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[World] Protesters Interrupt Obama as He Stumps for Gillum, Nelson in Florida Before Midterms

Former President Barack Obama was interrupted by protesters as he rallied for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in Miami on Friday.

Published:11/2/2018 2:33:57 PM
[Markets] Buchanan: Mass Migration Is A Mortal Threat To Red State America

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

Among the reasons Donald Trump is president is that his natural political instincts are superior to those of any other current figure.

As campaign 2018 entered its final week, Trump seized upon and elevated the single issue that most energizes his populist base and most convulses our media elite.

Warning of an “invasion,” he pointed to the migrant caravan that had come out of Honduras and was wending its way through Mexico. He then threatened to issue an executive order ending birthright citizenship.

As other caravans began to assemble in Central America, Trump said he would send, first 5,200 and then 15,000, troops to the border.

This ignited the predictable hysteria of the media elite who decried his “racism,” his “lying” and his “attack on the 14th Amendment.” Trump, they railed, is sending more troops to the Mexican border than we have in Syria or Iraq.

True. But to most Americans, the fate and future of the republic is more likely to be determined on the U.S.-Mexican border than on the border between Syria and Iraq.

Moreover, in challenging birthright citizenship, Trump has some constitutional history on his side.

The 14th Amendment, approved in 1868, was crafted to overturn the Dred Scott decision of 1857 and to guarantee citizenship and equal rights under law to freed slaves and their children.

Did it guarantee that everyone born on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen?

No. In the 1884 Elk v. Wilkins decision, the Supreme Court ruled that John Elk, a Winnebago Indian born on a reservation, had not denied his constitutional right to vote, as he was not a U.S. citizen.

Not for 56 years, when Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, did Native Americans become U.S. citizens.

Also, the 14th Amendment confers citizenship on those born in the U.S. and “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Children of foreign diplomats, though born here, are not citizens.

Most legal scholars do not think Trump can, by executive order, determine who is or is not a citizen under the 14th Amendment.

Yet should Trump issue an executive order and lose in the Supreme Court, the controversy could raise public consciousness and force Congress to enact legislation to clarify what the 14th Amendment precisely means.

Only Canada and the United States, among advanced nations, have birthright citizenship. No European country does. And the Conservative Party in Canada is moving to end it. Does it make sense to grant all the honor, privileges and rights of lifetime U.S. citizenship to anyone who can fly to the U.S. or evade the Border Patrol and have a baby?

Nor is this a small matter. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 6 percent of U.S. births (250,000 per year) are to undocumented immigrants.

Yet that 250,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of immigrants now coming. In 2016, President Obama’s last full year, 1.75 million legal and illegal immigrants arrived, a record.

With two months to go in 2017, the estimated arrivals of legal and illegal immigrants is 1.61 million.

Thus, in two years, 2016 and 2017, the United States will have absorbed more migrants, legal and illegal, than all the people of the 13 states when we became a nation.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are 44.5 million immigrants in the U.S. today, legal and illegal, a number that far exceeds the total U.S. population, North and South, at the time of the Civil War.

While almost all of our immigration before 1965 was from Europe, only 1 in 10 immigrants now comes from the Old Continent.

Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean provide a plurality of migrants, legal and illegal. They have displaced East Asia and South Asia - China, Korea, the Philippines, India - as the primary contributors to the burgeoning U.S. population.

We are assured that the greater the racial, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity we have, the stronger a nation we shall become. Whether true or not, we are going to find out.

For the European population of America, 90 percent of the country in 1965, will have fallen to about 60 percent by 2020, and whites are headed for minority status about 20 years after that.

Of America’s most populous states - California, Texas, Florida and New York - the first two are already minority-majority and the latter two are not far behind.

Yet the gaps between Asian and white Americans, and Hispanic and African-Americans - in income and wealth, crime rates and incarceration rates, test scores and academic achievements - are dramatic and are seemingly enduring.

To the frustration of egalitarians, the meritocracy of free and fair competition in this most diverse of great nations is producing an inequality of rewards and a visible hierarchy of achievement.

Politically, continued mass migration to the USA by peoples of color, who vote 70-90 percent Democratic, is going to change our country another way. Red state America will inevitably turn blue.

Published:11/2/2018 12:31:58 PM
[Uncategorized] Austria Won’t Sign UN Migration Pact, Vows to ‘Defend National Sovereignty’ Follows the U.S. and Hungary in rejecting the Obama-era UN plan Published:11/2/2018 6:29:19 AM
[Markets] US Approves Waivers On Iranian Oil Imports As Supply Panic Fades

With oil prices already extending the drop from their highs as the trader "panic attack" identified by celebrated energy analyst Art Berman abates, and approaching a bear market from recent highs, a Friday morning report from Bloomberg will likely ensure that prices continue to move lower.

According to an anonymous "senior administration official", the US will soon approve waivers for eight countries, including Japan, India and South Korea, that will allow them to continue buying Iranian crude oil even after sanctions are reimposed on Monday. China is also believed to be in talks to secure a waiver, while the other four countries weren't identified. The waivers are part of a bargain for continued import cuts, which the administration hopes will lead to lower oil prices.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to announce the exemptions on Friday.

Speculation that waivers could be forthcoming had been brewing for some time, and has been one of the factors driving oil prices lower in recent weeks. Pompeo has acknowledged that waivers were being considered for countries who insist that they depend on Iranian supplies, while adding that "it is our expectation that the purchases of Iranian crude oil will go to zero from every country or sanctions will be imposed." Assuming the US does follow through with the waivers, it's expected that they would be temporary, and the US would expect that the recipients would continue to wean themselves off Iranian crude. The administration will also reportedly ask that these countries reduce their trade in non-energy goods.

It's believed that Turkey, another major importer of Iranian crude, may be one of the four working on an exemption, according to Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez told reporters in Ankara on Friday. Iran was Ankara’s biggest source of oil last year, accounting for more than 25% of Turkey’s daily average imports of around 830,000 barrels. The identities of the recipients are expected to be released on Monday as sanctions take effect.

Oil

Despite the international outcry over Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran deal, the administration believes the sanctions are working. According to internal estimates, exports of Iranian crude have fallen to 1.6 million barrels a month, from 2.7 million barrels. That compares favorably to the 1.2 million barrels a month removed from the market under President Obama and the EU during the negotiations for the deal. Obama also extended waivers to 20 countries. 

The administration’s decision to issue waivers to eight countries also marked a significant reduction from the Obama administration, which issued such exemptions to 20 countries over three years. During the previous round of sanctions, nations were expected to cut imports by about 20 percent during each 180-day review period to get another exemption.

And in order to ensure that oil money isn't used by Iran to finance terrorism, the US is reportedly developing an escrow system that will ensure that Iran can only spend its oil money on food, medicine and other crucial supplies.

Countries that get waivers under the revived sanctions must pay for the oil into escrow accounts in their local currency. That means the money won’t directly go to Iran, which can only use it to buy food, medicine or other non-sanctioned goods from its crude customers. The administration sees those accounts as an important way of limiting Iranian revenue and further constraining its economy.

"It’s a virtual certainty that Western banks are not going to violate the escrow restrictions," said Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies who has advised Pompeo. "The message they’re sending is don’t screw around with these escrow accounts and try to get cute."

Oil prices were little-changed following reports of the waivers, though it's possible the reaction could be delayed until Pompeo releases more details about the countries that will be granted the waivers, and the details of what the waivers will look like.

It's also possible that, since the killing of Jamal Khashoggi has thrown a wrench in the US's plans to enlist Saudi help to further pressure the Iranian energy industry, that the likelihood of waivers had already been priced in.

Published:11/2/2018 5:59:43 AM
[Markets] Did Jamal Khashoggi Die For Nothing?

Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Unz Review,

Let the cover-up begin...

The angst over the Jamal Khashoggi murder in the Saudi Arabian Consulate General building in Istanbul is already somewhat fading as the media has moved on in search of fresh meat, recently focusing on the series of attempted mail bombings, and currently on the mass shooting in Pittsburgh. But the affaire Khashoggi is still important as it potentially brings with it possible political realignments in the Middle East as well as in Europe as countries feel emboldened to redefine their relationship with Saudi Arabia.

The Turks know exactly what occurred in the Consulate General building and are now putting the squeeze on the Saudis, requiring them to fess up and no doubt demanding compensation. Some sources in Turkey believe that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will actually demand recreation of the Caliphate, which the Kemal Ataturk led Turkish Republic’s government abolished in 1924. That would diminish Saudi Arabia’s ability to regard itself as the pre-eminent Islamic state due to its guardianship over the holy sites in Mecca and Medina. It would be a major realignment of the Islamic umma and would be akin to a restoration of some semblance of Ottoman supremacy over the region.

To be sure, the brutally effective Turkish intelligence service, known by its acronym MIT, is very active when it comes to monitoring the activities of both friendly and unfriendly foreign embassies and their employees throughout Turkey. It uses electronic surveillance and, if the foreign mission has local Turks as employees, many of those individuals will be agents reporting to MIT. As a result, it should be presumed that MIT had the Consulate General building covered with both cameras and microphones, possibly inside the building as well as outside, meaning that the audio of the actual killing that has been reported in the media is no doubt authentic and might even be supplemented with video.

One recent report, on BBC, indicates that CIA Director Gina Haspel has traveled to Turkey and has been allowed to hear the recordings of Khashoggi being tortured and killed. It’s a good thing the Trump White House sent Haspel as she would know exactly what that sort of thing sounds like based on her own personal experience in Thailand. She will presumably be able to explain the operation of a bone saw to the president.

So the Saudis seem to be in a hopeless situation, but they have several cards to play. They have many lobbyists of their own in Washington that have bought their way into think tanks and onto editorial pages. They are also in bed with Israel in opposition to Iran, which means that the Israel Lobby and its many friends in the U.S. Congress will complain about killing Khashoggi but ultimately will not do anything about it. The White House will also discourage America’s close allies from adopting measures that would do serious damage to the Saudis. In regional terms, Saudi Arabia is also key to Trump’s anticipated Middle East peace plan. If it pulls out from the expected financial guarantees aspect, the plan will fall apart, so Washington will be pressing hard on Ankara in particular to not overdo its bid for compensation.

All of which leads to some consideration of the hypocrisy of the outrage over Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia murdered a citizen in a diplomatic facility located in Turkey, apparently because they believed that individual to be a dissident who was a threat to national security. They then seriously botched the cover-up. In spite of all that, it would seem that the issue involves only two parties directly, the Saudis and the Turks, though there have been calls from a number of countries to punish the Saudis for what was clearly a particularly gruesome murder carried out in contravention of all existing rules for behavior of diplomatic missions in foreign countries.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular missions grants to Diplomats a certain level of immunity in foreign posts, but that does not include murder. In consular posts, like Istanbul, consular immunity only extends to officials who are actually performing consular duties when an alleged infraction occurs. I know from personal experience how subjective that process can be as I was arrested by Turkish police when I was the U.S. Consulate duty officer in Istanbul while looking for a missing American who turned out to be a drug dealer. The Turks weren’t sure what to do with me as I was Consular so I spent 24 hours playing cards with the prison governor before I was released.

The hypocrisy comes in when the U.S. Congress and media become enraged and demand that there be “consequences,” in part because Khashoggi was a U.S. legal resident and therefore under law a “U.S. person.” Saudi Arabia is, to be sure, a country that most would consider to be an undesirable destination if one is seeking to eat, drink and be merry. Or just about anything else having to do with personal liberty. An absolute dictatorship run by one family, it has long both relied on and been the exporter of the most backward looking and unpleasant form of Islam, Wahabbism. But for the fact that the Saudis are the world’s leading exporter of oil, and, for Muslims, guardian of the religion’s holy sites, the country would long ago have been regarded as a pariah.

But that said, Congress and the White House might well consider how the rest of the world views the United States when it comes to killing indiscriminately without fear of consequences. President Barack Obama, who has practically been beatified by the U.S. mainstream media, was the first American head of state to openly target and kill American citizens overseas. He and his intelligence advisor John Brennan would sit down for a Tuesday morning meeting to revise the list of Americans living outside the U.S. who could be assassinated. To cite only one example, the executions of Yemeni dissident Anwar al-Awlaki and his son were carried out by drone after being ordered from the White House without any due process apart from claimed presidential authority. Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also attacked Libya, a nation with which America was not at war, destroyed its government, and reduced the country to its current state of anarchy. When its former ruler Moammar Gaddafi was captured and killed by having a bayonet inserted up his anus, Hillary giggled and said “We came, we saw, he died.”

The United States is also supporting the ongoing war in Syria and also enables the Saudis to continue their brutal attacks on Yemen, which have produced cholera, starvation and the deaths of an estimated 60,000 Yemenis plus millions more threatened by disease and the deliberate cutting off of food supplies. And the White House looks the other way as its other best friend in the Middle East, Israel, shoots thousands of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. Overall one might argue that if there is a smell in the room it is coming from Washington and one death in Istanbul, no matter how heinous, pales in comparison to what the U.S. itself, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been doing without any pushback whatsoever.

And then there is the small matter of actual American interests. If Washington persists in going after the Saudis, which it will not do, it will presumably jeopardize future weapons sales worth tens of billions of dollars. The Saudis also support the system of petrodollars, which basically requires nearly all international purchases of petroleum to be paid in dollars. Petrodollars in turn enable the United States to print money for which there is no backing knowing that there will always be international demand for dollars to buy oil. The Saudis, who also use their own petrodollars to buy U.S. treasury bonds, could pull the plug on that arrangement. Those are actual American interests. If one pulls them all together it means that the United States will be looking for an outcome to Khashoggi’s slaying that will not do too much damage to Saudi Arabia.

So, what do I think will happen as a result of the Khashoggi killing? Nothing that means anything. There are too many bilateral interests that bind the Saudis to Europe and America’s movers and shakers. Too much money is on the table. In two more weeks mentioning the name Khashoggi in Washington’s political circles will produce a tepid response and a shake of the head. “Khashoggi who?” one might ask.

Published:11/1/2018 11:00:15 PM
[Markets] The Putin-Nazi-Terrorist-O-Matic

Authored by CJ Hopkins via The Unz Review,

I suppose it was always just a matter of time until the global capitalist ruling classes and their mouthpieces in the corporate media combined their two main official narratives into a Ronco-type 2-in-1 kind of deal. That’s right, folks, your days of switching between the War on Terror official narrative and the Putin-Nazi official narrative are over, because now, for just $19.99, the Putin-Nazi-Terrorist-O-Matic® takes care of all your official narrative needs with just the press of one button!

Here’s how it works.

First, you take your classic mentally-disturbed individual, someone like, say, John Hinkley, Jr., Mark David Chapman, or Travis Bickle, or a total wack job like Cesar Sayoc, and you paint whichever clearly psychotic crimes he’s committed as acts of “terrorism.” Don’t worry about the definition of “terrorism” or how it has become a virtually meaningless label the capitalist ruling classes and corporate media can slap onto anyone. Just keep saying “terrorist,” “terrorism,” and any other lexical derivatives of “terror,” over and over, like some kind of mantra … you know, like the Hare Krishnas do.

Next, you take whatever obsession your disturbed individual is maniacally obsessed with, and you paint that obsession as an “ideology,” or some kind of organized political movement, as if your wack job was actually a rational person and not just a totally paranoid geek who decided to attempt to assassinate Reagan because he couldn’t get a date with Jodie Foster, or to murder John Lennon because God had ordered him to do so in a J. D. Salinger novel.

Now, this works much better if your disturbed individual is actually obsessed with something political, like, say, if he’s a Donald Trump fanatic who has plastered the windows of the van he’s living in with all sorts of blatantly psychotic artwork deifying Donald Trump and demonizing Donald Trump’s political opponents, but you’ll have to work with what your lunatic gives you. In any event, whatever his pathology, you will need to de-pathologize your psycho, so you can misrepresent him as a “domestic terrorist,” and then associate whatever “ideology” you’ve just painted onto him with “terrorism.”

If that sounds a little complicated, don’t worry, folks, it’s really not!

The ruling classes and the corporate media just provided us with a demonstration of the Putin-Nazi-Terrorist-O-Matic in action, which proves how easy-to-use it is. In the span of just a single week, they whipped up so much mass paranoia that, by the weekend, millions of hysterical liberals were calling for a Deep State coup, and the arrest and internment of all registered Republicans, because a right-wing loon had sent a bunch of non-exploding bomblike devices to prominent members of the neoliberal “Resistance,” or rather, to their respective mail-screening services.

These Putin-Nazi Terrorist “bomb-like devices” were “intercepted” throughout last week. Their targets were a roll call of Resistance heroes, Soros, Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, the offices of CNN, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters, Joe Biden, and, yes, even Robert De Niro! Putin-Nazi panic paralyzed the nation! The neoliberal corporate media (who, remember, are serious, respected professionals, not conspiracist nuts like Alex Jones) began pouring out pieces informing the world that Donald Trump was behind these attacks, or had encouraged, “emboldened,” or “inspired” whoever was with his violent, neo-Hitlerian rhetoric.

The Washington Post went full Shakespearean with Dana Milbank’s What Hath Trump Wrought? The New York Times explained how Trump was employing a strategy called “stochastic terrorism,” i.e., inspiring random acts of violence that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable! “Trump’s words have consequences,” The Guardian lectured. “Words matter,” CNN concurred. John Brennan, who courageously continued to appear on television, despite the ongoing terrorist threat, affirmed that Trump’s “un-American” rhetoric had “emboldened individuals to take matters into their own hands.” Even “alternative” Resistance outlets like Truthout joined the chorus of voices reporting that “Trump’s Rhetoric Emboldens Violence!”

By Thursday morning, #MAGAbomber, #MAGATerrorist, and other such hashtags were circulating widely on Twitter. Which meant it was only a matter of time until the Resistance linked these stochastically-terrorist MAGA bomber attacks to Russia. On Thursday evening, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd did exactly that, speculating that “this could be a Russian operation!” (Washington Post propagandist Craig Timberg, author of the infamous McCarthyite smear piece on “peddlers of Russian propaganda” that got the whole “fake news” hysteria going back in December 2016, would soon follow up with this ridiculous attempt to connect the “MAGA Terrorist” to Russia … but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.)

By Friday, after anti-Terrorism specialists (or the kids that work in the mail screening room) “intercepted” more “bomb-like devices” addressed to Senator Cory Booker and ex-National Intelligence Director James Clapper, the neoliberal punditocracy were soiling themselves on national television. This was it! The long-awaited Putin-Nazi Apocalypse had finally begun! And just as Paul Krugman had prophesied it would … or, OK, not exactly like that, but still, Trump was, once again, about to suspend the Constitution, declare martial law, and appoint himself dictator! Clearly, Putin had ordered Trump to launch the destruction of Western democracy by deploying the dreaded Totally Incompetent Domestic Terrorist Mail Bomber Strategy … and just in time for the midterm elections!

And then, just like that, they caught him … Cesar “the Jackal” Sayoc, Jr., the terrorist mastermind that had nearly perpetrated another 9-11-type event, and who was sleeping in his van behind an auto parts store! As is standard procedure for terrorist sleeper agents, Sayoc, until he was “activated,” had been maintaining a totally low-profile cover as juiced-up, body-building, racist male stripper with an extensive criminal record and an obsession with Trump. Like the “Skripal assassins” and other Putin-Nazi operatives, he had made a point of getting himself photographed and noticed by witnesses in various public places, and otherwise drawing attention to himself, which is one of the first things they teach you at the Kremlin. Sayoc hasn’t yet divulged the names and ranks of his handlers in the GRU, but, presumably, Eliot Higgins and Bellingcat are hard at work googling that right this minute.

In the meantime, the liberal corporate media have been working the Putin-Nazi-Terrorist-O-Matic on a more or less 24/7 basis. It is crucial at a time like this, when mass hysteria is reaching peak levels, that the public not be allowed to believe that this “MAGA Terrorist” is merely one more pathetic, attention-seeking geek who decided to vent his impotent rage on those he perceived as his mortal enemies. Same goes for the Pittsburgh synagogue attacker, who struck as I was writing this piece. Never mind that this homicidal idiot did not like Trump, who he condemned as a “Jew-lover.” In order to maintain the official narrative, the ruling classes need us to believe that he was not just another anti-Semite with a gun collection and a gab.com account, but, rather, an official “domestic terrorist,” who was probably “radicalized” by Donald Trump’s rhetoric!

Look, I’m no fan of Donald Trump, or racism, or anti-Semitism, or any other type of bigotry (despite what my smear-happy former editors at CounterPunch would like you to believe). What I am is a student of the production of ideology. I lived through the deployment of the official “War on Terror” narrative after 9-11, and then watched in frustration as millions of Americans mindlessly supported a war of aggression, the abrogation of many of their civil liberties, torture, and various other atrocities, based on nothing but propaganda and media-generated mass hysteria.

We are experiencing a similarly historic ideological readjustment at the moment, which I’ve been trying to capture (satirically and more seriously) since it began in the summer of 2016. The official “War on Terror” narrative (and people’s understanding of what “terrorism” is) is being gradually redefined and expanded to encompass any and all forms of “extremism” (i.e., whatever the ruling classes decide is “extremism”).

Mass murder, battery, racist graffiti, opposing the spread of global capitalism, saying nasty things about Soros, tattooing your forehead with a giant Swastika, using the words “globalism,” “sovereignty,” and so on … the distinctions are rapidly disappearing. The media-generated mass hysteria over Islamic terrorism during the War on Terror is being replaced with media-generated mass hysteria over Nazis and Russians (unless you’re a die-hard Trump supporter, in which case, you’ve got your immigration hysteria, but my focus is on ruling class ideology, which, despite the existence of Donald Trump, remains neoliberal, supranational, and, yes, God help me, globalist in nature). Any and all forms of opposition to global capitalist ideology, regardless of whether they come from the Left or the Right, are being stigmatized as “extremism,” and thus inextricably linked to “terrorism.”

I described this, back in January, as a global capitalist “War on Dissent,” and I think events over the last ten months have largely confirmed my diagnosis.

I’d love to go on, but this essay is already way too long for people’s phones, and the midterm elections are fast approaching, so this is no time for critical thinking … and plus, news is just coming in from Guardian columnist Christina Patterson that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are also responsible for the Pittsburgh attack, and for “emboldening” all these “extremists” and “terrorists,” and for “normalizing” anti-Semitism and fascism, and mass murder, and who knows what other atrocities, and I don’t want to miss a chance to catch the Putin-Nazi-Terrorist-O-Matic in action!

Published:11/1/2018 10:27:15 PM
[Markets] The New Global Tinderbox - It's Not Your Mother's Cold War

Authored by Michael Klare via The Unz Review,

When it comes to relations between Donald Trump’s America, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and Xi Jinping’s China, observers everywhere are starting to talk about a return to an all-too-familiar past. “Now we have a new Cold War,” commented Russia expert Peter Felgenhauer in Moscow after President Trump recently announced plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The Trump administration is “launching a new Cold War,” said historian Walter Russell Mead in the Wall Street Journal, following a series of anti-Chinese measures approved by the president in October. And many others are already chiming in.

Recent steps by leaders in Washington, Moscow, and Beijing may seem to lend credence to such a “new Cold War” narrative, but in this case history is no guide. Almost two decades into the twenty-first century, what we face is not some mildly updated replica of last century’s Cold War, but a new and potentially even more dangerous global predicament.

The original Cold War, which lasted from the late 1940s until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, posed a colossal risk of thermonuclear annihilation. At least after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, however, it also proved a remarkably stable situation in which, despite local conflicts of many sorts, the United States and the Soviet Union both sought to avoid the kinds of direct confrontations that might have triggered a mutual catastrophe. In fact, after confronting the abyss in 1962, the leaders of both superpowers engaged in a complex series of negotiations leading to substantial reductions in their nuclear arsenals and agreements intended to reduce the risk of a future Armageddon.

What others are now calling the New Cold War — but I prefer to think of as a new global tinderbox — bears only the most minimal resemblance to that earlier period. As before, the United States and its rivals are engaged in an accelerating arms race, focused on nuclear and “conventional” weaponry of ever-increasing range, precision, and lethality. All three countries, in characteristic Cold War fashion, are also lining up allies in what increasingly looks like a global power struggle.

But the similarities end there. Among the differences, the first couldn’t be more obvious: the U.S. now faces two determined adversaries, not one, and a far more complex global conflict map (with a corresponding increase in potential nuclear flashpoints). At the same time, the old boundaries between “peace” and “war” are rapidly disappearing as all three rivals engage in what could be thought of as combat by other means, including trade wars and cyberattacks that might set the stage for far greater violence to follow. To compound the danger, all three big powers are now engaging in provocative acts aimed at “demonstrating resolve” or intimidating rivals, including menacing U.S. and Chinese naval maneuvers off Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, rather than pursue the sort of arms-control agreements that tempered Cold War hostilities, the U.S. and Russia appear intent on tearing up existing accords and launching a new nuclear arms race.

These factors could already be steering the world ever closer to a new Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world came within a hairsbreadth of nuclear incineration. This one, however, could start in the South China Sea or even in the Baltic region, where U.S. and Russian planes and ships are similarly engaged in regular near-collisions.

Why are such dangers so rapidly ramping up? To answer this, it’s worth exploring the factors that distinguish this moment from the original Cold War era.

It’s a Tripolar World, Baby

In the original Cold War, the bipolar struggle between Moscow and Washington — the last two superpowers left on planet Earth after centuries of imperial rivalry — seemed to determine everything that occurred on the world stage. This, of course, entailed great danger, but also enabled leaders on each side to adopt a common understanding of the need for nuclear restraint in the interest of mutual survival.

The bipolar world of the Cold War was followed by what many observers saw as a “unipolar moment,” in which the United States, the “last superpower,” dominated the world stage. During this period, which lasted from the collapse of the Soviet Union to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, Washington largely set the global agenda and, when minor challengers arose — think Iraq’s Saddam Hussein — employed overwhelming military power to crush them. Those foreign engagements, however, consumed huge sums of money and tied down American forces in remarkably unsuccessful wars across a vast arc of the planet, while Moscow and Beijing — neither so wealthy nor so encumbered — were able to begin their own investment in military modernization and geopolitical outreach.

Today, the “unipolar moment” has vanished and we are in what can only be described as a tripolar world. All three rivals possess outsized military establishments with vast arrays of conventional and nuclear weapons. China and Russia have now joined the United States (even if on a more modest scale) in extending their influence beyond their borders diplomatically, economically, and militarily. More importantly, all three rivals are led by highly nationalistic leaders, each determined to advance his country’s interests.

A tripolar world, almost by definition, will be markedly different from either a bipolar or a unipolar one and conceivably far more discordant, with Donald Trump’s Washington potentially provoking crises with Moscow at one moment and Beijing the next, without apparent reason. In addition, a tripolar world is likely to encompass more potential flash points. During the whole Cold War era, there was one crucial line of confrontation between the two major powers: the boundary between NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations in Europe. Any flare-up along that line could indeed have triggered a major commitment of force on both sides and, in all likelihood, the use of so-called tactical or theater atomic weapons, leading almost inevitably to full-scale thermonuclear combat. Thanks to such a risk, the leaders of those superpowers eventually agreed to various de-escalatory measures, including the about-to-be-cancelled INF Treaty of 1987 that banned the deployment of medium-range ground-launched missiles capable of triggering just such a spiral of ultimate destruction.

Today, that line of confrontation between Russia and NATO in Europe has been fully restored (and actually reinforced) along a perimeter considerably closer to Russian territory, thanks to NATO’s eastward expansion into the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and the Baltic republics in the era of unipolarity. Along this repositioned line, as during the Cold War years, hundreds of thousands of well-armed soldiers are now poised for full-scale hostilities on very short notice.

At the same time, a similar line of confrontation has been established in Asia, ranging from Russia’s far-eastern territories to the East and South China Seas and into the Indian Ocean. In May, the Pentagon’s Pacific Command, based in Hawaii, was renamed the Indo-Pacific Command, highlighting the expansion of this frontier of confrontation. At points along this line, too, U.S. planes and ships are encountering Chinese or Russian ones on a regular basis, often coming within shooting range. The mere fact that three major nuclear powers are now constantly jostling for position and advantage over significant parts of the planet only increases the possibility of clashes that could trigger a catastrophic escalatory spiral.

The War Has Already Begun

During the Cold War, the U.S. and the USSR engaged in hostile activities vis-à-vis each other that fell short of armed combat, including propaganda and disinformation warfare, as well as extensive spying. Both also sought to expand their global reach by engaging in proxy wars — localized conflicts in what was then called the Third World aimed at bolstering or eliminating regimes loyal to one side or the other. Such conflicts would produce millions of casualties but never lead to direct combat between the militaries of the two superpowers (although each would commit its forces to key contests, the U.S. in Vietnam, the USSR in Afghanistan), nor were they allowed to become the kindling for a nuclear clash between them. At the time, both countries made a sharp distinction between such operations and the outbreak of a global “hot war.”

In the twenty-first century, the distinction between “peace” and “war” is already blurring, as the powers in this tripolar contest engage in operations that fall short of armed combat but possess some of the characteristics of interstate conflict. When President Trump, for example, first announced tough import tariffs and other economic penalties against China, his stated intent was to overcome an unfair advantage that country, he claimed, had gained in trade relations. “For months, we have urged China to change these unfair practices, and give fair and reciprocal treatment to American companies,” he asserted in mid-September while announcing tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. It’s clear, however, that his escalating trade “war” is also meant to hobble the Chinese economy and so frustrate Beijing’s drive to achieve parity with the United States as a major world actor. The Trump administration seeks, as the New York Times’s Neil Irwin observed, to “isolate China and compel major changes to Chinese business and trade practices. The ultimate goal… is to reset the economic relationship between China and the rest of the world.”

In doing so, the president is said to be particularly keen on disrupting and crippling Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan, an ambitious scheme to achieve mastery in key technological sectors of the global economy, including artificial intelligence and robotics, something that would indeed bring China closer to that goal of parity, which Trump and his associates are determined to sabotage. In other words, for China, this is no mere competitive challenge but a potentially existential threat to its future status as a great power. As a result, expect counter-measures that are likely to further erode the borders between peace and war.

And if there is any place where such borders are particularly at risk of erosion, it’s in cyberspace, an increasingly significant arena for combat in the post-Cold War world. While an incredible source of wealth to companies that rely on the Internet for commerce and communications, cyberspace is also a largely unpatrolled jungle where bad actors can spread misinformation, steal secrets, or endanger critical economic and other operations. Its obvious penetrability has proven a bonanza for criminals and political provocateurs of every stripe, including aggressive groups sponsored by governments eager to engage in offensive operations that, while again falling short of armed combat, pose significant dangers to a targeted country. As Americans have discovered to our horror, Russian government agents exploited the Internet’s many vulnerabilities to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and are reportedly continuing to meddle in America’s electoral politics two years later. China, for its part, is believed to have exploited the Internet to steal American technological secrets, including data for the design and development of advanced weapons systems.

The United States, too, has engaged in offensive cyber operations, including the groundbreaking 2010 “Stuxnet” attack that temporarily crippled Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities. It reportedly also used such methods to try to impair North Korean missile launches. To what degree U.S. cyberattacks have been directed against China or Russia is unknown, but under a new “National Cyber Strategy” unveiled by the Trump administration in August, such a strategy will become far more likely. Claiming that those countries have imperiled American national security through relentless cyberattacks, it authorizes secret retaliatory strikes.

The question is: Could trade war and cyberwar lead one day to regular armed conflict?

Muscle-Flexing in Perilous Times

Such dangers are compounded by another distinctive feature of the new global tinderbox: the unrestrained impulse of top officials of the three powers to advertise their global assertiveness through conspicuous displays of military power, including encroaching on the perimeters, defensive or otherwise, of their rivals. These can take various forms, including overly aggressive military “exercises” and the deployment of warships in contested waters.

Increasingly massive and menacing military exercises have become a distinctive feature of this new era. Such operations typically involve the mobilization of vast air, sea, and land forces for simulated combat maneuvers, often conducted adjacent to a rival’s territory.

This summer, for example, the alarm bells in NATO went off when Russia conducted Vostok 2018, its largest military exercise since World War II. Involving as many as 300,000 troops, 36,000 armored vehicles, and more than 1,000 planes, it was intended to prepare Russian forces for a possible confrontation with the U.S. and NATO, while signaling Moscow’s readiness to engage in just such an encounter. Not to be outdone, NATO recently completed its largest exercise since the Cold War’s end. Called Trident Venture, it fielded some 40,000 troops, 70 ships, 150 aircraft, and 10,000 ground combat vehicles in maneuvers also intended to simulate a major East-West clash in Europe.

Such periodic troop mobilizations can lead to dangerous and provocative moves on all sides, as ships and planes of the contending forces maneuver in contested areas like the Baltic and Black Seas. In one incident in 2016, Russian combat jets flewprovocatively within a few hundred feet of a U.S. destroyer while it was sailing in the Baltic Sea, nearly leading to a shooting incident. More recently, Russian aircraft reportedly came within five feet of an American surveillance plane flying over the Black Sea. No one has yet been wounded or killed in any of these encounters, but it’s only a matter of time before something goes terribly wrong.

The same is true of Chinese and American naval encounters in the South China Sea. China has converted some low-lying islets and atolls it claims in those waters into miniature military installations, complete with airstrips, radar, and missile batteries — steps that have been condemned by neighboring countries with similar claims to those islands. The United States, supposedly acting on behalf of its allies in the region, as well as to protect its “freedom of navigation” in the area, has sought to counter China’s provocative buildup with aggressive acts of its own. It has dispatched its warships to waters right off those fortified islands. The Chinese, in response, have sent vessels to harass the American ones and only recently one of them almost collided with a U.S. destroyer. Vice President Pence, in an October 4th speech on China at the Hudson Institute, referred to that incident, saying, “We will not be intimidated, and we will not stand down.”

What comes next is anyone’s guess, since “not standing down” roughly translates into increasingly aggressive maneuvers.

On the Road to World War III?

Combine all of this — economic attacks, cyber attacks, and ever more aggressive muscle-flexing military operations — and you have a situation in which a modern version of the Cuban Missile Crisis between the U.S. and China or the U.S. and Russia or even involving all three could happen at any time. Add the apparent intent of the leaders of all three countries to abandon the remaining restraints on the acquisition of nuclear weapons in order to seek significant additions to their existing arsenals and you have the definition of an extremely dangerous situation. In February, for instance, President Trump gave the green light to what may prove to be a $1.6 trillion overhaul of the American nuclear arsenal initially contemplated in the Obama years, intended to “modernize” existing delivery systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and long-range strategic bombers. Russia has embarked on a similar overhaul of its nuclear stockpile, while China, with a much smaller arsenal, is undertaking modernization projects of its own.

Equally worrisome, all three powers appear to be pursuing the development of theater nuclear weapons intended for use against conventional forces in the event of a major military conflagration. Russia, for example, has developed several short- and medium-range missiles capable of delivering both nuclear and conventional warheads, including the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile that, American officials claim, already violates the INF Treaty. The United States, which has long relied on aircraft-delivered nuclear weapons for use against massive conventional enemy threats, is now seeking additional attack options of its own. Under the administration’s Nuclear Policy Review of February 2018, the Pentagon will undertake the development of a “low-yield” nuclear warhead for its existing submarine-launched ballistic missiles and later procure a nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile.

While developing such new weapons and enhancing the capability of older ones, the major powers are also tearing down the remaining arms control edifice. President Trump’s October 20th announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the 1987 INF treaty to develop new missiles of its own represents a devastating step in that direction. “We’ll have to develop those weapons,” he told reporters in Nevada after a rally. “We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out.”

How do the rest of us respond to such a distressing prospect in an increasingly imperiled world? How do we slow the pace of the race to World War III?

There is much that could, in fact, be done to resist a new nuclear arms confrontation. After all, it was massive public pressure in the 1980s that led the U.S. and USSR to sign the INF Treaty in the first place. But in order to do so, a new world war would have to be seen as a central danger of our time, potentially even more dangerous than the Cold War era, given the three nuclear-armed great powers now involved. Only by positioning that risk front and center and showing how many other trends are leading us, pell-mell, in such a direction, can the attention of a global public already distracted by so many other concerns and worries be refocused.

Is a nuclear World War III preventable? Yes, but only if preventing it becomes a central, common objective of our moment. And time is already running out.

Published:11/1/2018 8:58:55 PM
[Markets] A Tale Of Two Elections

Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Some political observers in the United States are saying that next week’s midterm voting for seats in the Senate and House of Representatives as well as a number of governorships is the most important national election since those in 1968 and 1980.

The 1968 voting saw a “law and order” Richard Nixon win the presidency in a rebuke to Lyndon Johnson’s “soft” handling of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements while Ronald Reagan won in 1980 at a time of economic turmoil, in part running on a similar “get-tough” platform to replace the seemingly hapless and indecisive Jimmy Carter.

In both 1968 and 1980 the election produced a decisive turn in direction by government, leading eventually to an end of the Vietnam War by Nixon and a more assertive foreign policy by Reagan. Though the upcoming election is midterm rather than a presidential, those who are seeing it as important hope that flipping control of the two houses of congress will check President Donald Trump and force him to change course in a number of areas.

The election is, in fact, an accountability moment for Trump’s policies as seen by the American public. If there is a blue wave in congress and in the governorships, Trump will inevitably have to take notice and his impeachment becomes a real possibility.

But will that happen? The lead-up to the 2018 midterm election is playing out very much like the 2016 presidential election. In both cases the punditry and media have been promising an easy win for the Democrats, but winning will require selling something to voters that is more than just hatred of Trump.

Unfortunately for them, the Democrats are largely clueless on issues that matter to voters and continue to be a party that reactively “blames the Russians” while preaching “diversity” as if it were a solution to what ails the country.

They studiously ignore the fact that opinion polling suggests that there are two issues that really concern Americans.

Top of the list is health care. Anyone who actually pays for health insurance out of his or her own pocket will no doubt observe how healthcare costs have skyrocketed under Obamacare to the point where insurance is available but unaffordable, with premiums that in many cases have trebled per month over the past four years. The real damage to affordable health care in America has been done by the Democrats and those who are personally paying for insurance know that.

Since the Republicans do not have a health care plan but are resolved to repeal Obamacare, they win on the issue with voters.

The second most important issue is immigration, both legal exploitation of existing loopholes in the system and illegals. The legal immigration problem includes birthright citizenship, when foreigners come to the U.S. to deliver babies who automatically become American citizens. Trump has indicated he will ban the practice by executive order.

Legal immigration problems also include those who are allowed to get green cards legally and then proceed to bring their entire families over including cousins and relatives by marriage. That was not the intent of the 1965 legislation. In fact, chain immigration was dismissed as a possible consequence of the law, with President Lyndon Johnson and Democratic congressmen including Senator Ted Kennedy assuring the public that it would not occur. Of course, they were wrong. Or they were lying. They were also Democrats.

The Democratic solution to the problem of illegal immigration is, apparently, to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), giving the United States open borders. Even given the fact that the horrible mess in Central America is the result of Washington’s meddling in its countries for the past 100 years, that does not necessarily mean the solution is an open doors policy that will drastically change America. Bringing in thousands or even millions of uneducated and unskilled migrants who do not speak English and then requiring local governments to educate, house and feed them is a recipe for disaster. Indeed, it has already proven to be just that for many communities, with standards declining and neighborhoods in decay.

There is considerable suspicion that the current mass migration from Central America is being organized and funded by Democrat George Soros to coincide with the election, and it only angers the voters who remember a time when local communities were safe places where everyone knew their neighbors and worked hard to get along. Today the social justice warriors, like Soros and other leading Democrats, have made a sense of community a crime because it does not invite enough diversity.

If one compares how the two parties stand on immigration, the Republicans win easily as they are pledged to stop the illegals and reduce the number of currently legal immigrants. It is a major issue for voters and the Democrats are predictably on the wrong side of it, just as they are with health care.

And the Democrats are also tactically inept. Having the widely despised Clintons and Obama out campaigning for Democratic candidates will surely encourage nervous Republicans to get out to vote. So, on balance, the GOP could do very well next week with issues-focused voters and might retain its advantage in both houses of congress.

If that is so, the complaining from the Democrats will start immediately. Will their failure be blamed on the Russians again this time? 

Published:11/1/2018 8:27:15 PM
[Trending Commentary] White House: ‘This is the blue-collar, middle-class Trump Economy’

By R. Mitchell -

The White House released a video Thursday touting the amazing revitalization of blue-collar jobs due entirely to President Donald Trump’s pro-growth policies. Former President Obama said during his term that these jobs were never coming back and now that they are, he’s telling anyone that will listen that he made ...

White House: ‘This is the blue-collar, middle-class Trump Economy’ is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:11/1/2018 5:34:40 PM
[Markets] Just-In-Time Stimulus: Fed Proposes Looser Rules For Large U.S. Banks

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

The Fed's proposal marks one of the most significant rollbacks of bank regulations since Trump took office...

The Wall Street Journal reports Fed Proposes Looser Rules for Large U.S. Banks

The Federal Reserve announced one of the most significant rollbacks of bank rules since President Trump took office with a proposal for looser capital and liquidity requirements for large U.S. lenders.

The changes would affect large U.S. lenders including U.S. Bancorp , Capital One Financial Corp. , and more than a dozen others. The largest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., wouldn’t see any significant rule changes, and some in the industry thought the proposal didn’t go far enough.

The draft proposal, approved by a 3-1 vote at a Wednesday meeting of the Fed’s governing board, would divide big banks into four categories based on their size and other risk factors. Regional lenders would be either entirely released from certain capital and liquidity requirements, or see those requirements reduced. They could also, in some cases, be subject to less frequent stress tests.

The proposals received a mixed reaction from banks. While some trade groups praised it, Greg Baer—president of the Bank Policy Institute, which represents large banks—said the proposal “does not do enough to tailor regulations.” He said, for instance, the plan doesn’t include changes to the Fed’s primary stress tests for big banks or to rules affecting foreign-owned banks with U.S. footprints. Fed officials said they were planning future proposal in those areas.

The plan divided the Fed, with Trump-appointed regulators and the Fed’s lone Obama-appointed official taking opposite sides. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the proposal would cut the regulatory burden “while maintaining the most stringent requirements for firms that pose the greatest risks.”

Fed governor Lael Brainard dissented. The Obama appointee said the policy changes “weaken the buffers that are core to the resilience of our system” and raise “the risk that American taxpayers again will be on the hook.”

Less Regulation Needed

My "Just in Time Stimulus" headline was meant as sarcasm, in case anyone missed it.

Yet, I am all in favor of less regulation. This is what we need.

  1. End the Fed

  2. End fractional reserve lending

  3. End the bailouts

  4. End deposit insurance

  5. Let the free market select what is money

Failure of Regulation

All five points above are failures of regulation, not failures to regulate.

If we are to enact my plan, by all means let banks lend however the hell they want. The free market will take care of what's needed.

If banks make poor lending choices, they will fail. And that's a good thing.

As it sits, looser lending standards coupled with the current credit bubble, housing bubble, equity bubbles, and a junk bond bubble is not the best thing to do right now.

Lowering capital standards is downright idiotic in light of the need for point number two above.

Published:11/1/2018 2:25:51 PM
[Markets] Roseanne Reboot Flops Without Roseanne; "The Conners" Dead Last In Ratings

ABC's reboot of the Roseanne show is a total flop - coming in dead last in ratings this week, according to Showbiz 411which adds that just one more episode has been ordered

In the nightly ratings battle. the “Roseanne” spin off continues to trend downward.

Last night, “The Conners” was beaten by everything- “NCIS,” “The Voice,” etc. This was their first really objective run, no World Series, nothing to distract potential viewers.

But the key demo sank, which isn’t a good sign. And the total viewers were down by 180K, which is a lot, frankly. People are leaving and they’re not coming back

ABC has ordered 1 extra episode to the original order of 10. Sounds to me like a finale. Someone wakes up and says they dreamt Roseanne died. There’s a cackle from the next room. Fade to black. -Showbiz 411

In an addendum, Showbiz 411 notes that Variety reported the salaries of John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert at $375,000 per episode, while the other cast members can't be cheap either. "The Conners’ has to be added to “Roseanne”‘s syndication package eventually– it will never reach 100 episodes and have its own package. So Werner TV is in trouble, with millions going out and not enough coming back. “The Conners” is doomed,Showbiz 411 added. 

The Roseanne reboot - which quickly grew to become ABC's #1 top-rated series in April, was canceled after the network suddenly fired star Roseanne Barr after she compared former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to if the "Muslim brotherhood & Planet of the Apes had a baby." Her comments were condemned as "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values." 

Barr, 65, was fired before a single advertiser pulled out, just three months into the show's return. Her co-stars immediately turned on her, publicly shunning Roseanne, while ABC initially cancelled the show - before bringing it back as The Conners

Roseanne issued an immediate apology:

And yet, MSNBC host Joy Reid was allowed to keep her job despite making anti-gay, anti-Muslim blog posts several years ago over a sustained period - and then lying about it. 

CNN's Don Lemon, meanwhile, just called white people the "biggest terror threat" to America, with nary a peep from his network. 

We wonder if ABC still feels their kneejerk reaction was worth the tens of millions in lost revenue? According to anonymous ABC executives earlier in October, the network has had serious regrets, according to the Daily Mail

"We didn't think it through properly. What Roseanne did was wrong but we shouldn't have rushed to fire her. It was almost a knee-jerk reaction by Ben [Sherwood] and Channing [Dungey] who should have launched an investigation," said one insider, who added "This would have given them more time to listen to the public, advertisers and cast members to determine the best decision.

Published:11/1/2018 7:25:22 AM
[Comedy] Chronic Flex

A condition in which someone feels compelled to constantly bring things that make them look good in casual conversation. It can be the same thing every time or a variety of things; as long as the subtle or obvious aim is to make themselves sound or look cool, it's a flex, and if it happens all the time, it's chronic. It's most obvious when a detail is tossed in that is really unnecessary for any other purpose than flexing.

Example 1
"Man it's hot out. I haven't been in weather this warm since the day I met Barak Obama in high school."
"Still suffering from Chronic Flex, huh?"

Example 2
"I'm vegan."

Example 3
"I'm a size medium... I haven't been able to wear a small since I started lifting."
"Hey Chronic Flex, good to see you too."

Published:11/1/2018 2:27:02 AM
[Markets] A Rules-Based Global Order Or Rule-less US Global 'Order'?

Authored by Alastair Crooke via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

“It has taken the US military/security complex 31 years to get rid of President Reagan’s last nuclear disarmament achievement – the INF Treaty, that President Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev achieved in 1987”, writes Reagan’s former Assistant Treasury Secretary:

“Behind the scenes, I had some role in this, and as I remember, what the treaty achieved was to make Europe safe from nuclear attack by Soviet short and intermediate range missiles [the SS20s], and to make the Soviet Union safe from US [Pershing missiles deployed in Europe]. By restricting nuclear weapons to ICBMs, which allowed some warning time, thus guaranteeing retaliation and non-use of nuclear weapons, the INF Treaty was regarded as reducing the risk of an American first-strike on Russia and a [Soviet] first-strike on Europe … Reagan, unlike the crazed neoconservatives, who he fired and prosecuted, saw no point in nuclear war that would destroy all life on earth. The INF Treaty was the beginning, in Reagan’s mind, of the elimination of nuclear weapons from military arsenals. The INF Treaty was chosen as the first start, because it did not substantially threaten the budget of the US military/security complex”.

The Trump Administration however now wants to unilaterally exit the INF. Speaking to reporters in Nevada, Trump said:

“Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years and I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out … We’re going to pull out … We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and do weapons, and we’re not allowed to”.

Asked to clarify, the President said: “Unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us, and they say, ‘Let’s all of us get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons,’ but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable. So we have a tremendous amount of money to play with our military.”

The tell-tale markers are plain: Russia and China are ‘doing’ new weapons (and the US is behind the curve); China’s ‘doing it’ (and is not party to the INF treaty), and ‘we’ have a tremendous amount of money to play with our military (we can win an arms race and the military-industrial complex will be ecstatic).

A (US) diplomat has told the Washington Post that, “the planning [for the withdrawal] is the brainchild of Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, [a career opponent of all arms control treaties on the principle that they potentially might limit America’s options to take unilateral action], has told US allies he believes the INF puts Washington in an “excessively weak position” against Russia “and more importantly China”.

Trump is not a strategist by nature. He prides himself rather, as a negotiator, who knows how to go after, and to seize, US leverage. A wily Bolton has played here into Trump’s obsession with leveraging US strength to do two things: To return the US to having potentially a first strike capability over Russia (i.e. more leverage), through being able to install intermediate missiles (such as Aegis) in Europe, over and up against Russia’s frontiers. And, secondly, because were some military conflict between the US and China to become inevitable, as tensions escalate, the US has concluded that it needs medium range missiles to strike at China’s mainland. And it’s not China only. As Eric Sayers, a CSIS expert, put it: “Deploying conventionally-armed ground-launched intermediate-range missiles may be key to reasserting US military superiority in East Asia.” (i.e. leverage again).

Indeed, last year’s US Nuclear Posture Review already noted that “China likely already has the largest medium and intermediate-range missile force in Asia, and probably the world.” And the US is in the process of encircling China with intermediate missiles initially with Japan’s decision to buy the Aegis system, with Taiwan possibly next. (Bolton is known to support stationing US troops on Taiwanese soil, as further leverage over China).

President Putin sees this plainly:

“The Americans keep on indulging in these games as the actual goal of such games is not to catch Russia in violations, and compel it to abide by the treaty; but to invent a pretext to ruin that treaty – part of its belligerent imperial strategy”.

Or, in short, to impose a ‘rule-less, US, global order’.

What is happening is that Bolton and Pompeo seem to be precisely taking Trump back to the old 1992 Defence Policy Guidance document, authored by Paul Wolfowitz, which established the doctrine that the US would not allow any competition to its hegemony to emerge. Indeed, Assistant Secretary of State, Wess Mitchell, made this return to Bush era policy, absolutely clear, when in a statement to the US Senate he said:

The starting point of the National Security Strategy is the recognition that America has entered a period of big-power competition, and that past US policies have neither sufficiently grasped the scope of this emerging trend nor adequately equipped our nation to succeed in it. Contrary to the hopeful assumptions of previous administrations, Russia and China are serious competitors that are building up the material and ideological wherewithal to contest US primacy and leadership in the 21st Century. It continues to be among the foremost national security interests of the United States to prevent the domination of the Eurasian landmass by hostile powers.

And at the Atlantic Council on 18 October, the Secretary made it very plain that Europe will be whipped into line on this neo-Wolfowitz doctrine:

“European and American officials have allowed the growing Russian and Chinese influence in that region to “sneak up on us.” “Western Europeans cannot continue to deepen energy dependence on the same Russia that America defends it against. Or enrich themselves from the same Iran that is building ballistic missiles that threaten Europe,” the assistant secretary emphasized. Adding, “It is not acceptable for US allies in central Europe to support projects like Turkstream 2 and maintain cozy energy deals that make the region more vulnerable to the very Russia that these states joined NATO to protect themselves against.”

Also addressing the Atlantic Council’s October 18 conference, US Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, revealed that Washington plans to stiffen the sanctions regime against Moscow “every month or two” to make it ‘more amenable over Ukraine’.

Plainly, Europe will be expected too, to welcome America’s missiles deployed back into Europe. Some states may welcome this (Poland and the Baltic States), but Europe as a whole will not. It will serve as another powerful reason to rethink European relations with Washington.

The influence of Bolton poses the question of what is Trump’s foreign policy now. Is it still about getting a good deal for America on a case-by-case basis, or is it a Bolton-style make-over for the Middle East (regime change in Iran), and a long cold war fought against Russia and China? US markets have until now thought it is about trade deals and jobs, but perhaps it no longer is.

We have written before about the incremental neocon-isation of Trump’s foreign policy. That is not new. But, the principal difficulty with a neo-Wolfowitzian imperialism, lashed to Trump’s radical, transactional, leveraging of the dollar jurisdiction, of US energy and of the US hold on technology standards and norms, is that by its very nature, it precludes any ‘grand strategic bargain’ from emerging – except in the unlikely event of a wholesale capitulation to the US. And as the US bludgeons non-compliant states, one-by-one, they do react collectively, and asymmetrically, to counter these pressures. The counter current presently is advancing rapidly.

Bolton may have sold Trump on the advantages of exiting the INF as giving him bargaining leverage over Russia and China, but did he also warn him of the dangers? Probably not. Bolton has always perceived treaty limitations to US action simply to be disadvantageous. Yet President Putin has warned that Russia will use its nuclear weapons – if its existence is threatened – and even if it is threatened through conventionally armed missiles. The dangers are clear.

As for an arms race, this is not the Reagan era (of low Federal debt to GDP). As one commentator notes, “no entity on earth (not currently engaged in QE), has as much government debt vulnerable to short-term interest shifts, than the US government. The US Federal Reserves’ "5 more [interest rate] hikes by end 2019", roughly translates into: "The Fed [interest payments due on US debt may become so large, as to] impose cuts on the US military in 2019".

Trump loves the leverage Bolton seems to magic out of his NSC ‘black box’, but does the US President appreciate how ephemeral leverage can be? How quickly it can invert? He cannot – Canute like – simply stand on the sea-shore and command the rising tide of US bond interest rates to recede like the tide, or the US stock market, just to levitate, in order to multiply his leverage over China.

Published:10/31/2018 10:51:20 PM
[Politics] Poll: More Registered Voters Credit Trump With Improved Economy President Donald Trump deserves credit for the United States' booming economy over former President Barack Obama, 47 percent of registered voters say in a Harvard-Harris poll released Wednesday. Published:10/31/2018 10:24:47 PM
[The Blog] Trump: If Obama could start DACA via executive order, I can end birthright citizenship via executive order

Okay.

