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[Markets] What's Up With Australia's 80 Tonnes Of Gold At The Bank Of England?

Submitted by Ronan Manly of BullionStar

Recently, news network RT.com asked for comments on the question of the 80 tonnes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) gold reserves and their supposed storage location at the Bank of England's gold vaults in London. Based on some of those comments I made, RT has now published an article in its English language news website at www.rt.com about this Australian gold that the RBA claims is held in London.

The RT.com article, which was published on 18 February 2018, is titled "Hey UK! It's not just Venezuela, what happened to Australia's gold?", and can be read in full here on the RT website.

For the commentary, RT actually asked me quite a few interesting questions on both the Australian gold and other related gold topics. Since both the extended questions and the answers might be of interest to readers, we have decided to publish below the full set of questions and answers in Q&A format, which are as follows:

1) What happened to Australia’s gold? What’s your opinion?

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) claims to have 80 tonnes of gold bars stored in a bailment arrangement, in an allocated gold account, at the Bank of England vaults in London. Bailment means the Bank of England is custodian, and the RBA owns and has title to specific serial numbered gold bars.

However, there have never been any independent physical audits of this gold, which means that there is no way to verify the RBA’s claim that it has all the gold that it claims to have.

In 2013, the Bank of England allowed the RBA to do a partial audit of some of  the claimed RBA gold holdings, but the results of this audit remain secret, and even after FOIA requests, the documents from this audit were blocked by both the Bank of England and the RBA and never released. This also raises a red flag.

Most importantly, the critical document to any gold holding held under bailment is a proper weight list of the gold bar holdings (including refiner serial numbers), and such a list has also never been published by the RBA. Such a weight list is fundamental to any claimed gold holding (for example, think about the gold-backed Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) which publish their full gold bar weight lists online on a daily basis).

The RBA has not made any gold purchases or sales over the last 20 years, so apart from gold lending, the RBA gold should be the same bars that it has held over at least the last 20 years. It would therefore be a simple matter to publish in a single zipped file all of the versions of the gold bar weight list that this 80 tonnes of gold has represented over the last 20 years. The Bank of England's gold bar accounting system has all of this information and it would be simple to extract it.

Throughout the last 20 years, the RBA also admits that a lot of its claimed gold holdings have been lent out in the secretive London Gold Lending Market, but there is no information whatsoever available on any of these lending transactions or the serial numbers of the gold bars involved. In other words, there has never even been one snapshot publication of a proper industry standard weight list for these RBA gold bars (by refiner serial numbers), let alone an updated weight list every time the RBA lent out or closed a gold lending deal.

During the years 1999 - 2004, the RBA says that almost all of it's gold was on loan, and the RBA is still in the gold lending market to this day, for example, 10 tonnes of its claimed 80 tonnes at the Bank of England were said to be on loan during 2018. The important point here is that the gold bars that the RBA would have title to at the completion of a gold lending deal would not be the same bars that it held prior to this gold being lent to a bullion bank in London.

Independent physical audits, full and proper weight lists, details of gold lending transactions, and above all a transparent attitude, would all allow instant verification of the RBA's claims about the sovereign Australian gold holdings. That the RBA and Bank of England refuse to do any of these things is highly suspicious. Therefore, there is no black and white way to say that the RBA has the 80 tonnes of gold it claims to have.

2) Why are countries like Australia and Canada willing to part with physical gold assets? Is that a good idea in your opinion? How much gold does Australia really have?

Up until late 1996, the Australian central bank held nearly 247 tonnes of gold, a considerable amount of gold by any measurement. However, it then went on a gold selling spree during the first half of 1997 and sold 167 tonnes, leaving it with the current claimed 80 tonnes.So why did the RBA sell this gold? At the time, the usual justifications were wheeled out by the RBA such as that the proceeds of gold sales could be better invested in financial assets, and that other countries were also selling gold at that time, including Canada, Netherlands and Belgium. But, these reasons have always stinked. Firstly, the RBA gold sales occurred just before a huge bull market run-up the gold price between 2000 and 2011, so the RBA made a huge opportunity loss on the gold sales.

Secondly, selling gold just because another central bank is doing is nonsensical and void of investment rationale. The same goes for Canada which basically sold all of its gold, about 500 tonnes, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Again, there was no investment rationale for doing so and the Canadians seem to have been coaxed into these sales by external parties. It’s also interesting that in hindsight, no one in the Canadian Department of Finance ever wanted to talk about these gold sales later on when asked by the media or investigative journalists.

Of course, it was not a good idea for Australia to sell most of its gold and for Canada to sell all of its gold. The timing of these sales was also some of the worst ever. Beyond this, these central banks acted irresponsibly and had no accountability to the populations of their nations. Gold is the Wealth of Ages, the sovereign wealth of a nation. It is not some securitized financial asset to be sold and squandered by statist central bankers who answer to no one.

3) Some experts believe that western central banks are “covertly disposing” of their gold or otherwise leasing it to China and India through bullion banks. Do you believe in that? Do you believe there’s some grand, global gold conspiracy involving the world’s central banks?

There is a mountain of evidence that Western central banks despise the power of gold and will go to great lengths at the highest levels to contain the gold price through coordinated interventions and anti-gold policies. From the London Gold Pool of the 1960s, to the US and IMF gold sales in the 1970s, to the 1980s Gold Pool discussions at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), to the Bank of England intervening into the London Gold Fixes in the 1980s, G10 central bank governors have often been personally involved in committing to gold market manipulation.

This continued through the 1980s and 1990s with the growth of the secretive gold lending market and central bank gold leasing, the various European central bank gold "agreements" which did the opposite of what they claimed to do, the sabotage of transparent IMF gold accounting policies by the main European central banks in 1999, and the gold price fix manipulation by bullion banks in London where regulators looked the other way. All of this evidence and more is available if anyone wants to look, such as on the GATA website and elsewhere.

As regards the Australian and Canadian gold sales, the more logical explanation for both of these was that they were coordinated gold sales by G10 central banks as part of a plan to fire-fight the physical gold market or to bail out gold short bullion banks, or that the sales were part of secretive gold re-distributions to other countries, such as to China. While this may seem far-fetched, you have to realize that central banks never tell the truth, especially when it comes to the gold market, and that the sheer numbers of central bank gold sales around that time in the 1990s and 2000s, including by the UK and Switzerland, point to something collusive about the sales rationales.

All of these sales were also secretive, with nothing revealed about the identities of the buyers. Any lists of such central bank gold sales, for example in an FOIA connected to the UK's gold sales, have the identities of the buyers redacted. So its totally possible that a central bank, such as China, was on the receiving end of these gold sales. There is evidence that the UK Treasury gold sales in 1999 done for bullion bank bailout purposes, so this could be true with the RBA sales.

At a broader level, there seems to be collusive policy behind the scenes of western central banks offloading physical gold in a coordinated manner through secretive sales and leasing it to achieve various policy objectives. These objectives include inducing extra gold supply to dampening down the gold price, fire fighting physical shortages, at times bailing out bullion banks, and most intriguingly, redistributing some of the West's central bank gold holdings to central banks such as the People's Bank of China. Gold Pools (central bank syndicates) don't have to take the form of advertised arrangements as in the 1960s. A central bank gold pool exists any time two or more central banks clandestinely use some of their gold holdings in a coordinated way.

You can call this a conspiracy if you want. Try to ask central banks simple questions about their gold and you will see that not one central bank will ever divulge important information about its gold, or its gold operations, or its gold related policy discussions with other central banks. The Bundesbank, the Bank of England, the New York Fed, the Bank for International Settlements, the European Central Bank, the IMF, the Swiss National bank, De Nederlandsche bank, the Swedish Riksbank, the Banque de France, Banca d'Italia. The list is endless. All of these central banks keep a lid on revealing anything substantive about their gold holdings and their gold activities, and none produce proper weights lists of their gold bars.

Due to the secrecy of the gold lending market, there is zero confidence that the Western central banks have the amount of gold that they claim to have.

The secretive Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Basel

4) What or who is behind the thinking in the West that after 5,000 years gold is now become obsolete as a store of value?

Gold is the ultimate form of money and a 5000 year old store of value. Gold is no one else's liability and is the antithesis of central bank fiat currency regimes. Gold is the world's best inflation barometer and a long term inflation hedge. It is for these reasons that central bankers run in fear of gold and want to disparage gold's image at every turn and to make gold obsolete as a form of savings and investment.

Who is responsible for this? Those who have been running the Anglo and American and Western European central banks and their London and New York commercial bank counterparts for the last 50 years, the same people who congregate at the BIS in Basel and are represented on the Group of Thirty and the Bretton Woods Committee, i.e. the elitist central bankers and their investment bank backers.

5) If Western countries are disposing of physical gold where does it go?

Physical gold has flown from West to East. Some of these flows have been through normal channels where gold has been sold in the market and moved from London to the Swiss precious metals refineries to be transformed from 400 oz gold bars into smaller higher purity 1 kg and 100 oz gold bars, and onward shipped to India, Hong Kong and China.

Gold has also moved directly to the East via mining exports of South Africa, Australia, Canada, the US and elsewhere, and imported directly into China, Hong Kong and India. Western central bank gold disposals will only show up in these gold flows to the extent that the gold has been classified as non-monetary gold. Any cross-border movements of 'monetary gold' (which is central bank gold), will not show up in trade statistics, which is what the central banks like, as they want to keep these transactions in the shadows.

India has imported about 15,000 tonnes of gold since 2001. There are more than 25,000 tonnes of private gold held in India. There are at least 17,000 tonnes of gold held in China, not including the gold holdings of the Chinese central bank. Gold has flowed from the West into India and China, sometimes overtly, sometimes covertly.

Some of the gold that the Western central banks still claim that they hold is in fact not there at all. It has been leased out in London, sold and shipped abroad, and now sits in China or India, and all the while the Western central banks still claim that this gold is on their balance sheets as they maintain the fiction that 'gold receivables' are in fact the same as physically held gold.

6) Australian economist John Adams said: “In the last 20 years we’ve only seen the gold once.” According to Adams, the RBA audit was so flawed it was basically meaningless. Is there any chance that the BoE could manufacture bars with fake serial numbers?

The Bank of England allowed Australia’s central bank to do its own partial gold audit in 2013, and to inspect a random sample of the RBA gold bars, This audit was basically meaningless, yes, and was flawed from start to finish.

Knowledge of this gold audit kept out of the public domain and the results of the audit were totally censored and buried. Only via FOIA requests did the Australian public even get a glimpse into what was going on. The FOIA emails and correspondence that the RBA did release were heavily redacted without any details of how many gold bars were selected and what the sample size was, and the results of the audit were not published. No one in any industry would accept such conditions for an audit nor of the so-called audit results.

At no time did the Bank of England supply a proper weight list to the RBA with the refiner serial numbers of the claimed gold holding. The RBA had to select some bars a month in advance and advise the Bank of England of the bars its wanted to examine. This in itself is ridiculous. For example, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) has full annual audits of all of its gold holdings (of nearly 800 tonnes), i.e. 10 times more than the RBA holds. Since the GLD can get its gold physically audited twice per year, there is no reason why the RBA cannot.

In July 2013, just before the RBA's flawed and partial audit, the RBA didn’t even have formal ‘gold safe-custody arrangements’ in place with the Bank of England since it had to ask for “gold safe-custody arrangements between the RBA and the BoE to be formally clarified”. That's according to a glimpse of some RBA - Bank of England correspondence that did make it out in one of the FOIA emails released.

One of the basement levels of the Bank of England, London

After the audit, the RBA blocked publication of the audit results document stating that it “would, or could reasonably be expected to, cause damage to’ the relationship between the RBA and the BoE” and that it could “render less effective of procedures or methods for the conduct of tests, examinations or audits’ by the Bank”. This is complete nonsense.

The real reasons that the Bank of England does not allow proper gold bar audits and the real reason that it will never provide central bank customers with proper weight lists of refiner serial numbers is that the Bank of England wants total secrecy about gold lending and where the lent gold goes to. Revealing the refiner serial numbers would blow open the entire central bank - bullion bank gold lending scheme, as the lent gold bars could be identified wherever they turn up. The Bank of England does not need to manufacture fake serial numbers. All it needs to do is prevent any serial numbers of gold bars going into the public domain by keeping the entire inventory of central bank gold bar weight lists a secret.

At the end of the day, it's important to remember that all central bank gold audits are basically meaningless, not just the gold audit of the RBA. Physical gold audits are only credible if they are unconditional, without any restrictions, and if they are undertaken by independent auditors.

7) The Bank of England is globally recognized as one of, if not the primary destination of choice, for central banks to store their gold reserves. Do you think it’s the right place for Australian gold to be?

No, there is absolutely no need for Australian gold to be in London. Its ridiculous. Australian gold should be stored in Australia. Australia has a sophisticated gold industry and perfectly good infrastructure for storing and handling gold, in fact better than most other countries.

The rationale claimed by the RBA that it stores its gold in London so as to be in proximity to the London Gold Trading market is also wearing thin given that the Bank of England has now confiscated the gold of Venezuela's central bank, the Banco Central do Venezuela (BCV). This is sovereign gold of another nation which was placed into custody storage by a foreign central bank. It is also absolutely extraordinary that the Bank of England has

All central banks that store gold bars at the Bank of England should now sit up and take note that storing gold at the Bank of England is a wealth hazard  fraught with political and confiscational risk. And if any central bank gold custody customer of the Bank of England is too embarrassed to actually ask for its gold back straight up due to heightened confiscational risk factors, the current uncertainty over Brexit can act as a good cover story for worried central banks.

Wisely, for example, all of the Bank of Russia's gold is held in Russia, in Moscow and St Petersburg. The RBA should do likwise, and store its gold in somewhere such as Canberra, Sydney or Perth.

Bank of Russia gold storage, Moscow

7) ..continued ....Maybe it’s time for Australia to get it's gold back? Is that possible?

The Australian central bank could request it's gold back at any time. Australia has vast logistical experience shipping gold around the world. Likewise, the Bank of England has vast logistical experience shipping physical gold around the world.

Assuming the RBA's gold is actually in custody in London, the RBA could withdraw this gold at any time. The Perth Mint in Western Australia flies gold around the world all the time. Its entirely feasible that the the Bank of England could contract a company such as Brinks to fly the RBA gold back to Australia in less than 2 days. It should take a maximum of 2-3 weeks to arrange insurance and transport and fly the gold out of Heathrow or one of the other London commercial airports, or even from a military air base such as RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk which the Bank of England has used many times in the past.

8) Do you think the Reserve Bank of Australia has to start building its gold reserves again?

Yes, it is irresponsible that Australia not only sold a majority of its gold at fire sale prices in 1997, but that it has since done nothing to rebuild its strategic monetary gold reserves. All the while, the Asian powers of China and Russia have been doing just that. As one of world's largest gold mining producers, Australia also has the means at its disposal to rebuild its gold by tapping into primary gold production in the way that the Russian Federation has been doing.

9) Gold has been traditionally recognized as a safe haven asset but its price action has raised some questions. Do you think gold is still worth to be accumulated or maybe it’s time to switch to something else, for example, to silver or palladium?

Gold is money. Gold is a monetary metal with 5000 years of history. The global fiat currency experiment which has been in practice since 1971 is just a blip in time compared to gold's long and important history. It is therefore dangerous to fixate on the US dollar gold price or the 'international' gold price.

This US dollar gold price is set in the fractionally-backed London over-the-counter (OTC) and via COMEX gold futures trading. Both of these markets are essentially trading synthetic paper gold, unallocated gold, cash-settled gold, or screen gold. Call it what you will. The price action of this US dollar quoted gold price does not mean that gold is not a safe haven. Far from it. Physical gold is and always will be a safe haven. Gold demand is still very strong despite what the Western financial media would have you believe. Just look at Asian retail and wholesale gold demand and central bank gold demand in countries such as China, India, Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan.

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[Markets] Breaking Down Elizabeth Warren's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Math Behind "Childcare For All"

This week Elizabeth Warren proposed a fantastical entitlement program to provide free or affordable childcare to every single American family with a young child - suggesting that the program would cost $70 billion a year

As Breitbart's John Carney notes - the whole plan is absurd; not because the price tag is so expensive, but because it's way too cheap

Start with the basics. There are around four million babies born in the U.S. every year. That means there are approximately 20 million children under school age who could be enrolled in a national childcare program. Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi and Sophia Koropeckyj, the economists behind Warren’s figures, estimate that the cost of each child in the Warren Centers—or Baby Warrens, as we would inevitably call them–would be $14,500. -Breitbart

At $14,500 times 20 million children, a national childcare program could cost up to $290 billion per year - or an extra 2 trillion per decade over her original estimate. That said, not every family qualifies, nor would every family take advantage of such a program as some people prefer to raise their own children or place them in the care of relatives. 

