for not providing prayer rooms Muslims are demanding special preferential treatment over everyone else at Amazon, and they’re going to march to get it. Watch below: Outraged Muslims to lead march to @amazon‘s HQ after security guards . . . Published:4/22/2017 10:06:57 AM
[Politics] Muslims plan PROTEST march against Amazon for not providing prayer rooms Muslims are demanding special preferential treatment over everyone else at Amazon, and they’re going to march to get it. Watch below: Outraged Muslims to lead march to @amazon‘s HQ after security guards . . . Published:4/22/2017 10:06:57 AM
[Entertainment] Beyoncé Has a Destiny's Child Reunion and Showcases Daring Maternity Look Beyonce, Pregnant, InstagramSay hello to the new FAB FIVE! Beyoncé, who is pregnant with twins, recently reunited with Destiny's Child band mates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. Bey posted on...
Published:4/22/2017 10:06:57 AM
[Science] WATCH LIVE: March for Science in Washington, DC Organizers say the event is dedicated to the importance of scientifically vetted evidence. Published:4/22/2017 10:06:57 AM
[Uncategorized] U. Alaska Displays Prof’s Art Depicting Trump’s Severed Head And just like that, free speech on campus is important again. Published:4/22/2017 10:06:57 AM
[2017 News] Even MSNBC is laughing at Maxine Waters Even MSNBC is laughing at Maxine Waters. After repeatedly saying she would “fight every day until [Trump] is impeached,” now she claims she never called for his impeachment. People are starting to use the ‘d’ word… as in dementia, not Democrat… although, let’s face it, that might be a distinction without a difference. Published:4/22/2017 10:06:57 AM
[In The News] Milo and Coulter take free speech fight to Berkeley

Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopolous

Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter are planning separate efforts to take free speech to U.C. Berkeley students and faculty whether they want it or not. Milo released an online statement Friday announcing a multi-day event called “Milo’s Free Speech Week” which will feature some events at Berkeley “in the name of free expression and the ...
Published:4/22/2017 10:06:56 AM
[Entertainment] Who Will Play Princess Diana on Feud? The Latest From Ryan Murphy Princess Diana, Pop CultureFeud: Betty and Joan's stunning first season wraps up this Sunday on FX in an episode that will make you feel all the feels--and possibly call your grandma. It's a haunting and...
Published:4/22/2017 9:38:20 AM
[Markets] Have you heard the one about a Nobel Prize–winning economist getting ejected from a United Airlines flight? Yale economist Robert Shiller was asked to get off a plane in 2015; he and his wife were paid $2,700.
Published:4/22/2017 9:38:20 AM
[Science] Carl Bernstein: 'Serious belief' in FBI and Congress that there is an 'active cover-up' on Russia Multiple congressional panels, as well as the FBI, are conducting separate Russia inquiries. Published:4/22/2017 9:38:20 AM
[Quick Takes] U. Pittsburgh Prof: ‘We’re All Screwed Because White People Are In Charge’ Classy... Published:4/22/2017 9:38:20 AM
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