The post Trump: If Obama could start DACA via executive order, I can end birthright citizenship via executive order appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/31/2018 8:51:56 PM
[ae10410f-2fdf-5c16-a73d-b2694f554058] Trump’s reversal of failed Obama policies has created a booming economy America's economy is booming because President Trump has reversed failed Obama policies. Published:10/31/2018 7:51:44 PM
[Politics] Citizenship's Penumbras What in the world was the Editor of the Sun thinking? That seems to be the sentiment of our readers in the wake of the editor's column on the 14th Amendment. The column suggested that President Trump was making a blunder with his vow to end birthright citizenship and would compound the error by trying to do so with an executive order. Just look at the trouble President Obama got into, etc. etc. No sooner had the Editor penned that screed than he decamped to his club to, no doubt, canoodle hi... Published:10/31/2018 4:18:47 PM
[Politics] Oprah, Trump, Obama: Georgia's Star-Studded Closing Act In the final days in one of the nation's hottest governor's races, Oprah Winfrey and President Donald Trump, as well as former Presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter and Vice President Mike Pence, are trying to put their imprint on the Georgia election.Winfrey joins... Published:10/31/2018 3:20:01 PM
[Markets] Rickards: Be Prepared For A Cheaper Dollar

Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

When will the strong dollar weaken? Ultimately, the answer is whenever the Treasury wants.

When the Treasury is not overly concerned with the dollar, market forces can prevail to raise or lower the exchange rate compared with euros, Swiss francs, yen or any other currency.

Sometimes, other central banks intervene to raise or lower their currencies relative to the dollar and the U.S. does not seem to care. China is notorious for this. Japan and Switzerland are other practiced currency manipulators.

The last fully coordinated currency market intervention was conducted by the G-7 in March 2011 at the time of the Fukushima, Japan, earthquake and tsunami that caused the collapse of a nuclear power plant and ultimately a crash of the Tokyo stock exchange.

The Japanese economy was weakened by the natural disaster. A weaker yen would have helped the economy with cheaper exports and more inflation. But insurance companies had to sell dollar-denominated assets and buy yen in order to pay yen-denominated claims for the disaster losses. The result was a stronger yen.

The G-7 intervention, organized by then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, successfully sold yen and bought euros, dollars and sterling to weaken the yen despite insurance companies buying it. Lagarde’s success in this intervention was instrumental in her elevation to head of the IMF shortly thereafter.

In short, except in extraordinary circumstances, the U.S. Treasury does not directly intervene in currency markets to target U.S. dollar exchange rates. If such targeting is needed, the Treasury will work with the Fed to raise interest rates or take a pause in rate hikes to affect the dollar’s value.

All of this may be about to change.

Both President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin have publicly expressed dismay at the dollar’s persistent strength in the second half of 2018. A strong dollar has adverse effects relative to Trump’s economic plans.

It makes imports less expensive, which has a deflationary impact on the U.S. domestic economy. This is at a time when both the Fed and the White House would like to see more inflation.

A strong dollar also hurts U.S. exports from major companies such as Boeing and GE. That hurts U.S. competitiveness and U.S. jobs. Finally, a strong dollar hurts corporate profits of U.S. global companies because their overseas profits are translated back into fewer U.S. dollars. This is a head wind to U.S. stock market performance.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and his wife hold a sheet of freshly printed dollar bills during a visit to the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving. The dollar has been strong during most of the Trump administration since early 2017. However, the strong dollar causes deflation and reduced exports. Trump and Mnuchin will soon weaken the dollar to boost growth.

While the White House and Fed may be united in their desire to see a weaker dollar and more inflation, the Fed is doing nothing to achieve that. The Fed has been on a path of raising interest rates for almost three years, beginning with the “liftoff” rate hike in December 2015.

Since October 2017, the Fed has also been tightening money supply by not reinvesting in Treasury securities when existing securities in their portfolio mature. This “quantitative tightening,” or QT, is the opposite of quantitative easing, QE.

The combination of rate hikes and QT has caused a significant increase in U.S. interest rates in all maturities and, in turn, a stronger dollar as capital flows to the U.S. in search of higher yields. The result is a persistent strong dollar.

This means that if the White House and Treasury want a weaker dollar, they may have to achieve it on their own with no help from the Fed. The Treasury is well-equipped to do this kind of intervention by using their Exchange Stabilization Fund, or ESF.

The ESF was created under the Gold Reserve Act of 1934, which provided legal ratification for FDR’s confiscation of private gold from U.S. citizens in 1933. FDR paid $20.67 in paper money for the gold in 1933, knowing he intended to raise the price of gold.

His plan was to capture the “gold profits” for the government instead of allowing citizens to realize the profits. Those profits were the original source of funding for the ESF.

Importantly, the ESF exists completely outside of congressional control or oversight. It is tantamount to a Treasury slush fund that the Treasury can use as it sees fit to intervene in foreign exchange markets. No legislation or congressional appropriation is required.

Former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin used the ESF to bail out Mexico in 1994 after Congress had refused to provide bailout money through other channels.

Today, the ESF has net assets of about $40 billion. The gross assets include about $50 billion in SDRs, but the Treasury can issue SDR certificates to the Fed in exchange for dollars if needed to conduct currency market operations. You can find the ESF financial statements here.

The biggest offender in the currency wars today is China, which has devalued the yuan 10% in the past six months to offset the impact of higher tariffs imposed by Trump. China’s cheap-yuan policy is undermining Trump’s trade war policies.

After biding their time, Trump and Mnuchin are ready to lower the boom on China with a cheap-dollar policy after the U.S. midterm elections. Of course, China will not be alone in feeling the impact of the new cheap dollar. Europe and the euro are also in the line of fire.

With this background in mind, what is the outlook for U.S. dollar exchange rates?

The single most important factor in the analysis is that two currencies cannot devalue against each other at the same time. It’s a mathematical impossibility. If one currency is going down against another, then the other must be going up. There’s no other way.

From January 2010 (when Obama launched the currency war) to August 2011 (when the dollar hit an all-time low), the currency wars benefited the U.S. at the expense of Europe, emerging markets and China. This was considered necessary by the participants at the G-20 leaders summit in Pittsburgh in September 2009.

The U.S. was and is the world’s largest economy. If the U.S. could not escape the impact of the 2008 financial panic, no one else would, either. In effect, the world would suffer stronger currencies while the U.S. devalued to jump-start the global recovery.

After August 2011, the dollar was allowed to revalue upward while the rest of the world, especially Europe and China, was allowed to devalue so they could claim some benefit from a weaker currency. This worked in the short run, but the problem was that the U.S. never returned to sustained growth at the prior trend of 3.25% growth per year.

The U.S. endured a long depression from 2007 until today with annual growth of about 2.3%. Europe and China got a boost, but the U.S. never pulled away from the pack.

Since then, it has been a matter of taking turns. The euro is allowed to depreciate to help growth and the banking system as the dollar gets stronger based on a slightly stronger U.S. economy. But no major economy has solved the problem of achieving self-sustaining trend growth.

China has been free-riding the entire time. There have been periods of a soft peg of the yuan to the dollar, but there are intermittent periods of a weaker yuan. China executed shock devaluations in August 2015 and December 2015.

Both times, U.S. stocks fell 11% in a matter of weeks. China has just executed a 10% slow-motion devaluation over the past six months. U.S. stocks have started to sink again.

Now Trump and Mnuchin are saying, “Enough!” The Europeans will have to take their turn with a stronger currency and China will be penalized for their currency manipulation. A weaker dollar is coming.

Whether this will be achieved with cooperation by the Fed or direct intervention by the Treasury remains to be seen, but a weaker dollar is the only way out of the U.S. growth conundrum and debt debacle.

The chart below shows that the euro has settled into a trading range since April after coming down from the $1.25 range in February.

Chart 1:

The euro will break out of that trading range toward the upside ($1.20–1.30) over the next few months. This will be the result of a possible Fed pause in rate hikes as the U.S. economy weakens, continued determination by the ECB to tighten policy and possible intervention by the U.S. Treasury.

Meanwhile, a weaker dollar will give the U.S. another growth spurt after the 2018 tax cuts to help propel Trump’s reelection prospects for 2020.

Published:10/31/2018 2:19:54 PM
[Terrorism] All Five of the Terrorists Obama Exchanged for Traitor Bowe Bergdahl Have Returned to Terror

All five of the terrorists Barack Obama traded for deserted U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdhal have retuned to terrorism, a new report finds.

The post All Five of the Terrorists Obama Exchanged for Traitor Bowe Bergdahl Have Returned to Terror appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/31/2018 12:22:03 PM
[Terrorism] All Five of the Terrorists Obama Exchanged for Traitor Bowe Bergdahl Have Returned to Terror

All five of the terrorists Barack Obama traded for deserted U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdhal have retuned to terrorism, a new report finds.

The post All Five of the Terrorists Obama Exchanged for Traitor Bowe Bergdahl Have Returned to Terror appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/31/2018 12:22:03 PM
[Markets] America's Nuclear Death Wish – Europe Must Rebel

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Trump administration’s declared scrapping of a crucial arms control treaty is putting the world on notice of a nuclear war, sooner or later.

Any such war is not winnable. It is mutually assured destruction. Yet the arrogant American rulers – some of them at least – seem to be deluded in thinking they can win such a war.

What makes the American position even more execrable is that it is being pushed by people who have never fought a war. Indeed, by people like President Donald Trump and his hawkish national security advisor John Bolton who both dodged military service to their country during the Vietnam War. How’s that for macabre mockery? The world is being pushed to war by a bunch of effete cowards who are clueless about war.

Trump announced last this week that the US was finally pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a move confirmed by Bolton on a follow-up trip to Moscow. That treaty was signed in 1987 by former President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It was a landmark achievement of cooperation and trust between the nuclear superpowers. Both sides removed short and medium-range nuclear missiles from Europe.

With Trump intending to rip up the INF Treaty, as his predecessor GW Bush had done with the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002, Europe is now facing the disastrous prospect of American missiles being reinstalled across its territory as they were in the 1980s. However, a big distinction between then and now is that after years of expansion by NATO, European territory is at an even sharper interface with Russia’s heartland.

When the INF Treaty was implemented three decades ago, the US and Russian nuclear arsenals were seriously dialed back to the strategic level of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) confined on respective landmasses separated by thousands of kilometers. As Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of Natsionalnaya Oborona, told Russia’s Vesti news channel, the ICBMs typically have a flight time of 30 minutes from launch. That time gap would give Russian defense systems time to respond effectively to an incoming strike from the US, and vice versa.

But, as Korotchenko noted, the impending installation of intermediate-range missiles by the Americans in European states will reduce the flight time of a possible US nuclear strike on Russia to a couple of minutes, even seconds. That would seriously challenge Russian anti-missile defenses, as well as greatly increasing the margin of error in detecting a strike, possibly leading to mistaken escalation. In other words, the strategic balance has been thrown into disarray by the US over the INF, just as it was again thrown into disarray back in 2002 when Bush trashed the ABM.

It also presents the Americans with the temptation to exercise their “first-strike doctrine”. In US military planning, it reserves the “right” to use a pre-emptive attack. By contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated again last week that Russia will never use a first-strike option, that it would only use nuclear weapons as a defensive action.

Recall that earlier this month, the US envoy to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said that American forces would “take out” Russian missiles if they are deemed to be violating the INF. It was an appalling expression of the pre-emptive prerogative that Washington grants itself, even though the information upon which it would base its action is highly questionable.

Putting the American logic together one can say that the US rulers have a death wish on the planet. With criminal recklessness, they are moving to loosen the international controls over deploying nuclear weapons and are creating a situation in Europe that puts nuclear war on a hair-trigger.

Moscow vowed last week that it will respond “militarily” if Washington goes ahead with scrapping the INF Treaty. Russia can be expected to counter by deploying shorter-range missiles that will put NATO-allied Europe in the firing line.

Surely, the European states must be asking themselves what kind of ally they supposedly have in the US. What kind of ally puts its supposed friends in the firing line, under the name of “protecting them”, while it remains at relatively safer distance?

The European Union has reacted to Trump’s announced withdrawal from the INF Treaty with horror. The EU is calling on the US to adhere to the treaty and to negotiate with Russia over purported complaints. French President Emmanuel Macron telephoned Trump, appealing that the treaty has been a vital element of Europe’s peace for the past 30 years.

Washington has been claiming for the past four years, since the Obama administration, that Russia is violating the INF by allegedly developing medium-range, ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow has repeatedly denied the claims, pointing out that the Americans have not presented evidence to back up their accusations. Washington says its information is classified, and so can’t be publicly revealed. That’s hardly convincing given past American deceptions over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Iran and Syria.

In any case, it is the Americans who are making a big deal about the alleged Russian violations of the INF. If the Europeans were really concerned, why haven’t they kicked up a fuss? The fact that the Europeans are pleading with Washington to adhere to the INF suggests that they are not convinced by allegations of Russia posing a missile threat.

Moreover, if there are disputes and complaints from the American side, then let them iron these problems out through diplomacy and negotiation.

It is telling that the US wants to instead escalate the tensions and the risks of war in such a reckless manner. That betrays its real agenda of seeking to militarize problems, rather than exploring political solutions. The difference it seems comes down to the US not actually having a valid political argument, so it must exercise its power through militarism as a way to conceal its lack of rational validity.

The root problem of INF Treaty tensions and alleged violations stems from the US-led configuration of military forces encroaching ever-closer on Russian territory. If the US were genuinely interested in ensuring security and peace in Europe then it would listen to Russia’s concern over the provocative expansion of US-led NATO forces towards its Western border. When Reagan signed the INF with Gorbachev it was on the understanding and commitment from the US side not to advance its military towards Russia “by one inch”. In 30 years, US forces have pushed all the way from Germany to the Baltic and Black Seas on Russia’s doorstep. Washington is trying to enlist Ukraine and Georgia into the NATO alliance, indeed is carrying out war drills with these two former Soviet Union states which share borders with Russia.

If the US now re-installs medium-range nuclear missiles with flight times to Moscow down to a matter of seconds then we can lament that the abandonment of the INF is a grave watershed move towards nuclear war.

The way out of this heinous dilemma is not only maintaining the INF Treaty. Furthermore, there should a wholesale scaling back of NATO forces in Europe on Russia’s Western, Northern and Southern flanks. Just this month, NATO is holding its biggest-ever war maneuvers since the Cold War in the Arctic region on Russia’s border with 50,000 troops, accompanied by a flurry of surveillance flights over Russia’s coast.

The insanity of America’s death wish for nuclear war has to stop. The American ruling class won’t stop it because their death wish mentality is so suffused with blind arrogance and ignorance and it is so integral with the “normal” functioning of their capitalist military-industrial complex.

Russia is holding the line with its undoubted military capability and its principled diplomatic prudence. But it is time for the Europeans to step up to the plate and to exert some sense on the Americans.

  • For a start, the EU states should tell Trump that any plan to re-install medium-range nuclear weapons on their soil is impermissible.

  • Secondly, the Europeans need to scale back the NATO expansion towards Russian territory.

  • Thirdly, they need to tell Washington that Russia is a partner, not a pariah to be abused for the benefit of American militarism and hegemonic ambitions.

Will the Europeans do that? Their leaders may not have the backbone, but the citizens of Europe will have to, if they want to prevent their American “ally” inciting a nuclear cataclysm. American arrogance is fomenting a European rebellion against its death-wish criminal leaders.

Published:10/31/2018 1:15:10 AM
[Markets] Paul Craig Roberts Asks "Is America Finished?"

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

The refusal of the Democratic Party and the military/security complex to accept the results of the 2016 US presidential election and the misuse of their positions of power to prevent Donald Trump from exercising presidential powers is a revolutionary step, well described by Angelo Codevilla here:

In 2010, Claremont Institute Senior Fellow Angelo Codevilla reintroduced the notion of "the ruling class" back into American popular discourse. In 2017, he described contemporary American politics as a "cold civil war." Now he applies the "logic of revolution" to our current political scene.

...

It has unfolded faster than foreseen. Its sentiments’ spiraling volume and intensity have eliminated any possibility of “stepping back.”

...

The Democratic Party and the millions it represents having refused to accept 2016’s results; having used their positions of power in government and society to prevent the winners from exercising the powers earned by election; declaring in vehement words and violent deeds the illegitimacy, morbidity, even criminality, of persons and ideas contrary to themselves; bet that this “resistance” would so energize their constituencies, and so depress their opponents’, that subsequent elections would prove 2016 to have been an anomaly and further confirm their primacy in America. The 2018 Congressional elections are that strategy’s first major test. Regardless of these elections’ outcome, however, this “resistance” has strengthened and accelerated the existing revolutionary spiral.

Read more here...

Americans are now so polarized that they “no longer share basic sympathies and trust, because they no longer regard each other as worthy of equal consideration.” Codevilla blames the progressives and their attitude of moral superiority, but his explanation is independent of who is to blame. I blame both sides. The Constitution and our civil liberties took a major hit from the “conservative” Republican regime of George W. Bush.

The consequence has been to weaponize government for use against the domestic adversary. In other words, unity has departed us. The absence of unity makes it easy for the ruling oligarchy to achieve its material interests at the expense of the welfare of the American people. Indeed, it is amazing to find progressives aligned with the military/security complex to block Trump from normalizing relations with Russia.

The provocations of Russia, which have been ongoing since the Clinton regime, have reached unprecedented levels under the neoconservative regimes of Obama and Trump. The conflict that has been orchestrated is good for the $1,000 billion annual budget of the military/security complex at the cost of maximizing the chance of nuclear war. The demonizations of Russia, Putin, China, and Iran are so extreme as to have convinced Russia and China that Washington intends war.

For Russia, Trump’s withdrawal from the intermediate range missile treaty (INF) confirms that an attack on Russia is being prepared. Intermediate range missiles cannot reach the US. The treaty gave safety to Russia and Europe, which is why Washington’s claim that Russia is violating the treaty is absurd. The only reason for Washington to withdraw from the treaty is to be able to place intermediate range nuclear missiles on Russia’s borders that would substantially increase the likelihood of success of a US first strike against Russia.

This apparently is not clear to the American people, media, and Congress, but it is clear to the Russians.

Mikhail Gorbachev, who negotiated the INF Treaty with President Reagan, stated the war threat succintly:

“It looks as if the world is preparing for war.”

It is also very clear to the Russian government. A top official, Andrei Belousov, declared:

“Yes, Russia is preparing for war, I have confirmed it. We are preparing to defend our homeland, our territorial integrity, our principles, our values, our people – we are preparing for such a war.”

Putin himself finally found tough words. A country that attacks Russia will be obliterated, “will die like dogs,” and “go to Hell.”

As demonization of Russia is part of the Democrats’ demonization of Trump - “Putin stooge,” “Putin agent,” or, in the words of former CIA Director John Brennan, “traitor” - the American people are too disunited to take a stand against conflict with Russia that serves the agendas of the military/security complex and the neoconservatives’ ideology of US world hegemony.

As it is impossible for Russia to accept US intermediate range nuclear missiles on Russia’s border, war is close at hand.

China also sees war on the horizon. China’s president has ordered the military to “prepare for war.”

The recklessly irresponsible policy of the US government toward Russia and China is leading to nuclear war.

Perhaps the European governments, Washington’s compliant stooges, will finally wake up and refuse to participate in Washington’s orchestrated conflict. If not, the Doomsday Clock will have to be moved to one second before doom.

Published:10/30/2018 9:45:58 PM
[Politics] Remember the 5 GITMO terrorists Obama traded for Bergdahl? They’re back… Remember the five GITMO terrorists that Obama traded to get Bergdahl back from the Taliban? Just as predicted, they are back with the Taliban: MILITARY TIMES – Five members of the Afghan . . . Published:10/30/2018 7:16:33 PM
[Politics] Remember the 5 GITMO terrorists Obama traded for Bergdahl? They’re back… Remember the five GITMO terrorists that Obama traded to get Bergdahl back from the Taliban? Just as predicted, they are back with the Taliban: MILITARY TIMES – Five members of the Afghan . . . Published:10/30/2018 7:16:33 PM
[] Thanks, Obama! The Five Taliban Prisoners We Traded to Get Back the Deserter and Traitor Bowe Bergdahl Have, Get This, Re-Joined the Taliban You built that, you stuttering clusterfuck of a miserable failure. Of course, Obama didn't really fail; he did exactly what he set out to do. Undermine, subvert, destroy. Five members of the Afghan Taliban who were freed from the U.S.... Published:10/30/2018 5:55:17 PM
[US News] Hey, remember those prisoners President Obama freed from Gitmo in exchange for deserter Bowe Bergdahl?

Shocker: The prisoners President Obama traded for Bowe Bergdahl have rejoined the Taliban.

The post Hey, remember those prisoners President Obama freed from Gitmo in exchange for deserter Bowe Bergdahl? appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/30/2018 3:50:51 PM
[Markets] Trump's Plan For The Caravan; "We're Going To Put Tents Up All Over The Place" 

The Trump administration will "build tent cities" for thousands of Central American migrants currently making their way north through Mexico to the Southern US border, reports The Hill

In an interview with Fox News's Laura Ingraham, Trump said that his administration would "hold" the migrants seeking asylum instead of releasing them pending court dates as prior administrations have done, also known as "catch and release."

"If they applied for asylum, we’re going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place," Trump told the Fox News host. 

"Where? We have the facilities?" she asked.

"We’re going to put up - we’re going to build tent cities," Trump responded. "We’re going to put tents up all over the place. We’re not going to build structures and spend all of this, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars -- we’re going to have tents."

"They're going to be very nice," he added.

Trump has called the migrant caravan a "national emergency," and threatened to cut financial aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, tweeting last week: "We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them."

Meanwhile, on Monday the Wall Street Journal reported that the US military will deploy 5,000 troops to the Southern border to reinforce the roughly 2,000 National Guard forces already in place. 

On Monday, President Trump warned the caravan, tweeting: "Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!"

Democrats and pro-illegal immigrant activists have accused Trump of invoking xenophobic and racist themes in an effort to scare Republicans into voting during next week's midterm elections. 

Former President Obama denounced Trump's rhetoric at a recent campaign event in Florida, saying: "Now the latest, they’re trying to convince everybody to be afraid of a bunch of impoverished, malnourished refugees a thousand miles away -- that’s the thing, it’s the most important in this election? ... We’re scare-mongering people on the border." 

When Ingraham asked him to comment, Trump replied that there were "gangs" within the caravan. 

And they will be living in a tent should the choose to cross the southern US border. 

Published:10/30/2018 1:15:45 PM
[Obama] Did Years Of Obama’s Anti-Semitic Words and Actions Incite Pittsburgh Shooting?

Shabbos is supposed to be a day of peace and family. But this Shabbos at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh it was a day of hate and murder. According to officials, eleven people were killed, and six people were wounded. Four of the injured were police officers who rushed to the scene to stop ...

The post Did Years Of Obama’s Anti-Semitic Words and Actions Incite Pittsburgh Shooting? appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/30/2018 10:13:10 AM
[Obama] Did Years Of Obama’s Anti-Semitic Words and Actions Incite Pittsburgh Shooting?

Shabbos is supposed to be a day of peace and family. But this Shabbos at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh it was a day of hate and murder. According to officials, eleven people were killed, and six people were wounded. Four of the injured were police officers who rushed to the scene to stop ...

The post Did Years Of Obama’s Anti-Semitic Words and Actions Incite Pittsburgh Shooting? appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/30/2018 10:13:10 AM
[Markets] Is This Worse Than '68?

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

Saturday, in Pittsburgh, a Sabbath celebration at the Tree of Life synagogue became the site of the largest mass murder of Jews in U.S. history. Eleven worshipers were killed by a racist gunman.

Friday, we learned the identity of the crazed criminal who mailed pipe bombs to a dozen leaders of the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

From restaurants to Capitol corridors, this campaign season we have seen ugly face-offs between leftist radicals and Republican senators.

Are we more divided than we have ever been? Are our politics more poisoned? Are we living in what Charles Dickens called “the worst of times” in America? Is today worse than 1968?

Certainly, the hatred and hostility, the bile and bitterness of our discourse, seem greater now than 50 years ago. But are the times really worse?

1968 began with one of the greatest humiliations in the history of the American Navy. The U.S. spy ship Pueblo was hijacked in international waters and its crew interned by North Korea.

A week later came the Tet Offensive, where every provincial capital in South Vietnam was attacked. A thousand U.S. troops died in February, 10,000 more through 1968.

On March 14, anti-war Senator Gene McCarthy captured 42 percent of the vote in New Hampshire against President Johnson.

With LBJ wounded, Robert Kennedy leapt into the race, accusing the president who had enacted civil rights of “dividing the country” and removing himself from “the enduring and generous impulses that are the soul of this nation.” Lyndon Johnson, said Kennedy, is “calling upon the darker impulses of the American spirit.”

Today, RFK is remembered as a “uniter.”

With Gov. George Wallace tearing at Johnson from the right and Kennedy and McCarthy attacking from the left — and Nixon having cleared the Republican field with a landslide in New Hampshire — LBJ announced on March 31 he would not run again.

Four days later, Martin Luther King, leading a strike of garbage workers, was assassinated in Memphis. One hundred U.S. cities exploded in looting, arson and riots. The National Guard was called up everywhere and federal troops rushed to protect Washington, D.C., long corridors of which were gutted, not to be rebuilt for a generation.

Before April’s end, Columbia University had exploded in the worst student uprising of the decade. It was put down only after the NYPD was unleashed on the campus.

Nixon called the Columbia takeover by black and white radicals “the first major skirmish in a revolutionary struggle to seize the universities of this country and transform them into sanctuaries for radicals and vehicles for revolutionary political and social goals.” Which many have since become.

In June, Kennedy, after defeating McCarthy in the crucial primary of California, was mortally wounded in the kitchen of the hotel where he had declared victory. He was buried in Arlington beside JFK.

Nixon, who had swept every primary, was nominated on the first ballot in Miami Beach, and the Democratic Convention was set for late August.

Between the conventions, Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev sent his Warsaw Pact armies and hundreds of tanks into Czechoslovakia to crush the peaceful uprising known as “Prague Spring.”

With this bloodiest of military crackdowns since the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Moscow sent a message to the West: There will be no going back in Europe. Once a Communist state, always a Communist state!

At the Democratic convention in Chicago, the thousands of radicals who had come to raise hell congregated nightly in Grant Park, across from the Hilton where the candidates and this writer were staying.

Baited day and night, the Chicago cops defending the hotel, by late in the week, had had enough. Early one evening, platoons of fresh police arrived and charged into the park clubbing and arresting scores of radicals as the TV cameras rolled. It would be called a “police riot.”

When Sen. Abe Ribicoff took the podium that night, he directed his glare at Mayor Richard J. Daley, accusing him of using “Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago.” Daley’s reply from the floor was unprintable.

Through September, Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey could not speak at a rally without being cursed and shouted down.

Describing the radicals disrupting his every event, Humphrey said, these people “aren’t just hecklers,” but “highly disciplined, well-organized agitators. … Some are anarchists and some of these groups are dedicated to destroying the Democratic Party and destroying the country.”

After his slim victory, Nixon declared that his government would take as its theme the words on a girl’s placard that he had seen in the Ohio town of Deshler: “Bring us together.”

Nixon tried in his first months, but it was not to be.

According to Bryan Burrough, author of “Days of Rage, America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence,” “During an eighteen month period in 1971 and 1972, the FBI reported more than 2,500 bombings on U.S. soil, nearly 5 a day.”

No, 2018 is not 1968, at least not yet.

Published:10/30/2018 9:51:48 AM
[Politics] Is This Worse Than '68? By Patrick J. Buchanan

Saturday, in Pittsburgh, a Sabbath celebration at the Tree of Life synagogue became the site of the largest mass murder of Jews in U.S. history. Eleven worshippers were killed by a racist gunman.

Friday, we learned the identity of the crazed criminal who mailed pipe bombs to a dozen leaders of the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

Published:10/29/2018 3:03:28 PM
[Politics] 43% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

For the fourth week in a row, 43% of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, this time according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending October 25.

This finding has been running in the 40s for most weeks this year after being in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

Rasmussen Reports invites you to be a part of our first-ever Citizen-Sourced National Midterm Election Polling Project. Learn more about how you can contribute.

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

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from October 21-25, 2018. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:10/29/2018 12:01:58 PM
[In The News] Obama, Trump Headed To Florida To Campaign In Tight Races

By DCNF -

Former President Barack Obama will continue on the campaign trail Friday when he heads to Florida to campaign for the state’s Democratic Senate and gubernatorial candidates in Miami at Ice Palace Films Studios.

Obama, Trump Headed To Florida To Campaign In Tight Races is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:10/29/2018 11:02:17 AM
[US News] OMG did he REALLY say that?! ONLY Obama could make this big of a jacka*s of himself in Michigan (watch)

Democrats. Awesome job bringing Obama out to campaign for you during the 2018 midterms. Seriously, keep that shiznit up … it’s awesome. For Republicans. Look at this: Obama tells Michigan Democratic voters to get out and vote early. Michigan doesn’t have early voting. pic.twitter.com/B6f3EdKmJb — Jack Murphy (@RealJack) October 28, 2018 Hey Michigan Democrats! Get […]

The post OMG did he REALLY say that?! ONLY Obama could make this big of a jacka*s of himself in Michigan (watch) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/29/2018 8:01:35 AM
[2018 Election] Obama’s Cretan paradox (Scott Johnson) The semi-mythical Cretan philosopher Epimenides famously propounded the paradoxical assertion that all Cretans are liars. Campaigning for Barack Obama in 2012, the cretin former president Bill Clinton propounded his own version of the paradox in his capacity as Barack Obama’s foremost campaign surrogate. Clinton regaled a Philadelphia crowd with his critique of the Romney campaign. Clinton asked: “You’re laughing, but who wants a president who will knowingly, repeatedly tell you Published:10/29/2018 7:30:11 AM
[Markets] EU Court Upholds Prosecution Of Woman For Comparing Muhammad's Marriage To A Six-Year-Old Girl To Pedophilia

Authord by Jonathan Turley via JonathanTurley.org,

A new decision from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) confirms the all-out assault on free speech that has taken hold of Europe.  In a chilling decision, the ECHR upheld a fine levied against an Austrian woman who called Muhammad a pedophile for his arranged marriage with a young girl while in his 50s.   The court ruled that such views are not protected by free speech because they violate “the right of others to have their religious feelings protected.” The decision confirms the near complete subjugation of free speech to religious and other views in society.  

In 2009, the defendant held two seminars entitled “Basic Information on Islam,” in which she compared Muhammad’s marriage to a six-year-old girl, Aisha, to pedophilia.

Most accounts put Aisha’s birth around  late 613 or early 614.  She was six or seven years old when she was married to Muhammad in Mecca and he consummated the marriage when she was reportedly ten. Muhammad was around 50 at the time.

For most of us in the free speech community, the differing views of this marriage is immaterial to the right of both sides to be free to state their views.  However, complainants have sought to silence critics like this woman by seeking criminal fines.

Moreover, I am not particularly interested in how the woman expressed her views since they raise core religious and political values.  The court said that she stated that Muhammad “liked to do it with children” and “… A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? … What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”  That was found to be “disparaging religion” and lower courts upheld the conviction.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR ruled that the woman’s “right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.”

The ECHR engaged in what is now an all-too-familiar effort to deny its obvious denial of free speech by saying that freedom of religion did not protect religions from criticism but they upheld the punishment of someone for doing precisely that.  It simply declared that the woman’s comments “could only be understood as having been aimed at demonstrating that Muhammad was not worthy of worship.”

The opinion is perfectly Orwellian in saying that you cannot get away with using free speech by simply claiming the right of free speech.  The court rejected that people are entitled to free speech by simply “pack[ing] incriminating statements into the wrapping of an otherwise acceptable expression of opinion and claim that this rendered passable those statements exceeding the permissible limits of freedom of expression.”

That type of circular logic would be laughable if it were not so chilling.

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws.  These prosecutions are part of a new and dangerous attack on free speech. We previously discussed the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard.  The effort by Muslim countries to establish an international blasphemy standard ran into opposition in the West so a new effort to launched to use hate crimes and discrimination law to achieve the purpose.

This new ruling shows the rapid abandonment of the European courts of fundamental values of free speech.  The ECHR has now established itself as legitimizing the criminalization of speech in Europe.

Published:10/29/2018 2:59:28 AM
[World News] Trump Instructs FBI To Arrest Obama For Returning Bomb President Donald Trump has given orders for his predecessor, Barack Obama, to be arrested and brought in for questioning amid allegations that, after he received a suspicious package through the post, he tried to return it to its sender via the US Po... Published:10/28/2018 7:29:05 PM
[Markets] Hedge Fund CIO: "Today, The Chinese Are Trapped... And The Box Keeps Shrinking"

Submitted by Eric Peters, CIO Of One River Asset Management

V-Day

“America built the global trading system, but we don’t really need it,” said the strategist. “We defend it, but we don’t require it.” For all the free-trade talk, the US is the most closed of all major economies. “When you include Canada and Mexico – basically vassal states – you could cut off trade with every other country and America would run just fine.” Plus we haven’t even started fracking south of the border. “We built the trading system to support our allies during the Cold War. We subsidized them for so long we forgot why we were doing it. But the war is over.”

“The US pays for the security that underpins world trade,” continued the strategist. “And we provide the excess demand that allows the world’s mercantilists to function.” No large nation/block is willing to run a current account deficit like we do. “The Bushes and Clintons kept it going. Obama too. They kept the Cold War alive. And it was great for Wall Street, multi-nationals, their executives.” But it wasn’t great for most workers. “The rearrangement we see today was inevitable. It just needed a leader strong-willed enough to defy the establishment.”

“Neither Democrats nor Republican leaders wanted this change,” explained the strategist. “But almost overnight, voters have woken to the notion that China is not our friend. It’s a strategic rival.” This genie will not return to the bottle. “Neoliberalists assured us that welcoming China in the WTO would yield a win-win.” It certainly helped them get rich. “A strong China is not really a win for the US. It’s not a win for Vietnam either.” Or anyone within 1,000 miles of Beijing. “This change is generational. And the impact on China will be terminal.”

Dead Presidents

“Read McKinley’s speeches, they were very interesting,” said our President. So I did. “He talked about how we won’t allow the outsider to come in and take our wealth from us without having to pay,” continued Trump. The 38%-50% McKinley Tariff passed in 1890, before William became President in 1897. McKinley introduced the term “reciprocal trade” and as President, threatened additional tariffs to lower foreign barriers. The economy flourished in his 1st term. He won a 2nd, warmed up to more open trade, then got shot. Teddy came next.

Anecdote: 

"There are two types of macro traders,” said the macro trader.

“The first makes money when what’s supposed to happen actually happens,” he continued. “They tend to own emerging markets, the S&P 500. They buy high yield and anything that rolls down a curve.” These strategies are implicitly short volatility; usually a winning proposition.

“The second type of macro trader looks for situations where policy makers have found themselves trapped in a box. And to escape, they need to pay you.” These opportunities are less frequent.  “The more acute the policy dilemma and the more advanced the corresponding stress or euphoria, the better. As the box gets smaller and the exits narrow it becomes easier to game out how they’ll ultimately act.” The most famous example was Soros’s bet against the Bank of England in 1992; the BOE’s only viable escape was a sterling devaluation.

“I made a lot of money in 2014 as the European economy struggled and the Euro soared. The ECB was boxed. They either needed to ease and devalue the currency, or their banking system was going to implode.” Draghi made the ‘whatever it takes’ speech in 2012 but had not yet adopted QE. “There was no other way out of the box. So you could short European stocks against the S&P 500 and short the Euro versus the dollar.” In every plausible outcome, you were going to win.

“Today, the Chinese are trapped. They need to keep policy easy to prevent implosion of their crazy-levered economy, but easing pressures their currency, which induces capital flight. So far, they’ve sidestepped this dilemma through capital controls and portfolio inflows (the latter a result of co-opting global asset managers and bureaucrats by getting included into global benchmarks and the SDR basket). But these are just delaying tactics.” As the box keeps shrinking.

Published:10/28/2018 6:05:02 PM
[Markets] Morgan Stanley: There's A Good Chance Everyone Is Wrong About The Midterms

From Michael Zezas, Morgan Stanley's Chief US Public Policy & Municipal Strategist

Here’s a tip for election night, from my left brain to yours: There’s a better chance than you think that the elections, and the market reaction, won’t go the way you expect.

If you’re like me, you’ve been thinking about the US midterm elections for months...at least. And if you’re like me, you’ve noticed that polls, betting markets, and model-based probabilities have been stable in pointing to a single outcome as most likely: Democrats take the House, Republicans keep the Senate. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably translated that stability into overconfidence that this will be the outcome.

So let’s engage our left brains for a minute and think this through, with the help of some statistics. I’m not arguing that the polls could be wrong. Rather, I’m reminding you that polls have a margin of error. Keeping that in mind, you’re less likely to think the 2016 polls were ‘wrong’. After all, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2%, less than expected but well within the margin of error. Furthermore, the error does not have partisan bias – while Trump outperformed polls in key states in 2016, remember that in 2012 Obama outperformed the polls.

The point is, when polls indicate relatively close races, of which there are many in this Congressional cycle, uncertainty is high. For that reason and many more that we’ve discussed, we think the poll-based models, rather than polls alone, do a good job of assigning probabilities to different outcomes. Sadly, we humans don’t do as good a job of interpreting them.

This brings us to the problem for investors. The most likely outcome – Democrat House, Republican Senate – has been carrying a probability of about 60-65% and results in legislative gridlock, hence status quo on policies that influence markets (fiscal stimulus, regulation, and trade). The results that take these policies in meaningfully different directions make up the other 35-40% – with meaningful chances that either Republicans hold both houses or that Democrats sweep. Said differently, there’s a significant chance that voters choose an outcome that shifts US policy from the status quo.

Hence, investors should anticipate market reactions to these alternate outcomes. Here’s how we think about it:

  • Trade risk is a constant. On election night, focus on other variables. While much is made of election outcomes influencing markets by shifting trade policy, we think this is overstated. Even if Democrats take control, they have their fair share of trade hawks. Hence we see trade enduring as a risk market pressure regardless, and for election night would focus our attention on how other variables are influenced.
  • Fiscal outcomes influence today’s key market variable (rates), driving volatility. Our equity team sees margin pressure from rising costs (namely wages, trade, and interest) as key to stocks. Here, election outcomes could drive very different perceptions, at least in the near term, of the direction of cost pressures by influencing the direction of interest rates. If Republicans hold both houses, the main expected effect is more fiscal stimulus through tax cut extensions. That could drive expectations of higher rates and a more hawkish Fed, applying near-term pressure to stocks. If Democrats sweep, they won’t be able to change fiscal policy before 2020, but it would change expectations of the trajectory beyond it. Winning Senate control means Democrats would have won more than 11 seats in states that voted Republican just two years ago despite polling deficits in some of those areas. That would imply Americans are more supportive of progressive policy than many believe. All of a sudden, it’s reasonable to think about fiscal contraction (i.e., rolling back some tax cuts), albeit after 2020. This shifts the narrative away from rising rates and, in the near term, alleviates the pressure stocks have felt in recent weeks from risks of higher input costs.
  • Consider alternative hedges. Given the case above for volatility, our cross-asset strategists have ideas for you heading into election night. Being long equity vol makes sense, but even more so they like going long DM FX volatility to reflect idiosyncratic political risk of various stripes.
  • Stay cautious in corporate credit. As a relative outperformer, the market hasn’t onboarded many of the nonpolicy concerns that have been key this year’s ‘rolling bear market’ across asset classes. Hence, even if election night drives a constructive near-term narrative for credit, perhaps on tax policy, we would use any rally to continue moving up in quality.

Maybe this wouldn’t be your playbook, but in any case we want you to embrace the uncertainty rather than plan for the expected.

Published:10/28/2018 5:01:02 PM
[US Headlines] Trump is Mad the Fake News Media Pay So Much Attention to the Democrat Bomber and So Little on His Evil Immigration Caravan Mar-a-lago, FL Although Trump never heard about the bomber who was mailing bombs to Democratic leaders, including the Obama and Clinton families until today (Fox News hadn't mentioned it), Melania saw it on the View and told him about it. Trump sa... Published:10/28/2018 4:27:43 PM
[US News] Notice a difference? Here is how Trump and Obama responded to the Pittsburgh shooting

Which one is more presidential?

The post Notice a difference? Here is how Trump and Obama responded to the Pittsburgh shooting appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/28/2018 4:27:43 PM
[Markets] Trump Allies Go To Bat As Critics Slam President For Synagogue Shooting

President Trump's allies are vigorously pushing back against critics attempting to link his rhetoric to a rise of violence in the United States in the aftermath of Saturday's mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and a spate of attempted pipe bombings, reports Bloomberg

"Our president has the largest microphone, he has the largest bullhorn,” said President Obama's homeland security chief, Jeh Johnson on ABC’s "This Week" on Sunday. "This particular president has a particularly large voice and a large microphone, and Americans should demand that their leaders insist on change, a more civil discourse and a more civil environment generally."

Others were less diplomatic, such as GQ's Julia Ioffe and Newsweek's Nina Burleigh and others: 

We must have missed their condemnation of the more than 600 acts of violence against Trump supporters, while Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters and more have openly called for uncivil behavior against conservatives. 

Meanwhile, mourners at a vigil for Saturday's victims in Squirrel Hill were chanting "vote, vote, vote" 

Coming to Trump's defense

Vice President Mike Pence condemned Trump's detractors in a NBC News interview which aired Sunday, dismissing suggestions that the president's rhetoric contributed to recent violence. 

"Everyone has their own style and frankly people on both sides of the aisle use strong language about our political differences but I just don't think you can connect it to threats or acts of violence," Pence said, adding "The president and I have different styles but the president connected to the American people because he spoke plainly and he spoke the way he speaks about the issues of the day in politics." 

Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, said that Trump "has made it extraordinarily clear that we will never allow political violence to take root in this country." 

The Hill's rising conservative voice, Buck Sexton, weighed in as well: 

Mollie Hemmingway of The Federalist slammed the Washington Post over blaming Trump:

Considering that yesterday's Synagogue attacker hated Trump - who is demonstrably pro-Israel and received the "Tree of Life Award" for his support of Israel, the left's kneejerk reaction is not only misplaced, but serves no purpose but to stoke tension during what should be a time of coming together. 

Published:10/28/2018 2:56:10 PM
[US News] DUDE: Is Obama SERIOUSLY making THIS attack on President Trump, given HIS OWN policies?

"He's mocking us."

The post DUDE: Is Obama SERIOUSLY making THIS attack on President Trump, given HIS OWN policies? appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/28/2018 1:25:56 PM
[US Headlines] Obamaâ??s Mother-In-Law Accuses Him Of Stealing Her Sosha Shurity Checks BILLINGSGATE POST: President Obama's mother-in-law lived her entire life in Chicago, so when she was invited to move into the White House, she was somewhat apprehensive. Try it for a few months, her son-in-law suggested. For the first two years,... Published:10/28/2018 4:23:20 AM
[Markets] Facebook Censorship Of Alternative Media "Just The Beginning," Warns Top Neocon Insider

Authored by Max Blumenthal and Jeb Sprague via GrayZoneProject.com,

At a Berlin security conference, hardline neocon Jamie Fly appeared to claim some credit for the recent coordinated purge of alternative media...

This October, Facebook and Twitter deleted the accounts of hundreds of users, including many alternative media outlets maintained by American users. Among those wiped out in the coordinated purge were popular sites that scrutinized police brutality and U.S. interventionism, like The Free Thought Project, Anti-Media, and Cop Block, along with the pages of journalists like Rachel Blevins.

Facebook claimed that these pages had “broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.” However, sites like The Free Thought Project were verified by Facebook and widely recognized as legitimate sources of news and opinion. John Vibes, an independent reporter who contributed to Free Thought, accused Facebook of “favoring mainstream sources and silencing alternative voices.”

In comments published here for the first time, a neoconservative Washington insider has apparently claimed a degree of credit for the recent purge — and promised more takedowns in the near future.

“Russia, China, and other foreign states take advantage of our open political system,” remarked Jamie Fly, a senior fellow and director of the Asia program at the influential think tank the German Marshall Fund, which is funded by the U.S. government and NATO.

“They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. So we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning.”

Fly went on to complain that “all you need is an email” to set up a Facebook or Twitter account, lamenting the sites’ accessibility to members of the general public. He predicted a long struggle on a global scale to fix the situation, and pointed out that to do so would require constant vigilance.

Fly made these stunning comments to Jeb Sprague, who is a visiting faculty member in sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara and co-author of this article. The two spoke during a lunch break at a conference on Asian security organized by the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin, Germany.

In the tweet below, Fly is the third person from the left who appears seated at the table.

The remarks by Fly — “we are just starting to push back” — seemed to confirm the worst fears of the alternative online media community. If he was to be believed, the latest purge was motivated by politics, not spam prevention, and was driven by powerful interests hostile to dissident views, particularly where American state violence is concerned.

Jamie Fly, rise of a neocon cadre

Jamie Fly is an influential foreign policy hardliner who has spent the last year lobbying for the censorship of “fringe views” on social media. Over the years, he has advocated for a military assault on Iran, a regime change war on Syria, and hiking military spending to unprecedented levels. He is the embodiment of a neoconservative cadre.

Like so many second-generation neocons, Fly entered government by burrowing into mid-level positions in George W. Bush’s National Security Council and Department of Defense.

In 2009, he was appointed director of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a rebranded version of Bill Kristol’s Project for a New American Century, or PNAC. The latter outfit was an umbrella group of neoconservative activists that first made the case for an invasion of Iraq as part of a wider project of regime change in countries that resisted Washington’s sphere of influence.

By 2011, Fly was advancing the next phase in PNAC’s blueprint by clamoring for military strikes on Iran. “More diplomacy is not an adequate response,” he argued. A year later, Fly urged the US to “expand its list of targets beyond the [Iranian] nuclear program to key command and control elements of the Republican Guard and the intelligence ministry, and facilities associated with other key government officials.”

Fly soon found his way into the senate office of Marco Rubio, a neoconservative pet project, assuming a role as his top foreign policy advisor. Amongst other interventionist initiatives, Rubio has taken the lead in promoting harsh economic sanctions targeting Venezuela, even advocating for a U.S. military assault on the country. When Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign floundered amid a mass revolt of the Republican Party’s middle American base against the party establishment, Fly was forced to cast about for new opportunities.

He found them in the paranoid atmosphere of Russiagate that formed soon after Donald Trump’s shock election victory.

PropOrNot sparks the alternative media panic

A journalistic insider’s account of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, Shattered, revealed that “in the days after the election, Hillary declined to take responsibility for her own loss.” Her top advisers were summoned the following day, according to the book, “to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up … Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”

Less than three weeks after Clinton’s defeat, the Washington Post’s Craig Timberg published a dubiously sourced report headlined, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news.'” The article hyped up a McCarthyite effort by a shadowy, anonymously run organization called PropOrNot to blacklist some 200 American media outlets as Russian “online propaganda.”

The alternative media outfits on the PropOrNot blacklist included some of those recently purged by Facebook and Twitter, such as The Free Thought Project and Anti-Media. Among the criteria PropOrNot identified as signs of Russian propaganda were “Support for policies like Brexit, and the breakup of the EU and Eurozone” and “Opposition to Ukrainian resistance to Russia and Syrian resistance to Assad.” PropOrNot called for “formal investigations by the U.S. government” into the outlets it had blacklisted.

According to Craig Timberg, the Washington Post correspondent who uncritically promoted the media suppression initiative, Propornot was established by “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.” Timberg quoted a figure associated with the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, Andrew Weisburd, and cited a report he wrote with his colleague, Clint Watts, on Russian meddling.

Timberg’s piece on PropOrNot was promoted widely by former top Clinton staffers and celebrated by ex-Obama White House aide Dan Pfeiffer as “the biggest story in the world.” But after a wave of stinging criticism, including in the pages of the New Yorker, the article was amended with an editor’s note stating, “The [Washington] Post… does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet.”

PropOrNot had been seemingly exposed as a McCarthyite sham, but the concept behind it — exposing online American media outlets as vehicles for Kremlin “active measures” — continued to flourish.

The birth of the Russian bot tracker — with U.S. government money

By August, a new, and seemingly related initiative appeared out of the blue, this time with backing from a bipartisan coalition of Democratic foreign policy hands and neocon Never Trumpers in Washington. Called the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), the outfit aimed to expose how supposed Russian Twitter bots were infecting American political discourse with divisive narratives. It featured a daily “Hamilton 68” online dashboard that highlighted the supposed bot activity with easily digestible charts. Conveniently, the site avoided naming any of the digital Kremlin influence accounts it claimed to be tracking.

The initiative was immediately endorsed by John Podesta, the founder of the Democratic Party think tank the Center for American Progress, and former chief of staff of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Julia Ioffe, the Atlantic’s chief Russiagate correspondent, promoted the bot tracker as “a very cool tool.”

Unlike PropOrNot, the ASD was sponsored by one of the most respected think tanks in Washington, the German Marshall Fund, which had been founded in 1972 to nurture the special relationship between the US and what was then West Germany.

The German Marshall Fund is substantially funded by Western governments, and largely reflects their foreign-policy interests. Its top two financial sponsors, at more than $1 million per year each, are the U.S. government’s soft-power arm the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the German Foreign Office (known in German as the Auswärtiges Amt). The U.S. State Department also provides more than half a million dollars per year, as do the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and the foreign affairs ministries of Sweden and Norway. It likewise receives at least a quarter of a million dollars per year from NATO.

The US government and NATO are top donors to the German Marshall Fund

Though the German Marshall Fund did not name the donors that specifically sponsored its Alliance for Securing Democracy initiative, it hosts a who’s who of bipartisan national-security hardliners on the ASD’s advisory council, providing the endeavor with the patina of credibility. They range from neocon movement icon Bill Kristol to former Clinton foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan and ex-CIA director Michael Morell.

Jamie Fly, a German Marshall Fund fellow and Asia specialist, emerged as one of the most prolific promoters of the new Russian bot tracker in the media. Together with Laura Rosenberger, a former foreign policy aide to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Fly appeared in a series of interviews and co-authored several op-eds emphasizing the need for a massive social media crackdown.

During a March 2018 interview on C-Span, Fly complained that “Russian accounts” were “trying to promote certain messages, amplify certain content, raise fringe views, pit Americans against each other, and we need to deal with this ongoing problem and find ways through the government, through tech companies, through broader society to tackle this issue.”

Yet few of the sites on PropOrNot’s blacklist, and none of the alternative sites that were erased in the recent Facebook purge that Fly and his colleagues take apparent credit for, were Russian accounts. Perhaps the only infraction they could have been accused of was publishing views that Fly and his cohorts saw as “fringe.”

What’s more, the ASD has been forced to admit that the mass of Twitter accounts it initially identified as “Russian bots” were not necessarily bots — and may not have been Russian either.

“I’m not convinced on this bot thing”

A November 2017 investigation by Max Blumenthal, a co-author of this article, found that the ASD’s Hamilton 68 dashboard was the creation of “a collection of cranks, counterterror retreads, online harassers and paranoiacs operating with support from some of the most prominent figures operating within the American national security apparatus.”

These figures included the same George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security fellows — Andrew Weisburd and Clint Watts — that were cited as experts in the Washington Post’s article promoting PropOrNot.

Weisburd, who has been described as one of the brains behind the Hamilton 68 dashboard, once maintained a one-man, anti-Palestinian web monitoring initiative that specialized in doxxing left-wing activists, Muslims and anyone he considered “anti-American.” More recently, he has taken to Twitter to spout off murderous and homophobic fantasies about Glenn Greenwald, the editor of the Intercept — a publication the ASD flagged without explanation as a vehicle for Russian influence operations.

Watts, for his part, has testified before Congress on several occasions to call on the government to “quell information rebellions” with censorious measures including “nutritional labels” for online media. He has received fawning publicity from corporate media and been rewarded with a contributor role for NBC on the basis of his supposed expertise in ferreting out Russian disinformation.

Clint Watts has urged Congress to “quell information rebellions”

However, under questioning during a public event by Grayzone contributor Ilias Stathatos, Watts admitted that substantial parts of his testimony were false, and refused to provide evidence to support some of his most colorful claims about malicious Russian bot activity.

In a separate interview with Buzzfeed, Watts appeared to completely disown the Hamilton 68 bot tracker as a legitimate tool. “I’m not convinced on this bot thing,” Watts confessed. He even called the narrative that he helped manufacture “overdone,” and admitted that the accounts Hamilton 68 tracked were not necessarily directed by Russian intelligence actors.

“We don’t even think they’re all commanded in Russia — at all. We think some of them are legitimately passionate people that are just really into promoting Russia,” Watts conceded.

But these stunning admissions did little to slow the momentum of the coming purge.

Enter the Atlantic Council

In his conversation with Sprague, the German Marshall Fund’s Fly stated that he was working with the Atlantic Council in the campaign to purge alternative media from social media platforms like Facebook.

The Atlantic Council is another Washington-based think tank that serves as a gathering point for neoconservatives and liberal interventionists pushing military aggression around the globe. It is funded by NATO and repressive, US-allied governments including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Turkey, as well as by Ukrainian oligarchs like Victor Pynchuk.

This May, Facebook announced a partnership with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) to “identify, expose, and explain disinformation during elections around the world.”

The Atlantic Council’s DFRLab is notorious for its zealous conflation of legitimate online dissent with illicit Russian activity, embracing the same tactics as PropOrNot and the ASD.

Ben Nimmo, a DFRLab fellow who has built his reputation on flushing out online Kremlin influence networks, embarked on an embarrassing witch hunt this year that saw him misidentify several living, breathing individuals as Russian bots or Kremlin “influence accounts.” Nimmo’s victims included Mariam Susli, a well-known Syrian-Australian social media personality, the famed Ukrainian concert pianist Valentina Lisitsa, and a British pensioner named Ian Shilling.

In an interview with Sky News, Shilling delivered a memorable tirade against his accusers.

“I have no Kremlin contacts whatsoever; I do not know any Russians, I have no contact with the Russian government or anything to do with them,” he exclaimed.

“I am an ordinary British citizen who happens to do research on the current neocon wars which are going on in Syria at this very moment.”

With the latest Facebook and Twitter purges, ordinary citizens like Shilling are being targeted in the open, and without apology. The mass deletions of alternative media accounts illustrate how national security hardliners from the German Marshall Fund and Atlantic Council (and whoever was behind PropOrNot) have instrumentalized the manufactured panic around Russian interference to generate public support for a wider campaign of media censorship.