That said, Warren's proposal promises free childcare to any family with an income under 200% of the poverty line - or around $51,000 for a family of four. All other families would pay no more than 7% of their income on childcare.

Zandi and Koropeckyj estimate that 1/3 of American households will choose to forego professional childcare; around the same percentage as today. This is magical thinking, suggests Carney - as it assumes that stay-at-home parents won't change their preferences in light of a massive government program. 

Warren's plan assumes that the number of children in childcare centers would rise from 6.8 million to 12 million - however due to shifting preferences, that number would likely be much higher

That said - the math behind Warren's plan is still wrong at 12 million children. At $14,500 per head, the program would cost approximately $174 billion per year, not $90 billion

How they shave that $100 billion off the cost is partly redistribution and mostly voodoo economics, magical thinking disguised as macroeconomics. Because families earning more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level would have to pay for some of their childcare–but never really more than half–the cost would be reduced. But the size of the subsidy for even very wealthy families is large enough that this doesn’t shave much off the total cost.

The heavy lifting here is in the rosy economic forecasts Zandi and Koropeckyj produce. They predict that the childcare for all program will “quickly lift economic growth” by transferring wealth from the rich—Warren wants to pay for the program with a tax on ultra-millionaires. In the longer term, they see it boosting economic  growth because they foresee it boosting workforce participation and the number of hours worked. -Breitbart

In short, the plan only works if economic growth is "quickly lifted" because of a massive wealth transfer from ultra-millionaires, and if the free childcare results in more parents leaving the home in search of jobs amid already-low unemployment. The analysis fails to consider that a flood of additional workers who aren't at home raising their own kids would put downward pressure on wages. 

"Cheapening labor costs while raising taxes on wealth would also diminish the return on capital investment, which would be a drag on productivity—the best driver of economic growth," notes Carney.

"In the end, we may end up with a diminished economy, families working more hours than before and spending less time with children, and an entitlement program that is much more expensive than anticipated (as entitlement programs tend to be)."

That said, encouraging Americans to have more children by making it more affordable is not a bad idea, concludes Carney. It should just be done in a way that doesn't require magical math - such as a much larger, fully refundable child tax credit, and allowing families to pay less in entitlement taxes when they have more than two children. After all, they will be supplying the next generation of workers who will pay for Social Security and Medicare, should it still exist by then.

"Childcare Deserts"

While Carney points out the crappy assumptions behind Warren's plan, there may be another major problem; accessibility. According to the Center for American Progress, more than half of American households live in what are known as "childcare deserts" - places where there are up to 3 children for every available childcare slot, or no childcare options at all

Warren addresses this in a blog post, suggesting that her plan would "establish and support a network of locally-run Child Care and Early Learning Centers and Family Child Care Homes so that every family, regardless of their income or employment, can access high-quality, affordable child care options."

The problem, as New Republic reports, "There are simply not enough providers in operation, either in formal centers or in informal home settings, with enough openings to meet current demand."

That demand is only likely to increase if Warren’s plan makes childcare far more affordable and better quality than it is today. Significantly increasing the funding available to provide care and compensate providers adequately will certainly entice more people to jump into the business. But there is nothing in the plan that absolutely ensures that enough providers open up shop and create new slots so that all families can take advantage of it. -New Republic

In short, the federal government would need to become directly involved in solving the infrastructure problem - vastly expanding child development centers, which would add an entirely new set of costs to the proposal. 

The Week's Ryan Cooper points out four flaws in Warren's plan. 

The limitations of Warren's proposal are clearly driven in part by the desire to keep the headline price down, but somebody, in this case middle- and upper-class parents, will still have to make up the difference. Designing it in this way could easily increase the total cost (that is, including both state and private spending) of child care. The government could counter this problem by fixing prices, but there are no such controls mentioned in the proposal outline.

Second is wasteful bureaucracy. Giving out subsidies based on income will require an administrative/surveillance apparatus to calculate payments and make sure that people aren't cheating the system. That's a lot of paperwork and very likely a lot of mistakes and headaches.

Third is lower political durability. Families only eligible for smaller subsidies will be naturally resentful of the downscale families paying nothing, so there will be less resistance to a future Republican administration attempting to roll back the program. (Witness the last GOP Congress coming within a hair's breadth of repealing ObamaCare, but largely leaving Medicare alone.)

A fourth problem is that families in the phase-out zone of the subsidy will potentially face a high effective marginal tax rate, as a large portion of any additional income will be eaten up by reduced subsidies — especially when combined with other proposals for means-tested tax credits that would phase out in a similar way, like Kamala Harris's LIFT Act.

Any way you cut it, Warren's plan - like so many before them, appears to be nothing more than a great sounding promise that would end up like California's ill-fated bullet train.

Published:2/21/2019 10:51:23 PM
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[Entertainment] Selena Gomez Attends Her Best Friend's Wedding in One of Her More Glam Outfits Selena Gomez Selena Gomez is saying "I do" to attending her BFF's wedding! The "Taki Taki" songstress looks like a total stunner at her best friend, Courtney Barry's, wedding....
Published:2/21/2019 10:19:21 PM
[Politics] MSNBC airs crazy Jussie Smollett LGBT conspiracy theory that the Chicago cops are MAGA! MSNBC actually let the chief editor of The Advocate, an LGBTQ magazine, spew a crazy conspiracy theory on-air today about the Chicago police all being MAGA and lying about Smollett. Via Fox . . . Published:2/21/2019 10:19:21 PM
[Politics] MSNBC airs crazy Jussie Smollett LGBT conspiracy theory that the Chicago cops are MAGA! MSNBC actually let the chief editor of The Advocate, an LGBTQ magazine, spew a crazy conspiracy theory on-air today about the Chicago police all being MAGA and lying about Smollett. Via Fox . . . Published:2/21/2019 10:19:21 PM
[worldNews] Bye-bye Brexit: History haunts German woman leaving UK to avoid 'chaos' Actor Sonja Morgenstern, a German national who has lived in London since 1996, packed up and moved back to Nuremberg this week in hopes of rediscovering the peace and certainty she lost when Britain voted for Brexit in 2016.
Published:2/21/2019 10:19:21 PM
[Entertainment] Twitter reacts to a 'Space Jam 2', starring LeBron James, release date being announced Will it be as good as the first one?
     
 
 
Published:2/21/2019 10:19:21 PM
[Markets] Caitlin Johnstone Exposes "The Truly Obnoxious Mind Virus" Of Imperial Narrative Controllers

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

In an extremely weird article titled “Russia is backing a viral video company aimed at American millennials”, CNN reports that Facebook has suspended popular dissident media outlet In The Now and its allied pages for failing to publicly “disclose” its financial ties to a subsidiary of RT.

According to CNN, such disclosures are not and have never been an actual part of Facebook’s official policy, but Facebook has made the exceptional precondition of public disclosure of financial ties in order for In The Now to return to its platform.

I say the article is extremely weird for a number of reasons.

Firstly, according to In The Now CEO Anissa Naouai, CNN knew that Facebook was going to be suspending the pages of her company Maffick Media before she did, suggesting a creepy degree of coordination between the two massive outlets to silence an alternative media platform.

Secondly, the article reports that CNN found out about Maffick’s financial ties thanks to a tip-off from the German Marshall Fund, a narrative control firm which receives funding from the US government. In The Now’s Rania Khalek has described this tactic as “a case where the US government has found a legal loophole to suppress speech, in this case speech that is critical of destructive US government policies around the world.”

Thirdly, and in my opinion weirdest of all, the article goes to great lengths to make the fact that a dissident media outlet supports the same foreign policy positions as Russia look like something strange and nefarious, instead of the normal and obvious thing that it is.

The article repeatedly mentions the fact that all the people working for In The Now “claim” to be editorially independent as opposed to being told what to report by Kremlin officials, a notion which Khalek says was met with extreme skepticism when she was interviewed for the piece by CNN. As though the possibility of an American opposing US warmongering and the political establishment which drives it without being ordered to by a rubles-dispensing FSB officer was a completely alien idea to them.

Check out the following excerpt, for example of this bizarre attitude:

“Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow for information defense at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told CNN that while Russian state-backed outlets claim to be editorially independent, ‘they routinely boost Kremlin narratives, especially those which portray the West negatively.’

“Nimmo said the tone of Maffick’s pages is ‘broadly anti-US and anti-corporate. That’s strikingly similar to RT’s output. Maffick may technically be independent, but their tone certainly matches the broader Kremlin family.’

This is a truly obnoxious mind virus we’re seeing the imperial narrative controllers pushing more and more aggressively into mainstream consciousness today: that anyone who opposes the beltway consensus on western interventionism is not simply an individual with a conscience who is thinking critically for themselves, but is actually “boosting the Kremlin narrative”. If you say it in an assertive and authoritative tone like Mr Nimmo does, it can sound like a perfectly reasonable position if you don’t think about it too hard. If you really look at it directly, though, what these manipulators are actually saying is “Russia opposes western interventionism, therefore anyone who opposes western interventionism is basically Russian.”

Which is of course a total non-argument. You don’t get to just say “Russia bad” for two years to get everyone riled up into a state of xenophobic hysteria and then say “That’s Russian!” at anything you don’t like. That’s not a thing. More to the point, though, there is no causal relationship between the fact that Russia opposes western interventionism and the fact that many westerners do.

As we discussed recently, there will necessarily be inadvertent agreement between Russia and westerners who oppose western interventionism, because Russia, like so many other sovereign nations, opposes western interventionism. If you discover that an American who opposes US warmongering and establishment politics is saying the same things as RT, that doesn’t mean you’ve discovered a shocking conspiracy between western dissidents and the Russian government, it means people who oppose the same things oppose the same things.

We’re seeing this absurd gibberish spouted over and over again by the mainstream media now. The other day the delightful pro-Sanders subreddit WayOfTheBern was smeared as a Russian operation by the Washington Times,not because the Washington Times had any evidence anywhere supporting that claim, but because the subreddit’s members are hostile to Democratic presidential hopefuls other than Sanders, and because its posts “consistently support positions that would be amenable to the Kremlin.” All this means is that the subreddit is full of people who support Bernie Sanders and oppose US government malfeasance, yet an entire article was published in a mainstream outlet treating this as something dangerous and suspicious.

If you really listen to what the CNNs and Ben Nimmos and Washington Timeses are actually trying to tell you, what they’re saying is that it’s not okay for anyone to oppose any part of the unipolar world order or the establishment which runs it. Never ever, under any circumstances. Don’t work for a media outlet that’s funded by the Russian government even though no mainstream outlets will ever platform you. Don’t even subscribe to an anti-establishment subreddit. Those things are all Russian. Listen to Big Brother instead. Big Brother will protect you from their filthy Russian lies.

“If CNN would like to hire me to present facts against destructive US wars and corporate ownership of our political system, I’ll gladly accept,” Khalek told me when asked for comment.

“But the corporate media doesn’t allow antiwar voices a platform. In The Now does. I’ve worked for dozens of different outlets, from Vice to Al Jazeera to RT, and my message has always been the same: leftist, antiwar and pro justice and equality. People should be asking why US mainstream media outlets that claim to be free and independent refuse to air critical and adversarial voices like mine.”

Why indeed? Actually, if CNN is so worried about Russian media influence in America, all they’d have to do is put on a few shows featuring leftist, antiwar and pro-justice voices and that would be the end of it. They could easily out-spend RT by a massive margin, buy up all the talent like Khalek, Lee Camp and Chris Hedges, put on a sleek, high-budget show and steal RT America’s audience, killing it dead and drawing all anti-establishment energy to their material.

But they don’t. They don’t, and they never will. Because Russian media influence is not their actual target. Their actual target is leftist, antiwar and anti-establishment voices. That’s what they’re really trying to eliminate.

So yes, Moscow will of course elevate some western voices who oppose the power establishment that is trying to undermine and subvert Russia. Those voices will not require any instruction to speak out against that establishment, since that’s what they’d be doing anyway and they’re just grateful to finally have a platform upon which to speak. And it is good that they’re getting a platform to speak. If western power structures have a problem with it, they should stop universally refusing to platform anyone who opposes the status quo that is destroying nations abroad and squeezing the life out of citizens at home.

It doesn’t take any amount of sympathy for Russia to see that the unipolar empire is toxic for humanity, and most westerners who oppose that toxicity have no particular feelings about Russia any more than they have about Turkey or the Philippines. Sometimes Russia will come in and give them a platform in the void that has been left by the mainstream outlets which are doing everything they can to silence them. So what? The alternative is all dissident voices being silenced. The fact that Russia prevents a few of them from being silenced is not the problem. The problem is that they are being silenced at all.

*  *  *

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Published:2/21/2019 10:19:21 PM
[Markets] Asia shares fall as weakening global outlook offsets trade progress Shares in Asia slipped on Friday as a deteriorating global economic outlook outweighed further signs of progress in trade talks between China and the United States. After inching higher in early trade, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell into the red as more markets opened across the region, dipping 0.1 percent. After surging on Monday on optimism over trade talks, China's major equity indexes have faltered on investor concerns over slowing domestic growth and on indications that Chinese authorities will resort to a benchmark lending rate cut only as a last resort to boost the economy. Published:2/21/2019 10:19:21 PM
[Markets] Asia Markets: Asian markets pull back, following Wall Street’s lead Asian shares were mostly lower Friday after a slide on Wall Street as investors nervously watched the U.S.-China trade talks in Washington.
Published:2/21/2019 10:19:21 PM
[Academic left] Leftist Hate Projection (Steven Hayward) The left would have you believe that America is a sea of hate from deplorable Trump voters, and on campus especially we hear endlessly that dissent from the party line is “literal” violence to vulnerable peoples. Strangely, actual violence on campuses (and elsewhere) seems to be the monopoly of the left. Such as this incident at Berkeley today, where a student with a table on Sproul Plaza promoting Turning Point Published:2/21/2019 10:19:21 PM
[Politics] Florida Mayor Arrested After Firing at SWAT Team Port Richey Mayor Dale Massad fired two shots at Pasco County deputies as they raided his home early Thursday morning before he was taken into custody. Published:2/21/2019 9:54:07 PM
[Entertainment] How to Get Away With Murder's Charlie Weber and Liza Weil Break Up Charlie Weber, Liza Weil We hate to be the bearer of bad news, Hate to Get Away With Murder fans. Frank and Bonnie are officially over. Co-stars Charlie Weber and Liza Weil, who developed a romance on set of the...
Published:2/21/2019 9:54:07 PM
[worldNews] U.N. rights experts urge Indonesia to probe use of snake in Papua interrogation United Nations rights experts have urged Indonesia to investigate accusations of violence by police and military in Papua after a video showed officers using a live snake to intimidate a suspect during questioning.
Published:2/21/2019 9:54:07 PM
[Entertainment] Fendi shares video of Karl Lagerfeld drawing self portrait Fendi showed a video of the late Karl Lagerfeld Thursday, at the fashion house's Milan fashion show. In the clip, Lagerfeld drew a self portrait.
     
 
 
Published:2/21/2019 9:54:07 PM
[Open Threads] Bookworm Beat 2/21/19 — the Smollett and Bernie illustrated edition

Smollett and Bernie take the lead in this illustrated edition, but AOC-ward, Trump, Hillary, stupid Leftists, and more show up as well.

The post Bookworm Beat 2/21/19 — the Smollett and Bernie illustrated edition appeared first on Bookworm Room.

Published:2/21/2019 9:54:06 PM
[Markets] The Science Behind The Medical Cannabis Industry

Submitted by Visual Capitalist

There’s nothing quite like cannabis in the plant kingdom. Beneath its humble surface, over 750 unique compounds exist within – all of which have helped propel the cannabis industry into the multi-billion dollar market it is today.

Today’s infographic from The Green Organic Dutchman takes a deep dive into the cannabis components which contribute to its therapeutic potential, how it interacts with the human body, and the ways it can be consumed.

The Chemical Effects of Cannabis

While many people would be familiar with THC and CBD as the two major cannabinoids, there are a few lesser-known cannabinoids which also play important roles: Cannabichromene (CBC), Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabinol (CBN), Tetrahydrocannbivarin (THCv), and Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa).

In different combinations, they work together with terpenes – aromatic oils that are present in most plants – to provide relief for a variety of ailments.

When cannabinoids and terpenes interact, the human endocannabinoid system is already equipped to deal with the entourage effects that are created.

Modern-Day Medical Cannabis

It’s clear that many cultures embraced cannabis long before scientific research came into play. Its therapeutic properties were widely recorded and extolled around the world.

After decades of restricted access and stigma, the tide is turning back towards what our ancestors discovered long ago. Millions of patients rely on medical cannabis today, with Canada and Israel paving the way in cannabis research.

  • Canada
    Medical cannabis has been legal nationwide since 2001, aiding scientists in studying its effects.
    Funding: CAD$1.4 million (US$1.05 million) invested by the government towards research projects.
  • Israel
    Since the 1990s, medical cannabis has been legal for patients of cancer, chronic pain, and PTSD.
    Funding: 8 million shekels (US$2.16 million) annual government funding to support innovation.

Back in the day, typically only dried cannabis flower was used. However, consumption methods have evolved into three broad categories today: ingestion, inhalation, and application.

  • Ingesting
    The dosage of cannabis consumed is easy to control using edibles or beverages, tinctures or sprays, and capsules.
  • Inhalation
    The effects of cannabis are quickly felt through smoking, vaporizing, and/or dabbing concentrates.
  • Application
    Transdermal patches and topicals like balms offer localized relief through a controlled dose.

Each of these methods have their own pros and cons, but in the end, they all offer the medical cannabis patient with a wide variety to choose from. Some of these forms, such as topicals and edibles, even lend themselves to the rapidly growing consumer cannabis segment.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist
Published:2/21/2019 9:54:06 PM
[storytype:standard] 'One-of-a-kind' microfinancing project transforms the fortunes and futures of women in Nepal Published:2/21/2019 9:20:15 PM
[Politics] Steve King: 'Nothing to Apologize For,' Will Seek Re-election Embattled Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said Thursday he has nothing to apologize for following backlash for his use of the terms "white nationalist" and "white supremacist," and said he will seek re-election. Published:2/21/2019 9:20:14 PM
[World] Jussie Smollett never grasped that he was really attacking his own credibility

Justin, Justin, Justin.

Justin Smollett is a talented millennial.

He's quite handsome, has the status of a rising star and has been in the business long enough to have rubbed shoulders with or professionally intersected with the likes of estimable Brat Packer Emilio Estevez, and filmmakers Reginald Hudlin and Lee ... Published:2/21/2019 9:20:14 PM

[Entertainment] Stars speak out on Smollett, celebrate black women at pre-Oscars Essence lunch Stars and honorees celebrated at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon Thursday.
     
 
 
Published:2/21/2019 9:20:14 PM
[The Blog] Vandals deface statue of General Lee. No, not that General Lee.

“Complete different generation, complete different war, complete different everything."

The post Vandals deface statue of General Lee. No, not that General Lee. appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/21/2019 9:20:14 PM
[7e899aba-a940-5147-9b40-bbe7e6f80eac] Piers Morgan talks Smollett: 'The only thing that was lynched was the truth' Former CNN host and current DailyMail.com editor-at-large Piers Morgan weighed in on the Jussie Smollett case while appearing Thursday on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Published:2/21/2019 9:20:14 PM
[Markets] MarketWatch First Take: Zillow is betting big on flipping houses, and investors seem to like it Zillow Group Inc., saying that “Uberized” consumers also want to instantly buy and sell homes with a click of a button on their phones, is making an even bigger bet on real estate buying, with projections that carry a lot of risk.
Published:2/21/2019 9:20:14 PM
[Markets] Air Force Requests Billions For F-15X Fighters

The US Air Force is set to request funds to purchase F-15 fighter jets from Boeing, increasing its inventory with an upgraded version of the plane it last procured in 2001, even as the service pursues fifth-generation fighters from rival Lockheed Martin Corp.

The service's fiscal year 2020 budget request will include eight of Boeing's new F-15X, Bloomberg reports, the first installment of an 80-plane order over the next five years.

If the budget request is accepted, it will mark the first US purchase of the fighter jet since 2001.

Even though the request has the Trump administration support, skeptical lawmakers have questioned the Air Force's move to obtain a 45-year-old fourth-generation fighter for almost the same costs compared to the F-35 fifth-generation fighter.

The reason could be due to its internal bomb bays; the F-35 cannot accommodate heavier weapons, such as hypersonic missiles.

The Air Force is expected to purchase the F-15X without reducing the fleet of 1,763 F-35s that it has long planned, Bloomberg said.

Lockheed told lawmakers and congressional members on why the F-35 is a better choice over the F-15X, including a “fact sheet” distributed in December.

Boeing has offered the F-15X with the price tag of $80 million per plane under a fixed-price contract with delivers in 2022. By comparison, the Lockheed F-35 is estimated to cost $89 million each, a mere $9 million difference between the fourth and fifth generation jets.

However, there seems to be a rift between the Air Force and lawmakers in Congress tasked with funding the new program. On Tuesday, five Republican senators sent a letter to President Donald Trump warning that an F-15 purchase would divert resources away from the F-35, thus jeopardizing national security.

"We are extremely concerned that, over the last few years, the DoD has underfunded the F-35 Program and relied on Congress to fund increases in production, sustainment, and modernization," the lawmakers  wrote. "In order to meet the overmatch and lethality goals laid out in the National Security Strategy, the DoD needs to make these investments in the F-35 to affordably deliver and operate this fifth-generation fighter fleet. The F-35 is the most affordable, lethal, and survivable air dominance fighter, and now is the time to double down on the program."

"New versions of old F-15s designed in the 1970s-1980s cannot survive against the newest Russian and Chinese fifth-generation fighter and surface to air missile threats, not to mention rapidly developing future threats," they  added. "This action by the DoD would be a direct departure from the vision you have for a strong national defense."

In short: The Air Force's request to procure the F-15x suggests that the F-35 has significant flaws. Why else would the Air Force revert to a 45-year-old airframe? There is a much bigger issue at play, China and Russia have put their fifth-generation jets into series production, a move that could jeopardize US national security.

Published:2/21/2019 9:20:14 PM
[Politics] New Study Reveals Why EU Digital Services Tax Is Out Of Control Published:2/21/2019 8:50:09 PM
[Politics] Nunberg: Mueller Report Will Be House Impeachment 'Roadmap' A "roadmap" for articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump is going to be laid out by special counsel Robert Mueller's report, ex-Trump aide Sam Nunberg told MSNBC on Thursday. Published:2/21/2019 8:50:08 PM
[worldNews] North Korea warns of food crisis, slashes rations before next leaders' summit North Korea has warned that it is facing a food shortfall of some 1.4 million tons in 2019 and has been forced to almost halve rations, blaming high temperatures, drought, floods and United Nations sanctions in a memo seen by Reuters on Thursday.
Published:2/21/2019 8:50:08 PM
[The Blog] Florida Democrats upset Bernie Sanders refused to condemn Venezuelan dictator

"He’s obviously clueless."

The post Florida Democrats upset Bernie Sanders refused to condemn Venezuelan dictator appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/21/2019 8:50:08 PM
[Bernie Sanders] Is Bernie Sanders a Communist? (John Hinderaker) This video of Bernie Sanders in 1985, celebrating the 7th anniversary of the Communist takeover of Nicaragua, is a classic. I knew people who talked like this, but that was in the 1960s and early 1970s. By 1985, almost everyone knew better. But not Bernie Sanders. Video: At the invitation of the communist regime in Nicaragua, @BernieSanders speaks at the 7th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution in 1985, where he Published:2/21/2019 8:50:08 PM
[Markets] Why Startups Are Low-Balling Valuations When Assigning Employee Stock Options

Start up companies become "conveniently" pessimistic about their valuations prior to going public when stock options are handed out to employees, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. The lower valuations create a windfall for employees and can lower their tax burdens going forward.

The report analyzed recent initial public offerings and identified 68 companies that gave employees stock options to buy about $1.5 billion worth of stock during the 12 month run up to each respective company's IPO. The fair market value of those shares, however, was an estimated $2.2 billion at the time, based on a valuation model developed by academics. This is the equivalent of a 32% discount on shares for employees.

Will Gornall, an assistant finance professor at the University of British Columbia, said: “The Journal’s findings show that the valuations being reported by companies are significantly below what the shares are really worth—the price that investors would pay for them.” 



This year, these types of valuations will be in focus as names like Uber and Pinterest prepare to go public. A good example of this "low-balling" was Blue Apron Holdings. The founders of the company received a total of $30 million in October 2015 from stock sales to outside investors at $13.33 a share. This is more than triple the $3.69 per share that the company would use four months later as it granted options to employees. Blue Apron shares now trade at about $1.54 per share.

Mukesh Bajaj, a financial economist who has testified in many valuation cases for the Internal Revenue Service said: "The law states employee-allocated stock should be priced at its fair value but doesn’t specify the basis of the pricing—which may give companies a tempting loophole to enrich their executives.”

Stock options are one of the best weapons for startups to attract talent, and these types of discounts on stock can be a profitable benefit. Being such early investors and having options before a company goes public makes it easier for employees to reap profits, even though public market participants may see the company's share price decline. In addition to getting stock cheap, these profits are taxed as capital gains instead of income, saving employees on taxes.

Robert Willens, a New York-based tax analyst, said: "There’s a tremendous incentive to value the stock at the lowest possible figure. It’s a tried and true strategy and the IRS surprisingly is not very vigilant about it.”



Private company valuations are usually far more opaque and subjective than public companies, whose valuation is constantly on display by public markets.

The IRS is trying to clamp down on this tax avoidance by imposing penalties on companies and employees if options are granted to buy shares at less than fair market value. But IRS rules generally shield companies from action if they use an independent valuation firm, unless that valuation is deemed to be "grossly unreasonable". As a result of this 2004 rule, many "independent" firms sprang up and got into the business of performing these types of valuations.

Dan Eyman, managing director of San Francisco-based Meld Valuation, said online: “What we aim for ... is to try and get you the lowest possible answer that is still defensible against an audit.”

The IRS has done very little in enforcing these rules. The SEC has asked more than 180 companies that were planning an IPO to explain the pricing of their options or equity awards between 2016 and 2018. However, they didn’t ultimately require any of these companies to adjust their financial statements.

Published:2/21/2019 8:50:08 PM
[Entertainment] Space Jam 2 Is a Go With LeBron James LeBron James UPDATE: Space Jame 2 is heading to theaters! Warner Bros. announced Thursday that the highly-anticipated sequel will open July 26, 2019. ______ Wave your hands in the air if you...
Published:2/21/2019 8:50:08 PM
[] Imgur Style ONT Join us now as we enter the uncharted wilds of the internet for... ...an image dump.... Published:2/21/2019 8:50:08 PM
[Politics] A federal election will be rerun because of fraud. Republicans aren’t talking about it much. It's probably the first such do-over in American history. Published:2/21/2019 8:21:00 PM
[Politics] Smollett Story Not Only Hoax Hate Crime During Trump Years The New York Post compiled a list of instances where people claimed to have been the victims of Trump supporters before their lies were exposed amid the Jussie Smollett revelations. Published:2/21/2019 8:20:59 PM
[The Blog] Obama speechwriter: How are Dems going to pass the Green New Deal if they won’t nuke the filibuster once and for all?

Strategy.

The post Obama speechwriter: How are Dems going to pass the Green New Deal if they won’t nuke the filibuster once and for all? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/21/2019 8:20:59 PM
[Politics] WATCH: Bernie Sanders DODGES question on why socialism failed in Venezuela Bernie Sanders doesn’t want to answer tough questions about Venezuela and dodged one tonight on MSNBC. Chris Hayes asked Bernie Sanders what he thinks went wrong in Venezuela that was an avowedly . . . Published:2/21/2019 8:20:59 PM
[69d9b62b-a309-531e-b35a-f20bb0ab7fd3] Khloe Kardashian’s company accused of photoshopping star’s image Khloe Kardashian’s clothing company Good American is getting flack on Instagram after some followers accused them of photo shopping an image of the reality star. Published:2/21/2019 8:20:59 PM
[World] Robert Mueller's report may be just the beginning

Robert Mueller is said to be hitting his old textbooks from law school, perhaps an early chapter on how to keep the clock running on a rich client. Lawyers charge by the hour and a clever Blackstone can keep the meter running until the 12th of Never.

A lot of ... Published:2/21/2019 8:20:59 PM

[Entertainment] Tyler Henry Begins Hollywood Medium's New Season With Three Emotional Readings Rebel Wilson Hollywood Medium 401Tyler Henry is getting back to his old haunts! (And some new ones, too.) Hollywood Medium With Tyler Henry's fourth season officially kicked off tonight. During Thursday's...
Published:2/21/2019 8:20:59 PM
[Culture] Michigan Mother Fatally Shot 3 Young Daughters In Woods Before Killing Self

A disturbed Michigan mother murdered her three young daughters before turning the gun on herself, according to police. Police say a Michigan woman fatally shot her three young daughters in a wooded area with a bolt-action hunting rifle before driving home with their bodies and shooting herself. So very sad! Michigan mother fatally shot 3 ...

The post Michigan Mother Fatally Shot 3 Young Daughters In Woods Before Killing Self appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 8:20:59 PM
[Culture] Michigan Mother Fatally Shot 3 Young Daughters In Woods Before Killing Self

A disturbed Michigan mother murdered her three young daughters before turning the gun on herself, according to police. Police say a Michigan woman fatally shot her three young daughters in a wooded area with a bolt-action hunting rifle before driving home with their bodies and shooting herself. So very sad! Michigan mother fatally shot 3 ...

The post Michigan Mother Fatally Shot 3 Young Daughters In Woods Before Killing Self appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 8:20:59 PM
[Markets] How The Left Is Using Corporations To Shut Down Conservative Speech

Authored by Mark Hemmingway via RealClear Politics

On January 8, the restaurant chain Red Lobster became the 20th major advertiser to stop running ads on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program. It’s not because advertising on Carlson’s show won’t get you in front of millions of viewers -- Carlson has the highest ratings among cable news networks in his prime-time slot, and Fox News has been the highest rated basic cable network for over two years. Carlson has been the subject of a highly organized, and apparently effective, boycott campaign.

It’s true that he has made some controversial statements in the past year, but it’s also impossible to argue that he’s not one of the more interesting and essential pundits of the Trump era. The same week Red Lobster announced it was abandoning his show, Carlson delivered a monologue arguing that conservatives placed too much faith in their conception of the “free market” and needed to question whether the economy was rigged to benefit elites. The monologue touched off a fascinating conversation among intellectuals across the political spectrum.

Washington Post columnist Christine Emba found herself reassessing the caricature of Carlson and asking, “What happens when Tucker Carlson makes sense?” The left-wing publication Vox declared, “Tucker Carlson has sparked the most interesting debate in conservative politics.” The New York Times’ right-leaning columnist Ross Douthat declared the “Fox News host amplifies a debate the right needs to have.” Meanwhile, conservative pundits David French and Ben Shapiro offered sharp criticisms of Carlson’s monologue from the right.

There are numerous other instances of Carlson contributing positively to the public dialogue that should be weighed against a handful of controversial remarks. Further, there’s little reason to believe that anything Carlson has said is outside the bounds of acceptable discourse.

There is, however, pervasive evidence showing that left-wing activists are quite content using every tool at their disposal to silence influential voices on the right. The question is whether they’d thought through the disastrous consequences of normalizing politically motivated boycotts.

Even as thinkers and journalists were having an illuminating and productive debate over Carlson’s monologue on the role of the free market, others were busy stoking the boycott against him. “The Tucker Carlson advertiser boycott continues, and what's wrong with that?” asked Pulitzer-winning Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik in a column last month. “Those unhappy with Carlson’s brand of exclusionary white male power should keep the boycott threat alive -- and they should consider themselves to be operating in the American mainstream.”

Now if there’s a case to be made that Carlson’s charged comments about diversity, nationalism, and immigration are outside the American mainstream, the question also ought to be asked whether anyone on the opposite end of the spectrum that deploys racially loaded generalizations about “exclusionary white male power” at the drop of a hat is operating in the mainstream as well. Repeated suggestions that Carlson isn’t merely disagreeable, but that he’s racist, aren’t just unfair. They have dangerous consequences. Earlier this year, violent left-wing Antifa activists showed up outside his home, menacing his wife.

At the same time, there’s no real evidence that politically motivated boycotts, which are largely a tool of the left, are operating in the American mainstream. The skewed presentation of the debate by a left-leaning media; the fact that there are no organized boycotts on the right due in part to a principled commitment to free speech; and the vagaries of craven corporate branding strategies all suggest that support for boycotts might be an illusory phenomenon.

Sleeping Giants to the Fore

If you think a robust public debate involving many differing viewpoints is a precondition for healthy democratic debates—and let’s face it, increasing numbers of politically motivated people don’t—a cursory examination of the organization driving the Carlson boycott ought to be alarming. They go by the name Sleeping Giants. The organization is really just two people, Matt Rivitz and Nandini Jammi, who direct almost all of Sleeping Giants’ boycott activities around a Twitter account and Facebook page. The name “Sleeping Giants” might be a bit of a misnomer. Their Twitter account has only 218,000 followers and their Facebook page has just 56,000 followers, neither of which is much in relative terms. Tucker Carlson has 2.4 million Twitter followers, and Fox News has 18.6 million. (In the interest of disclosure, my wife, Mollie Hemingway, a Fox News contributor who has appeared on Carlson’s show, has 220,000 Twitter followers, which is also more than Sleeping Giants’ total.)