In his conversation in Berlin with Sprague, Fly noted with apparent approval that, “Trump is now pointing to Chinese interference in the 2018 election.” As the mantra of foreign interference expands to a new adversarial power, the clampdown on voices of dissent in online media is almost certain to intensify.

As Fly promised, “This is just the beginning.”

Published:10/27/2018 8:24:44 PM
[The Blog] Obama on the campaign trail, bashes GOP and Trump

'The character of our country is on the ballot.'

The post Obama on the campaign trail, bashes GOP and Trump appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/27/2018 7:54:06 PM
[In The News] Colleges: It’s offensive to dress up as Obama for Halloween, but not Trump

By R. Mitchell -

According to a news report, one college has gone so far down the “cultural appropriation” rabbit hole that they are even telling students which presidents are off-limits for Halloween. You can wear an orange President Trump wig or dress as one of our first 43 presidents, but one president is off-limits: ...

Colleges: It’s offensive to dress up as Obama for Halloween, but not Trump is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:10/27/2018 4:50:07 PM
[US Headlines] Cesar Sayoc: Just Who Is He? Your Guide To The Mailbomber It's the news that's gripped the whole of the country - and the world - over the past week, 'the man who sent Obama a bomb', but just who is the man responsible, Cesar Sayoc? Sayoc was born 56 years ago in Aventura, Florida, and never left home un... Published:10/27/2018 1:20:05 PM
[US News] LMAO! Wear oven mitts before handling this NYT hot take on how ‘Trump-critical Republicans’ should split their tickets

"Why didn't you suggest that to Dems when Obama was president?"

The post LMAO! Wear oven mitts before handling this NYT hot take on how ‘Trump-critical Republicans’ should split their tickets appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/27/2018 10:58:30 AM
[Markets] Gold & The Biggest Of Big Pictures

Authored by Alasdair Macleod via Goldmoney.com,

I have had a request from Mrs Macleod to write down in simple terms what on earth is going on in the world, and why is it that I think gold is so important in this context. She-who-must-be-obeyed does not fully share my interest in the subject. An explanation of the big picture is also likely to be useful to many of my readers and their spouses, who do not share an enduring interest in geopolitics either.

That is the purpose of this article. It can be bewildering when a casual observer tries to follow global events, something made more difficult by editorial policies at news outlets, and the commentary from most analysts, who are, frankly, ill-informed. Accordingly, this article addresses the topic that dominates our future. The most important players in the great game of geopolitics are America and China. But before launching into an update, I shall lay down the disciplines required for an informed analysis.

Do try to look at issues from all sides in order to understand both strategic considerations and prospective outcomes. Understand that characteristics which may apply to one side do not necessarily apply to the other. For example, financial analysis that applies to the US economy does not necessarily apply to China’s. Do try to remain neutral and objective, analytical and unbiased. Remember the old stockbroker’s adage: where there’s a tip, there’s a tap, meaning that the dissemination of information is usually designed to promote vested interests.

The list of don’ts is somewhat longer.

Don’t believe what governments say, because they will tell you what they want you to believe. Don’t believe anything coming out of intelligence services: if the information is good it is highly unlikely to come your way, and if good information does come your way, it will be indistinguishable from conspiracy theories. Don’t believe conspiracy theories because they are almost never true. Don’t believe government statistics; in fact, you shouldn’t rely on statistics at all, except in the broadest sense. Don’t believe western analysts, financial or otherwise, particularly when commenting on China or Russia. Don’t believe the mainstream media; it usually toes the establishment line, something we recognise of the Chinese and the Russians, but not in our own organisations. Don’t be swayed by nationalism or patriotism: remember Dr Johnson’s aphorism, that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel (he was referring to those who invoke it).

Bearing these rules in mind, let us begin with America, and her position in the world because everything else flows through her accelerating descent from post-war influence.

America - becoming introspective?

America’s global dominance, unquestioned after the dissolution of the old USSR, is now being challenged by China, which plans to absorb the whole Eurasian continent within its commercial sphere of influence. Before President Trump assumed office in January 2017, the threat to America’s hegemony was not widely seen as a public issue, and her policy was to protect US interests through diplomacy, trade, and military presence. Covert operations were used to destabilise regimes which were deemed to be a threat to American interests, particularly in the Middle East, but also in Ukraine, an important buffer-state between Russia and NATO member states in Europe. It was the continuation of persuasion by guns and butter, even though as a global policy it has been getting somewhat tired. The supply of metaphorical butter from America has diminished, and that is now increasingly supplied by China.

Then there came Trump. His surprise election as president brought a several-times bankrupted businessman with little more than an outsized ego into the White House. His understanding of economics and the political process was zilch, but to his electoral base, that was his attraction, particularly compared with the Clinton alternative. Trump stood on a platform of anti-immigration, anti-globalisation, anti-foreign trade, and anti-foreign wars. He was pro-business and pro-America. In short, he was elected to overturn the tired policies of the Clintons, Bushes, and Obama. America was to become introspective in its foreign relationships, reversing the established globalisation trends.

Trump is politically at odds with America’s allies, particularly in statist, predominantly-socialist Europe. His insistence that European members of NATO must pay more of NATO’s costs was seen as a signal that established relationships could no longer be taken for granted, and Germany in particular should assert greater independence. In fact, the post-war establishment and all its institutions were threatened by the Trump rhetoric. However, the prospect of a better relationship with Russia, one of Trump’s pre-election hopes, faded with allegations of Russian interference in the presidential election. But probably the most disruptive Trumpian policies are over trade.

Trump is a firm believer that trade deficits are the result of unfair trade agreements. In this he is supported by Peter Navarro, White House Director of Trade and Industrial Policy, Wilbur Ross, Commerce Secretary, and Robert Lighthizer, US trade representative. Including Trump, these four are on one side of the trade issue, while nearly all the other senior staff, particularly at the Treasury, are on the other. So far, Trump has torn up NAFTA, the trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, which has been “renegotiated”, as has KORUS, the trade agreement with South Korea. He pulled America out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which included Japan, Australia, Chile and South-Eastern Asian allies. He initiated a trade dispute with the EU, which has been put on ice for now. He has introduced high tariffs on imported steel and aluminium.

Trump’s actions on trade have been despite attempts in the administration to stop him, a battle which is ongoing.

America’s overall trade deficit is currently running at over $600bn annually, about two-thirds of which is with China. The current position is that America is threatening to introduce further tariffs on Chinese imports totalling $200bn and in the absence of an agreement extending it to virtually all of China’s $500bn exports to the US. There are hopes this is Trumpian posturing ahead of the mid-term elections on 6th November. However, whether the US extends sanctions as promised appears to be dependent on the pragmatists in the White House outwitting Navarro and Ross. If they manage to do so, presumably China and America can agree a face-saving compromise. If not, the tariff war will intensify.

American trade policy is therefore undergoing a radical alteration from the days when America was happy to run a trade deficit, so long as the surplus dollars were re-invested in America, financing among other things the government’s budget deficit. All commodities, and importantly energy, are priced in dollars on international markets, meaning there is a continuing demand for them to settle non-US trade. The dollar’s status as a reserve currency, coupled with America’s control over international institutions, such as the IMF, the World Bank and regional development banks, meant that America has been in effect the world’s central banker providing the currency, and through its commercial banks the background financer of all cross-border activities. It has been world domination by monetary means, and the need for dollars would always guarantee its global acceptance and underwrite much of its value.

China is manoeuvring to eat into the dollar’s virtual monopolies in commodity pricing and trade. If it succeeds, there can be no doubt the purchasing power of the dollar will decline. To assess this likelihood, we must now turn to China.

China

China’s recovery from the poverty of Maoist communism has been remarkable. It has achieved this by embracing capitalism, while retaining strict political control. It is said that the Chinese leadership observed the successes of Singapore and Hong Kong, driven mainly by Chinese businessmen. It understood that by copying their economic models of laissez-faire capitalism and with an authoritarian government they could improve the lives and wealth of ordinary people, from which the state ultimately derives its power.

The Chinese state plans and directs its state-owned enterprises towards clear objectives. It does this through a series of consecutive five-year plans, the current being the thirteenth which runs to 2020. Already, the next one has been drafted and dubbed “Made in China 2025”. It features state investment in robotics, electric cars, artificial intelligence, biotech and aviation. The equivalent of $300bn of government money will be spent on these sectors, upsetting the Americans who see themselves being shut out from them in China, and concerned that subsidised Chinese industries will have an unfair commercial advantage in export markets.

China is still improving its own infrastructure and is in the process of moving hundreds of millions of citizens from being trapped in menial agricultural and unskilled factory jobs into joining a growing city-based middle class. China now has more than a hundred cities with over a million people, some of which are mega-cities. We have all heard of Shanghai which has 34 million. Few of us know of Guangzhou which has 25 million, the same as Beijing.

Furthermore, the spread of automation and technological innovation is steroidal, and accelerating. And as if that is not enough, China is building two “silk roads” one overland to Europe and a sea route, both of which will be interconnected at several points along the way. It will be a transport and communications network, bringing together the whole Asian continent through trade.

Already, a Mercedes can be delivered from Stuttgart in Germany to the showroom in Beijing in a fortnight. That will come down to ten days. And Zanussi, the Italian white goods manufacturer, can deliver product from its Chinese factories into its European markets on the same time-scale, compared with thirty days by sea.

So ambitious are China’s plans that she has a continuing need to secure the industrial materials for developing infrastructure. She is in a political and economic alliance with Russia, which is the world’s largest exporter of energy and has substantial mineral resources. The partnership is secured in a number of ways, the most important being through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which can be described as a security and economic forum, embracing military cooperation and infrastructure-building. The SCO membership includes China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Observer status, which is the stepping-stone to full membership, includes Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia. Turkey, which is also a member of NATO, is a Dialog Partner, which is one step further away from membership from Observer Status, but is a declaration of intent.

The SCO members, Observers and Dialog Partners cover a total population of three and a half billion, 45% of the world’s population. This is, in effect, China’s back yard and her future market. Add to this her expanding commercial links with Western and Central Europe plus the South Asian nations notionally in America’s sphere of influence, and the whole Eurasian continent is hers to dominate through trade.

She has also invested $140bn in sub-Saharan Africa, developing the African continent as a supplier of raw materials. Africa is itself growing rapidly from a very low base and is a potential future market. China is also Australia’s largest trading partner.

Those who think that America controls world trade through the dollar should wake up. She is up against China everywhere. And as we have seen, China exports some $600bn of goods to America, against only $200bn the other way. She is the largest miner of gold in the world, by far. Unless something happens to interrupt China’s progress, she will have the largest economy by GDP in just a few years, if she hasn’t already on a PPP basis. The key to understanding the pace of this change is not to think in linear projections but in exponential terms.

Is putting up trade barriers, which seems certain to diminish her own influence in global trade, the right response by America to this Chinese industrial revolution? Would it not be better to embrace it, as so many American businesses have done by including Chinese production in their supply chains? Obviously not for those who believe with Trump American nationalism is paramount.

Instead of being realistic, America’s antagonistic approach to China has effectively pitched America into a financial war with China. China follows Sun Tzu’s dictums. Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general and strategist who lived 2,500 years ago and is still quoted today. An appropriate aphorism of his goes as follows: “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate.” And here’s one appropriate for dealing with Donald Trump: “Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance”. Perhaps that’s why Trump does all the talking, while Xi smiles politely and says nothing. Trump brags about the excellent relationship he has with Xi. Xi smiles politely and says nothing.

Meanwhile, China is doing away with the dollar as much as possible, developing financial markets for her own currency instead. Admittedly, that part of her plan has been put on hold for the moment, because Trump’s trade wars have weakened the yuan, and the Peoples’ Bank (China’s central bank) has been buying yuan to support the exchange rate. But this is likely to be a temporary phase.

There is another way of looking at this intervention. The other side of buying in her own currency has been selling part of her enormous stockpile of dollars. Measured in yuan, this has been highly profitable. And at some stage, China will want the yuan to rise against the dollar for some very good reasons. She needs to import raw materials in enormous quantities, and that will drive their prices up in dollar terms. The effect on price inflation in China will be largely dependent on the exchange rate between dollars and yuan, so it will be in her interests to have a stronger currency to lessen the inflation impact.

China has also been encouraging her suppliers of energy and raw materials to accept yuan instead of dollars. All this points to a managed, higher rate for the yuan against the dollar, in order to encourage widespread acceptance of the yuan. This brings us to the relative future of the yuan against the dollar, and the effect on the gold price.

A stronger yuan will underwrite gold

As noted above, China must embrace the consequences of a stronger yuan if it is to deliver on its current thirteenth five-year plan, and on “Made in China 2025”. If she fails to do this, not only will rising commodity prices fuel domestic price inflation, but she will still be vulnerable to America’s use of the dollar as a strategic weapon.

It will require China to discard Western thinking that lower currency exchange rates can be used to stimulate demand. Anyway, she is moving her economic emphasis away from the manufacture of cheap goods dependent solely on low prices for their sales, towards the added-values of quality and technology. Instead of employing large numbers of semi-skilled workers on production lines, manufacturing of export goods is becoming highly automated. Capital investment is replacing the wage element in costs. Time taken in manufacturing processes has fallen as a result, so the benefits of having a competitive exchange rate is less of a factor for export profitability.

The supposed disadvantages of managing a currency into continuing weakness are therefore becoming trivial. That being the case, we should expect moves to underscore a change in currency regime. But before we examine them, we must briefly look at the other side of the exchange rate, the dollar.

For the moment, the dollar is strong predominantly against the euro. Despite the US trade deficit with the Eurozone (which creates net buying of the euro by commercial entities), the capital flows the other way are driving the euro lower. Because banks and their hedge fund clients have access to euros through wholesale money markets, they can borrow three-month money at minus 0.3%, sell the euros for dollars and invest in three-month Treasury bills for a yield of 2.3%. Gear it up ten times (which is what banks do) and you have a slam-dunk 26% annualised return on your capital. And because the dollar’s trade weighted index is comprised of 50% euros, the selling of euros for dollars by these interest rate arbitrageurs is why the dollar’s TWI is so strong.

This interest dysphasia between euros and dollars is creating enormous currency strains, a situation that cannot last. Either the Fed and the ECB must devise a managed solution, or it will end in a currency crisis.

For the moment, contrary to current widespread commentary, foreign ownership of dollar deposits and dollar-denominated investments are at an all-time high. The US government depends on foreigners buying Treasuries to fund itself. However, Trump’s tariffs will help drive domestic consumer prices higher, on top of the price stimulation of a budget deficit about to exceed a trillion dollars. In short, a highly inflationary situation is developing, leading to rapidly rising bond yields (which means falling bond prices) and a potential funding crisis for the US government. Rising inflation and funding difficulties make for a falling dollar exchange rate, which promises to be sudden and severe when the speculative tide turns.

A falling currency raises the cost of energy and industrial commodities, fuelling price inflation even further. Does China go with it, by allowing her currency to maintain a dollar peg? The answer, as we have seen above, must be an emphatic no.

Currently, the yuan is split by capital controls between domestic and foreign markets. Chinese residents are not permitted to hold foreign currency, a situation that cannot continue for much longer if the yuan is to have the required international liquidity. No doubt capital controls have allowed the Peoples’ Bank to control the currency rate without the disadvantage of domestic currency speculation undermining it. A rising yuan will discourage the accumulation of foreign currencies, so if capital controls are to be lifted, it must be against that background.

If the gold price was to rise only moderately measured in dollars, it would continue to be good value in China, the world’s largest consumer and savings market for physical gold. That is becoming a worst-case outcome for the price. However, the accumulation of record quantities of dollars in foreign hands is a similar condition that led to the suspension of the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971, when foreign-owned dollars were being cashed in for gold. Following that dollar crisis, gold rose over twenty times. Only this time, it will be China driving up energy and commodity prices, not the OPEC cartel. Gold’s price rise in dollars this time will depend on how the US handles its decline.

This is a market-based argument for the gold price to rise, and not an economic one. The economic case is there in spades as well, but that might be harder to explain to one’s spouse.

Published:10/27/2018 10:22:31 AM
[In The News] Obama Says Politicians Lying Is Something ‘We Have Not Seen Before.’ Here Are Three Of His Biggest Whoppers

By R. Mitchell -

Obama interview apple, ford will hire unemployed

  by Tim Pearce Former President Barack Obama lamented the state of political rhetoric in the U.S. at a rally in Wisconsin on Friday, saying politicians are “just blatantly, repeatedly, baldly, shamelessly lying.” Obama traveled to Wisconsin to campaign for Democratic candidates including Sen. Tammy Baldwin, gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers and others. ...

Obama Says Politicians Lying Is Something ‘We Have Not Seen Before.’ Here Are Three Of His Biggest Whoppers is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:10/27/2018 8:52:18 AM
[Markets] As 'Caravan' Crosses Mexico, Trump's 'Temporary' Tent City For Migrant Kids Balloons In Size

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows President Trump's temporary tent city for unaccompanied alien children (UAC) at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Tornillo, Texas Land Port of Entry (LPOE) has dramatically expanded its capabilities over the last several months. 

Tornillo's tent city was designed to temporarily house 450 children under the supervision of HHS in June, when Trump's zero-tolerance policy separated over 2,500 migrant children from their parents. 

Now, the temporary shelter has 3,800 beds for UACs between ages 13 and 17, 1,400 of those beds are on special reverse status. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and HHS said the expansion of the facility was imperative due to the influx of immigrant children arriving at the Mexico-US border without family members. 

The official in charge of Tornillo's facility told NBC on Friday, "there is no question whatsoever," that the rise in migrant children being detained by the CBP is due to the "extra precautions" the Trump admin is now preparing to match children with family members, including their biological parents, if possible. 

The official said that as of Oct. 12th, 826 out of the 1,500 children in Tornillo were awaiting background checks before they could be transferred to family members or homes within the US. 

Children at Tornillo stay an average of 59 days, up from roughly 30 days under the Obama administration, according to HHS. 

Federal officials have been strict with journalists on tours of the facility; there are no cameras, recorders, and or cell phones allowed inside. 

The official notes that children have access to legal services, medical care, outside activities, cable television, and religious services. 

DHS and HHS released new footage last week showing a rare glimpse inside the Tornillo facility: 

Here are journalists on the outer perimeter of the facility:  

NBC KTSM  spoke with a 16-year-old female from within the facility on a recent tour; she said she spent several months in a shelter in Miami and has been in Tornillo for about a month. 

She is praying that she will be released to family members in Texas. 

The girl said her parents live in Guatemala, and she made the decision to travel to America for a better life and education. NBC KTSM said there was sadness in her eyes when asked if she would return to her native country. 

ACLU lawyers have argued against separating families at the Mexico-US border and sending migrant children into government-run camps. 

Child welfare groups warn that the facility is not open to state inspection because it resides on federal land. The Tornillo official said the facility exceeds state standards when it comes to ratios for childcare, medical and mental health workers. 

Trump's migrant camp for kids is expanding in size but seems to be absent from news flow, until now. With the US midterm elections drawing closer, and thousands of migrants 'caravanning' across Mexico on route for the US border, the mainstream media could turn the Tornillo tent city into the next news cycle's "crisis" as bomb-the-Democrats-gate fades from the headlines.

Published:10/26/2018 9:46:30 PM
[Markets] When Will Obama Aides Come Clean About U.S.-Saudi War Crimes?"

Authored by Sarah Lazare via InTheseTimes.com,

Now that Saudi Arabia has become a P.R. liability, Samantha Power and Ben Rhodes have quietly condemned the war in Yemen. But when they had the power to stop it, they were complicit...

It took the apparent murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi for the violence of the Saudi monarchy to finally register with the U.S. media and political elite. Since March 2015, the United States, Saudi Arabia and other allies have waged a war on Yemen that has killed tens of thousands of people, pushed the poorest country in the Middle East to the brink of famine and unleashed a devastating cholera outbreak. On behalf of its Saudi partner, the United States has shipped arms, refueled bomber jets, deployed troops and provided political cover—all without a congressional vote, serious political debate or meaningful media coverage.

Recently, the dogged work of activists and the war’s undeniable brutality have led to greater scrutiny from some in Congress. Also among the war’s new critics are former high-ranking Obama aides, including former UN Ambassador Samantha Power and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, both of whom got in line behind the U.S.-Saudi war on Yemen and defended the intervention. As U.S. participation in Saudi war crimes becomes a P.R. liability for those who built their personal brands on the Obama administration's supposed moral authority, former aides’ criticisms force us to grapple with what constitutes atonement for complicity in mass killing—and how to distinguish true accountability from a hollow exercise in image rehabilitation.

On September 26, Power tweeted her support for a bill introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) to invoke the War Powers Resolution and end U.S. backing of the Saudi-led war.

Noting the “horrific, pointless bloodshed,” she acknowledged “we in the Obama admin should have cut off aid.” On October 4, Rhodes called the War Powers Resolution “a much-needed check on a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe in Yemen.”

While any acknowledgement of wrongdoing, no matter how understated, is better than nothing, their half-hearted attempts demand a more thoughtful examination of what real public atonement—and justice—should look like when one admits to complicity in an unjust war of aggression.

What we do know is that, when Power in her role as a UN ambassador actually had the power to help stop the war on Yemen, by publicly breaking with her boss and encouraging meaningful action at the United Nations, she did nothing. Instead she embraced a policy of silence—and shielded the U.S.-Saudi coalition from meaningful international scrutiny as it dropped bombs on homes, schools, hospitals and funerals.

Rhodes, for his part, as deputy national security advisor, did not publicly dissent from Obama’s decision to send the United States into the war. Rhodes acknowledged his culpability in a revisionist October 12 piece for The Atlantic, which downplayed the Obama administration’s direct responsibility for atrocities. He wrote of the Yemen war, “Looking back, I wonder what we might have done differently, particularly if we’d somehow known that Obama was going to be succeeded by a President Trump.” In reality, the horrors of the war were fully underway during the Obama administration.

In an eyebrow-raising tweet published October 21, Rhodes claimed that the Obama administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia grew “chilly.” In reality, throughout his presidency Obama offered the kingdom more than $115 billion in weapons, as well as military equipment and training, and at the end of his tenure, he collaborated with Saudi Arabia on an aggressive war that is still ongoing.

Understated and self-serving admissions by Power and Rhodes demand an examination of what  real accountability should look like when one is complicit in unjust war. Neither’s critique included an exhaustive account of their wrongdoing or a robust plan to make things right. Power and Rhodes are following the well-trod path in which lawmakers and White House officials support U.S. wars of aggression only to admit, years later and with little personal consequence, that they made a mistake. From Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to Hillary Clinton, quietly acknowledging that the Iraq War was a bad idea has become a political rite of passage. These penitents fail to mention that their actions (or lack thereof) contributed to the deaths of more than a million Iraqi people. And the media allows them to simply issue a vague mea culpa and move on.

Politicians and officials likely make the calculus that it's less politically risky to support bipartisan wars at the time, even if it means having to apologize for it later. (Of course, following the polls is not always a winning strategy over the long run, as Clinton learned when she lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential primary, likely due to her support for the Iraq War.)

Power and Rhodes’ support for the War Powers Resolution is one step toward rectifying the harm they have done. Obama, meanwhile, remains silent. But the architects of war must not be allowed to determine the parameters of their own accountability. The question remains: What would a real public apology for mass murder entail? Vowing to leave public life, dedicating one’s remaining days to ending the war and repairing the damage? Who should decide what reparations mean? Certainly, Yemenis who have been harmed, including those who were children when Obama led the United States into the war in 2015 and must now grow up with a decimated education and medical system, should be at the forefront.

Nothing is stopping Power and Rhodes from giving a full and honest account of who was responsible for advocating, overseeing and covering up the horrors of the Yemen War, starting with themselves. This would provide useful information about how U.S. institutions function, whose interests were served at the expense of the Yemeni people, who is undeserving of re-election and political power, and what keeps the war machine whirring. It would build political pressure to finally end the war, far more than a handful of muted tweets and articles ever could.

But that’s not likely to happen. Far more likely is that former aides will issue vague regrets without providing any real inventory of their own roles, while raking in undisclosed - and presumably high - fees for lectures on human rights and foreign policy. Instead of buying into this ex post facto rebranding, it’s up to all of us to make the launching of unjust wars of aggression politically nuclear - and to ensure that no one can get away with shrugging off the killing of tens of thousands of people as an unfortunate, but forgivable, “mistake.”

Published:10/26/2018 8:15:16 PM
[Markets] Mainstream Media Outlet Publishes 'Trump Assassination' Short Story

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

While mainstream media outlets balk at the suggestion that they may have been guilty of ramping up the division and political tensions in the United States, one of those outlets actually published an assassination story about president Donald Trump.

While those in the mainstream media blame Trump’s inflammatory “fake news” rhetoricfor half a dozen bombs mailed to prominent Democrats and CNNthe New York Times ran a short story envisioning Trump’s assassination.  The story detailed a failed assassination attempt by a Russian but what happened next was incredibly disturbing.

Frustrated by the failure of the Mueller investigation to turn up the requested dirt on their “enemy”, Trump, the media “resistance” asked a few spy novelists to predict a more “appealing future” for the president in the Times‘ literary supplement., according to RT. The results revealed some shoddy writing work, even putting aside their predictable endings. Spoiler alert: Trump was colluding with the Russians all along!

The story is typical leftist fantasy garbage: violence, death, and permanently silencing those with whom they disagree.

The president didn’t seem to notice. He waved, in his desultory fashion. The Secret Service agents clustered around him, ushered him toward the armored limo idling outside at the curb.

The Russian waited until they were a few steps past before he drew the gun. He sighted on the center of the president’s back, and squeezed the trigger.

The Makarov misfired.

The Secret Service agent at the president’s shoulder heard the click, spun into a crouch. He registered the scene instantly, drawing his own weapon with razor-edge reflexes.

The Russian tasted failure. He closed his eyes and waited to pay the cost.

It did not come.

He opened his eyes. The Secret Service agent stood before him, presenting his Glock, butt first.

“Here,” the agent said politely. “Use mine. …” -Zoe Sharp, The New York Times

This is a highly hypocritical stance for the mainstream media to take.  On the one hand, they demand Trump cool down his rhetoric toward them, but on the other hand, they insist on publishing violent leftist trash meant to incite glee over the president’s assassination.

Trump’s election has hastened a decline in journalistic standards that has seen once-respectable media outlets like the Times jettison fact-checking, accountability, and taste standards in favor of grinding their political axe. Journalists’ concerns about the Trump regime are not unfounded, however – his Justice Department has prosecuted more whistleblowers and leakers than even media darling Barack Obama, who previously held the record. -RT

If you think the media is not inciting violence, just take a quick look at an article by Breitbart titled, 613 Acts of Media-Approved Violence and Harassment Against Trump Supporters.

The 2018 elections have been marked by vicious rhetorical attacks. Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, and Maxine Waters have all been accused of calling for their supporters to physically attack GOP candidates and their voters. Several candidates actually have been attacked in the last month, and one man was arrested for mailing ricin to the White House and Pentagon.

Published:10/26/2018 7:46:52 PM
[Politics] Trump doesn’t think his rhetoric incited bomber WASHINGTON – President Trump said Friday he’ll “pass” on calling former Presidents Obama and Clinton who were targeted with mail bombs and declined to take blame for his rhetoric playing a role in inciting the attacks. “I think I’ve been toned down, you want to know the truth,” Trump told reporters as he left the... Published:10/26/2018 5:34:21 PM
[Markets] Pat Buchanan Asks "Did Trump Goad And Guide The Pipe Bomber?"

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

By Thursday, the targets of the mailed pipe bombs had risen to nine: George Soros, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Maxine Waters, John Brennan, Eric Holder, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Joe Biden and Robert De Niro.

That list contains four of the highest-ranking officials of Barack Obama’s administration: the president himself, his vice president, his secretary of state and his attorney general.

Yet, by Thursday morning, there was heartening news.

Not one of the mailed bombs had reached its target. Not one handler of a mailed bomb had been injured. Not one bomb had exploded.

Several of the bombs were said to be deficient. While they contained elements of pipe bombs, with shards of glass and powder, there was no trigger to ignite an explosion.

Were these devices simply poorly made, or did the bomber intend not to wound or kill, but simply to cause a panic?

As of this writing, we don’t know. Moreover there is this oddity: All of the bombs had the same return address — that of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who was ousted as leader of the DNC when hacked DNC emails revealed she had tilted the party machinery to defeat Hillary Clinton’s principal rival in the primaries, Bernie Sanders.

Was putting Wasserman Schultz’s return address on all the bomb packages some kind of joke?

What was going on here?

Beltway residents, however, did not need to look far to learn who inspired and motivated the would-be mass-murderer of our liberal elite. In a front-page story headlined, “Subjects of Trump’s ire in bomb-maker’s sights,” The Washington Post identified the suspect:

“(A) common theme among the targets was unmistakable. Each has been a recurring subject of Trump attacks.”

The Post elaborated. Trump has called Democrats “evil.” Trump has denounced Obama’s presidency. Trump has “demonized Hillary Clinton, inspiring chants of ‘Lock her up!'” Trump has “used his bully pulpit to taunt Maxine Waters … as a ‘low IQ individual.'”

Trump has impugned ex-CIA Director John Brennan and fanned “conspiracy theories about George Soros.” Trump has called the news media “the enemy of the people.” Trump has singled out CNN’s reporting as “fake news.”

What the Post was implying was that Trump at his rallies had done the target acquisition for the bomber who intended to maim or murder the leading lights of liberalism and enemies of Trumpism.

If one missed the point on Page 1, the headline over the balance of the story inside the Post drove it home: “Amid incendiary rhetoric, targets of Trump’s words become bombs’ targets.”

The correlation between Trump’s targets and the bomber’s targets is no accident, comrade, the Post is saying.

Yet, as of late Thursday, still, no bomb had exploded. And what had been called bombs were being called “suspicious packages.” And the person or persons who made and mailed them had yet to be identified.

But still the attacks on Trump and the calls to hold him morally culpable for the bombs, because of his rhetoric, went on unabated.

Said Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, jointly responding to the president’s call for civility in Wisconsin: Trump’s “words ring hollow until he reverses his statements that condone acts of violence.”

This is not the first time a political atrocity has been to exploited to wound political enemies.

Though Lee Harvey Oswald was a Communist who had defected to the Soviet Union, the city of Dallas, then a conservative stronghold, was indicted by the media for having “created the atmosphere” in which JFK was assassinated.

In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, the media blamed the anti-government rhetoric of conservative talk radio for poisoning the minds of extremists like Timothy McVeigh.

Guilt by association seems a more common recourse of the left.

When members of the Republican Congressional baseball team were shot and wounded at their morning practice, no major GOP figure blamed Bernie Sanders, though the would-be mass murderer was one of Bernie’s volunteers.

“Democracy dies in darkness,” reads the motto of The Washington Post. But democracy dies in other ways as well.

Democracy dies when the divisions in a society become so bitter and rancorous that a segment of that society becomes so estranged it decides that it would rather leave and live apart.

With their endless charges of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia America’s elite has let Trump’s “base” know what it thinks of them.

And at his rallies, where Trump’s mockery of that elite and its media allies evokes hoots and cheers, Middle America is telling our cultural and political establishment what it thinks of them.

Before we were a democracy, we were a republic. And we were always more than just a polity. We were a people and a nation.

Today we seem to be two countries and two peoples.

And if that is true, a political system based on majority rule is not going to be strong enough to hold us together indefinitely.

Published:10/26/2018 1:44:52 PM
[Markets] Trump Weighing Asylum Shutdown That Would Close Southern Border To Migrants

As fear, anxiety and paranoia descend on members of the migrant caravan following a rash of deaths, inspiring many to turn back or accept rides from Mexican law enforcement back to the local immigration-processing facilities, President Trump is reportedly weighing an executive action that would suspend migrants' ability to seek asylum in the US, virtually guaranteeing that any migrants who cross the US's southern border would be immediately arrested and deported.

If Trump follows through with the plan, according to Politico, he would invoke his authority under Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the same authority that allowed him to pursue the immigration ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court back in June, to temporarily suspend migrants ability to seek asylum, because, per the Washington Post, it "would be contrary to the national interest" and "detrimental to the interests of the United States."

However, several anonymous administration officials told WaPo that invoking this power - a decision that would almost certainly be blocked by a federal court (likely the same San Francisco district court that blocked multiple iterations of the Trump travel ban) - is "one of several" options under consideration. Though, as Fox News points out, a Supreme Court ruling earlier this summer affirmed the president’s right to bar the entry of migrants who "would be detrimental to the interests of the United States."

Caravan

While Trump has accused Democrats of aiding the migrants with their tepid immigration policies, Fox notes that Democrats have largely avoided commenting on the issue of the caravan - a craven approach to politics that we're sure their pro-immigration voters will appreciate - instead preferring to focus on "health care" as the defining issue of 2018 (even as ObamaCare premiums fell for the first time under Trump).

In a tweet sent Thursday, Trump urged members of the migrant caravan to turn around, promising that they would not be allowed to enter the US.

Trump is also preparing to send as many as 1,000 US troops to the border, though the administration is reportedly still working out the exact scope of their responsibilities, where they would be deployed and who would ultimately exercise control (state governors along the border earlier this year agreed to send more than 4,000 National Guard troops to the border as part of a Trump administration plan).

In a statement to WaPo, a senior admin official reiterated that Trump hadn't made a final decision.

"The Administration is considering wide range administrative, legal and legislative options to address the Democrat-created crisis of mass illegal immigration," said a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal discussions. "No decisions have been made at this time," the official said. "Nor will we forecast to smugglers or caravans what precise strategies will or will not be deployed."

As more migrants turn back from the caravan, which first formed in Honduras after a local politician promised to pay and feed the migrants who joined in the journey (several non-profit groups have facilitated their movement through Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico) earlier this month, the caravan's numbers have reportedly dwindled from more than 7,000 (some put the max as high as 14,000) to closer to 3,000. What's left of the caravan is now 900 miles from the US border, and a second group is moving through Honduras.

Meanwhile, reports of violence, corruption and infiltration by criminal traffickers and gangsters have been documented by journalists, including a team from the nonprofit Judicial Watch, which cited a report in a Guatemalan newspaper claiming that the caravan had been organized by leftists (Venezuela has denied accusations that it helped organize the caravan via surrogates).

In a local newspaper report published last week Hernández asserted that leftist interests seeking to destabilize the country are manipulating migrants. Women and children are being used without regard to the risks to their lives, Hernández said. "The irregular mobilization was organized for political reasons to negatively affect the governance and image of Honduras and to destabilize the peace of neighboring countries," the president said, adding that many have returned to the country after realizing they’ve been fooled.

In a series of interviews, JW also spoke with members of the caravan who affirmed that travelers were coming from "all over the world" to join in the march toward the border:

Published:10/26/2018 10:44:50 AM
[c3a1a82f-0bc9-5e66-ab2a-19e00a5d0497] Steve Forbes: A little thing to help keep the economy humming -- Here's one EPA rule worth keeping President Trump has set his sights on reforming another major regulation: President Obama’s CAFE standards, which set utterly unrealistic, unscientific requirements for the average miles per gallon for cars and light trucks. Published:10/26/2018 9:17:29 AM
[Politics] Did Trump Goad and Guide the Pipe Bomber? By Patrick J. Buchanan

By Thursday, the targets of the mailed pipe bombs had risen to nine: George Soros, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Maxine Waters, John Brennan, Eric Holder, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Joe Biden and Robert De Niro.

Published:10/26/2018 6:56:31 AM
[Markets] Germany Admits It Needs More From Russia Than Nordstream 2

Authored by Tom Luongo,

During the years the U.S. and its satraps in Poland and the Baltics fought the Nordstream 2 pipeline it was always apparent Germany was in the driver’s seat.  It was also apparent that this would be the wedge issue that would ultimately force Germany to pursue independent policy from the U.S.

Nordstream 2 is and was always a reaction to the U.S.’s meddling in Europe’s energy policy which this cycle of began with the scuttling of the South Stream pipeline in 2013.

From the EU’s perspective changing the rules under which South Stream would operate after the contracts for it were signed was a way of gaining leverage over Russia and Gazprom.  So too was the help protesters in Kiev received to overthrow the Yanukovich government from the U.S. and the EU.

That operation was meant to put the Ukrainian pipelines under EU control where they could dictate terms to Gazprom and choke the profit out of its gas deliveries.  It would also advance NATO and the EU to Russia’s western border and there was to be nothing Putin could do to stop the U.S. from putting nukes targeting Moscow there.

Too bad for them it didn’t work out that way.

This is one of the reasons why the U.S. is so incensed with Russia and Putin over Ukraine.  It’s why his chickenhawks in his cabinet and John McCain pushed so hard for sanctions and weapons support to Ukraine before the dearly-departed Brain Tumor killed him.

Obviously, the other was being stymied in taking over Crimea and forever losing the opportunity to grab the port at Sevastopol.

So, why the history lesson?

Because German Chancellor Angela Merkel just announced a long-delayed LNG terminal will be built by Germany with state assistance.  You see, LNG or liquefied natural gas, isn’t really that profitable for European customers, otherwise this import terminal would have found enough backers in the private sector.

So, Merkel announced a small concession to Trump by throwing some money at some LNG import terminals which any supplier can and will use.

This announcement was immediately spun as a win for President Trump by Oilprice.com’s Tim Daiss because, well, reasons.

Now, it looks as if Trump’s recent tirade against America’s European allies over its geopolitically troubling reliance on Russian gas supply may also be bearing fruit. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that earlier this month German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered government support to efforts to open up Germany to U.S. gas, in what the report called “a key concession to President Trump as he tries to loosen Russia’s grip on Europe’s largest energy market.”

The rest of the article is boiler-plate Russia-baiting and bad economics, but that’s to be expected from American writers at Oilprice.  It’s similar to the Russian writers there who overstate Russia’s advantages.

That said, there are always nuggets of truth buried in the manure.

Despite Daiss’ bias what he fails to mention in his MAGA-enthusiam is that Germany making this announcement is far more significant than Merkel’s perceived kowtowing to Washington.

Politically, this cost Merkel nothing.

What this admits is what Gazprom deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev said back in May.  Everyone should forget about fighting Nordstream 2 because Germany will need Nordstream 3. 

Output is falling in Norway and Scotland, too. According to a recent report by the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, absent the discovery of new fields, Europe’s gas production is set to decline from 256 billion cubic meters per year today to 212 billion cubic meters per year by 2020, and 146 billion cubic meters per year by 2030.

Amid falling domestic production, demand for gas is set to go up, as European countries close down old thermal coal power plants, and Germany prepares to shutter its nuclear power plants by 2022. German NPPs, it’s worth noting, once accounted for nearly a quarter of the economic giant’s power consumption.

“And no, no American, Qatari or even Russian LNG supplies will be able to replace these volumes,” Lekuh stressed. “Such supplies are simply a triviality when compared to the price of pipeline gas, and there are currently no technical solutions to this disparity. And while it may be possible to raise gas prices for the public, for Europe’s industry, a predominance of liquefied natural gas simply means death. The rise in the price of energy-intensive production would result in a lack of competitiveness in global markets,” the observer noted.

So, yes, Germany building LNG import terminals is an opportunity for U.S. companies to sell Germans some gas.  But, it also means that Novatek can sell LNG to Germany from its massive Yamal project on the Baltic Sea and still undercut U.S. deliveries.

At the same time, the Saudis are ready to buy a $5 billion stake in Novatek’s next project called Arctic 2 in Siberia.

Why?

Well, it could be a bribe to keep the Russians quiet on l’affair Khashoggi but it more likely about location.

Transport costs matter in the LNG game.  Period.  The cost to move the gas from one place to another is big driver of final price and profitability.

So too does the currency arbitrage.  And Trump’s own belligerence towards Russia to weaken the ruble while driving oil and gas prices higher is only making the price discrepancy between Russian and U.S. gas worse.

Also, if the U.S. was winning this war of sanctions and tariffs and forcing the Germans to heel, then why is Trump folding on kicking Iran out of the SWIFT system of international electronic money transfers?

Could it be because SWIFT’s threat as the financial nuclear weapon it once was is now easily shot down like Tomahawks coming near a Pantsir-S2 missile battery?

The announcement of Europe’s Special Purpose Vehicle as well as Moscow’s own version of SWIFT are credible deterrents to the kind of financial bullying the White House has been used to engaging in for decades.

And it all stems from the U.S. going nuclear on Iran in 2012 with Obama’s sanctions, cutting Iran out from SWIFT.  And then there was the threats against Russia in 2014 over, what?  Crimea.

That spurred Putin into action to build a domestic version of SWIFT, a system the Kremlin is touting as having international support.  Transactions going through Russia’s system cannot and will not be monitored by the U.S. financial authorities.  All the U.S. can do is then threaten sanctions under ‘Magnitsky rules’ to banks and companies for doing business with people the U.S. claim as ‘bad people.’

And now even that won’t work for much longer.  A connected world is one that resists control.  This is what passes for foreign policy these days.  Cheap moralizing to protect unsustainable business models and imperial ambitions.

So, this is why I opened with the history lesson.  It’s all connected as one big web of cause and effect, action/reaction.

And it’s why at the end of the day incentives matter.  And as the Saudis are finding out now, bribes only work for so long.  Eventually costs rise to the point where no amount of money in the short term can overcome them.

Trump got a small win here.  The U.S. will sell Germany some gas after these terminals are built.  Merkel gets to pay her ‘fair share’ on NATO by overpaying for some gas while keeping her defense spending acceptable to the rising hard-left in Germany.

But, the big winner ultimately is the Russian/Iranian axis that called Trump’s bluff on sanctions, tariffs and protectionism to flip Germany’s political incentives to their side of the ledger.

Published:10/26/2018 4:14:08 AM
[World] Sarah Sanders: 'Disgraceful' for CNN's Jeff Zucker to Try to Blame Trump for Suspicious Packages

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called CNN "disgraceful" for quickly attempting to blame President Trump for suspicious packages being sent to the network and to prominent Democrats like Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Published:10/25/2018 8:36:06 AM
[Bombs and Explosives] Bombs Sent to Biden and Robert De Niro, Latest in Wave of Explosives Sent to Trump Critics The discovery of two more bombs came after those sent to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and others. Published:10/25/2018 8:36:04 AM
[2018 Election] About Those “Apparent Explosive Devices” (John Hinderaker) As everyone now knows, someone sent or delivered packages containing explosive devices of some kind to a number of prominent Democrats, ranging from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to Eric Holder and George Soros. Not much is known at this point about the devices, their origin, or the degree of threat they represented. Most importantly, we have no idea who sent them. I assume the perpetrator will most likely be Published:10/24/2018 7:33:39 PM
[Markets] China And Russia Eavesdrop On Calls Made From Trump's Personal iPhone: NYT

First it was conversations with Russian officials in the Oval Office. Then it was meetings with Japanese and Chinese leaders in the dining room at Mar-a-Lago. Now, the New York Times is going after President Trump for his insistence on talking to friends and family on his personal cell phone - which he has refused to give up, despite pleas from his national security staff.

After the close of a frantic trading day punctuated by a flurry of bomb scares that captivated the national media for most of the session, the New York Times has dropped is latest Trump "bombshell" late Wednesday, claiming that China and Russia are routinely spying on Trump's personal calls, and are using the information gleaned from their surveillance to steer an influence campaign intended to soften President Trump's protectionist policies (and, ideally, drop his trade war against Beijing).

Trump

Citing officials "who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could discuss classified intelligence and sensitive security arrangements" the Times reported that American spy agencies had learned that China and Russia were eavesdropping on the president’s calls from "human sources inside foreign governments" and were "intercepting communications between foreign officials." Intelligence officials can only hope that Trump, who only uses the White House land line for official business, but prefers to use his personal phone to kibbitz with friends, isn't spouting classified intelligence during these calls (which, we imagine, are also being monitored by US spies as well).

One of Trump's personal phones hasn't been modified by his national security team and is "no different from millions of iPhones in use around the world."

Officials said the president has two official iPhones that have been altered by the National Security Agency to limit their capabilities — and vulnerabilities — and a third personal phone that is no different from hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world. Mr. Trump keeps the personal phone, White House officials said, because unlike his other two phones, he can store his contacts in it.

The Times identified Blackstone Group President Stephen Schwartzman and Wynn Resorts founder Steve Wynn as two locuses of the Chinese influence campaign, which the Times said is intended to target "friends of friends."

The officials said they have also determined that China is seeking to use what it is learning from the calls — how Mr. Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and to whom he is inclined to listen — to keep a trade war with the United States from escalating further. In what amounts to a marriage of lobbying and espionage, the Chinese have pieced together a list of the people with whom Mr. Trump regularly speaks in hopes of using them to influence the president, the officials said.

Among those on the list are Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Blackstone Group chief executive who has endowed a master’s program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Steve Wynn, the former Las Vegas casino magnate who used to own a lucrative property in Macau.

The Chinese have identified friends of both men and others among the president’s regulars, and are now relying on Chinese businessmen and others with ties to Beijing to feed arguments to the friends of the Trump friends. The strategy is that those people will pass on what they are hearing, and that Beijing’s views will eventually be delivered to the president by trusted voices, the officials said. They added that the Trump friends were most likely unaware of any Chinese effort.

If anything, at least the intelligence community can take comfort in the fact that Trump's relative lack of tech savvy leaves him invulnerable to phishing attacks (since he doesn't use email) and his twitter phone can only connect over a secure wi-fi connection (lest the Chinese learn the text of all the president's tweets that go unsent).

Still, Mr. Trump’s lack of tech savvy has alleviated some other security concerns. He does not use email, so the risk of a phishing attack like those used by Russian intelligence to gain access to Democratic Party emails is close to nil. The same goes for texts, which are disabled on his official phones.

His Twitter phone can connect to the internet only over a Wi-Fi connection, and he rarely, if ever, has access to unsecured wireless networks, officials said. But the security of the device ultimately depends on the user, and protecting the president’s phones has sometimes proved difficult.

Trump memorably caused a stir earlier this year when he left his phone in a golf cart at his course in Bedminster New Jersey, causing a short-lived but intense panic. 

Last year, Mr. Trump’s cellphone was left behind in a golf cart at his club in Bedminster, N.J., causing a scramble to locate it, according to two people familiar with what took place.

The anxieties over foreign leaders eavesdropping on Trump are probably justified, but it's important to remember that US intelligence agencies routinely tap the communications of foreign leaders - friends and foes alike. Who could forget when Edward Snowden triggered a mini-diplomatic crisis by revealing that the US had tapped the phone of Angela Merkel. And as careful as Obama was, it's highly probably that some of his communications were intercepted, too.

Ultimately, the one thing that will likely thwart the Chinese influence campaign is President Trump's famously fickle attitudes toward ideas and people. Even his closest advisors can't keep up - let alone people who are friends of his friends. Of course, China should be given credit for their savvy influence campaigns - because look how they've helped to defuse the trade tensions between the US and China. 

Published:10/24/2018 6:32:41 PM
[The Blog] Kudlow: Obama’s wrong on the economy — and consumers know it

"He's a tax cutter -- a big difference from his predecessor."

The post Kudlow: Obama’s wrong on the economy — and consumers know it appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/24/2018 5:36:58 PM
[Markets] In Major Concession, Trump Will Allow Iran To Remain Connected To SWIFT

In a stark reversal from its position just days earlier, the Trump administration is expected to allow Iran to remain connected to the SWIFT banking system the Washington Examiner reports, in what amounts to a major concession to European allies who have been pressuring senior U.S. officials to keep this key lifeline to the Islamic Republic open.

As recently as this weekend, Reuters reported that in order to further isolate Iran from the global financial community, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said that the U.S. Treasury was in negotiations with the Belgian-based financial messaging service SWIFT which intermediates the bulk of the world’s cross-border dollar-denominated transactions, on disconnecting Iran from the network. Washington has been pressuring SWIFT to cut Iran from the system as it did in 2012 before the nuclear deal.

The latest reversal comes as a result of 'ongoing talks between top U.S. officials and European allies "who have been pressuring the Trump administration to take a softer line on Tehran" ahead of the Nov. 4 implementation of new sanctions on Iran.

The unexpected move has been met with "frustration" by Iran hawks both on Capitol Hill and elsewhere who have argued that SWIFT continues to provide Iran with a critical financial lifeline which it is using to fund terrorist operations across the region despite its ailing economy. Yet despite opposition from the "hawks", Iran will remain connected to the SWIFT system

As reported previously, Trump has been under pressure for months from European allies to keep Iran connected to SWIFT, despite fierce opposition to the move among some inside the administration and many legislative allies on Capitol Hill.

In the past months, as European allies pressured the Trump administration to take a softer line with Iran, SWIFT has emerged as a key sticking point. While the Trump administration had vowed to choke off Iran's financial routes, senior officials appear to have softened that stance in the face of European pressure.

In August, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called in August for a system that was an alternative to SWIFT and would allow "financial independence" from Washington, that would possibly keep the nuclear agreement with Iran alive.

Meanwhile, as Europe scores a diplomatic victory, the internal battle over Iran's access to SWIFT - which has been brewing for months - will likely remain at the forefront ahead of the implementation of new sanctions next month due to opposition by the Israelis and others who aim to see Iran completely iced out of the international banking system.

"The Europeans are clowning the Americans," said one source familiar with the recent discussions between American and foreign officials. "They sold [Treasury Secretary Steve] Mnuchin on this idea that keeping Iran on SWIFT will generate intelligence—the word they keep using is ‘leads'—and Mnuchin is now echoing Obama talking points about how sanctioning some banks is enough."

In addition to criticism from within the neocon community, Trump's reversal is also odd in that it contrasts with what Steven Mnuchin said as recently as a few days ago: as we reported on Sunday, he said that the administration is working to prevent sanctioned transactions from taking place via SWIFT.

"I can assure you our objective is to make sure that sanctioned transactions do not occur whether it’s through SWIFT or any other mechanism," he told Reuters. "Our focus is to make sure that the sanctions are enforced."

While Mnuchin would not offer details on the nature of U.S. talks with SWIFT leaders, he vowed the administration would "quickly" identify banks that can continue conducting transactions under the rubric of humanitarian aid to Iran. "We want to get to the right outcome, which is cutting off transactions," Mnuchin said.

Separately, a Treasury Department spokesman told the Free Beacon the administration will closely police the body's activities to ensure that no sanctioned Iranian entities can use it.

"Treasury has made it very clear that we will continue to cut off bad Iranian actors, including designated banks, from accessing the international financial system in a number of different ways," the official explained. "We will also take action against those attempting to conduct prohibited transactions with sanctioned Iranian entities regardless of the mechanisms used."

The latest statement from Mnuchin and other Treasury Department officials, however, has not assuaged fears and some of the biggest hawks demand a fullblown crackdown. Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions expert and chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which has pushed hard for crippling sanctions on Iran, told the Free Beacon that Iran must be fully iced out from SWIFT, as was done with North Korea recently as a result of its rogue nuclear program.

"Recently SWIFT's board of directors wisely expelled designated North Korean banks without EU direction; they would be wise to do the same thing against banks used by the Islamic Republic of Iran to finance its dangerous and destructive activities," Dubowitz said. "The SWIFT board backed by the U.S. Treasury Department should preserve the integrity of the global financial system; allowing bad banks to stay on SWIFT to threaten the integrity of that system is bad practice and bad policy."

While the US decides whether or not to implement full sanctions on Iran, the possibility remains that Tehran may opt for an alternative currency transfer system being currently developed by Russia, and one which according to unconfirmed reports has also seen tentative participation interest by Europe. Should Trump engage in a full lockdown, that may be just the catalyst that prompts Europe to join the "Russian version" of SWIFT, thereby further eroding the dollar's "weaponized" influence around the globe.

Published:10/24/2018 5:36:58 PM
[Politics] Bomb scares and the politics of the apocalypse No one knows who sent explosive devices to CNN, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, or why, but their discovery comes at a time when political divisions have left the country on edge. Published:10/24/2018 4:32:15 PM
[Markets] CNN President Suggests Trump's "Attacks On Media" Inspired Bomb Scares

Left-leaning news organizations and their viewers wasted no time on Wednesday to link the flurry of pipe-bomb packages addressed to former CIA Director John Bernnan (via CNN), the Obamas, the Clintons, George Soros, Eric Holder and Maxine Waters to conservatives (below is the first sentence of the New York Times story about the mail bombs, none of which went off)...

nyt

...CNN President and Trump friend-turned-foe Jeff Zucker (who famously introduced Trump to millions of Americans by signing him on to the Apprentice) seized the opportunity to bash President Trump - who himself had just finished calling for unity in the face of what appears to be a far-reaching coordinated terror attack (at least one of the bombs had an ISIS flag taped to it) - saying in a statement that "there is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their attacks on the media."

He continued: "The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand that their words matter. So far there has been no comprehension of that."

Zucker issued his statement not long after sending a final update to CNN employees at 3:30 pm ET confirming that the NYPD had completed its security sweep of their offices, and that it was "now safe to return to the building."

Zucker

Meanwhile, reports have surfaced claiming that some of the bombs were "fake'", and that authorities believe they were designed as an "elaborate stunt."

While some might find it galling that Zucker would blame Trump for being complicit in these bomb scares, as one twitter user pointed out, it's just another day at CNN.

 

Published:10/24/2018 3:32:18 PM
[Markets] Trump slated to speak at 2 p.m. on packages sent to Clinton, Obama, CNN, others Trump slated to speak at 2 p.m. on packages sent to Clinton, Obama, CNN, others Published:10/24/2018 1:11:04 PM
[World] Andrew Cuomo Says 'Device' Sent to His Office Amid Series of Suspicious Packages

During a news conference on the string of suspicious packages sent to Bill and Hillary Clinton, former President Obama and the Time Warner Center, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) revealed that a device had also been sent to his office in Manhattan.

Published:10/24/2018 1:01:35 PM
[The Blog] Report: Trump about to unwind some of Obama’s distortions to labor laws

Long overdue

The post Report: Trump about to unwind some of Obama’s distortions to labor laws appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/24/2018 12:01:50 PM
[World] Suspicious Package Triggers Alarm, Evacuation as CNN Is Live On-Air

CNN hosts Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow were reporting live on "potential explosive devices" sent to the Clintons and Barack Obama when they were forced to evacuate. 

Published:10/24/2018 11:33:47 AM
[Politics] White House Press Secty Sarah Sanders just put out new strong statement on suspicious packages White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders just put out a new statement on the suspicious packages sent to Obama and the Clintons: It’s very strong statement and leaves no ambiguity for the . . . Published:10/24/2018 11:01:41 AM
[Politics] White House Press Secty Sarah Sanders just put out new strong statement on suspicious packages White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders just put out a new statement on the suspicious packages sent to Obama and the Clintons: It’s very strong statement and leaves no ambiguity for the . . . Published:10/24/2018 11:01:41 AM
[World] Explosive Devices Sent to Clinton Residence, Barack Obama; CNN Evacuated

The Secret Service intercepted two "potential explosive devices" sent by mail to former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Published:10/24/2018 10:01:52 AM
[Markets] CNN Broadcast Interrupted As NYC's Time Warner Center Evacuated

The Time Warner Center, located in New York City's Columbus Circle, has been evacuated, interrupting a broadcast by CNN.

 

Watch

CNN

One CNN employee said she wasn't allowed to grab her coat or belongings and was told to immediately head to the staircase.

A suspicious package was cited as the reason for the evacuation. A bomb squad is reportedly on the scene to investigate. It's notable that the Secret Service intercepted possible bombs sent the Clintons and the Obamas on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

 

Published:10/24/2018 9:39:02 AM
[2018 Election] What Trump and Obama have in common (Paul Mirengoff) Donald Trump and Barack Obama don’t have a great deal in common, but they share this trait: both love to talk about themselves when campaigning for others (and not just then). Obama was in Nevada on Monday, campaigning for Democratic candidates including Rep. Jacky Rosen who is trying to unseat Sen. Dean Heller in a race Democrats probably need to win if they are to gain control of the Senate. Published:10/24/2018 9:39:02 AM
[Markets] Secret Service intercepts suspicious packages addressed to Clinton, Obama Suspicious packages addressed to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were intercepted by the U.S. Secret Service, the agency said Wednesday.
Published:10/24/2018 9:39:02 AM
[Politics] BREAKING: Bomb packages sent to both Hillary Clinton and Obama It’s just being reported that suspicious packages were sent to the homes of both Hillary Clinton and former President Obama. Both packages were intercepted by the Secret Service: Here’s the official statement . . . Published:10/24/2018 9:01:25 AM
[Markets] As Trump Approval Hits Record High, Dems Fear Low Millennial, Hispanic Turnout

With just two weeks left until the midterm vote, Democrats are worrying that their get-out-the-vote efforts (which have included such novel strategies as catfishing people on twitter) won't mobilize the two demographic groups that are seen as crucial to a Democratic victory: Young people and Hispanics, per Bloomberg.

Trump

Meanwhile, the latest Gallup poll shows that support for President Trump surged to 44% during the first two weeks of October, just one percentage point below his personal best, which was reached during his first week in office. Gallup attributed the bump to the contentious confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as the decades-old accusations of sexual misconduct apparently galvanized support for the president.

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The boost in Trump's approval rating helped push his average approval rating for his seventh quarter in office, which began July 20 and ended October 19, to 41.2%. This Q7 average  fell short of his 41.9% sixth-quarter average, but it's still nearly 5 percentage points above where it stood one year ago. And while Trump's Q7 approval is still comparatively low, it's not much lower than similar ratings for Bill Clinton (41.4% in 1994), Ronald Reagan (41.7% in 1982) and Jimmy Carter (42.3% in 1978). Trump's immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, also registered a weak Q7 approval rating during his seventh quarter in office, averaging 44.7% job approval in the late summer and early fall of 2010.

G

In addition to Kavanaugh, several other notable developments occurred during Trump's 7th quarter. The BEA confirmed that GDP growth expanded to 4.2% during the second quarter, consumer confidence climbed to its highest level in 2 decades while the S&P 500 broke through 2,900 for the first time.

G

Unsurprisingly, Americans who identify or lean Republican have consistently given Trump higher job approval ratings, and during his seventh quarter in office, their average approval rating increased from 81% to 85%, a sign that the president is slowly winning over more voters who were likely once members of the "#NeverTrump" camp. His average Q7 approval rating among independent voters also improved by 3 percentage points.

FOur

And while poll suggest that Republicans are closing the gap with Democrats, increasing the likelihood that they retain control of the House and the Senate following the Nov. 6 midterm, the Dems are worried that signs of interest among Latino voters won't translate to the voting booth. According to Bloomberg, one survey released Sunday found 71% of Latinos registered high interest in the midterms, a jump from the 49% of Latinos who said that in mid-September. Among voters under 35, the poll said 51% expressed high interest, which is lower than the 65% average for all registered voters.

This is hugely problematic for Democratic strategists, because there are 31 GOP-controlled districts where Hispanics make up one-quarter of the population or more.

"It’s just a really, really big question about who’s going to turn out to vote," Lake said. "We could lose Senate seats over it. We could lose - the margin in the House could be greatly reduced. There are a good 15 seats where the millennial and Latino vote make a huge difference, could be the margin of victory."

In the past, any interest ahead of the vote expressed by young voters and minorities didn’t translate at the ballot box, as both demographics largely sat out the midterms in 2014, 2010 and 2006. Historically, the trend in non-presidential elections is that voters are older, white and married - demographics that often benefit Republicans.

In 2014, Hispanics comprised 25.1% of eligible voters but just 6.8% of the electorate. In 2010, they accounted for 21.3% of eligible voters and 6.6% of the electorate. In 2006, a strong year for Democrats, they were 17.3% of eligible voters and just 5.6 percent of the electorate.

One strategist perfectly summed up the contradiction in the data: while young voters are "very, very fired up, but the question is: Are they fired up for the next protest or for the next election?"

Published:10/23/2018 9:28:49 PM
[Markets] "Treason": FBI Failed To Mention Trump Aide's Denial Of Russian Collusion To Undercover Spy

While applying for a FISA warrant on Trump Campaign aide Carter Page, the FBI failed to include the fact that George Papadopoulos - another adviser, vehemently denied that the Trump Campaign was involved in the hacking and release of Hillary Clinton's emails, reports The Hill's John Solomon. 

While being pumped for information by FBI spy and Cambridge Professor Stefan Halper, Papadopoulos said that colluding with Russia would be "treason," and that he had nothing to do with it. 

“He was there to probe me on the behest of somebody else,” Papadopoulos told me in an interview this week, recalling the Halper meeting. “He said something along the lines of, ‘Oh, it’s great that Russia is helping you and your campaign, right George?’”

Papadopoulos said Halper also suggested the Trump campaign was involved in the hacking and release of Hillary Clinton’s emails that summer. “I think I told him something along the lines of, ‘I have no idea what the hell you are talking about. What you are talking about is treason. And I have nothing to do with that, so stop bothering me about it,’” Papadopoulos recalled. -The Hill

Papadopoulos will testify this week behind closed doors in front of two House panels. 

According to Solomon's sources who have seen the FISA warrant and its three renewals, the FBI failed to mention Papadopoulos's denial, which Solomon describes as "an omission of exculpatory evidence that GOP critics in Congress are likely to cite as having misled the court." 

Another source, meanwhile, tells Solomon that the FBI has at least one transcript which calls the Trump campaign's collusion with Russia into question - specifically citing information pertaining to Papadopoulos.

False pretenses

The FBI officially launched its counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, after Australian diplomat Alexander Downer said Papadopoulos revealed knowledge of Russia hacking Hillary Clinton's emails. Papadopoulos has vehemently denied any knowledge of the conversation and suggested in a series of September tweets that he was set up. 

What's more, Papadopoulos was fed the information about Clinton's emails by (missing) Maltese professor and self-professed Clinton Foundation member, Joseph Mifsud. 

In other words: Mifsud seed the information, Downer says Papadopoulos admitted it in a drunken state, and then undercover spy Stefan Halper pumped him for information about it - all in an attempt by the Obama administration and others to dig up (or fabricate) dirt on the Trump campaign. 

Halper also tried conducted espionage on Carter Page - while former UK spy Christopher Steele assembled the Trump-Russia dossier, paid for in part by Hillary Clinton and the DNC - which the FBI later used to apply for the FISA warrant on Page (omitting Papadopoulos's "treason" remarks). 

The FISA warrant was drafted to target surveillance at Page but also cited Papadopoulos in a section that suggested Russia was coordinating election collusion through Page and "perhaps other individuals associated" with Trump's campaign.

“The truth is, the Papadopoulos predicate went into reversal, but rather than shut down the probe at that point, the bureau turned to other leads like Steele and Page without giving the court a full picture,” one source said.

Some in Congress are bracing for the possibility that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein might argue in his interview with lawmakers that the FBI did not have an obligation to disclose all exculpatory evidence to the FISA judges. Such an argument is contrary to how the court works, according to officials who prepare FISA warrants. The FBI is required to submit only verified information and to alert the court to any omissions of material fact that cast doubt on the supporting evidence, including any denials, these officials told me. -The Hill

Papadopoulos's communications with Halper was just one of over a half-dozen such interactions that Western intelligence figures established with Papadopoulos during the campaign. 

Read more at The Hill

Published:10/23/2018 8:28:50 PM
[World] Lara Trump Blasts Obama Says It Will Be Hard to Defeat Donald 2020

Trump 2020 campaign adviser Lara Trump said American voters see through former President Obama's claims that the economic prosperity the country is experiencing is due to his administration's actions.

Published:10/23/2018 8:00:48 PM
[Markets] Trump Escalates Attack On Powell: "Every Time We Do Something Great, He Raises Interest Rates"

Though the NYFRB's Plunge Protection Team swooped in to rescue US markets later in the afternoon, the sea of red in markets was just one more unwelcome distraction on a day when Trump and his administration already has its hands full with the rolling diplomatic crisis in Saudi Arabia. And never one to pull punches when he's in a sour mood, Trump once again unleashed on the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Jerome Powell, during a 30-minute Oval Office interview with the Wall Street Journal. Ignoring the pleas of his closest advisors and practically every financial professional in the US, the president stepped up his attacks on Powell, telling the chronicle of American capitalism that it's "too early to tell" if he regrets nominating the Fed chairman.

That, of course, cuts against comments made by the president earlier this month when he insisted that he has no intention of firing Powell (though it's unclear whether he would have the authority to remove a sitting Fed chair).

Trump

And for those who have until now brushed aside Trump's angry attacks as an example of the president "just venting" over the recent pullback in markets, Trump told WSJ in no uncertain terms that he was "intentionally sending a direct message to Mr. Powell that he wanted lower interest rates."

While the Fed is supposed to be independent "in theory", Trump suggested that he wouldn't keep quiet and let the central bank wreck the economy.

He said the Fed was supposed to be independent “in theory,” but

“To me the Fed is the biggest risk, because I think interest rates are being raised too quickly,”

Asked what would push him to try and remove Powell, Trump refused to answer with specifics.

Mr. Trump demurred when asked under what circumstances he’d remove Mr. Powell. “I don’t know,” he said.

“I’m just saying this: I’m very unhappy with the Fed because Obama had zero interest rates.

Mr. Trump said it was “too early to tell, but maybe” if he regrets nominating Mr. Powell.

Pressed about what he believes is the biggest threat to the US economy, Trump replied: "The Fed" adding that every time he tries to do something great, they spoil the party.

“Every time we do something great, he raises the interest rates,” Mr. Trump said, adding that Mr. Powell “almost looks like he’s happy raising interest rates.” The president declined to elaborate, and a spokeswoman for the Fed declined to comment.

Notably, Trump also referred to the economy as "my economy" and complained that he couldn't be expected to compete with Obama, who benefited from near-zero rates during his entire tenure in office.

The president’s caustic comments about Mr. Powell came as Mr. Trump repeatedly described the economy in personal terms. He referred to economic gains during his time in office as “my numbers,” saying, “I have a hot economy going.”

He described his push for growth as a competition with former President Obama’s record, saying that increases under his Democratic predecessor were skewed because of low-interest rates.

[...]

Citing the rate increases, Mr. Trump said, “How the hell do you compete with that? And Obama — remember this, it’s very important — Obama had zero interest,” the president said.

Though some have dismissed them as angry venting, it's clear that Trump's comments have already had an impact on interest-rate expectations.

Chart

Since President Trump has begun talking against The Fed, the rates market has shifted towards a more dovish stance, as the chart below shows.

While we're sure Trump's comments will send members of the liberal intelligentsia (and certain employees of the Eurasia Group) into apoplectic fits as they screech about how Trump is degrading essential American institutions, none other than Paul Volcker, the legendary Fed chairman who famously tamed America's runaway inflation during the early 1980s, recently recalled a 1984 meeting with former President Ronald Reagan when then-chief of staff James Baker flatly told Volcker:

"The president is ordering you not to raise interest rates before the election."

"I was stunned," Volcker said.

"I later surmised that the library location had been chosen because, unlike the Oval Office, it probably lacked a taping system."

But amid the crush of comparisons to Turkey, a few twitter commentators came through with some more lighthearted takes...

 

Published:10/23/2018 8:00:47 PM
[Politics] Trump Korea Tactics Echo Iran Deal If President Trump isn't careful, his North Korea concessions will soon resemble President Obama's pre-nuclear-deal gifts to Iran. Mr. Trump denies ever making concessions to Pyongyang strongman Kim Jong-un. Last week, though, the Pentagon announced the cancellation of the Vigilant Ace exercise, the annual winter drill America and South Korea jointly conduct to prepare for North Korean aggression. The Department of Defense said the exercise's "suspension" was done in support of Mr. T... Published:10/23/2018 8:00:46 PM
[Politics] BWAHAHAHA Trump retweets video of Obama saying we can’t allow illegals to POUR into our country! Trump just tweeted out a great video of Obama, back when he was a Senator, saying that we can’t allow people to pour into the country illegally. Watch: I agree with President . . . Published:10/23/2018 7:00:39 PM
[Politics] BWAHAHAHA Trump retweets video of Obama saying we can’t allow illegals to POUR into our country! Trump just tweeted out a great video of Obama, back when he was a Senator, saying that we can’t allow people to pour into the country illegally. Watch: I agree with President . . . Published:10/23/2018 7:00:39 PM
[Trending Commentary] Navarro: Obama taking credit for economy is ‘fantasy land’

By Carl Fox -

White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro says the only growth the Obama administration created was debt. Navarro appeared on Fox Business News “The Evening Edit” Tuesday night and when host Elizabeth MacDonald asked him what he thought of Obama taking credit for the Trump economy he said, “It’s just ...

Navarro: Obama taking credit for economy is ‘fantasy land’ is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:10/23/2018 7:00:38 PM
[US News] Will libs downplaying the migrant caravan confront their hero Barack Obama over this? [video]

Huh.

The post Will libs downplaying the migrant caravan confront their hero Barack Obama over this? [video] appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/23/2018 5:28:56 PM
[The Blog] Me, me, me, me: Obama allegedly campaigns for Democrats, but….

"I'm from Illinois too."

The post Me, me, me, me: Obama allegedly campaigns for Democrats, but…. appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/23/2018 5:28:56 PM
[Markets] Obama Calls Trump "Tin-Pot Dictator", Takes Credit For "Economic Miracles"

Former President Obama lashed out at Donald Trump on Monday at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas rally, calling the President a "tin-pot" dictator while attempting to take credit for the economic progress made under Trump, reports BuzzFeed

Speaking to a gymnasium of 2,000 people on the same night Trump stumped in front of roughly 19,000 for Ted Cruz in Houston, Obama - who referred to himself 92 times in 38 minutes - "spent much of his speech on a long defense of his own presidency," saying: "When you hear all this talk about ‘economic miracles’ right now, remember who started it.

"That is not how America works. That is how some tin-pot dictatorship works," Obama added, two years after he spied on the Trump campaign using a sham dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton. 

Obama suggested in 2016 that Trump would require a "magic wand" to bring jobs back to America. "Well, how exactly are you going to do that? What exactly are you going to do? There’s no answer to it," Obama said during a PBS town hall.

BuzzFeed reports that Obama "didn't come to Nevada to make news," because "He's said to be afraid his presence would backfire, give Trump a foil, and energize the Republicans who Democrats hope will stay home in November."

The voters here were happy to see him. The vintage hip-hop act Salt-N-Pepa opened up by dedicating the song “Whatta Man” to Obama. The young Nevada Democratic Party chair, William McCurdy, couldn’t contain his excitement: He’d never met Obama before, he said, and stressed that the former president’s role was to “rally [the] voters.”

That rallying is, in Nevada, very focused on young Latinos, who make up the Democrats’ edge here — if they vote. The headliner to that effect was the reggaeton star J Balvin. -BuzzFeed

"If we can’t find a way to activate the largest and fastest-growing demographic in this country, there’s no way we can take our country back," said actor America Ferrera. 

Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller seemed doomed a little over a year ago after he openly opposed Donald Trump in 2016, stating that he was "100% against Clinton, 99% against Trump," (admitting nine months after the election that he voted for Trump). 

"The current senator — he doesn’t seem to be willing to stand up to this," said of Heller, avoiding mentioning the senator by name, adding: "He just goes along — even when you get a sense that he knows it’s not right."

That said, Heller now embodies "everything going right for the party of Trump," according to BuzzFeed. 

Heller embodies his party: The senator flirted with independence, and Trump openly threatened him into supporting the unpopular attempt to repeal Obamacare. Then Heller spent time with Trump after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, and found his way back into the president’s good graces. He has stopped criticizing the president, started voting with him, and been rewarded by political support.

Everything you touch turns to gold,” Heller told Trump the other day. -BuzzFeed

Add Heller to the list of "Never-Trumpers" to come around over the last two years.

Published:10/23/2018 2:55:38 PM
[Alex Acosta] Under Alex Acosta, the Obama Labor Department rolls on (Paul Mirengoff) In 2016, the Obama Labor Department, under the radical left-wing leadership of Tom Perez, issued two notices of violation against Microsoft. It found that the company paid women in engineering and other unspecified tech jobs less than their male co-workers and that it passed them over for promotions due to gender. As I discussed at length here, the Obama DOL adopted a radical approach to finding pay discrimination based on Published:10/23/2018 2:28:45 PM
[Markets] Michael Moore's Dumbed-Down America

Authored by Kurt Nimmo,

Michael Moore had epiphany while on the road to Rome.

The filmmaker lambasted corporate media for placing more emphasis on frivolous entertainment than hard-hitting objective news. 

“If you allow rich corporations to buy up and control most of the media, and then put things on the media that are intended to appeal to the stupidity that’s in all of us, you will have a dumb-downed nation,” he said. 

Notice the use of the transitive verb “allow” in the above statement. If Moore sat atop the pinnacle of the state, he would decide what corporations are allowed to do business, and those not. Everything else would be run by a bloated, misfiring, inept, and corrupt state.

And who are these dumbed-down Americans, according to Moore? Those who voted for Trump and those who did not vote at all. 

If we follow Moore’s partisan-tilted logic, white males are responsible for installing Trump in the White House.

“These are the last days of the dying dinosaur, the old white man who has been making the decisions since the beginning of our time,” he said. 

How to make certain another Trump-like candidate never makes it to the epicenter of government? 

Get rid of the Constitution, or at least modify. 

Doing this, according to Moore, will restore democracy, never mind the Founders were adamantly opposed to democracy and put a Constitution in place to uphold a republic. 

Moore wants to take a pickax to Article II, Section 1, Clause 2, now commonly called the Electoral College. Doing so would almost certainly ensure perpetual rule by Democrats. Three of the most populous states—California, New York, and Illinois—would determine the “popular” outcome of national elections. 

Not that it matters. Federal elections are manipulated by the ruling elite to make sure only vetted members of the political class are contenders. If you doubt this, take a look at what the DNC did to Bernie Sanders and the Republicans did to Ron Paul back in 2012. 

Trump beat this system. It has numerous holes allowing outliers and the disfavored to gain political office as part of the illusion we live in a pluralistic democracy ruled by the people. This illusion is mandatory—it is integral to the above mentioned dumbing-down process—even if it periodically puts somebody in office hated and reviled by the political elite. 

Despite hurdles and a deafening chorus of non-objective reporting on Trump during the election, he managed to find his way to the White House. Not because he’s an old white “privileged” male, but because he promised to upend the Deep State apple cart and Make America Great Again. Thus far, he’s done no such thing. 

As a superficial intersectional and identity polemist, Moore believes the dumbed-down in America are Trump supporters and troglodyte Republicans, while the enlightened are state and race-gender worshipping liberal and progressive Democrats eager to gut the Constitution. 

But here’s what Moore and his comrades either ignore or are so ideologically rigid they cannot accept.

The reason Donald Trump made it to the White House is really very simple: millions of Americans are fed-up with government, its corruption, and service to vested interests, most prominently corporations and international banks, although this is not widely understood. 

Unfortunately, they took Trump at face value and believed what he said about America, never mind his obvious inability to process complex political issues or his background as a shady real estate, casino, and hotel tycoon, to say nothing of a supercilious reality TV star who specialized in firing people.  

If Moore and the Democrats had their way, Hillary Clinton—the butcher of Tripoli—would be president now. This would have been yet another seamless transition as Obama handed the bloody baton (or cudgel) to Clinton and she continued the secret wars, the illegal and immoral drone attacks, and stoked the flames of war with Russia and China. 

Meanwhile, of course, she would dazzle her supporters with endless talk of MeToo-ism and individual rights predicated on gender, skin pigmentation, and political alignment, rights dispensed by the winds of political whim directed by the state. 

Beyond the acrimonious and provocative tweets and regurgitation of Fox News talking points, Trump is little different than those he denounces on a daily basis, the “Deep State Democrats” doing the bidding of a financial and corporate elite, the folks who underwrite and steer elections. 

Trump is little different than Democrats. He wields the power of the state—stretching the executive out to contorted and tyrannical proportions—to push a flawed MAGA agenda, continue endless wars, same as numerous predecessors, allow the banksters to rule the Treasury and Federal Reserve cartel, and lie about the real condition of a funny money economy and the peril of a shrinking middle class.  

Published:10/23/2018 1:25:29 PM
[Markets] "Those Responsible Will Be Punished": Pence Vows Response To "Brutal" Khashoggi Murder

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday reiterated comments he made last week, vowing that the United States would "follow the facts" and "demand that those responsible are held accountable," for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi - calling it an "assault on a free and independent press," reports The Hill

Pence said CIA Director Gina Haspel is in Turkey "reviewing the evidence" in the case and will brief President Trump upon returning to the U.S., after which the president would decide on a response.

"We're going to follow the facts. We're going to demand that those responsible are held accountable," Pence said at an event sponsored by The Washington Post, where Khashoggi was a contributing columnist. -The Hill

Pence added that a fiery speech on Tuesday from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing the Saudis of orchestrating Khashoggi's murder only "underscores the determination of oru administration to find out what happened here." 

"The word from President Erdogan this morning that this brutal murder was premeditated -- preplanned days in advance -- flies in the face of earlier assertions that had been made by the Saudi regime," Pence said. 

Pence's comments highlight the intense pressure facing Saudi Arabia to be more forthcoming about Khashoggi's death and on Trump to unequivocally reject the Saudi account.

Trump thus far has sent mixed messages about whether he accepts the Saudi version of events and whether he will punish Riyadh in response.

Pence refused to say what measures the U.S. might take to respond to Saudi Arabia, but said the decision would be "based upon the values of the American people and our vital national interests." -The Hill

(If only the Bush administration had been similarly interested in Saudi Arabia after 19 of their citizens attacked the US on 9/11, or if the Obama administration cracked down on them for "providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region," or anyone cared about decades of egregious human rights violations prior to Khashoggi's murder, but we digress)

Last Thursday Pence told reporters in Colorado that "there will be consequences" if Khashoggi was murdered, and that the US will not "solely rely" on the results of investigations organized by the Saudi and Turkish governments.

That said, Pence noted on Tuesday that the US-Saudi relationship "represents an enormously important alliance in the region ... to confront the leading state sponsor of terrorism in Iran" (and to buy billions in military hardware). Translation; let's not get too crazy over one dismembered journalist. 

Published:10/23/2018 11:00:17 AM
[Barack Obama] What happened in Vegas (Scott Johnson) The Las Vegas Review-Journal was impressed by the crowd President Obama drew to Cox Pavilion at UNLV as he stumped for Democratic senatorial candidate Jacky Rosen yesterday, putting it at 2,000. On Twitter, Rosie Memos was not so impressed. Drawing on photos from around the room, RM explains the sound of silence. Below is one of the pieces of evidence compiled by RM, who also cruelly contrasts Obama’s Las Vegas Published:10/23/2018 8:00:52 AM
[Politics] 43% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

For the third week in a row, 43% of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, this time according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending October 18.

This finding has been running in the 40s for most weeks this year after being in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

Rasmussen Reports invites you to be a part of our first-ever Citizen-Sourced National Midterm Election Polling Project. Learn more about how you can contribute.

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

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from October 14-18, 2018. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:10/23/2018 5:23:56 AM
[Elections] Trump Approval Rating Soars Past Obama’s Dampening on Democrat ‘Blue Wave’

President Donald Trump's approval rating has jumped higher than President Barack Obama's was when the latter president faced his first midterm elections.

The post Trump Approval Rating Soars Past Obama’s Dampening on Democrat ‘Blue Wave’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/23/2018 5:23:56 AM
[Elections] Trump Approval Rating Soars Past Obama’s Dampening on Democrat ‘Blue Wave’

President Donald Trump's approval rating has jumped higher than President Barack Obama's was when the latter president faced his first midterm elections.

The post Trump Approval Rating Soars Past Obama’s Dampening on Democrat ‘Blue Wave’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/23/2018 5:23:56 AM
[World] Donald Trump's rising numbers suck wind from anti-GOP polls

President Donald Trump's favor with the people has jumped in recent days to a point that places him higher than even what media-fawned, leftist-loved Barack Obama could brag in the lead-up to the midterms.

This, as polls, pollsters and pundits keep predicting doom and gloom for the Republicans this November.

...
Published:10/23/2018 5:23:55 AM
[2018 News] Obama relieved not to be Commander in Chief anymore Former staffer says Obama “relieved” not to be Commander in Chief anymore. Dinesh D’Souza: “Not half as relieved as we are” Published:10/19/2018 6:18:35 PM
[PAID] Trump's Drug Price Bust HHS follows the Obama method: set policy first, find statute later. Published:10/19/2018 12:45:40 AM
[Markets] Obama's National Security Advisor Continues To Work For The Saudis

Among the major revelations connected to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudis is just how resilient and unshakeable relations between the Washington deep state and the Saudi royals actually are. Or rather we should say it has created an atmosphere where "hidden in plane sight" truth of America being joined at the hip to one of the Middle East's most brutal autocratic regimes can no longer be ignored by the mainstream, or can no longer be shaded from public view by another David Ignatius puff piece fawning over Saudi "reformer" despots. 

A new Daily Beast investigation has revealed that Obama's first National Security Adviser, James L. Jones, now works for the Saudis — and despite a growing public movement of Western companies and media organizations to divest and distance themselves from their previous close relationship with the kingdom and events sponsored by crown prince MbS — Jones is refusing to budge. As The Daily Beast concludes in its report, "It’s another sign of the deep reach of Saudi money into the Washington elite."

James (Jim) Jones, USMC (ret.), former National Security Advisor to President Obama. Image source: The National

While noting the heat that Trump-connected individuals have lately taken over their close ties with the Saudis, The Daily Beast uncovers Obama-era officials' continuing deep ties:

But Obama World isn’t without close connections to the Kingdom. A company helmed by Jim Jones, then-President Barack Obama’s first National Security Adviser, has a contract with the Saudi government to advise on industrial matters, The Daily Beast has learned. Jones’ company, Jones Group International, had, until March of this year, a second contract with the Kingdom related to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s military overhaul. It’s another sign of the deep reach of Saudi money into the Washington elite.

As Jones was also longtime Commandant of the Marine Corps prior to being Obama's first National Security Advisor, it also underscores the military-industrial complex's closeness to Saudi rulers spanning decades, and the way this has served to continually shield Riyadh from the scrutiny of Washington and the American public. 

Gen. Jones heads Jones Group International, whose subsidiary Ironhand Security has a contract with the Saudi government to advise on domestic industrial expansion and infrastructure. And previously Ironhand Security advised on military transformation efforts, according to the report. The relationship was further confirmed by Pentagon-approved contract documents obtained by FOIA — one contract is still in place while another has expired. 

In response to probes into the relationship, a spokesperson for Ironhand Security told The Daily Beast: “Ironhand Security had a contract with the Saudi government to provide advice on its military transformation efforts, a key component of the 2030 vision and reform agenda strongly supported by the United States.” And the statement further noted, “This was particularly important given the significance of the military-to-military relationship.”

The current contract between Jones' company and the Saudi involves “advisory services on the development of a domestic industrial base.” But interestingly, at a time when a number of companies are publicly distancing themselves from the kingdom over Khashoggi's brutal murder in the Istanbul consulate  among the most recent include lobbying firms BGR Group and Glover Park Group — Jones has indicated he's not yet ready to cut business ties with the Saudis.

“General Jones is disturbed about this matter and horrified at the reports,” the Ironhand Security statement said. “He wants to know precisely what happened to Mr. Khashoggi and eagerly awaits disclosure of the full facts produced by the investigations, which must be thorough, objective, transparent and verifiable.”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect to The Daily Beast report is the acknowledgement that there is a whole cadre of powerful former US generals and military officials who form an unelected arm of American "soft power"  something rarely, if ever, disclosed to the public

Lydia Dennett, an investigator at the government watchdog group Project on Government Oversight (POGO), told The Daily Beast that when foreign governments ink contracts with former administration officials, those commercial connections can act as tools of soft power.

“The concern here is that high-ranking military officials generally are often seen as places where Congress and the executive branch can go to provide unbiased advice on national security issues,” Dennett said. “And when you have these kinds of financial relationships, it can lead to issues of undue influence.”

We should also note the high number of retired generals on payroll for the major networks — from FOX to CNN to NBC — who without disclosing such lobbying ties consistently appear on prime time panels in order to "inform" (or rather "form") the public mind on issues ranging from Syria to Iran to Russia. 

Case in point: as recently as July, Gen. Jones was writing op-eds on "Why the Untied States must remain in Syria" in major outlets while on the Saudi payroll, which was of course not disclosed in said op-eds. 

However, nothing is actually likely to change in spite of Saudi Arabia currently being int the hot seat, as the Beast notes: "But despite the slough of departures, long-time lobbyists told The Daily Beast that the Kingdom’s ample wealth would still open doors on K Street." No doubt, things will soon return to business as usual. 

Published:10/18/2018 9:57:24 PM
[Markets] 'Busted' Dem Senator McCaskill Demands Special Prosecutor Over Veritas Undercover "Fraud"

Two days after Missouri Senator McCaskill was exposed by Project Verita s as being considerably more liberal - "essentially the same as [Obama's]" - that she would like her moderate voters to know, issued a demand for an investigation into the fraud she says Project Veritas committed in the making of a series of “sting” videos of her re-election campaign.

After an initial outright denial, McCaskill has claimed since the videos were released that she now remembers someone taking video and trying to get her to make statements on camera that were at odds with her actual positions.

But they have now gone on the offensive...

“We have reason to believe that fraud has been committed against our campaign,” McCaskill campaign manager David Kirby said.

But then, a self-described "startled" McCaskill (who is essentially tied with her opponent)...

...attempted to distract from the truth of the undercover videos, The Daily Caller's Virginia Kruta reports that McCaskill suggested during an interview that Missouri’s Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley - who also happens to be her challenger in the current race for the seat she has held since 2006 - was somehow involved in the creation of those videos.

Hawley was quick to react to McCaskill's accusations...

Adding that..."... accusing people of crimes is a serious thing. If you have evidence of a crime, please come forward with it immediately. Otherwise, please stop politicizing the legal process for your reelection."

However, as The Daily Caller notes, McCaskill’s campaign hedged slightly, with Kirby then saying that Hawley was “perpetrating this fraud by promoting it and encouraging it.”

Published:10/18/2018 6:54:55 PM
[Media] THUD: David Axelrod trips HARD over former boss in rush to slam Trump on US ‘priority’

"This is rich coming from anybody in the Obama administration."

The post THUD: David Axelrod trips HARD over former boss in rush to slam Trump on US ‘priority’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/18/2018 1:57:33 PM
[US News] Wait, ANOTHER 1?! Kyrsten Sinema can’t hide her disgust for Arizona in 2018 video (this may be the worst YET)

Kyrsten Sinema wants to win in Arizona, right? She’s not running in some other state? Well, if you think about it, Obama openly disliked America and idjits voted for him so maybe Democrats like it when their elected officials hate them. They’re a strange group, no doubt. This video of Sinema is from March of this […]

The post Wait, ANOTHER 1?! Kyrsten Sinema can’t hide her disgust for Arizona in 2018 video (this may be the worst YET) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/18/2018 12:24:31 PM
[Money & The Economy] Trump Effect: US Most Competitive Economy In The World For First Time Since Before Obama

By DCNF -

Donald Trump success

The U.S. is the most competitive economy in the world for the first time since former President Barack Obama took office in 2009, according to the World Economic Forum’s index published Tuesday.

Trump Effect: US Most Competitive Economy In The World For First Time Since Before Obama is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:10/17/2018 12:44:35 AM
[b083ae65-b3e1-5599-8ae0-845383663761] Roseanne Barr slams ABC for her character’s fate Roseanne Barr on Tuesday blasted ABC for the morbid direction it took with “The Conners” – a spinoff of the “Roseanne” reboot that was axed earlier this year after Barr posted a racist tweet about an Obama-era official.   Published:10/17/2018 12:25:35 AM
[Markets] Saudi Arabia Considers Itself Untouchable Due To Oil And Money

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

The roots of that lobby’s rise to prominence in Washington lie in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As you may remember, with 15 of those 19 suicidal hijackers being citizens of Saudi Arabia, it was hardly surprising that American public opinion had soured on the Kingdom. In response, the worried Saudi royals spent around $100 million over the next decade to improve such public perceptions and retain their influence in the U.S. capital. That lobbying facelift proved a success until, in 2015, relations soured with the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal. Once Donald Trump won the presidency, however, the Saudis saw an unparalleled opportunity and launched the equivalent of a full-court press, an aggressive campaign to woo the newly elected president and the Republican-led Congress, which, of course, cost real money.

As a result, the growth of Saudi lobbying operations would prove extraordinary. In 2016, according to FARA records, they reported spending just under $10 million on lobbying firms; in 2017, that number had nearly tripled to $27.3 million. And that’s just a baseline figure for a far larger operation to buy influence in Washington, since it doesn’t include considerable sums given to elite universities or think tanks like the Arab Gulf States Institute, the Middle East Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (to mention just a few of them).

– From the must read piece: The Saudi Lobby Juggernaut

It appears Saudi Arabia’s preparing to spin a tale about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi for the purpose of providing Donald Trump with cover to pretend nothing happened and get back to business as usual. Apparently, the Saudis plan to claim he was killed by rogue agents in a botched interrogation. No word about why it took them two weeks to admit this, why they blatantly lied about him leaving consulate and whether or not the body was hacked into pieces with a bone saw.

It’s been clear from the beginning that Trump would like this to go away as quickly as possible in order to keep the money flowing to defense contractors, as you can see from the clip below.

I found that statement illuminating because it reminded me of something CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said to Rand Paul back in 2016.

Donald Trump and CNN don’t agree that often, but on this issue they’re on the exact same page. This is telling and highlights the increasingly obvious fact the Saudis believe they can get away with anything they want as long as they keep oil priced in dollars and money flowing into the coffers of our country’s incomprehensibly corrupt status quo.

The Saudis have had U.S. leaders by the balls for many decades — a historical reality birthed by the petrodollar — but the monarchy’s untouchable position became more explicit after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Despite deep Saudis ties to this mass murder of American civilians, the royal family faced zero consequences. Instead, the U.S. government just went ahead and started invading other countries to advance imperial ambitions.

While many of you are intimately familiar with the key role of the petrodollar in U.S. Saudi relations, you may not be as familiar with how the Saudis systematically throw money around U.S. power centers to ensure “thought leaders” dutifully toe the Saudi line. Naturally, the swamp of fawning parasites otherwise known as Washington D.C. is a core recipient of such largess. One of the more high profile examples of such payoffs was the $140,000 per month contract the Saudis had with the now defunct Podesta Group, founded by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chair John Podesta and his brother Tony.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald noted how the Washington Post (where the murdered Jamal Khashoggi published articles) had Saudi lobbyists writing opinion pieces for the paper. Specifically, we learned:

Carter Eskew is a former top-level adviser to Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and a Founder and Managing Director of Glover Park Group which, according to the Post’s own reporting, is one of the Saudi regime’s largest lobbyists. Glover Park, says the Post, has “remained silent amid growing public outrage over reports that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate.” Indeed, as the New York Times reported this week, Eskew’s firm, “which was started by former Clinton administration officials,” is the second-most active lobbying firm for the Saudi regime, “being paid $150,000 a month.”

In addition to his work as a Managing Director in one of the Saudi regime’s most devoted lobbying firms, Eskew is also a Contributing Opinion Writer at the Washington Post.

There’s more:

Given all the moral decrees and shaming campaigns the Post has issued over the past ten days, how can they possibly justify their ongoing relationship with Eskew as his firm lobbies for the Saudi regime and he attends the regime’s P.R.-building event?

That question is even more compelling when it comes to Ed Rogers, the long-time GOP operative who is currently an Opinion Writer for the Washington Post. In addition to his work for Hiatt on the Post’s Op-Ed page, Rogers himself is receives substantial financial rewards for his work as an agent of the Saudi regime. Just two months ago, the lobbying firm of which he’s the Chairman, BGR Group (headed by former RNC Chairman and GOP Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour), signed a new contract that includes “assist[ing] the Saudis in communicating priority issues regarding US-Saudi relations to American audiences including the media and policy communities.”

According to the firm’s own press release, “BGR chairman Ed Rogers” – also an Opinion Writer for the Washington Post – “handles the Saudi work.”

Democracy doesn’t die in darkness, but with Saudi lobbyists shamelessly writing opinion pieces for major newspapers.

(*Note: Following the publication of the Intercept article referenced above, both lobbying firms in which Washington Post writers are partners, Glover Park and BGR, have ended their contracts with Saudi Arabia.)

Moreover, there seems to be a direct correlation between the number of civilians killed in Yemen and the amount of money the Saudis throw around D.C. As a must read article in Tom Dispatch noted: “In 2016, according to FARA records, they reported spending just under $10 million on lobbying firms; in 2017, that number had nearly tripled to $27.3 million.”

Moving along, the Saudis are adept at spreading their money around, with Hollywood’s another key target. As Forbes noted earlier this year:

Saudi Arabia’s $230 billion sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund, is on track to invest hundreds of millions in Hollywood as the first new screens go up in the Kingdom. Its hallmark purchase is a soon-to-close $400 million deal for an estimated 7% in Endeavor, the sprawling entertainment conglomerate that includes powerful talent agency WME, several live event brands and a burgeoning production business.

Side note: WME, also known as William Morris Endeavor, was co-founded by Ari Emanuel (Rahm Emanuel’s brother).

Beyond D.C. and Hollywood, we all know how Silicon Valley oligarchs swarmed to pucker up to MBS when he came stateside on is propaganda tour earlier this year.

Meanwhile, don’t think for a moment that the titans of Wall Street would be left out.

Many of you have already seen these photos, but the point is to hammer home that US. power players are, generally speaking, utterly depraved and entirely void of any sort of ethical framework whatsoever. While many have been forced to back out of the upcoming Saudi conference for public relations reasons, all of them, including Trump, just want this thing to go away so they can get back to business.

The Saudis think oil and money make them untouchable. Perhaps they’re right. For now.

*  *  *

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Published:10/16/2018 7:42:56 PM
[World] DHS Official Whistleblower Blasts Obama Over Migrant Children Going to Criminals

A former Homeland Security official from the Obama administration, who said he became a "target" for blowing the whistle on the extremely lax vetting procedure for sponsors of illegal immigrant children, spoke out Tuesday about the new throng of migrants headed north toward the U.S.

Published:10/16/2018 4:08:08 PM
[Markets] How America Can Repair Its Damaged Relationship With Russia

Authored by Nikolas Gvosdev via The National Interest,

There is a way to break the dysfunctional cycle that hinders Moscow's relationship with the West...

George Beebe’s recent analysis has presented the policy community with a very useful paradigm for understanding recent alleged actions taken by the Russian special services in a number of Western countries: the Skripal Rorshchach test .

Beebe is referring specifically to the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal on British soil by use of a Soviet-developed nerve agent that sickened him and his daughter and killed several British citizens - amidst growing evidence of the involvement of officers of Russian military intelligence (the GRU). That case can be broadened to encompass a series of computer hacking/information warfare operations that were uncovered in the last several weeks in the UK, the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, which also have been attributed to the GRU. Now the discussion revolves around whether those who have been accused of taking action were doing so in contravention of or in support of the instructions of the Russian state.

In every case, as Beebe points out:

“The debate over the . . . evidence pivots on what one is inclined to believe about how Russia’s political system works and what Moscow aims to do in the world.”

I would add a corollary to Beebe’s test:

the debate also hinges on the view the government evaluating the evidence has on the desirability of engagement or disengagement with Russia.

And, as recent European Union conclaves attempting to forge a coherent policy towards Russia - or the whipsawing in the United States itself between a Trump administration open to dialogue with Russia and a Congress determined to bring maximum pressure on Vladimir Putin’s government - make clear is how locked into pre-existing positions Western approaches to Russia remain.

Arguably since 2007 and Vladimir Putin’s bombshell remarks at the Munich Security Forum, the West has been put on notice that Russia would seek to revise the parameters of the post–Cold War settlement, particularly in Europe and in Eurasia. It would seek to do so cooperatively wherever possible, but by use of both conventional and nonconventional force whenever necessary. Thus, Moscow has been prepared to engage both in conciliatory and hostile behavior with Western countries, sometimes even simultaneously, in pursuing its objectives.

While this approach has not always been successful - with some spectacular miscalculations (such as the fallout from the Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections) - it has nonetheless given the Kremlin the hallmarks of an overall grand strategy. In revealing remarks at the Moscow Energy Week press conference, Putin quipped that “special services mess with each other all the time” while at the same time calling for improved relations with the West.

The West, on the other hand, approaches its relations with Russia through the prism of what Moscow “should” do rather than what it actually “is” doing. For some countries like Italy, Hungary, Austria, and to a lesser extent Germany and France, Russia “should” be a partner to Europe. Thus, these governments prefer to focus on areas of cooperation with Moscow and thus to minimize cases where Russia’s behavior is far less than constructive. For others - the United States most notably, Russia “should” conduct its domestic and foreign affairs in line with Western values, norms and preferences. When Russia deviates from such standards, the first instinct is to correct and punish. The current intra-Atlantic divergences (both within and between the countries of the West) on policy towards Russia stem from this basic divide - between those who see Russian transgressions as a distraction from Russia’s overall integration with the West versus those who see them as intrinsic to Russian statecraft and policy. So when the GRU is accused of hacking operations, one side is prepared to minimize the seriousness of the charges while the other is prepared to throw away all of the positives of the relationship in order to avenge. Swinging back and forth between these two binary choices does not lead to effective policy.

For the past year, the dialogue for a “Sustainable Bipartisan U.S. Strategy Towards Russia” (informally known as the Mayflower Group) has been grappling with this very dilemma.

On the one hand, Russia’s size, geopolitical position and military capabilities mean that the United States does not have the luxury of selective engagement and punishment, enacting penalties against Moscow that carry no costs or risks for the United States.

At the same time, the need to sustain strategic stability in the relationship with another major nuclear power does not mean that the United States must meekly submit to all of Russia’s demands.

The discussions have produced the outlines of what might be termed a 3-C paradigm: cooperate, compete and confront. In other words, the United States - and by extension the West - must be able to shift along the 3-C scale, safeguarding cooperation, for instance, in those areas that are vital to both countries (e.g. nuclear non-proliferation) while creating ground rules for areas where the two countries will compete (for instance, in energy sales around the world). Most importantly, the United States must be prepared to confront Russia - but to do so with a clear understanding of the costs and consequences. One of the things that has been quite frustrating in observing the back-and-forth in the U.S. Senate during the August hearings is the insistence on maximum confrontation with Russia in both military and financial terms - but with guarantees that there will be no negative blowback or consequences for the United States. This limitation - frankly admitted by the Obama administration in guiding how it imposed penalties on Moscow - weakens the deterrent impact and has contributed to a feeling in the Kremlin that penalties imposed by the West are survivable.

The problem is that the Russian state takes the West’s protests less seriously than it should—and assumes that continuation of hostile action (such as hacking or poisonings) can continue with manageable consequences. In turn, Russia’s behavior inflames Western politicians who begin to contemplate much more stringent penalties or are prepared to sacrifice even areas of beneficial cooperation in order to punish the Kremlin. This begins to move us into lose-lose territory.

A 3-C approach, guided by a sober assessment of costs and consequences, has the possibility of breaking this dysfunctional cycle. It assumes that enmity between Russia and the West is not inevitable but avoids a partnership at all costs approach. It provides a way to take advantage of openings to improve the relationship but to stand firm against Russian challenges to U.S. interests and values. Yet, at this point, the United States does not appear ready to develop this approach. It requires a degree of flexibility—to be able to impose or lift sanctions—that the Congress is unwilling to grant the president. It also requires an ability to think through priorities—not every Russian transgression or disagreement with Washington merits an all-out response.

Perhaps the midterm elections will stabilize the American political system and lead to a modus vivendi between the president and Congress for the next two years, in which a more sustainable approach to Russia can take root. If not, then the dysfunction that has been observed for the last several years will deepen.

Published:10/16/2018 1:08:50 AM
[Markets] The Khashoggi Extortion Fiasco

Authored by Ghassan and Itbah Kadi via The Saker Blog,

A mystifying diplomatic escalation ensued following the disappearance of Saudi Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Why would the United States of America make such a fuss over the disappearance of a non-American citizen? Why would America turn a blind eye to the Saudi killing of thousands of Yemeni civilians and the starving of millions others and then make “threats” against Saudi Arabia after one single Saudi journalist disappeared and has presumably been murdered by Saudi authorities?

And since when did Erdogan worry about human rights? After all, this is the same man whose army has committed countless atrocities against Syria and Turkish Kurds.

And the repercussions did not stop at the official level. Even Western business leaders are cancelling trade deals with Saudi Arabia and asking its government for explanations.

Let us not forget that America does not only ignore the war on Yemen, but it also assists the Saudis and supplies them with arms and intelligence. What’s behind the sudden U-turn? Why would the President of the United States of America be personally involved in this?

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has a long history of persecuting dissidents and suppressing any opposition. So once again, why was Khashoggi singled out in this instance to become such a person of interest to the USA? His status as a journalist and columnist for Washington Post certainly does not answer this question.

And back to Erdogan, the man who reached the cliff-edge with America on a number of strategic and trade issues, why would he be concerned about the “murder” of a foreign journalist allegedly at the hand of his own government? According to the story, the “murder” was committed at the Saudi Consulate, and technically, Turkey has no jurisdiction within this diplomatic precinct albeit it is within Turkey.

The story has been elevated to the level of news headlines even in news breaks. This statement is not meant to either vindicate Saudi Arabia or to justify forfeiting the blood of Mr. Khashoggi, but when the West acts at this level of hypocrisy, something has to be amiss, and the question is what is it?

If we rewind the clock and take into account the timeline of events, this is what we find:

2nd of October 2018. Khashoggi walks into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Unless tampered with, the date is confirmed on the CCTV video presented in this link:

3rd of October, President Trump, unprovoked, said that Saudi Arabia would not survive for two weeks on its own without American protection and demanded that Saudi Arabia should pay for that protection.

5th of October. Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman was quick to respond. In his interview with Bloomberg the Crown Prince reiterated that Saudi Arabia has been around since 1744, 30 years before the United States came to existence. The date of 1744 is in reference to the smaller Emirate of Diriyah which was established by Mohamed bin Saud before the King Abdul Aziz expanded his territory to the current borders. In referring to this date, the Prince was saying that Saudi Arabia stood on its own feet before any alliance with America, but he is conveniently ignoring the fact that before any petrol was discovered, external threats were not an issue. In his interview, he later on referred to the Saudi ability to withstand the Obama years, claiming the Obama administration worked against Saudi interests. Though he did not name Syria, he was undoubtedly referring to Syria among other things.

From that day onwards, the sequence of events escalated quite rapidly. As I write this, President Trump is talking about taking severe measures against Saudi Arabia, but not severe enough to cancel the USD 110 Bn arms deal. The mention of the arms deal could well be a hint made by Trump in order to remind the Saudis how reliant they are on America. After all, Saudi Arabia is bogged down in a war with Yemen that it is unable to win even with America support.

Is it by coincidence that in the middle of this kerfuffle Turkey suddenly decided to release American Pastor Andrew Brunson after more than two years of house arrest?

Not really; not if we connect the dots.

One logical explanation of the recent series of events lies in the fact that they carry the hallmarks of extortion. As a matter of fact, Trump’s mention of the inability of Saudi Arabia to survive for more than two weeks without American protection is in itself a prelude for extortion. This is the same logic and language used by Mafia bosses with shop owners.

President Trump runs America like a corporation. To him, it’s all about money. Given America’s dire economic position, he will not leave a single stone unturned if it is concealing a single dollar.

Dr. Skidmore from Michigan University argues that USD 21 Tn has gone missing from the coffers of the Ministries of Defense and Housing alone in the years between 1998 and 2015. He speculates that Trump did not know about this when he became president. Revelations of this kind and magnitude make Trump’s task to fix the economy even more out of reach:

The current situation is reminiscent of an article I wrote back in 2012.  From this article I quote the following:

The USA is always accused of keeping its hands on the oil resources of the Middle East. For fairness, by-and-large, it is “only” controlling its flow, but still paying for it; albeit in printed money.

A bankrupt, desperate and oil-thirsty USA may feel compelled to threaten oil-rich countries with air-strikes and even nuclear attacks…..

….In an escalated situation, at stage two, an isolated oil-thirsty USA may become tempted to literally steal this oil. The USA may start with easy, close targets such as Venezuela. A desperate USA with a radical President in the Whitehouse will possibly be tempted to take over by force the oil fields of such soft targets. This can be the beginning of a long path of piracy.

How far can this path be pursued is anyone’s guess. The next target can be a puppet state like Qatar, even Saudi Arabia itself.

In such a desperate stage, the USA can only rely on its nuclear supremacy in order for it to be able to force its way. It will not have the financial resources to put boots on the ground, and any ensuing internal strife potentially caused by financial woes will add to the expense and risks of this exercise."

Even though those words were written only six years ago, a lot has changed in the global balance of power since then and the world is no longer unipolar. With fracking, America is also now less reliant on Saudi oil, but is in desperate need for Saudi money. The diminishing American military power on one hand, and the military rise of Russia and China on the other hand, are forcing America to explore other pursuits. This is why the Trump administration is into the trade sanction mode. But sanctions alone are not enough, and America is likely to be using the Khashoggi story as a pretext to extort protection money from the Saudis; pay up or we will turn the whole world against you.

The Saudis don’t deserve any sympathy at all. They have literally been getting away with murder for decades under the watchful eye of their American big brother and ally. The near future will put the extortion theory to the test. If the Americans and Saudis strike a money-for-protection deal followed by an easing of the anti-Saudi rhetoric, then we will know the theory is accurate and that they are both back in business. They may strike a face-saving deal in which the Saudis do not look like they have succumbed to pressure, thereby paying America in ways that do not carry the label of protection money. But, in any manner in which moneys are paid by the Saudis, they are extortion funds and nothing short of piracy.

So how does Turkey fit into this picture?

Turkey’s economy has suffered greatly after the recent American sanctions and the Turkish Lira went into a nosedive.  The impasse between the two NATO allies is multi-faceted and includes opposing views on dealing with very sensitive issues such the Kurdish question, ISIS, Russian presence in Syria, Iran, as well as Turkey’s regional ambition for a resurrected pan-Muslim leadership.

Now, Turkey is not only at odds with America and American policies, but also sees Saudi Arabia as an obstacle that stands in the way of its Muslim leadership aspirations. Turkey sees Saudi Arabia as the Wahhabi rival to the Muslim Brotherhood faction to which Erdogan belongs. So, when the Khashoggi story surfaced, Turkey and America found common interest in being anti-Saudi; albeit for different reasons. To capitalize on the events, Turkey offered a sweetener to the Americans, releasing the American Pastor, Andrew Brunson, making it look like a legal court decision. Turkey expects the world to believe that on such sensitive international legal matters decisions can be made without the approval and directives of Erdogan himself. In the world of politics, pigs do fly.

Both Erdogan and Trump claim there was no deal behind the release of the Pastor, and perhaps there wasn’t but, the Khashoggi incident gave Erdogan an opportunity to take a step towards some type of conciliation with America. But even in the absence of a deal, Erdogan will expect his reward; the least of which would be the lifting of the American trade sanctions. That said, the restoration of the American-Turkish that preceded the war on Syria will have to wait; if that is at all achievable. After all, Turkey has established strong links with Russia and has bought the S-400 ground-to-air state-of-the-art missile systems. But Erdogan hedges his bets on the principle of keeping a foot in each door.

The interesting question to ask here is the following; if this whole drama is indeed a false flag for an extortion process, how is it that Trump is receiving the full support of the American media, his “sworn” enemies, the organizations he calls “fake news”? Is the story too hot for them to resist? Are they a part of the extortion process or, are they totally stupid enough to go with the flow? Alternatively, is the Deep State behind Trump on this one and instructing the media to do the same?

Ironically, the bipartisan American Senate Foreign Relations Committee, headed by Senator Corker, has sent a letter to Trump asking him to investigate the disappearance of Khashoggi and report back to the committee within 120 days.  Does this mean that the Democrats are behind Trump in his anti-Saudi push? They seem to be.

It seems that American lawmakers, media, and the Deep State are all united against Saudi Arabia until it relents and pays up. How Saudi Arabia will manage to weasel out of this trap, if it can, remains to be seen.

America does not have to cancel the USD 110 Bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia. All it has to do is delay deliveries. Ironically, as if the recent developments are not worrying enough for the Saudis, on the 8th of October, the Yemeni Army has made advances into the Saudi territory and any disruption to the flow of American arms to the Saudis can have serious consequences on that seemingly unwinnable war.