Nonetheless, Sleeping Giants first rose to prominence by forcing dozens of brands to stop running ads on Breitbart.com by simply having its followers tweet screen-shots of advertisements on the site at the Twitter accounts of the corporations behind them. Regarding Breitbart, in nearly all cases the ads are part of digital ad networks, such that the original advertisers have no idea where they appear, and they appear at a diverse array of sites. In other words, there was never any reason to believe that because an ad appeared on Breitbart’s site that the corporation behind it was in any way endorsing the message.

Breitbart is hardly the only place on the internet attracting controversy. Despite doing any number of provocative and harmful things, Gawker, for instance, never wanted for corporate advertising, right up until a jury effectively ended the publication by ruling it owed millions of dollars in damages for its egregious privacy violation—and releasing a video of Hulk Hogan having sex unaware of being filmed was just one of hundreds of very questionable editorial decisions the site made over years. Despite no shortage of bad actors, Breitbart is, however, the only website that’s been targeted for a very successful two-year boycott campaign.

Further, insensitive or incendiary sentiments regularly repeated by left-wing media outlets seem to escape the same kind of scrutiny for offense that have been applied to Breitbart. It’s not a stretch to see why headlines such as “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews” might cause corporate advertisers to back away from Breitbart. But you don’t see advertisers backing off of “mainstream” outlets such as the Huffington Post or The Guardian because they’ve run flattering articles on the #ShoutYourAbortion movement, which is the kind of abortion activism that can easily be shown to be offensive and off-putting.

At the same time that voices from the right are being targeted, the kinds of left-wing sentiments that can be published on major outlets has shifted dramatically, with no corresponding pushback or attempt at self-correction. “Can you admire Louis Farrakhan and still advance the cause of women? Maybe so. Life is full of contradictions,” is a real headline that ran over a January op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. Barely an eyebrow was raised over the paper publishing excuses for a virulent anti-Semite who in just the past year has called Jews “termites” and “Satanic” and said “the Jews have control over those agencies of government.” Certainly, there was no Sleeping Giants boycott campaign, even though that L.A. Times piece is arguably more overtly bigoted than anything published at Breitbart.

Sleeping Giants has complained that Twitter still allows Farrakhan a platform, but in searching its site it has done nothing to address Democratic politicians and left-wing groups such as the Women’s March that have cozied up to the Nation of Islam leader. According to its Facebook page, Sleeping Giants has even worked with “our friends” at the Women’s March on their boycott efforts, despite the fact that Women’s March leaders such as Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory have also been vocally anti-Semitic and supportive of Farrakhan.

Rivitz told The New York Times he viewed what he is doing “as an apolitical crusade against hate speech. While he is a registered Democrat, he said he had never been politically active outside of attending ‘maybe two marches pre-election.’” He further defended the Sleeping Giants boycotts as apolitical in an interview with GQ saying, “When the focus is on bigotry and sexism and violence, those are unassailable points.” Rivitz further dismissed any idea that anything they are doing might amount to censorship in an interview with Ad Week. “A lot of people say voices on certain sides are being silenced, and ultimately, that’s a way to muddy the waters and make it about politics versus what it really is, which is xenophobia and racism,” he said.

Yes, in the abstract, bigotry, sexism, and violence are unassailably bad. In reality, determining whether something qualifies sexist, bigoted, or violent can be the subject of a heated political and cultural debate. (Even “violence” is no longer a cut-and-dried thing; if you’ve been near a college campus lately, the Orwellian idea that “speech is violence” has taken firm hold.)

These questions, contrary to Sleeping Giants’ smug certainty, are not easily settled. One of Sleeping Giants’ self-proclaimed rationales for instigating boycotts is being “anti-LGBT.” But what does that mean? Tens of millions of Americans still oppose gay marriage, meaning as a practical matter they adhere to the view Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and half the Democratic Party establishment professed until mid-2012. Are all these people so irredeemably bigoted that their views should be not allowed to be aired publicly? What about people who support religious liberty laws that would provide conscience protections for Christian florists and bakers who don’t want to be compelled to participate in same-sex weddings? Are people such as Andrew Sullivan and Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to be boycotted for siding with “anti-LGBT” forces on this issue?

Sleeping Giants has made no attempt to define its criteria for what is and is not acceptable as a matter of public discourse. The fact that Sleeping Giants has no established criteria for justifying a boycott is also troubling, because organizations with ill-defined goals are subject to mission creep. The organizers told GQ that the reason they are pushing a boycott of NRATV is because “the NRA pushes racially-charged programming and anti-media propaganda using these streaming services.” Aside from the fact that the NRA has been making conspicuous attempts at minority outreach for a long time now, complaining about media bias—which is an easily demonstrable problem when it comes to coverage of gun issues—is a very low bar for justifying a boycott.

Sleeping Giants has also taken activism in this area a step further, having targeted Apple, Amazon, Roku and Google for allowing NRATV on their streaming platforms. Such “de-platforming” tactics suggest that Sleeping Giants isn’t merely pressuring the NRA so it will stop using rhetoric Sleeping Giants doesn’t like, which is a very tiny percentage of the content on NRATV. Instead, it wants to silence the outlet altogether.

The truth is that Sleeping Giants does have at least one definitive criteria for whether a publication or organization is boycott worthy. It’s just too lacking in self-awareness to realize it. “After the election, we just couldn't believe that the guy who pushed Breitbart's racism and bigotry was going to be in the White House,” Rivitz told GQ. “At the time, we were painfully unaware of everything that goes on at that site.”

To some extent, Sleeping Giants’ mission is explicitly about hamstringing a duly elected president of the United States. Now, it is perfectly fine to despise Donald Trump and campaign against him, but saying as much is a degree of basic transparency that Sleeping Giants hasn’t quite managed. If you’re are horrified by the fact 63 million Americans voted for a president you abhor and your first thought is to try and shut down a prominent media voice that supported him, then telling the New York Times you see your work as “apolitical” is either delusional or dishonest -- or some combination of the two. But Sleeping Giants presenting itself as a group of concerned citizens, rather than political activists, makes its efforts more effective.

It’s remarkable that Sleeping Giants has been able to get away with such duplicity for so long, but ultimately unsurprising. The group has garnered the attention of a lot of prominent media outlets, and the resulting profiles are so softball that you’d think they were written by someone drinking a beer in the outfield bleachers. Some of the coverage even reads as if it is specifically designed to help with Sleeping Giants’ pressure campaigns. See this headline from Fast Company: “Thousands of Advertisers Shun Breitbart, But Amazon Remains.” 

There are enormously harmful consequences to free speech that will arise in a culture where politically motivated boycotts are the norm. Yet, no one who’s interviewed the organization seems all that concerned about a potential backlash. GQ did ask if Sleeping Giants was concerned about giving rise to counter boycotts, but the unquestioned response was rife with hubris: “The First Amendment applies to everyone. If they want to do something like that, they can certainly try. But at least in our minds, the message wouldn't ring true.”

One reason the two organizers of Sleeping Giants weren’t too worried about pushback against their efforts is that they were quite content to lob accusations against others anonymously. The first New York Times profile on Sleeping Giants, another puffy piece headlined “How to Destroy the Business Model of Breitbart and Fake News,” mentioned a curious fact: Sleeping Giants’ co-founders “requested anonymity because some members of the group work in the digital-media industry.”

After more than 18 months of successful boycotts and glowing coverage, it wasn’t until last summer that we learned the identities of Rivitz and Jammi, who are both freelance copywriters in the advertising industry. While there’s no obvious reason to believe they have motives beyond expressing their obvious partisan politics, the fact they both work in advertising raises the possibility of so many conflicts of interest that it was professional negligence for the media to mostly ignore their background and honor requests for them to remain anonymous.

The only reason the world learned Rivitz and Jammi’s identities was due to reporting done by The Daily Caller News Foundation, the publication co-founded by, yes, Tucker Carlson. Rivitz was quite upset about being revealed and complained of threats being directed at him as a result. Yet, as of December, he was still encouraging people to send letters to advertisers smearing Carlson as a “white nationalist,” the kind of inflammatory characterization that has led to threats on Carlson’s own family. With the heated nature of current political debates, the desire to remain anonymous while still participating in the conversation is an impulse that should be respected. But given the nature of Sleeping Giants’ campaign against public figures, this was a stunning act of hypocrisy.  

The passively assumed reason for granting Rivitz and Jammi’s anonymity -- the idea that because they “work in the digital-media industry” their work with Sleeping Giants could negatively affect their careers -- also turns out to be a lousy excuse. Ad Week asked Rivitz point-blank if his involvement with Sleeping Giants being revealed had affected his day job. Quite the contrary, as it happened. “I’ve had love and support from people I know,” he replied, “and lots of people I don’t know hitting me up on LinkedIn.”

Advertisers’ Leftward Lean

For decades, one of the distinguishing features of the left was that it was suspicious of corporate power, and specifically the insidious influence of corporate advertising. Though less well known than “1984” or “Animal Farm,” George Orwell even wrote a novel, “Keep the Aspidistra Flying,” that railed against advertising as “the dirtiest ramp that capitalism has yet produced” and he later warned, quite correctly, that “advertisers exercise an indirect censorship over news.” More recently, Naomi Klein’s 1999 book, “No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies,” became hugely influential for crystalizing the left-wing, anti-corporate sentiment behind the violent anti-globalization protests of the time.

But like every other institution that has proven to be an impediment to liberal political goals, the strategy adopted by the left toward advertising seems to have been “if you can’t beat them, assimilate them.” The left-wing nature of corporate advertising has become remarkably prevalent in a comparatively short amount of time.

It wasn’t that long ago that corporations didn’t want to go near anything that appeared remotely political. In Samuel Huntington’s 1996 book, “Who Are We?,” he recounts how in 1996 Ralph Nader—no one’s idea of a right-wing xenophobe—wrote to the CEOs of 100 of America’s largest corporations and urged them to have their boards of directors open their shareholder meetings by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as a way of showing corporate gratitude for receiving government subsidies. In other words, when it comes to declaring “you didn’t build that,” Nader was way ahead of the curve. Only one corporation, Federated Department Stores, responded positively. The rest rejected the suggestion, and some corporations such as Ford, Costco, and Aetna publicly disparaged Nader’s gambit.

Contrast that reaction with how last autumn, Nike swallowed a left-wing narrative whole and made a mediocre quarterback who hasn’t played in the NFL for years the face of a major national ad campaign. Far from avoiding unifying national sentiments, the only reason Nike is embracing Colin Kaepernick is his polarizing campaign to politicize the NFL by encouraging national anthem protests. Most recently was Gillette’s baffling and ham-handed attempt to cash in on the #MeToo phenomenon. The razor company aired ads questioning the virtues of masculinity, which made it seem, in the words of American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers, as if “Gillette has been hijacked by the Oberlin College Gender Studies Collective.”

To be clear, it’s not that the underlying issues involved in these ad campaigns -- racism and sexism -- aren’t serious and worth addressing. But there’s a real question as to whether profit-driven corporations -- especially ones such as Nike and Gillette’s parent company, Procter and Gamble, which have routinely faced ethical questions about the way their products are produced -- can wade into social and political issues without increasing cynicism. If you go to Gillette’s webpage, it declares that “it’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture. And as a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man.” This prompts a serious question: Where on earth did Gillette get the idea it has any obligation to consumers other than producing quality razors at a reasonable price? (Note that as of this writing Gillette’s ad has 1.4 million dislikes on YouTube compared to 700,000 likes, and the company is furiously deleting negative comments.)

At least one notable figure in the advertising world is sounding the alarm about how advertiser boycotts and politicized branding could be bad for business. “Nobody's going to these brands to ask, 'How should I live my life?'” says Dan Granger, the CEO of Oxford Road, an ad agency that launched Hulu, Lyft, Dollar Shave Club and lots of other notable brands. “We don't really want to be preached at by mainstream brands. And it really depends on how big a brand wants to be.”

Granger has a distinctive perspective on advertising, because his firm specializes “performance-based” metrics specifically tailored to encourage quick business growth. Unlike Sleeping Giants, Granger isn’t coy about his professional motives for speaking out. “I'm definitely incentivized to urge my clients to pursue advertising programs that are going to help them grow in measurable ways, and when they take one of the greatest sources of customer growth off the table and take that out of our toolkit it’s bad for us,” he says. “It's bad for them. So I've got some skin in the game, and it's an issue I've been dealing with on some level for probably the last 15 years, which is almost my entire professional career.”

However, if you’re familiar with late-stage corporate branding strategy, viewing advertising as a means to increase sales or to juice growth is a notion that’s almost quaint. Instead, advertising is often discussed in terms of how it defines a company’s “values” and other subjective measures that conveniently don’t involve metrics that would hold advertising agencies accountable for their work.

This values framework seems to be guiding the approach to advertiser boycotts. In 2017, an article in Ad Age addressed how corporations should handle boycott threats, and experts conceded that “there's little evidence that [consumers] actually follow through. Many weren't buying the given brand in the first place, for reasons that have nothing to do with politics or brand safety.” However, the article further cautioned: “An ad boycott is more about your long-term brand reputation. … These incidents likely have greater impact on sentiment from employees, government officials, suppliers and shareholders than consumers.” In other words, corporate decisions are disproportionately impacted by a small group of people who are overly sensitive to politics, regardless of what their larger customer base actually cares about.

Make no mistake, Sleeping Giants is just the latest iteration of overt and ongoing attempts to ideologically capture advertising. Other groups working with Sleeping Giants have driven this notion home. “You have to be inclusionary if you’re going to try to sell to a very large audience,” Nicholas Reville, a board member of the Participatory Culture Foundation, told the New York Times. The Times added that Reville “pointed out that businesses benefited from embracing diversity: And he pointed out that consumer activism might be especially effective because so many people feel they have no other way to express their opposition to Trump-ian values.”

There’s obviously truth in that last observation. But what’s motivating to some in the political realm is likely to alienate others. “They might be able to do a cheap move to get some PR for a while that ignites a base within their brand constituency,” says Granger, “but I probably wouldn't advise a client to make a move like that, because I think it's divisive. I think we've got enough divisions in this country and I think on the corporate side, we don't need to exploit that. We need to start pushing back on it and going, 'OK, how do we attract people to our value system rather than use our value system to point fingers and separate, whatever side of the equation you're on?’”

This is all rather ironic because among the many remarks by Tucker Carlson that have spurred controversy and marshalled the most boycott enthusiasm, this monologue from September, directed at progressives, stands out:

How, precisely, is diversity our strength? Since you’ve made this our new national motto, please be specific as you explain it. Can you think, for example, of other institutions such as, I don’t know, marriage or military units in which the less people have in common, the more cohesive they are? Do you get along better with your neighbors, your co-workers if you can’t understand each other or share no common values? Please be honest as you answer this question. And if diversity is our strength, why is it okay for the rest of us to surrender one of our central rights, freedom of speech, to just a handful of tech monopolies? And by the way, if your ideas are so obviously true, why does anyone who question them need to be shamed, silenced and fired?

Simply questioning what is obviously a very politicized definition of “diversity” got Carlson branded a racist by the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple. (Wemple and Carlson have a longstanding feud.) But the charitable and more accurate reading of what Carlson was saying is that “celebrating diversity” can be divisive if we don’t first and foremost share a common identity as Americans.

Something similar was at work with Carlson’s more recent attention-grabbing monologue about whether we show too much deference to our notions of the “free market.” Asking whether the system is rigged in the current era of populist discontent doesn’t just resonate with Trump voters, it has loud echoes of the sentiments expressed by Naomi Klein and Occupy Wall Street protesters. No one is going to agree with everything Carlson says or deny he can be controversial, even infuriating. But if you’re paying attention, there’s ample opportunity to look at what he says and find ideas that the left and right can agree on. This is the real reason Carlson is so interesting, and why he’s often portrayed as more polarizing than he actually is.

Meanwhile, it’s the folks at Sleeping Giants who are utterly credulous about the role corporations should be playing in our politics. “It’s scary to say it, but maybe companies will have to be the standard-bearers for morals right now,” Rivitz told The New York Times. “We’ve all seen employee handbooks where they have codes of behavior,” he said. “Maybe that’s all we have to fall back on now.”

So there it is. Rivitz unknowingly revealed the ultimate pitfall of advertiser-based boycotts. (After reading that comment, Granger said, “I just threw up a little bit.”) Yes, boycotts are bad for a culture of free speech, but the biggest problem might be that they establish a baseline where corporate policies define the terms of political debate.

What Rivitz is advocating is frightening. Actual fascism—not the lazy definition that Sleeping Giants’ Twitter followers use to tar everyone from Mitt Romney on down—is what happens when corporate and political powers are merged for common national goals. Why Sleeping Giants and other supporters of advertiser boycotts would want to blur the line between advertising and propaganda here is worth pondering. Even George Orwell managed to warn against both advertising and fascism, and if you want to imagine a future where advertising boycotts are the norm, just picture the risk-averse HR drones who run corporate diversity seminars stamping on the face of public discourse—forever.