Any whichever way, Saudi Arabia has definitely chosen the wrong time to move on Khashoggi, if it did. After all, we don’t really know what happened to him, and we cannot even zero out the possibility that he was kidnapped or killed by other operatives including Americans and Turkish. The media are busy focusing on their alleged attempts to find out what happened to Mr. Khashoggi, how he was killed, what torture was he subjected to, how was his body removed from the consulate etc. We will probably never find out the truth about what happened to him, but what is perhaps more pertinent and conceivable is to establish who benefits from the fall-out and how.

America, and the West in general, never really liked Saudi Arabia. At best, the West tolerated the ultra-conservative undemocratic suppressive kingdom of sand that exported fundamentalism and terror, but this can all change with a stroke of a pen and Saudi Arabia may soon find itself in need of protection from its protector.

 

Published:10/15/2018 11:09:14 PM
[Markets] Veritas Undercover Exposes MO Sen. McCaskill Hiding Liberal Agenda From Moderate Voters: "People Just Can't Know That"

In the third undercover video filmed by Project Veritas  during the ongoing 2018 election season, Missouri Senator McCaskill's considerably more liberal views - "essentially the same as [Obama's]" - are exposed as she and her campaign staff conceals them in order to court moderate voters... and she needs them as her and her opponent are essentially tied:

Via ProjectVeritasAction.com,

Said James O’Keefe, founder and president of Project Veritas Action:

“This undercover report shows just how broken our political system has become. Senator McCaskill hides her true views from voters because she knows they won’t like them.” 

Senator McCaskill Talks Gun Bans on Tape

Senator McCaskill revealed her intention to vote on various gun control measures in undercover footage:

MCCASKILL: “Well if we elect enough Democrats we’ll get some gun safety stuff done. They won’t let us vote on it, we’ve got 60 votes for a number of measures that would help with gun safety, but McConnell won’t let ’em come to the floor.”

JOURNALIST: “Like bump stocks, ARs and high capacity mags…?”

MCCASKILL: “Universal background checks, all of that… But if we have the kind of year I think we might have I think we could actually be in a position to get votes on this stuff on the floor and we’d get 60 [votes]…”

JOURNALIST: “So you would be on board with the bump stocks and… high capacity mags.”

MCCASKILL: “Of course! Of course!”

Despite her strong views on gun control, Senator McCaskill does not tend to promote them on the campaign trail or on her website. Rob Mills, who works on Senator McCaskill’s campaign, says that is “…because she has a bunch of Republican voters.”

Another individual who works on Senator McCaskill campaign, Carson Pope, adds that “…a semi-automatic rifle ban is more so what she would support.”

“People just can’t know that.”

According to Mills, Senator McCaskill conceals her support of Moms Demand Action, a gun control group, and other similar organizations because they would “…hurt her ability to get elected.”

MILLS: “But she doesn’t openly go out and support groups like ‘Mom’s Demand Action’ or just like other groups that are related to that. Because that could hurt, her ability to get elected. Because people like see that and they’re like well I don’t want to support her even though they stand for the same policies…”

MILLS: “She’s worked out stuff with Mom’s Demand Action to make sure that she can support their goals without supporting the organization openly. And you know, Mom’s Demand Action does the exact same thing. Like a lot of our volunteers are actually from there. She’s really good about strategy and making sure she has a goal and can get there.”

Nicolas Starost, another individual who works on Senator McCaskill’s campaign, explains how President Obama won’t campaign for Senator McCaskill in Missouri despite their similar views on politics. Starost says this is because Senator McCaskill needs to distance herself from the Democratic party to appeal to more voters:

STAROST: “Because of how like, cause he’s a very liberal candidate. And like… Claire distancing herself from the party is gonna help her win more votes than it will saying like: “Oh here’s Obama, the former President of the United States, to now speak on my behalf.” Which is unfortunate because I love Obama to pieces, and I’d love to see him come here.”

JOURNALIST: “And they essentially have the same views on everything?”

STAROST: “Yeah. People just can’t know that.”

Impeachment

Another individual who works on Senator McCaskill’s campaign, Glen Winfrey, explains plans for the impeachment of President Trump:

JOURNALIST: “So, here’s the real question, Claire holds off on impeachment to get the moderate. What do we tell the moderates when we drop the impeachment hammer afterward?”

WINFREY: “Get over it. It was a national security question. That information was confidential, and she did her duty by not revealing the information until afterward.”

Published:10/15/2018 9:35:59 PM
[Education] Susan Rice’s Son Pursues Assault Charges in Incident at Pro-Kavanaugh Event at Stanford

The son of former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, a pro-Trump College Republicans leader, is pressing “full charges” against a fellow Stanford University student... Read More

The post Susan Rice’s Son Pursues Assault Charges in Incident at Pro-Kavanaugh Event at Stanford appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:10/15/2018 2:33:37 PM
[US News] UH OH: Obama’s 2012 campaign manager does NOT think Elizabeth Warren’s helping the Dems (lib self-own in progress!)

"When you've lost Obama's closest adviser on race issues..."

The post UH OH: Obama’s 2012 campaign manager does NOT think Elizabeth Warren’s helping the Dems (lib self-own in progress!) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/15/2018 1:03:16 PM
[Politics] 43% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

For the second week in a row, 43% of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, this time according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending October 11.

This finding has been running in the 40s for most weeks this year after being in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

Rasmussen Reports invites you to be a part of our first-ever Citizen-Sourced National Midterm Election Polling Project. Learn more about how you can contribute.

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

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from October 7-11, 2018. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:10/15/2018 12:40:49 PM
[Media] Such a PROFOUND bias! 60 Minutes and Leslie Stahl should be ASHAMED of these stats from Trump’s interview

As the Left applauds Leslie Stahl for talking tough on Trump, it’s hard to ignore the obvious and profound bias within the interview and 60 Minutes itself. Especially when you see STATS like this: 60 Minutes interrupts President Trump 64 times in 26 minutes.60 Minutes interrupted President Obama 4 times in 46 minutes.Thank you, CBS, […]

The post Such a PROFOUND bias! 60 Minutes and Leslie Stahl should be ASHAMED of these stats from Trump’s interview appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/15/2018 10:31:48 AM
[Markets] FBI Concealed Evidence That "Directly Refutes" Premise Of Trump-Russia Probe: GOP Lawmaker

After hinting for months that the FBI was not forthcoming with federal surveillance court judges when they made their case to spy on the Trump campaign, Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R) said on Sunday that the agency is holding evidence which "directly refutes" its premise for launching the probe, reports the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross. 

Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe provided Sunday the clearest picture to date of what the FBI allegedly withheld from the surveillance court.

Ratcliffe suggested that the FBI failed to include evidence regarding former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, in an interview with Fox News.

Ratcliffe noted that the FBI opened its investigation on July 31, 2016, after receiving information from the Australian government about a conversation that Papadopoulos had on May 10, 2016, with Alexander Downer, the top Australian diplomat to the U.K. -Daily Caller

While Australia's Alexander Downer claimed that Papadopoulos revealed Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, Ratcliffe - who sits on the House Judiciary Committee - suggested on Sunday that the FBI and DOJ possess information which directly contradicts that account

"Hypothetically, if the Department of Justice and the FBI have another piece of evidence that directly refutes that, that directly contradicts that, what you would expect is for the Department of Justice to present both sides of the coin to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to evaluate the weight and sufficiency of that evidence," Ratcliffe said, adding: "Instead, what happened here was Department of Justice and FBI officials in the Obama administration in October of 2016 only presented to the court the evidence that made the government’s case to get a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate." 

The FBI referred to Papadopoulos in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application - however what has been released to the public is so heavily redacted that it's unclear why he is mentioned. 

As The Hill's John Solomon notes, based on Congressional testimony by former FBI General Counsel James Baker - the DOJ / FBI redactions aren't hiding national security issues - only embarrassment

Other GOP lawmakers have suggested that evidence exists which would exonerate Papadopoulos - who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Maltese professor (and self-professed member of the Clinton Foundation), Joseph Mifsud.

Ratcliffe suggested that declassifying DOJ / FBI documents related to the matter "would corroborate" his claims about Papadopoulos. 

Republicans have pressed President Trump to declassify the documents, which include 21 pages from a June 2016 FISA application against Page. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has said that the FBI failed to provide “exculpatory evidence” in the FISA applications. He has also said that Americans will be “shocked” by the information behind the FISA redactions. -Daily Caller

President Trump issued an order to declassify the documents on September 17, but then walked it back - announcing that the DOJ would be allowed to review the documents first after two foreign allies asked him to keep them classified. 

"My opinion is that declassifying them would not expose any national security information, would not expose any sources and methods," said Ratcliffe. "It would expose certain folks at the Obama Justice Department and FBI and their actions taken to conceal material faces from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."

Published:10/15/2018 10:31:48 AM
[Politics] Voters Reject Clinton’s Call for Incivility

Hillary Clinton last week urged Democrats not to be civil with Republicans over political issues, prompting rare disagreement from former First Lady Michelle Obama. Voters also disagree with Clinton but, unlike her, don’t expect things to improve even if Democrats return to power in Congress.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds that a plurality (47%) disagrees with Clinton’s statement: “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.” Thirty-nine percent (39%) agree with the statement, while 14% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Rasmussen Reports invites you to be a part of our first-ever Citizen-Sourced National Midterm Election Polling Project.  Learn more about how you can contribute.

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

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 11 and 14, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:10/15/2018 9:44:41 AM
[House of Representatives] Glenn Simpson would prefer not to (2) (Scott Johnson) Rowan Scarborough has a good summary of developments in the collusion scandal explored by House committees in the aftermath of the 2016 election. It is the scandal of the Clinton presidential campaign and its supporters within the Obama administrations. We weren’t supposed to know anything about it. Glenn Simpson is a protagonist in the scandal. Under subpoena to testify to the House Judiciary Committee this week, he has asserted his Published:10/15/2018 8:04:17 AM
[Markets] James Comey And The Unending Bush Torture Scandal

Authored by James Bovard via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

The vast regime of torture created by the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks continues to haunt America. The political class and most of the media have never dealt honestly with the profound constitutional corruption that such practices inflicted. Instead, torture enablers are permitted to pirouette as heroic figures on the flimsiest evidence.

Former FBI chief James Comey is the latest beneficiary of the media’s “no fault” scoring on the torture scandal. In his media interviews for his new memoir, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, Comey is portraying himself as a Boy Scout who sought only to do good things. But his record is far more damning than most Americans realize.

Comey continues to use memos from his earlier government gigs to whitewash all of the abuses he sanctified. “Here I stand; I can do no other,” Comey told George W. Bush in 2004 when Bush pressured Comey, who was then Deputy Attorney General, to approve an unlawful anti-terrorist policy. Comey was quoting a line supposedly uttered by Martin Luther in 1521, when he told Emperor Charles V and an assembly of Church officials that he would not recant his sweeping criticisms of the Catholic Church.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and other organizations did excellent reports prior to Comey’s becoming FBI chief that laid out his role in the torture scandal. Such hard facts, however, have long since vanished from the media radar screen. MSNBC host Chris Matthews recently declared, “James Comey made his bones by standing up against torture. He was a made man before Trump came along.” Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria, in a column declaring that Americans should be “deeply grateful” to lawyers such as Comey, declared, “The Bush administration wanted to claim that its ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ were lawful. Comey believed they were not…. So Comey pushed back as much as he could.

Martin Luther risked death to fight against what he considered the scandalous religious practices of his time. Comey, a top Bush administration policymaker, found a safer way to oppose the worldwide secret U.S. torture regime widely considered a heresy against American values: he approved brutal practices and then wrote some memos and emails fretting about the optics.

Losing Sleep

Comey became deputy attorney general in late 2003 and “had oversight of the legal justification used to authorize” key Bush programs in the war on terror, as a Bloomberg News analysis noted. At that time, the Bush White House was pushing the Justice Department to again sign off on an array of extreme practices that had begun shortly after the 9/11 attacks. A 2002 Justice Department memo had leaked out that declared that the federal Anti-Torture Act “would be unconstitutional if it impermissibly encroached on the President’s constitutional power to conduct a military campaign.” The same Justice Department policy spurred a secret 2003 Pentagon document on interrogation policies that openly encouraged contempt for the law: “Sometimes the greater good for society will be accomplished by violating the literal language of the criminal law.”

Photos had also leaked from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq showing the stacking of naked prisoners with bags over their heads, mock electrocution from a wire connected to a man’s penis, guard dogs on the verge of ripping into naked men, and grinning U.S. male and female soldiers celebrating the sordid degradation. Legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published extracts in the New Yorker from a March 2004 report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba that catalogued other U.S. interrogation abuses: “Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape … sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.”

The Bush administration responded to the revelations with a torrent of falsehoods, complemented by attacks on the character of critics. Bush declared, “Let me make very clear the position of my government and our country…. The values of this country are such that torture is not a part of our soul and our being.” Bush had the audacity to run for reelection as the anti-torture candidate, boasting that “for decades, Saddam tormented and tortured the people of Iraq. Because we acted, Iraq is free and a sovereign nation.” He was hammering this theme despite a confidential CIA Inspector General report warning that post–9/11 CIA interrogation methods might violate the international Convention Against Torture.

James Comey had the opportunity to condemn the outrageous practices and pledge that the Justice Department would cease providing the color of law to medieval-era abuses. Instead, Comey merely repudiated the controversial 2002 memo. Speaking to the media in a not-for-attribution session on June 22, 2004, he declared that the 2002 memo was “overbroad,” “abstract academic theory,” and “legally unnecessary.” He helped oversee crafting a new memo with different legal footing to justify the same interrogation methods.

Comey twice gave explicit approval for waterboarding, which sought to break detainees with near-drowning. This practice had been recognized as a war crime by the U.S. government since the Spanish-American War. A practice that was notorious when inflicted by the Spanish Inquisition was adopted by the CIA with the Justice Department’s blessing. (When Barack Obama nominated Comey to be FBI chief in 2013, he testified that he had belatedly recognized that waterboarding was actually torture.)

Comey wrote in his memoir that he was losing sleep over concern about Bush-administration torture polices. But losing sleep was not an option for detainees, because Comey approved sleep deprivation as an interrogation technique. Detainees could be forcibly kept awake for 180 hours until they confessed their crimes. How did that work? At Abu Ghraib, one FBI agent reported seeing a detainee “handcuffed to a railing with a nylon sack on his head and a shower curtain draped around him, being slapped by a soldier to keep him awake.” Numerous FBI agents protested the extreme interrogation methods they saw at Guantanamo and elsewhere, but their warnings were ignored.

Comey also approved “wall slamming” — which, as law professor David Cole wrote, meant that detainees could be thrown against a wall up to 30 times. Comey also signed off on the CIA’s using “interrogation” methods such as facial slaps, locking detainees in small boxes for 18 hours, and forced nudity. When the secret Comey memo approving those methods finally became public in 2009, many Americans were aghast — and relieved that the Obama administration had repudiated Bush policies.

When it came to opposing torture, Comey’s version of “Here I stand” had more loopholes than a reverse-mortgage contract. Though Comey in 2005 approved each of 13 controversial extreme interrogation methods, he objected to combining multiple methods on one detainee.

The Torture Guy

In his memoir, Comey relates that his wife told him, “Don’t be the torture guy!” Comey apparently feels that he satisfied her dictate by writing memos that opposed combining multiple extreme interrogation methods. And since the vast majority of the American media agree with him, he must be right.

Comey’s cheerleaders seem uninterested in the damning evidence that has surfaced since his time as a torture enabler in the Bush administration. In 2014, the Senate Intelligence Committee finally released a massive report on the CIA torture regime — including death resulting from hypothermia, rape-like rectal feeding of detainees, compelling detainees to stand long periods on broken legs, and dozens of cases where innocent people were pointlessly brutalized. Psychologists aided the torture regime, offering hints on how to destroy the will and resistance of prisoners. From the start, the program was protected by phalanxes of lying federal officials.

When he first campaigned for president, Barack Obama pledged to vigorously investigate the Bush torture regime for criminal violations. Instead, the Obama administration proffered one excuse after another to suppress the vast majority of the evidence, pardon all U.S. government torturers, and throttle all torture-related lawsuits. The only CIA official to go to prison for the torture scandal was courageous whistleblower John Kiriakou. Kiriakou’s fate illustrates that telling the truth is treated as the most unforgivable atrocity in Washington.

If Comey had resigned in 2004 or 2005 to protest the torture techniques he now claims to abhor, he would deserve some of the praise he is now receiving. Instead, he remained in the Bush administration but wrote an email summarizing his objections, declaring that “it was my job to protect the department and the A.G. [Attorney General] and that I could not agree to this because it was wrong.” A 2009 New York Times analysis noted that Comey and two colleagues “have largely escaped criticism [for approving torture] because they raised questions about interrogation and the law.” In Washington, writing emails is “close enough for government work” to confer sainthood.

When Comey finally exited the Justice Department in August 2005 to become a lavishly paid senior vice president for Lockheed Martin, he proclaimed in a farewell speech that protecting the Justice Department’s “reservoir” of “trust and credibility” requires “vigilance” and “an unerring commitment to truth.” But he had perpetuated policies that shattered the moral credibility of both the Justice Department and the U.S. government. He failed to heed Martin Luther’s admonition, “You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”

Comey is likely to go to his grave without paying any price for his role in perpetuating appalling U.S. government abuses. It is far more important to recognize the profound danger that torture and the exoneration of torturers pose to the United States. “No free government can survive that is not based on the supremacy of the law,” is one of the mottoes chiseled into the façade of Justice Department headquarters. Unfortunately, politicians nowadays can choose which laws they obey and which laws they trample. And Americans are supposed to presume that we still have the rule of law as long as politicians and bureaucrats deny their crimes.

Published:10/14/2018 9:01:39 PM
[Markets] Britain On The Leash With The United States... But At Which End?

Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom is often assumed to be one where the once-great, sophisticated Brits are subordinate to the upstart, uncouth Yanks.

Iconic of this assumption is the mocking of former prime minister Tony Blair as George W. Bush’s “poodle” for his riding shotgun on the ill-advised American stagecoach blundering into Iraq in 2003. Blair was in good practice, having served as Bill Clinton’s dogsbody in the no less criminal NATO aggression against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999.

On the surface, the UK may seem just one more vassal state on par with Germany, Japan, South Korea, and so many other useless so-called allies. We control their intelligence services, their military commands, their think tanks, and much of their media. We can sink their financial systems and economies at will. Emblematic is German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s impotent ire at discovering the Obama administration had listened in on her cell phone, about which she – did precisely nothing. Global hegemony means never having to say you’re sorry.

These countries know on which end of the leash they are: the one attached to the collar around their necks. The hand unmistakably is in Washington. These semi-sovereign countries answer to the US with the same servility as member states of the Warsaw Pact once heeded the USSR’s Politburo. (Sometimes more. Communist Romania, though then a member of the Warsaw Pact refused to participate in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia or even allow Soviet or other Pact forces to cross its territory. By contrast, during NATO’s 1999 assault on Serbia, Bucharest allowed NATO military aircraft access to its airspace, even though not yet a member of that alliance and despite most Romanians’ opposition to the campaign.)

But the widespread perception of Britain as just another satellite may be misleading.

To start with, there are some relationships where it seems the US is the vassal dancing to the tune of the foreign capital, not the other way around. Israel is the unchallenged champion in this weight class, with Saudi Arabia a runner up. The alliance between Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) – the ultimate Washington “power couple” – to get the Trump administration to destroy Iran for them has American politicos listening for instructions with all the rapt attention of the terrier Nipper on the RCA Victor logo. (Or did, until the recent disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Whether this portends a real shift in American attitudes toward Riyadh remains questionableSaudi cash still speaks loudly and will continue to do so whether or not MbS stays in charge.)

Specifics of the peculiar US-UK relationship stem from the period of flux at the end of World War II. The United States emerged from the war in a commanding position economically and financially, eclipsing Britannia’s declining empire that simply no longer had the resources to play the leading role. That didn’t mean, however, that London trusted the Americans’ ability to manage things without their astute guidance. As Tony Judt describes in Postwar, the British attitude of “superiority towards the country that had displaced them at the imperial apex” was “nicely captured” in a scribble during negotiations regarding the UK’s postwar loan:

In Washington Lord Halifax

Once whispered to Lord Keynes:

“It’s true they have the moneybags

But we have all the brains.”

Even in its diminished condition London found it could punch well above its weight by exerting its influence on its stronger but (it was confident) dumber cousins across the Pond. It helped that as the Cold War unfolded following former Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s 1946 Iron Curtain speech there were very close ties between sister agencies like MI6 (founded 1909) and the newer wartime OSS (1942), then the CIA (1947); likewise the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, 1919) and the National Security Administration (NSA, 1952). Comparable sister agencies – perhaps more properly termed daughters of their UK mothers – were set up in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This became the so-called “Five Eyes” of the tight Anglosphere spook community,infamous for spying on each others’ citizens to avoid pesky legal prohibitions on domestic surveillance.

Despite not having two farthings to rub together, impoverished Britain – where wartime rationing wasn’t fully ended until 1954 – had a prime seat at the table fashioning the world’s postwar financial structure. The 1944 Bretton Woods conference was largely an Anglo-American affair, of which the aforementioned Lord John Maynard Keynes was a prominent architect along with Harry Dexter White, Special Assistant to the US Secretary of the Treasury and Soviet agent.

American and British agendas also dovetailed in the Middle East. While the US didn’t have much of a presence in the region before the 1945 meeting between US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Saudi King ibn Saud, founder of the third and current (and hopefully last) Saudi state – and didn’t assume a dominant role until the humiliation inflicted on Britain, France, and Israel by President Dwight Eisenhower during the 1956 Suez Crisis – London has long considered much of the region within its sphere of influence. After World War I under the Sykes-Picot agreement with France, the UK had expanded her holdings on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, including taking a decisive role in consolidating Saudi Arabia under ibn Saud. While in the 1950s the US largely stepped into Britain’s role managing the “East of Suez,” the former suzerain was by no means dealt out. The UK was a founding member with the US of the now-defunct Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) in 1955.

CENTO – like NATO and their one-time eastern counterpart, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) – was designed as a counter to the USSR. But in the case of Britain, the history of hostility to Russia under tsar or commissar alike has much deeper and longer roots, going back at least to the Crimean War in the 1850s. The reasons for the longstanding British vendetta against Russia are not entirely clear and seem to have disparate roots: the desire to ensure that no one power is dominant on the European mainland (directed first against France, then Russia, then Germany, then the USSR and again Russia); maintaining supremacy on the seas by denying Russia warm-waters ports, above all the Dardanelles; and making sure territories of a dissolving Ottoman empire would be taken under the wing of London, not Saint Petersburg. As described by Andrew Lambert, professor of naval history at King's College London, the Crimean War still echoes today:

"In the 1840s, 1850s, Britain and America are not the chief rivals; it's Britain and Russia. Britain and Russia are rivals for world power, and Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, which is much larger than modern Turkey — it includes modern Romania, Bulgaria, parts of Serbia, and also Egypt and Arabia — is a declining empire. But it's the bulwark between Russia, which is advancing south and west, and Britain, which is advancing east and is looking to open its connections up through the Mediterranean into its empire in India and the Pacific. And it's really about who is running Turkey. Is it going to be a Russian satellite, a bit like the Eastern Bloc was in the Cold War, or is it going to be a British satellite, really run by British capital, a market for British goods? And the Crimean War is going to be the fulcrum for this cold war to actually go hot for a couple of years, and Sevastopol is going to be the fulcrum for that fighting."

Control of the Middle East – and opposing the Russians – became a British obsession, first to sustain the lifeline to India, the Jewel in the Crown of the empire, then for control of petroleum, the life’s blood of modern economies. In the context of the 19th and early 20th century Great Game of empire, that was understandable. Much later, similar considerations might even support Jimmy Carter’s taking up much the same position, declaring in 1980 that “outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” The USSR was then a superpower and we were dependent on energy from the Gulf region.

But what’s our reason for maintaining that posture almost four decades later when the Soviet Union is gone and the US doesn’t need Middle Eastern oil? There are no reasonable national interests, only corporate interests and those of the Arab monarchies we laughably claim as allies. Add to that the bureaucracies and habits of mind that link the US and UK establishments, including their intelligence and financial components.

In view of all the foregoing, what then would policymakers in the United Kingdom think about an aspirant to the American presidency who not only disparages the value of existing alliances – without which Britain is a bit player – but openly pledges to improve relations with Moscow? To what lengths would they go to stop him?

Say ‘hello’ to Russiagate!

One can argue whether or not the phony claim of the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with Moscow was hatched in London or whether the British just lent some “hands across the water” to an effort concocted by the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, the Clinton Foundation, and their collaborators at Fusion GPS and inside the Obama administration. Either way, it’s clear that while evidence of Russian connection is nonexistent that of British agencies is unmistakable, as is the UK’s hand in a sustained campaign of demonization and isolation to sink any possible rapprochement between the US and Russia.

As for Russiagate itself, just try to find anyone involved who’s actually Russian. The only basis for the widespread assumption that any material in the Dirty Dossier that underlies the whole operationoriginated with Russia is the claim of Christopher Steele, the British “ex” spy who wrote it, evidently in collaboration with people at the US State Department and Fusion GPS. (The notion that Steele, who hadn’t been in Russia for years, would have Kremlin personal contacts is absurd. How chummy are the heads of the American section of Chinese or Russian intelligence with White House staff?)

While there are no obvious Russians in Russiagate there’s no shortage of Brits. These include (details at the link):

  • Stefan Halper, a dual US-UK citizen.
  • Ex-MI6 Director Richard Dearlove.
  • Alexander Downer, Australian diplomat (well, not British but remember the Five Eyes!).
  • Joseph Mifsud, Maltese academic and suspected British agent.

At present, the full role played by those listed above is not known. Release of unredacted FISA warrant requests by the Justice Department, which President Trump ordered weeks ago, would shed light on a number of details. Implementation of that order was derailed after a request by – no surprise – British Prime Minister Theresa May. Was she seeking to conceal Russian perfidy, or her own underlings’?

It would be bad enough if Russiagate were the sum of British meddling in American affairs with the aim of torpedoing relations with Moscow. (And to be fair, it wasn’t just the UK and Australia. Also implicated are Estonia, Israel, and Ukraine.) But there is also reason to suspect the same motive in false accusations against Russia with respect to the supposed Novichok poisonings in England has a connection to Russiagate via a business associate of Steele’s, one Pablo MillerSergei Skripal's MI6 recruiter. (So if it turns out there is any Russian connection to the dossier, it could be from Skripal or another dubious expat source, not from the Russian government.) Skripal and his daughter Yulia have disappeared in British custody. Moscow flatly accuses MI6 of poisoning them as a false flag to blame it on Russia.

A similar pattern can be seen with claims of chemical weapons use in Syria: “We have irrefutable evidence that the special services of a state which is in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign had a hand in the staging” of a faked chemical weapons attack in Douma in April 2018. Ambassador Aleksandr Yakovenko pointed to the so-called White Helmets, which is closely associated with al-Qaeda elements and considered by some their PR arm: “I am naming them because they have done things like this before. They are famous for staging attacks in Syria and they receive UK money.” Moscow warned for weeks before the now-postponed Syrian government offensive in Idlib that the same ruse was being prepared again with direct British intelligence involvement, even having prepared in advance a video showing victims of an attack that had not yet occurred.

The campaign to demonize Russia shifted into high gear recently with the UK, together with the US and the Netherlands, accusing Russian military intelligence of a smorgasbord of cyberattacks against the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and other sports organizations, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Dutch investigation into the downing of MH-17 over Ukraine, and a Swiss lab involved with the Skripal case, plus assorted election interference. In case anyone didn’t get the point, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson declared: “This is not the actions of a great power. This is the actions of a pariah state, and we will continue working with allies to isolate them.”

To the extent that the goal of Williamson and his ilk is to ensure isolation and further threats against Russia, it’s been a smashing success. More sanctions are on the way. The UK is sending additional troops to the Arctic to counter Russian “aggression.” The US threatens to use naval power to block Russian energy exports and to strike Russian weapons disputed under a treaty governing intermediate range nuclear forces. What could possibly go wrong?

In sum, we are seeing a massive, coordinated hybrid campaign of psy-ops and political warfare conducted not by Russia but against Russia, concocted by the UK and its Deep State collaborators in the United States. But it’s not only aimed at Russia, it’s an attack on the United States by the government of a foreign country that’s supposed to be one of our closest allies, a country with which we share many venerable traditions of language, law, and culture.

But for far too long, largely for reasons of historical inertia and elite corruption, we’ve allowed that government to exercise undue influence on our global policies in a manner not conducive to our own national interests. Now that government, employing every foul deception that earned it the moniker Perfidious Albion, seeks to embroil us in a quarrel with the only country on the planet that can destroy us if things get out of control.

This must stop. A thorough reappraisal of our “special relationship” with the United Kingdom and exposure of its activities to the detriment of the US is imperative.

Published:10/14/2018 6:30:50 AM
[Markets] America's Disastrous Occupation Of Afghanistan Turns 17

Authored by Doug Bandow via The American Conservative,

...And the Taliban are in their strongest position in just that many years.

America has now passed the 17-year mark in Afghanistan. U.S. troops have been fighting there for longer than the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, and World War II combined. Yet Washington is further away than ever from anything that might pass for victory.

More than 2,300 American military personnel and 3,500 contractors have died in Afghanistan. The latest death occurred last week - Specialist James A. Slape from Morehead City, North Carolina. Another 1,100 allied soldiers have been killed, almost half of them from the United Kingdom. More than 20,000 Americans have been wounded. The direct financial cost has amounted to $2 trillion, with another $45 billion budgeted for this year.

And for what?

After so many years of senseless combat, Erik Prince’s proposal to turn the conflict over to contractors almost sounds reasonable. His lobbying efforts in Kabul have not been notably successful, but some day American personnel will come home. And then Washington’s friends in Afghanistan will find themselves on their own.

Seventeen years ago the Bush administration was forced to act. After the 9/11 attacks, it was imperative to disrupt if not destroy al-Qaeda and punish the Taliban regime for hosting terrorist training camps. Washington quickly succeeded: al-Qaeda was degraded and dispersed, the Taliban was overthrown and punished. Washington should have left as quickly as it came. But the Bush administration had other hopes: to create a friendly, liberal, democratic state in Central Asia.

If there was ever a chance to establish a stable regime in Kabul, it was right after the Taliban’s ouster. However, the Bush administration immediately turned to Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. That shift allowed for a Taliban revival. Even after twice increasing force levels—which peaked at 110,000 U.S. and 30,000 allied troops in 2011—the Obama administration was only able to limit the insurgency’s reach. Around that time I twice visited Afghanistan, and found that private, off-the-record opinions of allied military personnel, civilian contractors, and Afghan officials were uniformly pessimistic.

Most saw the operation as a staying action at best. Since then allied troop levels have fallen precipitously, but the large Afghan security forces are an inadequate substitute. Afghan officials figure that as many as a third of soldiers and police are “ghosts,” existing only for payroll purposes. Attrition rates and desertions are soaring. Reported Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Afghan National Security Forces “performance will probably worsen due to a combination of Taliban operations, ANSF combat casualties, desertions, poor logistics support, and weak leadership.” To make up for that failure, “U.S. Special Operations troops increasingly [are] being deployed into harm’s way to assist their Afghan counterparts.”

Over the last four years, U.S. officials figure the number of Taliban fighters has trebled to 60,000; Afghan sources put the number closer to 80,000. Estimates of government control are inflated by counting areas where the district headquarters is in Kabul’s hands, even if the rest of the territory is not. A January BBC survey estimated that the Taliban controlled 4 percent of the country and was active in another 66 percent of Afghanistan: the insurgents have “pushed beyond their traditional southern stronghold into eastern western and northern parts of the country.” Cordesman reported that the “Taliban now holds more territory than in any year since 2001.”

The insurgents are using night vision equipment to mount attacks in the dark. Indeed, observed Cordesman, “Injured Afghan soldiers say they are fighting a more sophisticated and well-armed insurgency than they have seen in years”

Even Kabul is unsafe: Washington now takes personnel to the airport via helicopter, avoiding the roads that I took as NATO’s guest in 2011. Of Taliban activity this summer, Al Jazeera reports: “The scale and intensity of these attacks have not been seen since 2001. The Taliban never had the capability to launch such massive offenses and never succeeded in taking over any major cities.” Civilian casualties are on the rise, hitting 2,258 during the first quarter of 2018. Although the Taliban is responsible for most of the deaths, as Kabul relies more on air support the UN reports that casualties from U.S. and Afghan airstrikes are rising.

One need look no further than the Department of Defense for bad news. In May, the Pentagon’s inspector general reported that “available metrics showed few signs of progress.” And results are usually worse than what is admitted. For instance, Cordesman concluded that official U.S. data “provide highly suspect analysis.” Moreover, “official U.S. and Afghan data seem to sharply understate the level of growing threat presence, influence, and control.” Worse, official testimony estimates offered in testimony “seem more spin than objective.” Overall, Cordesman said, “the ‘surge’ in U.S. forces in Afghanistan failed to have a lasting effect and the levels of violence have grown sharply.”

Money offers no answer. The Afghan government is incompetent, divided, and corrupt. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction continues to issue reports detailing massive waste and ineffectiveness of programs for everything from development to security. A recent analysis of Washington’s stabilization program concluded: “The U.S. government greatly overestimated its ability to build and reform government institutions in Afghanistan.” Whatever success it had won’t outlive the U.S. presence: “successes in stabilizing Afghan districts rarely lasted longer than the physical presence of coalition troops and civilians.”

In short, the future looks dismal. Cordesman cited the Director of National Intelligence in concluding, “The overall situation in Afghanistan will very likely continue to deteriorate, even if international support is sustained.” Best would be a swift exit, bolstered by a simple understanding with the Taliban: create an Islamic state and Washington will stay away, but host terrorists who attack America and Washington will come back bigger and badder than the first time. The Taliban likely would respect that deal.

But reality has little influence on U.S. policy. Both old and new military commanders, as well as administration officials led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, claim that administration strategy is succeeding. The president bumped up troop levels to some 15,000 U.S. and 7,000 allied personnel. “Our troops will fight to win,” he said. “We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.” Alas, this is errant nonsense. The most the new policy will do is put off failure until the next president takes office.

None of the arguments for permanent war are persuasive. As a matter of geopolitics, Afghanistan is irrelevant to U.S. security. Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Iran all have a greater interest in regional stability. Washington should encourage a Central Asian conclave, perhaps under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Far better for Washington to leave and allow Afghanistan’s neighbors to reach a modus vivendi reflecting their relative interests. The result wouldn’t be a liberal, Westminster-style democracy allied with America. But it might be the best possible outcome in a messy, ugly world.

A stable Pakistan is in America’s interest, but the war is highly destabilizing. Rather than push Islamabad to act against its perceived interests, Washington should exit and allow Islamabad to work with neighboring states in forging an acceptable compromise for those most concerned.

Advocates of Afghanistan-forever cite terrorism. They contend that if we don’t fight the terrorists in Kandahar, we will have to fight them in New York. Really. For instance, the ever-hawkish Senator Lindsey Graham argued, “Last time we ignored Afghanistan we got 9/11.” Even the normally sober Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said America was in Afghanistan “to prevent a bomb from going off in Times Square.”

Yet this tragic nation has little to do with terrorism. The Taliban are Islamic fundamentalists, interested in ruling at home, not killing abroad. In 2001, Afghanistan served as a convenient base for Osama bin Laden. After the U.S. intervened, he moved to neighboring Pakistan, where he was later killed. The architect of 9/11, Kalid Sheikh Muhammed, spent time in Bosnia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, and Pakistan - but never Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda morphed into a group of national franchises. These days the most vibrant branch is al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has been empowered by the U.S.-backed Saudi and Emirati onslaught against Yemen.

Why else sacrifice U.S. lives and wealth in Afghanistan? There are many Afghans, especially women, who support creation of a liberal society. But that is beyond Washington’s ability to deliver, at least at reasonable cost. Afghanistan always has been ruled at the village and valley level. Someday it might become something different. But that is not Washington’s responsibility today.

For some, to leave suggests failure by those who fought courageously. But it is not American or allied military personnel who are at fault. They have done everything they were asked to do and more. The blame falls primarily on three successive presidents who embraced a quixotic crusade to remake Afghanistan.

In contrast to his predecessors, Donald Trump seemed to understand how hopeless the Afghanistan war is. Before announcing his candidacy, he said simply: “Let’s get out of Afghanistan.” A gaggle of establishment advisors has since pressed him to suppress his instincts, but he still has time to do the right thing. At 17 years and counting, it is far past time to bring America’s bravest home.

Published:10/12/2018 10:47:50 PM
[Markets] Sales Of The World's Most Popular Handgun Have Collapsed Under Trump Presidency 

Bloomberg opens up the door to a rare look at the corporate finances of the world's most popular handgun manufacturer and discovers sales have collapsed under the Trump presidency. 

Before Donald Trump won the 2016 election, former President Obama was America's best gun salesman. Americans were panic buying firearms, as if the apocalypse was tomorrow, partly due to the fear of stricter federal gun laws. AR-15 style rifles and Glock pistols were some of the most popular items paranoid Americans had to have, and of course, ammunition, meal kits, water, and underground bunkers. 

Glock Ges.m.b.H., the most popular handgun company in the world, experienced a rather sharp decline in sales during President Trump's first year in office. Bloomberg said Glock sold 36% fewer pistols in 2017 and revenue fell 35% to 464 million euros, the company is located in Austria, as per its latest annual report. Net income declined 58% to 67.9 million euros, following massive profits in the Obama era. 

"Demand normalized in 2017, dealers adapted their excessive stock levels and many competitors had extremely aggressive pricing and promotions," Glock said in the report. Glock expects another decline in 2018 but expects full-year sales to rise. The report also warned about how revenue is susceptible to currency volatility in international markets. There was no mention of trade wars or rerouting supply chains, as of yet. 

Glock's financials mirror US gun manufacturers like American Outdoor Brands Corp.'s Smith & Wesson or Sturm Ruger & Co., which have also reported a slump in sales since President Trump took office. 

"Closely-held Glock-founder Gaston Glock's family trust owns 99% of the company, and his estranged ex-wife Helga holds the balance--is under very limited disclosure requirements, making the company's results a bit of a mystery. Glock doesn't publish sales or financial results on its website but only files an annual report to the Austrian company register, where the document-a collection of scanned pages-is behind a paywall. The 2017 report is dated May 30 and was filed to the register at the end of September," said Bloomberg. 

Austria is by far the most significant source of handgun imports into the US, representing 1.2 million of the 3.3 million total in 2017. The reason, well, in the 1980s, Glock disrupted the firearms industry by offering a new pistol with higher ammunition capacity. Today it is carried by armies worldwide, from the US Army to British Special Forces. 

With US gun sales still declining and the number of background checks (a proxy for sales) fell -5% in August from a year ago, the Obama gun bubble seems to have popped on Trump's watch. One of many bubbles that are certain to deflate in the near term.

Published:10/12/2018 7:16:58 PM
[Markets] ObamaCare Premiums Set To Fall For First Time After Rising 117% Under Obama

In what could be one of the greatest - if not the greatest - political irony in recent memory, new data on Obamacare plan premiums released this week by the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that ObamaCare premiums will decline by an average of 1.5% next year, marking the first year-over-year decline in the program's history. While lower health-care costs should be a boon for for not just the working class, but also those unreasonably wealthy Americans earning $50,000 a year or more who don't have access to subsidies under the program, the simple fact that Republicans are doing a better job managing ObamaCare than Democrats did could create an intractable political problem for Dems running in swing states, who will now be left with the difficult task of explaining exactly how and why the Trump administration - which they have blamed for doing everything in its power to gut the program - is actually doing a better job of running ObamaCare than the Democrats did.

ACA

According to the Wall Street Journal, the decreases apply to the second-cheapest plans in the "silver" tier, a middle-cost option that's typically used as a benchmark for the entire program, and follow years of double-digit increases. The average rate of these plans increased 37% between 2017 and 2018. To be sure, premium costs can vary widely from state to state, with some still seeing significant hikes.

And under President Obama, O-Care premiums rose 117%.

OCare

The decline in the average premium for these silver tier plans took many health-care industry analysts by surprise. According to WSJ, few insiders managed to anticipate that robust economic growth would help draw individuals back into the health care exchanges and provide an incentive for insurers to continue to offer these plans (after UnitedHealth pulled out of a majority of the exchanges a few years ago) even after Republicans killed the individual mandate with their tax bill.

The shift in premiums reflects increasing stability in the marketplaces heading into their sixth year, as insurers have seen a financial turnaround that is delivering profits on ACA plans after repeated losses. The improved financial results are closely tied to previous sharp rate increases, which brought premiums in line with insurers’ costs, as well as a more consistent, predictable group of enrollees as the markets mature.

Still, the news is a surprise. Many health analysts had predicted significant price increases next year because of the actions taken by the administration and the GOP Congress, especially an end to the penalty for not having insurance and the bolstering of non-ACA-compliant plans.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the repeal of the individual mandate is actually having a negligible impact on premiums.

"The market has actually become a real insurance platform that has completely stabilized," said Steve Ringel, president of the Ohio market for CareSource, a nonprofit insurer that offers ACA plans in four states. CareSource will implement rate increases for 2019 that are smaller than those it had this year, he said.

Which is why Democratic complaints that the administration has tried to sabotage the law have been proven to be completely unjustified.

"There have been all these allegations that the administration has tried to sabotage Obamacare," Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in an interview. Instead, she said, the premium drop shows "we’re trying to do a lot of things to stabilize" the market.

Thanks to the Trump administration's efforts, some states - Tennessee, for example - will see premiums drop by more than 25%.

Average premiums for the plans will depend on location. Tennessee, for example, will see the average premium for the midprice silver benchmark plans drop 26% to $449 in 2019 from $608 in 2018, based on CMS data for a 27-year-old consumer. Others will see an uptick. In Delaware, CMS showed a 16% increase, and there will also be double-digit increases in North Dakota and Hawaii.

Of course, this won't stop some Democrats from trying to make the case that premiums are declining in spite of Trump's policies, not because of them.

Democrats had been counting on higher rate hikes to spur voter turnout in their favor. Instead, they’re likely to argue that rates would have dropped even more if Republicans hadn’t taken actions like repealing the ACA’s penalty for not having insurance. They also blame Trump administration actions, such as allowing the increased sale of short-term plans that don’t comply with the ACA.

"If not for repeal of the individual mandate penalty and expansion of loosely regulated short-term plans, premiums would be even lower next year," said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

If premium decline again in 2020, or at least rise by a negligible amount, this could become a major problem for Democrats, who may now resort to trying to undermine the signature achievement of the erstwhile leader of their party to help bolster their political narrative in time for Trump's reelection campaign in 2020.

Published:10/12/2018 4:46:14 PM
[Markets] Jim Kunstler Exposes "The Great False Front Of Financial Markets"

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Looks like somebody threw a dead cat onto Wall Street’s luge run overnight to temporarily halt the rather ugly 2000 point slide in the Dow Jones Industrial Average - and plenty of freefall in other indices, including markets in other countries. A Friday pause in the financial carnage will give the hedge funders a chance to plant “for sale” signs along their Hamptons driveways, but who might the buyers be? Hedge funders from another planet, perhaps? You can hope. And while you’re at it, how do you spell liquidity problem?

Welcome to the convergence zone of the long emergency, where Murphy’s law meets the law of unintended consequences and the law of diminishing returns, the Three Amigos of collapse. Here’s where being “woke” finally starts to mean something. Namely, that there are more important things in the world than sexual hysteria. Like, for instance, your falling standard of living (and that of everyone else around you).

The meet-up between Kanye West and President D.J. Trump was an even richer metaphor for the situation: two self-styled “geniuses” preening for the cameras in the Oval Office, like kids in a sandbox, without a single intelligible idea emerging from the play-date, and embarrassed grownups all standing ‘round pretending it was a Great Moment in History. You had to wonder how much of Kanye’s bazillion dollar fortune was stashed in the burning house of FAANG stocks. Maybe that flipped his bipolar toggle. Or was he even paying attention to the market action through all the mugging and hugging? (He did have his phone in hand.) Meanwhile, Mr. Trump seemed to be squirming through the episode behind his mighty Resolute desk as if he had “woke” to the realization that ownership of a bursting epic global financial bubble was not exactly “winning.”

If I were President, I’d declare Oct 12 Greater Fool Day. (Nobody likes Christopher Columbus anymore, that genocidal monster of dead white male privilege.) The futures were zooming as I write in the early morning, a last roundup for suckers at the OD corral, begging the question: who will show up on Monday. Nobody, I predict. And then what?

The great false front of the financial markets resumes falling over into the November election.

The rubble from all that buries whatever is left of the automobile business and the housing market. The smoldering aftermath will be described as the start of a long-overdue recession — but it will actually be something a lot worse, with no end in sight.

The Democratic Party might not be nimble enough to capitalize on the sudden disappearance of capital. Their only hope to date has been to capture the vote of every female in America, to otherwise augment their constituency of inflamed and aggrieved victims of unsubstantiated injustices. It’s been fun playing those cards, and the Party might not even know how to play a different game at this point. Democratic politicians may also be among the one-percenters who watch their net worth go up in a vapor in a market collapse, leaving them too numb to act. The last time something like this happened, in the fall of 2008, candidate Barack Obama barely knew what to say about the fall of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing cascade of misery -  though unbeknownst to the voters, he was already a hostage of Wall Street.

Complicating matters this time will be the chaos unleashed in politics and governing when the long-running “Russia collusion” melodrama boomerangs into a raft of indictments against the cast of characters in the Intel Community and Department of Justice AND the Democratic National Committee, and perhaps even including the Party’s last standard bearer, HRC, for ginning up the Russia Collusion matter in the first place as an exercise in sedition. The wheels of the law turn slowly, but they’ll turn even while financial markets tumble. And the threat to order might be so great that an unprecedented “emergency” has to be declared, with soldiers in the streets of Washington, as was sadly the case in 1861, the first time the country turned itself upside down.

Published:10/12/2018 2:51:30 PM
[Columnists] Yes, Democrats, It’s a Mob

Former Attorney General Eric Holder believes that Michelle Obama was wrong when she famously advised, “When they go low, we go high.” Rather, he told... Read More

The post Yes, Democrats, It’s a Mob appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:10/12/2018 11:46:53 AM
[Markets] Jim Rickards: The Bull Market In Bonds Still Has Legs

Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

Is the thirty-seven year bull market in U.S. Treasury notes dead?

Yields to maturity on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes are now at their highest level since April 2011. The current yield to maturity is 3.21%, a significant rise from 1.387% which the market touched on July 7, 2016 in the immediate aftermath of Brexit and a flight to quality in U.S. dollars and U.S. Treasury notes.

The Treasury market is volatile with lots of rallies and reversals, but the overall trend since 2016 has been higher yields and lower prices.

The consensus of opinion is that the bull market that began in 1981 is finally over and a new bear market with higher yields and losses for bondholders has begun. Everyone from bond guru Bill Gross to bond king Jeff Gundlach is warning that the bear has finally arrived.

I disagree.

It’s true that bond yields have backed up sharply and prices have come down in recent months. Yet, we’ve seen this movie before. Yields went from 2.4% to 3.6% between October 2010 and February 2011 before falling to 1.5% in June 2012.

Yields also rose from 1.67% in April 2013 to 3.0% in December 2013 before falling again to 1.67% by January 2015. In short, numerous bond market routs have been followed by major bond market rallies in the past ten years.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the bond market rally have been “greatly exaggerated.” The bull market still has legs. The key is to spot the inflection points in each bear move and buy the bonds in time to reap huge gains in the next rally. 

That’s where the market is now, at an inflection point. Investors who ignore the bear market mantra and buy bonds at these levels stand to make enormous gains in the coming rally.

The opportunity is illustrated in the chart below. This chart shows relative long and short positions in ten major trading instruments based on futures trading data. The 10-year U.S. Treasury note is listed as “10Y US.”

As is shown, this is the most extreme short position in markets today. It is even more short than gold and soybeans, which are heavily out of favor. It takes a brave investor to go long when the rest of the market is so heavily short.

This chart show relative long and short positions in major trading instruments based on data from futures markets. Black bars to the left indicate short positions and black bars to the right indicate long positions. The short position in 10-year U.S. Treasury Notes (“10Y US”) is the most overcrowded short position in markets today.

Yet, that’s exactly why the opportunity to go long Treasuries is so attractive. With all of the big players (hedge funds, banks, wealth managers) leaning on one side of the boat, it only takes a small perturbation causing lower yields and higher prices to trigger a massive short-covering rally where these short investors scramble to exit their positions and buy bonds to cut their losses.

What are the chances that bonds rally and a short-covering frenzy emerges?

They’re quite high. First of all, this pattern has happened five times in the past ten years starting in October 2008, April 2010, February 2011, March 2012, and December 2013. Each time 10-year note yields touched an interim high between 3% and 4%, the market turned around and yields crashed to the 1.5% to 2.5% range, producing huge capital gains in the securities.

In effect, the bond gurus and professional traders are betting that it’s different this time. They’re betting that the Trump economic changes and tax cuts have produced sustainable trend growth, that tight labor markets portend higher inflation, and that foreign investors are dumping Treasuries in anticipation of this inflation.

In fact, there’s good evidence that every one of these assumptions is false.

Growth in the second quarter of 2018 and forecasts for third quarter growth are solid, but there’s good reason to believe that these conditions are temporary responses to the tax cut and will not be sustained into early 2019.

In this political environment, you can only cut taxes once; there won’t be another big tax windfall in 2019 to keep this game going.

There’s also no evidence that labor markets are tight enough to cause inflation. The current 3.7% unemployment rate ignores that fact that labor force participation in only 62.7%, near the lowest in decades, and there are ten million able-bodied adults between the ages of 25-54 who are out of the workforce and not counted as “unemployed.” In addition, there are millions more working part-time jobs who would prefer full-time employment.

Once the employment figures are adjusted for involuntary part-time workers and discouraged workers, the actual unemployment rate is close to 10%, which is a depression level rate. Labor markets are not tight at all (except by using cherry-picked government metrics) and therefore there’s no reason to expect inflation.

Finally, the evidence that foreign investors are “dumping” Treasury securities is overstated. Russia is getting out of Treasuries, but other countries are picking up the slack and China is holding steady. In any case, there is ample appetite among U.S. banks to buy Treasuries so any foreign selling can be readily absorbed.

With these caveats in mind, what is the outlook for Treasury prices?

The single most factor in the analysis is that U.S. Treasury notes have traded in a range of 1.4% to 3.9% for the past ten years. Each time yields get too high, the economy slows and yields collapse. Each time yields get too low, the economy gets a boost and yields rise again.

Apart from a few good quarters of growth, which we also saw several times during the Obama years, there’s no reason to believe the U.S. economy has entered a phase of strong self-sustaining growth of the kind that will lead to inflation and higher yields.

Productivity is low, labor force participation is low, foreign competition is stiff and the new trade war acts as a break on growth. These headwinds are the same ones we’ve been facing for ten years and there’s no sign they’re abating.

This next chart is also highly revealing. It shows that investor cash balances are at the lowest levels in thirteen years, even lower than the levels at the tail end of the 2002-2007 investment boom prior to the panic.

As this chart shows, investor allocations to cash are the lowest in over ten years and lower than the levels immediately preceding the financial panic of 2007-2009. Investors who lose money on short positions in U.S. Treasuries will engage in frantic short-covering to mitigate losses and conserve cash. This buying will propel a rally.

With cash levels this low, investors cannot afford large capital losses. In effect, investors have bet the ranch on higher stock and corporate bond prices. At the first hint of market declines, they will pile into safe havens such as cash and Treasuries to preserve capital. This will give added impetus to the coming bond market rally.

Don’t go along with the crowd on this one. If you’re on the wrong side of this overcrowded trade, you could get trampled.

Published:10/12/2018 8:44:19 AM
[The Blog] Report: Obama had a plan in case Trump lost the election and wouldn’t accept the results

Rigged.

The post Report: Obama had a plan in case Trump lost the election and wouldn’t accept the results appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/11/2018 9:06:15 PM
[World] Laura Ingraham Praises Michelle Obama on Eric Holder Kick Em

Laura Ingraham said she agreed with former First Lady Michelle Obama's reply to fiery remarks by former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Published:10/11/2018 7:39:06 PM
[Media] More violent rhetoric! MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace says Jeb! should have punched Trump in the face

While Eric Holder was trying to backtrack on his appropriation of Michelle Obama’s famous phrase to declare, “When they go low, we kick them,” MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace was reminiscing about the time she told Jeb! Bush that he should have punched Donald Trump in the face after a debate. Even if it cost him the […]

The post More violent rhetoric! MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace says Jeb! should have punched Trump in the face appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/11/2018 6:17:09 PM
[Markets] The Only Way Donald Trump Can Truly Put America First

Authored by Douglas Mcgregor via National Interest,

If the last two decades have taught the American people anything, conflict anywhere in the world is by no means a threat to peace everywhere. We must reorder our priorities if America’s national interests are going to be advanced.

Intentionally or not, President Donald Trump filled many of his top national security and foreign-policy positions with Neo-Wilsonian, Bush-Obama era Liberal Interventionists; an action that became a source of endless frustration for the president. On issues ranging from preventing transgender people from serving in the armed forces to disengaging U.S. forces from Afghanistan and Syria , Trump’s own national-security team has actively obstructed the president’s defense- and foreign-policy agenda.

President Trump always wanted to disengage U.S. forces from overseas commitments that in his view had no direct relation to American national security. Trump also rejected the alleged permanence of the postwar liberal order; an order that was dissolving when Clinton was in office. Instead, Trump sought to enhance American influence with economic strength by focusing on trade, job creation; enforcing the rule of law, immigration and border security.

On the economic front, President Trump broke through the opposition, reinvigorated America’s stagnant economy and began changing the Cold War trade arrangements that favored foreign competitors and harmed American workers and businesses for decades. In Northeast Asia, he has defused the Korean Conflict and at this point it appears that the Korean Peninsula will no longer figure prominently in the U.S. national military strategy.