If being forced to contemplate an America that remains permanently politically divided seems scary, it also presents a chance for brave advertisers to get beyond the left-right divide. “I'd love to do an ad where you have the Rush Limbaugh and Elton John duet or Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity. How you get these guys to actually say, 'Hey, we stand behind this thing and not everything has to be a knifing of each other. We don't have to disagree on everything … maybe we can maybe even be civil about it,'” says Granger. “There was an episode of Bill Maher where he had Ben Shapiro on that was really cool, because as different as their perspectives were, they were very civil with each other. You could imagine that these guys could break bread together and have a good time. I think that a lot of us are longing for that, and I think there's an opportunity in it.”

America’s success over nearly 250 years is in some respects the result of branding campaigns and messaging that defined our values. The corporations in the 21st century that reject political division and sell us on “e pluribus unum” don’t just stand to benefit themselves—they’re going to help us all prosper. 

Mark Hemingway is a writer in Alexandria, Va. You can follow him on twitter @heminator.

Published:2/21/2019 8:20:59 PM
[US News] Jussie Smollett ‘fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence’ in statement from attorneys

Looks like Jussie Smollet isn't going for a plea deal and is going to double-down instead.

The post Jussie Smollett ‘fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence’ in statement from attorneys appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/21/2019 8:20:59 PM
[Markets] Asian shares mostly lower as investors watch trade talks TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower Friday after a slide on Wall Street as investors nervously watched the U.S.-China trade talks in Washington. Published:2/21/2019 8:20:59 PM
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[Politics] Dem Sens. Warren, Harris Back Reparations for Black Americans Reparations for black Americans affected by slavery and Jim Crow laws are being backed by Democratic presidential contenders, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., according to The New York Times. Published:2/21/2019 7:49:04 PM
[Politics] Venezuelan Army STOPS humanitarian aid, also blocks Guaido from getting to aid site Maduro is cracking down on allowing legitimate humanitarian aid to come into the country because he believes it’s a pretext for US intervention. He’s also blocking Guaido and his supporters movements in . . . Published:2/21/2019 7:49:03 PM
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Published:2/21/2019 7:49:03 PM
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[Politics] WATCH: Bernie Sanders DODGES question on why socialism failed in Venezuela Bernie Sanders doesn’t want to answer tough questions about Venezuela and dodged one tonight on MSNBC. Chris Hayes asked Bernie Sanders what he thinks went wrong in Venezuela that was an avowedly . . . Published:2/21/2019 7:49:03 PM
[TC] Facebook removes its Onavo surveillance VPN app from Google Play Facebook will end its unpaid market research programs and proactively take its Onavo VPN app off the Google Play store in the wake of backlash following TechCrunch’s investigation about Onavo code being used in a Facebook Research app the sucked up data about teens. The Onavo app will eventually shut down, and will immediately cease pulling […] Published:2/21/2019 7:49:03 PM
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[Markets] NYT Exposes Conflicts Of Interest At McKinsey's Secretive In-House Hedge Fund

Did you know legendary American consulting firm McKinsey ran an in-house hedge fund? Apparently, neither did many of the firm's clients.

According to a report in the New York Times, the fund has recently attracted a series of lawsuits and scrutiny from the DOJ and Congress over its failure to disclose conflicts of interest between investments held by its $4 billion in-house fund, McKinsey Investment Office, and its clients.

McKinsey launched the fund in the 1990s in the midst of a brutal war for talent with Wall Street firms. The fund was intended to incentivize high performing employees to stay with the firm. But though the firm defended its refusal to disclose these conflicts by claiming there maintains that there's is a wall between the two businesses, lawmakers, judges and others are beginning to question whether or not this is true, particularly after it was revealed that senior employees in McKinsey's consulting business sit on the fund's board.

Virginia bankruptcy court where a judge reopened a case involving a coal company after discovering the MIO was one of the bankrupt firm's secured creditors.

McKinsey

After the NYT published its report, the DOJ announced that it had reached a settlement with McKinsey over cases involving its disclosure of conflicts in bankruptcy advisory cases. As part of the settlement, McKinsey agreed to pay out $15 million to creditors it represented in these bankruptcy cases, and stated that if McKinsey doesn't remedy its disclosure practices, DOJ could seek further penalties.

Former employees of MIO confirmed to the Times that one reason the in-house hedge fund has been so secretive is that McKinsey doesn't want anybody "connecting the dots" between its investments and its clients. Instead of housing its money at its headquarters in NYC, McKinsey stashes its $4 billion on the English Channel island of Guernsey.

Here are a few other highlights from the sprawling NYT report:

A fund in which MIO has invested is a creditor to China's highest-profile fugitive.

The McKinsey fund took stakes in two China-focused PAG funds. In a 2010 London exchange filing, PAG disclosed that MIO had a stake of more than 10 percent in one fund, worth about $20 million. At the end of 2015, MIO also owned more than a quarter of another China-focused PAG fund.

In 2008, Pacific Alliance had made a big bet on a real estate mogul who owned a colossal office and luxury apartment complex next to the site of that year’s Summer Olympics in Beijing. Court records show that it lent $30 million to a company controlled by the mogul, who had deep ties to China’s intelligence community and was already notorious for allegedly orchestrating the downfall of a Beijing vice mayor with a sex tape.

PAG says it was never repaid its loan. The mogul has fled China for New York. In China, he faces corruption and rape charges, which he says are false. PAG sued him in a New York court in 2017, saying he owed it about $88 million, court records show.

His name is Guo Wengui, though he also goes by Miles Kwok. He is China’s highest-profile fugitive, and for years McKinsey was, through PAG, one of his creditors, a fact hidden through Barfield Nominees. There is no evidence that McKinsey knew its investment would find its way to Mr. Guo, with whom the firm said it had no direct dealings.

The NYT even produced an infographic to illustrate the connections between McKinsey's money and the fugitive in question, who is wanted on rape and corruption charges.

NYT

One advocate from a nonprofit that seeks to bring more scrutiny to tax havens pointed out that McKinsey's use of tax havens for its investments contradicts its consulting business's espousing of corporate best practices.

But John Christensen, a founder of the Tax Justice Network, a group based in Britain that seeks to bring more transparency to tax havens, said there was a disconnect between McKinsey’s mission of spreading corporate best practices and its use of tax havens like Guernsey.

"I can’t think of any legitimate, genuinely economic reason for using a place like that," Mr. Christensen said. He should know: For 11 years, Mr. Christensen was the economic adviser to Jersey, a neighboring tax haven.

The longtime manager of MIO, Todd Tibbetts, is a virtual ghost. The NYT's investigation turned up almost nothing on the money manager, despite his track record of reporting multiple decades of market-beating returns. Tibbetts enforces a code of silence among his managers that is so intense, they are even prohibited from attending industry events for fear of interacting with other market participants.

In its statement, McKinsey said, "We continue to stand by our disclosures, which have always fully complied with the law, and we are confident that Alix’s fraud claims will be exposed as completely meritless."

Until the flurry of attention from the bankruptcies and the Puerto Rico controversy, the very existence of McKinsey’s hedge fund had largely escaped public notice. McKinsey declined to make Todd Tibbetts, the fund’s longtime chief investment officer, or any other officials available for interviews for this article.

For someone who manages such a large and successful portfolio, there is surprisingly little public information about Mr. Tibbetts. So secretive is the fund under Mr. Tibbetts that its managers were discouraged from attending industry events and, even when they did, from talking to participants, one former fund executive said.

McKinsey's in-house fund was invested in Puerto Rico bonds while also advising the government of Puerto Rico during the restructuring, presenting what Elizabeth Warren described as a clear conflict of interest.

In Puerto Rico, where McKinsey is advising a board that seeks to reduce the island’s crippling debt, The New York Times reported last year that the hedge fund was invested in bonds that gave it a stake in the outcome. Afterward, a bipartisan group of House members introduced a bill to compel advisers like McKinsey to disclose potential conflicts of interest.

And Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, a New York Democrat, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat now running for president, wrote to McKinsey, assailing its conflict-of-interest disclosure as "opaque or nonexistent." McKinsey responded that there was no relationship between its work in Puerto Rico and the fund’s bond investments.

While McKinsey was advising Valeant Pharmaceuticals - a company that was at one time run by a former McKinsey partner - it held a stake in the "pharmaceutical Enron" indirectly through outside hedge funds, meaning that these funds were potentially trading in the company while McKinsey was giving Valeant advice about which drugmakers to buy.

As McKinsey consultants were advising Valeant in late 2014, two of MIO’s funds, Compass TPM and Compass Offshore TPM, acquired an indirect stake in Valeant, through Visium Asset Management, a fund soon to implode in an insider-trading scandal.

Through another outside hedge fund, Aristeia Capital, two other MIO funds acquired shares in Valeant in early 2015, after the company agreed to buy Dendreon, a bankrupt drugmaker. The McKinsey funds were listed among the eight noteholders of Dendreon, entitled to a portion of the $495 million, in cash and Valeant shares, that Valeant paid for the company.

In a statement, Aristeia said it had learned of McKinsey’s role advising Valeant only when contacted by The Times. "Aristeia never sought input from MIO on potential conflicts, because MIO had no investment discretion in respect to these assets," the company said.

McKinsey, in its statement, said its hedge fund “had no input into the investment decisions made by Visium and Aristeia,” its third-party managers. Valeant, now called Bausch Health, said it hadn’t been advised by McKinsey on mergers and acquisitions since May 2016.

MIO's flagship fund has posted market beating returns more often than not. Between 2000 and 2010, the fund posted an average return above 9%, compared with roughly 1.6% loss for the S&P 500. And while McKinsey prefers to hide behind this wall of separation between the fund and its consulting business, experts told the NYT that it's impossible to completely rule out the possibility of a conflict.

"The mistake people make is to say, 'Well, conflicts of interest aren’t so dangerous, because well-meaning professionals can navigate them objectively,'" said Daylian Cain, who teaches business ethics at the Yale School of Management. "But the research is out on this: No, they can’t."

Particularly not when the leader of the firm's bankruptcy practice also holds a seat on the hedge-fund's board.

Published:2/21/2019 7:49:03 PM
[World] America: ‘Indispensable Nation’ No More Rather than seeing 'far into the future,' American elites have struggled to discern what might happen next week. Published:2/21/2019 7:49:03 PM
[Entertainment] Kelly Rowland, Regina King and More Stars Sizzle at the 2019 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards Luncheon Kelly Rowland, Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards Luncheon, 2019Just days before the 2019 Oscars air on Sunday, Feb. 24, celebrities flocked to the 2019 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards. From Kelly Rowland to Regina King to Octavia Spencer, the...
Published:2/21/2019 7:20:46 PM
[worldNews] North Korea warns of food crisis, almost halves rations before summit North Korea has warned that it is facing a food shortfall of some 1.4 million tons in 2019 and has been forced to almost halve rations, blaming high temperatures, drought, floods and United Nations sanctions in a memo seen by Reuters on Thursday.
Published:2/21/2019 7:20:46 PM
[Markets] Asian shares tread water as investors watch trade talks Shares in Asia were flat in early trade on Friday following a fall on Wall Street, with a deteriorating global economic outlook outweighing more signs of progress in trade talks between China and the United States. Early in the Asian trading day, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up less than 0.1 percent. Australian shares gained 0.5 percent and Japan's Nikkei stock index was 0.3 percent lower. Published:2/21/2019 7:20:46 PM
[Markets] China Introduces Disturbingly Real Female AI News Anchor

Three months after China unveiled its first disturbingly realistic AI male anchor, state-run news agency, Xinhua, unveiled "the world's first female AI news anchor" to compliment her male predecessor, according to The National. No word if she'll shoot him knowing glares as he flirts with the weather girl. 

Her name is Xin Xiaomeng - and was developed in a joint collaboration between Xinhua and search engine company Sogu. 

Aside from a few seemingly stiff facial muscles, Xiaomeng is remarkably life-like, complete with hand adjustments during piece-to-cameras, and just enough on-cue blinking.

The computer-generated journalist was modelled after real-life Xinhua news anchor Qu Meng, whose voice and image provided inspiration for developers. -The National

Xiaomeng will join the state-run broadcaster's two male AI anchors one of which received a major upgrade to improve his realism, as well as a name; Xin Xiaohao. 

Xin showed off his new human-like body language, bragging: "Henceforth, rather than working behind the desk, I'll be broadcasting the news in front of the desk. Instead, I'll be broadcasting from a standing position. I can make more hand gestures and facial expressions," he said, adding: "Now I have my own name, Xin Xiaohao. Thanks to this upgrade, I'll be able to conduct better broadcasts." 

We hear they have perfect social credit scores and recommend complying with all government directives. 

Published:2/21/2019 7:20:46 PM
[Media] Hey … Trump tweeted about Smollett; Is he going to tweet about that white supremacist the FBI arrested too?

Trump publically condemned the fake hate crime against a gay black man; will he condemn the white supremacist too, or is he cool with that?

The post Hey … Trump tweeted about Smollett; Is he going to tweet about that white supremacist the FBI arrested too? appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/21/2019 7:20:46 PM
[News] Never Pay For Your Hate Crime With A Check

Police say that Jussie Smollett paid two men $3,500 by check to stage this attack; ‘this publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn.’ Chicago Police Superintendent said that Smollett orchestrated a “phony attack” in order to take “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.” Play stupid games, win ...

The post Never Pay For Your Hate Crime With A Check appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 7:20:46 PM
[News] Never Pay For Your Hate Crime With A Check

Police say that Jussie Smollett paid two men $3,500 by check to stage this attack; ‘this publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn.’ Chicago Police Superintendent said that Smollett orchestrated a “phony attack” in order to take “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.” Play stupid games, win ...

The post Never Pay For Your Hate Crime With A Check appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 7:20:46 PM
[The Blog] Harris, Warren: Yes, we support reparations for black Americans

“We must confront the dark history of slavery and government-sanctioned discrimination in this country..."

The post Harris, Warren: Yes, we support reparations for black Americans appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/21/2019 7:20:46 PM
[Democrats] Democrats: Russians Are Meddling Again! (John Hinderaker) It worked so well in 2016, apparently, that Democrats are already lining up their excuses for next year’s presidential race. Politico reports breathlessly that a “‘Sustained and ongoing’ disinformation assault targets Dem presidential candidates.” A wide-ranging disinformation campaign aimed at Democratic 2020 candidates is already underway on social media, with signs that foreign state actors are driving at least some of the activity. The main targets appear to be Sens. Published:2/21/2019 7:20:46 PM
[Politics] Venezuelan Army STOPS humanitarian aid, also blocks Guaido from getting to aid site Maduro is cracking down on allowing legitimate humanitarian aid to come into the country because he believes it’s a pretext for US intervention. He’s also blocking Guaido and his supporters movements in . . . Published:2/21/2019 7:20:46 PM
[Politics] Judge: Prosecutors’ deal with Jeffrey Epstein in molestation case violated law, misled victims The ruling is sharply critical of how prosecutors, including future Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, handled a non-prosecution agreement with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Published:2/21/2019 6:49:43 PM
[Politics] US Jewish Leaders Slam Netanyahu's Parliament Moves Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to ensure a racist, far-right party is part of the next parliament have been denounced by, Jewish-American rabbis, organizations, and donors, Haaretz reported. Published:2/21/2019 6:49:43 PM
[Entertainment] Kendrick Lamar isn't performing his 'Black Panther' anthem at the Oscars; here's why Sorry, 'Black Panther' fans: Kendrick Lamar won't be performing his Oscar-nominated 'All the Stars' (up for original song) at Sunday's Academy Awards.
     
 
 
Published:2/21/2019 6:49:42 PM
[0188bcf1-3829-5b76-bb01-60b6cb4a8444] Jussie Smollett returns to 'Empire' set after arrest for alleged staged attack Jussie Smollett has returned to the Chicago set of "Empire" hours after posting bail on a felony disorderly conduct charge. Published:2/21/2019 6:49:42 PM
[The Blog] Report: FBI General Counsel initially thought Hillary should face charges in email scandal

"...became persuaded that charging her was not appropriate"

The post Report: FBI General Counsel initially thought Hillary should face charges in email scandal appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/21/2019 6:49:42 PM
[Markets] Bursting Of Australia's Housing Bubble Could Topple The Government

In one of the world's most developed economies, soaring costs for housing and education are rapidly widening the wealth-distribution gap between the younger and older generations amid the backdrop of one of the longest economic expansions in the country's history. As younger workers grapple with the notion that they may never be able to afford a home, a backlash is stirring in the political arena, as younger voters embrace progressive (some would say "socialist") politicians.

No, we're not talking about the US. We're talking about Australia.

After six years of tumultuous Liberal rule, the Labour Party is hoping to wrest back control of the government during elections later this year. And it sees tackling this intergenerational divide as the best way to do it. And combating the country's increasingly unaffordable housing bubble is a key plank of its proposals. The party has pledged to curb tax breaks for property investors that helped drive up home prices (alongside an influx of foreign capital). 

Sydney

Labor leader Bill Shorten has promised to scrap tax refunds worth A$5 billion ($3.6 billion) a year for share investors. The benefits are already being seen in the polls, where Labour is seeing a slight advantage.

After 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth, Australians are struggling with the fact that the wealthy have enjoyed the bulk of the economic benefits.

While Australia has avoided recession for 27 years, the spoils have not been shared evenly as older people capture a greater share of the nation’s wealth. According to the Grattan Institute, households headed by people aged 65-74 were on average A$566,000 wealthier in 2015-16 than the same age group was 12 years earlier. That far outstrips growth in other bands and compares with just A$38,000 for the 25-34 age group.

And economists are worried that such an extreme concentration of wealth among older Australians...

BBG

...could hurt the country's economy.

Such a concentration of wealth among older Australians can hurt the real economy, according to Danielle Wood, an economist at the Melbourne-based think tank. Younger Australians priced out of the property market, for instance, are forced to live further from cities - lengthening their commutes and reducing the likelihood of second income-earners working full time, she said in an interview with Bloomberg Television Thursday.

"Housing affordability has clearly been the No. 1 economic issue for younger Australians in the past decade," Wood said.

And as home prices have soared, home ownership rates among younger Australians have plummeted.

Locked Out

To try and combat this, Shorten proposed that a tax break known as negative gearing which allows homeowners to treat costs associated with owning a rental home as a tax deduction (though, to be fair, that certainly sounds like it could have some unintended consequences for the property market). He has also promised to subsidize rents and build homes.

Though as the bubble in the country's hottest housing markets deflates from a mid-2017 peak, the risk of sparking a destabilizing crash are also probably worth considering.

While Sydney’s median house price is still more than A$900,000, and the city remains the world’s third least-affordable housing market where only 45% of residents aged 25-34 own their own home (down 16% points from the 1980), prices have already fallen 12% since their mid-2017 peak.

To be sure, this is just one market. But with China clamping down on capital outflows, the risks of a domino effect are certainly worth considering.

But we're sure that, if Australia's progressives do prevail during the May election and the housing bubble does collapse, they won't make the same mistake the US did and choose to bail out the people who paid for these overpriced homes, and not the banks that enabled them.

Published:2/21/2019 6:49:42 PM
[worldNews] Israel set to join elite lunar club with first mission to moon Israel's first spacecraft built to land on the moon was set for launch on Thursday from Florida on a mission that, if successful, would make the Jewish state only the fourth nation to achieve a controlled touchdown on the lunar surface.
Published:2/21/2019 6:49:42 PM
[Politics] TNT drops episode that features Jussie Smollett… In the wake of the phony attack that’s been all over the news today, TNT’s show “Drop the Mic” has decided not to air an episode feature Jussie Smollett: NY POST – . . . Published:2/21/2019 6:49:42 PM
[Politics] TNT drops episode that features Jussie Smollett… In the wake of the phony attack that’s been all over the news today, TNT’s show “Drop the Mic” has decided not to air an episode feature Jussie Smollett: NY POST – . . . Published:2/21/2019 6:49:42 PM
[Space] Watch SpaceX launch the first private moon landing mission Calling all lunatics — the first fully private moon landing mission is about to take off from Cape Canaveral. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying SpaceIL's Beresheet lander is set to take off an hour from now, at 5:45 Pacific time. Watch it right here! Published:2/21/2019 6:49:42 PM
[Markets] Kraft Heinz loses a lot of cheese as earnings send stock plunging toward record low Kraft Heinz Inc. shares headed toward record lows in after-hours trading Thursday, after the giant food conglomerate delivered bad news with no condiments to sweeten it.
Published:2/21/2019 6:49:42 PM
[] Meredith Watson, Second Accuser of Justin Fairfax: "I'm Willing to Testify Publicly" At an impeachment hearing, let's say. She writes in the Washington Post (archive.is link in link above): Fairfax denied that he raped me, and he denied Tyson's account as well. And for many in the public, the media and the... Published:2/21/2019 6:49:42 PM
[World] Trump says it would be ‘wonderful’ if India and Pakistan got along. Here’s why they don’t. As tensions rise following an unprecedented attack in Kashmir, here's what you need to know about the grudges between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[Entertainment] Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett Finalize Their Divorce Hank Baskett, Kendra WilksinsonKendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett's marriage is officially over. A source confirms to E! News that a Los Angeles County judge recently signed off on the pair's divorce...
Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[topics:organisations/islamic-state] Shamima Begum's family ask Home Secretary for help to bring her baby to Britain Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[Politics] BOOM – IRS agent CHARGED for leaking Michael Cohen’s bank records to Michael Avenatti! We finally know who leaked Michael Cohen’s records to the despicable Porny Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti. John Fry, and IRS investigative analyst, has been charged with the offense: CNN – Federal prosecutors . . . Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[Entertainment] Wow, nobody at this Black Women in Hollywood event wants to condemn Jussie Smollett

Now that Jussie Smollett has actually been arrested and charged with faking a hate crime, those disappointed that he wasn’t really attacked by redneck Trump supporters in MAGA hats don’t really have much to say — NOW they’re waiting for all the information to come in. As Twitchy reported earlier, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph went out […]

The post Wow, nobody at this Black Women in Hollywood event wants to condemn Jussie Smollett appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[Entertainment] Queen is officially opening the Oscars. Plus, more details from the show's producers Instead of the traditional 20-minute set of jokes from an Oscars host, expect a rock 'n' roll start to Sunday's Academy Awards: Queen opens the show.
     
 
 
Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[Markets] Asia markets set to decline following US losses Stocks in Australia slipped in early trade. In overnight market action stateside, stocks fell after the release of a stream of disappointing U.S. economic data on Thursday. Futures pointed to a lower open in Japan. Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 21,320, below the benchmark index's last close at 21,464.23. Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[86ef5f57-e36c-59a5-9f31-ccec0830434f] Andrew McCarthy: Indict the ‘ISIS Bride’ The Justice Department should file an indictment against "ISIS bride" Hoda Muthana for treason, material support to terrorism, and any other readily provable offenses. Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[Politics] The list of bogus ‘hate crimes’ in Trump era is long In the wake of the arrest of actor Jussie Smollett, who was charged with staging his own racist and homophobic attack, here are just some of the other crimes that have been given prominent play by the media since the 2016 election — often accompanied by politicians decrying, “This is America today” — that turned... Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[News] Gay Rights Activist Tennis Icon Martina Navratilova Slammed As “Transphobic”

Gay rights activist tennis icon Martina Navratilova slammed as “transphobic” for opposing men competing against women in sporting events. Martina Navratilova, a gay rights advocate, has faced criticism for a column she penned where she claimed that allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sporting events is insane and “cheating.” The LGBTQ organization Athlete Ally announced Tuesday it ...

The post Gay Rights Activist Tennis Icon Martina Navratilova Slammed As “Transphobic” appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[News] Gay Rights Activist Tennis Icon Martina Navratilova Slammed As “Transphobic”

Gay rights activist tennis icon Martina Navratilova slammed as “transphobic” for opposing men competing against women in sporting events. Martina Navratilova, a gay rights advocate, has faced criticism for a column she penned where she claimed that allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sporting events is insane and “cheating.” The LGBTQ organization Athlete Ally announced Tuesday it ...

The post Gay Rights Activist Tennis Icon Martina Navratilova Slammed As “Transphobic” appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[Uncategorized] With Bread Line Bernie rising, expect Michelle-mentum How can the Democrat establishment steal another primary election from Bernie without completely fracturing the party? Bring back the Obamas. Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Nintendo names Bowser (the human, not Mario’s nemesis) president of U.S. division Nintendo Co. said Thursday that Reggie Fils-Aimé, its longtime president of the U.S. division, is retiring in April.
Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[Entertainment] Podcasting startup WaitWhat raises $4.3M as interest in audio content explodes The production business behind Reid Hoffman's 'Masters of Scale' podcast raised the funds from Hoffman himself, plus Cue Ball Capital, Burda Principal Investments and more. Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[Markets] Political Bombshell Puts Netanyahu Re-election In Doubt

Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu's reelection bid has just hit its most formidable roadblock, making his political future look increasingly bleak. Two key centrist opponents of the Israeli PM have announced an unprecedented alliance in a bid to defeat him in the upcoming April 9 elections. 

The groundbreaking move marks the first major threat to Netanyahu's rule in a decade, and comes further at a sensitive moment in which he's facing possible indictment and multiple corruption allegations. Retired military chief Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, now plan to run on a combined ticket in a highly unusual agreement for the pair to rotate as Prime Minister. The plan would see Gantz serve for two-and-a-half years, and Lapid for the same time period following.

Image source: Reuters

They are Netanyahu's two most significant competitors in the election, and the pair said in a joint statement they are "motivated by national responsibility" to combine their powers for the sake of ousting scandal-laden and "divisive" PM Netanyahu

"The new ruling party will bring forth a cadre of security and social leaders to ensure Israel's security and to reconnect its people and heal the divide within Israeli society," the statement said.

Gantz already has huge visibility and public appeal as the former head of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), while Lapid is a former popular television host turned politician. What's being dubbed a new "Blue and White alliance" party has the support of other major Israeli generals turned politicians as well. 

“Today we are changing the face of Israel,” Gantz said in a speech carried live on national television, according to The Times of Israel. “In the past decade something has gone wrong,” he said.

Gantz continued, “Israel has lost its way. The government has incited division [in Israeli society], it’s a government that divides and rules. We’re here to say, ‘enough.’ Instead of division, we want unity. Instead of extremism, we want dignity. Instead of fraction, we propose national reconciliation.”

Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid of the newly formed Blue and White party give a joint a statement to the press in Tel Aviv on February 21, 2019, via The Times of Israel. 

And speaking of the launch of the new 'Blue and White' party while also referencing recent scandals embroiling Netanyahu, Yair Lapid described: “We are creating a ruling party. The Israeli public will go to the polls on the 9th of April to choose what kind of country they want, what sort of country their children will live in: a country of investigations, corruption and incitement or a country of hope, resilience and a promise for the future."

He further cast Netanyahu as appealing to the extreme right in Israeli society, saying, "Netanyahu chose [racist rabbi Meir] Kahane’s people as his partners. We choose each other, and more than that, we choose the citizens of Israel."

Netanyahu is currently at the center of three complex scandals, summarized as follows:

In the first of the three cases, Israeli police allege that for years, Netanyahu and his wife Sara received gifts in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of champagne, jewelry and cigars from wealthy individuals in the United States and Australia. In exchange, Netanyahu reportedly tried to extend tax exemption legislation that would have benefitted at least one of the men involved.

In the second case, one of Netanyahu’s aides recorded lengthy conversations between the prime minister and the head of Israel’s largest opposition paper, in which they discussed making a deal where the paper would be less critical of Netanyahu.

[Third] On December 2, Israeli police accused Netanyahu of trading regulatory favors for positive media coverage of himself and his family. Over a period of five years, the prime minister reportedly intervened in the day-to-day coverage and affairs of Walla!, a news website run by the country’s telecommunications company, Bezeq.

In return, Netanyahu — in his role as minister of communications, which is one of his titles — rewarded the company by using his political power to give them more favorable regulations, despite political opposition.

Vouching for the trustworthiness of his political partner, Lapid continued, “I wouldn’t be standing here today if I didn’t believe that Benny Gantz could lead us to victory and then lead the country. He’ll be an excellent Prime Minister. I believe in him.”

Prior to announcing the joint ticket, Gantz’s new Israel Resilience party had been polling strongest after Netanyahu’s Likud. Yet success at the ballots would still require gaining a parliamentary majority, and most analysis is still acknowledging the Gantz-Lapid ticket's changes of unseating Netanyahu "a long shot" — himself busy reaching out to powerful religious-nationalist parties in a move that many observers see as a desperate pact with the "extreme right".

The timing of any potential future indictment of Netanyahu, however, could ultimately sway momentum out of his favor, so the progress of the multiple ongoing corruption investigations could have the most impact

Published:2/21/2019 6:18:36 PM
[7f295bf0-c667-5950-be0c-4f3f48b65dd0] Gayle King reveals why Meghan Markle didn’t open gifts at NYC baby shower Meghan Markle received a number of gifts at her New York baby shower but refrained from opening any of them – going against traditional baby shower etiquette in the process. Published:2/21/2019 6:18:35 PM
[worldNews] U.S. to leave 200 American peacekeepers in Syria after pullout The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.
Published:2/21/2019 6:18:35 PM
[Politics] Trump Plans Meeting With China's Trade Chief on Friday, Sources Say President Donald Trump plans to meet with China's top trade negotiator Friday afternoon as the U.S. tries to forge a preliminary deal with its biggest economic rival before tariffs on some Chinese imports more than double next month, two people familiar with the matter... Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[US News] Why yes, President Trump is not happy that Jussie Smollett apparently framed his supporters

This hoax wouldn't have even been on the media's radar if not for the (made-up) "This is MAGA country" line.

The post Why yes, President Trump is not happy that Jussie Smollett apparently framed his supporters appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[Startups] Sunsama’s $10/month task management calendar cleans up your online productivity I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard friends lament how difficult it is to find a decent calendar app. The stock calendar apps are certainly serviceable but there’s so much that they can’t handle in terms of managing and prioritizing tasks. Sunsama, launching out of Y Combinator’s latest batch, is taking a […] Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[9445a8a7-1aa0-5d35-aa60-df409b9a73ba] Gutfeld on Smollett’s arrest The activist press embraced Jussie Smollett as the perfect victim, ignoring all the implausible details of his claim that he was attacked in a hate crime. Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Judge says federal prosecutors, including Alex Acosta, broke the law in Jeffrey Epstein plea deal A judge ruled Thursday that federal prosecutors overseeing the Jeffrey Epstein sexual-abuse case — including current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta — violated the law by concealing from his underage alleged victims the existence of a plea deal that shielded the politically connected Florida financier from federal charges.
Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[Middle Column] NYT hit with backlash for labeling Princeton physicist a ‘climate denialist’ – Attempts to links skeptics to ‘Holocaust deniers’ 

Steve Milloy of Junkscience.com: "Will Happer is an esteemed Princeton physics prof who believes that CO2 is plant food and that climate hysteria is just that. To the NYTimes, however, he is no different than a Holocaust denier."

Marc Morano, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” described “denialist” as a “semantic smear that links climate skeptics to ‘Holocaust deniers.’” “It’s about time the Trump administration is going to push back on the weak scientific claims of the climate-change establishment,” said Mr. Morano. “And they are no weaker than in the area of national security. Let’s hope this new commission and the elevation of Dr. Happer in the administration will herald a new pushback on the increasingly desperate claims of ‘settled’ science.” (See: Bonus chapter: Intimidating the ‘Deniers’ to Enforce the ‘Consensus’ – Climate ‘deniers’ threatened with being ‘thrown in jail’)

View image on Twitter

Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[2019 News] Kamala Harris’s dad on her pot-smoking comment: Our family wants to ‘dissociate ourselves from this travesty Kamala Harris’s dad on her pot-smoking comment: Our family wants to ‘dissociate ourselves from this travesty. It doesn’t appear that daddy thinks very well of his daughter. ‘My dear departed grandmothers … as well as my deceased parents, must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican […] Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[worldNews] U.S. to leave 200 American peacekeepers in Syria after pullout: White House The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday.
Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[e407b5ef-a104-5707-969c-37d2268b9627] 'The Haunting of Hill House' returning to Netflix for second season "The Haunting of Hill House" will be returning for a second season — but with a new title, and a new format.  Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[Markets] Kraft Shares Plunge To Record Low After Company Discloses SEC Subpoena

Kraft Heinz shares plunged more than 18% in after-hours trading on Thursday after the company disclosed that it had received a subpoena from the SEC. The whiff of the accounting scandal drove the company's shares below $40 a share, to their lowest level ever.

Kraft said the subpoena was part of an investigation into the company's procurement accounting policies, and that, after it received the subpoena, it launched an internal investigation and as a result posted a $25 million increase to the cost of products sold after determining it was "immaterial to the fourth quarter of 2018 and its previously reported 2018 and 2017 interim and year to date periods." It also posted a $15.4 billion impairment charge, as the company cautioned that "the fair values of certain goodwill and intangible assets" were "below their carrying amount."

Kraft

Kraft added that it was cooperating in the probe and has been taking steps to improve its internal controls and procedures. The subpoena, which was disclosed in the company's Q4 earnings report, isn't expected to have a material impact on its financial statements, the company said, according to CNBC.

Kraft Heinz cautioned that "the fair values of certain goodwill and intangible assets" was "below their carrying amount."