However, President Trump’s attempt to secure American borders, especially America’s southern border has met with failure. The failure is tragic because violence inside Mexico has reached horrific dimensions.

The rule of law has collapsed. Mexicans of all ages are being killed so frequently that the number of homicides in 2018 will likely exceed last year’s total of 29,168. According to Mexican authorities, drug-trafficking gangs pay around 1.27 billion pesos (some $100 million) a month in bribes to municipal police officers nationwide.

To this depressing picture must be added the growing connections between Mexican drug cartels like Los Zetas and Islamist terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda making Mexico’s use of the United States as a relief valve for its poor anddiscontented masses extremely dangerous.

Criminal elements in Mexico are equipped with the latestsurveillance and communications technology. They can easily maneuver to locations along the border where the U.S. police presence is minimal or non-existent. Adding more police to the thousands already on the border won’t help. Worst of all, in any future war the metastasizing nexus of criminality and terrorism south of the Rio Grande will create a second front for U.S. forces.

Given the sophisticated threat, the only way to effectively secure America’s border with Mexico is to commit the regular army to patrol and defend all but the legal crossing points with a mix of air and ground forces, at least until an effective barrier system is in place. In addition, Washington and Mexico City should consider combined military action inside Mexico against transnational criminal organizations for the benefit of both nations.

So why have neither the Secretary of Defense nor the Joint Chiefs urged such action? One reason may be the American military’s oppressive atmosphere of political correctness ; a climate in which strategic discourse is constrained by fear of being called a bigot or racist for suggesting action to secure America’s borders.

There are other reasons. Defending America’s borders, a mission the regular Army performed for over one hundred years between 1846 and 1948, isn’t likely to justify more manpower or force structure. As a result, the border mission does not appeal to serving officers the way it appealed to Patton, Eisenhower, Truscott, Harmon and practically every Army general officer who fought in World War II.

Clinging to the Cold War past is far more attractive. In fact, active and retired Army four-star generals have registered their indignation at the president’s actions to alter the U.S. military’s overseas presence, an expensive legacy of the Cold War security system.

Gen. Robert Abrams, the Army four-star nominated to be the next U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) commander, recently criticized President Trump’s decision to suspend joint military exercises between the United States and the Republic of Korea. He has argued that President Trump’s decision is undermining combat readiness by creating an ostensibly unwanted atmosphere of détente . In 2017, retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey went even further by insisting that President Trump was a “serious threat to U.S. national security.”

Coming from the leader of the failed war on drugs McCaffrey’s statement is rich, but his comments and those of Abrams speak volumes. Thinking and behavior of this kind is harmful because it skews the way senior officers in the armed forces think about warfare. In the international system war is always possible, but managing the risk of war involves much more than reacting to events with escalating threats.

For instance, sailing a large surface fleet into the South China Sea with the goal of “warning China” is hardly good risk management. It’s particularly ill-advised in an area where the Navy’s warships are vulnerable to a broad range of Chinese surface-to-surface missiles, loitering munitions, and submarine-launched weapons linked to an array of space and terrestrial-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

Accidents happen . An unwanted incident that results in American losses in the South China Sea would signal weakness, not strength, which is the true purpose of naval power. Sooner or later, U.S. naval losses in the South China Sea would invite military aggression against the United States in other regions. Put more bluntly, dragging the United States into a war with China involving territorial disputes on behalf of the Philippines,Communist Vietnam , or Taiwan is stupid.

Why is the Department of Defense on this path? Part of the reason is because the thirty-eight four-star generals on active duty in the armed forces tend to view contemporary conflict through the wrong lens, the distorting lens of World War II and the Cold War. After all, nuclear weapons may have eliminated total war, but war below the nuclear threshold persists.

Armed conflict for regional power and influence are inevitable in many parts of the world, not just in the South China Sea. Such conflicts inevitably overlap with the competition for energy, water, food, and mineral resources. But these conflicts do not necessarily demand American participation.

If the last twenty-seven years have taught the American people anything, conflict anywhere in the world is by no means a threat to peace everywhere, least of all to the United States. Peace is divisible; conflicts regardless of their causes are overwhelmingly local or regional, not global in significance. This is why it so important for American political and military leaders to first, formulate strategic aims that truly justify military action, before American blood and treasure are put at risk.

These points explain why the military inertia in strategic thinking that tries to intimidate China on China’s doorstep is worse than foolish. It’s downright dangerous when senior military leaders erroneously conclude that U.S. military control of the South China Sea, roughly eight thousand miles from U.S. shores, is a vital strategic interest of the United States, but securing America’s southern border is not.

The good news is the president can fix this problem because it’s a cultural and intellectual problem - not a fiscal one. Fixing it means reaching down and appointing new senior civilian and military leaders to the Defense Department who are not hostage to the policies of the past.

Published:10/11/2018 6:17:09 PM
[Markets] Call 'em crazy, but Fed officials likely to keep raising rates A stock sell-off, rising trade tension with China, slower global growth and verbal pressure from the White House are unlikely to dent the U.S. Federal Reserve's rate hike plans in an economy performing in line with the central bank's forecasts. A bumpy 48 hours included an 800 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and hefty declines in other stock indexes, a forecast of slowing global growth from the International Monetary Fund, and a broadside from President Donald Trump in which he called the Fed "crazy," "loco," and "too aggressive" in raising rates. Gradual rate increases - moving the overnight federal funds rate over the next year and a half or so from between 2 and 2.5 percent now to around 3.4 percent - would slow the economy a bit, but keep inflation in check during a record-setting era of recession-free growth spanning the Obama years and Trump's first term. Published:10/11/2018 1:45:26 PM
[Politics] Democrats Reject Michelle Obama’s ‘We Go High’ Slogan

The post Democrats Reject Michelle Obama’s ‘We Go High’ Slogan appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:10/11/2018 1:15:17 PM
[Entertainment] Michelle Obama Surprised With Lack of Change After #MeToo: "Enough Is Enough" Michelle Obama, TODAYMichelle Obama wants to see progress for women and girls all around the world--and the #MeToo Movement is helping that goal along. While announcing her newly launched Global Girls...
Published:10/11/2018 12:44:31 PM
[The Blog] “Fear is not a proper motivator”: Michelle Obama rebukes Hillary and Holder

"Hope wins out.”

The post “Fear is not a proper motivator”: Michelle Obama rebukes Hillary and Holder appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/11/2018 12:44:31 PM
[TC] GoFundMe partners with Michelle Obama on the Global Girls Alliance Fund, to back charities helping adolescent girls GoFundMe, the social fundraising platform that has raised over $5 billion from over 50 million donors for causes, today is taking a big step into fundraising for charities and other non-profit organizations, and specifically helping charities dedicated to adolescent girls in the process. The startup is partnering with former First Lady Michelle Obama and the […] Published:10/11/2018 7:43:12 AM
[Markets] The U.S. Is "Morphing" Into The U.S.S.A. – The United States Of Soviet America

Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via SHTFplan.com,

We are experiencing an ever-increasing level of  surveillance over the citizenry, government censorship and closed-door policies, control and manipulation of the media, and a “hardline” shift of all institutions to the left. The institutions I’m referring to specifically are the educational system (better termed a system of indoctrination), the courts, the religious institutions…every one of them are all “leaning” toward (if not striving toward) full blown socialism. Let us recall a key quote:

“The goal of Socialism is Communism.” – Lenin

Just as recently as Tuesday, 10/2/18, we have this stunning announcement as quoted by the Washington Examiner by none other than the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Here’s the excerpt:

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warned Tuesday the public should steer clear of Russian-owned entities that pose as legitimate news outlets. “I encourage everybody, if you are reading something … and it suddenly takes you to RT and Sputnik, be aware. I mean, those are state-sponsored news outlets. They’re not independent,” Nielsen said at a cybersecurity summit in Washington, D.C.

Yeah, can you imagine that? Those Russian news sources are “state-sponsored,” and “not independent.” So ABC, CBS, and the New York Times are independent? Freedom of the press, right?

And how many White House press briefings would tolerate one person... one reporter from the Independent News Media? If it isn’t AP (Associated Press) sanctioned with a card, credentials, and lip balm, nobody is getting into those briefings. And how about all of the “Presidential Debates,” such as those modified by Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, and the like? The ones with the questions and their answers figured out a month in advance…with phony people and actors pretending to ask the questions spontaneously. The show must go on, right?

What about the media bias and slant away from the President right now? We are not talking about policies instituted by the President. We are discussing policies of censorship and watered-down propaganda that eclipses Pravda and Isvestia of the Soviet Union for its Hollywood polish and panache.

We have become as the Soviet Union, and worse: there is no freedom of speech, freedom of the press. We are in a “soft time” right now prior to the massive clamping-down that will occur when the globalists have their clawed-fingered control over the White House and all of Congress again. The clamping will be nothing more than the final evisceration of the Constitution and complete restrictions, martial law, and open enslavement being in place and out in the open.

Now, once again, let me remind everybody that this is the DHS Secretary we’re talking about…so whoever writes about what she said or about the DHS will be scrutinized by that agency. Bradford Betz of Fox News wrote an article 4/7/18 titled Homeland Security database would track journalists, ‘media influencers’: report. I wrote an article about the spokesperson for the DHS subsequently. Here’s an excerpt from Betz’s piece:

The Department of Homeland Security is seeking contractors for the creation of a database that would monitor news outlets around the world and collect information on journalists, bloggers and “media influencers.” The plan comes amid concerns of so-called “fake news” and its effect on U.S. elections, the Chicago-Sun Times reported. A DHS solicitation for bids on the project appears on the website FedBizOpps.gov. Prospective contractors are invited to contact two DHS staffers, whose email addresses appear in the post. DHS spokesman Todd Houlton tweeted Friday that despite what some reporters may suggest, the solicitation is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media. “Any suggestion otherwise is fit for tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists,” he said.

The DHS Media Monitoring plan would grant the chosen company “24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database, including journalist, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.,” for the purpose of identifying “any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event.” According to the document, the public activities of media members and influencers would be monitored by location and beat.

As I explained in the earlier article, this would be for the DHS to carry out activities that would normally come under fire from an arm or agency of the government by “subbing” out the work to a subcontractor. The subcontractor would monitor with all of the sneaky secrecy as outlined in the paragraph and report their findings to the DHS. The contractor would have carte blanche protection from DHS and immunity from prosecution.

This is the same method used by the “Five Eyes” to spy on their respective citizens: one nation “subs” out the tasks to another by “authorizing” it to do such things…and then the foreign “partner” feeds the information to that nation…effectively bypassing Constitutional protections for the citizens under the nation’s laws.

All of the Congressional sessions and hearings are closed-door, just as the closed-door tribunals of the Soviet Union (read the Gulag Archipelago, all volumes). The President is fighting a completely uphill battle and is pitted against the pit-vipers remaining from the Obama regime. The world situation is still a mess. Has North Korea “de-nuclearized” yet? I think not.

Check out the news that the U.S. may have a biological weapons facility in Georgia (the nation), and may be responsible for dozens of deaths. Check out the fact that we are slapping more sanctions on Iran, and China has just ceased buying our crude oil…the same oil we ourselves do not use domestically because of the Jones Act, and the lack of refineries.

In the meanwhile, characters such as Soros and the other leftists are fomenting dissension between Americans on all fronts. Remember what Che Guevara said:

“It is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making a revolution exist; the insurrection can create them.”

You’re seeing it now, in the form of Antifa, and in the form of leftists and communists masquerading behind the label of “progressives.” You are seeing threats being made against members of Congress and their families. You are seeing a level of racial discord being pushed to its limits, and the laws being either flagrantly disobeyed (by Communist governors and oligarchs) or circumvented (through the puppet court system, improperly named the “Justice system.”).

On a daily basis, the United States is “reshaping” itself, shifting the paradigm and molding the public consciousness to accept socialism…that final step prior to a full-blown totalitarian state. Surveillance on every citizen and control of every citizen is the key. Then they’ll bypass that “archaic” Constitution with its “pesky” 2nd Amendment, and come for the guns. Once they have the guns, the control, and the surveillance? The killing will begin. Just take a long look at Diane Feinstein, at Lisa Murkowski, at Schumer, Soros, Zuckerberg... just look at them and then ask yourself how you could doubt that they will all make the attempt. What attempt? The attempt to make the U.S. into an American version of the U.S.S.R. They are fighting that fight incrementally, and they are winning it.

Published:10/10/2018 11:16:05 PM
[Opinion] This is America’s Democrat Party

By Dave King -

A few years ago, in a speech intended to get Democrats motivated, President Barack Obama encouraged his audience to “take a gun to a knife fight” when dealing with Republicans. In another speech made prior to America’s winter holiday season, Obama encouraged Democrats to “get in the faces” of their ...

This is America’s Democrat Party is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:10/10/2018 9:11:31 PM
[Markets] FBI Director Refuses To Say Whether Trump's Phone Conversations Are Being Collected

Authored by Colin Kalmbacher via LawandCrime.com,

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray declined to answer a question as to whether the FBI or the National Security Agency is currently collecting the phone conversations of President Donald Trump.

The question was posed by Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) during a Senate committee hearing on national security issues. The Kentucky Senator asked, “Do you think that it’s possible that the president’s conversations with international leaders are in the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] database?”

To which Wray replied, “I’m not sure there’s anything I could speak to in this setting.” Just after the hearing, Paul tweeted about the interaction:

Paul continued his line of inquiry:

It’s been reported in the Washington Post about two years ago there were 1,500 times when the president–this is when Obama was president–was minimized meaning that, yes, you are gathering up so much information–you, the NSA, the intelligence community–that actually the president’s conversations are caught up in there. Do you think it’s possible that Congress–that members of Congress are in the FISA database if we talk to international leaders?

Wray deflected again.

“Well, senator, I am quite confident that we are conducting ourselves in a manner consistent with the law and the Constitution that’s subject to extensive oversight,” he said.

“I don’t know that I can speak to every hypothetical about whether there have been [such] situations.”

Paul then asked Wray whether journalists’ conversations were being possibly being scooped up by the intelligence community’s vast spying apparatus simply because they write stories about people with “terrorist name[s]” in them.

Wray declined to answer again, saying, “I can’t speak to specific hypotheticals.”

At this point, however, Paul cut off the FBI director, noting, “The answer is yes.”

Paul then widened the question to include international business people–asking whether their conversations have ever been swept up in the FISA dragnet. Wray again demurred.

As Paul’s time with Wray drew to a close, the libertarian-influenced senator spoke about the potential for abuse within the FISA system. Paul said:

You’ve had people bringing their politics to work. The concern of us who want more control over what you do and how you look at data is, as Madison said, ‘men are not angels,’ that’s why we have the Constitution. That’s why we ask you to get a warrant. The information you’ve gathered in the foreign database is not constitutional in the sense that it’s gathered with no bar, there is no warrant, there is no constitutional matter to that data. And yet, you’re going to then use it on domestic crime. That has been our complaint for years and years and years.

Published:10/10/2018 8:41:34 PM
[World] If banks can't take marijuana money, how can public officials?

On Aug. 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice under the Obama administration reaffirmed that marijuana is a Schedule One drug — dangerous because of its high abuse potential and public health concerns — and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime. The United States ... Published:10/10/2018 7:49:07 PM

[Markets] Eric Holder Whips Up Democrats: When They Go Low, We Kick Them

As Democrats approach midterms - and more importantly the 2020 US election, former Attorney General Eric Holder had some advice during a Sunday campaign event in Georgia. 

"Michelle [Obama] always says ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. No. When they go low, we kick them"

Holder clarified that he's not advocating actual violence, saying: "When I say we, you know, ‘We kick ‘em,’ I don’t mean we do anything inappropriate. We don’t do anything illegal." 

"But we got to be tough, and we have to fight for the very things that [civil rights leaders] John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Whitney Young – you know, all those folks gave to us." 

Holder isn't the only leading Democrat calling for aggressive action against conservatives. In a Tuesday interview, Hillary Clinton rejected the idea that Democrats should be "civil" with Republicans in the age of Donald Trump. 

"You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about," said Clinton. 

Of course, Clinton also said that if Donald Trump failed to accept his inevitable 2016 election defeat that it would "threaten Democracy."

Published:10/10/2018 5:44:16 PM
[Media] CBS Reporter: Media Has More Access to Trump Than They Ever Had Under Obama

One reporter is noting that the media has had more access to Trump in just two years than they had with Obama in two terms.

The post CBS Reporter: Media Has More Access to Trump Than They Ever Had Under Obama appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/10/2018 1:20:24 PM
[Media] CBS Reporter: Media Has More Access to Trump Than They Ever Had Under Obama

One reporter is noting that the media has had more access to Trump in just two years than they had with Obama in two terms.

The post CBS Reporter: Media Has More Access to Trump Than They Ever Had Under Obama appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/10/2018 1:20:24 PM
[] Now Former (Contemptuous) AG Eric Holder Dog Whistling for Mob Violence, Too Apparently this is now a litmus test for any Democrat presidential candidate. Eric Holder: "Michelle [Obama] always says, 'When they go low, we go high.' No. No. When they go low, we kick them."https://t.co/RIBtvaEF5t— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) October 10, 2018... Published:10/10/2018 1:20:24 PM
[Crime] “Ban the Box” Gets Boxed in Again (Steven Hayward) We reported here last year about research showing that a favorite Obama policy initiative known as “Ban the Box” (that is, prohibit employers from inquiring about a person’s criminal history on employment applications) was having the opposite effect, and was increasing discrimination against blacks. Two women economists writing in the Quarterly Journal of Economics concluded: Our results support the concern that BTB policies encourage racial discrimination: the black-white gap in Published:10/10/2018 11:41:27 AM
[Markets] Shunned By Democrats, Clintons Plan Post-Midterms Speaking Tour; Tickets Priced Up To $750

Bill and Hillary Clinton, who have kindly been asked by fellow Democrats to make themselves scarce during midterms, will embark on a 13-city speaking tour beginning in Las Vegas on November 18, according to Bloomberg.

Tickets won't be cheap either - with prices for the first show ranging from around $72 to $750 on ticketmaster to watch the prototypical American power couple "sharing stories and inspiring anecdotes that shaped their historic careers in public service, while also discussing issues of the day and looking towards the future," according to an announcement from Live Nation. 

Bloomberg points out that the new speaking tour is likely to stoke criticism over the Clintons leveraging their political fame to give expensive speaking tours - including an infamous $500,000 speech to a Kremlin-linked investment bank amid the Uranium One deal (a trip during which Clinton and Putin hung out at the Russian president's house). 

The tour and ticket prices could reignite criticism of the former first couple for profiting from their former offices. During the 2016 campaign, Republicans blasted Hillary Clinton for giving highly paid speeches to corporate audiences after leaving public service.

Indeed, the Clinton tour follows two years of declining popularity - between Hillary Clinton's historic 2016 loss to Donald Trump, and Bill Clinton's old rape allegations cropping up amid the #MeToo phenomenon. 

Vanity Fair writes "The Trump era has not been kind to the Clintons, the prototypical American power couple who, after three decades in the public eye, have seen their political capital vastly diminished. Hillary, indelibly marked by her 2016 election loss, has played only a limited role in the midterms, given the Democratic Party’s newfound aversion to her brand of establishment politics. Bill, meanwhile, has undergone a belated reckoning with #MeToo." 

[T]he issue of Hillary’s “likability”—as Barack Obama so memorably put it—is now secondary to the #MeToo scandals hanging over Bill, and the awkward questions she has been forced to address. In a recent interview with CNN, she drew a painstaking line between Bill and the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against the current president, noting, “There’s a very significant difference, and that is the intense, long-lasting, partisan investigation that was conducted in the 90s. If the Republicans, starting with President Trump on down, want a comparison, they should welcome such an investigation themselves.” That answer may be sufficient for the dwindling number of hardcore Clinton fans, but it is unlikely to win converts. -Vanity Fair

Tickets for the Clinton tour go on sale Friday. It should be fun to compare crowd sizes between Trump rallies and Clinton appearances. 

Published:10/9/2018 10:05:59 PM
[Markets] Americans Are Stuck In An Abusive Relationships With Power

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

And we recently discovered, if it was not known before, that no amount of power can withstand the hatred of the many.

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

Americans are brought up to believe all sorts of myths about the country we call home. We’re told our economy is a free market meritocracy governed by the rule of law. We’re told our civil liberties, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, are inviolable and protected by the most powerful military in the world. A fighting force entrusted with the admirable and monumental task of defending freedoms at home, and democracy and human rights abroad. We’re told we exist in a system of self-government, in which our votes matter and our voices heard. In practice, none of this is true.

The fact of the matter is American citizens in 2018 are just a nuisance for the real power players. Useful as consumers, but increasingly problematic as larger numbers start to ask questions about how things really work. For far too long, we’ve been ignorant and willing accomplices in our own bondage. This allowed the concentrated and unaccountable power that really calls the shots to go for broke in recent decades, with unsurprisingly tragic results.

Only recently have things started to shift. Increased levels of barbarism abroad and corruption at home during the 21st century — under both Republican and Democratic administrations — have shaken many Americans from a long stupor. Irrespective of where you sit on the political spectrum, most people know something’s not right. People don’t agree on the details of what’s wrong, and there’s certainly no consensus on solutions, but increasing numbers of us know something’s very broken.

I try to look at things from a big picture perspective, and from that angle I see too many people focused on the symptoms of cultural decay versus root causes. Not enough people seem to be taking a step back to see that at the core of today’s broken socioeconomic and political paradigm is an American citizenry fundamentally entangled in various abusive relationships with power. This post will highlight three of these relationships. The first with government itself, the second with central banking, and the third with the dominant political parties.

When it comes to the relationship of U.S. citizens to the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington D.C., there’s no indication that anything remotely resembling self-government is happening. Rather, the relationship is far more like that of a servant to a master. The powerful in this country have declared themselves above the law and beyond accountability on too many occasions for it to be an accident. Rather, it’s clearly unwritten public policy at this point. For starters, key players who pushed the Iraq war during the George W. Bush administration, such as John Bolton, are never held accountable. Instead, they’re promoted to even more influential roles many years later.

Equally troubling, leaders of intelligence agencies like John Brennan who supported torture during the Bush years, ran the CIA while it spied on a Senate investigation into torture and then lied about the spying, likewise face no consequences for their actions. Rather, Brennan ends up with a corporate media gig as an MSNBC/NBC “resistance” pundit. Same thing with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He lied under oath about domestic government surveillance, gets caught following the Snowden revelations, and then nothing at all happens to him. He leaves government many years later, joins a think tank, and becomes a CNN contributor.

Of course, this whole above the law thing extends well beyond government officials. We saw how bankers who tanked the global economy as a result of systemic and extremely lucrative fraud schemes received bailouts instead of jail sentences. We should never forget that not a single bank executive went to jail. When a class of powerful super predators are placed above the law, society dies.

Let’s now dig a little deeper into the economy. It’s still a relatively under appreciated fact that the most powerful players commandeering and influencing the U.S. economy, in a fashion similar to a communist politburo, are a collection of unelected central bankers. These people can bring an economy to its knees via interest rate hikes at a moments notice, or bail out powerful financiers should that need arise as we saw explicitly in 2008/09.

Moreover, what’s most instructive about central bank policy is that it always seems to help connected speculators and Wall Street hooligans versus the general public. One thing you’ll notice if you watch the Fed steer the economy over the course of its cycle, is it doesn’t really get going with rate hikes until wage pressures emerge. In other words, once your average worker starts to get some leverage in the labor market the Fed ends the party. The same thing’s happening again right now.

Then, after asset markets crash and the economy enters a recession, central banks will rapidly lower rates to start the cycle all over again. Naturally, the people who benefit most from all this are speculators and those investors with access to low rates who buy assets on the cheap. Meanwhile, you probably got kicked out of your home and continue to face double digit interest rates on your credit card balance. Then years down the road, as soon as the labor market tightens and you get a couple of raises, the Fed again will hike rates and end the expansion.

The Fed makes up all sorts of excuses for why it doesn’t care about asset inflation or commodity price inflation, but the moment wage pressures emerge it jacks up rates and ends the cycle. As I mentioned earlier, it’s happening right now all over again, and it’ll become increasingly clear over the next year or so. This economy isn’t a free market in any real sense, it’s largely a rigged oligarchy. Another abusive relationship designed to enrich a particular type of charlatan.

Finally, I want to touch on America’s dominant political parties. Two corrupt organizations that fully support and defend the pernicious, abusive relationships described above. While they certainly disagree on many things, when it comes to supporting the existing paradigm that empowers politicians while in office, and enriches them when they leave to become lobbyists, they are united. Basically, the two parties bicker about how to deal with the symptoms of a rigged and systemically corrupt government, but never confront or oppose the structural root causes of it all.

What’s most incredible to me is how we continue to put up with this scam as a people. If you look over at Europe, the old political parties have been getting decimated at the polls. Political parties that barely had any support, or didn’t even exist a few years ago, are surging ahead and in some cases taking power. Meanwhile, we Americans are still playing footsie with the Democrats and Republicans. At least Trump was able to overcome establishment opposition and get the GOP nomination. Bernie Sanders was not so lucky, as his response to being the victim of a rigged primary has been to shepherd his supporters into the arms of the corrupt Democratic establishment that hates his guts. It’s a genuine national embarrassment.

That being said, the fact we remain stuck in this pathetic two-party political dungeon tells me something important. It tells me we’re still very early in the populist wave here in the U.S. It tells me that while people are increasingly fed up, they aren’t nearly as fed up as they could be. When people have finally had enough, you’ll know it. We’re steadily building up to that moment, but not there yet. There’s no way to know exactly how this period of time will play out, but I do know what emerges on the other side won’t look like anything like what we have today.

Unfortunately, even if we intelligently deal with all the abusive relationships described above, I still think political power in the U.S. is far too centralized to be healthy. Outside of essential civil liberties, I don’t think it makes any sense to assume we need uniform ways of doing most things, and decision making should be far more localized. Nevertheless, even at the local level, the abusive relationships described above can become problematic, so it’s always important to be cognizant of them.

*  *  *

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Published:10/9/2018 6:16:52 PM
[Politics] Justices Reject Appeal of Kavanaugh Environmental Ruling The Supreme Court is declining to review an environmental ruling written by Brett Kavanaugh in his former role as an appeals court judge.The justices on Tuesday left in place an August 2017 ruling the new Supreme Court justice wrote that struck down an Obama-era... Published:10/9/2018 4:39:27 PM
[The Blog] It’s (still) on: SCOTUS upholds Kavanaugh ruling on Obama climate rule

Endorsement.

The post It’s (still) on: SCOTUS upholds Kavanaugh ruling on Obama climate rule appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/9/2018 1:34:53 PM
[Markets] US–Mexico–Canada Trade Agreement A Win For All 3 Nations

Authored by David Kilgour via The Epoch Times,

Trade between the United States and Canada has long provided millions of good livelihoods across both countries. Many people thus supported the 1988 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and its expansion in 1994 to include Mexico in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

After more than a year of negotiations, the three national governments, sometimes referred to as the “Three Amigos,” recently agreed in principle to change and rebrand NAFTA, which today regulates what has grown to more than $1.2 trillion yearly trade in goods and services. The new agreement is renamed the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA).

What else has changed?

The investor-state dispute provisions (Chapter 11), highly detrimental to Canada, have been removed.

The U.S. attempt to remove protections for Canada’s cultural and media industries was abandoned.

The three governments agreed to improve labor and environmental rights. Mexicans will be able to form unions more easily; their trucks crossing the U.S. border will have to meet tougher environmental standards.

A joint committee to review the conduct of macroeconomic policy in the three countries has been introduced.

Canada successfully fought off the U.S. attempt to remove NAFTA’s independent dispute-resolution mechanism (Chapter 19). The three countries may now challenge each other’s anti-dumping and countervail duties before panels of USMCA representatives, rather than in U.S. courts.

American dairy farmers get improved access to the Canadian market—a victory for U.S. President Donald Trump. Canada has agreed to expand duty-free access to its domestic market—reportedly slightly more than was already offered in the renamed Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations with the Obama administration. In practice, this affects only a fraction of 1 percent of Canada’s total exports.

The contentious class 6 and 7 milk products are normalized. Canadian dairy farmers are understandably displeased with the Trudeau government’s decision to let more American milk pass through the tariff wall that protects the supply-management system. While there will be subsidies for Canadian dairy farmers to compensate, the agreement will have little or no impact on consumer prices in Canada.

The steel and aluminum tariffs Trump imposed on Canada under the pretense of U.S. national security have done damage to both economies. Ford Motor announced that the two levies cost it more than $1 billion last year alone.

The head of the U.S. Steelworkers’ Union has come out against both measures. They remain in place because Canada has already responded to them with dollar-for-dollar retaliation; now is an excellent time for both governments to call a truce.

Praise came from both the auto workers’ union, Unifor, and the Canadian Labor Congress for avoiding similar tariffs on the auto sector.

USMCA will limit the number of cars and value of automobile parts that Canada can ship to the United States without paying higher duties. Beginning in 2020, in order to qualify for zero tariffs, a car/truck will have to have at least 75 percent of its parts produced in the United States, Mexico, or Canada.

Also beginning in 2020, at least 30 percent of the work done on a qualifying vehicle will have to be done by workers earning a minimum of $16 per hour—roughly three times more than Mexican auto employees now earn. This will be a boost for auto industry workers, but it will increase car prices and make it harder for North American-made cars to compete on international markets.

USMCA forces Canada and Mexico to respect the long patents the United States gives to its pharmaceutical companies. Specifically, the intellectual-property chapter includes an extension of the length of time new, very costly biologic drugs will be protected from generic drug competition.

The extension means that U.S. drug companies will be able to sell their biologics in Canada for a full decade, delaying the entry of cheaper generics by two years. McGill law professor Richard Gold, an expert on intellectual property, says this could cost Canadians “tens of millions” annually.

One of USMCA’s new features is a clause that effectively provides the United States a veto over any free trade deal the other two partners might wish to negotiate with a listed “non-market country,” such as China (which is already on the U.S. list).

The Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman correctly predicted years ago that Beijing’s ongoing refusal to let its currency float would cause retaliation from economies where a manipulated yuan creates an enormous competitive advantage for China.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s respected foreign affairs minister, says the new agreement preserves the successful economic architecture that has long governed North American trade. Critics judge that the United States is determined to dictate the terms of commerce, and the smaller partners could either go along or face years of harassment.

Despite all, the USMCA is for now seen as a “win” for all involved.

  • Trump gets his first “major” trade deal just in time for the midterm elections.

  • Mexico’s outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto leaves office proudly; president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador avoids facing trilateral trade negotiations.

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can assert that he successfully defended Canada from an economic calamity.

*  *  *

David Kilgour served in Canada’s House of Commons for almost 27 years. In Jean Chrétien’s cabinet, he was secretary of state (Latin America and Africa) and secretary of state (Asia-Pacific).

Published:10/9/2018 1:34:53 PM
[Policy] Lyft taps Obama’s transportation secretary to lead policy and advise founders Lyft has hired Anthony Foxx, who served as President Barack Obama’s transportation secretary from 2013 to 2017, to lead its policy efforts, Bloomberg’s Eric Newcomer first reported. Foxx, who was formerly the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, is officially the chief policy officer and senior advisor to Lyft’s founders, Lyft President John Zimmer and Lyft […] Published:10/9/2018 12:03:32 PM
[Markets] US Rotates To Ukraine As Location To Start Conflict With Russia

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The United States Government is now treating Ukraine as if it were a NATO member, and on September 27th donated to Ukraine two warships for use against Russia. This is the latest indication that the US is switching to Ukraine as the locale to start World War III, and from which the nuclear war is to be sparked against Russia, which borders Ukraine. 

Here is why Syria is no longer the US alliance’s preferred choice as a place to start WW III:

On September 4th, US President Donald Trump publicly threatened Syria, Iran and Russia that if they exterminated the jihadists in Syria’s only remaining jihadist-controlled province, Idlib, then the US might launch a full-scale invasion against Syria, Iran and Russia in Syria. Either the US or Russia would then quickly escalate to nuclear war so as not to lose in Syria — that would be the conventional-war start to World War III. 

The leaders of Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Syria (Putin, Rouhani, Erdogan, and Assad), agreed in two meetings, one on September 7th and the other on September 17th, to (as I had recommended on September 10th) transfer control of Syria’s only remaining jihadist-controlled province, Idlib, to NATO-member Turkey. This action effectively prevents the US alliance from going to war against Russia if Russia’s alliance (which includes Syria) obliterates all the jihadist groups in the Al-Qaeda-led Syrian province Idlib. For the US to war against Russia there would also be war against fellow-NATO-member Turkey — out of the question. 

The US has been using Al Qaeda in Syria to train and lead the jihadist groups which have been trying to overthrow Syria’s Government and to replace it with a government that has been selected by the Saud family who own Saudi Arabia. Ever since 1949 the US Government has been trying to do this (to place the Saud family in charge of Syria). That plan is now being placed on-hold if not blocked altogether, because of the Russia, Turkey, Iran, Syria, agreement. As I reported on September 25th, “Turkey Now Controls Syria’s Jihadists”. The US would no longer be able to save them, but Turkey would, if Erdogan wants to. “Turkey is thus now balanced on a knife’s edge, between the US and its allies (representing the Saud family) on the one side, versus Russia and its allies (representing the anti-Saud alliance) on the other.” 

During the same period in which the US Government was setting Syria up as the place to start WW III, it was also setting up Ukraine as an alternative possibility to do that. US President Obama, in a very bloody February 2014 coup which he had started planning by no later than 2011, overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected President, and replaced him by a rabidly anti-Russian racist-fascist regime whose Ukrainian tradition went back to ideologically nazi Ukrainian organizations that had supported Hitler during World War II. Though communism is gone from Russia ever since 1991, the US aristocracy never ended its goal of conquering Russia; the Cold War was secretly continued on the US-NATO side. Ukraine’s nazis (meaning its racist-fascists) are now the US and UK aristocracies’ chief hope to achieve this ambition of a US-and-allied global conquest. Here are the recent steps toward WW III regarding the US alliance’s new (since 2014) prize, Ukraine:

On September 28th, John Siciliano at the Washington Examiner bannered “Ryan Zinke: Naval blockade is an option for dealing with Russia” and he reported that Trump’s Interior Secretary Zinke had said “There is the military option, which I would rather not. And there is the economic option. … The economic option on Iran and Russia is, more or less, leveraging and replacing fuels.” He was saying that in order for the US to get its and its allies’ (mainly the Sauds’) oil and gas into Europe replacing some of Russia’s dominant market-share in that — the world’s largest energy-consuming — market (and also shrink Iran’s market-share there), a military blockade against Russia and Iran would be an option. Currently, most of Russia’s oil and gas into Europe goes via pipelines through Ukraine, which the US already controls. Siciliano’s news-break received a follow-up on September 30th from Zero Hedge.

On October 1st, George Eliason, the great investigative journalist who happens to live in Donbass, the southeastern part of Ukraine that broke off from Ukraine when Obama’s coup overthrew the democratically elected Ukrainian President who had received over 90% of the votes in Donbass, reported at The Saker’s site, that Ukraine’s war against Donbass was now returning in full force. Headlining “War Crimes in LNR and DNR [Donbass] —The Unannounced War”, he opened: 

On September 28th, Lugansk Peoples Republic (LNR)Deputy Foreign Minister Anna Soroka and Andrey Chernov gave a presentation unveiling a photo album entitled Unannounced war. This collection of 150 images details the war crimes by the Ukrainian government during the war from 2014-2018.

Over the last 4 years, many journalists including myself reported on the war crimes committed by Ukrainian punisher battalions and sometimes the Ukrainian army. These war crimes are privately funded by Ukrainian Diaspora groups led primarily by US and Canadian citizens.

The Ukrainian punisher battalions and Ukrainian volunteer battalions take pride in the fact there is no need to hide any of Ukraine’s crimes from the West’s prying eyes.

Even now, when there is supposed to be a ceasefire so the children can go to school, Kiev is shelling cities and towns across Donbass. On September 29th, in just 24 hours Ukrainian army units shelled DNR (Donetsk Peoples Republic) over 300 times violating the ceasefire.

The US Government is trying to bully Russia and its allies, and now is overtly threatening to go to a naval blockade against Russia. Those two warships that the US just donated to Ukraine could be helpful in such a blockade. Alternatively, Ukraine’s re-invasion of Donbass might become Trump’s opportunity to ‘aid a NATO ally’ and precipitate WW III from a conventional war in Donbass. Either way would likely produce from Russia a nuclear blitz-attack to eliminate as many of America’s retaliatory weapons as possible, so as to beat the US to the punch. In military terms, the side that suffers the less damage ‘wins’, even if it’s a nuclear war that destroys the planet. The side that would strike first in a nuclear war would almost certainly suffer the less damage, because most of the opponent’s retaliatory weaponry would be destroyed in that attack. Trump is playing nuclear 'chicken' against Putin. He is surely trying Putin’s patience.

If the US regime uses any of these entry-points to a conventional war, Russia would simply be waiting for the US to nuclear blitz-attack Russia, which the US regime has long been intending to do. Regardless which side goes nuclear first, the blockade and/or re-invasion of Donbass (repeating there such things as this and this) will have started WWIII. And, clearly, any survivors would likely view the US in the way that most of today’s world views the fascist powers in WWII: as having been the aggressors. Consequently, if the American people cannot first overthrow the US regime and establish an authentic democracy here, then WWIII seems likely to result, which would be an outcome far worse, for the entire world, than an overthrow of the government that the entire world considers to be by far the most dangerous on Earth.

Published:10/6/2018 10:17:12 PM
[Markets] Is Saudi Arabia The Middle East's Next Failed State?

Authored by Daniel Lazare via ConsortiumNews.com,

Reports are growing that Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s hyperactive crown prince, is losing his grip. His economic reform program has stalled since his father, King Salman, nixed plans to privatize 5 percent of Saudi Aramco. The Saudi war in Yemen, which the prince launched in March 2015, is more of a quagmire than ever while the kingdom’s sword rattling with Iran is making the region increasingly jumpy.

Heavy gunfire in Riyadh last April sparked rumors that MBS, as he’s known, had been killed in a palace coup. In May, an exiled Saudi prince urged top members of the royal family to oust him and put an end to his “irrational, erratic, and stupid” rule. Recently, Bruce Riedel, an ex-CIA analyst who heads up the Brookings Institution’s Intelligence Project, reported that the prince is so afraid for his life that he’s taken to spending nights on his yacht in the Red Sea port of Jeddah.  

A statue of Ibn Khaldun in Tunis, Tunisia. (Kassus / Wikimedia)

Channeling Ibn Khaldun

What does it all mean? The person to ask is Ibn Khaldun, the famous Tunisian historian, geographer, and social theorist. You might have trouble getting him on the phone, though, since he died in 1406. But he’s still the single best guide to the deepening Saudi crisis.  

If you do somehow channel him, the message might be grim. In a nutshell, it’s that if MBS goes, he’ll likely take the Al-Saud with him, and that the people waiting in the wings will not be the “moderates” beloved of Washington, but ISIS and al-Qaida. A modern state bristling with shopping malls, superhighways, and high-tech weaponry thus will succumb to a ragtag militia riding Toyota pickups and waving AK-47s.

Ibn Khaldun, a member of an upper-class Spanish-Muslim family that fled to North Africa after the fall of Seville in 1248, was one of the most remarkable personalities of the late Middle Ages on either side of the Christian-Muslim divide. He wrote The Muqaddimah, a book-length prologue to his six-volume world history, which British historian Arnold Toynbee praised “as undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place.” The anthropologist Ernest Gellner described Khaldun as a forerunner of modern sociology. The Muqaddimah, a strange blend of faith, fatalism, and science, is best known for its musings on the subject of the urban-nomadic conflict and the process by which dynasties rise and decay.

As Ibn Khaldun put it:

[T]he life of a dynasty does not as a rule extend beyond three generations. The first generation retains the desert qualities, desert toughness, and desert strategy. … They are sharp and greatly feared.  People submit to them. … [T]he second generation changes from the desert attitude to sedentary culture, from privation to luxury and plenty, from a state in which everybody shared in the glory to one in which one man claims all the glory for himself while the others are too lazy to strive for glory. …  The third generation … has completely forgotten the period of desert life and toughness, as if it never existed…. Luxury reaches its peak among them, because they are so much given to a life of prosperity and ease.

Decadence leads to collapse as fierce nomadic fundamentalists gather in the desert and prepare to mete out punishment to the city dwellers for their religious laxity. “[A] new purge of the faith is required,” summed up Friedrich Engels, who evidently read Ibn Khaldun, “a new Mahdi [i.e., redeemer] arises, and the game starts again from the beginning.”

It’s a recurrent cycle that has held true for a remarkable number of Muslim dynasties from the seventh century on.

Evidence of Instability

The big question now is whether the pattern will hold true for the Saudis.  

The answer so far is that it will. Events are proceeding on course. Ibn Saud, the founder of the modern Saudi state, by allying himself with Wahhabism, the local version of Islamic ultra-fundamentalism, embodied Ibn Khaldun’s concept of a ruthless desert warrior who uses religion to mobilize his fellow tribesman and battle his way to the throne in 1932. Once Saud took power, he proved to be a tough and cagey politician who put down rebellion and expertly played Britain and America off against one another to solidify his throne.

But the half-dozen sons who followed were different. The first, Saud, was a heavy spender who brought the kingdom to the brink of bankruptcy. The second, Faisal was an autocrat who was so out of his depth that he believed Zionism somehow begat communism. Khalid, who took power in 1975, was an absentee monarch who was gripped by paralysis when hundreds of rebels took over Mecca’s Grand Mosque in November 1979 and had to be rescued by French commandos flown in specially for the occasion. Fahd, who succeeded to the throne in 1982, was obese, diabetic, and a heavy smoker who ultimately fell victim to a massive stroke.  Abdullah, his successor, also was sickly and obese, while Salman, who assumed the throne in 2015 at age 79, has suffered at least one stroke and is said to exhibit “mild dementia.”

A video of the king landing in Moscow in 2017 shows a doddering old man who can barely descend a staircase.

Muhammad bin Salman and Ash Carter in 2016. (Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley / Department of Defense)

The upshot is a group study in decrepitude. MBS, who all but took over the throne in 2015, meanwhile personifies all the foolishness and decadence that Ibn Khaldun attributed to the third generation. He’s more energetic than his father. But as one would expect of someone who has spent his entire life cosseted amid fantastic wealth, he’s headstrong, impractical, and immature. Appointed minister of defense by his father at the ripe old age of 29, he declared war on Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s neighbor to the south, two months later and then disappeared on a luxury vacation in the Maldives where a frantic Ashton Carter, Barack Obama’s secretary of defense, was unable to reach him for days.

A year later, MBS unveiled Vision 2030 a grandiose development plan aimed at bringing Saudi Arabia into the 21st century by diversifying the economy, loosening the grip of the ultra-intolerant Wahhabiyya,and putting an end to the country’s dual addiction to oil revenue and cheap foreign labor. In a country in which young men routinely wait years for a comfortable government sinecure to open up, the goal was to rejigger the incentives to encourage them to take private-sector jobs instead.  

It hasn’t worked. In a rare moment of candor, a pro-government newspaper recently reported that thousands of employers are evading government hiring quotas by paying Saudi workers not to show up. “Employers say young Saudi men and women are lazy and are not interested in working,” it said, “and accuse Saudi youth of preferring to stay at home rather than to take a low-paying job that does not befit the social status of a Saudi job seeker.”

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (lawepw / Wikimedia)

Some 800,000 foreign workers have left the country while capital is fleeing in the wake of last November’s mass roundup in which hundreds of princes and businessmen were herded into the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton and forced to turn over billions in assets. Foreign direct investment has plummeted from $7.5 billion to $1.4 billion since 2016 while a series of super-splashy development projects are in jeopardy now that Saudi Aramco privatization, which MBS was counting on as a revenue source, is on hold.  

While granting women permission to drive, MBS has imprisoned women’s rights advocates, threatened a dissident cleric and five Shiite activists with the death penalty, and cracked down on satirical postings on social media.  He preaches austerity and hard work, yet plunked down $500 million for his yacht, $450 million for a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, and $300 million for a French chateau. The hypocrisy is so thick that it’s almost as if he wants to be overthrown.  

Fundamental Enemies

As for the lean and hungry fundamentalists whom Ibn Khaldun said would administer the final blow, there’s no doubt who fits that bill: ISIS and al- Qaida. Both are fierce, warlike, and pious, both inveigh against a Saudi regime drowning in corruption, and both would like nothing more than to parade about with the crown prince’s head on a pike.  

In May, al-Qaida denounced Saudi religious reforms as “heretical” and urged clerics to rise up against a “moderate, open Islam, which all onlookers know is American Islam.”

In July, Islamic State took credit for an attack on a Saudi security checkpoint that claimed the life of a security officer and a foreign resident.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2004

In August, ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi accused Saudi Arabia of “trying to secularize its inhabitants and ultimately destroy Islam.”  

These are fighting words. Both groups meanwhile enjoy extensive support inside the kingdom. Prior to the attack on the World Trade Center, wealthy Saudis, including members of the royal family, helped fund al-Qaida to the tune of $30 million a year, according to Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan’s 2011 best seller, The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden.

In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confided in a diplomatic memo that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” More than three thousand Saudis have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join up with al-Qaida, ISIS and other Islamist forces. Once they return home, such jihadis might constitute a fifth column threatening the royal family as well. A crumbling royal family could fall like a ripe date into their outstretched palm.

Could Saudi Arabia become the Middle East’s next failed state? 

Washington is filled with so-called Middle East experts contributing to one disaster after another. Could it be that the best Mideast hand worth listening to is a North African scholar who died more than six centuries ago?

Published:10/5/2018 7:09:58 PM
[Markets] Saudi Crown Prince Slams Obama, Praises Trump, Claims Aramco IPO Is Back On

The on-again, off-again, never-in-doubt, will-never-happen IPO of Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company Aramco is back on... for 2021, according to prince Mohammad bin Salman.

In a broad-based interview with a number of Bloomberg reporters on Wednesday night at a royal compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud spoke about his relationship with Donald Trump, his commitment to IPO Aramco, plans to invest a further $45 billion in Softbank, energy markets and the recent arrests in the kingdom.

As Bloomberg reports, Prince Mohammed, surrounded by a handful of advisers, said the IPO was "100 percent" in the nation’s interest.

"Everyone heard about the rumors of Saudi Arabia canceling the IPO of Aramco, delaying that, and that this is delaying Vision 2030," he said. "This is not right."

Prince Mohammed said the IPO’s delay had its origin in mid-2017, when it became clear that Aramco needed a push into petrochemicals. He said it would had been unfair to go ahead with the listing only to surprise investors soon after with a big deal in chemicals.

The most recent statements on when the IPO would happen provided considerable room for maneuver. Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said in August that Saudi Arabia would go ahead with the project "at a time of its own choosing when conditions are optimum."

Prince Mohammed has now given the company and its advisers a new deadline, requiring the completion of the Sabic and acquisition and a giant international share sale in less than three years. Management and bankers will take some solace from the fact they’ve already made many of the preparations needed for an IPO, but it remains a daunting agenda.

Bloomberg: Now the other big deal, because we have to talk about the other big deal that I know my colleagues are very interested in is Aramco’s negotiation for Sabic, taking the share. Do you have a sense of how that’s going to be structured, how that’s going to go?

MBS: Everyone heard about the rumors of Saudi Arabia canceling the IPO of Aramco, delaying that, and that this is delaying Vision 2030. This is not right. Actually, in mid-2017, we had an issue, which was: What’s the future of Aramco?

So Aramco today, it produces oil, and it has a few downstream projects. But if we want to have a really strong future for Aramco after 20, 30, 40 years from today, Aramco has to invest a lot in downstream because we know that the new demand for oil 20 years from now, it will be from petrochemicals. If we see the rising demand from petrochemicals, I believe it’s growing about 2-3 percent today. So definitely the future of Aramco has to be in downstream and Aramco has to invest in downstream.

So when Aramco does that, it will have a huge conflict with Sabic, because Sabic is about petrochemicals and downstream. And the main source of oil for Sabic is from Aramco. So if Aramco does follow that strategy, Sabic will definitely suffer. So before we do that, we have to have some sort of agreement to be sure that Aramco benefits from Sabic and Sabic doesn’t suffer in that process. So we’ve reached a point that PIF will sell the 70 percent that it owns in Sabic to Aramco and Aramco will do the other jobs of merging -- or whatever they will do with Sabic -- to have one huge mega company in that area in Saudi Arabia and around the world.

Of course, the money coming from that deal will go to PIF, but we cannot IPO Aramco directly after that deal, because you need at least one full financial year before that IPO. So we believe that deal will happen in 2019, so you need the whole 2020 –

Bloomberg: Is that early ‘19?

MBS: It will be somewhere in mid ’19, more or less. You’re talking about $100 billion of deals, so it’s huge.

Bloomberg: So you know what the structure is going to be, roughly?

MBS: This is really complicated, I’m not sure about the details yet. We will come to it.

So the deal in 2019, one financial year in 2020 and then immediately Aramcowill be IPOed. We’ve tried to push to IPO it as soon as possible, but this is the timing, based on the situation that we have.

This will not harm the plans of Vision 2030 because PIF will still be funded from the deal of Sabic in 2019 with around $70 billion to $80 billion if I’m not mistaken, and in late 2020, early 2021, it will also have $100 billion from IPOing Aramco. So there is in the pipeline of the cash flow to PIF, $70 billion -- $70 billion to $80 billion -- then $100 billion, so we are talking about $170 to $180 billion. So PIF is good, the economic plans in Saudi Arabia is good, and that deal is good for the downstream industry in Saudi Arabia.

We will produce, we believe, more than 3 million barrels of petrochemicals in 2030, most of it in Saudi Arabia, part of it outside of Saudi Arabia, and that will be done by Aramco and Sabic and this will create huge opportunities for economic growth and jobs.

Bloomberg: Can you see why people thought that there was a connection between the two? They say oh, the IPO has been delayed, and now we have this deal we didn’t know about before? Was it not possible to do the IPO before the Sabic deal?

MBS: I believe it would be really a waste of the whole image of Aramco. You cannot do the IPO of Aramco and then give the shareholders a surprise a year later with a new deal that wasn’t on the road map then. So it has to be clear. It has to be clear IPO, clear strategy. So that’s why we have to do that before.

Why that story happened, because we believe that there was some leak about the Sabic deal before we did the PR campaign to announce it officially in Saudi Arabia. So when that leak happened, it goes the wrong way. But today I’m trying to say what the right picture is.

Bloomberg: So you still think the IPO is absolutely in the nation’s interest?

MBS: Of course, 100 percent.

Bloomberg: 2020, 2021?

MBS: I believe late 2020, early 2021.

Bloomberg: Will you do full 5 percent, because you’re saying $100 billion?

MBS: Absolutely.

Bloomberg: And you’re still on the valuation that’s $2 trillion, even though there’s a lot of skepticism about that?

MBS: We will see. So the investor will decide the price on the day.

Bloomberg: So does that mean, it can be $2 trillion, it can be based on market?

MBS: I believe it will be $2 trillion, above $2 trillion.

Additionally, bin Salman had some comments for President Trump and Obama...

Bloomberg: Trump said you would last two weeks only without the U.S.

MBS: Saudi Arabia was there before the United States of America. It’s there since 1744, I believe more than 30 years before the United States of America.

And I believe, and I’m sorry if anyone misunderstands that, but I believe President Obama, in his eight years, he worked against many of our agenda – not in Saudi Arabia, but also in the Middle East. And even though the US worked against our agenda we were able to protect our interests. And the end result is that we succeeded, and the United States of America under the leadership of President Obama failed, for example in Egypt.

So Saudi Arabia needs something like around 2,000 years to maybe face some dangers. So I believe this is not accurate.

Bloomberg: So if President Trump is doing other things that you want, you don’t mind him saying these incredibly rude things about your father?

MBS: Well, you know, you have to accept that any friend will say good things and bad things. So you cannot have 100 percent friends saying good things about you, even in your family. You will have some misunderstandings. So we put that in that category.

Bloomberg: So we know, U.S.-Saudi relations are just as good now as they were 24 hours ago before the President said these things?

MBS: Yes of course. If you look at the picture overall, you have 99 percent of good things and one bad issue.

Bloomberg: With President Trump it seems to be a little bit more than one percent.

MBS: One percent. I love working with him. I really like working with him and we have achieved a lot in the Middle East, especially against extremism, extremist ideologies, terrorism and Da’esh [Arabic acronym for ISIS] disappeared in a very short time in Iraq and Syria, and a lot of extremist narratives have been demolished in the past two years, so this is a strong initiative. We worked together also, together with more than 50 countries, to agree on one goal in the Middle East and most of those countries are going through with that strategy. Now we are pushing back against extremists and terrorists and Iran’s negative moves in the Middle East in a good way. We have huge investments between both countries. We have good improvement in our trade – a lot of achievements, so this is really great.

Seems like that may explain President Trump having nicer things to say about the Saudis last night.

Published:10/5/2018 1:10:29 PM
[Brett Kavanaugh] Trump Surges: Is it the Economy or Kavanaugh? (John Hinderaker) Or both. Today’s Rasmussen Reports has President Trump at 51% approval, 48% disapproval. Equally significant is his so-called Approval Index, the difference between Strong Approval and Strong Disapproval. That index now stands at -1, with 38% strongly approving of the president. For purposes of comparison, Barack Obama’s Approval Index was -11 at the same point in his presidency. Obama rarely achieved an Approval Index as favorable as -1. I have Published:10/5/2018 12:09:54 PM
[Crime] Illegal Alien and Obama ‘DREAMer’ Arrested for Smuggling Meth Into U.S.

Another Barack Obama "DREAMER" has been arrested and charged with trying to smuggle 17 pounds of methamphetamine across the U.S./Mexico border.

The post Illegal Alien and Obama ‘DREAMer’ Arrested for Smuggling Meth Into U.S. appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/5/2018 11:19:39 AM
[Crime] Illegal Alien and Obama ‘DREAMer’ Arrested for Smuggling Meth Into U.S.

Another Barack Obama "DREAMER" has been arrested and charged with trying to smuggle 17 pounds of methamphetamine across the U.S./Mexico border.

The post Illegal Alien and Obama ‘DREAMer’ Arrested for Smuggling Meth Into U.S. appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/5/2018 11:19:39 AM
[Politics] O’Rourke on Obama Not Endorsing His Campaign: ‘I Don’t Think We’re Interested’

Democratic Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke on Thursday appeared to shrug off the fact that his campaign didn't receive an endorsement from former President Barack Obama earlier this week.

The post O’Rourke on Obama Not Endorsing His Campaign: ‘I Don’t Think We’re Interested’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:10/5/2018 9:38:15 AM
[Markets] 'Intrusion Truth', The Mysterious Group Doxxing China's Hacking Army

An anonymous group calling itself Intrusion Truth has exposed members of APT10, an elite Chinese hacking unit that has targeted aerospace, engineering, and manufacturing firms to steal trade secrets, including from the US government.

Since mid-summer, Intrusion Truth has published a list of alleged names of individual APT10 hackers. Sources with knowledge of APT10’s operations told Motherboard some of the details in Intrusion Truth’s blog posts and tweets match other data points on the Chinese group.

Intrusion Truth's controversial approach of anonymously unmasking government-backed hackers and exposing a foreign intelligence agency is something new and seen as a method to put pressure on Chinese companies cooperating with state-sponsored hacking efforts.

"We will work with companies, private analysts, hackers, governments—whoever can provide the data that we need," a spokesperson of Intrusion Truth told Motherboard via email.

China has hacked its way to the second largest economy in the world. It has stolen other nation’s manufacturing secrets for years, stealing military fighter jet schematics and information on solar power, among other industrial secrets. The hacking became so bad that former President Obama brokered a deal with Chinese President Xi. In 2015, the two countries reached an agreement to stop hacking focused on the theft of intellectual property. However, the deal did not last long, as China stole 614 gigabytes of submarine secrets from a US Navy contractor earlier this year.

US officials and security analysts have linked Chinese hackers for years to government-backed hacks into US firms. China has since denied involvement in the hacks.

Intrusion Truth’s anonymity might be a clue to its identity. Some large corporations and security companies that employ researchers who track China’s hackers might be hesitant to release findings for concern of retaliation from China’s government, said Ben Read, who manages cyberespionage investigations at FireEye Inc.

On Thursday morning, Bloomberg reported a new massive hack, China used tiny microchips on computer motherboards to gain access to almost 30 US companies', including Amazon and Apple, technology supply chains.

This type of wide-spread industrial espionage that Intrusion Truth is motivated against.

"Intellectual property theft is a global confrontation fought between the West and its online adversaries, mainly China. This theft damages hard-working individuals, their companies and entire economies through lost revenue and competition that is completely unfair," Intrusion Truth told Motherboard.

"Until recently, China has been winning—it has acted with impunity, stealing data using commercial hackers that it pays and tasks but later claims are criminals. The use of commercial hackers is a deliberate attempt to circumvent the statements that China has made committing to stop this illegal activity," the group added.

In a first, Intrusion Truth unmasked individual alleged Chinese hackers, posted photographs, and even showed their places of work through Uber receipts. There was even evidence that some hackers were traveling to buildings operated by China’s intelligence agency.

Thomas Rid, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, told Motherboard this kind of internet sleuthing is advance, and the language skills, tools and research abilities to pull off something like this is of a professional.

"It’s somebody who is professional,” he said, “somebody who knows what they’re doing."

According to one theory, the group may work for a corporate victim of Chinese hackers.

Intrusion Truth has posted 40 tweets to Twitter dating back from April 2017 and more than a dozen articles to the blog site Medium over the past year. In them is evidence linking Chinese companies to a suspected China-backed hacking group known as APT 3 and another known as APT 10, or Stone Panda, giving the public an understanding of the continued threat of Chinese hacking.

"APT 10 is one of the most active groups we track," said Mr. Read. The group has hacked multinationals from Japan, Europe, and US.

Intrusion Truth focused on several Chinese companies, alleging they are connected to government-backed hacking programs.

"We are focusing our efforts on determining whether these are just ‘companies that hack,’ or would they be better described as fronts enabling the Chinese state to employ hackers who can later be scapegoated as criminals?" Intrusion Truth tweeted in August.

Last year, Intrusion Truth said two employees of Guangdong Bo Yu Information Technology Co., were part of APT 3. Six months later, US officials indicted the men—Wu Yingzhuo and Dong Hao—saying they were involved in hacking Moody’s Analytics and Siemens AG.

Intrusion Truth also linked internet domains and email addresses associated with websites used by APT 10 to two other Chinese companies, Tianjin Huaying Haitai Science and Technology Development Co. and Laoying Baichaun Instruments Equipment Co.

"We will never name ourselves or those who work with us. Our ability to contest China's despicable activities in Cyberspace is derived precisely from our anonymity," Intrusion Truth concluded. "That, and our willingness to tell the whole truth."

On top of the tit-for-tat exchanges between US-China on economic, political and military fronts, it now seems the battlefield is expanding to cyberspace. As a group of anonymous hackers (most likely tied to corporate America) has launched a counterattack deep within China -- exposing a massive cyberespionage ring that has stolen countless secrets from manufacturing, aerospace, and engineering firms over the years.

Published:10/4/2018 11:08:16 PM
[National Security] New White House Counterterrorism Strategy Singles Out ‘Radical Islamists’

The Trump administration is implementing a new, government-wide counterterrorism strategy that places renewed focus on combatting "radical Islamic terrorist groups," marking a significant departure from the Obama administration, which implemented a series of policies aimed at deemphasizing the threat of Islamic terror groups.

The post New White House Counterterrorism Strategy Singles Out ‘Radical Islamists’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:10/4/2018 5:03:23 PM
[] CNN: Accusing Someone of Gang Rape is Just Regular Political Wrasslin', Says Former Obama Aide Jim Sciutto This is absolutely deranged. @CNN anchor (and former Obama official) Jim Sciutto asserts that gang rape allegations are just "politics" and come with the territory of being nominated to SCOTUS. https://t.co/3MBufOqnC6 pic.twitter.com/XmiCRbWm6N— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) October 4, 2018 Meanwhile, a... Published:10/4/2018 11:32:22 AM
[Entertainment] Barack and Michelle Obama's loving anniversary messages Former President Barack Obama shared a heartwarming message to wife Michelle on their 26th wedding anniversary via social media. Veuer's Susana Victoria Perez has more.
     
 
 
Published:10/4/2018 11:02:27 AM
[Markets] Explosive Report Details Chinese Infiltration Of Apple, Amazon And The CIA

One week ago, President Trump stood up at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council and accused China of attempting to tamper with US elections - mimicking some of the same allegations that had first been levied against Russia nearly two years prior. In his speech, Trump claimed that China was working to undermine Republicans, and even the president himself, warning that "it's not just Russia, it's China and Russia." While the media largely shrugged off this proclamation as more presidential bombast probably inspired by the burgeoning US-China trade beef, the administration continued to insist that it was taking a harder line against Chinese efforts to subvert American companies to aide the Communist Party's sprawling intelligence apparatus. As if to underline Trump's point, the FBI had arrested a Taiwanese national in Chicago the day before Trump's speech, accusing the 27-year-old suspect of trying to help China flip eight defense contractors who could have provided crucial intelligence on sensitive defense-related technology.

But in a game-changing report published Thursday morning, Bloomberg Businessweek exposed a sprawling multi-year investigation into China's infiltration of US corporate and defense infrastructure. Most notably, it confirmed that, in addition to efforts designed to sway US elections, China' intelligence community orchestrated a pervasive infiltration of servers used to power everything from MRI machines to the drones used by the CIA and army. They accomplished this using a tiny microchip no bigger than a grain of rice.

BBG published the report just hours before Vice President Mike Pence was expected to "string together a narrative of Chinese aggression" during a speech at the Hudson Institute in Washington. According to excerpts leaked to the New York Times, his speech was expected to focus on examples of China's "aggressive moves against American warships, of predatory behavior against their neighbors, and of a sophisticated influence campaign to tilt the midterms and 2020 elections against President Trump". His speech is also expected to focus on how China leverages debt and its capital markets to force foreign governments to submit to its will (something that has happened in Bangladesh and the Czech Republic.

China

But while those narratives are certainly important, they pale in comparison to Bloomberg's revelations, which reported on an ongoing government investigation into China's use of a "tiny microchip" that found its way into servers that were widely used throughout the US military and intelligence infrastructure, from Navy warships to DoD server farms. The probe began three years ago after the US intelligence agencies were tipped off by Amazon. And three years later, it remains ongoing.

Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design. Amazon reported the discovery to U.S. authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community. Elemental’s servers could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA’s drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships. And Elemental was just one of hundreds of Supermicro customers.

During the ensuing top-secret probe, which remains open more than three years later, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines. Multiple people familiar with the matter say investigators found that the chips had been inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China.

With those two paragraphs, Bloomberg has succeeded in shifting the prevailing narrative away from Russia and toward China. Or, as Pence is expected to state in Thursday's speech (via NYT) "as a senior career member of our intelligence community recently told me, what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country."

The story begins with a Silicon Valley startup called Elemental. Founded in 2006 by three engineers who brilliantly anticipated that broadcasters would soon be searching for a way to adapt their programming for streaming over the Internet, and on mobile devices like smartphones, Elemental went about building a "dream team" of coders who designed software to adapt the super-fast graphics chips being designed for video gaming to stream video instead. The company then loaded this software on to special, custom-built servers emblazoned with its logo. These servers then sold for as much as $100,000 a pop - a markup of roughly 70%.  In 2009, the company received its first contract with US defense and intelligence contractors, and even received an investment from a CIA-backed venture fund.

  • Elemental also started working with American spy agencies. In 2009 the company announced a development partnership with In-Q-Tel Inc., the CIA’s investment arm, a deal that paved the way for Elemental servers to be used in national security missions across the U.S. government. Public documents, including the company’s own promotional materials, show that the servers have been used inside Department of Defense data centers to process drone and surveillance-camera footage, on Navy warships to transmit feeds of airborne missions, and inside government buildings to enable secure videoconferencing. NASA, both houses of Congress, and the Department of Homeland Security have also been customers. This portfolio made Elemental a target for foreign adversaries.

Like many other companies, Elementals' servers utilized motherboards built by Supermicro, which dominates the market for motherboards used in special-purpose computers. It was here, at Supermicro, where the government believes - according to Bloomberg's sources - that the infiltration began. Before it came to dominate the global market for computer motherboards, Supermicro had humble beginnings. A Taiwanese engineer and his wife founded the company in 1993, at a time when Silicon Valley was embracing outsourcing. It attracted clients early on with the promise of infinite customization, employing a massive team of engineers to make sure it could accommodate its clients' every need. Customers also appreciated that, while Supermicro's motherboards were assembled in China or Taiwan, its engineers were based in Silicon Valley. But the company's workforce featured one characteristic that made it uniquely attractive to China: A sizable portion of its engineers were native Mandarin speakers. One of Bloomberg's sources said the government is still investigating whether spies were embedded within Supermicro or other US companies).

But however it was done, these tiny microchips somehow found their way into Supermicro's products. Bloomberg provided a step-by-step guide detailing how it believes that happened.

  • A Chinese military unit designed and manufactured microchips as small as a sharpened pencil tip. Some of the chips were built to look like signal conditioning couplers, and they incorporated memory, networking capability, and sufficient processing power for an attack.
  • The microchips were inserted at Chinese factories that supplied Supermicro, one of the world’s biggest sellers of server motherboards.
  • The compromised motherboards were built into servers assembled by Supermicro.
  • The sabotaged servers made their way inside data centers operated by dozens of companies.
  • When a server was installed and switched on, the microchip altered the operating system’s core so it could accept modifications. The chip could also contact computers controlled by the attackers in search of further instructions and code.

In espionage circles, infiltrating computer hardware - especially to the degree that the Chinese did - is extremely difficult to pull off. And doing it at the nation-state level would be akin to "a unicorn jumping over a rainbow," as one of BBG's anonymous sources put it. But China's dominance of the market for PCs and mobile phones allows it a massive advantage.

One country in particular has an advantage executing this kind of attack: China, which by some estimates makes 75 percent of the world’s mobile phones and 90 percent of its PCs. Still, to actually accomplish a seeding attack would mean developing a deep understanding of a product’s design, manipulating components at the factory, and ensuring that the doctored devices made it through the global logistics chain to the desired location - a feat akin to throwing a stick in the Yangtze River upstream from Shanghai and ensuring that it washes ashore in Seattle. "Having a well-done, nation-state-level hardware implant surface would be like witnessing a unicorn jumping over a rainbow," says Joe Grand, a hardware hacker and the founder of Grand Idea Studio Inc. "Hardware is just so far off the radar, it’s almost treated like black magic."

But that’s just what U.S. investigators found: The chips had been inserted during the manufacturing process, two officials say, by operatives from a unit of the People’s Liberation Army. In Supermicro, China’s spies appear to have found a perfect conduit for what U.S. officials now describe as the most significant supply chain attack known to have been carried out against American companies.

Some more details from the report are summarized below:

The government found that the infiltration extended to nearly 30 companies, including Amazon and Apple.

  • One official says investigators found that it eventually affected almost 30 companies, including a major bank, government contractors, and the world’s most valuable company, Apple Inc. Apple was an important Supermicro customer and had planned to order more than 30,000 of its servers in two years for a new global network of data centers. Three senior insiders at Apple say that in the summer of 2015, it, too, found malicious chips on Supermicro motherboards. Apple severed ties with Supermicro the following year, for what it described as unrelated reasons.

Both Amazon and Apple denied having knowledge of the infiltration (Amazon eventually acquired Elemental and integrated it into its Amazon Prime Video service). Meanwhile, the Chinese government issued a conspicuous non-denial denial.

  • In emailed statements, Amazon (which announced its acquisition of Elemental in September 2015), Apple, and Supermicro disputed summaries of Bloomberg Businessweek’s reporting. "It’s untrue that AWS knew about a supply chain compromise, an issue with malicious chips, or hardware modifications when acquiring Elemental," Amazon wrote. "On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, 'hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server," Apple wrote. "We remain unaware of any such investigation," wrote a spokesman for Supermicro, Perry Hayes. The Chinese government didn’t directly address questions about manipulation of Supermicro servers, issuing a statement that read, in part, "Supply chain safety in cyberspace is an issue of common concern, and China is also a victim." The FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, representing the CIA and NSA, declined to comment.

Bloomberg based its story on interviews with 17 anonymous sources, including 6 former government intelligence officials. One official told BBG that China's long-term goal was "long-term access" to sensitive government secrets.

  • In all, 17 people confirmed the manipulation of Supermicro’s hardware and other elements of the attacks. The sources were granted anonymity because of the sensitive, and in some cases classified, nature of the information.
  • The companies’ denials are countered by six current and former senior national security officials, who - in conversations that began during the Obama administration and continued under the Trump administration - detailed the discovery of the chips and the government’s investigation. One of those officials and two people inside AWS provided extensive information on how the attack played out at Elemental and Amazon; the official and one of the insiders also described Amazon’s cooperation with the government investigation. In addition to the three Apple insiders, four of the six U.S. officials confirmed that Apple was a victim. In all, 17 people confirmed the manipulation of Supermicro’s hardware and other elements of the attacks. The sources were granted anonymity because of the sensitive, and in some cases classified, nature of the information.

One government official says China’s goal was long-term access to high-value corporate secrets and sensitive government networks. No consumer data is known to have been stolen.

Notably, this revelation provides even more support to the Trump administration's insistence that the trade war with China was based on national security concerns. The hope is that more US companies will shift production of sensitive components back to the US.

  • The ramifications of the attack continue to play out. The Trump administration has made computer and networking hardware, including motherboards, a focus of its latest round of trade sanctions against China, and White House officials have made it clear they think companies will begin shifting their supply chains to other countries as a result. Such a shift might assuage officials who have been warning for years about the security of the supply chain—even though they’ve never disclosed a major reason for their concerns.

As one government official reminds us, the extent of this attack cannot be understated.

  • With more than 900 customers in 100 countries by 2015, Supermicro offered inroads to a bountiful collection of sensitive targets. "Think of Supermicro as the Microsoft of the hardware world," says a former U.S. intelligence official who’s studied Supermicro and its business model. "Attacking Supermicro motherboards is like attacking Windows. It’s like attacking the whole world."

But perhaps the most galling aspect of this whole scandal is that the Obama Administration should have seen it coming.

  • Well before evidence of the attack surfaced inside the networks of U.S. companies, American intelligence sources were reporting that China’s spies had plans to introduce malicious microchips into the supply chain. The sources weren’t specific, according to a person familiar with the information they provided, and millions of motherboards are shipped into the U.S. annually. But in the first half of 2014, a different person briefed on high-level discussions says, intelligence officials went to the White House with something more concrete: China’s military was preparing to insert the chips into Supermicro motherboards bound for U.S. companies.

And thanks to Obama having dropped the ball, China managed to pull off the most expansive infiltration of the global supply chain ever discovered by US intelligence.

  • But that’s just what U.S. investigators found: The chips had been inserted during the manufacturing process, two officials say, by operatives from a unit of the People’s Liberation Army. In Supermicro, China’s spies appear to have found a perfect conduit for what U.S. officials now describe as the most significant supply chain attack known to have been carried out against American companies.

The inconspicuous-looking chips were disguised to look like regular components but they helped China open doors that "other hackers could go through" meaning China could potentially manipulate the systems being infiltrated (as a reminder, these chips were found in servers used in the US drone program).

  • The chips on Elemental servers were designed to be as inconspicuous as possible, according to one person who saw a detailed report prepared for Amazon by its third-party security contractor, as well as a second person who saw digital photos and X-ray images of the chips incorporated into a later report prepared by Amazon’s security team. Gray or off-white in color, they looked more like signal conditioning couplers, another common motherboard component, than microchips, and so they were unlikely to be detectable without specialized equipment. Depending on the board model, the chips varied slightly in size, suggesting that the attackers had supplied different factories with different batches.
  • Officials familiar with the investigation say the primary role of implants such as these is to open doors that other attackers can go through. “Hardware attacks are about access,” as one former senior official puts it. In simplified terms, the implants on Supermicro hardware manipulated the core operating instructions that tell the server what to do as data move across a motherboard, two people familiar with the chips’ operation say. This happened at a crucial moment, as small bits of the operating system were being stored in the board’s temporary memory en route to the server’s central processor, the CPU. The implant was placed on the board in a way that allowed it to effectively edit this information queue, injecting its own code or altering the order of the instructions the CPU was meant to follow. Deviously small changes could create disastrous effects.
  • Since the implants were small, the amount of code they contained was small as well. But they were capable of doing two very important things: telling the device to communicate with one of several anonymous computers elsewhere on the internet that were loaded with more complex code; and preparing the device’s operating system to accept this new code. The illicit chips could do all this because they were connected to the baseboard management controller, a kind of superchip that administrators use to remotely log in to problematic servers, giving them access to the most sensitive code even on machines that have crashed or are turned off.
  • This system could let the attackers alter how the device functioned, line by line, however they wanted, leaving no one the wiser. To understand the power that would give them, take this hypothetical example: Somewhere in the Linux operating system, which runs in many servers, is code that authorizes a user by verifying a typed password against a stored encrypted one. An implanted chip can alter part of that code so the server won’t check for a password—and presto! A secure machine is open to any and all users.

Shortly after the report was published, the US Department of Defense has scheduled a national-security related press conference for 9:30 am ET on Thursday. It didn't reveal the subject of the briefing, but the timing is certainly suspicious...

But regardless of what is said on Thursday, one thing probably won't change: Expect to hear a lot less about Russia, and a lot more about China as the deep state's interference myopic focus on the former shifts to the latter. As Kevin Warsh framed the question during a Thursday interview with CNBC where he asked "are we at the beginning of a 20-year Cold War?" in response to a question about curbing China's influence - both economically and defensively. We imagine we'll be hearing a lot more about the breach from senior US officials, including both the vice president and the president himself, in the very near future.

Published:10/4/2018 7:24:23 AM
[Media] That’s funny: Obama bro Jon Favreau wants to know what’s responsible for all the polarization in politics

Barack "You Bring a Gun" Obama's speechwriter wonders how politics got so polarized.

The post That’s funny: Obama bro Jon Favreau wants to know what’s responsible for all the polarization in politics appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/3/2018 8:58:49 PM
[Markets] Mauldin Warns: Trump Might End US Hegemony

Authored by John Mauldin via MauldinEconomics.com,

With all the trade war talk, we all ask the obvious question: Who will win? President Trump says the US will win. Chinese business leaders say no, we will win. Free-traders on both sides say no one will win. Few stop to ask, “What does a ‘win’ look like?”

This makes discussion difficult. People are chasing after a condition they can’t even define. Victory will remain elusive until they know what they want. Regardless, you can score me on the “no one wins” side. I believe, and I think a lot of evidence proves, that free trade between nations is the best way to maximize long-run prosperity for everyone.

However...

As Keynes famously said, we’re all dead in the long run. Trade war may end with no winners, but the parties will be better and worse off at various times as it progresses. So we have to distinguish between “winning” and “holding a temporary lead.”

On that basis, I think the US will have the upper hand initially, and could hold it for a year or two. This is because, for now, our economy is relatively strong and we can better withstand any Chinese retaliation. Beyond that point I think our current policies will begin to backfire, maybe spectacularly.

Remember, too, China has growing trade surpluses with much of the world. One Chinese insider told me that within four years China can replace lost US exports via increased trading with the rest of the world. I can’t verify that but looking at general statistics it certainly seems plausible. That doesn’t mean lost US trade won’t be felt, but China is not entirely helpless.

When watching a fight, we ask metaphorically, “Who will blink first?” In this case, that’s the wrong question. Neither side will blink but one may eventually fall to the floor, unconscious. So the better question might be, “Who will faint first?”

Next week we will deal with the tariff situation, as I get that question a lot. But let me state right here: I hope President Trump is engaged in a trade bluff and not a trade war. The market seems to think so. My Asian sources believe that it will be resolved by the end of this year. But make no mistake, an actual trade war along the lines being threatened will impact both economies negatively. Enough to throw the US into recession? Enough to cut Chinese growth in half? No one actually knows, which is a big part of the problem.

Before we proceed, let me remind you that Over My Shoulder members get to see some of the best China and trade war research I get from my worldwide sources. It’s almost like reading, well, over my shoulder.

Better yet, members get short summaries of each item by me or my co-editor Patrick Watson. This saves you time and lets you zero in on the material that’s most relevant to you… a valuable feature as we are all deluged with more and more news.

Right now you can join for just $9.95 a month, 33% off the normal cost. I’ve written a short report to show you how valuable Over My Shoulder is, with some examples from Woody Brock, Charles Gave and Ed Yardeni. Check it out here. I think you’ll see the benefit.

Now, let’s dig into China.

Empire of Debt

I described in my last two letters the many good things happening in China. Businesses are prospering while living standards rise as well. The country’s vast interior is still quite poor but life is improving (with the notable exception of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority in Western China).

We didn’t talk about how they are financing this progress. The answer is, “with a lot of debt.” You often hear about China’s government and corporate debt, but less about households. So let’s start there.

Back in 2015, I wrote about China’s insanely leveraged farmers and others who bought stocks with borrowed money. Most regretted it, some sooner and more intensely than others. But that period seemed to convince the government to keep tighter control over consumer credit.

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But note, controlling credit isn’t the same as eliminating credit, or even reducing it. Beijing wants consumers to borrow in sustainable, productive ways, as Beijing defines them. So overall household debt growth has not slowed.

Source: Gavekal

Chinese consumer debt is growing quite a bit faster than Chinese GDP. This means that consumer debt is a growing percentage of the economy. It’s not a big problem now but at this rate will become one soon.

This chart shows how Chinese household debt is growing compared to other economies.

Source: Gavekal

Household debt relative to GDP is near-flat or declining in the US, Japan, Germany, and France. In China, it’s grown from 40% to 50% of GDP in just two years. Yes, those developed countries have higher absolute debt levels, but they also have higher household incomes. So this trend, if it continues, will get more worrisome.

Now, what happens when these indebted Chinese consumers find living costs rising due to a trade war with the US?

One possibility is “not much” because they don’t really need our goods. They have plenty of domestic alternatives in most categories. Nevertheless, removing or limiting US competition could raise prices in some categories.

But the bigger problem is that a trade war will mean lower exports, probably affecting the jobs of some indebted consumers. How many is unclear. China has both domestic demand and other countries it can trade with, should the US decide to raise barriers. Domestic demand might weaken if exporters have to reduce employment and the government doesn’t step in with some kind of stimulus.

The problem here is that any stimulus would probably increase government debt, a problem we haven’t even discussed yet. Not to mention corporate debt rising as companies try to keep operating with lower revenue.

Debt in Pictures

Like everything else about China, its debt is hard to visualize. There’s a lot of it. Here is a chart from Bloomberg that projects three scenarios out to 2022.

Source: Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s base case shows Chinese debt-to-GDP reaching 330% by 2022, which would place it behind only Japan among major economies. It might be “only” 290% if GDP growth stays high.

Here’s another look from Citi Research (via my friend Steve Blumenthal). This is private sector credit creation. The US series is only bank credit, by the way, so this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. But then much of Chinese debt is bank credit. The “shadow banks” are relatively new. Xi seems to be trying to reduce their influence. However you look at it, China has huge private debt.

Finally, here’s a “Total Credit to Private Non-Financial Sector” graph we made on FRED using Bank for International Settlements data. That means it excludes bank debt. The US has the most such debt at $29.5T as of year-end 2017, but China is not that far behind with $26.5T. China’s debt of this type was quite a bit more than Japan, the UK, and Canada combined.

Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank

Even so, Chinese growth has been largely funded by debt. Make no mistake, loans have fueled almost everything. You can argue those loans have funded a great deal of useful infrastructure and housing, with a stimulative effect. But that debt will eventually have to be repaid, and debt is future consumption brought forward. That means at some point Chinese growth is going to slow down. Maybe not for a decade or so, but they have to pay the piper.

Like the US, China also has off-the-books debt that may not show up in the totals. For instance, its social security plan is underfunded amid an aging population and shrinking prime-age workforce. The 29% payroll tax (yes, you read that right) that should be funding it often goes uncollected and the debt goes higher still. One analyst estimated strict enforcement would cut corporate profits by 2.5% and shave 0.6 percentage points off nominal GDP growth. With the Chinese government now making aggressive efforts to collect the tax, which it clearly needs, growth could falter.

Any way you look at it, China has a staggering amount of debt. Maintaining it will grow more difficult if the economy turns down. The same is true for the US, of course. Which country is better equipped to survive a trade and currency conflict?  

Wargaming the Trade War

This week President Trump ordered more tariffs on an expanded list of Chinese imports. The rate will be 10% starting next week and rise to 25% at the beginning of 2019, unless China agrees to new trade policies before then. (Notably, he excluded consumer electronics products like smartphones, which shows the administration is not entirely tone deaf to the impact tariffs have on US consumers.)

Let me be very clear on one thing: I totally agree with the president that China has taken unfair advantage of global trade rules. Its requirements for foreign companies to disclose intellectual property (that then finds its way to Chinese state-owned enterprises) is outrageous. That must stop and we need to resolve assorted other differences. The question is how to accomplish it.

I had hopes Trump’s business negotiation skills would enable more productive trade negotiations. It doesn’t seem to be happening that way. To me, the best strategy would have been to assemble a united front of other top economies and demand China change its ways. We are not the only major country that has a trade problem with China. Then I would have pivoted to seeking better terms with Canada, Mexico, the EU, and others. Instead, he has aggravated allies and made working with them difficult, at best.

Part of negotiating is to have realistic demands. You will never succeed by demanding your adversary cut his own throat. Xi Jinping can be flexible on many things but he still presides over a Communist government and a command economy. That leopard is not going to change its spots. They are never going to abandon their technology goals embodied in their “Made in China 2025” program, nor would any other country.

I am not the only one who thinks this. Check out this unusually blunt tweet from former trade diplomat Harald Malmgren, who literally wrote the book on US trade policy, serving under presidents starting with JFK. He’s retired now but remains “plugged in” to global finance better than almost anyone I know.

Source: Twitter

Now, it may be that the White House team is less talented than they think. Peter Navarro’s continued presence, and the president’s apparent confidence in him, is not reassuring. I said when his name was first mentioned that Navarro understands neither economics nor trade. He has done nothing to change my opinion.

But another possibility is they have an entirely different strategy than we think. Some of my contacts believe the real goal is to make US businesses pull back from operating in China at all. If that’s the goal, they are off to a good start. But that is not good for US businesses or for the US.

For the moment, the US side is negotiating from a marginally stronger position. Our economy is growing nicely and can withstand some tariff pain—though it will hurt certain sectors. This is already happening, in fact. But in the long run we are playing a very dangerous game.

International trade is like plumbing. Goods and money flow around through pipes and you can only squeeze so much through them. When the US imports goods from China, we simultaneously export dollars to China. We can do that because our currency is what everything else is settled in. Reducing imports would mean we also reduce dollar exports, leaving the rest of the world with less water in its pipes. That’s not good at all, if we want to maintain our position on top of the food chain.

In researching this letter, I ran across a nice, short explanation of the threat by currency expert Taggart Murphy. I can’t say it better myself so I’ll just quote him (emphasis mine).

Trump is doing everything he can to bring on the end of the days when the US can borrow whatever it wants in whatever amounts it wants. To be sure, there is no recipe book. The dollar is now so entrenched as the world’s money that if your assignment were to bring the curtain down on that—and thus the ability of the US to borrow whatever it wants whenever it wants—it’s not at all clear what you would do.

But you’d start by doing everything that Trump is doing—pick fights with all your allies, blow the government deficit wide open at the peak of an economic recovery, abandon any notion of fiscal responsibility, threaten sanctions on anyone and everyone who seeks to honor the deal Obama struck with Iran (thereby almost begging everyone to figure out some way to bypass the US banking system in order to do business), [Which they are openly doing –JFM] throw spanners into the works of global trade without any clear indication of what it is precisely you want for a country that structurally consumes more than it produces and thus by the laws of accounting MUST run trade and current account deficits.

That’s strong language but exactly right, especially the last part. Trade deficits are President Trump’s bugaboo, yet he might as well complain about the weather. It is what it is. The US will run a trade deficit unless we accept some combination of higher savings and lower consumption. That’s not my opinion; it’s math. Threatening China will not change it.

Trying to wean the US public off of consumption and force higher savings is just not going to work, either, which means we are going to run trade deficits.

But that is just fine. As long as we have the world’s reserve currency, we can run trade deficits with essentially no consequences. We aren’t comparable to Argentina or other countries that get into trouble because of their trade deficits. Nobody, not even their citizens, wants to hold the Argentine dollar or the Venezuelan bolivar.

This brewing trade war, if it continues, will initially favor the US but we will gradually lose the advantage as the rest of the world builds new pipes to bypass us. Something similar happened to the United Kingdom, our predecessor hegemon. We don’t know what a new world financial order would look like but the US dollar would not be on top of it.

This might be an interesting parlor game if it weren’t happening against the backdrop of populist politics, enormous debt, mass refugee migrations, and rapid technological change that could put millions out of work. Talk about “who wins” is really misleading.

Think about a boxing match. Who’s “winning” in the early rounds? Whoever threw the last punch is ahead for a moment. But then they take a punch and the lead changes. It’s only later in the match that you see which fighter has staying power.

I think the US-China trade war will be something like that. It will take a long time to see how it shakes out, and meantime we’ll see both sides alternately throwing and absorbing punches. The lead will change often and the winner could even be a third party that may not exist yet.

It is my fervent hope that China makes a genuine effort to reduce their most abusive practices, and that President Trump takes that for a “W” and calls off the tariffs. I think that is the most likely outcome. One of my most inside sources in China, whom I spoke with this week while he was in Shanghai, believes that to be the case, and most Chinese do, too. Which is why the markets are being rather sanguine about the whole process. We should learn more in the coming months.

*  *  *

Some Thoughts on Getting Through the Great Debt Reset

Debt is certainly one of the main challenges facing China and many nations around the globe today. The decades-long growth of debt in many countries from small, manageable levels to excessive levels is coming to an end. Bond markets will eventually rebel. We will have to restructure the debt and it will have a profound impact on how we meet future investment challenges.

As an investor, you will have to think differently to accumulate and maintain your wealth. If you’re an investment professional, you are entering one of the most disruptive periods the industry has ever seen. In either case, meeting these challenges will require thinking beyond a traditional stock-and-bond approach. Core holdings in the bull markets of our youth will no longer suffice in the future. Investors will need a better asset allocation approach. While I don’t talk about my own investment strategy in this letter very often, I think I owe it to you to tell you what I am doing for my clients. This is why I created the CMG Mauldin Smart Core Strategy.

Instead of using the traditional diversification approach, potentially resulting in a collection of across-the-board losers, the Mauldin Smart Core diversifies among trading strategies. The goal is to win by minimizing losses and having the flexibility to capitalize on market opportunities. The CMG Mauldin Smart Core Strategy is a tactical portfolio that follows a disciplined process, able to respond to the global economy on a daily basis. It utilizes four ETF strategists that trade a diversified basket of ETFs across asset classes, countries, sectors, fixed income, commodities, and cash.

The global debt super cycle is coming to an end and it will unfold in what I’m calling “The Great Reset.” I’ve just written a detailed report on how I think you should view your investments and why I believe Mauldin Smart Core can navigate the volatility coming to global financial markets. 

Download my free report, The Great Reset, here.

*  *  *

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Published:10/3/2018 6:28:16 PM
[The Blog] Hillary: Can you believe our president did nothing after the worst foreign attack on US since 9/11?

Er ... which president?

The post Hillary: Can you believe our president did nothing after the worst foreign attack on US since 9/11? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/3/2018 5:27:20 PM
[Democrats] John Kerry Says Ted Kennedy’s Murder of Mary Jo Kopechne Was Just a Little ‘Step Over The Line’

Former Senator and Former Obama Secretary of State John Kerry defended Sen. Ted Kennedy's murder of girlfriend Mary Jo Kopechne.

The post John Kerry Says Ted Kennedy’s Murder of Mary Jo Kopechne Was Just a Little ‘Step Over The Line’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/3/2018 1:26:10 PM
[Democrats] John Kerry Says Ted Kennedy’s Murder of Mary Jo Kopechne Was Just a Little ‘Step Over The Line’

Former Senator and Former Obama Secretary of State John Kerry defended Sen. Ted Kennedy's murder of girlfriend Mary Jo Kopechne.

The post John Kerry Says Ted Kennedy’s Murder of Mary Jo Kopechne Was Just a Little ‘Step Over The Line’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/3/2018 1:26:10 PM
[Politics] Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove. 

The latest figures include 36% who Strongly Approve of the president is performing and 41% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -5. (see trends).  

By comparison, Barack Obama earned a presidential approval index rating of -15 on October 3, 2010, in the second year of his presidency.

Regular updates are posted Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily email update).

Rasmussen Reports invites you to be a part of our first-ever Citizen-Sourced National Midterm Election Polling Project. Learn more about how you can contribute

Now that Gallup has quit the field, Rasmussen Reports is the only nationally recognized public opinion firm that still tracks President Trump's job approval ratings on a daily basis. If your organization is interested in a weekly or longer sponsorship of Rasmussen Reports' Daily Presidential Tracking Poll,  please send e-mail to  beth@rasmussenreports.com .

Published:10/3/2018 8:56:18 AM
[Education] Obama’s Anti-Discipline Policies Set Our Students Up for Failure

President Barack Obama’s first education secretary, Arne Duncan, gave a speech on the 45th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma,... Read More

The post Obama’s Anti-Discipline Policies Set Our Students Up for Failure appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:10/2/2018 11:25:07 PM
[Markets] Democrats, Republicans Unite: Populism Destroys Democracy

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

If there’s one thing that brings a tear to my eye, it’s the inspiration I feel when watching Republican-aligned neoconservatives and Democrat-aligned neoconservatives find a way to bridge their almost nonexistent differences and come together to discuss the many, many, many, many, many, many many many things they have in common.

In a conference at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, “Resistance” leader and professional left-puncher Neera Tanden met with Iraq-raping neocon Bill Kristol to discuss bipartisanship and shared values. While leprechauns held hands and danced beneath candy rainbows and gumdrop Reaper drones, the duo engaged in a friendly, playful conversation with the event’s host in a debate format which was not unlike watching the Pillsbury Doughboy have a pillow fight with himself in a padded room after drinking a bottle of NyQuil.

To get the event started, the host whose name I refuse to learn asked the pair to discuss briefly what common ground such wildly different people could possibly share to make such a strange taboo-shattering dialogue possible.

“Issues around national security and believing in democratic principles as they relate to foreign policy,” replied Tanden. “And opposing authoritarianism, and opposing the kind of creeping populism that undermines democracy itself.”

Neera Tanden, in case you are unaware, is a longtime Clinton and Obama insider and CEO of the plutocrat-backed think tank Center for American Progress. Her emails featured prominently in the 2016 Podesta drops by WikiLeaks, which New Republic described as revealing “a pattern of freezing out those who don’t toe the line, a disturbing predilection for someone who is a kind of gatekeeper for what ideas are acceptable in Democratic politics.” Any quick glance at Tanden’s political activism and Twitter presence will render this unsurprising, as she often seems more concerned with attacking the Green Party and noncompliant progressive Democrats than she does with advancing progressive values. Her entire life is dedicated to keeping what passes for America’s political left out of the hands of the American populace.

Kristol co-signed Tanden’s anti-populist rhetoric and her open endorsement of neoconservative foreign policy, and went on to say that another thing he and Tanden have in common is that they’ve both served in government, which makes you realize that nothing’s black and white and everything’s kinda nebulous and amorphous so it doesn’t really matter if you, say for example, help deceive your country into a horrific blunder that ends up killing a whole lot of people for no good reason.

“I do think if you’ve served in government -this isn’t universally true but somewhat true- that you do have somewhat more of a sense of the complexity of things, and many of its decisions are not black and white, that in public policy there are plusses and minuses to most policies,” Kristol said.

“There are authentic disagreements both about values, but also just about how certain things are gonna work or not work… and that is what adds a kind of humility to one’s belief that one is kind of always right about everything.”

I found this very funny coming from the man who is notoriously always wrong about everything, and I’d like to point out that “complexity” is a key talking point that the neoconservatives who’ve been consistently proven completely wrong about everything are fond of repeating. Everything’s complicated and nothing’s really known and it’s all a big blurry mess so maybe butchering a million Iraqis and destabilizing the Middle East was a good thing. Check out this short clip of John Bolton being confronted by Tucker Carlson about what a spectacular error the Iraq invasion was for a great example of this:

I listened to the whole conference, but it was basically one long smear of amicable politeness which was the verbal equivalent of the color beige, so I had difficulty tuning in. Both Tanden and Kristol hate the far left (or as those of us outside the US pronounce it, “the center”), both Tanden and Kristol hate Trump, and hey maybe Americans have a lot more in common than they think and everyone can come together and together together togetherness blah blah. At one point Kristol said something about disagreeing with internet censorship, which was weird because his Weekly Standard actively participates in Facebook censorship as one of its authorized “fact checkers”.

The buzzword “bipartisan” gets used a lot in US politics because it gives the illusion that whatever agenda it’s being applied to must have some deep universal truth to it for such wildly divergent ideologies to set aside their differences in order to advance it, but what it usually means is Democrat neocons and Republican neocons working together to inflict new horrors upon the world. America’s two mainstream political parties agree furiously with one another on war, neoliberalism, Orwellian surveillance, and every other agenda which increases the power and profit of the plutocratic class which owns them both. The plutocrat-owned mass media plays up the differences between Democrats and Republicans to hysterical proportions, when in reality the debate over which one is worse is like arguing over whether a serial killer’s arms or legs are more evil.

Neera Tanden and Bill Kristol are the same fucking person. They’re both toxic limbs on the same toxic beast, feeding the lives of ordinary people at home and abroad into its gaping mouth in service of the powerful. And populism, which is nothing other than support for the protection of common folk from the powerful, is the only antidote to such toxins. Saying populism undermines democracy is like saying democracy undermines democracy.

*  *  *

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out mypodcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal,buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

Published:10/2/2018 7:52:58 PM
[Markets] Uranium One: FBI Refuses To Release Three-Dozen Secret Memos Involving Clintons, Russia And Obama

The FBI has refused to declassify 37 pages of materials related to the Uranium One deal, citing national security and the privacy issues, reports The Hill's John Solomon. The documents are thought to contain information regarding then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's involvement, as well as the Obama administration's knowledge of the controversial deal. 

The existence of the documents became known after a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) release of related material contained an entry entitled "Uranium One Transaction." The publicly available portion includes benign material, such as public letters from members of Congress who demanded information on the Uranium One approval. 

Perhaps the FBI’s unexpected “release” — and I use that word loosely, since they gave up no public information of importance — in the FOIA vault was a warning flare designed to remind America there might be evidence worth looking at.

One former U.S. official, who had access to the evidence shared with CFIUS during the Uranium One deal, said this to me: “There is definitely material that would be illuminating to the issues that have been raised. Somebody should fight to make it public.”

That somebody could be President Trump, who could add these 37 pages of now-secret documents to his declassification order he is considering in the Russia case. -The Hill

William Campbell and the FBI 

In October of 2017, John Solomon and Alison Spann broke the story of former CIA and FBI undercover agent, William D Campbell - who remained unnamed until this year. Campbell was deeply embedded in the Russian nuclear industry while Robert Mueller was the Director of the FBI - which paid him a $51,000 "thank you" award for his service.

For several years my relationship with the CIA consisted of being debriefed after foreign travel,” Campbell noted in his testimony, which was obtained by this reporter. “Gradually, the relationship evolved into the CIA tasking me to travel to specific countries to obtain specific information. In the 1990’s I developed a working relationship with Kazakhstan and Russia in their nuclear energy industries. When I told the CIA of this development, I was turned over to FBI counterintelligence agents.” -saracarter.com 

While undercover, Campbell was forced by the Russians (with the FBI's blessing) to launder large sums of money - which allowed the FBI to uncover a massive Russian "nuclear money laundering apparatus." Campbell claims to have collected over 5,000 documents along with video evidence of money being stuffed into suitcases, Russians bragging about bribing the West, and millions of dollars routed to the Clinton foundation. 

The evidence was compiled as Secretary Clinton courted Russia for better relations, as her husband former President Clinton collected a $500,000 speech payday in Moscow, and as the Obama administration approved the sale of a U.S. mining company, Uranium One, to Rosatom. -The Hill

Campbell initially discovered that Moscow had compromised an Maryland-based uranium trucking firm, Transport Logistics International (TLI) in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – which bribed a Russian nuclear official in exchange for a contract transport Russian-mined U.S. uranium, including "yellowcake" uranium secured in the Uranium One deal.

Yellowcake uranium

He delivered bribes from TLI in $50,000 increments to Russian nuclear official Vadim Mikerin of Tenex. Under orders from the FBI in order to maintain his cover, Campbell fronted hundreds of thousands of dollars he says he was never reimbursed for. As a result of Campbell's work, TLI co-president Mark Lambert was charged in an 11-count indictment in connection with the scheme, while Vadim Mikerin, who resides in Maryland, was prosecuted in 2015 and handed a four-year sentence.

Second, Campbell says that Russian nuclear officials revealed a scheme to route millions of dollars to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) through lobbying firm ARPCO, which was expected to funnel a portion of its annual $3 million lobbying fee to the charity. 

“The contract called for four payments of $750,000 over twelve months. APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the U.S.-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation agreement.“ -William Campbell

Campbell told Congressional investigators that the Uranium One deal along with billions in other uranium contracts inside the United States during the Obama administration was part of a "Russian uranium dominance strategy" involving Tenex and its American arm Tenem - both subsidiaries of state-owned Russian energy company Rosatom. 

“The emails and documents I intercepted during 2010 made clear that Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One – for both its Kazakh and American assets – was part of Russia’s geopolitical strategy to gain leverage in global energy markets,” he testified.  “I obtained documentary proof that Tenex was helping Rosatom win CFIUS approval, including an October 6, 2010 email …  asking me specifically to help overcome opposition to the Uranium One deal.” 

“Rosatom/Tenex threw a party to celebrate, which was widely attended by American nuclear industry officials. At the request of the FBI, I attended and recorded video footage of Tenam’s new offices,” he added.

Officials with APCO - the lobbying firm accused of funneling the money to the Clinton Global Initiative, told The Hill that its support for CGI and its work for Russia were not connected in any way, and involved different divisions of the firm. 

What did Obama know?

As Solomon notes, a giant question remains that may be solved by the release of the 37-pages of classified information; what did the Obama administration know about this? 

Did the FBI notify then-President Obama, Hillary Clinton and other leaders on the CFIUS board about Rosatom’s dark deeds before the Uranium One sale was approved, or did the bureau drop the ball and fail to alert policymakers?

Neither outcome is particularly comforting. Either the United States, eyes wide open, approved giving uranium assets to a corrupt Russia, or the FBI failed to give the evidence of criminality to the policymakers before such a momentous decision. -The Hill

Campbell says that his FBI handlers assured him that Obama had been briefed by then-FBI Diretor Mueller on Rosatom's criminal activities as part of the president's daily briefing, however "politics" was the reason that the sale was approved anyway. 

Smearing Campbell

After Solomon broke the Campbell story, Democrats viciously attacked Campbell, a cancer-stricken man showered by praise by the Obama administration at a 2016 celebration dinner in Crystal City, VA. Since his undercover work in Russia, Campbell has undergone 35 intensive radiation treatments after being diagnosed with brain cancer and leukemia. 

Michael Isikoff

Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News wrote an article slamming Campbell - saying he would be a "disaster" as a witness because some of his claims could not be documented, an anonymous source told Isikoff (Isikoff's Yahoo News article was used by the FBI to support the FISA spy warrant on Trump aide Carter Page, after Isikoff was fed information by Christopher Steele).

Meanwhile, in a move which can only be interpreted as an effort to protect the FBI, the Obama administration and the Clintons, AG Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein even tried to suggest the nuclear bribery case uncovered by Campbell is not connected to the Uranium One deal

Via John Solomon last November

Attorney General Jeff Sessions in testimony last week and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a letter to the Senate last month tried to suggest there was no connection between Uranium One and the nuclear bribery case. Their argument was that the criminal charges weren’t filed until 2014, while the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approval of the Uranium One sale occurred in October 2010.” -The Hill 

This rubbed several Congressional GOP the wrong way:

“Attorney General Sessions seemed to say that the bribery, racketeering and money laundering offenses involving Tenex’s Vadim Mikerin occurred after the approval of the Uranium One deal by the Obama administration. But we know that the FBI’s confidential informant was actively compiling incriminating evidence as far back as 2009,” Rep. Ron DeSantis, (R-Fla.) told The Hill, adding "It is hard to fathom how such a transaction could have been approved without the existence of the underlying corruption being disclosed"

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a similar rebuke to Rosenstein, saying the deputy attorney general’s first response to the committee “largely missed the point” of the congressional investigations. 

Between the DOJ stonewalling Campbell and the MSM smear job he was subjected to after he went public, perhaps it's more important than ever that those 37 pages see the light of day. 

Published:10/2/2018 9:50:24 AM
[Markets] Jim Rickards: A Three-Way Train Wreck Is About To Derail The Markets

Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

The U.S. trade war with China and China’s daunting debt problems are well understood by most investors. Coming U.S. sanctions on Iran and Iran’s internal economic problems are also well understood.

What is not understood is how these two bilateral confrontations are intimately linked in a three-way tangle that could throw the global economy into complete turmoil and possibly escalate into war. Untangling and understanding these connections is one of the most important tasks for investors today.

Let’s begin with the China debt bomb. As is apparent from the chart below, China has the largest volume of dollar-denominated debt coming due in the next 15 months.

The chart shows China with almost $100 billion of external dollar-denominated liabilities maturing before the end of 2019. But this debt wall is just the tip of the iceberg. This chart does not include amounts owed by financial institutions nor does it include intercompany payables and receivables. China’s total dollar debt burden is over $200 billion and towers over other emerging-market economy debt burdens.

This wall of maturing debt might not matter if China had easy access to new finance with which to pay the debt and if its economy were growing at a healthy clip. Neither condition is true.

China has entered a trade war with the U.S., which will reduce the prospects of many Chinese companies and hurt their ability to refinance dollar debt. At the same time, China is trying to get its debt problems under control by restricting credit and tightening lending standards.

But this monetary tightening also hurts growth. Selective defaults have already emerged among some large Chinese companies and certain regional governments. The overall effect is tighter monetary conditions, reduced access to foreign markets and slower growth all coming at the worst possible time.

The situation in Iran is even more fraught. The U.S. waged a financial war on Iran from 2011–13. The first step was to impose sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities. Then Iran was banned from using the U.S.-controlled Fedwire system to send or receive U.S. dollars.

Iran responded by switching its oil shipments to payment in euros cleared through the SWIFT system, based in Belgium. Next the U.S. leaned on its SWIFT partners to ban Iran from using that system, a process known as “de-SWIFTing.”

This move effectively cut Iran off from receiving hard currency for its oil. Iranians smuggled dollars into Iran from Iraq and ran a black market to get dollars to pay Dubai-based smugglers to bring in consumer goods. There was a run on the Iranian banks, interest rates were moved to 20% to stop the run and the Iranian rial collapsed. Inflation soared and anti-government demonstrations emerged. Iran was halfway to regime change without a shot being fired.

Obama declared a truce in the financial war at the end of 2013 in exchange for negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program. This resulted in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA, a multilateral agreement on Iran’s pledge to stop uranium enrichment. Obama paid billions of dollars in cash and gold to Iran as a bribe to secure this agreement.

After the agreement, Obama ended many economic sanctions on Iran. Direct foreign investment, mostly from Europe, started up again.

Last May, Trump tore up the JCPOA and resumed sanctions under a doctrine of “maximum pressure.” The difference now is that Iran wasted the Obama bribe money on foreign adventures and terrorism in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Sinai. The situation in Iran today is even worse that it was in 2013.

A new round of severe sanctions is set to go into place on Nov. 4, 2018. These new sanctions will result in a near complete shutdown of Iranian oil sales and an end of direct investment in Iran. Trump is on the path to regime change in Iran unless a new agreement is reached that is much stronger from the U.S. perspective than the JCPOA.

Here’s where the China and Iran stories converge. Iran has one and only one lifeline to keep its economy going — oil sales to China. And China desperately needs the Iranian oil to keep its own economy growing so it can pay or roll over its debts. The chart below tells the story:

Iran’s oil sales to South Korea, Italy, Japan, the UAE, Spain, France and Greece are likely to be shut down or greatly curtailed by the new Trump sanctions. That leaves China, India and Turkey as Iran’s only large customers. Turkey and India are facing financial crises of their own and may not have the hard currency to pay Iran. That leaves China as Iran’s only source of hard currency going forward.

China will not stop buying Iranian oil; they need the oil desperately. Iran will not stop selling oil to China; they need the hard currency desperately. Still, Trump’s sanctions will force China and Iran into financial and logistical gymnastics to avoid interdiction by Trump.

Iran will use its own tanker fleet to ship the oil because third-party countries won’t allow their tankers to violate the sanctions. China will have to cheat on SWIFT message traffic notices to avoid appearing to credit Iran with hard currency.

Even with these workaround methods in place, the two-way flow of oil and currency will become more difficult. The impact on China and Iran will be to slow both economies even if the oil and currency keep flowing.

China is between a rock and a hard place because it’s trying to control the increase in debt while trying to borrow more and pay its debts at the same time. Iran is in even worse condition because its foreign investment currency lifelines are being cut one by one even as the government struggles with hyperinflation, bank runs and social unrest.

Both of these situations could be alleviated if China would give Trump the trade deal he wants and if Iran would give Trump the nuclear deal he wants. Both outcomes are unlikely in the near term because of the confrontational geopolitics standing in the way.

Markets have been notably docile lately despite crises in Argentina, Turkey, Indonesia, Iran, China, Venezuela and elsewhere. Political crises related to Brexit and U.S. political dysfunction have not roiled global markets so far. The calm and low volatility are about to end.

The China-Iran nexus in confrontation with the U.S. is the last straw.

Published:10/1/2018 7:20:14 PM
[Politics] Flake: Trump Should Have Been Disqualified for Questioning Obama's Birthplace Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said Monday that President Donald Trump's comments about former President Barack Obama's place of birth were "disqualifying," Newsweek reports. Published:10/1/2018 5:16:26 PM
[Markets] Kunstler: Imaginary Monsters And The Uses Of Chaos

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

The Kavanaugh hearing underscored another eerie condition in contemporary USA life that offers clues about the combined social, economic, and political collapse that I call the long emergency: the destruction of all remaining categorical boundaries for understanding behavior: truth and untruth, innocent and guilty, childhood and adulthood, public and private.

The destination of all this confusion is a society that can’t process any quarrel coherently, leaving everyone unsatisfied and adrift, and no actual problems resolved.

One element of the story is clear, though. The Democratic party, in the absence of real monsters to slay, has become the party devoted to sowing chaos, mainly by inventing new, imaginary monsters using the machinery of politics, the way the Catholic Church manufactured monsters of heresy during the Spanish Inquisition in its attempt to regulate “belief.”

“I believe her” is the new totalitarian rallying cry, conveniently disposing of any obligation to establish the facts of any ambiguous matter. It was stealthily inserted in our national life during the Obama years, when Title IX “guidelines” originally written to correct imbalances in college sports funding for men and women were extended to adjudicate sexual encounters on campus.

The result was the setting up of officially sanctioned kangaroo courts where due process was thrown out the window — by people who have should have known better: college presidents, deans, and faculty. That experiment produced not a few spectacular injustices, such as the Duke Lacrosse team fake rape fiasco, the University of Virginia fake rape fraternity incident (provoked by a mis-reported storey in Rolling Stone Magazine), and the Columbia University “Mattress Girl” saga — all cases eventuating in punishing lawsuits against the institutions that allowed them to spin out of control.