On top of the subpoena, Kraft Heinz posted a miss on its earnings, reporting EPS of 84 cents on $6.89 billion in revenue. Those results fell short of Wall Street expectations for EPS of 94 cents on revenue of $6.93 billion, according to Refinitiv consensus estimates.

Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[The Blog] CNN: We might finally have al-Baghdadi in our sights

Don't hold your breath.

The post CNN: We might finally have al-Baghdadi in our sights appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[Politics] BOOM – IRS agent CHARGED for leaking Michael Cohen’s bank records to Michael Avenatti! We finally know who leaked Michael Cohen’s records to the despicable Porny Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti. John Fry, and IRS investigative analyst, has been charged with the offense: CNN – Federal prosecutors . . . Published:2/21/2019 5:49:31 PM
[Politics] Trump Challenges US Companies to Speed Work on 5G Networks President Donald Trump challenged U.S. telecommunications companies on Thursday to boost their efforts to build advanced networks and said leadership should come from competition, not by blocking competitors."American companies must step up their efforts, or get left... Published:2/21/2019 5:18:23 PM
[8be2febf-3cdc-50e0-a470-e98d04c2c844] MSNBC guest unchecked after floating theory that Trump-supporting cops may have framed Jussie Smollett MSNBC finally got around to covering the scandal surrounding "Empire” star Jussie Smollett and allowed a guest to float a theory that Trump- supporting cops are lying about the case. Published:2/21/2019 5:18:22 PM
[Alex Acosta] Federal Judge: Acosta broke the law in Jeffrey Epstein’s case (Paul Mirengoff) As a federal prosecutor, Alex Acosta (now the Secretary of Labor) gave pedophile Jeffrey Epstein “the deal of a lifetime.” A federal investigation revealed 36 underage victims of Epstein, some as young as age 13 (additional victims have since been discovered). Yet, through a plea agreement with then-U.S. Attorney Acosta, Epstein managed to plead to only two state prostitution charges. He served 13 months in state prison, where he was Published:2/21/2019 5:18:22 PM
[Markets] Student Op-Ed: White Privilege Is Real … And You’d Better Agree!

Authored by Dave Huber of The College Fix

The concept of “white privilege” essentially is taken as gospel on American college campuses. There are workshops about it, classes on it, and the concept has been woven into just about any discipline you can think of.

Belief in white privilege actually “isn’t nearly as pernicious as conservatives tend to believe,” according to The Weekly Standard’s David Marcus. “There is real value in considering the fact that people might treat you with more respect and dignity based on your skin color,” he says.

However, it is only with regards to race that people are required to acknowledge their “unearned advantages,” Marcus adds. Not to mention, the proposed and promulgated remedies for white privilege are found wanting.

California State University, Chico’s Rachael Bayuk probably won’t be persuaded by Marcus’s points, even granting his concession that white privilege is a real thing. Writing in The Orion, she demands that you, as a white person, “stop bringing up how hard you had it as a kid, stop saying you were poor, [and] stop naming every bad thing that has ever happened to you in defense of yourself.”

As penance for history, white people “damn well better let people who’s [sic] voices have been drowned out speak,” which means (in part) butting out of conversations they shouldn’t be part of. Example: Whites don’t get a say in what is offensive to non-whites.

“Who the f*ck are we to tell them what isn’t offensive,” she asks, referencing the Washington Redskins team name.

White women (or, should that be “female-identifying”?) also aren’t permitted to wear hair braids, according to Bayuk. “Think about how privileged this sounds,” she says. A white girl appropriating this look would get compliments, while a black girl so coiffed would be considered “ghetto.”

Seems to me Bayuk is making use of her white privilege in making such a statement.

From the op-ed:

We don’t get to pick and choose what’s okay and what isn’t. That’s what colonialism has been doing for centuries-picking and choosing all the parts white, dominant culture likes and discarding the rest. Well, we should stick to box tea and lederhosen and stop injecting ourselves into places we don’t belong.

Our society has adopted celebrations from Mexican culture only to gentrify them. We mash them up beyond recognition until all they become are excuses to drink and wear “funny” (racist) costumes. There is not a single thing funny about racism. The systematic oppression and crude depictions of people of color is unacceptable.

We can’t allow it anymore. If you’re staying quiet, you’re compliant in this system. If you just “don’t care for politics,” you are part of the problem. People’s livelihoods are based around political decisions. Stop and think about how privileged you are to be able to turn off the TV and forget about the communities plagued by systematic violence.

White people’s voices “have rung through these mountains for far too long,” Bayuk says. It’s time to hold the metaphorical “megaphone” for those who’ve been silenced.

Read the full piece.

Published:2/21/2019 5:18:22 PM
[Middle Column] Trump’s New Skeptic-Led Climate Security Committee Triggers Environmentalists
Published:2/21/2019 5:18:22 PM
[Politics] Ocasio-Cortez Responds To Billboard Shaming Her For Slamming Amazon

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the Times Square billboard that criticized her as ‘wack.’ Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “Few things effectively communicate the power we’ve built in fighting dark money & anti-worker policies like billionaire-funded groups blowing tons of cash on wack billboards (this one is funded by the Mercers.)” Few things effectively communicate the power ...

The post Ocasio-Cortez Responds To Billboard Shaming Her For Slamming Amazon appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 5:18:22 PM
[Politics] Ocasio-Cortez Responds To Billboard Shaming Her For Slamming Amazon

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the Times Square billboard that criticized her as ‘wack.’ Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “Few things effectively communicate the power we’ve built in fighting dark money & anti-worker policies like billionaire-funded groups blowing tons of cash on wack billboards (this one is funded by the Mercers.)” Few things effectively communicate the power ...

The post Ocasio-Cortez Responds To Billboard Shaming Her For Slamming Amazon appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 5:18:22 PM
[The Blog] Report: Smollett’s scenes in “Empire” being “cut or trimmed”

Exit?

The post Report: Smollett’s scenes in “Empire” being “cut or trimmed” appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/21/2019 5:18:22 PM
[Media] Legendary ratio! GQ’s getting HAMMERED over this tweet about Jussie Smollett (and it’s aging worse by the hour)

"Hell of an editor's note here" as well.

The post Legendary ratio! GQ’s getting HAMMERED over this tweet about Jussie Smollett (and it’s aging worse by the hour) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/21/2019 5:18:22 PM
[Markets] Market Extra: ‘Flashboys’ exchange IEX rolls out first-ever TV ad campaign as war over stock-exchange fees intensifies IEX kicks off targeted advertising campaign that is likely to ratchet up hostilities on an industry donnybrook over fees that some of the biggest stock exchanges charge customers.
Published:2/21/2019 5:18:22 PM
[] Trump Trolls With His 404 File Not Found Page Amusing. Some other amusing stuff below. What's this guy training for? I think he's doing some kind of Samurai Cavalry training regimen but maybe it's just a Crossfit workout of the day.... Published:2/21/2019 5:18:22 PM
[Politics] MSNBC Anchor Advised Under Armour CEO on Dealing With Trump Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank was advised by MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle on how he should engage with President Donald Trump at the start of his tenure, according to The Wall Street Journal. Published:2/21/2019 4:49:25 PM
[Markets] Kraft Heinz earnings reveal SEC investigation, massive write-offs; stock plunges Kraft Heinz earnings reveal SEC investigation, massive write-offs; stock plunges Published:2/21/2019 4:49:24 PM
[The Blog] Judge: Prosecutors’ non-prosecution agreement with Jeffrey Epstein violated the law

"Petitioners and the other victims should have been notified..."

The post Judge: Prosecutors’ non-prosecution agreement with Jeffrey Epstein violated the law appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/21/2019 4:49:24 PM
[Government] California to close data breach notification loopholes under new law California, which has some of the strongest data breach notification laws in the U.S., thinks it can do even better. The golden state’s attorney general Xavier Becerra announced a new bill Thursday that aims to close loopholes in its existing data breach notification laws by expanding the requirements for companies to notify users or customers […] Published:2/21/2019 4:49:24 PM
[Markets] FBI's Top Lawyer Thought Hillary Clinton Should Be Criminally Prosecuted - Was "Persuaded" To Change His Mind

The FBI's top lawyer, General Counsel James Baker, initially thought that Hillary Clinton should face criminal charges for transmitting classified information over her insecure, private email server, according to transcripts from a 2018 closed-door Congressional testimony reviewed by The Hill's John Solomon. 

James Baker

While being questioned by Rep. John Radcliffe (R-TX), Baker was clear that he thought Clinton should face criminal charges. 

"I have reason to believe that you originally believed it was appropriate to charge Hillary Clinton with regard to violations of law - various laws, with regard to mishandling of classified information. Is that accurate?" asked Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor. 

After a brief pause to consult with his attorney, Baker responded: "Yes." 

Baker later explained how he arrived at his conclusion, and how he was "persuaded" to change his mind. 

"So, I had that belief initially after reviewing, you know, a large binder of her emails that had classified information in them," said Baker. "And I discussed it internally with a number of different folks, and eventually became persuaded that charging her was not appropriate because we could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that - we, the government, could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that - she had the intent necessary to violate (the law)."

Baker says he was persuaded to change his mind "pretty late in the process, because we were arguing about it, I think, up until the end."

Recall that in December, 2017 we learned that James Comey's original exoneration letter was drafted in a way that would have required criminal charges - changing Clinton's conduct from the legally significant "gross negligence" to "extremely careless" - which is not a legal term of art. This language - along with several other incriminating components was altered by former FBI counterintelligence agent and attorney, Peter Strzok. 

Baker made clear that he did not like the activity Clinton had engaged in: "My original belief after - well, after having conducted the investigation and towards the end of it, then sitting down and reading a binder of her materials - I thought that it was alarming, appalling, whatever words I said, and argued with others about why they thought she shouldn't be charged."

His boss, Comey, announced on July 5, 2016, that he would not recommend criminal charges. He did so without consulting the Department of Justice, a decision the department's inspector general (IG) later concluded was misguided and likely usurped the power of the attorney general to make prosecutorial decisions. Comey has said, in retrospect, he accepts that finding but took the actions he did because he thought "they were in the country's best interest." -The Hill

Baker noted that had he been more convinced that there was evidence that Clinton intended to violate the law, "I would have argued that vociferously with him [Comey] and maybe changed his view."

Published:2/21/2019 4:49:24 PM
[Education] California Parents Object to New Sex Ed Program in Public Schools

Fed-up California parents participated in a “Sexxx Ed Sit Out” Tuesday morning to protest the state’s sex education curriculum, calling it “pornographic,” “age-inappropriate,” “highly biased... Read More

The post California Parents Object to New Sex Ed Program in Public Schools appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:2/21/2019 4:49:24 PM
[topics:people/donald-trump] Judge imposes gag order on Trump confidant Roger Stone after judge in crosshairs post Published:2/21/2019 4:49:24 PM
[Entertainment] Kim Kardashian Defends "Single Mom" Khloe Kardashian for Attending Event Post-Split Khloe Kardashian, Kim KardashianKim Kardashian is standing up for her sister, Khloe Kardashian. On Wednesday night, Khloe stepped out for her first public appearance since news broke that she had called it quits with...
Published:2/21/2019 4:49:24 PM
[US News] Illegal immigrant who fired on deputy had four different ICE detainers, criminal history (graphic video)

And Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won't vote for any spending bill that funds ICE.

The post Illegal immigrant who fired on deputy had four different ICE detainers, criminal history (graphic video) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/21/2019 4:49:24 PM
[Markets] Deep Dive: 20 dividend stocks with ‘headroom’ to pay investors even more The companies are favored by analysts.
Published:2/21/2019 4:49:24 PM
[Politics] Dip in Illegal Immigration Gives Boost to Farm Worker Visas Farmers who relied for years on illegal immigrants to man their fields are now turning to the guest worker program and other legal means, The Washington Post reported Thursday. Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[Elections, House of Representatives] New Election Ordered in North Carolina Race at Center of Fraud Inquiry The unanimous ruling by the North Carolina State Board of Elections was a startling turn in a case of political chicanery that underscored the risk for pervasive absentee ballot fraud. Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[Entertainment] Long Island Medium's Larry Caputo Reveals His New "Baby Boo" After Divorce Larry CaputoLarry Caputo appears to be moving on from his divorce. The Long Island Medium star got fans buzzing Thursday afternoon when he took to Instagram and shared a photo with his new...
Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[Politics] GOOD: Pope Francis demands action from bishops as sex abuse summit opens Pope Francis is holding a four day summit with nearly 200 bishops from around the world on the scourge of abuse that has plagued the church in the past, and he’s demanding . . . Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[Politics] GOOD: Pope Francis demands action from bishops as sex abuse summit opens Pope Francis is holding a four day summit with nearly 200 bishops from around the world on the scourge of abuse that has plagued the church in the past, and he’s demanding . . . Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[774affff-75df-5195-b733-809cae541116] MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle's relationship with Under Armour CEO was ‘unusual and problematic,’ report says MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle’s relationship with Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank raised eyebrows on Thursday when a Wall Street Journal report detailed the cable news host’s alleged affair -- including everything from allegedly using NBC News to run damage control for Under Armour to offering advice on dealing with President Trump. Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[Markets] Step Aside Volkswagen: Ford Finds "Problem" With Emissions Testing; Stock Slides

Regardless of whether overt fraud is suspected or not, after the numerous emissions scandals that have rocked the global auto industry over the past ten years (Volkswagen diesel-fuel emissions scandal being the most memorable and probably the most egregious), headline-scanning algos are bound to react to the word "emissions" in a headline - and that's exactly what happened late Thursday when Ford announced that its workers had discovered an unspecified issue with the techniques used by the company to test whether its cars meet emissions standards.

Ford

But there's no obvious reason to panic - at least, not yet. In a statement, Ford claimed that the problems didn't involve "defeat devices" like those Volkswagen admitted were deliberately installed in its cars to circumvent federal regulations - a scandal that resulted in billions of dollars in fines and mass recalls. Some of the company's executives even faced criminal charges.

Ford also said none of its fuel economy ratings had been found to be inaccurate (again, at least not yet).

The issue was reported to the company by employees back in September, prompting an internal probe. The company then reported the issue to the EPA and California regulators this week. An explanation for the lag was not offered.

Ford has hired an outside firm to investigate road load specifications used in its testing, according to a statement.

Again, so far, there's no need to panic - yet. But the EPA confirmed Ford's disclosure and said the investigation was "too incomplete" to arrive at any preliminary conclusions. And after a rough year for auto stocks as global sales slumped and Ford said it would shutter production on some poor-selling brands, the last thing the company needs is another scandal.

Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[worldNews] Venezuela's Maduro threatens border closure to block humanitarian aid Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro threatened to close the border with Colombia on Thursday as opposition leader Juan Guaido and some 80 lawmakers ran a gauntlet of roadblocks trying to get to the frontier to receive humanitarian aid.
Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[Entertainment] ‘Life imitating art or art imitating life?’ This Jussie Smollett tweet has ‘aged like a fake hate crime’

"Prophetic."

The post ‘Life imitating art or art imitating life?’ This Jussie Smollett tweet has ‘aged like a fake hate crime’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[Uncategorized] Democrat Privilege: Virginia Gov and AG likely to survive Blackface Scandals Lt. Gov.'s Future less certain after sexual assault accusations, but he's still hanging on. Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[History] America’s Ignorance of History

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not alone in a great misunderstanding of our history. Many Americans have an abysmal knowledge of our history.

The post America’s Ignorance of History appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[History] America’s Ignorance of History

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not alone in a great misunderstanding of our history. Many Americans have an abysmal knowledge of our history.

The post America’s Ignorance of History appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 4:18:10 PM
[Transportation] Lime hires its first CFO Lime is hiring Ted Tobiason, former managing director in tech equity capital markets, at Morgan Stanley, to serve as its chief financial officer. This comes following Lime’s behemoth of a $310 million Series D round earlier this month. Led by Bain Capital Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity Ventures, GV and IVP, the round values Lime at $2.4 billion. Lime, which […] Published:2/21/2019 4:18:09 PM
[Markets] : Duke phenom Zion Williamson stands to lose millions if his knee issue lingers Look to current NBA star Joel Embiid for precedent
Published:2/21/2019 4:18:09 PM
[Markets] US Market Indexes Close Lower Thursday S&P 500 down 0.35% Published:2/21/2019 4:18:09 PM
[California] Trump’s Latest ‘Targeted Attack’ on California? Ending Fuel Emissions Negotiations Larger policy disputes have become personified by clashes between President Donald Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Published:2/21/2019 4:18:09 PM
[] A Conservative Gets Sucker-Punched in the Face at Berkeley; University Fails to CondemnUpdate: They Finally Condemned Let me just check: We're all supposed to be condemning those on our side who commit violence (if they ever do), right? While the left continues to not condemn violence from the left, and even make excuses for it, right?... Published:2/21/2019 4:18:09 PM
[Politics] Tocqueville Talks: Waiting for Mueller This Friday I found myself in the gardens of the Musee Rodin, ruminating with "The Thinker" on how to distill from Germany's near-recession some worthwhile copy. It was near closing time, and 30 minutes had brought nothing, so I figured I'd resign myself to tapping out some filler about the 'national emergency' at a local bistro. Besides, it was drizzling. About to about face, a throat cleared behind me. "Pardon, but eez that you, Monsieur Silesia?" I turned. Set against the dull gr... Published:2/21/2019 4:18:09 PM
[World] Dershowitz: Covington Student Nick Sandmann's Lawyers Made Mistake in WaPo Lawsuit

Nick Sandmann's lawyers made a "serious tactical blunder" in their lawsuit against the Washington Post, according to Alan Dershowitz.