The spirit of the kangaroo court has since graduated into business and politics where it has proven especially useful for settling scores and advancing careers and agendas dishonestly. Coercion has replaced persuasion. Coercion is at the heart of totalitarian politics. Do what your told, or else. Believe what we say, or else. (Or else lose your reputation, your livelihood, your friends….) This plays neatly into the dynamics of human mob psychology. When the totalitarians set up for business, few individuals dare to depart from the party line. It’s the perfect medium for cultivating mendacious ideologies.

And so many Americans may be wondering these days whether the ideas and principles that have held this country together, even through a disastrous civil war, can endure through a long emergency of exogenous events so overwhelming that we dare not even debate them publicly. These are climate change, the crack-up of a debt-based money system, the winding–down of techno-industrial economy, and the ecological destruction of the only planet that human beings call home.

Of course, the lives of societies, like everything else in a living universe, unfold emergently. Which is to say that circumstances are in the driver’s seat taking us where they will whether we like it or not. What humans can do is decide how to ride these events. For the moment, America has opted for a grand circus of sexual hysteria. It’s really an easy, lazy choice because sex is full of easily manipulated tensions and ambiguities prone to melodramatic misrepresentation.

Next on tap for this beleaguered nation will be a constitutional crisis and a financial crisis. It’s difficult to predict the order of their unfolding, except to say that these will open up a maelstrom of losses which will then be hard to either adjudicate or correct, once our system of law is compromised. As this occurs, all the raging hysteria over sex will be overshadowed by real existential issues as the people lose their homes, incomes, and futures and desperately search for a way out of more chaos than they bargained for.

Published:10/1/2018 4:22:53 PM
[The Blog] Former Obama/Hillary aides: The FBI has to get to the bottom of … “boofing”

Boof truthers?

The post Former Obama/Hillary aides: The FBI has to get to the bottom of … “boofing” appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/1/2018 3:17:43 PM
[Politics] 40% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Forty percent (40%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending September 27.

This is down two points from the previous week. This finding has been running in the 40s for most weeks this year after being in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

Rasmussen Reports invites you to be a part of our first-ever Citizen-Sourced National Midterm Election Polling Project. Learn more about how you can contribute.

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

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from September 23-27, 2018. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:10/1/2018 12:14:46 PM
[Markets] DOJ Sues To Block California Net Neutrality Law

Barely an hour after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed what's widely believed to be the toughest net neutrality law ever enacted in the US, the US DOJ announced that it would sue California to invalidate the new law, setting up yet another showdown between the federal government and the largest state in the union.

According to the Washington Post, California has become the largest state to adopt its own rules requiring Internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to treat all web traffic equally. State lawmakers wrote their law after the FCC scrapped nationwide protections last year, citing the regulatory burdens they had caused for the telecom industry. The lawsuit opens yet another legal showdown between Brown and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Recently, a federal judge threw out most of the DOJ's challenge to California's sanctuary state laws.

Sessions

The law will pit massive ISPs like Comcast and Verizon against smaller Internet companies like Etsy and streaming services like Vimeo.

As the DOJ explains in its press release, federal laws explicitly state that the Internet should not be regulated as if it were a utility. However, this assumption undergirds the argument for enforcing net neutrality by law. For years, net neutrality was merely a principle to which ISPs adhered. It wasn't until the Obama Administration-era FCC imposed certain restrictions on ISPs that net neutrality were enshrined into law.

And as Sessions pointed out in a statement, states do not have the right to regulate interstate commerce.

"Under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce - the federal government does. The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order," Sessions said in a statement.

[...]

"Not only is California’s Internet regulation law illegal, it also hurts consumers," Pai said in a statement. "The law prohibits many free-data plans, which allow consumers to stream video, music, and the like exempt from any data limits. They have proven enormously popular in the marketplace, especially among lower-income Americans. But notwithstanding the consumer benefits, this state law bans them."

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who received death threats last year after the FCC undid the Obama-era regulations, said in a statement that the California law isn't just illegal, but also hurts consumers.

"I’m pleased the Department of Justice has filed this suit.  The Internet is inherently an interstate information service.  As such, only the federal government can set policy in this area.  And the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently reaffirmed that state regulation of information services is preempted by federal law."

"Not only is California’s Internet regulation law illegal, it also hurts consumers.  The law prohibits many free-data plans, which allow consumers to stream video, music, and the like exempt from any data limits.  They have proven enormously popular in the marketplace, especially among lower-income Americans.  But notwithstanding the consumer benefits, this state law bans them."

And with other states stepping up to pass net neutrality laws of their own, the DOJ has every incentive to take this lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court (where hopefully, assuming Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, the court's conservative majority will rule in the DOJ's favor).

In this case, the future of Internet regulation is at stake in a political war that’s pit telecom providers such as Verizon against tech companies, especially smaller ones such as the crafts site Etsy and the streaming service Vimeo. With other states considering net neutrality laws of their own, the DOJ "may want to try to take [California] to the Supreme Court if it goes that far," said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

The first salvos in what looks to be a multiyear legal saga were fired just weeks before the all-important midterm elections (though it's hard to imagine that this will do much galvanize either side's base, as most consumers have no idea what net neutrality is, exactly).

Emboldened by online activists, liberal organizers and tech start-ups, California lawmakers set about crafting their own net neutrality rules earlier this year. The proposal that the legislature adopted in September - which the governor’s office allowed to become law Sunday - prohibits Internet providers from blocking access to sites and services, slowing down web connections or charging companies for faster delivery of their movies, music or other content. Smaller web firms, in particular, worry that they do not have the resources to pay telecom giants to make sure their content is seen. The law also bans carriers from exempting apps from counting toward consumers’ data allowances each month if doing so might harm companies, especially start-ups.

California’s law is even tougher than the approach adopted in 2015 while President Obama was in office - which was scrapped after Republicans took over leadership of the FCC two years later. To Ajit Pai, the FCC’s current Republican chairman, such net neutrality protections proved heavy handed and had slowed the telecom industry’s investment in improving their broadband networks nationwide. "I think ultimately it’s going to mean better, faster, cheaper Internet access and more competition," Pai told the Post as the repeal took effect in June.

The California Assembly and Senate passed the law over the summer, ignoring the objections of telecom lobbyists who have largely favored the DOJ's less-restrictive approach to the Obama-era policies. While California's law is certainly ambitious and mirrors the state's efforts to impose restrictive data privacy laws earlier this year, should the DOJ succeed with its case (an outcome that will almost certainly involve a SCOTUS ruling), it will settle the matter of net neutrality for a generation.

Published:10/1/2018 5:47:33 AM
[Markets] One Step Closer To Recession, And Jay Powell's Looming Whiplash

Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

As you know by now, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates again this week, its eighth increase since the rate hike cycle began in 2015.

In his post-announcement press conference, Jerome Powell cited a strong economy, low unemployment, solid growth, etc. He said that “It’s a particularly bright moment” for the economy.

Barring significant developments, the Fed may raise rates again in December and perhaps three times next year.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department announced that second quarter U.S. GDP expanded at a 4.2% annualized rate, confirming the earlier estimate.

On the surface it might look everything is great, that it is a particularly bright moment for the economy. But if you take a hard look behind the numbers, a different picture emerges.

A lot of the cheerleaders say Trump’s programs of tax cuts and deregulation will produce persistent trend growth of 3–4% or higher.

Such growth would break decisively with the weak growth of the Obama years. It would also make the U.S. debt burden, currently at 105% of GDP, more sustainable if GDP were to grow faster than the national debt.

There’s one problem with the happy talk about 3–4% growth. We’ve seen it all before.

  • In 2009, almost every economic forecaster and commentator was talking about “green shoots.”

  • In 2010, then-Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner forecast the “recovery summer.”

  • In 2017, the global monetary elites were praising the arrival (at last) of “synchronized global growth.”

None of this wishful thinking panned out. The green shoots turned brown, the recovery summer never came and the synchronized global growth was over almost as soon as it began.

Any signs of trend growth have been strictly temporary (basically moving growth from one quarter to another through inventory and accounting quirks) and are quickly followed by weaker growth. In the first quarter of 2015, growth was 3.2%, but by the fourth quarter that year growth had fallen to a near-recession level of 0.5%.

In the third quarter of 2016 growth was 2.8%, but it fell quickly to 1.2% by the first quarter of 2017. In the third quarter of 2017 growth was 3.2% but then returned to 2.0% by the first quarter of 2018, about the average for the past nine years.

This pattern of temporarily strong growth followed by weak growth has been characteristic of the entire recovery that began in June 2009 and entered its 10th year a few months ago. In fact, we’ve seen even more extreme reversals in the recent past.

In the third quarter of 2013, growth was 4.5%. But by the first quarter of 2014, just six months later, growth was actually negative, -2.1%, comparable to some of the worst quarters in recent recessions.

Growth was 5.0% in the third quarter of 2014, but then fell off a cliff and was barely positive, 0.2%, in the first quarter of 2015.

You get the point. Strong quarters have been followed by much weaker quarters within six months on six separate occasions in the past nine years. There’s no reason to believe this trend will end now.

The longer-term view of the entire recovery is more revealing. The recovery is currently 109 months old, the second-longest since the end of the Second World War. The average recovery since 1980 (a period of longer-than-average expansions) is 83 months.

So this expansion has been extraordinarily long — far longer than average — indicating that a recession should be expected sooner rather than later.

But the current expansion has also been the weakest recovery on record. Average annual growth during this expansion is 2.14%, compared with average annual growth for all expansions since 1980 of 3.21%. That 3.21% figure is what economists mean by “trend” growth.

Even with the latest GDP numbers, the current expansion does not even come close to that trend. The “wealth gap” (the difference between 3.2% trend growth and 2.1% actual growth) is now over $4 trillion. That’s how much poorer the U.S. economy is due to its inability to achieve sustainable trend growth.

As for the Trump bump, growth in the first quarter of 2018 was 2.0%, slightly below the average since June 2009. Growth for all of 2017, Trump’s first year in office, was 2.6%, slightly above the 2.14% average in this recovery but not close to the 3.5% growth proclaimed by Trump’s supporters.

In short, growth under Trump looks a lot like growth under Obama, with no reason to expect that to change anytime soon. In fact, the head winds caused by the strong dollar, the trade wars and out-of-control deficit spending may slow the economy and bring future growth down below the average of the Obama years.

I’ve said repeatedly that the Fed is tightening into weakness. But it’s more than the rate hikes. The Fed is also winding down its balance sheet, and the pace is scheduled to accelerate next year.

Far from printing money, the Fed is destroying base money at a rapid pace. The Fed is basically burning money. They’re doing this by not rolling over maturing Treasury and mortgage securities they hold on their balance sheet. That’s a “double whammy” of tightening.

When a security held by the Fed matures and the issuer pays it off, the money sent to the Fed just disappears. It’s called quantitative tightening, or QT.

When the Fed started QT in late 2017, they urged market participants to ignore it. They said the QT plan was on autopilot, the Fed was not going to use it as an instrument of policy and the money burning would “run on background” just like a computer program that’s open but not in use at the moment.

It’s fine for the Fed to say that, but markets have another view. Analysts estimate that QT is the equivalent of two–four rate hikes per year over and above the explicit rate hikes.

Bearing in mind that monetary policy works with a 12–18-month lag, this extraordinary tightening policy in a weak economy is almost certainly a recipe for a recession.

And expected results are beginning to show up in the markets. Mortgage interest rates are up, mortgage refis are sinking like a stone and housing affordability is suffering.

This will eventually result in fewer new home purchases, slower household formation and a weakening economy. The Fed will have to reverse course and cut rates, or at least “pause” in raising rates much sooner than they think.

The Fed knows a recession will happen sooner rather than later and is desperate to acquire some dry powder (in the form of higher rates and a reduced balance sheet) so it can use it when the time comes.

The problem, of course, is that by pursuing these policies, the Fed will cause the recession it is preparing to cure.

The single most important factor in my analysis is that when the Fed realizes its mistake of tightening into economic weakness, it will have to turn on a dime and shift to an easing policy.

Easing will come first through forward guidance and pauses in the rate hike tempo, then possibly actual rate cuts back to zero and finally reversing their balance sheet reductions by expanding the balance sheet through QE4 if needed.

Jay Powell seems determined to continue rate hikes on an aggressive path and possibly to accelerate the hikes. But he might be in for a severe case of whiplash when he has to make a hard pivot to easing.

But by then, the damage will have been done.

Published:9/29/2018 7:34:51 PM
[Culture] Our Affectionate Uncle Barry

Dear President Obama,

Congratulations on the new book! It's so great to see you back in print, comforting the afflicted in these dark times. And my, what a pleasure cruise this must be for you: To Obama, With Love, Joy, Anger, And Hope, by New York Times bestselling author Jeanne Marie Laskas—you didn't even have to lift your famous pen and phone to make it happen.

The post Our Affectionate Uncle Barry appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/29/2018 5:00:23 AM
[Entertainment] Malia Obama is a video star, makes her debut in indie band's music video The 20-year-old took time out from her Harvard studies to rock out in a music video by a Harvard-based indie band.
     
 
 
Published:9/28/2018 9:59:29 PM
[Politics] HHS Sec. Azar: Trump Managing Obamacare Better Than Obama President Donald Trump is better at managing Obamacare than President Barack Obama was, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. Published:9/28/2018 1:29:31 PM
[Entertainment] Malia Obama Rocks Out in Music Video Debut Malia Obama, Music Video, New Dakotas, Walking on AirMalia Obama is living her best life at college. The 20-year-old Harvard student and eldest daughter of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama appears with her...
Published:9/28/2018 11:57:38 AM
[In The News] Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Offshore Drilling Regulation

By DCNF -

Barack Obama upset

The Trump administration rolled back another Obama-era regulation, rescinding a rule pertaining to the offshore drilling industry.

Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Offshore Drilling Regulation is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:9/28/2018 11:00:47 AM
[Markets] House Intel Committee Votes To Release 53 Trump-Russia Transcripts

The House Intelligence Committee on Friday voted to release 53 transcripts related to the panel's Trump-Russia investigation, reports The Hill, "teeing up a massive document dump ahead of the November midterm elections.

The transcripts will include testimony from several current and former key members of Trump's orbit, including Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump Jr., Roger Stone and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. 

Also included will be interviews with former Obama administration officials such as former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper as well as former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. 

The transcripts — 53 in total — will not immediately be released but will now go to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for a classification review, which could take days or weeks to complete.

The documents are poised to revive discussion about the House panel’s Russia investigation, which dramatically broke down into partisan infighting and culminated in Republicans moving to end the probe in a party-line vote last March. Democrats have accused the GOP leaders of ending the probe prematurely. -The Hill

House GOP released a report on their findings in April which found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  

Published:9/28/2018 10:29:39 AM
[US News] ‘Taking NO prisoners’! Lindsey Graham skewers Dems with this PAINFUL truth (Hint: Thanks, Obama!)

"Oh, that is beautiful!"

The post ‘Taking NO prisoners’! Lindsey Graham skewers Dems with this PAINFUL truth (Hint: Thanks, Obama!) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:9/28/2018 9:58:17 AM
[Markets] House Committee Subpoenas 'McCabe Memos' Reportedly Detailing Rosenstein's Attempted 'Palace Coup'

Despite the staggering revelations regarding his pre-Mueller probe conduct that came to light a week ago, Rod Rosenstein looks set to keep his job - for now, at least. But while President Trump has insisted that he doesn't believe the report - which alleges that Rosenstein tried to recruit cabinet members for a palace coup and even suggested surreptitiously taping Trump in the Oval Office - the truth of the matter may soon be exposed thanks to House Oversight Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who on Thursday formally subpoenaed the DOJ to obtain copies of the incriminating memos, and other related materials, purportedly penned by former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. The NYT and other news outlets cited the memos as the original source for their story, though none of them actually obtained physical copies of the document - instead, they relied on "descriptions" of the memos' content conveyed by third parties who had reportedly seen them.

According to Fox News, Goodlatte sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions Thursday notifying him of the subpoena, which was issued as part of a joint investigation with House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy. Goodlatte is giving the DOJ - which has been notoriously reluctant to comply with Congressional subpoenas during the Trump era - a deadline of Oct. 4 to comply. The initial Times report claimed that McCabe had left copies of his memos at the FBI after he was fired earlier this year.

"Given the Department’s ongoing delays and/or refusal to produce these documents, I am left with no choice but to issue the enclosed subpoena to compel their production," Goodlatte wrote to Sessions.

In addition to requesting all documents and communications pertaining to the memos, Goodlatte also subpoenaed the file  on the first FISA Court application requesting a wiretapping warrant on Trump Campaign advisor Carter Page, a warrant that was at the heart of the Obama Administration's suspected conspiracy to wiretap and investigate the presidential nominee of its rival party, according to the Washington Examiner. 

McCabe

Rosenstein has denounced the NYT report as "factually incorrect" while insisting that he never said or did the things he was accused of doing. Other anonymous sources who were reportedly in the room during a meeting between Rosenstein and McCabe where these issues were discussed were quoted saying Rosenstein made the comment about wiretapping the president in jest.

McCabe's lawyer, Mark Bromwich (who notably made an appearance during Thursday's Kavanaugh hearing) acknowledged the existence of the memos in a statement last week.

"Andrew McCabe drafted memos to memorialize significant discussions he had with high level officials and preserved them so he would have an accurate, contemporaneous record of those discussions," McCabe’s attorney Michael Bromwich said in a statement. "When he was interviewed by the Special Counsel more than a year ago, he gave all of his memos - classified and unclassified - to the Special Counsel's office. A set of those memos remained at the FBI at the time of his departure in late January 2018. He has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos."

The memos, which were taken by McCabe, reportedly include details from debriefing sessions with former FBI Director James Comey about his meetings with Trump. They were intended to preserve details that may have been used in an obstruction case against the president.

Fox News reported that the meeting where Rosenstein purportedly made his comments took place on May 16, 2017. The meeting was attended by several DOJ officials, including McCabe and former FBI counsel Lisa Page, who was famously fired from the bureau after her anti-Trump text messages with former lover Peter Strzok were exposed. Notably, Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller the day after the meeting. The New York Times reported at the time that it had confirmed the details of the memos - the contents of which had been shared with the paper through an intermediary - with multiple people who had been briefed on their content.

Published:9/28/2018 7:26:00 AM
[Markets] Europeanize America? Not On Your Life

Authored by David Stolinsky via The Gatestone Institute,

  • Europe did not invent racism and religious bigotry, but it surely perfected them.

  • Europeans lived for centuries under kings and emperors. They came to believe that power flowed from the top down. The "elite" decide what is best for the "common people" -- the "masses" -- and then cram it down their throats.

  • The "elite" send their children to the best schools and universities, and relegate the children of the "common people" to lousy schools, where they get lousy educations, which prepare them for lousy jobs, which pay lousy salaries, which leave them dependent on the government for a lifetime of "assistance." But they expect the "common people" to be grateful for the "universal education" -- andfor the "assistance."

  • The American idea of individuals being responsible and taking responsibility is utterly foreign to the "elite," who seem much more comfortable with the European idea of infantilizing subjects to make them dependent on a parentified government to protect them, care for them, dole out money to them, and in general control their lives. If people cannot even choose their own light bulbs, toilets, or dishwasher detergent, in what sense are they free?

The Normandy American Cemetery is the burial place of thousands of American soldiers who fought and died to liberate Europe during World War II, many of them on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace)

If Europeanize were not a word, we would have to invent it, because that is what many are doing to America. Remember when candidate Obama was asked if he believed America is exceptional? He answered yes, but only in the sense that Britain, Greece, and other nations are exceptional.

As Gilbert and Sullivan said, "When everyone is somebody, then no one is anybody."

If every nation is exceptional, none is.

It is not that Obama and his friends really think America is unexceptional. They may well believe it is exceptional, but that it should not be. So they do everything they can to end its exceptional nature, and to make it resemble other nations. They are Europeanizing America.

Do not get me wrong. I love Europe. That is, I love to visit it:

  • I love to see the towers in Ireland, where monks hid from Viking raiders while preserving knowledge for the West. But now, Ireland's church is scandal-ridden.

  • I love to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, a reminder of the time when Britain controlled one-fifth of the Earth. But now the British army is a shadow of its former self. In 2013, a British soldier was murderedand almost beheaded on a London street.

  • I love to see the unsurpassed beauty of Paris. But now France is undergoing a demographic transformation.

  • I love to see beautiful cathedrals, where Christianity inspired great works of art. But now they have few worshippers.

And there are other things in Europe that I do not love, but I feel obligated to see:

  • I feel obligated to visit Clifford's Tower in York, England, where in the year 1190, Jews were massacred because of their faith. Europe did not invent racism and religious bigotry, but it surely perfected them. Europe invented the blood libel as far back as 1144, falsely accusing Jews of using the blood of children for Jewish rituals.

  • I feel obligated to remember (because it no longer exists) the Vélodrome d'Hiver, the Paris bicycle-racing stadium where in 1942 the French police rounded up thousands of Jews for shipment to Auschwitz. And today in France, Jews are targeted for assault or murder.

  • I feel obligated to visit Belleau Wood, where U.S. Marines fought and died to liberate Europe in World War I.

  • I feel obligated to visit Omaha Beach, where U.S. soldiers fought and died to liberate Europe in World War II.

  • I feel obligated to read (insofar as I can) European newspapers, to remind myself of ingrates who condemn "American militarism."

  • I feel obligated to visit the reading room at the British Museum, where many people say Karl Marx sat and fantasized an ideal communist society -- as a result of which about 100 million died.

  • I feel obligated to visit the site of the Munich beer hall where Hitler launched his first attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic.

Thanks a lot, Europe, for giving us two world wars, socialism, communism, fascism, Nazism, and for perfecting racism as exemplified by the Holocaust.

You have done so much for the world in the last century. No wonder "progressives" think Americans should be more like you.

Europeans lived for centuries under kings and emperors. They came to believe that power flowed from the top down. So they felt comfortable when their new rulers called themselves Führer, the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Council of the European Union, or whatever. The idea was similar:

  • The "elite" decide what is best for the "common people" -- the "masses" -- and then cram it down their throats.

  • The "elite" dream up notions of the "ideal" state, and leave the "common people" to deal with the inevitable mess that results.

  • The "elite" are cared for in the best hospitals and clinics, and relegate the "common people" to the tender mercies of "gatekeepers" who may -- or may not -- allow you to see imported doctors from who-knows-where. But they expect the "common people" to be grateful for "universal coverage." Government-run health care is a major step in the demolition process. If bureaucrats can tell people what care they and their loved ones can receive -- and what care they cannot receive -- in what sense are those people free citizens, and not subjects of a domineering government that imposes life-and-death decisions on them?

  • The "elite" send their children to the best schools and universities, and relegate the children of the "common people" to lousy schools, where they get lousy educations, which prepare them for lousy jobs, which pay lousy salaries, which leave them dependent on the government for a lifetime of "assistance." But they expect the "common people" to be grateful for the "universal education" -- and for the "assistance."

  • The "elite" view schools and universities as a source of indoctrination, not education. They require students to regurgitate the "correct" doctrine, whether it is Nazi, communist, socialist, or environmentalist. Original thought is punished with lower grades.

  • The "elite" view our children as wards of the state, for whom we have only limited responsibility. They view home-schooling with alarm, and they want to imprison parents who home-school their children, as is already done in (surprise!) Germany.

  • The "elite" view the government as the source of help for those in need. So they vote the "correct" way, but like Europeans, they give little to charity, and they actually discourage giving to charity.

  • The "elite" see nothing wrong with the fact that 52% of American childrennow live in households receiving means-tested government assistance. In fact, the "elite" would like 100% of children to depend on government assistance ? that is, on them, the "elite."

  • The "elite" care little for foreigners who suffer and die, so like Europeans, they want to shrink the military until it is too weak to intervene to stop tyranny or mass murder. They run up huge debts and push new social programs, leaving less money for defense. Europeans could let their defenses atrophy, because America defended them. But if we weaken ourselves, who will defend us? Belgium? Who will fight global terrorism? Liechtenstein? Yes, war is terrible; is surrender better? Is what China is engineering now -- total spying, grading and controlling all of its citizens -- what the West really wants for its children and grandchildren?

Americans, on the contrary, believe that power flows from the bottom up. We believe in trying something, and if it doesn't work, trying something else. We do not believe in allowing the "elite" to impose their unworkable notions of the "ideal" state. We view our children as gifts, for whom we have ultimate responsibility to bring up to be self-reliant, ethical citizens.

Americans, in fact, do not believe in the "elite" in the first place.

So, predictably, the self-anointed "elite" do not like American ideas, and they seem to be doing their best to demolish the American system.

And now, with the unaffordable Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"), we can look forward to increasingly severe doctor shortages. Many young people are willing to spend the best years of their lives training to be independent professionals, but not to be government underlings. And waiting times are growing progressively longer. I wish you good luck and good health -- you will need both.

The American idea of rights is utterly foreign to the "elite," who are much more comfortable with the European idea of privileges granted -- or withdrawn -- at the whim of the government.

The American idea of individuals being responsible and taking responsibility is utterly foreign to the "elite," who seem much more comfortable with the European idea of infantilizing subjects to make them dependent on a parentified government to protect them, care for them, dole out money to them, and in general control their lives. If people cannot even choose their own light bulbs, toilets, or dishwasher detergent, in what sense are they free?

Yes, the "elite" want to Europeanize America. But in view of what has happened in Europe in the last century, and what is happening there now, this seems like a really abysmal idea. And I'll keep that in mind when I vote.

Published:9/28/2018 4:27:07 AM
[Markets] Debt Threat Rises: The Government Will Soon Spend More On Interest Than On The Military

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

As debt and interest rates rise, the government is about to be in a disastrous situation. Very soon, they will spend more money paying interest on the national debt than they will on the bloated military budget.

By the year 2023, interest payments on the national debt could surpass the entire budget for the Department of Defense, according to the New York Times. The ballooning debt is being spurred by an inability by those who claim authority over the economy to stop spending and the hike in interest rates. With more and more money being robbed from the unborn and spent by the government and more going toward interest, political “leaders” will find it harder to do pretty much anything.

While many are worried about the crumbling infrastructure, others say it’ll be more difficult to make emergency moves like pulling the economy out of future recessions. Which is strange, because the government causes recessions and doesn’t “fix” them,they simply put band-aids on gaping wounds. This mentality that the government will save people when they are $21 trillion in debt is a delusional one, other economic experts have said.

In about 5 years, more than $900 billion in interest payments will be due annually, easily outpacing spending on several other socialist programs.

Already the fastest-growing major government expense, the cost of interest is on track to hit $390 billion next year, nearly 50 percent more than in 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The inability of the government to rein in spending will eventually result in an economic meltdown the world had never seen nor is prepared for. The government literally cannot steal enough money from producers in the form of taxes to get out from under this problem anymore.

“It’s very much something to worry about,” said C. Eugene Steuerle, a fellow at the Urban Institute and a co-founder of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center in Washington. “Everything else is getting squeezed.”  Gradually rising interest rates would have made borrowing more expensive even without any additional debt, but the government never cuts spending. In fact, Republicans, who are supposed to be “fiscally conservative”,  while holding all three houses of government,  approved a budget bill in February that raised spending by $300 billion over two years.  All of these problems will add to the financial pressure.

The deficit is expected to total nearly $1 trillion next year for the first time since 2012, under the Obama Administration.

Former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, has even begun to sound the alarm on the government’s spending problem. At a recent round-table discussion with reporters at the Brookings Institution, Bernanke, former Treasury Secretaries Henry Paulson, and Timothy Geithner all expressed concerns that the next economic crisis will come with policymakers being unable to do anything about it. –SHTFPlan

The trade war will also make things difficult for those already struggling to make ends meet as jobs are lost and prices are raised to cover the cost of tariffs. The economy’s immediate future is looking incredibly bleak.

Published:9/27/2018 2:21:44 PM
[Issues] ICE Arrests Up, Have Plateaued, Under Trump

The total number of arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has risen under President Donald Trump, new data reveal, but the numbers have now plateaued, reaching levels below or in line with much of the Obama administration.

The post ICE Arrests Up, Have Plateaued, Under Trump appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/27/2018 1:21:31 PM
[Immigration] Illegal Immigrant Arrested In Serial Murders (John Hinderaker) A serial killer who attacked homeless men with a baseball bat has terrorized Los Angeles, killing three and leaving others in critical condition. On Monday, Ramon Escobar was arrested for the baseball bat murders. It sounds as though he likely committed additional murders in Houston, as well as other violent crimes. Escobar is an illegal immigrant who was deported multiple times and released by ICE under Obama administration guidelines, despite Published:9/26/2018 8:55:49 PM
[Markets] Trump's "Wild", "Surreal" Press Conference: Here Are The Main Highlights

In what The Hill called  a "wild", and others dubbed "surreal" press conference, that lasted 1 hour at 16 minutes and at times bordered on the absurd - at the president's own doing - Trump covered a lot of ground, starting with his fierce defense of Brett Kavanaugh, by forcefully denying the sexual misconduct accusations against his embattled Supreme Court nominee.

Describing the allegations as part of a Democratic "con job'" and admitting that his own experience with sexual assault allegations has impacted his view of Kavanaugh’s accusers, Trump called Kavanaugh "one of the highest quality people I've ever met" and reiterated his belief the three women who have come forward against the judge are making "false accusations."

Trump however declined to answer if he thought the women were liars: "I won't get into that game I will only tell you this - this is one of he highest quality people I ever met," he said. Earlier Wednesday, when asked if the woman were liars, Trump responded: "What's your next question?"

"I can't tell you whether or not they're liars until I hear them," Trump told reporters in New York where he was attending the United Nations General Assembly. "It's possible they could be convincing." Trump called the women's allegations part of "a big, fat con job" being played by Democrats to prevent him from putting a conservative judge on the Supreme Court.

"These are all false to me," he said when pressed on the accusations lobbed at Kavanaugh.

Still, despite his stated skepticism over the allegations, Trump said if the testimony against Kavanagh from his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, convinced him that Kavanaugh did commit misconduct, he would withdraw his nomination.

"If I thought he was guilty of something like this, yeah, sure," Trump said when asked if there were any circumstances he would name a new person to the Supreme Court.

It was the first time Trump has publicly raised the possibility of pulling Kavanaugh from consideration and is likely a sign that he is unsatisfied with the judge's efforts to defend himself from the charges. "I look forward to watching her," he said of Ford. "I can be persuaded of anything."

But the overall message from Trump on Wednesday was that there was little reason to believe the women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misdeeds.

Trump also explained that his attitude was rooted in his own experience of facing similar accusations, which he said are all false. Nineteen women have claimed that Trump had extramarital affairs with them or accused him of sexual misconduct.

"I’ve been a famous person for a long time," Trump said. "When I see it, I view it differently than someone at home watching television. ... It's happened to me many times. I've had many false accusations."

Trump said such accusations could be made against any man, including apparently the US founding fathers:  "If we brought George Washington here, and we say this is George Washington, the Democrats would vote against him," Trump said. "He may have had a bad past. Who knows?"

And not just man: Trump argued he could pick a woman for the job and she could have allegations against her.

"Whether it's a man or a woman - it can happen the other way also. I could pick a woman and she could have charges made from many years ago," he said.

One thing that was certain is that Trump is not a fan of Michael Avenatti, whom he slammed on several occasions after it emerged that the lawyer is representing a third women accusing Kavanaugh of being present during her "gang rape" at a high school party in the 1980s. The president called that allegation "another beauty" and accused Avenatti of being disreputable.

"This other con-artist, Avenatti, come out with another beauty today,' the president said of the latest allegation. 'I can tell you her lawyer is a low life."

"Bad reputation. Take a look at his past," Trump said of the lawyer, who also represents adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against the president.

* * *

There were many other topics covered during the at time surreal conference including:

  • China: Trump said that his personal friendship with President Xi Jinping of China may be over. There is no sign that the trade war between the U.S. and China is slowing down, as Trump upped the ante by also accusing China of trying to meddle in the election.
  • Trade War: Trump made the claim that his trade war with China has had no negative economic impact in the U.S. This is not what Republicans campaigning in the Midwest want to hear. Farmers, auto manufacturers and other key industries have said the trade war is hitting them hard in their pockets—and Trump seems to be telling them that everything is fine.
  • Canada: Trump said openly that he rejected a meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. To this, the Toronto Star responded that Trudeau did not request a one-on-one meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations meeting. As Bloomberg notes, "that display of open disrespect for a U.S. ally in the middle of tough trade negotiations does not portend good things for renegotiating NAFTA."
  • The Fed: Trump again criticized the Fed eserve for raising interest rates, a departure from presidential norms governing the independence of the Fed.
  • Fake News: Trump continued to bash the media—calling reporters “fake” and dishonest - while giving praise to Fox News multiple times. He took questions from 17 different reporters during a press conference that lasted for 1 hour 16 minutes, showing that he very much cares about dominating the news cycle.
  • Various: Trump claimed that he won the female vote, that President Obama was planning to go to war with North Korea, that his personal intervention had saved millions of lives and that news outlets made up phony stories to attack him.
  • Various #2: the president joked that he wanted to leave on a high note like the musician Elton John. He also joked that although The New York Times is "failing," "I still love the paper," and called on a Kurdish journalist by referring to him as "Mr. Kurd."

Watch the full press conference below:

Published:9/26/2018 6:16:32 PM
[Right Column] Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.’s new book details smears in climate debate – Rips climate fears: ‘We don’t have any actual data about the future, only assumptions’

'After Pielke gave evidence about extreme weather and climate change to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2014, John Holdren, who was then President Obama’s science adviser, contradicted Pielke and accused him of being outside the ‘scientific mainstream’. Holdren’s words convinced Congressional representative Raúl Grijalva to investigate the funding of Pielke’s and others’ research, hoping to discover links to fossil-fuel companies. The investigation revealed that Pielke had no such funding, but the smear stuck.' ...

'The problem with the climate-crisis idea, as Pielke shows, is that most extreme weather data do not support it. This, explains Pielke, is not a fringe view; it is the consensus of climate science.' ...

Climate-change advocates are now adopting a new strategy, which, Pielke argues, marks a comprehensive departure from the scientific consensus. Rather than empirical analyses, they are now making probabilistic claims to link anthropogenic climate change to extreme weather and natural disasters. These claims are produced by entering extreme-weather stats into two climate simulations: one in which there has been no increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration, and one in which CO2 concentration is the same as it is in today’s atmosphere...But, as Pielke writes, ‘the use of highly uncertain and malleable methods, with essentially no predictive skill, to associate essentially any extreme event to climate change is a recipe for headlines and advocacy’. ...

'Many aspects of this debate simply cannot be resolved through evidence, since we don’t have any actual data about the future, only assumptions.'

 

Published:9/26/2018 5:18:10 PM
[Markets] "No One Will Stop Us" - Venezuela's Maduro Slams Trump's UN Speech Which Hinted At Coup

During his Tuesday UN General Assembly address President Trump held nothing back in terms of excoriating the socialist pariah state of Venezuela and leader Nicolas Maduro.

"Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries on Earth," Trump said. "Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty."

Trump continued, "Virtually everywhere socialism or communism has been tried, it has produced suffering, corruption, and decay. Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone."

The US president blamed Venezuela's collapsed economy and worthless currency, which has created a humanitarian crisis resulting in some 2 million citizens fleeing the country in recent years on the “Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors”.

But a usually defiant Maduro, who didn't attend the UN Assembly in New York for fear of his safety, slammed the speech via Twitter, stating in Spanish, "The empire points to us because it knows that we are on the socialist road to economic recovery." He shot back at Trump: "And no one will stop us in our efforts to achieve self-sustainability." 

Also in response to Trump's speech, Venezuela's foreign minister Jorge Arreaza said Venezuela was a sovereign country and will continue to exercising the right to choose its own path. "It's not the problem of the United States," Arreaza said during a UN news conference in response to Trump's listing a litany of the small Latin American country's pressing problems. 

Maduro has further called Trump's mention of more sanctions to come against Maduro's wife and his inner circle an "imperialist" intervention by "oligarchs".

The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of foreign Assets Control indicated that it had imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s first lady, Cilia Flores, along with Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez. The U.S. Treasury further confirmed the seizure of a Florida-based Gulfstream jet worth $20 million that belongs to Rafael Sarria, a powerful former Venezuelan official close to Diosdado Cabello, president of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly.

But Trump's speech didn't stop with theorizing on the dangers of socialism and its failures in history, but the president used the momentum to take direct aim and Maduro, and went so far as to hint at regime change

Trump addressing the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, via Getty

“It’s a regime that frankly could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that,” Trump said. He even brought up the August 4th drone attack which Venezuela has branded a failed assassination attempt on Maduro, who was addressing a military parade at the time. 

“You saw the how the military spread as soon as they heard a bomb go off way above their head,” Trump said. “That military was running for cover. That’s not good.”

Trump seemed to be encouraging military coup in the country from the podium of the UN Assembly, saying he wouldn't telegraph his actions like his predecessor: “I don’t like to talk about military. Why should I talk to you about military?” he said. “Obama — he used to say exactly what he was going to do, and then it would be 10 times tougher to do it. I don’t do that.”

On the same day as Trump's UN address, a bipartisan group of senators including Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla) introduced the “Venezuelan Humanitarian Relief, Reconstruction and Rule of Law Act of 2018.”

The bill calls for yet more U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan officials and includes plans for working with other Latin American nations to level their own sanctions against Venezuela. It will further provide $40 million more in humanitarian aid for neighboring countries absorbing refugees and seeking to navigate the crisis. 

Co-sponsor Rubio said in a statement, “As the corrupt Maduro regime adopts a Cuba-style dictatorship and engages in crimes against humanity, including the use of forced starvation against its citizens for political coercion, it is vital for the United States and our partners to provide direct humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan people.” He continued in language that echoed Trump's speech: “Maduro’s socialist legacy has devastated a once-rich nation and vibrant economy.”

All of this brings up the question: is the Trump White House preparing more direct action to foment coup in Venezuela? 

New York Times story from early this month confirmed the administration had previously established a "clandestine channel" involving coup plotters targeting President Nicolás Maduro - a plan which officials say was never ultimately pursued.

And it was further revealed this week in a bombshell report by Axios that the White House has prepared for multiple scenarios involving dramatic military escalation that could trigger US invasion of the small Latin American country.

Among the scenarios outlined in the report include the potential for the US military responding to a  Venezuelan military assault and takeover of the US embassy in Caracas, or a massacre of 1,000 civilians which could trigger an America military response on humanitarian grounds. 

Will historians one day look back on Trump's United Nations speech and consider that moment the beginning of the end for the Maduro regime? It's looking like Trump is indeed seizing the momentum. 

Published:9/26/2018 8:15:23 AM
[Politics] Donald Trump Jr. to Newsmax TV: 'Abracadabra, We're Winning' Former President Barack Obama himself said "there's no magic wand," "Well, abracadabra . . . we're winning," Donald Trump Jr. told Newsmax TV on Tuesday night. Published:9/25/2018 10:13:53 PM
[Markets] Iran's Rouhani Blasts US For "Nazi Disposition," Dares Trump To "Return To Negotiating Table"

In what sounded like a last-ditch plea for the US to reconsider its abandonment of the JCPOA, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the US during his speech before the United Nations General Assembly not to abandon its commitments to international institutions and asked it to return to the negotiating table.

Without using Trump's name, Rouhani warned of rulers who have "xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition", and claimed that "those seeking dominance and hegemony are enemies of peace and perpetrators of war." He added that the US government "seems determined to render all international institutions ineffectual". Its decision to abandon the Security Council-sanctioned JCPOA while inviting Iran to engage in bilateral talks is one such example of this.

Rouhani

Rouhani continued, saying that while he's glad that the rest of the international community has stuck to the agreement, the US's decision to abandon the agreement is exemplary of a pattern propagated by the US to defy international norms when it doesn't suit the US's interests.

"According to this resolution, all countries and regional organizations were called upon to support the JCPOA and refrain from actions that undermine implementation of commitments. Based on 12 consecutive reports from the IAEA Iran has complied with its commitments. However, the US never remained faithful to its obligations, and accused Trump of making "flimsy excuses" in violation of its commitments."

He added that while Iran seeks nothing but peace, the US is an authoritarian regime that believes in "might makes right" over the rule of law. However, Iran believes that there is no better way but dialogue.

"The US understanding of international relations is authoritarian. Its understanding is might makes right..it's understanding of power, not of legal authority, is reflected in bullying, not in legal imposition. No state and nation can be brought to the negotiating table by force. And if so, what follows is an accumulation of the grapes of wrath to be reaped later by the oppressors.

Rouhani exhorted the US to drop its sanctions threats and "return to the negotiating table", adding that if the administration dislikes the Iran deal because of its association to Obama, that it could remake that legacy by returning to the table.

"We invite you to come back to the negotiating table you left. If you dislike the JCPOA because it is the legacy of your domestic political rivals then we invite you to come back to the Security Council resolution. Do not engage in imposing sanctions...sanctions and extremism are two sides of the same coin."

Here are some of the key headlines from Rouhani's 25-minute address (via Bloomberg):

  • *ROUHANI: PLEASED INTL COMMUNITY DIDN'T ACQUIESCE TO U.S.
  • *ROUHANI: THOSE SEEKING DOMINANCE ARE PERPETRATORS OF WAR
  • *ROUHANI: U.S. LEADERS SEEK TO UNDERMINE INTERNATIONAL LAW
  • *ROUHANI: UN SHOULDN'T BOW TO SOME MEMBER STATE PROPAGANDA
  • *ROUHANI: UNLAWFUL UNILATERAL SANCTIONS ARE ECONOMIC TERRORISM
  • *ROUHANI: PLEASED INTL COMMUNITY DIDN'T ACQUIESCE TO U.S.
  • *ROUHANI: U.S. TARGETS IRANIAN PEOPLE WITH UNLAWFUL SANCTIONS
  • *ROUHANI: U.S. POLICY TOWARD IRAN HAS BEEN WRONG FROM BEGINNING
  • *ROUHANI: U.S. UNDERSTANDING OF INTL RELATIONS IS AUTHORITARIAN
  • *ROUHANI: U.S. INTL RELATIONS IS REFLECTED IN POWER AND BULLYING
  • *ROUHANI: IRAN WILL CONTINUE TO CONFRONT `GENUINE TERRORISM'
  • *ROUHANI: IRAN SUPPORTS PEACE AND DEMOCRACY IN ENTIRE MID EAST
  • *ROUHANI URGES U.S. TO STAY IN INTL INSTITUTIONS, NOT SANCTIONS
  • *ROUHANI: SANCTIONS AND EXTREMISM TWO SIDES OF SAME COIN
  • *ROUHANI: IRAN HAS WARNED AGAINST FOREIGN INTERVENTION IN SYRIA
  • *ROUHANI: SYRIA ISSUE CAN ONLY BE RESOLVED INTERNALLY
  • *ROUHANI: CATASTROPHE IN YEMEN ARE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
  • *ROUHANI: MOST PRESSING QUESTION IN MIDDLE EAST IS ON PALESTINE
  • *ROUHANI SAYS U.S. EMBASSY MOVE TO JERUSALEM `ABHORRENT'
  • *ROUHANI: ISRAEL BLATANTLY THREATENS OTHERS W/ NUCLEAR WEAPONS
  • *ROUHANI: IRAN DOES NOT SEEK WAR WITH ANY COUNTRY
  • *ROUHANI: IRAN DOES NOT NEED AN EMPIRE, IRAN IS AN EMPIRE
  • *ROUHANI: IRAN HAS WARNED AGAINST FOREIGN INTERVENTION IN SYRIA
  • *ROUHANI: SYRIA ISSUE CAN ONLY BE RESOLVED INTERNALLY
  • *ROUHANI: QUIT IMPOSING SANCTIONS AND END EXTREMISM

* * *

Watch Rouhani's speech below:

Rouhani also gave an interview to NBC's Lester Holt on Monday. Watch that below:

Published:9/25/2018 2:08:50 PM
[US News] Michelle Obama laments ‘nastiness of our politics,’ stumbles over a WHOLE BUNCH of Dems (just guess)

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The post Michelle Obama laments ‘nastiness of our politics,’ stumbles over a WHOLE BUNCH of Dems (just guess) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:9/25/2018 12:10:54 PM
[World] Tomi Lahren on Michelle Obama 'We Had a Great President' Comment, Democrats' Midterms Strategy

Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren called out Michelle Obama after the former first lady reentered the political fray in a speech in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Published:9/25/2018 8:37:39 AM
[Markets] Erdogan Has Ordered Turkish "Operations" Against Political Enemies On US Soil

A spokesman for Turkish President Erdogan said during a Friday press conference that "operations" have been ordered against Turkey's political enemies, including those on US soil

"Our relevant units and institutions will continue their operations in the countries the FETO operates in whether it be the U.S. or some other country," said spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, describing how Turkey's National Intelligence Organization, MIT, would target followers of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen worldwide. 

"Rest assured that they will feel Turkey breathing down their neck," added Kalin. 

Erdogan has been cracking down on Gulen's network, which is said to be in the millions, while Gulen himself lives in exile in Pennsylvania following the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt that resulted in over 250 deaths and the imprisonment of thousands of suspected dissidents. 

In March, MIT officials kidnapped six Turkish nationals in Kosovo to stand trial in Turkey for their support of Gulen. The incident caused international outrage. 

"Operations similar to the one conducted in Kosovo can be carried out in other countries. All should know that Turkey will not allow the FETO to breathe a sigh of relief," Kalin told reporters Friday, adding that Erdogan "has given very clear instructions on this issue."

Friday's announcement marks the most extreme steps taken by Ankara against Erdogan's enemies. As the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross notes: 

Operations in the U.S. have yet to go as far as the Kosovo incident.

Instead, the Turkish government has hired several lobbying firms and lawyers to debilitate a network of charter schools operated by Gulen’s followers. The lobbyists have also pressed officials in both the Obama and Trump administrations to extradite Gulen, who has lived in the U.S. since 1999.

Perhaps the most high-profile lobbyist for Turkey was Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to President Donald Trump. A Turkish businessman linked to the government hired Flynn to investigate Gulen during the 2016 campaign. Flynn and the businessman, Ekim Alptekin, discussed kidnapping Gulen and returning him to Turkey, according to reports. -Daily Caller

Meanwhile, Turkey has been intimidating enemies of the state living in US exile. As the Caller reported last year, "at least six academics and journalists living in exile in the states were tracked and photographed by Turkish news outlets."

Since Turkish media is largely under Erdogan's control, outlets published photos and videos of exiles during routine activities such as shopping, running errands and even picking up their children from a swimming pool. 

A Gulen-aligned nonprofit, the Alliance for Shared Values, told the Daily Caller that "Rather than being ashamed of such operations, they are boasting about them," adding "Any actual efforts should be met swiftly with the full force of the United States government."

Emre Uslu, a former editor at Today’s Zaman, a now-defunct newspaper that was controlled by Gulen supporters, has become one of Erdogan’s main U.S.-based targets. He has been included on a list of Erdogan critics sought for return to Turkey and was tracked by Turkish media outlets near his home in Virginia.

Erodgan supporters have also openly discussed on Turkish television the idea of kidnapping Uslu from the U.S. and returning him to Turkey.

“Turkey is no longer a stable country that one would be able to predict what its leaders would do,” Uslu told TheDCNF. “There is a possibility that operatives who wanted to further deteriorate the U.S.-Turkey relations would attempt to carry operations in the U.S.” -Daily Caller

Usulu fears that he will be targeted in any "operations" on American soil, and fears assassination - pointing to the 2013 Paris murder of three Kurdish activists. French authorities believe MIT was responsible

Another journalist targeted by Erdogan, Aydogan Vatandas, doesn't think Erdogan's threat is that serious - telling the Caller that while MIT is more than capable of running operations in the US, he thinks Kalin's statements are more likely aimed at tamping down protests against Erdogan's visit to the UN General Assembly. 

"The Turkish Intelligence is capable of carrying out this kind of activities in the U.S. There is no doubt about this," Vatandas, a former reporter at Today’s Zaman, told TheDCNF. But he said that he does not believe that the Turkish government would jeopardize its already-frayed relationship in the U.S. by carrying out illegal activities on U.S. soil. -Daily Caller

"Mr. Kalin actually aims to frighten the opponents for potential demonstrations while Erdogan is in NY next week for U.N. Summit," Vatandas added.

Published:9/25/2018 3:36:12 AM
[Markets] Trump Folds On Nordstream 2 Because... Logic

Authored by Tom Luongo,

Since its first announcement I have been convinced the Nordstream 2 pipeline would be built.  I have followed every twist of this story from my days writing for Newsmax.

And the reason for my confidence can be summed up in one word.  Money.

Nordstream 2 simply makes too much economic sense for any amount of political whining from the U.S. and Poland to stop it. 

Poland has no power within the European Union. Germany does. 

And while I’m no fan of Angela Merkel getting another political weapon to hold over the heads of the Poles, their attempts to derail the project were always going to end in tears for them.

And so now Poland and the U.S. cried a lot of crocodile tears recently when President Trump finally acceded to reality and ended the threat of sanctioning five of the biggest oil majors in the world over doing business with Gazprom over Nordstream 2.

Nordstream 2’s investors are Uniper, OMV, Wintershall, Royal Dutch Shell and Engie.  After all the permits were issued and construction begun the only thing that could stop Nordstream from happening was these five companies folding to U.S. pressure and backing out of the project by calling in their loans to Gazprom.

And when they were unwilling to do that, Trump had to fold because you can’t cut these companies out of the western banking system and starve them of dollars and euros without an extreme dislocation in oil prices and global trade.

Bluff called.  Nordstream 2?  Holding Aces.

Trump?  Holding two-seven offsuit.

Lack of Polish

The big loser here is Poland unless they come down off their Russophobic high horse.

Why is Nordstream 2 so important to Poland?  Because it forces Poland into choosing between two things the current ruling Law and Justice Party doesn’t like.

  1. Renegotiating a gas transit deal with Gazprom through Ukrainian pipelines without as much leverage.  Because the current agreement expires at the end of 2019.

  2. If they reject this first option then they are at the mercy of buying gas from Nordstream 2 putting them politically in the hands of Germany.

Merkel is angry with Poland for trying to assert its sovereignty having begun Article 7 proceedings over their law putting Supreme Court justices under review from the legislature, which the EU has termed a violation of its pledge to protect ‘human rights.’

And so, expect Poland to now open up talks with Gazprom to negotiate a new deal or be stupid and buy LNG from the U.S. at two to three times the price they can get it from Gazprom.

Keeping Them Distant

From the U.S. side of the equation there are few things in this life that Donald Trump and Barack Obama agree upon, and stopping Nordstream 2 was one of them.  This, of course, tells you that this opposition is coming from somewhere a lot higher than the Presidency.

U.S. and British foreign policy has been obsessed for more than a hundred years with stopping the natural alliance between Germany’s industrial base and Russia’s vast tracts of natural resources as well as Russia’s own science and engineering prowess.

These two countries cannot, in any version of a unipolar world dominated by The Davos Crowd, be allowed to form an economic no less political alliance because the level of coordination and economic prosperity works directly against their goals of lowering everyone’s expectations for what humans can accomplish.

That is their greatest source of power.  The complacency of our accepting low expectations.

So, Donald Trump finally folding on stopping Nordstream 2 is yet another example of the limits of what power the U.S. has and of its threats.  When he denounced the project he said,

“I never thought it was appropriate. I think it’s ridiculous. And I think it’s certainly a very bad thing for the people of Germany. And I’ve said it very loud and clear.”

But notice that he never said why.

Because there is no downside for Germany.  That’s the point.  Russian piped gas is simply cheaper and more reliable than LNG produced more than 3000 miles away.

The downside is for the U.S.

It begins the process of Germany and Russia re-establishing stronger economic ties cut in half by the 2014 sanctions over Crimea.  It keeps Merkel in power a little while longer having stood up to the bully Trump and showing some German independence.

This is something she sorely needs right now coming into regional elections in October.

Most importantly, this gas will be paid for in euros, not dollars.  And this further undermines the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions as Gazprom will have a steady supply of euros to pay back its investors and diversify Russia’s currency reserves.

The Flow of Money

There is no way for U.S. LNG supplies to be competitive in Europe without massive artificial barriers-to-entry for Russian gas.  And even if Nordstream 2 was somehow stopped by the U.S., Russia’s massive Yamal LNG facility on the Baltic Sea would still out compete U.S LNG from Cheniere’s terminal in Louisiana.

Location. Location. Location.

We saw this last winter when vicious cold snaps forced a hostile Britain to buy a few tankers of Yamal LNG from Novatek to keep its citizens from freezing. With the planet cooling rapidly, expect this source of spot demand to Europe to increase.

And this is why Russia also benefits from Poland building an LNG terminal. Because don’t for a second think Poles will suffer extreme cold because Andrej Duda hates Russians.

That’s just funny, right thar!

But, for Germany, and the EU as a whole, more cheap energy is the path to remaining somewhat relevant in the global economy.   With Germany ending the use of nuclear power it needs the type of energy Nordstream 2 supplies.

In fact, Germany will eventually need Nordstream 3.

Each intervention by the U.S. or one of its satraps (and Poland’s leadership certainly fills that bill) to block any further business between Russia and Europe, but especially Germany, keeps the world on edge and inches us closer to a military confrontation while open trade and travel moves us farther from that outcome.

And anyone who argues otherwise is simply talking their book.  They profit from war and tension.  They profit from manipulating markets and, in effect, stealing the wealth someone else created.

So, this is not to say that Nordstream 2 is some kind of messianic gift from the gods or anything.  It is the result of massive interventions into the free market for energy born of necessity in a world governed by nation-states for more powerful than they have any right to be because of control of the issuance of money and the rent-seeking behavior of the people who most benefit from the creation of endless supplies of that money.

But, that said, in the current state of things, rapprochement between Germany and Russia via projects like the Nordstream 2 points us towards a future without such nonsense.

I said points, not achieves.  It’s a beginning not an end.  Lost in all of this discussion of European energy security is the fact that even at the height of the Cold War the U.S.S.R. never once shut off gas supplies to its enemies.  And under Putin that fact remains.

And how’s that for an inconvenient truth.

*  *  *

To support more work like this and get access to exclusive commentary, stock picks and analysis tailored to your needs join my more than 180 Patrons on Patreon and see if I have what it takes to help you navigate a world going slowly mad. 

Published:9/25/2018 2:36:42 AM
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