Published:2/21/2019 3:50:14 PM
[World] Trump urged Europe to take back its ISIS fighters. He appears less keen on taking back those from the U.S. The president announced Wednesday that 24-year-old Hoda Muthana will not be allowed back into the United States. Published:2/21/2019 3:50:14 PM
[celebrity homes] Jordyn Woods and Kylie Jenner Are No Longer Roommates Jordyn Woods reportedly moved out of Kylie Jenner's guesthouse in the wake of Tristan Thompson rumors. Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[99c41f77-cb54-58e2-9b0e-33cde8d1de06] Amid abortion debate, miraculous rescue of baby in South Africa should remind Americans that life is precious Over half a dozen rescue workers in South Africa spent hours digging and searching in a storm drain for an unwanted child. But when it comes to abortion, we suspend this sense of urgency to protect life. Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[Entertainment] Jordyn Woods Is "Living Her Worst Nightmare" After Tristan Thompson Cheating Scandal Jordyn Woods, Tristan ThompsonSince news emerged of Tristan Thompson allegedly cheating on Khloe Kardashian with her, Jordyn Woods' personal life has been turned upside down. Earlier this week, reports surfaced...
Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[Markets] Zillow Group replaces CEO Spencer Rascoff with former CEO Rich Barton Zillow Group replaces CEO Spencer Rascoff with former CEO Rich Barton Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[structure:news] Churches no longer legally required to conduct service every Sunday as Synod votes to end decades old rule Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[US News] ‘You had me at hello’: Ted Lieu signs on to Joaquin Castro’s joint resolution to terminate Trump’s national emergency

Ted Lieu is a weird guy.

The post ‘You had me at hello’: Ted Lieu signs on to Joaquin Castro’s joint resolution to terminate Trump’s national emergency appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[Markets] Wall Street breaks run of gains as economic data disappoints Weak economic reports pressured U.S. stocks on Thursday after the market's recent run of gains, and a drop in healthcare shares added to the bearish momentum. Separate data showed the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's gauge of U.S. Mid-Atlantic business activity declined in February to its weakest level since May 2016, while another report showed U.S. existing home sales dropped last month to the lowest level since November 2015. Recent gains in the market have been driven by hopes of progress in U.S.-China trade talks and dovish signals from the Federal Reserve. Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[TC] As shared kitchens heat up, a China-based startup, Panda Selected, nabs $50 million led by Tiger Global A few weeks ago, we told you that former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick looks to be partnering with the former COO of the bike-sharing startup Ofo, Yanqi Zhang, to bring his new L.A.-based company, CloudKitchens, to China. Kalanick didn’t respond to our request for more information, but according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), his […] Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[Politics] Stringer rips de Blasio’s 2020 dream, says focus should be on city Add Comptroller Scott Stringer to the growing list of pols who say Mayor de Blasio should do the job he was elected to do — rather than gallivanting around the country to satisfy his pipe-dream of becoming president. During an unrelated press conference in Lower Manhattan, Stringer said de Blasio should take a lesson from... Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[The Blog] NBC: Joe Biden wants to be either president or Hamlet

To run, or not to run: that is the question.

The post NBC: Joe Biden wants to be either president or Hamlet appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[Markets] McConnell Fast-Tracks Vote On Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal"

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could toss a major stinkbomb into the 2020 Democratic Primary as soon as next week.

According to the Hill, the Republican leader is planning to call a vote on the "Green New Deal" resolution championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey.

McConnell

Though no Republicans have expressed support for the deal, McConnell's wants to fast-track a vote on the resolution as a ploy to divide Democrats between supporters and opponents and force 2020 primary contenders to go on the record either supporting or opposing the non-binding resolution. So far, most of the contenders have spoken favorably of the deal, including Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, while others, including Amy Klobuchar, have been somewhat more tentative.

As a reminder, here are some of the more "radical" proposals included in the original GND (or "Green Dream", as Nancy Pelosi once called it), at least before some major rewrites when even the GND's advocates balked at the lunacy that was presented before them.

  • Rebuild every single building in the U.S.

“Upgrade or replace every building in US for state-of-the-art energy efficiency."

  • Will end all traditional forms of energy in the next ten years.

The Green New Deal is “a 10-year plan to mobilize every aspect of American society at a scale not seen since World War 2 to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions."

  • Plans to ban nuclear energy within 10 years if possible.

It’s unclear if we will be able to decommission every nuclear plant within 10 years, but the plan is to transition off of nuclear and all fossil fuels as soon as possible."

  • Build trains across oceans and end all air travel.

“Build out highspeed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary."

  • Don’t invest in new technology of Carbon Capture and Storage, just plant trees instead.

We believe the right way to capture carbon is to plant trees and restore our natural ecosystems. CCUS technology to date has not proven effective."

  • Mandates all new jobs be unionized.

"Ensure that all GND jobs are union jobs that pay prevailing wages and hire local."

  • May include a carbon tax.

We’re not ruling a carbon tax out, but a carbon tax would be a tiny part of a Green New Deal."

  • May include cap and trade.

The Hill included a litany of critical comments about the GND from Republicans and Democrats.

  • “It is difficult to support the resolution right now when one of the lead sponsors says one of the intentions is to make air travel unnecessary,” Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, said in a statement in early February.
  • “I’m looking forward to voting against the Green New Deal because it’s just so bad for the economy and we’ll have an opportunity for the Democrats to see if they want to rubber stamp this lurch to the left, this hard left turn that their party seems to be taking right now,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
  • Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who faces a tough reelection race next year, equated the plan to socialism. “This idea is about socialism. That’s what this is. Look at it. Read it,” Gardner said. “And it’s important that we tell the American people what it is.”
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), another centrist in the Democratic caucus, characterized the plan in an interview with CNN last week as a “dream,” suggesting he’d vote against it.
  • “I’ll vote on the motion to proceed and then we’ll see after that,” Manchin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Natural Resources Committee, told The Hill.

But Chuck Schumer, who has refused to explicitly support the resolution, brushed aside questions about McConnell's decision and told reporters that he would welcome a vote on the resolution, saying "bring it on."

"You think it might embarrass Democrats to vote on a nonbinding resolution that some of us may support but not others?" Schumer asked. "Trust me, we’ll be fine, because the American people know that our entire party believes that climate change is happening and it’s caused by humans."

Maybe Schumer will change his tune after his office conducts a few rounds of polling about Americans' support for air travel and beef.

Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[Markets] President Obama’s bomber jacket was the biggest star at the Duke-UNC game The internet was buzzing about his black bomber jacket with ‘44’ on the sleeve
Published:2/21/2019 3:50:13 PM
[GE] General Electric's Crown Jewel Soaring Higher Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[Politics] SHOCKING: Man intentionally plows into family of 8 with his truck – TWICE – including six children with one in a STROLLER! I have no words to really describe just how heinous and evil it was for this man to use his truck to try and kill this family of eight, which included six . . . Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[93756d3e-7a03-5b2d-bfa9-54ff9db2208f] TNT to shelve Jussie Smollett episode of 'Drop the Mic' amid arrest for alleged staged attack TNT says it isn't going to air an upcoming episode of "Drop the Mic" featuring "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett "in the interest of not being exploitative of an incredibly sensitive situation." Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[Entertainment] Scheana Marie and Kaitlyn Bristowe Fight Back Against Body Shamers Scheana Shay, Kaitlyn BristoweScheana Marie and Kaitlyn Bristowe have had enough of the Internet trolls. As reality stars, the pair is used to receiving honest feedback from fans and followers about what's going...
Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[World] Selective amnesia: Mainstream media chooses to forget Virginia Democrat debacle

A furious 14-day whirlwind saw every statewide elected Democrat serving in Virginia's executive branch facing an existential threat to his political career, and now these scandals are treated like ancient history. Why?

As a reminder (because the producers and executives at our nation's top news networks seem to have forgotten) ... Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM

[8e957430-9d30-5652-8de5-adbf8b538330] If Smollett is guilty, he must pay — hate crimes are serious, faking them should be, too “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has made a lot of people look like fools – most of all himself. Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[worldNews] Operation to end last IS Syria pocket hits evacuation snag The operation to destroy Islamic State's final vestige of rule in Iraq and Syria hit a temporary snag on Thursday, as an expected evacuation of the remaining civilians from its last enclave in eastern Syria did not go ahead.
Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[Culture] Smollett hoax exposed (Scott Johnson) Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called a press conference this morning to announce the department’s findings in the matter of Empire actor Jussie Smollett. According to the department’s investigation, Johnson orchestrated the alleged attack on himself. And that’s not all. He also sent a threatening letter to himself at the Fox studio lot before the attack. He said Smollett was dissatisfied with his salary. “I’m left hanging my head and Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[US News] ANOTHER 1?! San Franciscan’s latest HATE CRIME story is super believable because SF is totally MAGA COUNTRY (screenshots)

This San Franciscan homeowner shared his horrifying story about a MAGA fan sending him threatening letters and egging his house over his ‘Impeach Trump’ sign. He was so scared in fact that he went to the media, but not to the police. Alrighty then. As the Smollett story fell apart, this allegedly happened in San […]

The post ANOTHER 1?! San Franciscan’s latest HATE CRIME story is super believable because SF is totally MAGA COUNTRY (screenshots) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[structure:news/uk-news] Breakdancing poised to shake up the Olympics in 2024, with Team GB hoping to become 'contenders' Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[Crime] Maryland Democrats Want to Prevent Police from Using DNA Database to Solve Crimes

A Maryland Democrat has introduced a bill to outlaw the use of DNA databases to solve crimes in the Old Line State.

The post Maryland Democrats Want to Prevent Police from Using DNA Database to Solve Crimes appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[Crime] Maryland Democrats Want to Prevent Police from Using DNA Database to Solve Crimes

A Maryland Democrat has introduced a bill to outlaw the use of DNA databases to solve crimes in the Old Line State.

The post Maryland Democrats Want to Prevent Police from Using DNA Database to Solve Crimes appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[The Blog] Van Jones on Jussie Smollett: He owes black gay men a lifetime of atonement

"This ain't nothing to play with."

The post Van Jones on Jussie Smollett: He owes black gay men a lifetime of atonement appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[Markets] Nasdaq snaps 8-session winning streak as U.S. stocks close lower Nasdaq snaps 8-session winning streak as U.S. stocks close lower Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[Markets] Stocks Slide As "Bad News Is Bad News" Again

After a seemingly endless series of trading days in which the market would spike higher as either the US or China would release some "trade deal optimism", today was a stark disappointment for the bulls because while the latest round of trade talks started in DC between the US and Chinese delegations, there were no "optimistic" leaks or Trump tweets. Instead, overnight in a surprising twist, reports hit that China had "indefinitely" banned Australian coal imports, a report which send AUD traders in for a rollercoaster of a day, stopping out both longs and short, with the currency first jumping on good economic data, then sliding on a bank's forecast for an RBA rate cut, then tumbling on the China export halt, and sliding for the rest of the day.

The news also hit the Chinese Yuan, which first jumped to a seven month high against the dollar, only to sink subsequently, ending the day at the lows, while the Bloomberg dollar index predictably rose for much of the day, reversing all of yesterday's losses.

It wasn't just the latest developments in the trade war saga that hit investor sentiment: the latest economic data also hurt, with PMIs out of Japan, Germany and the Eurozone, all sliding into contraction territory...

... and while the US manufacturing PMI remained above 50, it printed at a fresh 17 month low today, sparking more fears about a manufacturing contraction.

The fears only rose after the Philadelphia Fed tumbled by the most since the August 2011 US sovereign rating downgrade...

... ominously led by the biggest drop in the New Orders index since the Lehman bankruptcy.

There was more bad economic news out of the US which saw core capex in the form of Capital Goods Orders non-def ex. Air unexpectedly declining for a third consecutive month, the longest stretch in the red since late 2015.

Meanwhile, the latest existing housing data also confirmed that the US economy is broadly slowing, with the first sub-5 million (annualized) housing print since 2015 as increasingly more potential homebuyers find themselves priced out of the market.

And with no "trade optimism" to fall back on, bad news was for once bad news, which meant that stocks sold off for much of the day, and after rising briefly into the green in the morning session, drifted lower in a subdued manner, with today's best and worst sectors a mirror image of yesterday, as homebuilders were in the green while energy and tech in the red.

Meanwhile, Treasurys sold off across the curve as yields rose in a parallel curve shift.

And while there was little to write home about, precious metals which had posted impressive gains in recent days, tumbled today, with gold tumbling 1.1%, its biggest drop since early November.

So with earnings season almost done and no economic news tomorrow, can traders relax for a bit? Hardly: expect headlines from the ongoing US China trade talks to start leaking over the next few hours, while tomorrow's barrage of Fed speakers virtually assures that the market will be talked higher come hell or high water:

  • 08:15 AM Atlanta Fed President Bostic (FOMC non-voter) speaks
  • 10:15 AM New York Fed President Williams (FOMC voter) and San Francisco Fed President Daly (FOMC non-voter) speak
  • 12:00 PM Fed Vice Chairman Clarida (FOMC voter) speaks
  • 12:30 PM New York Fed Executive Vice President Potter speaks
  • 01:30 PM Vice Chairman for Supervision Quarles (FOMC voter) speaks
  • 01:30 PM St. Louis Fed President Bullard (FOMC voter) speaks
  • 01:30 PM Philadelphia Fed President Harker (FOMC non-voter) speaks
  • 05:30 PM New York Fed President Williams (FOMC voter) speaks
Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[Markets] Stock market worst skid in 2 weeks amid weak economic results; Nasdaq snaps 8-session win streak The S&P 500 on Thursday marked its worst decline since early February and the Nasdaq snapped an eight-session win streak, as a batch of disappointing manufacturing and housing data unsettled investors. However, the market remains in an uptrend, for now as talks between the U.S. and China progress and the Federal Reserve appears to be in a wait-and-see posture. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 104 points, or 0.4%, to reach 25,851, the S&P 500 index fell 0.4% to 2,774, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 0.4% to end at 7,459, ending a string of wins for the technology-heavy index at eight. The day's losses were the worst for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq since Feb. 7, according to FactSet data. Poor data underpinned much of the dour sentiment on the Street. Durable-goods orders rose by 1.2% in December, below the 1.4% expected by economists, according to a MarketWatch poll. Outside of orders for airplanes and automobiles, orders rose just 0.1%. Meanwhile, a key measure of business investment, known as core orders, slipped 0.7% in December. Manufacturing activity declined in the Philadelphia area, constituting Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey in February, for the first time since May of 2016, according to the Philly Fed manufacturing index. The index fell to a seasonally adjusted reading of -4.1 from 17 in January. Meanwhile, a reading for existing home sales fell 1.2% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million homes, the National Association of Realtors. It marks the third straight month of declines. Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Pinterest confidentially files for IPO, with expected valuation around $12 billion Pinterest Inc. has confidentially filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter, as the online-image search company joins a parade of highly valued technology startups planning to list their shares in 2019.
Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[Diversity] Google reportedly ends forced arbitration for employees Google is finally ending forced arbitration for its employees, Axios reports. These changes will go into effect for both current and future Google employees on March 21. For the contractors Google works with directly, it will remove mandatory arbitration from their contracts. The caveat, however, is that it won’t require outside firms that employe contractors […] Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[celebrity homes] Jordyn Woods and Kylie Jenner Are No Longer Roommates Jordyn Woods reportedly moved out of Kylie Jenner's guesthouse in the wake of Tristan Thompson rumors. Published:2/21/2019 3:17:44 PM
[] IRS Analyst Charged for the Criminal Leaking of Michael Cohen's Financial Records to Michael Avenatti, Ronan Farrow There is no Deep State. In pages of 7-8 of the criminal complaint, it notes that the analyst, John Fry, leaked to the man who wrote this article, who they call "Reporter 1," but the article is bylined by Ronan... Published:2/21/2019 3:17:43 PM
[World] Jussie Smollett Alleged Hate Crime Hoax: Experts Break Down Case, Possible Jail Time

Criminal defense attorney Eric Guster and retired NYPD detective Pat Brosnan broke down where Jussie Smollett went wrong with his alleged hate crime hoax.

Published:2/21/2019 2:47:37 PM
[Politics] Indiana House Endorses Vape Tax Published:2/21/2019 2:47:36 PM
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